Beth-Center looks to bounce back after rare down season

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Monday, August 24, 2020 | 11:56 PM


Last season wasn’t typical for the Beth-Center Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs had made 16 straight playoff appearances, but after being devastated by graduation, that streak came to an abrupt end. They went 1-9 and mustered just 17 points per game while allowing 35.8.

“All I know is that what went on last year was unacceptable,” Beth-Center coach Joe Kuhns said. “They are anxious to get that stink off of them this year. But we just have to stay healthy. Last year, we didn’t stay healthy and we still competed.”

The Bulldogs lost their starting quarterback in the fifth quarter of their season last year when sophomore Colby Kuhns, the coach’s son, went down with a torn ACL. Leading up to that injury, Colby Kuhns had put together an impressive start, throwing for 287 yards and four touchdowns against California in the season opener.

Coach Kuhns said his son started participating in quarterback drills in January and has been itching to get back on the field.

When he does, he’ll have an experienced offensive line to protect him.

“We didn’t use the same offensive line twice last season, so we have 10 or 11 guys that are going to be coming back with varsity experience on the line,” Kuhns said. “We have 18 linemen this year, so I’m sure we’ll be able to find at least five in that group.”

With their starting quarterback fully healthy and a line in front of him, the Bulldogs will have to find a way to replace wide receiver Devin Dingle, who caught 42 passes for 660 yards and also carried the ball 105 times for 934 yards.

“We can’t replace him and it might even help because when you are a quarterback and you have a guy out there like him, you are looking to get it to him,” Kuhns said. “Now, we’re more even across the board, so we can read the defense and spread the ball around.”

Kuhns said one player who could step up is Daijon Devers, who was a first-year player as a junior last season. He tallied one catch for 13 yards but played a big role in Beth-Center’s secondary. Kuhns is expecting even more from him this year.

It wasn’t a surprise the young Bulldogs took their lumps last year, but they remained competitive. Of their nine losses, four came by less than 10 points, and two came by just one point.

“We definitely went through some growing pains last year, but they are juniors this year and they are turning into men this season,” Kuhns said. “They are getting bigger, quicker so we’ll just see.”

In order to get back on the right track, the Bulldogs will have to take another step forward on defense. They suffered a few big losses throughout season, and Kuhns believes they need to approach this year with a better team mentality on that side of the ball.

“We gotta get back at it and get back to that Beth-Center mentality,” Kuhns said. “There are not going to be the numbers like we saw 10 years ago, but we have to get back to gang tackling, and we just didn’t have that. We’re really preaching 11 hats to the ball and playing aggressive. The defense definitely has to be the improvement.”

Schedule

Coach: Joe Kuhns

2019 record: 1-9, 0-7 in Class 2A Century

All-time record: 363-233-16

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, at Waynesburg*, 7

9.18, Chartiers-Houston*, 7

9.25, Elizabeth Forward, 7

10.2, at Washington*, 7

10.9, Charleroi*, 7

10.16, at Frazier*, 7

10.23, McGuffey*, 7

*Class 2A Century Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Andrew Bower*

53-122, 865 yards, 7 TDs

Receiving: Devyn Dingle*

42-660 yards, 4 TDs

Rushing: Dingle*

105-934 yards, 4 TDs

*Graduated

Fast facts

• Beth-Center recorded back-to-back seven-win seasons before last year.

• Although the Bulldogs had made 16 straight playoff appearances before last season, they haven’t made it past the first round since 2010.

• Before getting hurt, Colby Kuhns ran for 115 yards on 20 carries last season.

• Beth-Center’s only win last season came Oct. 18 against Imani Christian.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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