Trib HSSN football player of the week for 2023 Week 6

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Sunday, October 8, 2023 | 7:45 PM


The Beth-Center offensive game plan for its Week 6 game against visiting Bentworth was to do what the Bulldogs do best: run the ball.

Little did they know that No. 5 in blue would take the football and never stop running with it.

Beth-Center senior running back Ethan Varesko carried the ball 22 times for a mammoth 438 yards and four touchdowns Friday as the Bulldogs beat the Bearcats, 52-37, to remain tied for second place in the Class A Tri-County South Conference.

“Our first play — we were talking about it all week — should have been a touchdown but our receiver dropped the ball,” Varesko said. “So then we went to our go-to and just ran it down their throats.”

The 438 rushing yards is the eighth-most yards in a game in WPIAL history. The record was set in 2017 by another Tri-County South Conference running back, Dylan Rush of Mapletown, who ran for 524 yards.

As the game progressed and the yards started mounting, Varesko was unaware of the performance he was putting on.

“I was honestly just focused on the next play,” Varesko said. “I went to the sidelines after one of the plays, and my coach said you almost have 200 yards and it was the second quarter and I was like, what? I couldn’t believe it.”

The four touchdown runs were spread out with 65 and 48 yards runs in the second quarter, a 49-yard scoring run in the third quarter and a 49-yard jaunt to the end zone in the fourth quarter.

A year ago, Beth-Center finished 3-7 overall and missed the playoffs.

“Our line really got better with better technique,” Varesko said. “They’ve been doing great.”

The Bulldogs lost their first three games this fall, two of which Varesko was relegated to spectator after being ejected in the season finale a year ago.

The oldest head football coach in the WPIAL, 83-year old Tony Ruscitto, and his B-C staff have kept things positive and the team has responded.

“We definitely have fun with him because of his age,” Varesko said with a laugh. “He’s a great guy. He’ll do anything for us. That’s why we love him. He’s a great coach.”

The Bulldogs are 3-1 in the Tri-County South and are tied for second place with West Greene (3-1) and Jefferson-Morgan (3-1), one game behind California (4-0).

Beth-Center controls its own destiny with three games remaining. The Bulldogs are in good shape for the playoff chase and possibly a conference championship.

The Bulldogs visit first-place California in Week 8 and have a home game Friday against West Greene and the WPIAL’s leading rusher, Colin Brady.

“It will definitely be a ground-and-pound football game,” Varesko said. “Their running back is really tough and he’s not the only one though. They have a young quarterback who’s been doing pretty well, and their line is strong. It will be a really good game.”

WPIAL Week 6 honorable mentions

Ethan Pillar, Pine-Richland

There’s carrying the load for your team, then there is what Pillar did in Week 6 in a nonconference showdown against Class 6A top-ranked Central Catholic. Playing without starting quarterback Kanan Huffman, the Rams turned to their senior running back, who carried the ball a mind-boggling 56 times, gained 300 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 9, 1 and what would be the winning 9-yard score as Pine-Richland stunned Central Catholic, 26-19.

Jayden Oliver, Armstrong

The freshman quarterback saw limited snaps during the first part of the season but has taken over the last three games, and he hasn’t disappointed. Oliver connected on 21 of 29 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Kyan Kline. He also scored on runs of 34 and 27 yards as the River Hawks improved to 5-2 overall and are in second place in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference after beating Indiana, 42-7.

Quadir Stribling, Serra Catholic

When healthy and on the field, quarterback Stribling has been as good as anybody in the WPIAL. The junior continued his outstanding season in Week 6 by completing 20 of 23 passes for 357 yards for a nifty 17.8 yards per completion. He also threw four touchdown passes: two to Jesere Young and one each to Christian Warren and De’ron Washington, covering 11, 9, 46 and 65 yards. The Eagles are in second place in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference after a 40-12 win at Yough.

2023 HSSN Players of the Week

Week 5 – Jay Wrona, Mohawk

Week 4 – Elijah Faulkner, Central Catholic

Week 3 – Jonah Williamson, Trinity

Week 2 – Jake Wolfe, Montour

Week 1 – Bruce Giles, Connellsville

Week Zero – Cameron Epps, South Allegheny

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