Back in Century Conference, Brentwood looks to return to playoffs

By:
Sunday, August 21, 2022 | 12:01 PM


Welcome back, Brentwood.

The Spartans are returning to the Class 2A Century Conference for at least the next two seasons, reverting back to the early years of last decade.

Brentwood has been a nomad of sorts over the years when it comes to football conferences.

The Spartans competed in the Class 2A Century from 2004-07, followed by a two-year stint in the Class A Eastern. Brentwood then spent six years in the Class A Black Hills and six years in the Class 2A Three Rivers.

Now, it’s back to the Century, where the Spartans will compete with Charleroi, Keystone Oaks, McGuffey, Sto-Rox, Washington and Waynesburg.

“We’re playing a bunch of different teams. There are good teams everywhere in Double-A,” said Kevin Kissel, Brentwood’s veteran coach. “Our numbers are down, but I think we have a nice solid team. This team does things together and is a lot tighter than some of our other teams (in the past). We have to stay healthy.”

The 2021 season is one Brentwood would like to forget, but the Spartans do have a history of WPIAL playoff appearances in recent years.

Brentwood advanced to the playoffs seven consecutive years from 2008-2014 and has qualified for the postseason 11 times since 2006.

With 12 returning starters — five on offense, seven on defense — the Spartans are looking to get back on track with a postseason appearance after last year’s disappointing 0-5 conference record.

“We took a beating last year,” Kissel said. “It left a stinking taste in our mouths.”

Brentwood lost its last eight games to finish 1-9 a year ago. The Spartans will need a solid defensive showing early this year until it is able to find some rhythm offensively.

Five of the starters returning on defense are seniors: Jason Redlinger and Jeff Beck at defensive tackle, C.J. Fox at linebacker and Tavian Miller and Anthony Herisko in the secondary.

“C.J. Fox is one of our experienced guys,” Kissel said.

Zach Wuenschell, a junior tight end/linebacker, and Forrest Betz, a sophomore wide receiver/defensive back, also are returning starters, as are Fox at fullback, Beck at offensive tackle and junior Blake Davis at center.

“Zach Wuenschell looks great. He’s a real good player,” Kissel said. “He’s had enough time for his injury (from last year) to heal.

“Forrest Betz was outstanding last year. He was one of our most outstanding athletes on the field.”

Newcomers to the lineup will include the likes of Miller at QB, junior Daelinn Drew at RB, seniors Rob Lewandowski and Herisko at WR and seniors Tyrin Bowie, Logan Kuehner and Redlinger on the O-line.

“Tavian Miller was a wideout last year. He played some quarterback for us when Jase Keib was injured,” Kissel said. “Tavian’s a good player and a good athlete. He had a nagging injury last year. He’s gotten bigger and stronger and will be a running threat for us this year.”

Kuehner, at 6-foot, 300 pounds, and Bowie, at 6-1, 270, are the two biggest players on the team.

“We do have some beef,” Kissel said. “We have some size on our offensive line. We could try to pack it in and run the ball more this year.”

Sophomore Antonio Weir also is looking to make an impact in the trenches.

“He’s put on some good weight,” Kissel said. “He will figure somewhere in our line play.”

In the mix for starting positions on defense are Weir at nose guard, Drew at linebacker, junior Ethan Simmons and seniors Athan Patterson and Lewandowski in the secondary. Lewandowski is a transfer from Seton LaSalle.

Senior A’yvair Johnson also will see playing time as a defensive back and wide receiver.

With Miller, Drew and Fox in the offensive backfield and Wuenschell, Fox and Drew at linebacker, the Spartans will be athletic and at times explosive.

Redlinger, Fox and Wuenschell are expected to be team leaders on defense. Beck, Herisko and Miller are being counted on to lead the way offensively.

“We have some experience,” Kissel said. “We’ll move these guys around and hopefully put them in the right spots.”

Brentwood

Coach: Kevin Kissel

2021 record: 1-9, 0-5 in Class 2A Three Rivers Conference

All-time record: 424-417-28

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 Ellwood City, 7

9.2 Imani Christian, 7

9.9 at South Park, 7

9.16 at McGuffey*, 7

9.23 Washington*, 7

9.30 Beaver, 7

10.7 at Waynesburg*, 7

10.14 Sto-Rox*, 7

10.21 at Charleroi*, 7

10.28 Keystone Oaks*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Jase Keib*

76-152, 1,010 yards, 10 TDs

Rushing: Lamarr Williams*

115-450, 2 TDs

Receiving: Mitchell Fox*

46-744, 5 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• There were only four sophomores — now juniors — listed on last year’s team roster: Blake Davis (OL/DL), Daelinn Drew (RB/LB), Ethan Simmons (WR/DB) and Zach Wuenschell (TE/LB). All four are expected to start this season. Davis and Wuenschell are multi-year starters.

• Two key players on both offense and defense, Drew and senior WR/DB Anthony Herisko, are 2021-22 transfers from Keystone Oaks and Brashear.

• Tavian Miller, C.J. Fox, Forrest Betz and Simmons were members of the Brentwood boys basketball program last winter. Miller competed as a 6-foot-3 guard/forward. Fox, Betz and Simmons were backcourt players.

• Brentwood had 31 players on last year’s squad. After 48 students signed up for football prior to winter conditioning, the Spartans now expect to have 32 players this year.

Note: Due to publishing scheduling conflicts, the preview for Century Conference team Charleroi will appear on Trib HSSN later this week.

More Football

GoFundMe posted for former Norwin football player Josiah Pastories, who was killed in auto accident
WPIAL rules Aliquippa rising junior ineligible following transfer from North Hills
Riverview football standout Carlo Buzzatto excited to compete on global stage
Terrelle Pryor, Dick Hoak, Joe Mucci to enter National High School Football Hall of Fame
After prolific career at Allegheny, former Norwin receiver moving up to Division I FCS level