Greensburg Salem football riding high after West Mifflin upset

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Saturday, October 5, 2019 | 6:41 PM


Signature wins can turn football seasons around and change perceptions of programs — from the inside and out.

As a nice bonus, they also can move teams closer to historic milestones.

Greensburg Salem pulled off one of the upsets of the night Friday with a 13-10 victory over No. 4 West Mifflin in the Class 4A Big Eight Conference.

The Golden Lions moved to 3-4 and, more importantly, 3-1 in conference, which puts them just a game out of first place behind top-ranked Thomas Jefferson (7-0, 4-0). They also inched closer to a playoff spot.

Players and coaches say they simply stuck to their gameplan and executed it.

“We found their weaknesses early and executed the script the coaches had for us,” Greensburg Salem senior running back Aaren Putt said. “It was definitely a whole team win. Everyone wanted it more than the person lined up across from them.”

The win was No. 697 in program history. With three regular-season games — and any playoff games — remaining, 700 is within earshot.

“It’s in the back of our minds,” Golden Lions coach Dave Keefer said of the milestone that only four other WPIAL schools have accomplished. “But it’s about improving our playoff standing and trying to win playoff games. If we do that, we take care of achieving two goals in one season.”

New Castle, Jeannette, Aliquippa and Washington have more than 700 wins.

But hold the history for now. More on that head-turner Friday:

Greensburg Salem grabbed the lead against West Mifflin (4-3, 3-1) just before halftime and held on after neither team could score in the second half of what became a defensive struggle.

Junior fullback Alex Briggs found himself wide open in the end zone when he snagged a 12-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Trent Patrick late in the second quarter.

The play followed a 49-yard pass from Patrick to senior tight end Ryan Thomas.

“It speaks a lot about our kids since they’ve been in tough situations and tough games,” Keefer said. “They don’t make it about statistics. They make it about wins and losses. That is the definition of a good group.”

Patrick added a 9-yard touchdown run.

“We knew coming into this game it was going to be a fight until the end, and we came out the better team,” Patrick said. “I’m really proud of how everyone played. It was a real display of all of us pulling together as a family.”

Briggs ran for 105 yards on 14 carries.

Keefer said he heard someone reference the idea his team runs a triple-option offense. Not so, but the Golden Lions have had more than a few offensive weapons.

You might say Greensburg Salem is in a rush to get back to the WPIAL playoffs.

The Golden Lions believe in sharing the football. They run an option-type offense, and that is what they have had in the running game: options.

The team has produced five 100-yard games, three from Briggs and one apiece from Putt and Patrick.

Against Laurel Highlands, the Golden Lions churned out a school-record 511 yards. Briggs (144 yards), Patrick (129) and Putt (107) all topped the century mark that night.

“We like to distribute the ball to all six available skill guys,” Keefer said.

Through six games, the Lions had 970 yards rushing — more than 60 percent of their offense.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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