When South Side Beaver and New Brighton meet Friday night, it will be a clash of styles.
For New Brighton, you have John Greco, a veteran head coach in his 20th season with the Lions. Like most teams in the WPIAL, Greco has gotten with the times and implemented the spread offense with his young team, which was handled by Class 3A Beaver Area in non-conference action 69-21.
“We got off to a fast and did some nice things (14 of their 21 points were scored in the first quarter),” Greco said. “We kind of then got out man and fell apart. We had three straight turnovers on three possessions and that kind of spelled our doom.”
On the other side, South Side Beaver coach Luke Travelpiece is in his second season as the head man in Hookstown. Unlike his contemporary, Travelpiece uses an offense that was the brain children of Pop Warner over 100 years ago: the Wing T. Similar to the modern triple option, the Rams proved this offense is still tough to defend in their 28-21 win over Our Lady of Sacred Heart, one of the top teams in Class 1A, in the Western PA Legends Classic.
According to Travelpiece, the Wing T is meant to catch teams off guard.
“It’s so different and diverse,” Travelpiece said. “If you have just two or three days to practice for it it can be difficult. The goal of the Wing T is to get guys out of position and get the advantage.”
What makes the Wing T go for South Side Beaver is senior running back TJ Botkin. In their win over OLSH at North Allegheny, the senior exploded for 168 on 30 carries. Though he couldn’t find pay dirt on the day, Botkin was help to set up two touchdowns including the game-winning six yard run by Jordan Bruce.
Beaver Area was able to find success on the ground against New Brighton, but as Travelpiece affirmed, finding running room is a lot different in the spread (Beaver’s offense) compared to the Wing T.
“On paper it may look similar, but when you watch the film its very different,” Travelpiece said. “The way we racked up our offense is very different from what Beaver did. We do prefer to run rather than throw the ball, that’s the way the Wing T is designed.”
Expect a tight ball game when these two Class 2A Midwestern teams square off for their first conference meeting of the season.