Quaker Valley seniors hope to go out with a bang
Quaker Valley senior Rocco Brown remembers being on the wrong side of a few lopsided scores, which made last weekend's blowout win over Burgettstown all the more satisfying.
“It was awesome because we've been on the other end of that pretty often in the past few years,” the three-year starting lineman said of the Quakers' 42-8 Homecoming win over the Blue Devils. “So it was pretty nice to get a big win.”
The Quakers (3-5, 3-5) dominated winless Burgettstown, scoring the first 42 points of the game before surrendering a fourth-quarter touchdown and two-point conversion.
“We needed a win to make ourselves feel better, and they definitely went out and did that,” coach John Tortorea said.
Once again, sophomores led the way for Quaker Valley. Dane Jackson rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries, and he opened the scoring with a 5-yard reception.
Classmate Aaron Cunningham scored on two 1-yard runs, and Chris Conlan caught a 25-yard touchdown pass.
But the Quakers' most experienced skill player did his part as well, as senior quarterback Burke Moser threw for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Though Quaker Valley starts few seniors, Tortorea said their leadership has been invaluable this season.
“I couldn't ask for two better young men than Burke Moser and Rocco Brown,” he said. “I attribute that to how they've been raised. Their families do a great job with them, and I'm just completely blessed to have both of them. They've given us everything we've asked.”
Brown, Moser and the other seniors will likely take the field for the final time Friday night when the team hosts Ellwood City in a nonconference game at Chuck Knox Stadium. Senior Night festivities will honor the Quakers' most seasoned players.
Moser described it as a “weird” feeling.
“This is going to be hard, Saturday morning, waking up knowing that I'll never put on a Quaker Valley uniform again,” he said. “That's tough. Even though I've lost a lot more than I've won, still, the experience — I wouldn't trade anything for it. It just changed me in a lot of ways, a lot of good.”
Quaker Valley holds a 7-29 record since 2009, the senior class' freshman year. But the wins total increased from zero in 2009 to one in 2010 and three in each of the past two seasons.
Brown and Moser said the team's improvement can be measured in more than just wins and losses.
“In years past, there's never really been a fight,” Moser said. “There's just always kind of been those one or two weeks out of the year where you play a team that's significantly worse than you, you go out (and) outplay them that one week and call it a season after 2-7 or whatever. But I think this year, there's definitely a lot more desire, a lot more passion.”
Both seniors say the program has a bright future as well, with all the sophomores ready to lead beginning next season.
Because the Quakers already rely heavily on the sophomore class, the seniors have taken the younger players under their wing. Brown and Moser got their start as sophomores, so they understand the situation their teammates are facing.
“I think whenever I was younger, the captains and the seniors didn't really do a good job of incorporating the younger kids and showing them how to build the team,” Brown said. “I'm really trying to focus on that.”
Unless Quaker Valley schedules a 10th game for next week — which Tortorea said was unlikely at this point — Friday will be the last game of the season for the Quakers.
Ellwood City (1-7) enters the game in last place in Class AA's Midwestern Conference, but the Wolverines have lost three games by a touchdown or less this season.
Moser needs just 14 more yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark on the season, but he's looking more to end his career on a high note with a win.
“I think we just kind of want to end with a bang,” he said. “Whether that's going out and scoring 50 points, whether that's having a great defensive game, however we can get it done I think we just want to end with something special.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.