Derry golf has shot to end 43-year title drought

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Monday, September 18, 2017 | 8:09 PM


It was a historic season for the Derry football team in 2016.

The Trojans had their first undefeated regular season and won a playoff game for the first time in 24 years.

Now the Derry boys golf team is on the verge of ending an even longer streak. The Trojans haven't won a section title since 1974.

That's a 43-year drought.

All Derry needs to do is win two of its final three matches to clinch at least a tie for the Section 2-2A title.

Standing in the Trojans' way is a match Wednesday against once-beaten Greensburg Central Catholic at hilly Mt. Odin Golf Course in Greensburg. They also have home matches with Frazier on Friday and Southmoreland on Monday.

Derry won the first match 231-241 at Latrobe Elks Golf Course. But GCC golfers feel they have an edge on their course.

Trojans coach Jason Pishney said his team played well at Mt. Odin in the past and is looking forward to the challenge.

“The players have come a long way the past couple years,” Pishney said. “They've put in a lot of work, and this has been the year that it came together. They function as a team, they took practices very seriously each time and during the matches they had a game plan that they executed each match.”

Derry dropped a nonsection match to Norwin to open the season and since has rolled off nine consecutive wins.

The Trojans don't have a superstar, just six players who score well in a group.

Senior Isaac Buterbaugh is the No. 1 man, and fellow senior Angelo Copelli is No. 2.

“The beginning of the season started real good,” Buterbaugh said. “We put a lot of work in, and the boys were firing on all cylinders.

“We were nervous early in the season because we knew we had pressure on us because Southmoreland lost a couple kids, and it gave us a better chance to win the section. After the first match, we just kept rolling. We kept winning, and it built our confidence.”

The other four starters are Nick Feliciani, Aiden Bushey, Connor Lenhart and Ryan Bushey.

“We put in work in the summer and went out together to practice a lot,” Copelli said. “We would tell each other if we were doing something bad. We're a tight-knit team, and we help each other.

“This season has been a blast. The past four years, we've been struggling and getting so close to the section title. This year, we have a chance to achieve it.”

Derry qualified for the WPIAL team tournament the past two seasons.

“If we win the section, it would show that a program from a smaller school can win, and it would give us an extra push,” Pishney said. “Golf is a great sport that challenges you mentally as well as physically.”

Buterbaugh said the quick start told the players, ‘the section is ours.”

“I can't describe the feeling if we win the section title,” Buterbaugh said. “All of us have put in so much work over the summer and offseason, and to be able to see all our hard work pay off is amazing, absolutely astonishing.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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