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South Allegheny sports finding success this fall

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, 12:20 a.m.
South Allegheny's Ryan Bednar has helped the Gladiators' football resurgence. Ron Vezzani | For The Daily News

Glassport Stadium hasn't been the site of many victories in recent years for the South Allegheny football program.

In fact, coming into the season, the Gladiators had only won three games in the last three seasons and had not won consecutive games since opening the season 2-0 in 2008.

Though it all, South Allegheny coach Pat Monroe was obstinate in his belief that this team was different and had the makings of a competitive squad.

“I've said that this is a good team and I've said that from the beginning,” Monroe said. “This is a good team, we knew that going in, we have a lot of hard-working kids on this team and we're trying to stay healthy and, if we do that, we're going to be a very competitive football team.”

It didn't look like that was going to happen after the first week of the season when South Allegheny was blown out against a running clock in a 35-0 loss to WPIAL Class AA championship contender Seton-La Salle. But things have certainly changed the last two weeks as the Gladiators have put together their first winning streak in four years, and at 2-1, 1-1 in the Century Conference, the team is sitting above .500 three games into the season for the first time since 2008.

To top it off, when South Allegheny defeated New Brighton, 34-14, Friday, it marked the first home victory for the team since a 42-6 win over Quaker Valley on Oct. 1, 2010.

A big reason for the wins has been the play of the defense, led by Division I nose guard prospect Ryan Bednar. The group has allowed just 18.7 ppg through three games.

“These kids have been a good football team and they've been trying so hard and it's no different really than other years,” Monroe said. “They've been in it a lot, they're a hard-nosed team, they've been a hard-nosed team and they've done well for the last three or four years.”

South Allegheny showed flashes that it could become a potential postseason contender in 2011, when despite losing its last eight games including a 10th game against South Park, the team was competitive nearly every week. Four of those eight losses were by single digits, and in their last three games against Washington, Steel Valley and South Park, the Gladiators lost by a combined six points.

It's not only the football team that has finally turned the corner. The South Allegheny boys soccer team is 7-0-0 after a 6-0 win over Trinity Christian on Tuesday and already has a signature victory on the road over reigning WPIAL Class A champion Greensburg Central Catholic. Even the girls soccer team is undefeated (6-0-0) with its biggest test coming up 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bentworth.

Still, even though the soccer teams are having success, for the football team to be in postseason contention, albeit early in the season, is somewhat amazing. South Allegheny is 158-289-6 all-time, has not finished above .500 since going 5-4-1 in 1993, failed to qualify for the postseason every year since 1986 and won its only title in 1977.

To see all that hard work finally come to fruition has been a boon for the player as they head to practice every day.

“Getting the wins is certainly the goal,” Monroe said. “They know everything they've been through and it's been 11 guys on both sides of the ball. There's no one guy. They're all doing their job, and we have a good group.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.

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