Bethel Park, Peters Township to break 1st-place tie in unpredictable Allegheny 8
Friday, October 18, 2019 | 5:00 AM
Nobody’s perfect in the Allegheny Eight, but that’s because the conference is the deepest in the WPIAL this season.
Every team has lost at least once.
“When you look at your standings and see Woodland Hills and West Allegheny near the bottom, your league is pretty tough,” Bethel Park coach Brian DeLallo said. “If you’re not ready to play, you’re getting beat.”
The key, so far, has been bouncing back.
Bethel Park (5-2, 4-1) endured a heart-breaking loss in two overtimes last week to Baldwin, but the Black Hawks don’t have time to reflect. Waiting for them at 7 p.m. Friday is a first-place matchup with Peters Township (7-1, 4-1) at Bethel Park’s stadium.
Bethel Park, Peters Township and Moon (6-2, 4-1) are locked in a three-way tie atop the conference standings with two weeks left.
“It’s kind of like you get a mulligan after that Baldwin game,” DeLallo said. “We told the kids, you woke up on Friday in first place. You woke up on Saturday in first place. You can’t afford any more mistakes. You can’t have a night like that again.”
Peters Township had a similar experience two weeks ago. The Indians were undefeated before Moon stunned them with a 21-13 victory in Week 6. They bounced back with a 29-point victory over Chartiers Valley.
“You have to take a day to lick your wounds and realize that in six days there’s going to be another quality opponent,” Peters Township coach T.J. Plack said. “You’ve got to either get back on the horse or it’s going to be another long night.”
In Peters Township’s bounce-back win, quarterback Logan Pfeuffer passed for 215 yards and threw two touchdowns to senior wideout Josh Casilli, a Penn recruit. Casilli had 99 yards on eight receptions.
Running back Ryan Magiske added 135 total yards and a touchdown for an offense that’s averaging a conference-best 31.5 points. Peters Township defeated Bethel Park, 35-0, last season.
“Almost all of the skill kids are the same,” DeLallo said, “so in that sense, they look a lot like (last season), but a year better.”
Bethel Park’s strength has been its run game. Senior running back Sean McGowan led the Black Hawks with 198 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries last week. The team erased a two-touchdown deficit in the final 2 minutes to force overtime, but lost 31-28 when Baldwin kicked a game-winning field goal.
The Black Hawks average 27.3 points in DeLallo’s first season as head coach.
“They’re a very good and solid football team,” Plack said. “I hate to call it a typical Bethel team, but that’s what they seem to produce over the years. I see nothing different with this team.”
What hurt Bethel Park’s defense last week were big plays. Baldwin took a lead on a 63-yard touchdown catch, forcing Bethel Park to play from behind. That can’t happen again this week, DeLallo said.
“We’ve got to make them earn it,” DeLallo said. “If they’re going to score, we’ve got to make them score on a 12- or 13-play drive. We can’t just give them free ones.”
Bethel Park and Peters Township have already have clinched WPIAL playoff spots. Moon, Baldwin (5-3, 4-2) and Upper St. Clair (5-3, 3-2) also have clinched. This conference was also competitive last year but nobody predicted five teams with one or two losses entering Week 8.
“It’s exciting to have the quality of opponents each and every week,” Plack said. “I’ve been at programs where you knew you were going to win four or five of your games no matter what. But in this conference, we have to make sure our kids are ready.”
After last week’s loss, DeLallo predicted that his team will be ready.
“The biggest bounce back (motivation) is who we’re playing and what’s at stake,” DeLallo said. “That will get you refocused in a hurry. They put it on us pretty good last year. Obviously there’s some motivation there.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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