Deanes has fabulous season in Seton-La Salle backfield
Seton-La Salle's Lionel Deanes was one of the most prolific running backs in the WPIAL this season.
A 5-foot-8, 185-pound junior, Deanes rushed for 1,814 yards and 15 touchdowns on 249 carries. His rushing total is believed to be a school record for yardage in one season.
Deanes, whose nickname is “The Train,” averaged 7.3 yards per carry and 201.6 yards per game in 2016.
He rambled for at least 200 yards six times, including 296- and a 287-yard performances against Freeport and Shady Side Academy, respectively.
“Lionel is a special student-athlete,” Rob Carter, Seton-La Salle's first-year coach, said. “His major strength is his work ethic. He works hard, on and off the field. His vision and one-cut ability is what sets him aside as a great tailback.”
Deanes, whose longest run of the season was an 84-yard touchdown jaunt against Serra Catholic in Week 4, caught 10 passes for 112 yards.
Along with the 84-yard touchdown, Deanes also reached paydirt on dashes of 30, 44, 60, 57, 74, 72 and 63 yards.
“Over the offseason, he will work to develop better route running and will become more of a threat in the passing game,” Carter said. “I am glad the ‘Train' will be around for one more ride in 2017.”
Seton-La Salle competed in the Allegheny Conference in Class 3A this season.
The Rebels (5-4, 4-3) finished fourth in the conference, behind Keystone Oaks, Valley and Apollo-Ridge.
“The 2016 team laid the foundation for the rebirth of Rebel football,” Carter said. “Although our record wasn't what we hoped for, the team fought hard in every game. (Class) 3A has a lot of good teams and coaches. We didn't lay down to anyone, and we stayed focused until the end.
“I am very proud of the seniors. They won with class and lost with class. That is all a coach can ask for sometimes.”
Junior QB Matt Banbury passed for 623 yards and eight touchdowns this season, connecting on 42 of 86 aerial attempts.
Seven players caught passes for the Rebels, led by Nick Vari (18-230) and Nolan Abbiatici (17-350). Vari reeled in five touchdown receptions; Abbiatiaci had three touchdown catches.
Deanes, Christian Weyrich (6-34), Nick Krugh (4-28), Nistal Baldwin (2-10) and Nate Ault (1-1) also made contributions in the team's receiving corps.
Abbiatici, a senior wide receiver/defensive back who started at quarterback in 2015, passed for 173 yards while filling in at times for Banbury. Abbiatici completed 15 of 25 passing attempts.
The Rebels' offensive lineup consisted of Banbury, Deanes, Weyrich, at fullback; Abbiatici, Vari and Ault, at receiver; Shane Dugan, at tight end; with Nick McNally (C), Brendan Perone (G), Kevin McLane (G), Josh Blamer (T), Luke Blahut (T) and John (T), on the line.
Blahut, Terry and McLane were the starters on the defensive line.
The linebacking corps consisted of Darnell Smith, Weyrich, Ryn Hough and Brandon Siler, who were flanked by Ault, Shegog, Abbiatici, Vari and Deanes in the secondary.
Seton-La Salle fielded eight seniors in the starting lineup, along with seven juniors, including kicking specialist Cullen Vereb, and four sophomores.
Carter said the contributions made by the sophomore starters — Ault, Shegog, Vari and Kutschke — were welcomed additions to the program.
“Nate, Jamar, Nick and Mike all performed well above what was expected,” Carter said. “They have a bright future, and need to work hard in the offseason to fulfill their goals.”
After opening the year with a 44-35 conference victory against Shady Side Academy, the Rebels split decisions in the next four games, as well as in their final four contests.
Deanes was the team's leading scorer with 15 touchdowns (90 points), followed by Vari (36), Abbiatici (30), Vereb (28), Weyrich (24), Banbury (12), and Kruch and Baldwin, who scored a touchdown apiece.
“I would like to thank the team, administration and parents for all the support this season,” Carter said. “The journey was memory-filled, and I believe we all learned something about ourselves during this process.
“I personally learned so much this year. Everyone was very helpful for me.”
Ray Fisher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.