CTK ’16: 6-A Southeastern Conference Preview

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016 | 9:35 PM


A conference in the WPIAL’s largest classification that is made up of southern suburban teams … and doesn’t include Upper St. Clair?

That might seem strange, but that is how things shake down this year under the new six classification system that the PIAA put in place. The Class 6A Southeastern Conference has seven teams, including Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park.

But not Upper St. Clair.

Under the new system, determined by school enrollments, Upper St. Clair will play Class 5A. The rivalry games between Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon, and Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park, are no more. The new 6A Southeastern Conference has southern and eastern teams.

Mt. Lebanon seems to be everyone’s favorite to win the Southeastern, but here is a preview of the conference:

ALTOONA MOUNTAIN LIONS

Altoona moves into a new classification and a new conference – with a new head coach. Nick Felus is in his first year and look for his team to definitely compete for a playoff spot. Seven starters return on offense and defense.

It seems Altoona could have a decent running game with the return of last year’s leading rushers – Josh Russo and Tyler Petucci. They didn’t set the world on fire a year ago, but were serviceable. Russo rushed for 602 yards on 78 carries, and Petucci 420 yards on 86 carries.

A lineman to watch is 6-5, 250-pound Javion Queen. Other returning starters are WR Jake Linder, lineman Jarod Kutz and WR-DB Kyle Good.

BETHEL PARK BLACK HAWKS

For the first time since 2011, Coach Jeff Metheny won’t have his son at quarterback. Levi Metheny was a four year starter for Bethel Park and has graduated. Finding a new quarterback will be big if the Black Hawks want to have another successful season.

Overall, nine starters return for Bethel Park. Two of the best are running back Terron Murphy and lineman James Gmiter. Terron could tear up opponents. He rushed for 1,225 yards last season and the look for Bethel Park to rely heavily on the running game.

Senior receiver-linebacker Chandler Dietz is one of the other top returnees.

CANON-McMILLAN BIG MACS

The Big Macs have won a total of only six games over the past six seasons. But there is some sense of optimism in the air in Canonsburg. Last year, the Big Macs won three games for the first time since 2009. They have a top running back returning this year, and they have seven starters returning on offense and five on defense.

The defense needs to improve the most after allowing 37 points a game last season. The offense, though, shows promise with Bryan Milligan (5-9, 190) returning at running back. Milligan rushed for 1,628 yards last season. Jordan Castelli takes over at quarterback. Receiver Greyden Piechnick was second on the team in receptions last season and Doug Kotar third. Castelli’s play will be a key.

Canon-McMillan has some size with the return of 6-3, 260-pound tackle Aaron Smith and 6-4, 270-pound tackle R.J. Dami. On defense, linebacker Colton Blodgett figures to be one of the top players. Linemen Austin Robl and Joe Colosimo are returning starters along with Rahmiere Knight.

HEMPFIELD SPARTANS

It might seem strange for Hempfield to be in a conference with southern area teams like Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon and Peters Township. But hence the conference name Southeastern. After going 6-4 in 2013, Hempfield slid backwards the past two seasons, winning only three games each year. But coach Rich Bowen’s team could fare better in the Southeastern.

Justin Sliwoski is a top defensive back, but he also will be Hempfield’s quarterback and Bowen thinks pretty highly of Sliwoski.

Center Bussey Remaley should be one of the conference’s best linemen. Other top returnees are the Diandreth twins – receiver Nick and defensive back Isaiah. Linebacker Jake Hoffner will be counted on to be one of the defensive leaders.

The defense must improve. That will be a key for the Spartans after giving up 37 points a game.

MOUNT LEBANON BLUE DEVILS

Mt. Lebanon went 9-2 last season, and it looks like teams will have a devil of a time trying to beat the Blue Devils again.

A total of 15 starters return for a team that lost in the WPIAL quarterfinals to Pine-Richland. Developing a quarterback will be key. Dual-threat Eddie Jenkins has graduated. James Stocker is slated to take over. Stocker won’t have to do it all, though, because he is surrounded by some other talented offensive players.

David Harvey is a 6-1, 205-pound senior who rushed for 688 yards last season, but is a talented linebacker also. Jack Young was a big-play threat last season and figures to be one of the top receivers in Class 6A, if Stocker can get him the ball.

Also returning are all-conference selections Edgar Parrilla at defensive back and Eric Kraus at linebacker.

Other returning starters are WR-DB Nate Bayer, WR Pat Moeller, linemen Chris Lippert, Ken Scrader, Ian Walsh and Cam Haley, DB Beau Greenwood and kicker Garrett Montilla.

NORWIN KNIGHTS

Third-year coach Dave Brozeski has won five games in each of his first two seasons. In order for another .500 season or better, Brozeski must get the best out of a team that has only four returning starters on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback is a major question mark. Nick Amendola was a pretty good dual-threat QB last season, but has graduated. Whoever takes over for him will have big shoes to fill. No matter who takes over, the offense does seem to have potential to run the ball with some effectiveness. Kyle Turcovsky is only 5-7, but he could be big this year after rushing for 643 yards last season. Aaron Carr also returns in the backfield.

Anthony DelleFemine returns at receiver after leading the team in receptions last year with 25.

Other returning starters are lineman Quenten Aranda, defensive back Jayvon Thrift and linebacker Remmington Lojas.

PETERS TOWNSHIP INDIANS

The Indians missed the playoffs by a game last season, and there is reason to believe they should challenge for one of the four playoff spots this year because six starters return on both offense and defense.

The Indians figure to have one of the best QBs in the conference in senior Jake Cortes, who last year completed 109 of 201 for 1,254 yards. Peters Township didn’t have much of a running game last year (the team’s leading rusher had only 231 yards). An improvement in the running game is needed. T.J. Kpan carried the ball 41 times last year and returns. At receiver Alan Snyder caught 15 passes a year ago (he also will start at DB).

The lines could be solid with the return of Logan Stahl, Joe Girouard (6-4, 300), Will Shaw and Mike Burket. Al Calfo is back at tight end and defensive end. Other returning starters are DB Drew Blon and linebacker Nathaniel Hymson.

MSA SPORTS PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:

1.      Mount Lebanon Blue Devils

2.      Bethel Park Black Hawks

3.      Hempfield Spartans

4.      Altoona Mountain Lions

5.      Peters Township Indians

6.      Norwin Knights

7.      Canon-McMillan Big Macs

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