Bethel Park rises to the top in football | High School Sports

Bethel Park has gone from rags to riches on the football field under head coach Brian DeLallo.

After suffering through a winless season (0-7) during the autumn of 2020, the Black Hawks are ranked No. 1 in Class 5A of the WPIAL and No. 5 in the state after their impressive win against rival Upper St. Clair, 27-14, on Oct. 7. The Panthers entered the game undefeated and as the top squad in the region.

But, the Black Hawks handled their fierce foe the old-fashioned way. They dominated the line of scrimmage and time of possession while quietly taking advantage of every opportunity presented to them.

“We talk with our pads,” said DeLallo. “This was a great, 12-round title fight but there is a great chance we’ll see that team again.

“Now, we have the target on our backs. The No. 1 ranking and we are going to get everybody’s best now.”

With the win against USC, BP ​​moved into sole possession of first place in the Allegheny Six Conference. The Hawks, like USC and Peters Township, were 6-1 overall heading into Week 8.

The Hawks had games against winless Moon and South Fayette (1-1, 4-3) before hosting Peters Township at 7 pm Oct. 28 in what could be the battle for the conference title.

“You can’t underestimate anybody in this league,” cautioned DeLallo, recalling last year’s 30-0 loss to the Tigers. “We have respect for all programs and won’t take anybody lightly.”

Ryan Petras agrees. A two-way starter, he opened and closed the scoring against USC with a 6-yard rush at 5:46 in the first frame and a 33-yard reception from Tanner Pfeuffer with 9:56 to play in the fourth quarter. Petras also had an interception on USC’s penultimate possession.

“This definitely was a statement game and it gives us momentum, but we have to take it one game at a time,” Petras said.

According to DeLallo, Petras is the “lightning” while seniors Austin Caye and Gavin Moul are the “thunder” on the club. Petras, who is the team’s receptions leader, had 62 yards rushing against USC for an 8.9-yard average but Caye was the workhorse behind the blocking of Moul and a powerful offensive line.

Caye leads the BP ground attack, ahead of Moul. Against USC, Caye gobbled up 180 of BP’s 259 rushing yards on 37 carries. He scored on a 3-yard plunge, giving the Hawks a 20-14 advantage at halftime.

“Ryan’s an explosive kid. A threat to take the ball to the end zone any time he touches it,” said DeLallo. “Austin’s a warrior.

“We have players that are so talented and so smart and that allows us to move guys all around in different spots and makes us difficult to defend.”

Because of its offensive line, BP doesn’t spend much time on defense. For example, against USC, the Hawks owned time of possession, 33:09 to 14:45.

Center Logan Pettigrew, guards Braedon Del Duca and Tobias D’Andrea, tackles Sam Sciullo and Jake Brown along with tight end Aidan Currie dominated the line of scrimmage.

“The line and the line coaches are like family. They are a team within a team,” DeLallo said.

“Our offensive line has been there all year. They are not the biggest, but they get off the ball quickly and they play hard. They are really smart and have that cohesiveness that you need to have on an offensive line to be successful. As a unit they are playing so well right now. They deserve recognition.”

BP’s defense deserves props, too. For example, Moul forced a fumble that Currie recovered, stopping a potential Panther score and igniting the Hawks’ first offensive possession. Dinari Clacks also recovered a USC fumble.

The BP defense spearheaded in part by linemen Clancy Orie, Santino LaMolinare, Sciullo and Del Duca, possessed a potent front for the Panthers to penetrate. Jermiah Hamilton, Blake Striegel, Kaden Wetzel and Jaden Polombine also contributed on defense.

USC gained only 106 yards rushing and 109 yards passing, 53 of them coming on a scoring strike from Julian Dahlem to Aidan Besselman with 16 seconds left in the first quarter. Cody Marn also pulled in a 20-yard TD reception from Dahlem with four seconds left in the first half.

While the Hawks are averaging 28.3 points per game, their defense is limiting opponents to 17.3 points.

The Hawks are a well-oiled and tested club because they have played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the WPIAL. BP owns wins against Class 6A opponents Mt. Lebanon and Canon-McMillan as well as North Hills and Penn Hills. The lone loss was to Central Catholic, 31-22.

“Our strong non-conference schedule is manifesting itself in physical games against physical opponents that we are playing. Plus, we’ve also seen adversity. Those lessons learned have helped us get to this point,” DeLallo said.

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