Bush sets records in Burrell victory
Statistically, it's official: Burrell senior Cole Bush has put together the most dominating season for a running back in school history.
Bush broke the Burrell records for rushing yards and touchdowns in a season as the Bucs charged past Deer Lakes, 51-18, on Friday night and clinched a share of the Class AA Allegheny Conference title.
Bush rumbled for 175 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries and caught two passes for 63 yards and another score — all in the first half — to lead the Bucs (8-1, 7-1), who are ranked No. 10 by Trib Total Media.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Bush has collected 1,710 yards on the ground and 30 total touchdowns this year. The previous records were 1,690 rushing yards (Ian Courtney, 2002) and 27 touchdowns (Tyler Henderson, 2004).
“It couldn't happen to a better kid,” Burrell coach Kevin Horwatt said. “Cole Bush is a phenomenal athlete.”
Bush, who's receiving Division I interest mainly from Ivy League schools, said he was honored to break two of Burrell's major football records, but he also was excited about helping the Bucs wrap up the regular season as co-conference champions.
“It feels amazing,” Bush said. “We did a great job as a team this year. We're one unit. No egos get in the way. We're a tight-knit group.”
Burrell and Freeport (7-2, 7-1) tied atop the Allegheny standings. However, Freeport could receive a higher seeding when the playoff pairings are released Monday because the Yellowjackets handed Burrell its only loss.
Deer Lakes (3-6, 2-6) was hit hard by serious injuries in its last three games — all losses — and will miss the playoffs. Last week, two players, senior Dylan Dempsey and junior Mike McGraw, were flown to different hospitals. They are now at home recovering from concussions.
Despite Friday's lopsided loss, Deer Lakes coach Todd Hazlett said he was proud of his team's effort after an emotionally challenging week.
“They showed a great amount of courage just to play,” Hazlett said.
Burrell gave Bush a fair amount of carries, but the Bucs also came out throwing as they built a 30-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Senior quarterback James Liput completed 10 of 14 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns. Liput hooked up with six receivers, including junior Nick Pattock for a 76-yard touchdown and junior Nick Kastelic for a 19-yard score.
“We wanted to come in with a balanced attack,” Horwatt said. “You can't take anybody lightly. We put a game plan together, and we wanted to stay with it.”
Deer Lakes was led by senior wide receiver Zach Bryner, who had three catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns, and senior running back Ian Biernacki, who rushed for 118 yards on 12 attempts.
Defensively, Burrell recorded a safety to start the scoring, and senior Scott Hare grabbed two interceptions.
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-224-2696.