Doleno shifts Bethel Park into higher gear
Elusive describes John Doleno, for the Bethel Park senior has a knack for evading tacklers on the gridiron.
When asked if speed played a role in his 200-yard plus rushing effort during the Hawks’ Sept. 8 victory over Peters Township, 28-7, the diminutive tailback laughed.
“Oh, no,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’m fast. I would say shifty. I like to move.”
Because of his older brother, Doleno developed his moves.
“I’ve had them since I’ve been young,” he said. “My brother was older than me so I had to try to get away from him. To shake him,” Doleno added. “I tried to run away from my brother.”
Now, Doleno runs away from would-be tacklers, who are more than double his size of 5-feet-6, 150 pounds. He followed up a 143-yard rushing performance against North Allegheny with a 202-yard showing that included an 83-yard touchdown run during the triumph against the Indians. The score came on the heels of a interception that Doleno ran back for an apparent touchdown but a penalty negated the play.
“It was real disappointing not to get the Pick 6,” Doleno said.
While he has rushed for 345 yards this season, Doleno has also scored three times for the Hawks, which are 2-0 heading into the Sept. 15 home game at 7:30 p.m. against Norwin. He added a 15-yard TD reception from Luke Surunis for the Hawks’ first score against the Indians. Six points rather than yards are Doleno’s objectives.
“I just try to get in the end zone every time I touch the ball. That’s always the goal,” he agreed.
Because of his talents and because of his offensive line, Doleno and his teammate, Tanner Volpatti, who scored twice on ruses of 11 and 23 yards against Peters and has six TDs on the season, will be ready for the Knights, who like the Hawks are 1-0 in Southeastern Conference but 2-1 overall.
“I think preparation all week and I get to run behind the best linemen in the league,” Doleno said are his secrets to success.
BP head coach Jeff Metheny tended to agree.
“Johnny is a tough runner. He’s a tough kid to tackle. He makes a lot guys miss,” Metheny said. “Johnny is a really good football player. He’s a good complement to Volpatti. No question.
“Our linemen do a good job, too,” Metheny added. “So, we want to stick with what we do, which is run the football. We believe in the kids and some time or another we’ll run the clock and we’ll break a big one.”
Big scores may not come as easily against Norwin. The Hawks may have to grind out a victory.
“Norwin’s a great football team. They play great defense,” Metheny said. “We are going to have to play better if we are going to move the ball against them.”
Defensively, the Hawks have been playing well. In the win against Peters, Conor Wholey and Austin Lewis recovered fumbles and BP limited the Indians to only one score.
“I haven’t seen seven on that scoreboard in a heck of a time. Heck of a job on defense,” Metheny told his troops in the post-game huddle versus Peters. “If they can’t score, then they can’t beat us.”
After assuring the players that they have a “chance to be really good,” Metheny posed the challenge. “How good do you wanna be?”