Beard is unsung hero for Ligonier Valley football team

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 | 8:59 PM


One player who sometimes gets overlooked on the Ligonier Valley football team is senior John Beard.

While running back Kyrie Miller, quarterback Sam Sheeder and the offensive and defensive lines steal most of the headlines, Beard does his job and then some for the Rams.

Why did Ligonier Valley defeat Bellwood-Antis, 21-20, in the District 6 semifinals Saturday? It was because Beard was 3 for 3 on extra points.

It was a job he volunteered for when transfer Kyle Silk was ruled ineligible by District 6 and the PIAA.

Beard, a wide receiver/defensive back, does everything but sell programs before the game and direct the marching band at halftime.

He is the leading receiver with 45 catches for 736 yards and seven touchdowns, and he has carried four times for 31 yards.

Beard has 31 tackles, blocked a punt, broken up four passes and averages 33 yards per punt. If he records another interception this season, he will have seven and earn a steak dinner from coach Roger Beitel. He has returned one pick for a touchdown.

Beitel has an award for a player who can beat his high school record of six interceptions when he played linebacker at Penns Manor. He recorded six interceptions, and he’s told any player that if they get seven he will buy him a dinner at Fork’s Inn.

Beard said he likes his steak medium rare with mushrooms.

“He’s a most valuable player in terms that he’ll do anything you ask him to do,” Beitel said. “When Kyle Silk was denied eligibility before the season, we needed a punter and kicker. John volunteered and has done a fantastic job.”

Beitel said Silk has a Division I leg.

Beard never had kicked before the season. He and Sam Sheeder tried kicking in middle school.

“To be honest with you, Sam was probably the better kicker then,” Beard said. “When I made my first kick, coach Beitel told me the job was mine.”

Beard has converted 54 of 68 extra points and made his only field goal.

“He’s our unsung hero,” Beitel said. “He fulfilled a void. Sam’s a great kid, and he loves to compete.

“I’m not surprised especially because he played some soccer when he was little, which led him to believe he could do it.”

But Beard’s main jobs are catching passes and playing defense.

Ligonier Valley faces Richland at 7 p.m. Friday for the District 6 championship at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona, and the Rams secondary has the difficult job of containing Richland standout receiver Caleb Burke, a New Hampshire recruit.

“We didn’t play well the past two games,” Beard said. “We had too many turnovers. We worked hard this week to shore things up.”

Beard is part of a senior class that is 51-3 with four consecutive Heritage Conference and Appalachian Bowl titles. The Rams have reached the district championship game for the fourth consecutive season.

Ligonier Valley defeated Bishop McCort in 2016 and ’17 but lost 21-12 to Richland in ’18.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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