[tps_title] Upper Dublin Cardinals [/tps_title]
Reigning District 1-5A champions grateful for return of QB Slivka
UPPER DUBLIN >> For the first time in four years, Upper Dublin head coach Bret Stover will have the same starting quarterback for back-to-back seasons.
Senior Mike Slivka will be leading the Cardinals offense for the second straight year.
“Anytime you bring your quarterback back you’re a little ahead of the game offensively,” Stover said. “It’s a cliche, but Mike is another coach on the field. He checks us out of bad things and bad plays that I call and puts us into good plays. I totally trust him. He started off, we didn’t give him any of that at the beginning of the season last year, then by the end of the season he was checking. In the district championship game he checks out of a QB draw and throws a slant — biggest play of the season. That’s all him. We’ve been building on it all summer. We’re excited for him.”
Slivka is coming off an impressive junior year. He led Upper Dublin to a Suburban One League American Conference championship, a District 1-5A title and a PIAA 5A state semifinal appearance. Individually he earned Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery First Team All-Area and First Team All-SOL American honors.
“I feel like I’m more confident, like a senior,” Slivka said, comparing his mindset now to this time last year. “I’m like the big dog, kind of. I get to lead the team more. Everybody looks up to me now. I’m excited about that.”
Slivka is getting a rare leadership opportunity in the Upper Dublin program. He’s going to be a captain for a second consecutive season.
“We’ve already named him captain,” Stover said. “He was a captain last year. We named him a carry-over captain. We’ve only had a couple of those in my tenure here. That’s cool. He’s a leader. A lot of kids respect him and look up to him. He does all the management stuff on the field, even pre-practice stuff. He takes care of pushing people where they need to get to, getting things going, the vocal leader as well.”
While the defending league and district champs have the benefit of bringing their QB back, they need to replace most of their offensive linemen and skill players from 2018.
“Most of the guys this year are in my grade, so I’m closer with these guys,” Slivka said. “I think we have a lot of big holes to fill, just have to see what happens over the next couple weeks (before the season starts). I’m not doubtful or anything. I feel pretty confident, just have to see how everything fits into place.”
In addition to increasing his freedom in the offense and his leadership role entering this year, he also put in physical work this offseason.
“(Teammates and I) went to Spark (Field) a couple of times,” he said, “did a bunch of speed work, footwork, threw a lot. I went to some camps. I’ve been lifting a lot, put on like 15 pounds from last year.”
The 6-foot-1 210-pound signal caller, who is still waiting for his first college offer, also makes an impact on defense. He was First Team All-SOL American as a safety during his sophomore season but played a little less defensively when he took over the starting quarterback role.
“I hope I play both ways a lot more this year,” Slivka said. “We’re still unsure with backup (quarterback) and everything.”
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Aman Orlena, Lineman >> The 6-foot-4 250-pound senior offensive lineman will be key in giving Slivka time in the pocket. The Cardinals offensive front lost a lot from last year’s team and Orlena figures to move from guard to tackle. He hopes to continue playing football in college.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Logan Heim, Linebacker >> Standing at 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, Heim might not look like the most intimidating presence on defense, but the senior middle linebacker uses his speed to track down ball-carriers sideline-to-sideline.
By Ed Morlock, email@example.com