Brentwood eases past Springdale
Brentwood broke open a close WPIAL Class A first-round playoff game against Springdale with solid defensive play and favorable field position en route to a 34-6 victory Friday at Fox Chapel's James Burk Athletic Complex.
Springdale started with a 99-yard scoring drive in 10 plays, but the Spartans held a 7-6 halftime lead and built the advantage to 34-6 with 5:32 left in the game.
Brentwood's second-half drives began at the Springdale 15, 43 and 9 and their own 46 and 45.
“We talked at halftime after we were up, 7-6, and had done nothing,” said Spartans coach Kevin Kissel. “We went back to basic things like running the ball, and we went from there.” Brentwood running back Justin Vickless carried 26 times for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
The Spartans (7-3) will take on top-seeded Clairton in the quarterfinals Friday at a site and time to be determined.
The Dynamos (6-4) closed out the season with their 11th consecutive playoff trip.
Running back Sean Dugan, corralled much of the night by the Brentwood defense, managed 101 yards in 28 carries — including a 35-yard gain the first time he touched the ball.
Dugan finished his career as the No. 2 rusher in Alle-Kiski Valley history with 4,262 yards. Only Riverview's Lucas Heakins (4,276 yards) has more.
It was also a successful first season for Springdale coach Dave Leasure, undermanned late in the season with injuries.
“It should have ended after the Apollo-Ridge or the Avonworth game where we lost two tackles,” Leasure said. “That's what these kids have done. We only dressed 22 kids, and we're trailing only 7-6 at the half. I'm so proud of these kids for doing more with what God gave them than any group possible could.”
It started out well for the Dynamos.
After a Jason Pilarski punt rolled dead at the Dynamos' 1, Springdale got out of the hole with Dugan's 35-yard run and two passes to tight end Adam Lock for 38 yards.
Quarterback Jake Helman found senior back Kyle Rodgers near the goal line for a 20-yard score.
Brentwood took the lead on a 27-yard run by Vickless with 2:56 left in the half.
Helman recovered a fumble and Chad Charlton intercepted a pass, both in the second quarter, but the Dynamos couldn't capitalize.
Things then unraveled for Springdale.
Vickless scored his 20th touchdown of the year on a 12-yard run in the third quarter. Quarterback Chris Shortley connected with Michael Andrews for a 16-yard scoring pass and soon after with Brian Jowers on a 53-yard pass in the fourth quarter. “Our defense just wore down,” Leasure said.
Bill Madeja's interception, his second of the game, was returned to the Springdale 9, where Vickless scored on the following play.
“We couldn't block their two big tackles,” Leasure said. “That's the hand we were dealt, and our kids fought to the bitter end. “I can see why Chuck Wagner stayed here 19 years. These kids just grow on you, and they have so much pride. I consider myself a Dynamo now after just five or six months.
Dugan finished 35th all time in WPIAL career yardage, passing Valley's Brandon Williams, Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor and South Park's Tyler Scruggs on Friday.
George Guido is a freelance writer.