A-K Valley H.S. football notebook: Leechburg’s prize? A matchup with Clairton

Saturday, September 12, 2020 | 7:32 PM

It was an explosive debut to the season for the Leechburg football team and a successful debut for coach Randy Walters.

Leechburg recorded a 55-37 Eastern Conference victory over Greensburg Salem on Friday, the most points scored by the Blue Devils since 2014, when they defeated Serra Catholic, 61-25.

“We made some mistakes, which we expected. But to see them make plays and later see them so excited in the locker room, we were just so happy for them,” Walters said.

Leechburg led by six at the break.

Braylan Lovelace’s 20-yard run early in the fourth quarter turned out to be the winner in one of the highest-scoring openers on the WPIAL schedule. Lovelace finished with three touchdown runs and 128 yards on 17 carries.

Dylan Cook, who threw for 227 yards, added a pair of scoring runs and threw a 51-yard touchdown to Tyler Foley in the second quarter.

Eli Rich capped the scoring for Leechburg with a fourth-quarter TD run, and Thomas Burke returned an interception 45 yards for a third-quarter score.

“A lot of things that we’ve been preaching came to fruition,” said Walters, who received several ice-water baths after the game.

Leechburg is two wins away from milestone victory 400. Up next is a home game against WPIAL Class A No. 1 Clairton on Friday. The Bears defeated No. 4 Jeannette, 34-28, on Friday.

“These guys are monsters coming in next week, and all I can ask of the guys is for them to line up, give them everything we’ve got and see what happens,” Walters said.

Golden opener

Last year, Knoch shut out Highlands, 24-0, marking the 12th win in 15 meetings between the teams dating to 2003.

On Friday, the Golden Rams turned the tables and rolled to a 39-7 win, sending an early-season message to the rest of the Greater Allegheny Conference. Highlands led 26-0 at halftime.

Sophomore Chandler Thimons was on point for Highlands, which also beat the Knights in 2017 after previous triumphs in ’08 and ’06. He finished 12 of 21 for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Two of the TD passes went to Brock White, who added scoring runs of 3 and 15 yards.

Thimons also connected for scores to DJ Loveland and Elijah Coleman, who hauled in three passes for 110 yards.

“It was great to go up to their place in a rivalry and get a nice win,” Highlands coach Dom Girardi said.

“The guys worked hard for it, and I was happy for them. But I told them that we can’t be content. There’s a lot of things we can improve. It was a good job, but we must get better.”

Highlands hosts Mars on Friday.

A Legend returns

Springdale junior Legend Ausk missed the last seven games last season with a broken collarbone.

He returned Friday against rival Riverview and helped the Dynamos to a 41-7 victory.

Ausk finished 5 of 9 passing for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns and one interception.

He was joined on the stat sheet by Logan Dexter, who caught two passes for 71 yards and a touchdown and added 107 yards and two scores on five carries.

Cavin Kinder added 100 rushing yards on 11 attempts, and John Utiss also caught a touchdown from Ausk.

Martin, Mustangs shine in Week 1

Reed Martin is a Swiss Army knife for Plum, and in Friday’s 36-13 win, his versatility was on display.

The senior scored on a 92-yard kickoff return and a 6-yard run and kicked a 41-yard field goal. He added two extra points for a total of 18 points.

Sophomore Eryck Moore had a breakout game with 105 yards on 10 carries and scoring runs of 39 and 14 yards.

Plum has won five of seven season openers since 2014. The Mustangs also denied Greensburg-Salem its 700th all-time victory.

Friday’s game was the first between the teams since 2014, when Plum won in Week 10.

Plum hosts Indiana on Friday as it seeks a 2-0 start for the first time since 2015 ,when it began 4-0 en route to a 6-4 record and a spot in the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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