Undefeated records add intensity to Aliquippa-Beaver Falls rivalry

Friday, September 21, 2018 | 1:42 AM

Mike Warfield graduated from Aliquippa, played quarterback for the Quips and now is the football team’s first-year coach. His wife is a Beaver Falls native and a Jeter, a storied family among the Tigers.

Clearly, Warfield understands this rivalry.

“There’s even a rivalry inside my home,” Warfield said with a laugh. “She said she’s going to wear all black and be neutral on Friday.”

The Aliquippa-Beaver Falls rivalry renews Friday night at Geneva’s Reeves Field with kickoff at 7 p.m.

This year’s matchup carries added buzz because both teams are undefeated through four weeks. First place in the Tri-County West is at stake for either Beaver Falls (4-0, 3-0) or Aliquippa (4-0, 2-0) in a matchup that should draw a loyal crowd from both communities.

“I’m sure it will because we’re both undefeated,” Warfield said. “But I think we’d have a decent crowd if we were 0-4 just because it’s Beaver Falls-Aliquippa.”

Aliquippa is ranked first in WPIAL Class 3A and Beaver Falls is fifth. Third-ranked Keystone Oaks (4-0, 2-0) also is undefeated in their conference.

“This game is an opportunity to find out exactly what type of team we are,” Beaver Falls coach Nick Nardone said. “Can we play with the big boys and the teams at the top of the ranking?”

But win or lose, Nardone added, this Week 4 matchup won’t define either team’s season.

“A lot of people want to make this a huge deal,” Nardone said. “But to be honest, if we win or lose this game we’re still in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot. If they win or lose, they’re still in the driver’s seat. It’s a big game, it’s a big rivalry, but it’s not going to make or break our season.”

Beaver Falls already has won three more games than last year.

The Tigers were WPIAL and PIAA champions in 2016, but they went 1-8 last year as injuries and inexperience took their toll on Nardone’s first season. Now in his second year, Nardone has Beaver Falls looking more like itself again with a big-play offense.

Tigers quarterback Dayln Brickner had touchdown passes of 82 and 50 yards last week and he also rushed for a 49-yard score in a 25-14 victory over Quaker Valley. Teammate Amen Cottrill added 133 yards on three carries and scored twice.

“They have speed, they have size, they have everything,” Warfield said. “I’m happy for the coach there and what he’s doing in bringing them back from last year. It’s been impressive to watch.”

Beaver Falls’ offense has averaged 38.8 points this season and its defense allows 13. Both are solid but trail what Aliquippa has accomplished in its first four weeks.

The Quips average a WPIAL-best 56 points per game while allowing only six total points — a 1.5-point average.

Aliquippa quarterback Eli Kosanovich passed for 251 and six touchdowns last week to defeat Montour, 62-0, in a nonconference win. Kosanovich threw touchdowns to five different receivers including a pair to senior Avante McKenzie.

Quips star MJ Devonshire extended his punt-return touchdown total to six in four weeks with a 90-yarder.

“You’ve got to keep them in front of you,” Nardone said. “They have athletes and dynamic players all over the field. If we let their wideouts get behind us, they can put up a lot of points real quick.”

Aliquippa hasn’t lost a regular-season matchup to Beaver Falls since 2009, but the Tigers did defeat the Quips just two years ago in the WPIAL finals.

“The rivalry is a great thing for the kids and the community,” Warfield said. “It’s an opportunity for both programs to be competitive and see what they have. … They say iron sharpens iron, so it’s going to make both teams better.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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