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PIAA “AAAA” State Title Game – Bethel Park Preview

Written by: on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008


In case you haven’t noticed, Bethel Park isn’t flashy.  They don’t average 60 points per game or win games by wide margins.  But nonetheless, Bethel Park keeps on winning, and they’ve gotten themselves all the way to the “AAAA” state championship game.

Bethel Park (15-0) will match District 11 champion Bethlehem Liberty (14-1) Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium in a game that pits two schools each seeking their first PIAA title.  Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

The Black Hawks are the newest “AAAA” WPIAL rep to reach the state finals.  Normally, the WPIAL sends either Upper St. Clair, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Woodland Hills, or McKeesport to the title game.  Those four schools have combined to represent the West in 13 of the 20 “AAAA” state finals.

But Bethel Park does have this nugget of history on its side – the other three WPIAL “AAAA” schools that have played in the state finals only once (North Allegheny, North Hills, and Penn Hills) all won their respective state title games.

Ironically, Bethel Park defeated each of those three teams this season.  And, in the WPIAL portion of its schedule, the Black Hawks defeated six other schools that either played in or won a WPIAL title at some point in history.

So, even though Bethel Park may be a rookie at this stage of the game, they’ve defeated quite a few teams with some playoff experience.

Take, for example, Gateway, which had won five WPIAL titles and was ranked #3 in the nation by the USA-Today.  Or, how about State College Area, a team which had won eight District crowns and had played in the state playoffs on six separate occasions?

And last week, albeit with a little controversy, Bethel Park knocked off Wilson-West Lawn, a Berks County traditional power making its third state semifinals appearance that had mercy-ruled 11 of its previous 12 opponents.

Bethel Park comes from the same conference as recent PIAA champions Upper St. Clair and McKeesport Area, which both defeated Bethlehem Liberty to win state titles.  So Bethel Park has a lot going for it, at least in terms of history, as it enters its first PIAA title game.

The Black Hawks are led by senior running back Lyle Marsh, quarterback Erik Olson, and sure-fire All-state wide receiver John Schademan.  Marsh has run for 1,294 yards and scored over 20 touchdowns.  Olson has thrown for 1,806 yards (288 last week against Wilson) and 21 touchdowns.  Schademan has hauled in 51 passes for 1,103 yards and 15 scores.

Bethel Park averages 30.3 points per game.

Defensively, Bethel Park allows an average of 14.6 points per game.

Is Bethel Park going to become the latest WPIAL rep to win a PIAA title?  The WPIAL has won 28 state titles, and maybe, just maybe, Bethel Park will have a chance to give D7 its 30th state final.

Find out if the Black Hawks can take another golden football back to the South Hills Saturday night.

Bethel Park individual statistics from the WPIAL finals media guide.  Week 14 and 15 individual stats are according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Follow on Twitter @WPAFootball

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