Mt. Pleasant opens playoffs at Seton-La Salle
Entering the 2010 season, the Mt. Pleasant football team knew it would have to scratch and claw its way to a playoff spot in Class AA. The Vikings were able to do just that, finishing third in the Interstate Conference behind Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette.
Now, the 12th-seeded Vikings are preparing for the second season, and their first test is an opening-round game against the fifth-seeded Seton-La Salle Rebels.
“They are a very well-coached team in all phases of the game,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said. “Offensively, they are very balanced. They can run and throw the ball effectively, and that puts pressure on the defense. Defensively, they are very technique-oriented and they don’t make many mistakes.”
Ruffner’s claim that Seton-La Salle is a balanced team is supported by statistics.
The Rebels have racked up 3,373 yards of total offense, with an almost equal balance of run (1,643) and pass (1,730).
Senior quarterback David O’Brien has completed 93 of 153 passes for 1,652 yards and 22 touchdowns. His primary targets are senior wideouts Mike Delsardo (47 receptions, 820 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Chad Dawgiello (31-562-9).
The running game revolves around junior back Kevin Hart, who has carried 198 times for 1,335 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Defensively, Dawgiello has grabbed six interceptions as a defensive back, which is among WPIAL leaders.
There’s little doubt that the Rebels will be a tough challenge for the Vikings, especially on the road, but Mt. Pleasant knows how to play away from home. The Vikings are 3-1 on the road this season, including a win over playoff-bound East Allegheny. Plus, the Vikings played well in a 7-0 loss to Interstate Conference champion Greensburg Central Catholic.
“At this point of the year you draw on the things you do well, and I think we’ve been a pretty good road team the last couple of years,” Ruffner said. “We’ll go out and try to play our game.”
The Vikings’ game features strong defense and a solid running game.
Senior running back Bryce Ansell has carried 117 times for 653 yards and six touchdowns. Freshman Tyler Mellors (55-380-6) and junior Kevin Yanok (50-303-2) also add to the running game, as does senior quarterback Nick Halfhill (96-346-4).
Halfhill has completed 27 of 71 passes for 530 yards and four touchdowns.
In the final week of the regular season, Seton-La Salle clinched second place in the Century Conference with a 32-22 win over Keystone Oaks. Meanwhile, Mt. Pleasant beat Southmoreland, 38-0, to clinch a playoff spot. The Vikings enter the playoffs on a two-game winning streak and combined to score 83 points in Weeks 8 and 9.
“We are pretty happy with the way we have been playing,” Ruffner said. “We have been playing playoff-type games because we needed to win to get in. I think we’ve been playing our best football the past two weeks and we’re going to go there and try to do what we do well and hopefully give ourselves a chance to win it in the second half.”
At a glance
WPIAL Class AA playoffs
Mt. Pleasant (6-3) at Seton-La Salle (8-1) at Chartiers Valley High School
7:30 p.m. Friday