Alle-Kiski Valley high school football notebook: Burrell shows its grit

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Saturday, September 16, 2023 | 6:44 PM


When it comes to conference play in the WPIAL, the win is the thing, and Burrell delivered a victory in dramatic fashion Friday against Serra Catholic at Buccaneer Stadium in the Allegheny Conference opener for both teams.

Senior Tyler Maglisco scored from 5 yards out in the latter stages of the fourth quarter, and fellow senior Devin Beattie hauled in the 2-point conversion from junior Stevie Hasson to lift the Bucs (2-2, 1-0) to an 8-7 triumph in a grind-it-out contest over the Eagles (0-4, 0-1).

“We worked hard all week and developed what we felt was a pretty good game plan,” Burrell coach Shawn Liotta said.

“The kids did a great job executing it (Friday) night. We wanted to be 1-0 in the conference, and we are. The kids didn’t give up on themselves after the losses to Jeannette and Deer Lakes. They are both really good football teams. We’ve had some guys banged up and in and out of the lineup. We’ve continued to work and trust the process, and we’ve seen good things from that. We feel we can compete with anyone if we play the way we know we can.”

Serra broke a scoreless tie with a touchdown late in the third quarter.

Before that, Burrell’s defense made several key stops, including goal-line stands in the second and third quarters.

The second stand, a turnover on downs, began with the Eagles owning a first and goal at the Bucs’ 1 after a long pass completion.

“They hit a 60-yard pass on a fourth and 17 down to the 1,” Liotta said.

“I credit (senior) Maliq Buchak, who was on the coverage. He got beaten on the coverage, but he didn’t give up on the play and tackled the kid on the 1. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. We always preach to the kids to never quit on a play because you never know what could happen after that.”

The Bucs forced and recovered a fumble during the second-quarter stand.

“I told the kids that, in 24 years, I’ve never coached a team in a game that was so resilient,” Liotta said.

“(Serra was) in the red zone three total times and didn’t score.”

Burrell completed a screen pass in the first quarter Friday. It was the Bucs’ first pass completion of the season.

But, when it mattered most, Burrell had success through the air with three clutch pass connections on the final drive to set up the game-winning score.

Liotta credited his defense for holding a Serra offense 19 points under its average. The Eagles put up 42 points against North Catholic in Week Zero.

“It was just a great team effort from everyone,” Liotta said.

Beattie led the Burrell offense with 29 carries for 101 yards. Maglisco added six rushes for 17 yards and the TD.

“We controlled the ball and took time off the clock,” Liotta said. “As a running team, that’s what we like to do.”

Deer Lakes rolls after tough start

Greensburg Salem scored first on its opening drive, marching down the field on the Deer Lakes defense in a nonconference clash Friday at Lancers Stadium.

But the Lancers responded with 48 unanswered points to take control and finish off a 48-14 victory.

“It’s always a little concerning because you think you prep well enough all week on how to get things done,” Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk said.

“You sometimes ask yourself, ‘Did we do the right things?’ It also happened last week against Apollo-Ridge, but our guys never wavered. Again, this week, our guys didn’t even blink an eye at it. That is a sign, to me, of maturity and good leadership. When they came off the field after Greensburg-Salem scored, they are saying, ‘It’s OK coach. We’ve got this.’ That is a sign of guys who believe in what we are doing and who also believe in themselves.”

Senior Derek Burk had a monster game for the Lancers. He was an efficient 11 of 12 passing for 251 yards and five touchdowns. He tossed a pair of TD to both senior Ryan Cochran and classmate Wayne Love.

Love finished with 129 receiving yards

Burk added seven carries for 78 yards and a score.

“After their first score, we did whatever we wanted offensively,” coach Burk said.

“It was nice to see. And our defense really honed in on making plays and getting stops.”

Coach Burk said the win was even more special as it came in front of a large homecoming crowd.

“It was a packed house, and it was nice to put on a good showing for those who came to watch the team, especially those who don’t normally get to watch them play,” he said.

“It was special to see them be able to live it up.”

Deer Lakes will play one more nonconference game – Friday at Southmoreland (3-1) – before opening Allegheny 6 action at undefeated Knoch.

Knoch scored a 27-0 win over the Scotties.

“We’ll be interested to see those tapes,” coach Burk said.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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