With slew of starters returning, expectations soaring at Bethel Park

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022 | 8:01 AM


Bethel Park coach Brian DeLallo can count on an impressive list of returning players for the 2022 edition of his football team.

Missing from the list is an experienced quarterback candidate, someone to take over for the highly acclaimed Max Blanc, now a freshman at Youngstown State.

“Our most pleasant surprise has been the development of our young quarterbacks.” DeLallo said. “We have two sophomores battling for the job. Jack Bruckner and Tanner Pfeuffer are engaged in a great competition. The best thing about it is seeing how supportive they are of each other. They are each helping the other become a better player.

“There is great competition at most spots, especially quarterback.”

Both young signal callers are supported by a strong cast of players on offense, including seniors Austin Caye at running back, Gavin Moul at fullback, Dinari Clacks at wide receiver, Aidan Currie and Ty Stewart at tight end, sophomore Ryan Petras at the “athlete” position, and seniors Logan Pettigrew, Dom Capone, Braedon Del Duca, Toby D’Andrea and Sam Sciullo and junior Jake Brown on the offensive line.

“We have high expectations,” DeLallo said. “We have players who have started at least seven games returning at 17 of 22 spots on offense and defense, so we think we have the chance to be very good. We expect to contend for conference and WPIAL championships.”

Big things are expected from a healthy Caye in the offensive backfield.

“Austin is 100% healthy for the first time in his career,” DeLallo said. “He started as a sophomore but suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. I think he will surprise people as a runner.”

Caye also is a catalyst in the Black Hawks’ secondary.

“He is the quarterback of our defense and makes all our coverage checks,” DeLallo said.

Moul, meanwhile, is four-year starter who has developed a reputation as a hard hitter and punishing tackler.

“We have high expectations for Gavin,” DeLallo said. “Our defense feeds off his hustle and love of contact. We are excited to see him run the ball more often this season.”

The early starters on defense this year will include Capone at nose guard, senior Coby Goelz and sophomore Clancy Orie at end, Currie, Moul and Stewart at linebacker and seniors Jason Nuttridge, Jack Reilly, Jeremiah Hamilton, Caye and Clacks in the secondary.

While Moul did much of the lead blocking for last year’s 1,000-yard rusher, Troy Volpatti, he was highly visible from his linebacking post with 69 unassisted tackles, 12 assisted tackles, 23 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Moul was complemented on defense by Currie with 64 unassisted and 15 assisted tackles, Stewart (45-14) and Caye (32-4).

Bethel Park’s coaching staff welcomed 29 returning lettermen back this season.

Offensively, those looking to make an impact in 2022 include RBs Nick Howrlyak and Jack Kohnfelder, WRs Colton Pfeuffer and Nuttridge, TE Clandy Orie and linemen Mike Frost, Brady Remington, Aidan Campbell and Dylan Prindle.

Other players to watch on defense include linemen Rob Lakandula, Del Duca and D’Andrea, LBs Christian Davis, Sciullo and Howrylak, and DBs Cordan McDonnell, Mitch Paschl, Petras, Pfeuffer and Kohnfelder.

Bethel Park is a member of the Allegheny Six Conference in Class 5A again this season. Following a rugged early season schedule of North Hills, Mt. Lebanon, Central Catholic and Canon-McMillan, the Black Hawks’ conference opener is set for Sept. 23 at Baldwin.

“We play a very challenging schedule, so we will find out early how good we are,” DeLallo said.

The Black Hawks compiled a 5-5 record in 2021 before losing to Woodland Hills, 27-23, in a first-round WPIAL playoff game.

A four-game winning streak propelled Bethel Park to an eventual 3-2 record in the conference and a playoff berth.

After a 1-3 start, BP defeated Franklin Regional, 28-13, West Allegheny, 26-10, South Fayette, 27-7, and Peters Township, 38-8.

DeLallo said the win against Peters Township was his team’s biggest of the year.

“And I mean that in a completely complimentary way toward them,” he said. “There are a few reasons. First, they had beaten us the past three years. Second, they had been in the WPIAL championship (game) the past two years. Third, we have a ton of respect for their program. They have great kids and a fantastic coaching staff.

“So, yes, beating them told our kids we can play with, and beat, top-flight 5A programs. While we showed much improvement over 2020, we were disappointed we did not play better against Woodland Hills.”

Bethel Park started a new streak in 2021, as the covid-19 plagued 2020 season was the first time the team had missed qualifying for the postseason after 18 consecutive WPIAL playoff appearances.

Bethel Park

Coach: Brian DeLallo

2021 record: 5-6, 3-2 in Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference

All-time record: 468-392-31

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 North Hills, 7

9.2 at Mt. Lebanon, 7

9.9 Central Catholic, 7

9.16 at Canon-McMillan, 7

9.23 at Baldwin*, 7

9.30 Penn Hills, 7

10.7 at Upper St. Clair*, 7

10.14 Moon*, 7

10.21 at South Fayette*, 7

10.28 Peters Township*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Max Blanc*

99-188, 1,323 yards, 7 TDs

Rushing: Troy Volpatti*

207-1,068, 16 TDs

Receiving: Jack Kirchner*

32-467, 4 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Braedon Del Duca was a first team all-conference selection at offensive guard last season. Gavin Moul (ILB) and Austin Caye (DB) were named first team all-conference on defense.

• Jason Nuttridge and Coby Goelz were starters in 2020 who were injured playing baseball and never took a snap last season. Nuttridge was projected to start at wide receiver and defensive back a year ago. Goelz was expected to play on both lines.

• QB Max Blanc’s favorite targets in the receiving department a year ago were WR Jack Kirchner, RB Troy Volpatti, TE Aidan Currie, WR Ryan Petras and TE Joe Thimons.

• The top four teams in the conference in 2021 were Moon (5-0), Upper St. Clair (4-1), Bethel Park (3-2) and Peters Township (2-3). Moon finished as the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up.

• A conference title in 2022 would be Bethel Park’s first since 2017.

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