Mohawk’s quick-strike offense stings Burrell in Class 2A 1st round

Friday, November 3, 2023 | 10:18 PM

Mohawk’s offense was quick and efficient in its 42-0 first-round win over No. 12 Burrell in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs.

On each of their scoring drives, the Warriors ran four plays or less.

“Really?” said senior running back Justin Boston.

“We’ve been pretty explosive all year,” said senior quarterback Jay Wrona. “We struggled last week, and we were excited to get back out and do what we’ve done all year.”

“We wanted to start with physicality up front,” said Mohawk coach Tim McCutcheon. “Our big-play guys have made those big plays for us all year. We’re never sure who it’s going to be. We certainly knew that there were areas we could exploit Burrell on defense.”

The big-play guys certainly showed up for fifth-seeded Mohawk (9-2).

Wrona and senior wide receiver Dante Retort put Mohawk on the board first with a 38-yard pass play. Retort finished with three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Wrona later found sophomore Bobby Fadden for a 21-yard touchdown pass as Mohawk built a 28-0 halftime lead.

Boston got in on the action and gashed Burrell (4-7) on the ground for 123 yards and touchdowns of 35 and 15 yards in the first half. Boston finished with 148 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns.

“Our line just dominated them up front, and I just followed my blockers,” said Boston. “We have a lot of experience on the field, and we know how to go out and get it done.”

Later in the second half, Wrona found Fadden again, this time for a 9-yard pass to make the score 35-0 Mohawk and put the game on ice.

Wrona finished 6 of 8 passing for 80 yards and three touchdowns.

Defensively, the Warriors shut down Burrell’s rushing attack and made sure Bucs junior quarterback Stephen Hasson had no one to throw to. Burrell finished with nine passing yards.

“The tricky part with their passing is they can lull you to sleep because they run so much and a lot of it is deceptive,” said McCutcheon. “They’ll throw out of motion and send deep crossers. They do throwbacks. Just a very unorthodox offense that’s hard to prepare for.”

For Burrell, it was a tough loss that was compounded by the ejection of coach Shawn Liotta and two players.

“Football is now a 12-month a year sport,” said Burrell assistant coach Eric Fusco. “Unfortunately, it has to end. Everybody can’t win. Our kids didn’t give up and fought to the end. These kids work hard, put the time and effort in, and it’s tough what happened to coach Liotta.”

“Burrell kids are just tough kids,” said assistant coach Jeremy Liotta. “My brother can attest to it. They’re tough and gritty kids, and we’ll be back next year ready to go.”

Burrell’s tough runner, senior Devin Beattie, finished with 18 carries for 58 yards.

Mohawk and its high-powered offense will play No. 4 Imani Christian in the quarterfinals next Friday.

“We have some tough guys up front, and we like to start there,” McCutcheon said, looking ahead to next week. “The physicality we see in the Midwestern Athletic Conference I think prepares us well for playoff football from teams in other conferences.”

“We’re going to take the weekend and enjoy this and get back after it Monday,” Boston said.

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