Brentwood football lays foundation for special season with solid first half

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Friday, September 27, 2019 | 7:20 PM


The Brentwood football team is on the cusp.

With a 4-1 overall record at midseason, the Spartans were tied for first with defending champion Burgettstown at 3-0 in the Three Rivers Conference.

“So far, so good. We’re playing decent,” coach Kevin Kissel said. “We’re coming up on the tough part of our schedule.”

The Spartans will face the meat of their schedule in the season’s final month — at South Side and Serra Catholic, at home against Carlynton, followed by a showdown on the road at Burgettstown.

But the Spartans were sitting right where they wanted to be at the season’s halfway point.

“We were hoping to win the conference and be in the playoffs,” Kissel said. “I thought we’d be in the hunt. The main thing is we have to stay healthy. We have some injuries right now, and we have some guys out.”

Brentwood generated some impressive numbers in its first five games.

Following a 26-21 nonconference loss to Keystone Oaks, Brentwood reeled off consecutive wins over South Allegheny (19-7), Seton LaSalle (34-23), Fort Cherry (13-0) and, in a nonconference matchup, Frazier (34-0).

The Spartans averaged 24.2 points and allowed 11.2, which included the back-to-back shutouts.

It marked the first time since 2011 that Brentwood posted consecutive whitewashes. The Spartans finished 9-2 that year after advancing to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“Our defense is getting better week to week,” defensive coordinator Greg Perdziola said. “We have zero points allowed in the last 10 quarters. We still have a lot of room for improvement, and our competition is going to get tougher in the next couple of weeks. We have had a lot of injuries, but our backups have stepped in and done a nice job.”

The Spartans’ offensive catalyst, similar to last season, is 6-foot-4, 170-pound senior quarterback John Milcic, who accounted for 1,217 total yards through five games. Milcic hit on 62 of 113 passes for 946 yards and nine scores and ran for 271 yards and four TDs on 67 carries.

“I think we’re playing really good on defense and on offense,” Milcic said. “We just need to straighten up a few things. The next four games we play are all going to be tough, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t handle them and win.”

Milcic led the team in passing and rushing last season. He connected on 98 of 227 passes for 1,189 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also ran for 503 yards and eight scores, giving him 1,692 yards and 21 touchdowns in total offense.

His two-year offensive totals stood at 2,909 yards, 22 scores in the air and 12 on the ground.

Aiden Wardzinski, a 5-10, 185-pound junior running back, also has made his presence felt. He was the Spartans’ leading rusher with 299 yards and two TDs on 60 carries and leading receiver with 25 receptions for 262 yards and one score.

Senior lineman Luke Bauer, the reigning conference MVP, proved once again to be a dynamic force on both sides of the ball.

“I think we are doing really good and are still heating up,” said the 5-11, 200-pound Bauer. “There is still a lot of work to do. We know this second half of our schedule is going to be tough with a lot of good teams still left to play. We are trying to take one game at a time and, hopefully, we can make something special happen.”

Along with being named first-team all-conference on offense and defense last year, Bauer was lauded as the most valuable lineman. He also was an all-conference selection as a sophomore.

“We have some outstanding players on this team,” Kissel said. “Luke Bauer’s been unbelievable, on offense and defense. Johnny Milcic is having a great year. Aiden Wardzinski is playing good, too.”

Perdziola praised Bauer’s defensive achievements this season.

“Luke, as expected, is a force and is playing at a high level and dominates at times,” Perdziola said.

Along with Bauer, Brentwood’s defensive corps consists of linemen Matt Veatch, Steve Bakowski and Matt Shy, linebackers Ian Thomas, Jack Wisenauer, Michael Silvio, Zander Johnson, Lamaar Williams, Kevin McCleary and Wardzinski, with Jayneil Latham, Eddie Gomez and Milcic in the secondary.

Latham (15-246) and Gomez (13-269) also are top receiving threats for the Spartans, as is Amire Spencer (5-126).

Spencer, a 5-8, 145-pound freshman, averaged 25.5 yards per catch and 12 yards per rushing attempt on four carries.

Gomez, the team’s left-footed kicking specialist, averaged 20.7 yards per reception, followed by Latham (16.4) and Wardzinski (10.5).

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