Baldwin set to close out season against Black Hawks
By Ray Fisher
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Baldwin will play its final game of the season Friday at home against South Hills rival Bethel Park.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Bethel Park (5-3, 5-2) has clinched a WPIAL Class AAAA playoff berth, as the Black Hawks are tied for third place with Woodland Hills in the Quad Central Conference.
Baldwin (3-5, 2-5), out of the WPIAL playoff race, will be playing for pride in its 2012 season finale.
“Bethel Park is big up front. They are very physical, and their defense runs to the ball,” Jim Wehner, Baldwin's head coach, said. “We are going to play our game and try to be mistake free. The kids are playing hard and believing.”
Bethel Park dropped a 35-14 nonconference decision to Seneca Valley (7-1 overall), the second-place team in the Quad North Conference, last week.
The Black Hawks had won four games in a row — including a rousing 24-17 upset over previously undefeated Upper St. Clair — prior to visiting Seneca Valley.
Baldwin won its second consecutive game last week, rolling past host Canon-McMillan, 31-7.
Doug Altavilla, Baldwin's sophomore quarterback, passed for a career-high 248 yards and two touchdowns, completing 9 of 13 aerials, against the Big Macs (1-7, 1-6). Altavilla has thrown for 716 yards on the season.
“Altavilla played his best his game (of the season),” Wehner said. “He is starting to mature as a quarterback.”
Junior linebacker Luke Smorey capped the victory for the local squad with a team-record 100-yard interception return at the 1:48 mark of the third quarter.
“Smorey is the best all-around athlete on the team,” Wehner said.
The local squad will be facing a size disadvantage against Bethel Park, as the Black Hawks offensive line is anchored by bookend tackles Mike Grimm and Casey Schreiner, both juniors who weigh 300-plus pounds.
Grimm had received scholarship offers from Pitt and Youngstown State prior to the start of the 2012 season.
“He's strong, and he's got pretty good feet. He works real hard,” Jeff Metheny, the Black Hawks' veteran head coach, said.
Bethel Park's offensive line is bolstered by senior tight ends Mike Brucker (6-2, 222) and Tom Ernst (6-2, 202).
The Black Hawks' starting quarterback is Levi Metheny, a freshman and son of the team's head coach.
He has passed for more than 600 yards and seven touchdowns, including scoring strikes to senior wide receiver Avery Dibble and junior running back Zack Enick against Seneca Valley.
“Bethel Park has a very good young quarterback,” Wehner said. “Our defense needs to contain him from making big plays.”
Enick is a dual running/receiving threat for the Black Hawks, with more than 500 yards in total offense.
Dibble is the team's leading receiver, and has been complemented by Enick and junior Danny Emma in the receiving department.
Four different players registered touchdowns for Baldwin last week.
Along with Smorey's big interception return, juniors Stephon Harris (67 yards) and Nick Barca (59 yards) scored on long pass receptions, and Dorian Brown reached the end zone on a 16-yard run.
Brown, a senior running back and third-year varsity starter, has rushed for 877 yards and 10 touchdowns on 129 carries this season.
Yahya Badjie, a senior, also kicked a 25-yard field goal for the local squad.
The local squad was led defensively again by Barca from his linebacking position. Barca was credited with 17 tackles including nine solo stops, and two interceptions. This was on the heels of a 19-tackle performance (including 12 solo stops) against Fox Chapel.
“Barca is playing good football,” Wehner said. “He's becoming our leader on defense.”
Gary Jackson, a junior defensive back; Zack Nieman, a senior lineman; Smorey, Brandon Marshall, a senior linebacker; Devontae Evans, a sophomore lineman; and Justin Zinsmeister, a junior linebacker, complemented Barca defensively.
Bethel Park, which was the WPIAL champion and PIAA Class AAAA runner-up in 2008, edged the Fighting Highlanders last year, 17-14.
The Black Hawks have not lost to the local squad since 2001, a span covering eight games, including WPIAL playoff matchups in 2003 and 2004.
SOUTH PARK at SETON-LA SALLE 7 p.m., Friday
Seton-La Salle has sealed a WPIAL Class AA playoff berth as one of the top teams in the Century Conference.
The Rebels, who have advanced to the WPIAL playoffs for three consecutive years and eight times in the past nine seasons, wrap up their conference slate against a South Park team that is 3-3 since opening the season with two losses.
“South Park is playing better the last few weeks,” Greg Perry, Seton-La Salle's head coach, said. “They have a nice running back who runs hard, and a quarterback who likes to run the ball also. We need to contain the perimeter.”
The Eagles (3-5, 3-4) were blanked by undefeated South Fayette last week, 42-0, while Seton-La Salle (7-1, 6-1) was winning at Mohawk, 35-0, in a nonconference matchup.
South Park's offense, which is averaging 15.8 ppg, is powered by senior running back Jared Becker.
Seton-La Salle is led offensively by senior quarterback Luke Brumbaugh, who ranks among the WPIAL's leading passers with 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Brumbaugh connected on 12 of 20 aerials for 213 yards and two scores last week.
Lou Rotunda, a senior wideout, continued his late-season offensive explosion with nine receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns against Mohawk.
Rotunda has reeled in 25 passes for 413 yards and five touchdowns in the Rebels' past three contests. He has averaged 16.5 yards per catch in that span.
Seton-La Salle senior running back Tom Rizza rushed for 100 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries last week, and senior running back Nick Sywyj scored twice.
“Tom Rizza is finally getting healthy after suffering a knee injury prior to (preseason) camp,” Perry said. “He is the steady force we thought he would be both offensively and defensively. He has very good hands catching balls out of the backfield, which helps the passing game.”
Sywyj, who also starts at linebacker, is one of several two-way players at Seton-La Salle. He has helped lead the Rebels to four shutouts this season.
“Defensively, Nick Sywyj has been our leader for two years now. He always gets to the the ball and plays coming down hill, which is what you want your linebackers to do,” Perry said. “Nick Agliori has been a constant on our defensive line all season. They both played very well again against Mohawk.
“Daquay Broadwater has played very well at outside linebacker. He is very quick and athletic, and he is only a sophomore.
Seton-La Salle can gain a share of the Century Conference championship with a win against South Park, along with a South Allegheny victory over South Fayette this week.
South Fayette (8-0, 7-0) will meet South Allegheny (7-1, 6-1) at home on Friday.
Seton-La Salle, which is averaging 35.9 ppg and allowing just 8.9 ppg, will host South Park at Peters Township High School Stadium.
South Park is allowing an average of 24.3 points per game.
“They have alot of tradition at South Park, so we expect a hard-fought battle,” Perry said.
The Rebels' win at Mohawk was their fourth shutout of the 2012 season.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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