The Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils offense has the potential to fire on all cylinders when they get going. The team started their season by putting up 36, 28, and 31 points in their first three games respectively, but that feels like just the tip of the iceburg for a group that scored 21 points quickly in the third quarter to put away Peters Township in their most recent 31-0 win.
That 21 point barrage looked like a showcase of what this offense can become if they can click at the right time.
It started with the run game, as do most high school offenses. Still, Alex Tecza is a versatile running back, and it is easy for Mt. Lebo to get on his back and ease into feeling out their opponent, like a boxer learning their foe.
Tecza offers a slow grind because of how shifty he is. It takes work to wrap him up and get him down. He can turn losses into short gains of a yard or two and can turn two into five very quickly. Tecza plants and cuts and weaves in and out of the arms of defenders, tiring them out. He wound up with breakout runs of 12,16, and 26, the last coming on a drive that led to six in the third quarter.
Tecza offers the added value of a receiver who motions across the line and runs orbit screens to get him the football in space and once again makes defenders look silly without help.
His partner in crime, Eli Heidenreich begins to branch off of this with added dimensions in all areas of the field. Screens are a big part of his game, and we saw a reverse in the first half as well. Anything to get the ball in his hands. Still, Heidenreich is a slot receiver, and while he cuts hard to get open over the middle, he becomes an all-field threat with head fakes that create wide-open post routes from the slot. That exact post route is what led to the touchdown that capped off the 31 point night.
“You have to be able to do anything for your team,” exclaimed Heidenreich when describing his versatility. “It’s all about the team and any way I can contribute to winning is what is important to me.”
The fact that he lines up all over, can carry the ball, catch it at the line, five yards over the middle, or 20 yards deep is what makes all of the wheels in the offense turn. It helps create room for Tecza in the run game but also solidified downfield shots for the rest of the offense.
Heidenreich often ran free out of the slot with his crisp routes, but the added attention opened all other parts of the field, and Brendan Anderson, Michael Beiersdorf, and Jack Smith all created big catches in one-on-one matchups thanks to it.
It does not hurt when you have a downfield thrower in Joey Daniels who excels at pushing the ball downfield and letting his playmakers win in one-on-one matchups. At times Daniels was toying with safeties as multiple options ran free, and he picked his poison. Daniels finished with three touchdowns through the air, two by bombs clearing 30 air yards to Beiersdorf, and Heidenreich. Daniels also had a QB sneak for a touchdown from one yard out.
Tecza can beat you on the ground, and in the air, while Heidenreich brings full-field attention. Anderson and Beiersdorf take advantage down the sidelines, and Smith finds the soft spots down low. Wherever you divert your attention defensively will only open more for others.
Still, while it is a good start offensively, Heidenreich knows that they can find another level. He knows that there are still big tests ahead.
“We have to keep getting better every week,” added Heidenrich. “We have some tests, we play Central, NA, we have some really big games to see what we are made of.”
Mt. Lebanon will be showing off their offense that looks to improve from a 31 point win next Friday against Canon-McMillan at home.