Penn-Trafford’s unsung heroes to bring lunch pails to WPIAL championship game

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021 | 2:08 PM


When people talk about the 2021 Penn-Trafford football team, the names that are mentioned frequently are Wisconsin recruit Cade Yacamelli, quarterback Carter Green and members of the imposing offensive line.

But there is a lot more to the Warriors.

Every successful football team has players that go unnoticed to the casual observer.

They may not be the stars of the team and make the headlines, but they play a key role in their team’s success. They are the unsung heroes — the players that just do their jobs, game in and game out.

At Penn-Trafford, they are linebackers Seth Dunlap, Josh Huffman and Daniel Tarabrella.

They may sound like a law firm, but when it comes to making plays, they defend their turf.

The trio has played a key role in Penn-Trafford’s success and will play a big part in Saturday’s WPIAL Class 5A championship game against Moon at Heinz Field.

“They are outstanding players,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “They are three hard-working, dedicated kids that have been moved around positionally, going from one linebacker spot to another.

“Nothing major, except Seth moved from corner to linebacker, which was a big change. All three are real intelligent kids, real high-motor kids and are students of the game that mentally get after it so they can physically do it on Fridays.”

Tarabrella leads the Warriors with 79 tackles (49 solo), a sack and a forced fumble.

Huffman has recorded 65 tackles, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass, while Dunlap has 36 tackles (29 solo).

“I can’t say enough about the progress of all three,” Ruane said. “They truly have gotten better every single week. Those three have performed at a high level each game.”

Tarabrella said they do what they are taught.

“You have to play your role,” Tarabrella said. “You have to focus on reading what the line does. If the line pulls or drops back in pass protection, then you react.”

Tarabrella said cohesiveness is what makes the Warriors so successful.

“We’re family,” Tarabrella said. “We love each other and we feed off each other. We work together as a team.”

Dunlap added the job is to contain any run that comes their way. They will be tested by Moon’s vaunted rushing attack.

“Every week, we come with toughness and do our job,” Dunlap said. “We have to do the same thing we always do: contain them.”

Penn-Trafford’s defense in playoff wins against Fox Chapel and Pine-Richland has been sound. The Warriors stopped the run and forced their opponents to throw the ball.

Huffman said the job of the linebackers is getting off blocks and making tackles.

“We all focus on doing our jobs,” Huffman said. “We like to stop the run.

“We feed off each other. If one guy makes a play, someone else is more excited than the guy who made it. We have energy for each other.”

Huffman said the goal is simple against Moon: just get the job done.

“We have to go into the game with the right attitude and work together as a team,” Tarabrella said. “We have to believe in each other and do your job.”

If Penn-Trafford does that, it might be the first team in school history to bring home a WPIAL title.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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