After bounce-back season, Beaver looks to add to winning tradition

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | 12:01 PM


In Cort Rowse’s first season as head coach last year, Beaver went 7-3, finished second in the Parkway Conference and made the playoffs.

Rowse has prioritized continuing Beaver’s winning culture.

Rowse was an assistant coach for 15 years under coach Jeff Beltz and played under coach Pat Tarquinio. Both were longtime coaches at Beaver as Tarquinio coached for 34 years and Beltz coached for 21.

The Bobcats have a winning history as they have captured three WPIAL titles in program history. Rowse learned a lot from the former coaches.

“I take a little bit of their culture and how they taught the game and how they related to the kids,” Rowse said. “I was able to take from that and form it into my own, and it’s my responsibility to build off of that, and not just maintain it, but to take it to the next level.”

Beaver took its play to the next level last season with the program’s first playoff appearance since 2018.

Outside linebacker and wide receiver Liam Gibson credits the team’s success to Rowse and the atmosphere he brought to the team.

“He brings a lot of energy and gets everybody pumped up in practice and games,” Gibson said. “It was pretty fun to play for him last season.”

Gibson was a contributor on both sides of the ball last season. On offense, he rushed for 153 yards on 34 carries and also caught six passes for 56 yards. Defensively, Gibson played a key role in the team’s success, along with Dylan Porto, who had a strong second half of the season, and Amari Jackson.

The team has a lot of experience heading into 2022. Seniors Cade Pattison, Diego Gutierrez, Jack Kohrman and Sam Pidro return and provide a veteran presence on offense and defense.

Last season, the team primarily focused on controlling the football. Rising seniors Wyatt Ringer and Jake Hilton led the charge in the run game. Ringer ran for 1,006 yards and Hilton added 371 yards.

The success on the ground led to a comeback season Beaver needed. Rising senior and tackle Omari Smith is proud that he and his team stepped up.

“As a run blocker, it’s a really good feeling to have that ability to just run down people’s throats,” Smith said. “Making the huge holes for the running back to go through or the quarterback to go through and just seeing them do that because of what we did, it just feels really great.”

Smith and Noah Reagan bolstered the offensive line. They and the team are preparing to build on their success from last season by getting bigger, stronger and quicker.

“To prepare for the next season, we have been working out at Daman’s Strength Training in Beaver,” Smith said. “We always like going to the gym and getting a good lift in. Summer camp has been really good just preparing for Week Zero and our scrimmages.”

Smith noted that he can’t believe he is in his final season of high school football. He is proud to say that he represents Beaver and is able to block for both Ringer and Hilton. Nonetheless, he knows their work isn’t finished just yet.

He expects big things from quarterback Isaac Pupi and the rest of the offense. The team also has senior wide receivers Josiah Santiago and Gerrell Leeper returning. Both players had their share of starts last season.

Despite losing some seniors, Gibson is confident those spots can be filled by up-and-coming players.

“We lost some key players last year,” Gibson said. “A couple of seniors left, but I still think that we have a bunch of talent that can take us far this year.”

Rowse said the team is excited to build on the tradition of Beaver football.

“The kids buying into our overall tradition of excellence and culture, I’m just blessed to be a part of that and to get a chance to run this at this level,” Rowse said. “It’s really not the kids buying into me, per se, or our coaching staff. It’s our kids buying into our 100-plus years of playing football in this town and understanding what that responsibility is.”

“Even though I grew up and was raised in Midland, I will always forever say that I am a Beaver Bobcat,” Smith said. “Beaver is my home and the people within Beaver, they’re my people, my teammates and my brothers. It’s my whole big family.”

Next season, Beaver will be playing in Class 3A instead of 4A. Rowse said that regardless of class, the team will be prepared and bring physicality.

“It doesn’t matter where you play in Western Pennsylvania,” Rowse said. “It doesn’t matter what number is next to the A. There’s a lot of great teams out there with a lot of hard-nosed kids and a lot of great coaches, so you’ve got to come in every week and you’ve got to prepare. You’ve got to have the mindset to trust the process to do the things you’ve got to do to win.”

Beaver

Coach: Cort Rowse

2021 record: 7-3, 4-1 in Class 4A Parkway Conference

All-time record: 658-415-55

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 Western Beaver, 7:30

9.2 at Beaver Falls,7

9.9 Freedom, 7:30

9.16 at South Park*, 7

9.23 West Mifflin*, 7:30

9.30 at Brentwood, 7

10.7 at Avonworth*, 7

10.14 Seton LaSalle*, 7:30

10.21 at Quaker Valley*, 7

10.28 Hopewell*, 7:30

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Wyatt Ringer

302 yards, 4 TDs

Rushing: Ringer

209-1,006 yards, 15 TDs

Receiving: Gerrell Leeper

7-105

FAST FACTS

• Beaver won back-to-back WPIAL titles in 1981-1982 and was the only team to win back-to-back WPIAL titles in separate classifications (3A in ‘81 and 2A in ‘82) until Thomas Jefferson did so in 2015-2016.

• Beaver is the fourth-oldest program in the WPIAL, with their inaugural season in 1899.

• Beaver holds an all-time record of 658-415-55. Coaches Jeff Beltz and Pat Tarquinio accounted for 403 of those wins.

• Beaver won its first WPIAL title in 1972.

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