Mt. Pleasant, Latrobe looking to correct flaws, get back in win column

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 | 4:57 PM

For some high school football teams, conference play begins this week.

That’s not the case for Mt. Pleasant and Latrobe. They must wait another week before they start conference action. The extra week gives these teams another game to fine-tune things.

And, boy, do Class 3A Mt. Pleasant and Class 5A Latrobe have some things to work on, especially coming off losses. The teams square off in a nonconference game at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium in Latrobe.

For Mt. Pleasant (2-1), fixing its pass defense and cleaning up some untimely penalizes that occurred in a 34-6 loss to Class 4A Greensburg Salem are at the top of coach Jason Fazekas’ list.

For Latrobe (1-2), finding a way to close out games and learning how to win are what coach Jason Marucco hopes his team achieves. The Wildcats could be undefeated, but they couldn’t hold on to fourth-quarter leads against Norwin (31-28) and Kiski Area (35-27).

“Exhibition games or not,” Fazekas said, “we want to go out perform well and win games. Some of the teams we have in exhibition are quality teams and are pretty well coached. It’s definitely a big challenge for us.”

After opening the season with easy wins against Burrell and Derry, the Vikings stumbled against Greensburg Salem. They allowed three touchdown passes of more than 55 yards in the first half and committed 12 penalties that either stopped their drives or continued Greensburg Salem possessions.

The Vikings defense faces the challenge of slowing down Latrobe’s ground game featuring Drake Clayton and Kyle Brewer, who has scored nine touchdowns. Fazekas also is leery of the Wildcats’ passing game, which is minus quarterback Bobby Fetter, who injured his left shoulder against Norwin.

Clayton has rushed for 405 yards, and the multi-dimensional Brewer has rushed for 163 yards and caught eight passes for 118 yards.

“Latrobe is talented running the ball, and it’s a good team throwing the ball,” Fazekas said. “They have a very good plan that they execute. We have to be ready in all parts of the game.”

Mt. Pleasant also has a good ground attack led by Robbie Labuda and Aaron Alakson. Quarterback Tyler Reese is dangerous with his legs and his arm. Labuda has rushed for 261 yards, Alakson 207 and Reese 206.

Penalties slowed them down against Greensburg Salem.

“I’m sure Mt. Pleasant will come in hungry to our stadium after falling last week,” Marucco said. “One thing I know about Mt. Pleasant, it’s going to be well coached, and I know the clientele: kids that love to play the game and play hard. We’re expecting a big challenge from them.”

With Fetter sidelined, the Wildcats are using either senior Brayden Reott or junior Corey Boerio, who switched back from tight end, at quarterback. Boerio played quarterback in junior high.

“Who we play at quarterback will be determined by how teams defend us,” Marucco said. “Both do different things well. Both guys stepped in and ran our offense, and we haven’t missed a beat the last two weeks. That’s what I expect to continue.

“We just have to worry about ourselves and continue to get better. Kyle has been great, and our front — Tyler Lynch, Jacob Brisky, Aiden Sweeney and all the guys — have done a real nice job.”

So what do the coaches want from their final tune-up before the start of conference play?

“No. 1, we want to get back in the win column,” Marucco said. “We certainly felt we’ve done enough to win those games the last two weeks. But, again, we hold ourselves accountable. We just didn’t make plays at key times late in the game after we worked real hard to take the lead. I want to see that improve as we move forward.”

Said Fazekas: “I want to see us respond. I want them to do what they are coached to do, and I want to see what we put in is going to be better. We want to be a better team at the end of this week.”

Latrobe defeated Mt. Pleasant, 35-7, in 2020 to even the series at 12-12-1.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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