Leechburg searching for 1st 3-0 start since 2000 season

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 | 4:43 PM

The rumors are false.

This isn’t the first time Leechburg has been featured as the Valley News Dispatch Game of the Week since David Leech was minding his mills and factories in the 1850s.

But it’s been a while.

The Blue Devils are 2-0 and excitement is building in the community for the first varsity game on Leechburg Veterans Stadium’s artificial turf Friday against Brentwood.

It will be a nonconference game but Leechburg is seeking its first 3-0 start since 2000, and Brentwood (1-1) will be trying to build on its decisive, 33-0 victory last week against Frazier.

The Blue Devils are coming off wins against Jefferson-Morgan (69-16) and Summit Academy (43-8). Tailback Braylan Lovelace is the No. 2 rusher in the WPIAL with 324 yards and seven touchdowns. Thomas Burke III is coming off a 12-17 passing performance against Summit.

The place where Veterans Stadium sits was supposed to be the site of a hospital years ago, but the team might want to set up a triage unit anyway. Leechburg’s injuries on the line are numerous, and coach Randy Walters will likely have to mix-and-match until the linemen get healthy.

“I’m very pleased with our skill people and very pleased with our line, too, but we haven’t had our starting line together for one game yet,” Walters said. “If we can get what I projected to be our starting line together, we could be pretty good.”

Jacob Reinke’s return would help, but the 6-foot, 220-pound, two-way lineman’s status may be a game-day decision.

“I love my team and I know what our skill kids are able to do,” Walters said. “We’ve just had to play some guys on the line we weren’t sure of then we lost a couple that we projected. The kids that have gone in their have done a helluva job, but we’ve got to keep scoring.”

Brentwood has had some great teams in the past under coach Kevin Kissel, including a WPIAL Class 2A semifinalist in 2019.

“We don’t know how good we are right now, but I figure this will be a good test for us,” said Kissel, who has a 141-108 record in his 25th season with the Spartans.

“Leechburg’s got some great talent, but they’re short on guys like we are,” the veteran coach said. “We had 26 kids at practice this week, we had a couple who went down.”

Brentwood’s quarterback, Jace Keib, was 11 of 14 passing last week against Frazier and has thrown for 232 yards in two games with five touchdowns.

Receiver Mitchell Fox has seven catches for 149 yards.

Leechburg and Brentwood haven’t played since 2009. The Blue Devils won the first game in 1988 and the Spartans all six since.

“It’s going to be fun Friday, they’ll be a ribbon-cutting and all that kind of stuff,” Walters said. “There’s going to be a nice crowd. It about the kids, though. They’ll be all jacked up.”

“We got our ‘turf eight years ago,” Kissel said. “It’s been great for us. Before, when it would rain, we couldn’t practice on our field for a week at times. It’ll be a great night for them, and that’s what high school football’s all about.”

The first overall game on the new surface was a junior high football game Wednesday night.

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