Despite being undersized, Brentwood’s Bauer named top lineman in Three Rivers Conference

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018 | 11:12 PM


Luke Bauer stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 200 pounds when he’s soaking wet.

That’s undersized for any athlete battling in the trenches on a high school football team. Some would consider it almost Lilliputian.

But Bauer enjoyed a gigantic season for the Brentwood football team, standing head and shoulders above the rest.

Bauer, a junior at Brentwood, was voted as the top offensive/defensive lineman in the Class 2A Three Rivers Conference, along with being honored as a first-team all-conference selection on both sides of the ball.

“It’s an honor to receive this award and be recognized by other coaches,” Bauer said. “Since I was a freshman, I always had people to push me to go harder then I thought I could. I always tried to be like a sponge and listen to what my seniors told me to do and how to do it. When I became a starter my sophomore year, all the other starters helped me try to become comfortable in the position, which allowed me to become second-team all-conference for defense.

“This year, I knew I had to become a leader and needed to be like all my teammates that had helped me. I was always close with everyone I’ve played with, and I will especially miss my brothers who are graduating. The thing that drives me the most is not to let them down, and I pray and hope I didn’t.”

Bauer led the Spartans with 90 tackles, including 25 for a loss, and accounted for 10 sacks in 2018.

“Luke had a great season, from Game 1 to the very end,” Brentwood coach Kevin Kissel said. “He had a great year on both sides of the ball. Defensively, you notice him more naturally. He makes tackle after tackle. People don’t always watch the offensive line, but I do and he really picked it up (offensively) this year.

“Luke is deserving of this award. I don’t think I’ve ever had an MVP lineman in all my time at Brentwood, and we’ve had some good ones.”

Bauer, who bench presses 320 pounds and does core workouts with a lot of cardio, regularly faces opposing linemen who are bigger than him. For instance, Burgettstown’s Angelo Fratini is a 6-2, 280-pound senior.

Two of Bauer’s best overall performances this year were attained against Burgettstown and Seton LaSalle.

“I put so much time in the offseason being in the gym and working on my moves every day,” Bauer said. “I’m a lot faster and stronger than a lot of people think. I try to use my speed and strength and not give up on a play even if it means I have to chase a guy down or go through the entire other team just to make the play.”

Despite his size, Bauer has been playing in the trenches since his youth football days.

“I played with the Brentwood Dukes since I was around 7 or 8. I have always been a lineman, but not by choice,” he said. “It’s just where the teams that I played for needed me to play, so I do what is best for the team.”

Bauer is a talented multi-sport athlete. He was a member of the Spartans track and field program the past two years, and is planning to play baseball this spring.

“Luke’s best quality is his work ethic,” said Greg Perdziola, Brentwood’s defensive coordinator. “It starts in the weight room. He never misses and he works extremely hard. That carries over to the field. He is relentless and goes full speed in practice. His speed and quickness are his biggest assets. He might be the fastest player on the team. You can’t block him one-on-one, and when you run a play opposite of him, he is fast enough to run it down. I thought he was the best defensive player in the conference. It was well-deserved when he was voted the top lineman.”

Kissel agreed with his longtime assistant coach’s assessments of the diligent, highly energetic Bauer, who has been timed at 4.8 in the 40.

“Luke’s physical talents are unbelievable,” Kissel said. “He’s very strong, he’s fast, he’s dedicated and he’s a hard worker. He leads by example; he goes full speed all the time, even in practice.

“He’s definitely the strongest player on the team. He’s in the weight room every day; he jumps rope like a boxer. He puts his mind to doing something and he just works at it.”

Bauer has a 3.6 GPA this year, and is a member of the garden club at Brentwood. He is hoping to continue his football career at the collegiate level.

“I’m just beginning to look at my options and hope to find a college where I can continue to play,” Bauer said.

He is the youngest of four siblings in an athletic family.

Cory Bauer played quarterback at Brentwood, was an outfielder at Washington & Jefferson, and attended Pitt grad school, where he studied physical therapy. He currently is a physical therapist in Harrisburg.

Justin Bauer was a nose guard for the Spartans and a defensive end at W&J. He is a sales account executive for W.B. Mason.

Sidney Bauer was a four-year athlete in softball and basketball at Brentwood, and graduated from Duquesne in May. She currently works in the Duquesne athletic department, and does video production work with the Penguins.

“It’s a great family. They’re all super kids,” Kissel said. “And they’re all great athletes.”

Brentwood’s football team, with only four seniors on its roster, tied for fifth in the conference this season and finished with a 4-6 record. The Spartans allowed an average of 18.8 ppg, the second-best mark in the conference.

“We had an up-and-down season,” said Bauer, the conference MVP. “We had a young team so we had a lot of players playing for the first time at the varsity level. I think defensively we played well, but offensively we were inconsistent.”

The Brentwood gridders are aiming for a bounce-back year with a return to the WPIAL playoffs in 2019.

“We have a good core group of players,” Bauer said. “I hope we can improve both offensively and defensively and do better next year since we will have most of our team back and have a lot more experience.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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