Trib HSSN football team of the week for 2023 Week 3
Monday, September 18, 2023 | 4:21 PM
He calls the plays for a Knights team that is now 4-0 and is averaging more than 32 points per game.
In blanking the Scotties, Knoch registered its first shutout since a whitewash of Highlands on Sept. 13, 2019.
The Knights’ defense shut down the second leading rusher in the WPIAL coming into the weekend.
Southmoreland senior running back Da’sjon Craggette was averaging more than 12 yards per carry coming into the game, but was limited to only 10 yards on 19 carries.
“We’ve certainly been on an upward trend on defense,” Burchett said. “Steadily week after week we’ve gotten better. We knew going in who their kids were and (Craggette) is a premiere back in the WPIAL; the hype’s kind of real there. We just did a real good job scheme-wise, and we out-physicaled them a little bit.”
The victory also passed the total number of wins for the Knights in the last three years. From 2020-22, Knoch was a combined 3-24.
“It’s a maturation process, not only for the kids, but for me,” Burchett said. “You learn and you grow. The kids bought in, and it was a process. It took a lot of buy-in for our kids to work hard, and we worked our kids hard in the offseason. It comes down to the kids and a well-built coaching staff that the kids trust.”
Junior quarterback Codi Mullen has been spectacular.
In Week 3, he threw for 121 yards and a touchdown on a 26-yard hook-up with Kaden Spencer. He also had 102 yards rushing with most of those coming on long scoring runs of 44 and 51 yards.
For the season, Mullen has thrown for 890 yards and eight scoring tosses, plus he has rushed for 261 yards and five touchdowns.
“His ability to adapt I think is huge,” Burchett said. “We’re starting to see defenses kind of do different things weekly against us. We’ll prepare for a couple of things and then see something different. That’s on our kids and a testament to our offense. I’m not sure we are where we want to be offensively quite yet, but we’re starting to hit a good little stride here.”
Knoch has nonconference wins over Hampton, Indiana, Beaver Falls and Southmoreland. Its toughest challenge before opening WPIAL Class 3A Allegheny Six Conference action in Week 5 will be this Friday when the Knights visit undefeated and No. 2-ranked Elizabeth Forward.
“I don’t think they get talked about enough; they’re an elite program,” Burchett said. “This is a very good football team with a lot of good kids that are well-coached and ready to go. I think they’re a little under the radar, I definitely don’t think they get enough recognition for the kind of season they’re putting together.
“This is a huge test and probably the best team we’ve faced all year thus far. This is 100% a measuring stick game.”
WPIAL Week 3 Honorable Mentions
The biggest eyebrow raiser of Week 3 was 0-3 Moon going to top-ranked Penn Hills and stunning the 3-0 Indians. Tigers senior running back Josh Bladel ran for 134 yards, with a big chunk of that total coming on his game-winning fourth quarter 74-yard scoring run. The victory brought back kind memories for Moon. While 2022 was a rough season for the Tigers, they reached the district semifinals in 2021, including a 14-9 semifinals victory over Penn Hills.
While unbeaten Avonworth still lurks for South Park and Beaver, the winner of the 3-0 vs. 3-0 Class 3A showdown in Week 3 would be in position to play for a Western Hills Conference title if they continued to take care of business. On Friday, it was the Bobcats giving the Eagles “the business” as Beaver sophomore quarterback Travis Clear connected on 7 of 11 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns, while junior Amari Jackson rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns and junior Qualan Cain ran for 122 yards and a score in a 49-23 win over South Park.
South Side Rams
In back-to-back nonconference wins, Northgate scored a combined 73 points. The Flames nearly gave up that many in their Class A Big 7 Conference opener in Week 3. South Side senior quarterback Brody Almashy was 5 of 7 passing for 111 yards and three touchdown tosses, two to Ben Bird and the other to A.C. Corfield, plus he rushed for another touchdown as South Side jumped out to a 41-6 lead by halftime and improved to 4-0 by dousing the Flames, 55-6.
2023 HSSN Teams of the Week
Week 2 – Waynesburg Central Raiders
Week 1 – Aliquippa Quips
Week Zero – Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils
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