South Fayette, Hickory share simliar offensive schemes by spreading it around
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What a problem to have for South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh.
“I can't get locked on to one (wide receiver),” Brumbaugh said, “because the other will be open.”
Not just Justin Watson and Conner Beck, each 1,000-yard receivers, but South Fayette's deep stable of playmakers has proven nearly impossible for opposing teams to cover this season.
Brumbaugh has thrown for 3,440 yards — 286 away from the single-season WPIAL record — and he's done so by spreading his 219 completions among 14 receivers.
Sharing the ball is a concept not lost on South Fayette's PIAA Class AA semifinal opponent Hickory (13-1). The Lions (14-0) will meet the three-time District 10 champ at 1 p.m. Saturday at Slippery Rock University.
While both teams spread the field, Hickory does it also to clear running lanes for quarterback Matt Voytik, who has thrown for 1,914 yards, rushed for 692 more and accounted for 35 touchdowns.
“We have to stop him and make sure he doesn't break free,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said of Voytik, whose cousin, Chad, plays for Pitt. “Hickory likes to spread you out and play in space.”
Three wideouts have caught 20 or more passes: sophomore Andrew Pryts (35-787-8 TDs) and seniors Anthony Canone (27-467-7 TDs) and DeQuan Lewis (21-335-6 TDs). Running backs Lou Derloni and Chuck Carr have combined for 1,524 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Fifteen players on each team have scored touchdowns.
“I would hate to prepare for us, just like I hate to prepare for South Fayette,” Hickory coach Bill Brest said. “Maybe they're thinking the same thing about us, I have no idea. It should be a really good and interesting football game Saturday.”
Brest credited South Fayette's offensive line for keeping Brumbaugh upright; the five guys up front — left to right include Ben Berkovitz, Zach Radinick, Spencer Girman, Zach Walker and Anthony Davidson — have allowed seven sacks the past two seasons combined.
Some of that has to do with South Fayette's many timing routes, but it's also part of how the system works.
“You have to give him time, and they did it,” said Karns City coach Ed Conto, whose team Brumbaugh torched for 340 yards and five touchdowns in the PIAA quarterfinals. “They gave him all kinds of time. It's a nice unit.”
The ample time allows Brumbaugh to find Watson (62-1,403-20 TDs) and Beck (70-1,010-10 TDs). If they're covered — which doesn't happen all that often — Brumbaugh usually has Hayden Orler or tight end Logan Sharp open.
“We're best friends in everything we do,” Watson said. “We're always bouncing coverages off each other, bouncing routes off each other. It's a big help having another guy out there to open the field up and see what you see.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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