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Graduation losses don't faze Beaver Bobcats

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Beaver quarterback Alex Rowse works out Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in Beaver.

Schedule

Coach: Jeff Beltz

2012 record: 9-2, 6-1

Date Opponent Time

8.30 Burgettstown 7:30

9.6 at New Brighton* 7

9.13 Freedom* 7:30

9.20 at Beaver Falls* 7:30

9.27 at Blackhawk 7:30

10.5 Riverside* 7:30

10.11 Mohawk* 7:30

10.18 at Ellwood City* 7

10.25 Aliquippa* 7:30

*conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing Austin Ross*

33-77, 622 yards, 6 TDs

Rushing Darian Bradley*

115-756 yards, 23 TDs

Receiving Bradley*

16-231, 2 TDs

*Graduated

Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Chuck Curti
Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
 

Beaver has made the WPIAL playoffs nine of the past 11 years, including the past six in a row. A seventh straight playoff berth might look like a bit of a stretch, because coach Jeff Beltz will be replacing more than 1,400 yards and 33 touchdowns in the backfield after the graduation of Darian Bradley, Anthony Fidurski and Anthony Keriots.

But Beltz has seen this before. Panic? Throw out that “R” word. Rebuild? Not Beltz.

“I think we kind of get to this same point most years,” Beltz said. “Athletes have to mature through the system. We have some confidence with our next generation.”

Fortunately for Beltz, he has an experienced quarterback. Alex Rowse was under center a year ago until Austin Ross returned. All Rowse did was keep the Bobcats undefeated. Beaver remained spotless, in fact, until the regular-season finale against eventual WPIAL champion Aliquippa.

Certainly Beltz expects Rowse to be more poised and mechanically sound with a half-season of experience under his belt. But Rowse's biggest contributions may not show up in the stat sheet.

“We've got a quarterback who was undefeated, so that's not a bad starting point,” Beltz said. “It's rare these days, but everything with Alex starts with leadership. He has unique leadership qualities that you don't find in people anymore.

“But that's not to downplay his athletic ability. He was a starter on the basketball team that went to the WPIAL semifinals. He played second base on a baseball team that played for the state championship, so those experiences in big games in other sports can only help him in football.”

Julian Vandusen and Jordan Yates return in the backfield, but the X-factor could be freshman Darius Wise. Wise has plenty of natural ability, but Beltz hesitates to put too much pressure on him.

Though Beltz will have a variety of players carrying heavier loads, he's not conceding the Bobcats are going to struggle early. He prefers to focus on what he can control, namely Beaver's conditioning and attitude.

“Is there a work in progress? Sure,” he said. “It's OK to be uncomfortable at the beginning. But if we have the right attitude and the right conditioning, we'll combat all that.”

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