Game of the Week: Upper St. Clair (6-0, 5-0) vs. Bethel Park (4-2, 4-2)
Upper St. Clair quarterback Pete Coughlin (666 passing yards with 10 touchdowns) has not thrown an interception this season.
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As a freshman quarterback who has thrown for 606 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in leading his team to a 4-2 record, Bethel Park's Levi Metheny already has defied the odds.
Friday night, he'll have to do it again as the Black Hawks play host to undefeated Class AAAA No. 2 Upper St. Clair in a game featuring two of the top three teams in the Southeastern Conference standings.
Although the teams enter the game on a fairly level playing field, with the Black Hawks 4-2 and the Panthers 6-0, the history between Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair has been anything but even.
In their past eight meetings with Upper St. Clair, the Black Hawks are 2-6, and have been outscored, 240-70.
For those involved, the track record between the teams matters little.
"They know us pretty well, and we know them pretty well," Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render said. "I think they will focus on the things they need to focus on. I don't believe they're going to look at the past games too much. They're probably looking forward."
A year removed from a 4-6 season that included a 55-0 loss against Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park has a rejuvenated team built around Metheny, a promising young quarterback. The Black Hawks have nearly doubled their points-per-game average from 14.9 last year to 28.8 this year, and, after starting the season 1-2, have rebounded to win their past three games, including a 29-6 win at Peters Township, which, at the time, was 3-1.
Upper St. Clair will present a different challenge as the Panthers are one of the most well-balanced teams in the WPIAL. They are second among the 26 Class AAAA teams in both points per game (38.5) and points allowed per game (5.8).
The Panthers' offense is centered around Pete Coughlin, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the area. In his first season as a starter, Coughlin has completed 41 of 51 passes for 666 yards and 10 touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception. He is also the team's leading rusher with 342 yards.
While Upper St. Clair still has a game against 5-1 Mt. Lebanon remaining, the game Friday looms large.
"We would like to win the conference championship again, and this would be a big step toward that end," Render said.
"We've been pretty fortunate so far, and Bethel Park is the next team that is standing in our way."
• Game: Upper St. Clair at Bethel Park, 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Black Hawk Stadium.
• Check this out: In its current three-game win streak, Bethel Park has outscored its opponents, 104-13, with an average margin of victory of 30.3 points.
First Published October 12, 2012 12:00 am