Once unheralded, Bethel Park now dominates Class 5A football in WPIAL

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Saturday, October 22, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Bethel Park’s football team was unranked and seemingly unnoticed at the start of the 2022 season.

That’s now ancient history.

The Black Hawks won seven of their first eight games to climb to No. 1 in Class 5A in the Trib HSSN High School Football rankings. The team was averaging 31.8 points per game offensively and 15.9 efensively.

“Obviously, we are pleased with our performance. Our kids have prepared and played very hard,” coach Brian DeLallo said. “Our expectation is to win this week. We try not to look beyond that.”

Perhaps the Black Hawks’ biggest win of the season came Oct. 7 when they knocked off previously undefeated Upper St. Clair, 27-14, in an Allegheny Six Conference showdown.

Bethel Park won time of possession by a 2-to-1 margin as USC’s offense ran just 12 plays in the second half.

Bethel Park has controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the season. The offensive line includes seniors Logan Pettigrew (5-foot-11, 215 pounds), Braedon Del Duca (6-2, 250), Toby D’Andrea (6-0, 220) and Sam Sciullo (6-1, 210) and juniors Jake Brown (5-11, 265) and Dylan Prindle (6-3, 240), plus senior tight end Aidan Currie (6-2, 215). Del Duca was named first team all-conference last year.

“The unsung heroes are our offensive linemen. They have played a huge role in our success,” DeLallo said. “Our biggest strengths are depth and experience. That comes along with a large, talented senior class. Our senior class has demonstrated great leadership.”

Third-year starter Austin Caye, a 5-10, 190-pound senior running back, led the Black Hawks with 180 rushing yards and a touchdown on 37 carries against USC. As a team, the Black Hawks ran the ball 58 times.

Sophomore quarterback Tanner Pfeuffer completed 6 of 7 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in that game.

Pfeuffer (6-4, 190) has been highly efficient in the air in his first season as the team’s starting signal caller. Through eight games, he completed 81 of 119 passes for 1,093 yards and 11 TDs. He also scored seven times.

His favorite target is sophomore speedster Ryan Petras, who reeled in 35 receptions for 487 yards, averaging close to 14 yards per catch. Petras led the squad in scoring with 14 touchdowns. He also ran for 316 yards on 49 carries.

“Ryan’s performance has been fun to watch. He is a special athlete,” DeLallo said. “Perhaps more important than his athletic ability are his intelligence and his will to prepare. Because he is so smart and he puts in the time to study his playbook and his opponents, we are able to move him around and play him in multiple positions where we can achieve mismatches and get him open.”

Pfeuffer threw for 176 yards and five touchdowns, including four to Petras, in a 56-6 Week 7 rout over Moon. Petras caught five passes for 144 yards.

“(Petras) has unreal speed,” Caye said of his sophomore teammate.

Bethel Park improved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference.

The Black Hawks’ ground game, propelled by Caye, Petras and Gavin Moul (54-328), combined for 1,282 yards on 245 carries through eight contests. The trio averaged 5.2 yards per rushing attempt.

Caye led the team on the ground with 638 yards on 142 tries with six touchdowns.

“No one thought we would be in the position we are in right now at the start of the season besides us,” Caye said. “Our expectations are to obviously win conference, WPIAL and state championships, but really we just take it week by week and try to be 1-0 at the end of every week.”

The athletic Caye also plays basketball and is a member of the National Honor Society with a 3.9 GPA.

“My season has gone pretty good for the most part,” he said. “I’m just trying to get healthy right now.”

Moul, a 6-1, 225-pound senior fullback/linebacker, is a fourth-year starter and a Delaware recruit.

The list of blockers for Caye and Moul is impressive.

Along with the guys up front — Pettigrew at center, Del Duca and D’Andrea at guard, Sciullo, Brown and Prindle at tackle — also opening holes have been Currie, Ty Stewart and Dom Capone from the tight end position along with Moul and Jack Kohnfelder at fullback.

“Austin and Gavin have both played great,” DeLallo said. “Both run with a physical style and get yards after contact. Austin has been dealing with a nagging injury. We held him out against Baldwin and Penn Hills.”

Caye also has been a catalyst in the Black Hawks secondary throughout his career.

“Actually, with Austin’s injuries, Ryan Petras and Jeremiah Hamilton have been sharing free safety duties,” DeLallo said. “Both are doing an excellent job of making our checks and getting us in the correct alignment and coverages.”

Other leading receivers for the Black Hawks in 2022 include Caye, senior WR Dinari Clarks and Currie.

Bethel Park lost at home to Woodland Hills, 27-23, in the first round of last year’s WPIAL playoffs. The Black Hawks are looking to make an extended playoff run this time around.

“We must continue to improve if we are to have success in the postseason,” DeLallo said.

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