By Matt Popchock
This week’s UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Athlete of the Week is Dillon Buechel, a senior quarterback for the Montour football team.
Believe it or not, one of the most highly-touted teams in the state entering the 2011 season was in real danger of getting lost in the Parkway Conference playoff shuffle, so Buechel strapped that team to his back…or, more precisely, to the back of his arm.
He connected on 14 of 19 passes for four touchdowns and 297 yards, the best performance by a Class AAA quarterback and second-best by a WPIAL signal-caller in Week 8, to spurn the Spartans (4-2, 6-2) on to a crucial 35-17 win at West Allegheny (4-2, 5-3).
Montour clinched a playoff berth with that victory, which also meant temporary possession of second place in the conference and full possession of the tiebreaker over the Indians.
His sense of urgency was evident, as he hit Darren Massey for a 65-yard scoring bomb just 12 seconds into the game. Montour retook the lead at 14-7 when Buechel found Devin Wilson from 17 yards out with just over a minute to go in the first quarter.
West A jumped back in front, 17-14, early in the third quarter, but Buechel put the Spartans ahead to stay with his 20th TD toss of the year, which was, fittingly, another 65-yard pass to Massey. Buechel gave Montour a 28-17 cushion in the fourth quarter by hooking up with Aaron Reed from five yards away.
Buechel currently ranks second in Class AAA and third in the WPIAL with 1,490 yards, having completed 69% of his passes, and his 21 touchdowns are tied for the district lead. He once met with former Pitt assistant Greg Gattuso and has also drawn interest from several MAC and FCS (Division II) schools.
Meanwhile, here are some of Mr. High School Sports’ other top performers from Week 8 of the WPIAL/City League campaign:
Alex DiCiantis, North Allegheny: The Tigers defeated Shaler for the 25th time in their last 26 tries in textbook fashion, by overpowering the Titans with their bruising ground attack. DiCiantis drove the bulldozer this time, rumbling for four touchdowns and 120 yards on the ground in a 34-17 win at Lou Martig Stadium (as seen on ROOT Sports) that gave N.A. the outright Northern Seven Conference title.
Curtis Lewis, Central Valley: Joe Hamilton is regarded as a great defensive coach, but not even one of the greatest head coaches in WPIAL history had an answer for the Warriors’ quarterback in Week 8. Lewis humbled Blackhawk’s defense to the tune of 282 total offensive yards, hurling a pair of touchdown passes to Robert Foster and running for an 83-yard score in a 35-14 win that clinched the Parkway crown.
Kevin Hart, Seton-LaSalle: The changing of the guard in the Century Conference was made complete last Friday, and South Fayette’s long home-field winning streak concurrently came to an end. The Rebels’ star tailback and one of the WPIAL’s leading scorers proved he’s all “Hart” by rushing for 205 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner, to help LaSalle break away in the second half for a 33-10 victory.
Tyler Boyd, Clairton: Speaking of long winning streaks, Tom Nola’s Bears still have one to brag about, thanks in part to one of their most gifted playmakers. Once again, Clairton is your outright Black Hills Conference champion after a 35-6 rout of Fort Cherry in which Boyd accounted for four touchdowns, including three on the ground, and ran for 121 yards, as his team collected its 39th win in a row, which is now the second-longest winning streak in WPIAL history.
Adam Lynch, Brashear: He hasn’t necessarily put up the kind of enviable numbers you’d expect from the starting QB on a first-place team, but Lynch, in the biggest game of the season, was great when he had to be. He overcame two picks and completed ten of 20 passes for 169 yards, including a game-tying score with five minutes left that set the stage for a 13-12 squeaker over Perry, which puts the Bulls on the verge of the City League’s outright regular season title.
Be sure to tune into “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services High School Football Show,” brought to you by ROOT Sports and hosted by John Phillips, Saturday at 7:00 A.M. on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan, when we name our next Athlete of the Week!
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)