AAAA State Championship Preview
Written by: Billy Splain on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
The Game: Bethel Park Blackhawks (15-0) vs. Bethlehem Liberty Hurricanes (14-1)
Date: Saturday, December 13th at 7pm
By: Matt Farago
The final regulation high school football game of the 2008 season in the keystone state will feature two teams that most didn’t have coming close to the title game in Hershey. Okay, maybe that goes for Bethel Park more then Liberty…but go with me.
Saturday night Bethel Park will make it’s first PIAA State Finals appearance. Why you ask? Well for starters before this season, the Blackhawks had made only one trip to the WPIAL Championship some 28 years ago; that trip would turn out to be the end of their season after a 20-13 loss to Mount Lebanon.
So after Bethel Park returned to Heinz Field for the first time since 1980, and took down what many thought was the best team in all of PA in Gateway, who was also ranked #3 in the nation by the USA Today. Now they have their first shot at a state title.
After over coming all of the odds, not just in the Gateway game but all season. If you take at the teams the Blackhawks have left in their wake this season, many could be in Bethel Park’s place this week. Just last week the Blackhawks hung on for a triple overtime win over Wilson. The week before they took care of a really good State College team. Even if you take a took at the regular season line-up for BP this year, you can’t find many weak links.
Before the Western Final, BP had given up a max of just 26 points that came way back in week three, when they sliped past North Hills. BP has held 8 of their 15 opponents to under 14 points.
Look for Quarterback Erik Olson to be a big key in the game Saturday night, after passing for 297 yards last week. He could be the reason, Bethel Park gets a sweet tooth….or a tooth ache.
For Liberty, they weren’t the favorite to get to the finals either. After taking down last years runner-up in Parkland in the first round of this years playoffs. Then knocking off Emmaus, Freedom, and Washington in the following rounds. Capping off their playoff run last week, when they returned the favor to North Penn, who beat them back in the regular season and is there only loss of the season.
Liberty is back in the title game for the third time in the past four season, however the Hurricanes have looked more like a tropical storm when they take on a district7 team in the finals. Back in 2006 it was Upper St. Clair who sent Liberty home with the only thing that’s silver covered, that your unhappy to take home from Hershey. It happened again in 2005 when McKeesport took home the hardware back to the Pittsburgh area, and Liberty was sent home as runners-up.
District Seven has won the last four state title, wile district 11 has won just won in the last 11 seasons. Making the combined titles between the districts 5 of the last 11.
Will the third time be the charm for Liberty? Or will Bethel Park have beginners luck and win on their first trip to Hereshey? Find out Saturday at Hershey Park Stadium.
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