Beaver Falls puts WPIAL Class 2A title on line vs. Serra Catholic

Thursday, November 25, 2021 | 7:29 PM

As the Serra Catholic football team prepares to make its first WPIAL championship appearance in 14 years, one thing is for certain: The Eagles aren’t content with simply being in the big game.

“Since Day One, we had that goal of getting to Heinz Field,” Serra Catholic coach Jose Regus said. “But now we want to take this as far as we can go.”

Sixth-seeded Serra enjoyed a 13-12 semifinal victory over Sto-Rox last week, earning a trip to the WPIAL Class 2A title game against fifth-seeded Beaver Falls 5 p.m. today at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Players and coaches enjoyed getting a little bit of redemption against the Vikings, who eliminated the Eagles with a 49-38 semifinal win last year.

But once the dust settled and practice resumed Saturday, it was all business for Serra.

“They were all focused and business-oriented,” Regus said. “They were ready to move on.”

The defending 2A champions from Beaver Falls enter today’s title bout fresh off a 21-8 victory over Steel Valley in last week’s semifinal.

The Tigers started quick and dominated possession early, scoring on two occasions before the Ironmen were able to run a single offensive play. Beaver Falls ran 15 plays on its first drive, which lasted nearly nine minutes. In total, the Tigers held the ball for over 30 minutes in the win.

Quarterback Jaren Brickner, who has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns this season, was one of seven players utilized in the running game against Steel Valley. He tallied two touchdowns, and Quinton Adamson added one of his own.

While the Eagles undoubtedly need to gameplan for the Tigers’ various playmakers, none may garner more attention than junior Isaiah Aeschbacher, who has rushed for nearly 800 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Aeschbacher had a team-high 39 rushing yards against the Ironmen.

“It looks like they like to pound and ground with a lot of different athletes,” Regus said. “They look solid and consistent. We just have to score, slow them down and take them out of their gameplan. They can’t pound and hold the ball if they’re not winning.”

In its win over Sto-Rox, Serra Catholic struggled to get much going offensively. The Eagles relied on an early score by Pharoh Fisher before scoring the winning touchdown on a 43-yard pass from Max Rocco to Terrell Booth in the final minutes of the game.

Though it took a while for Serra to put additional points on the board, its defensive unit once again took care of business. For the second straight game, the Eagles held a powerful offense in check, limiting the Vikings to two scores. The performance came a week after Laurel, another team that averaged more than 40 points, was shut out by Serra.

“These guys are just so dedicated,” Regus said of his team’s defense. “The way they have gelled and formed as a group has been amazing. It’s a great group of kids.”

Offensively, the Eagles want to ensure they’re able to capitalize on every opportunity they get.

Against Sto-Rox, eight drives resulted in punts by Michael Schanck. One ended with an interception, another resulted in a turnover on downs and two were capped off with touchdowns.

“We have to take advantage of our opportunities, and we can’t leave plays unfulfilled,” Regus said. “Every play counts, so we have to play the game moment by moment and cherish every opportunity.”

Serra’s playoff run has been highlighted by a lopsided 61-21 victory over Neshannock in the first round and a pair of close, defensive-oriented wins over two of the top teams in Class 2A.

The Eagles have come a long way since Oct. 29 when they suffered their lone loss of the season, a 28-7 setback against Steel Valley in a battle for the Allegheny Conference title.

“I think it kind of woke them up a bit and made them a little more eager,” Regus said. “It gave them a bittersweet feeling, and I don’t think they like that taste in their mouths.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.

The Eagles will be seeking the third title in program history. The Tigers are looking for the program’s sixth WPIAL championship.

Tags: ,

More Football

Allegheny Conference flush with abundance of talent
Dom Patrick, Derry seniors passionate about returning to playoff contention
New Penn Hills coach wants to ramp up aggressiveness
North Hills with plenty of ‘untold stories’ entering 2022
After taste of playoff success, Fox Chapel back for more