Coughlin saves the day for W&J
Pete Coughlin has been in this position before. When a quarterback goes down with an injury, the Upper St. Clair resident steps in and fills the void. And, his football team doesn’t miss a beat.
As a junior in high school, he made his first varsity appearance behind center when starting signal caller Dakota Conwell broke his ankle. Coughlin orchestrated an upset of Central Catholic, rushing for 209 yards while guiding the Panthers to the WPIAL Quad-A championship game. As a senior, he led USC to the district semifinals while racking up nearly 2,000 yards of offense and contributing to 27 TDs, 18 through the air and nine on the ground. His Panthers posted a 22-4 record with him at the helm.
Two weeks ago, Coughlin made his college debut by filling in for the injured Matt Bliss of Bethel Park and preserved Washington and Jefferson College’s 40-19 victory over Grove City. In the triumph, Coughlin completed 5-or-6 aerials for 48 yards. He also rushed for 30 yards on eight carries.
In his first start this past Saturday, the 5-10, 160-pound freshman propelled the Presidents to a 32-19 Homecoming Day victory over Thiel College at Cameron Stadium. Coughlin completed 16 of 23 passes for 169 yards. He rushed for 54 yards. Coughlin tossed a 28-yard scoring strike and rushed for a 7-yard TD.
“I had some jitters early on,” Coughlin admitted. “It was nice to get a couple quick scores and then I started to get my feet under me.”
While pleased with his past two performances, Mike Sirianni hopes that Coughlin’s future is not now. Sirianni plans to play Bliss as soon as he is able. A senior, Bliss has amassed 5,471 career yards, 4,868 through the air and 603 on the ground, while tossing 11 TDs.
“(Coughlin) managed the game very well,” Siranni said. “We didn’t want him to have to do too much, but he had an outstanding afternoon. We hope his future isn’t now but he went out and showed that the future of W&J football is very bright.”
W&J’s present is just as positive thanks to three other area athletes. They also excelled in the win against Thiel.
Alex Baroffio of Bethel Park pulled in seven receptions for 104 yards. Dion Wiegand from Keystone Oaks rolled up 99 yards and rushed for two touchdowns.
Jared Pratt spearheaded the defense, which forced three key turnovers that resulted in 14 points. The Bethel Park product posted 12 tackles and a pass breakup.
Baroffio has shattered the school’s career reception record. He had 207 grabs for 2,434 yards and 21 TDs heading into this weekend’s game at Bethany. This fall, the senior has 29 catches for 281 yards and two scores.
Wiegand is the NCAA Division III’s leading scorer. He has 11 touchdowns this fall for the Presidents, who are 2-0 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference and 3-1 overall.
A senior tailback, Wiegand recently was honored as the PAC’s as well as the ECAC Division III Southwest’s Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the win over the Wolverines. He totaled 241 all-purpose yards (172 rush, 43 receiving, 26 kickoff return) against Grove City. His third TD of the game, a 76-yard romp into the end zone, was the longest by a W&J running back since 2001 and longest offensive play, run or pass, since 2007.
In 25 career games, Wiegand has rushed for 1,248 yards and 16 TDs. He has 42 career receptions for nearly 400 yards and three more scores. Wiegand has over 3,000 all-purpose yards.