Bethel Park rocks inexperienced Kiski Area
BETHEL PARK — It wasn’t the start new Kiski Area coach Harvey Smith was looking for.
Because of injuries and graduation losses, the Cavaliers took the field against the Bethel Park Black Hawks with no starters from last season and struggled to a 47-20 setback in a nonconference encounter.
Projected starting quarterback Matt Johnson is out with a knee injury and Bret Gunn, the only other two-way starter back, also was out of the lineup with a leg injury.
Senior tailback Lyle Marsh scored three touchdowns in the first quarter, as Bethel Park, the Quad South Conference preseason favorite, rolled to the convincing victory.
“I didn’t sleep well all week,” Smith said with a laugh. “The one thing the coaching staff and I talked about was that we worked the kids hard, but we only had two kids with any varsity experience here.”
Special teams standout from 2007, Tarique Godson and Jeff Jackson, who saw action last year in a reserve role, started for the Cavaliers Friday night.
One of the few bright spots was a 90-yard kickoff return by Jackson following the first Black Hawks touchdown and an 87-yard scoring reception from sophomore quarterback William Emerick, who finished with 146 yards passing. The other Kiski Area score came on 61-yard run by junior running back Josh Taylor.
“We played about 12 sophomores tonight; we’re building with the future in mind,” Smith said.
In the first offensive series by the Cavaliers after taking the opening kickoff, Emerick was sacked twice by Corey Spegal and the aptly named Rock Vomer. The Black Hawks drove 57 yards in five plays with Marsh scoring on a 1-yard plunge. After Jackson’s return gave Kiski Area some temporary hope, Bethel Park then staged a 61-yard, five-play drive and never looked back.
The Black Hawks dominated the line of scrimmage, outgaining the Cavaliers in first quarter yardage, 160 to minus-9. Kiski Area didn’t pick up a first down until late in the half.
Bethel Park showed why it’s rated eighth in this week’s initial Tribune-Review Service Class AAAA poll with its dominating performance.
“They have a young team,” Black Hawks coach Jeff Metheny said of the Cavaliers. “Harvey’s going to do a great job there, and with some injuries, we were able to get off to a good start. But I think we executed pretty well tonight.”
“I don’t think any different after looking at that scoreboard,” Smith said of Bethel Park’s lofty ranking.
“They’re a very experienced team, they have a lot of guys coming back, they’re probably going to be in the thick of things come playoff time.”
Bethel Park made the playoffs last season and finished 7-4. The Black Hawks last made the WPIAL finals in 1946, losing to East Deer-Frazer High School when the school was a small, Class A entity.
Kiski Area will revisit the South Hills area next Friday when the Cavaliers play at Peters Township. Things will get considerably tougher for Bethel Park as it faces Penn Hills.