Loaded Serra Catholic has big goals: ’16-0 or bust’

Thursday, August 26, 2021 | 5:01 PM

The expectations shared by those in the football locker room at Serra Catholic are the same this season: Win a conference title, claim a WPIAL championship and capture a state title.

“We want to go all the way, 16-0 or bust,” Serra Catholic coach Jose Regus said. “We want to jump in the driver’s seat, drive down the road and take on what we have to take on. We have a lot of confidence heading into the season, but we also want to take it one game at a time and give 100%.”

There’s no need for the Eagles to find any additional motivation heading into the new campaign.

After experiencing what they did last season, this year’s veteran-heavy group is prepared to tackle the new challenges head on.

Serra is coming off a season in which five of its games, including three conference games, were canceled due to covid-19. The Eagles ended up 5-1 overall and 2-0 in Allegheny Conference play. They advanced to the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals with a win over McGuffey before falling to Sto-Rox, 49-38.

“It was hard keeping the kids focused,” Regus said. “We had a few games we prepared for and then we got to Thursday before being told it was canceled. It was tough, but we pushed through it and kept them ready.”

A talented and experienced group of players are set to return to “The Nest.”

The Eagles offense will be led by senior quarterback Max Rocco, who is entering his third season as the starter.

Last season, Rocco threw for more than 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“We’re looking for a lot out of Max this year,” Regus said. “He has the receivers to have a 3,000-yard season if he wants.”

There will be plenty of scoring threats involved in Serra’s passing game, including all-conference senior wide receivers Terrell Booth and Jayvon Campbell-Holt. The duo combined for more than 800 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago.

Other contributors will be seniors Zach Weber and Pharoh Fisher and juniors Daiquan Chatfield and Amire Spencer. Spencer, a transfer from Brentwood, led the Spartans with 17 catches for nearly 300 yards last season, along with six total touchdowns.

“These guys are top receivers in the WPIAL,” Regus said. “They have speed and great ability. Max has nothing but talent surrounding him, so I think we’re going to be pretty good offensively.”

Machai Brooks-Dutrieuille returns for his senior season and will anchor a Serra backfield that also includes junior Paul Pearson. Brooks-Dutrieuille led the Eagles with 74 carries for 551 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior.

“We have a really good rotation of players and can keep guys fresh,” Regus said. “They know that when it’s their turn, they have to be ready.”

Though Serra returns nine starters on both sides of the ball, there are two players in particular who must be replaced.

On the offensive line, the Eagles will have to atone for the departure of Kyle Sullivan.

Senior Danny Opferman will lead the way and anchor the line at the center position, while classmate Matt Bisceglia will be counted upon to serve as another key figure up front.

“The offensive line is looking pretty strong,” Regus said. “We have a nice mix of key returners and some young guys as well.”

Defensively, Serra will have to make up for the production lost with the graduation of John Banner, who led the team with 49 total tackles last season. He averaged 8.2 stops per game.

Talent remains on the defensive side of the ball, though.

Both Pearson and fellow senior Ryan Brooks return to anchor what Regus believes could be the best defensive line in the WPIAL.

Pearson had 31 total tackles last season, including nine for loss. Brooks finished with 35 tackles and 10 for loss.

Among the linebackers Serra will rely on are Bisceglia, Weber and junior Michael Schanck, a player Regus raves about.

Holt, Booth, Brooks-Dutrieuille and Fisher are expected to be the leaders of the Eagles’ secondary. Fisher committed to the U.S. Naval Academy last weekend.

“We have a great group of guys here,” Regus said. “They’re all here and ready to work.”

Serra Catholic

Coach: Jose Regus

2020 record: 5-1, 2-0 in Class 2A Allegheny Conference

All-time record: 219-332-6


Date, Opponent, Time

8.27 South Allegheny, 7

9.3 East Allegheny, 7

9.10 at Imani Christian, 7

9.17 Seton LaSalle, 7

9.24 at Carlynton, 7

10.1 Shady Side Academy*, 7

10.8 at Ligonier Valley*, 7

10.15 at Apollo-Ridge*, 7

10.22 Summit Academy*, 7

10.29 at Steel Valley*, 7

*Conference game


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