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Brentwood football hopes to rebound next season around ‘good nucleus’

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Brentwood senior WR Drew Wilson (1) competes against Carrick on Aug. 24, 2018, at Brentwood Stadium.
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Brentwood junior quarterback John Milcic (14) competes against Carrick on Aug. 24, 2018, at Brentwood Stadium.
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Jeff Healy | For the Tribune-Review
Brentwood’s Aiden Wardzinski

It was a tough season for the Brentwood football team in 2018.

The Spartans finished 3-4 in the Class 2A Three Rivers Conference and 4-6 overall.

Brentwood’s four victories were achieved against nonconference foe Carrick, 35-7, and conference opponents Fort Cherry, 28-7; South Side Beaver, 26-7; and Carlynton, 34-21.

“I was a little disappointed with our final record,” coach Kevin Kissel said. “It left a bad taste in my mouth.

“Obviously, we wanted to make the playoffs. At times we were good and at times we weren’t. That’s what happens when you have a young and inexperienced team.”

The Spartans ended up fifth in league play, behind Burgettstown (9-0, 7-0), South Side Beaver (7-3, 5-2), Serra Catholic (6-4, 4-3) and Seton LaSalle (5-5, 4-3). Carlynton (2-8, 1-6) and Fort Cherry (2-8, 1-6) tied for seven place.

Close defeats to Seton LaSalle (13-0) and Serra Catholic (24-21) cost the Brentwood gridders a possible playoff berth, while the Spartans’ most impressive win was achieved Sept. 28 when they defeated WPIAL finalist South Side Beaver, 26-7.

“We handled South Side Beaver. We really did,” Kissel said. “But we didn’t duplicate that (performance) enough times this season.”

Seven Brentwood players were named all-conference, led by Luke Bauer, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound junior lineman. Bauer, who along with being named first-team all-conference on both offense and defense, was voted the league’s MVP lineman.

“He won it hands down,” Kissel said. “That’s a pretty good recognition, especially for a junior. Luke’s a very good player; he was outstanding this season.”

Junior QB John Milcic and junior DB Jayneil Latham also were chosen first-team all-conference.

Second-team honors went to senior C/LB Nick Czerwien, senior WR Drew Wilson and sophomore DL Steve Bakowski.

Sophomore Aiden Wardzinski was lauded as an honorable mention selection at H-back/WR.

Milcic led the Spartans in passing and rushing. He completed 98 of 227 tosses for 1,189 yards, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also ran for 503 yards and eight scores, giving him 1,692 yards and 21 touchdowns in total offense.

The Spartans’ receiving corps was sparked by Wilson, with 33 receptions for 284 yards and four touchdowns, and Wardzinski (28-294).

Other pass-catchers included senior WR/DB Eddie Gomez (19-291), WR/DB Latham (9-171), junior RB/LB Ian Thomas (4-20), senior WR/DB Jared Thomas (3-15) and junior RB/LB Aidan Davis (2-14).

Gomez reeled in five TD receptions, Latham nabbed three, while Ian Thomas scored once.

Ian Thomas complemented Milcic in the rushing department. Wilson, Gomez, freshman QB/DB Jase Keib, junior WR/DB Sean Britenbaugh and freshman RB/DB Josh Ziegler also saw playing time in the offensive backfield.

Brentwood outscored the opposition by a 189-188 margin this season, averaging 18.9 ppg offensively and 18.8 ppg defensively.

Starters on defense consisted of Bauer, Bakowski, Czerwien (DE) and junior NG Matt Veatch on the line; Ian Thomas, Davis, Wardzinski and freshman Jack Wisenauer at linebacker; plus Latham, Wilson and Gomez in the secondary. Latham (4) and Wilson (3) had seven interceptions between them.

Jared Thomas and Milcic were top reserves in the secondary.

“With only three starters back, we were very inexperienced going into the year,” said Greg Perdziola, Brentwood’s defensive coordinator. “But I thought we had a good year. Our players really held their own against much bigger teams. We only had one player over 200 pounds.

“I was impressed how our players never backed down, and most important is we got better as the year went on. Our top defensive player was Luke Bauer. Both cornerbacks (Latham, Wilson) had very good years, and Czerwien, Wardzinski and (Ian) Thomas all had solid years. I’m looking forward to next year. With nine starters back, we should very strong on the defensive side of the ball.”

There were only four seniors on the 2018 squad, consisting of Wilson, Jared Thomas, WR/DT Tom Clibbens and OL/DL Noah Green. That means 31 of 35 players will return next year.

“We have a good nucleus coming back. We’ll be experienced,” Kissel said. “I’m anxious to get started.

“We know what we need to work on. Our offensive line needs some help. We had a lack of experience and a lack of maturity this year. Hopefully, we won’t have that next year.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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