As buzz builds, undefeated Hempfield football team stays grounded

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Thursday, September 22, 2022 | 1:29 PM


The first 4-0 start in 51 years has made Hempfield football the talk of tailgates and round tables.

Hempfield is back — and in full force.

The idea of the Spartans being “for real” is becoming a real thing as they get set to host No. 1 Penn-Trafford (3-1) on Friday night in the WPIAL Class 5A Big East opener.

The Spartans are not seeing the buzz as a bad thing. Coach Mike Brown trusts his senior-heavy team to take the hype in stride — enjoy it, but don’t do backstrokes in it.

Hempfield is trying to stay grounded.

“I don’t think it’s been distracting,” Brown said. “The student-athletes are mature enough to be able to handle the attention and still focus on the task at hand. We have preached to them all year so far that this isn’t our ultimate goal, and we still need to come in each day to get better.”

Hempfield has been featured on television stations and in print and web outlets that never or rarely covered the Spartans before.

Now, all of the sudden, everyone knows how to get to Hempfield.

“The kids have responded very well and have kept their heads down, blocking out any distractions,” Brown said. “There will not be distractions in this program because we know that the outside noise means nothing to us. Whether it be an article about our team, interview involving our team or predictions, we do not take any time thinking about it.”

Brown was named the Steelers Youth Football Coach of the Week.

The playoffs remain the goal, no matter what it takes to get there or how impressive the team’s record is.

Don’t forget: Hempfield has lost 11 straight conference games. The team is chasing its first playoff berth since 2016, first playoff win since 1997 and first winning season since 2013.

Brown added: “I don’t think we could be more grounded right now heading into conference play.”

Senior H-back and linebacker Eli Binakonsky said the early success is nice, but the Spartans hardly have played their best game. And a signature win would validate all of the fanfare.

“Rather then just focusing on what has gone right, we’ve really worked on areas we need to improve on,” Binakonsky said. “We know we can’t let it get to our heads because our toughest games are still to come. Winning those four games was a great start, but our goal has always been to win conference games and put ourselves in a position to make the playoffs.”

Hempfield, which dropped from Class 6A for the new two-year enrollment cycle, is averaging 48.8 points and allowing 6.0.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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