LIGONIERPennsylvania – –Steel Valley entered Friday Night’s football game considered one of the best teams in the state in Class 2A. They reaffirmed that notion with a crushing 48-0 win over Ligonier Valley at Weller Field.
“They beat us at the table, they beat us in the weight room, and hats off to them, they’re a fantastic football team that when we watched them on film we saw no weakness,” said Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel. said after his team slipped to 3-2 this season.
The Ironmen controlled the game from the start. On the sophomore halfback’s second play from scrimmage, Donald Barksdale ripped off a 57-yard touchdown run to give the visitors a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
Barksdale finished with 163 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns.
“It was a big game for us, a conference game and they were 3-1 and they’re well trained, a good team, and they’re playing hard at home,” Steel Valley coach Ray Braszo said after his team improved to 4-0. “We’re just a bit stronger than them right now.”
Steel Valley added another quick score on their second possession. Senior quarterback Cruce Brookins found Makhai Valentine along the sideline, and the 6-foot-3 wide receiver passed over the Ligonier Valley defender to complete the 56-yard score.
“The quarterback is a phenomenal athlete,” Beitel said of Brookins. “They’ve got multiple Division I football players there, they’re tough kids, and then you add in their athleticism, size, strength and everything else.”
Brookins completed 9 of 11 passes for 121 yards. The athletic quarterback also contributed 63 rushing yards with two touchdowns.
“The point guards are making plays and our line is doing a good job of putting holes in them and they’re running strong,” Braszo said.
Steel Valley had a noticeable size difference in the trenches. The Ironmen introduced 6-foot-5, 315-pound Gregory Smith at left tackle, who is a rookie from Miami, Ohio. The elder was able to pave the way for some big plays throughout the game for his team.
Ligonier led 21-0 after one quarter, but the Rams built some momentum to start the second. After a sack over Brookins that pinned the Ironmen in midfield, Ligonier Valley took the ball and moved the chains for the first time in the entire match.
Quarterback Broderick Schreyer hit Logan Johnston for two passes that put the Rams at the 20-yard line. Ligonier Valley opted for a trick play, but Haden Sierocky’s pass was caught at the 5-yard line.
Steel Valley quickly went for 95 yards in four plays thereafter. Brookins hit a 40-yard springboard, then Barksdale took him into the end zone on a 53-yard run.
“Our kids hung on but at the end of the day the big difference was that every time you played a big football team you had to be perfect and every time we went something we would just have a self-inflicted injury. with a penalty or a false start,” Beitel said. “You’re behind the sticks…just a tough, tough night.”
Steel Valley added a score just before half-time from a 2-yard goalkeeper from Brookins to set the clock in the second half.
The Ironmen are 4-0 and come off an 11-1 season in 2021. Braszo didn’t want to discuss his team’s cap or long-term goals this season, but instead wants to see them improve every week .
“Well, the feeling is that they come on Monday and they’re not too focused,” the Ironmen coach said with a laugh. “We fight all week in training, so they have to improve a bit.”