Burrell, Freeport preparing for another classic matchup

Thursday, October 15, 2020 | 1:46 PM

When Burrell and Freeport met last season for their annual football contest they put on a show for fans in attendance.

The Bucs came away with a 36-35 victory, winning on a 2-point conversion in overtime.

A lot of time has passed since that clash. Both teams lost large senior classes to graduation which will make Friday’s Class 3A Allegheny Conference game a whole new type of matchup.

“That was last year’s team, this is this year’s team, so there’s two different deals and same deal for them,” Burrell coach Shawn Liotta said. “We have a lot of challenges for Freeport, and they are a very good football team.”

Freeport (2-1, 2-0) is coming off a two-week hiatus after a coach tested positive for coronavirus. They were forced to postpone games with both Valley and East Allegheny just as the Yellowjackets were starting to find their rhythm. So, when they were able to re-take the field for the first time as a team Monday, they were ready to go.

“They were pretty excited to get back out here on Monday,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “We had two good practices on Monday and Tuesday, and there was a lot of excitement to just have a shot to play another game because it didn’t look like it was going to happen.”

With two games to go, the Bucs (2-3, 2-2) are looking to secure their first playoff appearance since 2012. But they must win out to have a shot.

Senior quarterback Alex Arledge, who has thrown for 836 yards and five touchdowns this season, said that’s the primary goal.

“That gives us all the motivation in the world, especially us seniors,” Arledge said. “Everybody on the team has our backs, and getting to the playoffs is all we’re focusing on right now. That’s all we want, and we’re going to do anything we can to get there.”

The teams are set to meet for the 38th time Friday. The Yellowjackets lead the series 23-15, and Burrell is looking to win two games in a row against Freeport for the first time since 2005-06.

The Bucs are starting to click in all the right ways; their second win of the season over Deer Lakes was a sign of that.

For the first time since their Apollo-Ridge matchup in Week 3, wide receivers AJ Corrado, who leads the WPIAL with 595 receiving yards, and Ian Durci took the field together, and Arledge had a field day. He threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns. Corrado caught 11 passes — one shy of a Burrell single-game record — for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and Durci tallied 70 receiving yards as well.

“They are well-coached and their receivers, especially No. 2 (Corrado) and No. 3 (Durci), they catch a lot of balls,” Gaillot said. “Then, their quarterback, he’s the real deal so it’s going to be a big challenge to try and stop them.”

Before their two-week hiatus, it seemed like the Yellowjackets started to find the right personnel as sophomore Ben Lane made the move to quarterback and had a career game.

The 5-foot-9 converted tailback threw for 237 yards and a touchdown while also running 22 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-14 win over Derry. To that point, Lane had only rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns. So, when it comes to stopping the Yellowjackets, Liotta knows it starts with Lane.

“He’s a very dynamic player and whether he’s lined up at quarterback or running back, wherever they put him we have to know where he’s at,” Liotta said. “We have to be able to contain him.”

The teams will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at Freeport.

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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