NA Charges Into Week One Meeting With Bethel Park

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North Allegheny faces its first WPIAL opponent of 2016 when the Tigers (0-1) host the Bethel Park Black Hawks tonight in a non-conference affair. Coming off a narrow 30-29 loss to Olentangy Liberty at the Western Pennsylvania Football Classic last weekend, the Tigers look to bounce back against a Bethel Park team that’s playing in its first regular season game of the year. The Black Hawks soared to the playoffs last season with a 7-4 record and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals before falling to the Woodland Hills Wolverines, 40-20.

A lot has changed for the Black Hawks since last season. Bethel Park brings back only four starters on offense and five on defense and will have a new face at quarterback and an entirely fresh set of offensive linemen. While inexperienced, the O-line has good size in the form of 6-foot-6, 245 pound left tackle Connor Wholey and 6-foot-4, 305 pound right tackle James Gmiter.  Senior signal caller Cole Rodgers will try to replace four-year starter Levi Metheny at quarterback who is now a freshman at the University of Albany. Rodgers, also a catcher on the Bethel Park baseball team, is eager to step into the role of leader. Perhaps the biggest threat for Bethel Park is the diminutive Terron Murphy. Standing just 5-foot-6, Murphy is lightning quick and rushed for 1,225 yards last season and scored nine touchdowns. Averaging 8.4 yards per carry a year ago, Murphy is a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball.

North Allegheny will try to counter Bethel Park with its own quick-strike offense, spearheaded by senior quarterback Ethan Maenza who accounted for 241 yards and four touchdowns last week against Olentangy Liberty. Maenza’s top threat in the passing game is senior Niko Mermigas who reeled in six passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

On defense, Alex Mesaros is the team leader in tackles for the Tigers with 10. Defensive back Joshua Sanders hauled in an interception last week versus Olentangy Liberty, while five different players collected sacks for the Tigers in week one. It’ll be the task of the defensive front and linebackers to try and contain Murphy and the Black Hawks.

The last time these teams met was in 2013 in the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs when the Tigers defeated Bethel Park, 28-0, on the road. Running back Isaac Weaver rushed for 120 yards and three touchdowns in the post-season win.

Kickoff for tonight’s game at Wright Field at Newman Stadium is slated for 7:30 p.m. The contest will be broadcast live via the internet on the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show getting underway at 7:10. Randy Gore and Rick Meister have the call. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.