With a season and a half under his belt, Burrell High School wrestling coach Bud Sines has a better knowledge of the WPIAL team tournament and the teams that hope to unseat the Buccaneers.
"I didn't know what to expect last year," said Sines, a retired prison dentist who coached in Wisconsin for 14 years. "And I had limited knowledge of the other playoff teams. It certainly helped to have a talented group of kids who were able to keep the streak going."
Burrell claimed its sixth consecutive WPIAL Class AA title last year with a thrilling 34-31 come-from-behind upset of top-seeded Jefferson-Morgan in the title match. The Buccaneers, who were seeded No. 3, rallied from a 25-0 deficit to shock the favored Rockets.
"That was my first taste of WPIAL wrestling," Sines said. "I've learned a lot since then about wrestling in this area and the top teams in the WPIAL. But sometimes knowledge can be a dangerous thing."
Sines believes this year's Buccaneers squad has the talent and desire required to win an unprecidented seventh consecutive WPIAL title, but realizes that it will not be easy.
"We didn't have many holes in our lineup last year," Sines said. "We lost four seniors who played a big part in our success in the playoffs from that team."
The Buccaneers are also without junior Derrick Beattie, who has been out since the start of football season with a shoulder injury. Beattie had a 34-15 record at 170 last year.
"Derrick got hurt on the second play of football practice," Sines said. "He had shoulder surgery and was supposed to be back after Christmas. He missed the entire football season and may miss wrestling season. It's too bad, because he had 23 pins last year."
Burrell takes a 12-5 record into this year's team tournament, which began Wednesday night. As the top seed, the Buccaneers received a first-round bye and were scheduled to face the winner of the match between No. 8 seed Mount Pleasant (9-3) and Ellwood City (6-8).
"We should have the horses required to get through Wednesday's quarterfinal match," said Sines, prior to the match. "We're expecting to face Chartiers-Houston, but realize that Bentworth also has a strong team."
Chartiers-Houston is seeded No. 4 and Bentworth is No. 5. Those two were expected to meet in the quarterfinals.
"And if we're fortunate enough to make it back to the finals, we will probably face South Fayette or Jefferson-Morgan," Sines said. "But we're not taking anything for granted."
Sines may not have Derrick Beattie. But he does have Alan Beattie, a sophomore who attended Kiski School last year. Beattie is ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AA at 285 pounds with a 24-6 record.
"Alan leads the team with 16 pins," Sines said. "It's nice to have Alan and Dakota at the end of our lineup."
Sines was referring to senior Dakota DesLauriers, who is ranked No. 1 at 182 pounds with an 18-0 record. DesLauriers was a WPIAL champ and PIAA runner-up last year.
"Dakota missed a couple weeks at the start of the season with mono, but he's healthy now," Sines said. "Twelve of his 18 wins came via pins."
DesLauriers and Beattie are two of three Burrell wrestlers who are No. 1 in the Class AA rankings. The other is Damon Greenwald, a freshman who has an 18-8 record at 126 pounds. One of his wins was against Valley's Pat Dewitt, last year's WPIAL champ at 106.
"Damon is the last of four brothers who wrestled for Burrell," Sines said. "He's doing a nice job for a freshman in a weight class that's usually dominated by upperclassmen."
Four other Burrell wrestlers are ranked.
Steven Edwards (21-4) is No. 2 at 138 pounds. Phillip Marra (16-5) is No. 3 at 145 pounds. Cori Falleroni (17-4) is No. 3 at 152. John Andrejcik (15-5) is No. 6 at 132.
"John missed all of last season recovering from shoulder surgery," Sines said. "It's great to have him back this year."
Sines has had several wrestlers miss time with various injuries and illnesses, but believes the Buccaneers are in good shape for the team tournament.
"One good thing is that we have some depth," Sines said. "We have 21 kids, which gives us the flexibility to move kids around, if needed."
The WPIAL semifinals in both classes will take place Friday at Chartiers Valley. The finals and consolation final in each class will also take place at Chartiers Valley on Saturday.