Trib HSSN Football Team of the Week for Nov. 29, 2021

Monday, November 29, 2021 | 7:47 PM

From 2012-2016, the Serra Catholic football team was a combined 10-38 in five seasons with one playoff appearance.

After Jose Regus was hired before the 2017 campaign, the Eagles have gone 38-17, have reached the district playoffs all five years with a postseason record of 6-4 and are now WPIAL champions.

“It was a great feeling being able to just make it and participate in the championship game,” Regus said. “It was a first-time experience for most of the coaches and players. I tell my coaches they’re the best staff in the WPIAL. We have a great bond; nobody has left since we started five years ago.”

Serra Catholic (14-1) sealed the deal on the program’s third district crown and first since 2007 with a dominant defensive performance in a 35-12 victory over 2020 WPIAL Class 2A champion Beaver Falls.

The Eagles forced nine turnovers with five fumble recoveries and four interceptions, plus they scored three defensive touchdowns.

“I have a lot of faith in my defensive guys,” Regus said. “There are no limits on how they will respond, and they have shown up in more than just the championship game.”

Indeed, Serra Catholic was coming off back-to-back postseason wins in which they shut out previously undefeated Laurel in the district quarterfinals and limited the WPIAL’s second highest-scoring offense to only two touchdowns in a 13-12 semifinal win over unbeaten Sto-Rox.

On Friday in the title game, Beaver Falls junior Isaiah Aeschbacher returned the opening kick deep inside Serra Catholic territory. Four plays later, the Tigers led, 6-0.

“The defensive did a good job the first three downs, and that was a great play on the fourth down that they scored on,” Regus said. “I knew we could stop them and would not continue to let them score on fourth-down plays.”

Senior running back Machai Brooks-Duetrieulle answered for the Eagles with an 11-yard scoring run that put Serra up for good, 7-6.

The Eagles’ first defensive score happened in the second quarter on a 30-yard pick-six by junior Elijah Ward.

However, while the Beaver Falls turnovers continued to mount in the rest of the second and third quarter, it remained an eight-point lead for No. 6-seeded Serra. Did this make for some nervous moments on Serra sidelines?

“I would not say nervous,” Regus said. “The offense had a few series where we were three-and-out, so the defense knew they had to step up.”

Then early in the fourth, Beaver Falls scored and had a chance to tie on a two-point conversion, but their run attempt failed.

Down two, Beaver Falls got the ball back when the takeaway avalanche continued and caved in the Tigers’ hopes of a repeat.

Senior Terrell Booth had a 15-yard pick-six, Brooks-Duetrieulle scored shortly thereafter following another BF turnover, then junior Dai’Quan Chatfield had a scoop and score on a Tigers fumble to seal the deal for Serra Catholic.

Brooks-Duetrieulle finished with 94 yards rushing to lead Serra while senior quarterback Max Rocco threw for 46 yards and ran for 19.

“They both were doing OK, but Max had missed a couple shots we thought were open that he could have had,” Regus said. “Machai was close to breaking a couple runs.”

This has been a tough year personally for Regus. He suddenly had issue with his legs and arms earlier this year and after months of searching for answers, he was diagnosed this fall with the neurological disorder CIDP (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy), which prevents him from walking more than a few steps with a walker. He has spent most of the season coaching in a wheelchair.

“As everyone says, God works in mysterious ways,” Regus said. “As I go through my medical situation, God is still blessing me.”

Up next for the WPIAL 2A champs is a battle Friday at Slippery Rock University in the PIAA semifinals against District 10 champion and state power Farrell.

“It’s just next team up for us,” Regus said. “We will watch film, come up with game plan and play.”

2021 HSSN Team of the Week

Week 12 – Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils

Week 11 – Penn Hills Indians

Week 10 – Laurel Highlands Mustangs

Week 9 – South Allegheny Gladiators

Week 8 – Leechburg Blue Devils

Week 7 – Beaver Bobcats

Week 6 – Seneca Valley Raiders

Week 5 – Upper St. Clair Panthers

Week 4 – Mohawk Warriors

Week 3 – Union Scotties

Week 2 – McKeesport Tigers

Week 1 – Shaler Titans

Week Zero – Northgate Flames


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