Daily News Game of the Week: Steel Valley seeks payback against South Fayette

| Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 1:06 a.m.

Steel Valley coach Rod Steele has much respect for South Fayette's high-powered passing offense.

Steele, though, isn't in awe of the Lions. Nor is his team.

Steel Valley enters Week 3 on a roll and hungry for redemption against a South Fayette team that embarrassed the Ironmen last season. The rematch is the Daily News Game of the Week, and Steele's philosophy regarding South Fayette's aerial attack speaks volumes.

“Well,” said Steel, his tone indicating nothing but business, “we're going to hit them. You have to hit them.”

The precision of South Fayette (2-0, 2-0) was too surgical for the overmatched Ironmen (2-0, 2-0) to handle in 2012. Steel Valley is hoping its advantages in speed and raw power could make the difference in this contest.

South Fayette coach Joe Rossi is pleased with his team's start to the season but realizes Steel Valley poses some problems.

“They are going to try and hit you,” Rossi said. “Hey, these kids are tough, your typical Steel Valley team. These kids are from Munhall. They're tough kids all the way through, and we know they're very good and they're going to play hard.”

The performance of two stars could make the difference.

South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh and Steel Valley tailback D'Andre Pickens have been exceptional.

Pickens has rushed for 500 yards in two games.

“He's special,” Rossi said. “I mean, he's just an absolutely electrifying tailback, he really is. He's so much bigger and more powerful than he was last season, and he still has that explosiveness.

“We are very much aware of him and how good he is.”

Pickens showcases 4.5 speed and, as Rossi noted, has added considerable bulk, which has allowed him to be more physical.

Still, even Steele wasn't sure that Pickens could play at this level.

“Maybe I am a little surprised,” he said. “I expected big things, but maybe not quite like this.”

Pickens will be running against a revitalized South Fayette defense.

Entering the season, Rossi was convinced that his offense would be terrific in 2013. Brumbaugh, the highly regarded junior, is one of eight returning starters on that unit.

Rossi was skeptical about his defense a few weeks ago.

“But I've been quite pleased with how those guys have done,” he said. “There are always things you can improve on, but so far, it's been very good.”

Steel Valley's plan is simple. Steele would love to possess the ball for long stretches, keeping South Fayette's offense off the field while Pickens pounds away at the Lions' defense.

He remains confident that his team can produce a victory if such a plan is executed properly.

Steele's team has come close to knocking off South Fayette; three years ago, Steel Valley lost by 10 points. In 2011, the Lions secured a three-point win.

Last year, though, Steele watched as his team was humbled, 50-0.

That loss did not sit well with the Ironmen.

“We've almost gotten them before,” Steele said. “We're a very confident team. We know we have to carry out our assignments and play a great game. We believe in ourselves.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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