Burrell, Deer Lakes to showcase high-octane passing attacks in Week 5 showdown

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019 | 4:16 PM


Friday night’s matchup between Deer Lakes and Burrell has the makings to be special.

The Class 3A Big East Conference opponents are led by two of the top quarterbacks in the WPIAL. Deer Lakes senior quarterback Aris Hasley has thrust himself into the spotlight this season, completing 89 of his 170 pass attempts for 1,421 yards and 17 touchdowns, while only throwing five interceptions.

Opposing him will be Burrell junior quarterback Alex Arledge. In his first season under center at Burrell, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound signal-caller has taken Shawn Liotta’s run-and-shoot offense to new levels.

He’s completed 71 of 147 passes for 1,162 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions. All eight of those interceptions came in the first three games, and half were against a stingy North Catholic secondary.

With a complicated offense like Liotta’s, where there are several adjusting routes and decisions to be made, receivers and quarterbacks need to be on the same page, and it took a few weeks for the Bucs to get settled.

Arledge has done that the past two games, throwing for a combined 454 yards and seven touchdowns.

“I think it was just making better choices in the pocket and finding the open receivers,” Arledge said of his improvements. “Just playing my game really, getting into the rhythm of it.”

The Bucs (3-2, 2-2) have averaged 27 points per game and scored 135 points. In their past two games, they’ve scored 40 or more, including 43 during a shutout of Uniontown in their Week 3 matchup.

The Lancers (3-2, 3-1) have been just as dangerous offensively, averaging 31.8 points, including a school-record 61- point performance against Yough two weeks ago. The passing game has led the way; Hasley has completed passes to seven different receiver. Six of them have caught touchdown passes, giving Burrell a lot to prepare for.

“They have a lot of weapons, a lot of ways that they can hurt you,” Liotta said. “We have to make sure that we have a good plan in place and we go out there and attack and execute.”

With two high-octane offenses set to take the field Friday at Burrell High School, the defensive schemes will be a major factor. Over the past few weeks, the Bucs have turned in two of their best defensive performances, only allowing six points combined.

Deer Lakes is in search of its defensive identity. After giving up 30 points to Yough, the Lancers forced two turnovers against Mt. Pleasant last week and held the Vikings on their final drive to maintain a three-point lead. But a potent offense like Burrell’s is a whole new animal.

“Shawn (Liotta) is a great offensive-minded coach, and he’s always coming up with new things and new dynamics that you have to be prepared for,” Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk said. “It’s tough and it’s going to be challenging.”

While the product on the field will be exciting to watch, the energy in the stadium will be as equally as electric. Burrell holds the all-time lead in the rivalry, 21-8, giving an extra meaning to their meeting this season.

“It’s huge,” Hasley said. “We’re big rivals, we’ve played them in everything since we were little. So that energy is going to be there on both sides, and it’s a big game for us, so we obviously want to win.”

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

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