Deer Lakes football team begins drastic turnaround by nearly reaching playoffs

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021 | 2:41 PM


It’s quite a contrast to go from 0-7 to waiting around minutes after your final game to see if you made the playoffs.

That best describes the Deer Lakes football situation after the Lancers went winless in 2020 and were in the 2021 playoff running until other Allegheny 7 Conference results were in.

“It was a nice turnaround,” said Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk. “Any time you have positives and try and change the culture, your season can still have some ups and downs.”

Deer Lakes finished 3-3 in the conference, 6-4 overall.

The Lancers started out 0-3 but broke through with a solid victory against Derry and followed that with a 6-0 victory over Valley that marked the 500th game in school history.

A bigger breakthrough came a week later when Deer Lakes kicked a fourth-quarter field goal and held on to defeat East Allegheny, 9-7.

“The East Allegheny game came down to the final 30 seconds,” Burk said. “I told the kids you’ve got to learn to win these kinds of games.”

An illustration of that took place the following week when the Lancers lost in the final minutes to Burrell on a halfback option pass to halt the three-game winning streak.

Another significant win was a 27-14 victory at South Allegheny on Oct. 22. It wasn’t a conference game, but the Lancers proved they could win against a team that made the Class 3A playoffs from the Interstate Conference in the penultimate game at old Glassport Stadium.

That set the stage for the season finale at home against Freeport.

Deer Lakes needed a win or a loss by Burrell to Valley in order to make the playoffs. F

Freeport handled the Lancers, 35-0. But the Valley-Burrell game hadn’t ended. Players and coaches milled around Lancers Stadium, awaiting word on the outcome of that game.

Valley drove late to the Burrell 12 but couldn’t pull out a victory and ended the Deer Lakes season about 15 minutes after the final whistle.

After going basically with sophomores and freshmen in 2020, the program had made significant progress.

“We were building from the ground up,” Burk said. “We’ve established a core a bit ahead of schedule to put us in the mix. Getting in the playoffs would be the icing on the cake.”

Derek Burk, the coach’s son, made strides at quarterback in his sophomore season. He passed for 1,096 yards on 86 completions for eight touchdowns.

Running back Cody Scarentine ran for 843 yards and seven touchdowns after missing his junior season with a leg injury.

Coach Burk praised the progress of senior Josh Jordan, who never came out for football until his sophomore season. Jordan capped his career with 20 receptions for 253 yards.

Derek Burk and fellow sophomore Ryan Cochran have formed a passing combination, with Cochran hauling in 24 catches for 347 yards.

The Lancers plan to hit the weight room in December, but coach Burk said the sophomores couldn’t wait and are lifting already as the school waits to see where it will be under the upcoming WPIAL realignment.

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