Quaker Valley football starts tough schedule strong
McGuffey football coach Ed Dalton said something that stuck with Quaker Valley coach John Tortorea before the teams met last Friday in Claysville.
Dalton thought the Class 3A Beaver County Conference, where the Quakers' were assigned after the WPIAL realigned into six classifications, reminds him of a certain Division I conference.
“He said we are in the SEC of high school football,” Tortorea said. “We have one of the toughest conference schedules of any WPIAL team.”
Quaker Valley, which blanked the Highlanders, 19-0, in their season opener, has an out-of-conference schedule that likely is tougher than many of their counterparts.
McGuffey qualified for the playoffs last season. The Quakers have Neshannock, which blitzed Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, 36-0, in Week 1, coming up Friday and a meeting with Allegheny Conference heavyweight Seton-La Salle in Week 8.
That's in addition to conference foes Beaver, Beaver Falls and Aliquippa.
“The WPIAL didn't do us any favors,” Tortorea said. “(Beating McGuffey) was one of the best victories we've had since I've been at QV. They did their thing and executed a great game plan. No one expected too much from us.”
Taking down McGuffey came from an exceptional effort on defense. Ricky Guss led the way with 14 tackles, Andrew Seymour contributed 12 and Oliver Funk collected 10. Quaker Valley limited McGuffey to 154 yards.
Defensive back Isaiah McNair said the Quakers were more focused after a scrimmage with Riverside the previous week didn't go well.
“We didn't have any tape on Riverside,” McNair said. “We broke down McGuffey in practice and outsmarted them. We knew what they were doing and shut that down.”
Quaker Valley quarterback Amos Luptak led the offense with 102 rushing yards. He also threw for 60 yards, including touchdown passes to McNair and Jordan Martin.
Seymour also scored a rushing touchdown for the Quakers.
Tortorea felt Quaker Valley left a few touchdowns on the field. He thinks the offense will come along in time. What left a lasting impression on him was the defense.
“I knew we'd do well because of the kids we have,” Tortorea said. “They are going to be solid. They executed a game plan and listened to us all week. To do what we did speaks volumes about our kids.”
With no gimmes on the schedule, Tortorea felt like the McGuffey game was a must-win. Each conference is only guaranteed two playoffs spots with a possibility for a wild-card spot.
Blanking a potential competitor was a necessary boost.
That's expected from SEC teams.
“I think that gave us a lot of momentum,” McNair said. “We needed that win, and that's giving us a sense of hope we may actually do something this year.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.