Bethel Park battles Mt. Lebanon
For a first game, Jeff Metheny conceded Bethel Park played well in its 38-0 victory against Plum. Plus, the Black Hawks enter their Southeastern Conference showdown Sept. 6 against Mt. Lebanon in good condition.
In the huddle after the win over the Mustangs, Metheny told his troops, that yes, they are 1-0 and that’s good. “But, we’ve got to win next week.”
If history is an indicator, Friday’s contest is pivotal because the winner emerged as co-champions of the conference with Upper St. Clair. Lebo defeated a Bethel Park team decimated by injuries, 17-7. The contest saw Levi Metheny, then a freshman, emerge as the Hawks’ starting quarterback for the remainder of the campaign.
Metheny pointed how this year’s confrontation is a little different coming off another win against the Mustangs. “The Plum win gives us confidence,” he said. “We didn’t get hurt and we came out of it healthy.”
But, he added, “We’ve got to get better and continue to step up and perform. We did some good things but we are not firing on all cylinders.”
The only thing firing on all cylinders for Mt. Lebanon in its season opener was North Allegheny. Despite returning only three starters from a team that has won three straight PIAA championships, the Tigers thumped Lebo, 55-7, in a non-conference clash. One of the few bright spots for the Blue Devils was Jake Rolfsen’s 16-yard TD run late in the game, when the mercy rule was invoked at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter.
Metheny pointed out, that though devastating, the defeat would not factor into Lebo’s psyche for the upcoming clash, nor will it factor into the Blue Devils’ ability to bounce back.
“Lebo had a big loss last year to NA,” he said recalling that 39-14 unfavorable decision. “It doesn’t matter. They are going to come back strong from their defeat.”
Mike Melnyk and guys like Penn State recruit, Troy Apke, and standout linemen like Alex Bookser and Matt Hoffman, who are both major Division I prospects, are a few of the reasons for Metheny’s statement.
“Lebo has good players. They are well-coached,” added Metheny of Melnyk’s squad. “They played us hard here last year and now we have to go over there.”
BP enters the Devils’ den with plenty of poise and playing Plum.
For starters the defense excelled, forcing five turnovers. Alex Minton, Jake Lewis and Chris Papalia all recovered fumbles. Lewis and Papalia also intercepted passes.
“Defense did a great job,” Metheny said. “I’m proud of that group.”
Metheny was equally pleased with his special teams as well as the kicking unit that features long-snapper Matthew Carr, holder Steve Evrard and placekicker Danny Christenson, who kicked five extra points. After the Lewis fumble recovery, Christenson also connected on a 27-yard field goal with two seconds left in the second stanza, a quarter in which BP racked up 26 points.
“Special teams did well for us and Papalia is a real weapon for us,” Metheny said.
“Plus those three do well together,” he added of the kicking unit. Danny does a good job. Matt is dependable and Steve is a good holder.”
“We are team-oriented,” Metheny stressed. “We go as our special teams do. Our kickers and punters did well. We go as our defense goes. We got turnovers.”
And while the Hawks outgained Plum, 255-74, they were not that impressive in the backfield. In fact, the young Metheny led the ground game. The sophomore signal caller gained 66 yards on 11 carries. Metheny also scored three times, twice on 1-yard scampers into the end zone and once for a 10-yard score that ignited the Hawks and snapped a 0-0 deadlock 30 seconds into the second stanza.
Zach Enick, who led BP last year with nearly 600 yards on the ground, recorded a 1-yard TD and Minton supplied an 8-yard score.
“We did good things but we did not run the ball with the tailback well enough. The way you need to do in this league in order to be successful,” Metheny said. “We need to run better. We do that, then I think we’ve got a chance to be special.”