PITTSBURGH — Saturday's 34-7 defeat to Pine-Richland in the WPIAL Class 6A title game was a bitter pill for Seneca Valley's football team to swallow, but Raiders' head coach Ron Butschle had no trouble putting his squad's 2018 season into perspective.
Not after recalling last season's 3-6 effort that fell short of the postseason.
“This loss hurts, but one game does not tarnish an entire season,” he said. “We built a lifetime full of lessons in morale and values.”
The Raiders finish this season with a 9-4 record, but to players like senior linebacker Saige Ley, the turnaround was evident long before a season-opening 30-6 win against McDowell.
“You could tell this year was going to be different, even in the off-season,” he said. “This group wanted it more.”
Losses in the regular season to Central Catholic, North Allegheny and Pine-Richland relegated the Raiders to fifth place in the Quad County Conference standings.
“I think a lot of people expected us to crawl into the playoffs and then be done,” Butschle said.
After one quarter of a quarterfinal playoff game against Central Catholic, that appeared to be the case. SV trailed the Vikings 14-0 before turning in an inspiring performance, especially on defense.
Central gained just 15 yards of offense over the final three quarters and the Raiders scored a pair of touchdowns in the second half to pull out a 15-14 win.
“That's where our run (to Heinz Field) started,” said Ley. “That was the beginning of our 'Revenge Tour'.
Next up on that list was North Allegheny, which had survived a 10-6 brawl with the Raiders in late September. In the rematch, however, SV's offense came to life and the team's shutdown defense squashed the Tigers in a 31-14 decision.
The tour was short-circuited by Pine-Richland, which denied the Raiders the first WPIAL championship in program history.
But the journey provided the Raiders with memories that will last long after the sting of defeat wears off.
“The thing I will remember most about this season is the brotherhood we have on the team,” said senior tight end/linebacker Jake Stebbins. “I consider every guy in that locker room my brother.”
“This season was a collective effort,” said Butschle. “We matured as a group. We set the program in the direction we want to go and I told the seniors that.”