Western Beaver knocks off SSB, claims playoff berth
Midway through the third quarter of the Western Beaver-South Side Beaver game Saturday, there was no mistaking which team was heading for the WPIAL playoffs and which was rapidly moving towards the offseason, left to ponder what might have been.
Western Beaver clinched a spot in the Class A playoffs for the second consecutive year with a convincing 43-12 victory over South Side Beaver (5-4, 2-4) in a Big Seven Conference matchup. The Golden Beavers (6-3, 4-2) finished fourth in the Big Seven and will open the playoffs Friday against an opponent to be determined Monday.
"There is nothing like being in the playoffs," Western Beaver coach Matt Grey said. "That's the first goal that we set every year. We want to get into the playoffs and, when you get there, you never know what will happen."
Western Beaver stymied South Side Beaver with a smothering defensive attack that forced five turnovers and sacked Rams quarterback Bill Schneider eight times.
"Our defensive line played an outstanding game," said Western Beaver quarterback Brent Colbert, who completed 6 of 9 passes for 110 yards and three touchdowns. "They got pressure on the quarterback and really did what they needed to do."
The Golden Beavers claimed a 14-0 lead at halftime on Colbert touchdown passes of 5 and 14 yards to Chuck Wright and Chad Kampian, respectively. Both of the scores came on fourth-down plays.
"(On fourth down), I am just hoping that the guys are open," Colbert said. "The coaches just drew up good plays, and they worked."
South Side Beaver made the game interesting at the start of the second half on the strength of three straight running plays from junior halfback James Kazil, who finished with 111 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
On the first play of the second half, Kazil ran the ball to the left side for a 51-yard gain, down to the Golden Beavers' 21-yard line. After a 19-yard run on the next play, Kazil plunged into the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 14-6 after the extra point attempt was blocked.
"It was definetly a wake-up call for us," Colbert said. "We were happy with the way we were playing at halftime. We weren't celebrating yet, but we were happy. Then, they came back with (the touchdown), and we realized we had to play another half of football."
Western Beaver answered back with a 15-yard touchdown run from Warren Taylor, a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown from Justin Kukuruda and a 28-yard touchdown pass from Colbert to Derrick Lampkin.
A 10-yard touchdown run from Damien Paolino with 6:40 to play in the fourth quarter capped the string of 29 unanswered points for the Golden Beavers.
"We stopped making stupid mistakes after (South Side) scored the touchdown at the start of the second half," Taylor said. "It just feels great to be in the playoffs right now. It's a new experience for me since I am a first-year varsity player. But this is a great team. The seniors really led the way for us on Senior Day."