High school football notebook: Spread attack bolsters Beaver offense

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Jeff Beltz had won plenty in his first 13 seasons as Beaver's coach, making the playoffs nine times and winning at least eight games six times. Despite the success, Beltz felt his program needed a change, something to give the team a jolt of enthusiasm.

If you can't feel the change in the air this season, you can definitely see it.

The Bobcats are filling the air with passes like no Beaver team has before. And the change has gone so well that Beaver has the leading passer in the entire WPIAL.

Running a spread offense, senior quarterback Alex Rowse has thrown for 1,832 yards. He has completed 121 of 184 (66 percent) and thrown for 30 touchdowns in seven games.

To put Rowse's season in perspective, consider that in Beltz's 13 previous seasons as coach Beaver never had a quarterback throw for 1,000 yards in the regular season. Before Beltz, Pat Tarquinio coached Beaver from 1966-99 and his teams always relied on the run. In Pittsburgh Post-Gazette statistics that go back to 1979, Beaver never had a 1,000-yard passer in the regular season.

So, Rowse is Beaver's first 1,000-yard passer in at least 35 regular seasons and might be its first ever. And he will likely throw for more than 2,000 yards. Rowse completed 15 of 19 passes for 251 yards in Friday's victory against Mohawk. Beaver (5-2) is averaging 46.3 points a game.

"It can revitalize a program by changing some things," said Beltz, who has an 89-55 record. "It can bring interest back. A lot of times you get that with a whole new coaching staff, but this way you still get change with elements of the old staff still there."

Beltz and offensive coordinator Ben Maracek put in the spread offense in the offseason.

"Even though we had little facets of the spread in our game before, we were still a run-based offense," Beltz said. "I think this brings some more interest to us and makes our program a little more attractive because our kids here have options to do other things than play football. This is one more facet to make football interesting and have kids want to be a part of it."

Beltz will tell you it takes the right personnel to run the spread successfully. Of course it takes a versatile quarterback, but Beltz believes the success is due to many other talented players.

In one game, Rowse completed passes to 13 receivers. Kresten Wallace, Dylan Goff and Darius Wise all have caught at least 20 passes. Wise is only a freshman.

"We thought we might need this to give us a competitive advantage," Beltz said. "We've got Beaver Falls and Aliquippa in our conference, and although we've been competitive with those folks in the past, we thought this offense would give us a little more chance to be competitive."

More big plays

"Big Play Dray" was at it again for Aliquippa Friday. Dravon Henry entered the Quips' game against Ellwood City averaging 19 yards per carry. His average went up as he rushed for 175 yards on five carries in a 56-0 victory. He now has rushed for 737 yards on 34 attempts (21.7 yards a carry).

Henry also has scored 16 touchdowns five ways and the average length of those scores is 46.5 yards.

That 80s show

Fort Cherry defeated Serra, 86-19, in a Class A game Friday. It was the most points scored by a WPIAL team since at least 1952. Brownsville scored 85 in 1998 and Gateway 85 in 2011.

Despite the 65-point margin, Serra coach Tony St. Angelo didn't have a problem with Fort Cherry and coach Jim Shiel.

"I'm not going to sit there and say the guy ran up the score," St. Angelo said. "We've got to tackle people. He agreed to shorten the clock in the second half. We played a 10-minute third quarter and a six-minute fourth quarter. If he agreed to that, then he wouldn't be running up the score."

Fort Cherry led at halftime, 67-13, and scored three second-half touchdowns on two runs and a 13-yard fumble recovery.

"How do you tell a high school kid never return a fumble for a touchdown? Any kid would," St. Angelo said. "Maybe he was a lineman who never did it in his life."


• Steelton-Highspire, the Post-Gazette's No. 5 team in the state, now has a loss on its record. Its game vs. Susquenita Oct. 4 was stopped because of a brawl late in the first half with Steel-High leading, 25-0. District 3 officials met and ruled both teams must take a forfeit because of the brawl.

• Former NFL player Deion Sanders was fired and then re-hired at a Dallas charter school he helped start and that bears his nickname. Prime Prep, which opened last year, fired Sanders last week because he allegedly assaulted the school's chief financial officer. But the school re-hired Sanders Friday. Sanders is one of the team's coaches.


For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com/varsityblog, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published October 13, 2013 8:00 PM


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