Burrell wins, gets help, qualifies for playoffs for first time since 2012

Friday, October 29, 2021 | 10:47 PM

Burrell entered Friday’s Allegheny Seven Conference finale with Valley at Buccaneer Stadium needing a win and a Deer Lakes loss to make the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs.

The Bucs got the win they needed, 19-14 over the Vikings.

They also got the Lancers loss necessary. Deer Lakes fell to Freeport, 35-0.

Burrell is in the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

“I am so proud of our kids,” Bucs coach Shawn Liotta said. “We started 0-6 with a tough schedule. We played a lot of playoff teams. But our kids never wavered. They came every day and worked hard. They believed, and they fought. It looked bleak a couple times tonight, but they kept battling.”

Burrell (3-7, 3-3) got the winning points with 4 minutes, 33 seconds left on a 20-yard run from senior Caden DiCaprio. He finished the game with 36 carries for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

After the score, the Bucs defense still had work to do. Valley took over at its 41 and drove inside the Burrell 15.

The Vikings (2-8, 1-5) set up for a fourth-and-8 from the 12 with 30 seconds on the clock. Quarterback Xavier Wilson took the snap and ran to his left. He was knocked out of bounds by Bucs defensive back Devin Beattie just short of the first-down marker.

Burrell took over, took a knee and ran out the final seconds to secure the win.

“It was our goal since Day 1 to make the playoffs,” DiCaprio said. “That’s what we strived for all season long. Now it’s here, and we are super excited.”

Burrell closed the gap in the all-time series with Valley to 25-17.

Between the first and second quarters, Burrell retired the No. 14 jersey of 2010 Burrell graduate and former Bucs football player Brian Shaw, the New Kensington police officer killed in the line of duty in 2017.

The trophy awarded to the winning team now is known as the Office Brian D. Shaw Battle of the Bypass Trophy.

Valley entered the game knowing it had been eliminated from playoff contention. Coach Muzzy Colosimo coached his final high school football game, as he has announced he will be retiring.

“I love these kids. They played so hard tonight,” Colosimo said. “What else can you say? It was a great game, a great rivalry game. We got so close on that fourth down. Their defense made a play and stopped us. I told the guys that if I was going to battle, I would take them with me every time.”

Wilson finished with 23 carries for 112 yards and both Vikings touchdowns.

His first TD, a run of 13 yards late in the first quarter, came after a tipped Burrell punt set Valley up at the Bucs 26.

Wilson gave the Vikings a 14-13 lead with 2 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third quarter as he scored on a 7-yard keeper.

Burrell took the game’s opening kick and drove inside the Valley 10 on nine runs by DiCaprio. The drive stalled, and Ethan Croushore came on to boot a 27-yard field goal to stake the Bucs to an early 3-0 lead.

DiCaprio, who had 88 yards on 23 carries in the first half, tallied the first of his two touchdowns on a 3-yard run midway through the second quarter.

Croushore then added a 37-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the first half to put Burrell ahead 13-8 at the break.

“Guys made plays all over the field tonight,” Liotta said. “It was a big game, and everyone contributed. That’s why this is the greatest game out there. We are headed to the playoffs, and we are as happy as we can be.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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