George Guido: A star is born at Highlands

Saturday, October 1, 2022 | 4:10 PM

It was one spectacular night for Highlands junior Aaran Randolph, the area’s newest football standout.

Randolph’s quick rise to prominence came from working out of the wildcat formation for the Golden Rams.

He ran twice for 94 yards in the Sept. 23 game against Indiana. But in Friday’s game against Mars, he put on quite a show. Randolph scored four touchdowns in a span of 5 minutes, 18 seconds, tallying on runs of 13, 24, 19 and 65 yards.

Randolph caught a 19-yard TD pass from Chandler Thimons in the first quarter. As if that wasn’t enough, he threw a 56-yard scoring pass to Thimons.

So counting the final stages of the Indiana game, Randolph scored nine straight Highlands touchdowns four ways: rushing, passing, receiving and an interception return.

Anyone who would like to view Randolph’s exploits can log on to YouTube and punch in Highlands High Sports or watch Comcast Cable 190’s coverage Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Gratzmiller scores

One of the neater things so far in this high school football season is a touchdown by Burrell’s Andrew Gratzmiller.

Gratzmiller, a special needs student, scored on a 1-yard burst in the Sept. 23 game against Yough.

Often times in the past, a touchdown, basket or base hit for such student-athletes are prearranged with the opposing teams.

Not so with Gratzmiller.

“We wanted to get him a legitimate touchdown,” Bucs coach Shawn Liotta said. “We did it in junior varsity a few years ago, and we wanted to wait for the right time. We practice the play once a week.”

Even the most noble efforts, however, rarely go as planned. The first try near the Yough goal line was thwarted by Burrell’s false start penalty, and he was tackled at the 1.

Finally, at the start of the fourth quarter with Burrell in front 36-0, Gratzmiller was given the ball and scored.

Added Liotta: “Andrew is a four-year member of our team. He competes and practices every day. He’s always smiling, and the players love him. I’ve called thousands of plays in my 23-year coaching career, and this could be my best call.”

Gratzmiller’s reaction of jumping up and down when given the game ball is the postgame huddle is priceless.

And he’ll be forever etched on the Burrell scorecard: Gratzmiller 2att-6yds-1TD.

Beattie’s big night

Speaking of Burrell, it was the first time the Bucs visited Wilkinsburg’s Graham Field since 1981.

And it was a memorable visit for Burrell junior Devin Beattie, who led the Bucs to a key 41-20 victory over Imani Christian.

Beattie tied the school record for touchdowns in a game with six, first set by Cole Bush in 2012. He rushed for 298 yards, coming to within 22 yards of the single-game mark set by Brock White in 1998.

Burrell is 5-1 overall, 2-1 in the Allegheny Conference.

The Bucs need two more victories to hit the 300-mark in school history.

Burrell plays three of its last four games at home, including Friday’s conference encounter with Ligonier Valley, a school the Bucs will be playing for the first time.

It will be the 79th school Burrell has played since coming on the scene in 1964.

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