Southmoreland football team’s season falls short of goals, expectations
The 2014 Southmoreland football team entered the season with high expectations placed on it before the first practice even took place in early August.
The team seemed to be in line to become the first squad from Southmoreland to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs since the 1979 Keystone Conference champions did it 35 years ago.
Southmoreland was returning to play home games at Russ Grimm Field after the entire home schedule from the 2013 season was forced to be played on the turf at Adamson Stadium in California after flood waters damaged the carpet at the stadium in Alverton just two weeks before the season opener.
The Scotties also were returning one of the top running backs in the WPIAL in senior Jake Pisula and were surrounded by an offensive line that made many small colleges envious.
Many times expectations fall short in reality and that is exactly what happened to the Scotties in 2014.
Southmoreland opened the season with a win over Class AA Interstate Conference foe Charleroi. The Scotties were not sharp in this game and did not take a lead in the contest until late in the fourth quarter and then held on to win when the Cougars could not move the ball effectively during their final drive of the game.
In week 2, the Scotties traveled north for a nonconference match-up with Beaver Falls. The Tigers had eight freshmen in their lineup, but what they lacked in experience, they made up for in speed and determination as they ran all over the Scotties at home, dropping the Scotties to 1-1.
Southmoreland returned home Sept. 12 and took out its frustrations on Brownsville in a 34-0 victory. Tommy Pisula was the main target for the Scotties on the night, rushing for 57 yards a pair of touchdowns. Pisula also was on the receiving end of a 46-yard pass from quarterback Brennan Bunner.
In week 4, the Scotties hosted McGuffey and its stud running back James Duchi. Duchi entered the game as the conference’s top rusher. The Scotties defense kept the big back in check for much of the evening, but the Highlanders picked the Scotties apart through the air on their way to 42-14 win, evening the Scotties record at 2-2.
In week 5, Southmoreland traveled to Derry and came away with an impressive 27-14 win over the Trojans, but lost starting quarterback Brennan Bunner to a broken arm. At the midpoint of the season, the Scotties were 3-2 overall, but 3-1 in conference play.
Burgettstown came to Alverton in week 6 and the Scotties used a record-setting performance by Jake Pisula to improve to 4-1 in the conference by virtue of a 40-14 win. Pisula broke his own individual game rushing record when he rushed for 305 yards for the Scotties, who were now firmly in control of their playoff destiny with the heart of their conference schedule staring them in the face over the final three weeks of the season.
The Waynesburg Red Raiders were the first of three huge tests for the Scotties. Southmoreland fell behind by 12 points early in the game, but battled back to take a late lead against the Raiders. Waynesburg scored a late touchdown and held off the Scotties, 26-21, putting the Raiders in good position to return to the WPIAL playoffs for their first time since 2003.
In week 8, Southmoreland took on unbeaten Washington. The Little Prexies were 7-0 entering the contest and simply overwhelmed the Scotties, 41-7, severely damaging the Scotties playoff hopes.
In the final week of the regular season, Southmoreland took on backyard rival Mt. Pleasant. The Scotties needed a win over the Vikings and an upset of Waynesburg by Derry to qualify for the postseason. Neither happened. The Vikings unleashed their vaunted running attack on Southmoreland and rolled to a 45-8 win over the Scotties. Waynesburg played poorly, but was able to defeat Derry and claim the final playoff spot from the Interstate Conference.
Southmoreland finished 4-5 overall and 4-4 in the Interstate Conference, placing the Scotties fifth in the conference, ahead of Burgettstown, Derry, Brownsville and Charleroi.
Mark King is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.