Bethel Park football completes remarkable turnaround, sets stage for future

Sunday, November 21, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Bethel Park’s football team won five games this season and qualified for the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs after experiencing a rare winless campaign in 2020.

“Yes, we expected to win more often,” coach Brian DeLallo said. “You have to believe you can win to make it happen. We raised our level of expectations this season and will embrace even greater expectations, both internally and from outside sources, next season.

“While we showed much improvement over 2020, we were disappointed that we did not play better against Woodland Hills.”

The Black Hawks finished with a 5-6 record after losing to Woodland Hills, 27-23, in the WPIAL first round.

A four-game winning streak in the season’s second half propelled Bethel Park to an eventual 3-2 record in the Allegheny Six Conference and a WPIAL playoff berth.

After a 1-3 start, the Black Hawks defeated Franklin Regional, 28-13, West Allegheny, 26-10, South Fayette, 27-7, and Peters Township, 38-8, in succession.

DeLallo said the win against Peters Township was his team’s biggest of the season.

“And I mean that in a completely complimentary way toward them,” he said. “There are a few reasons. First, they had beaten us the past three years. Second, they had been in the WPIAL championship (game) the past two years. Third, we have a ton of respect for their program. They have great kids and a fantastic coaching staff.

“So, yes, beating them told our kids we can play with, and beat, top-flight 5A programs.”

Losses to Moon and Upper St. Clair closed out the Black Hawks’ regular-season schedule, as they ended up third in conference play behind Moon (6-0) and Upper St. Clair (5-1) and outscored the opposition 231-227, scoring an average of 21 points per game and giving up 20.6

While Bethel Park made considerable progress in 2021, bigger things are on the team’s agenda for 2022 thanks to no less than 15 players returning at starting spots.

“We are excited for next year,” DeLallo said. “We expect to contend for conference and WPIAL championships. We return 15 starters, plus two players who projected as 2021 starters. Jason Nuttridge and Coby Goelz were both starters in 2020 that were injured playing baseball and never took a snap this season.”

Nuttridge was projected to start at wide receiver and defensive back. Goelz was expected to take snaps in the trenches. Both will be seniors next season.

“Coby would have started on the offensive and defensive lines,” DeLallo said. “In both his case and Jason’s, players stepped up in their absences. That was one of the fun parts of the year, seeing kids step in and play well for injured or sick players throughout the year.”

The list of the Black Hawks’ returning starters is impressive, consisting of Aidan Currie (TE/LB), Sam Sciullo (OT), Toby D’Andrea (G), Braedon Del Duca (G), Jake Brown (OT), Gavin Moul (FB/LB), Ryan Petras (WR/DB), Dom Capone (NG/TE), Ty Stewart (LB/WR), Austin Caye (SS/WR), Jack Reilly (CB) and Dinari Clacks (CB/WR).

All are juniors except for Brown, a sophomore, and Petras, a freshman. The Black Hawks will be a senior-laden group with plenty of talent and varsity experience.

There were 70 players listed on the team roster this year — 12 seniors, 22 juniors, 14 sophomores and 22 freshmen.

The offensive catalyst was senior RB/DB/KR Troy Volpatti, a third-year starter who rambled for a team-high 1,068 yards on 207 carries, with a season-high long run of 81 yards. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and also reeled in 23 receptions for 252 yards, averaging 11 yards per catch, with a season-high long reception of 74 yards.

“I think our team fought very hard to the end,” Volpatti said. “We play a tough schedule, and I’m very proud of how we bounced back from the season before.

“My personal goal was to do my best for the team by contributing every way I can.”

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Volpatti led the Black Hawks in the scoring department with 17 touchdowns (102 points) and also threw two touchdown passes. A three-year starter, Volpatti also led the squad in rushing as a junior.

Against Woodland Hills, Volpatti ran behind an offensive line comprised of senior Anthony Celletti and Scuillo at tackle, D’Andrea and Del Duca at guard and senior Zak Vincent (5-10, 220) at center. Aidan Campbell, a junior, stepped in at left guard when D’Andrea suffered an injury early in the game.

“I thought the team exceeded everyone’s expectations,” said Celletti, a two-year starter. “It was truly amazing to be a part of the building process and create a new foundation for Bethel Park football. Although I still wish my senior season could have gone on longer, I was happy to be a part of it.”

Senior QB Max Blanc (6-5, 210) eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in passing this season, completing 99 of 188 tosses for 1,323 yards and seven scores and seven interceptions.

The Youngstown State recruit averaged 13.4 yards per completion, and his longest completion of the season was the 74-yard toss to Volpatti.

Blanc’s favorite targets consisted of senior WR Jack Kirchner, with 32 catches covering 467 yards and four TDs, Volpatti, Aidan Currie (18-271), Petras (12-171, 4 TDs) and senior TE Joe Thimons (11-137, 1 TD).

Defensively, Moul led the way with 69 unassisted tackles, 12 assisted tackles, 23 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

Moul, a three-year starter, was complemented by Currie with 64 unassisted and 15 assisted tackles, Stewart (45 U, 14A), Thimons (33 U, 5A, 12 TFL) and Caye (32 U, 4 A).

Bethel Park’s defensive unit was anchored on the line by senior Josh Libell and Thimons at end with Capone at nose tackle.

Bethel Park started a new streak in 2021, as the covid-19 plagued 2020 season was the first time the team had missed qualifying for the postseason after 18 consecutive WPIAL playoff appearances.

“Bethel Park football is in a great momentum swing,” Celletti said, “and I can’t wait to see what they’re capable of next year.”

Volpatti agreed.

“I’m sad that it was my final season as a Hawk,” he said. “but I can’t wait to come back and see these boys play (next season). They’re gonna be dangerous and fun to watch.”


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