Brentwood to play conference newcomer in homecoming game
The Brentwood Spartans, who have clinched a WPIAL Class A playoff berth, are celebrating “Homecoming 2012” on Friday against California in their regular-season finale.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.
The Spartans wrapped up their fifth consecutive playoff appearance with a convincing 42-7 conference win at home against Bishop Canevin last week.
The local squad improved to 5-3 in the Black Hills Conference and overall, and is tied with Bishop Canevin in the conference standings.
“That was the best game we've played all year. Hopefully, we're peaking at the right time,” Kevin Kissel, Brentwood's head coach, said. “We had a good week of practice; the kids worked hard in practice.
“It turned out to be a good night.”
One of team highlights of last week's game was the performance of 5-foot-10, 162-pound junior running back Justin Vickless, who rambled for 183 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries.
Vickless easily eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau on the season for the second straight year. The Brentwood workhorse has run for 1,148 yards and 12 touchdowns on 180 carries in 2012.
The Spartans did most of their damage on the ground against the Crusaders, led by senior quarterback Chris Shortley, who scored twice on two short bursts.
Justin Bauer, a senior running back, opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Junior Ryan Shortley darted to a 14-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
And freshman Patrick Carr capped the Brentwood scoring on a 10-yard dash — which was his first varsity touchdown.
“We're a run-first, throw-second team,” Kissel said. “Our whole offensive line was blocking well. And as I told the kids, that was a playoff team we played.”
California, which was a member of the Class A Tri-County South Conference in 2011, blanked Carlynton by a 21-0 margin last week to improve to 2-6 in 2012.
“They're a pretty good team. They've only won two games, and I can't see how,” Kissel said. “They have good skill people, and they play hard. They fly to the football. We'll have our hands full.”
The Trojans haven't had much success in their first year in the stacked Black Hills Conference. They have been outscored by a 242-123 overall margin, and have allowed 30.3 ppg defensively.
“It's definitely a tough conference,” Brady Barbero, California's head coach, said. “We'll have to be prepared.”
Two of the Trojans' leading offensive players this season are sophomore quarterback Malik Jackson and junior running back Cory Adams.
Against Carlynton, Jackson completed a 60-yard TD strike to Austin Hunter in the first quarter, while Adams scored on a 60-yard TD jaunt in the fourth quarter.
Nate Harris also reached paydirt via a 25-yard punt return in the first quarter.
Brentwood, which has won four of its past five games, is averaging 27.9 ppg offensively and 15.4 ppg defensively.
Mike Andrews, a senior defensive end, sparked the Spartans defensively against Bishop Canevin with eight tackles, including six solo stops, and four tackles for losses including two sacks.
Other local defensive standouts against the Crusaders included Bauer, with six tackles, including two solo and one sack on the defensive line; junior linebacker Jeremy Cenci, with five tackles, including two solo and one for a loss; junior cornerback Jack Murano with four tackles, including one solo, and one interception; sophomore safety Bill Madeja, with four tackles, including one solo; Carr, with three tackles, including two solo; and senior defensive lineman Steve Wobb, who had one sack.
“Justin Bauer has been playing good all year,” Kissel said. “He's hard to block, and he does it every week.”
California opened the season with consecutive losses to Monessen, Fort Cherry, Clairton and Bishop Canevin before zipping past Serra Catholic, 48-7.
The Trojans advanced to the WPIAL playoffs and ended up 7-3 overall last year.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.