South Xtra: Brentwood finds itself struggling
Share with others:
Heading into this season, the No. 4 spot that Monessen currently occupies in the polls was held by Brentwood, a team that many thought would be Clairton's main competition in the WPIAL Class A Black Hills Conference.
A 48-0 trouncing of Serra Catholic to open the season seemed to confirm those lofty expectations, but since then, they have dropped consecutive games, first to Monessen, 35-28, followed by a 25-14 upset at the hands of Imani Christian in a game in which Brentwood led 14-0 after the first quarter.
Perhaps most disconcerting for the Spartans is that a defense that allowed an average of 13.7 points per game in the 2011 regular season gave up a combined 60 points in their two losses.
In their two losses, the Spartans endured huge performances from opposing offensive players such as Monessen quarterback Chavas Rawlins, who threw for 206 yards and a touchdown on just six completed passes, Imani Christian quarterback Khari Hicks, who threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, as well as Imani Christian running back Ron Brown, who ran for 104 yards on 12 carries.
All is not lost for Brentwood, however, as this is a team that still has both its leading passer and rusher from last season -- senior Chris Shortley and junior Justin Vickless, respectively. Vickless, in particular, has been stellar this season. In three games, he has rushed for 491 yards, which ranks him 10th among all WPIAL rushers.
Additionally, the remaining schedule is not entirely daunting as, aside from a game against Clairton in two weeks, the combined record of the Spartans' remaining opponents is just 6-9 to date.
Still, it will take a strong effort throughout the rest of the season in order for people to forget entirely about Brentwood's sluggish start.
The 2012 season has already been a stellar one for some WPIAL passers, with four quarterbacks -- among them North Allegheny's Mack Leftwich and Blackhawk's Chandler Kincade -- having already surpassed the 650-yard passing mark through three games.
In the South Xtra region, specifically, there is a bevvy of accomplished signal-callers to be found, as three of the top nine quarterbacks in total passing yards come from schools in this area -- South Fayette sophomore Brett Brumbaugh, Thomas Jefferson senior Joe Carroll and Seton-LaSalle senior Luke Brumbaugh (Brett's older brother).
In just his first year as a full-time starter, Brett Brumbaugh is already making a name for himself, both in the WPIAL and among his own family members, which include his older brothers Christian, the WPIAL's all-time leading passer, and the aforementioned Luke. Brett ranks third among all WPIAL passers with 673 yards and is second in touchdown passes with 11. Perhaps most impressively for such a young player, he has yet to throw an interception this season.
Among the top 10 players in passing yards, none have accomplished the feat with fewer attempts than Carroll's 44. He has thrown for 587 yards and of the 27 passes he has completed, an astounding 12 (or 44.4 percent of his passes) have been for touchdowns, which leads the WPIAL.
The elder Brumbaugh, Luke, has completed less than half of his passes (29 for 60) this year, but has made them count with 521 yards and six touchdowns. He posted a season-high 271 passing yards in a 42-0 win over McGuffey on Sept. 7.
Not-so-coincidentally, each of the three quarterbacks' teams are ranked and have a combined 9-0 record heading into this week's games.
In addition to the big Clairton-Monessen matchup, there are other compelling game this week in the South Xtra region as there are a few other contests pitting top teams against one another.
A week removed from a humbling 50-0 rout from Class AAA No. 2 South Fayette, Steel Valley will have its hands full yet again as it returns home to face No. 4 Seton-LaSalle.
A 2-1 Penn Hills team will look to pull an upset and shake up the Southeastern Conference standings in a game at Class AAAA No. 3 Upper St. Clair.
Lastly, Class AAA No. 4 Thomas Jefferson will get its toughest test of the young season with a showdown at Trinity (2-1).
First Published September 20, 2012 12:00 am