Seneca Valley's mantra: Next man up

Injuries have ravaged Raiders heading into Saturday clash with Baldwin

October 16, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports

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As Seneca Valley football coach Ron Butschle referred to it, it's the next-man-up mentality.

The Raiders are certainly getting the chance to see where they stack up in that respect.

Star running back Ethan West hasn't seen significant action since a win over Norwin Sept. 25 due to a leg injury. He was in for a few plays in a loss to Central Catholic the following week and did not play at all in last week's 31-17 win at Canon-McMillan.

Butschle said West is “out for an extended period.”

Senior quarterback Dustin Horn came out of the Central game nursing an undisclosed injury and found out last week that his season is over.

In three games, Horn had passed for 370 yards and four touchdowns.

“I feel really bad for him. He waited for his time and was finally getting his chance,” said Butschle. “Sometimes things end before they should.

“I just hope he heals up for the baseball season.”

Horn's backup, junior Brian Olan, stepped in last week and had a memorable initial start against the Big Macs. Though he threw two interceptions, he also had 275 passing yards and two touchdowns.

“He played beyond anybody's expectations,” said Butschle. “We just wanted to put him in position to be successful.”

Olan (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) will look to continue his progression as a starter when the Raiders (3-1) host Baldwin with a noon kickoff Saturday.

The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but both schools agreed to push it back “as a result of a delay in preparation for Baldwin's football student-athletes,” according to an email from Seneca Valley athletic director Heather Lewis.

“He's probably got the strongest arm of any of our quarterbacks,” said Butschle of Olan. “He lacks experience, but his football IQ is improving.”

With West on the sideline, the brunt of rushing attempts has fallen to junior halfback Nolan Dworek, who gained 100 yards on the ground against Norwin, but was held to a paltry nine yards by Central Catholic.

Dworek rebounded against Canon-McMillan, however, gaining 76 yards and scoring once on the ground. He also caught one of Olan's touchdown passes.

“He runs hard and has good vision,” said Butschle. “He had a great cutback-run for the touchdown and later took a short swing pass and turned it into a 70-yard touchdown. He's getting better with all the reps he's getting.”

It's been tough for Baldwin to find a rhythm this season. The Highlanders (2-1, 1-1) have had games against McKeesport, Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, North Allegheny and Canon-McMillan canceled due to COVID-19.

The game against Mt. Lebanon was slated for Sept. 11 and Baldwin was able to schedule Hollidaysburg from District 6 in its place.

The Highlanders won that game, but did not see action again until a 28-12 loss to Norwin three weeks later. Last week, Baldwin survived a meeting with Hempfield, 37-34.

Senior quarterback Colton Brain has passed for 646 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. Wideout Connor Lavelle is the only Highlander with double-digit receptions with 18 for 244 and three scores.

Running back Luke Loeffert has gained 206 yards rushing with one touchdown.

“Lavelle (6-1, 195) is a really talented athlete and they're also big up front,” said Butschle. “They have something to play for, as do we.”

Tim Sweeney is in his first season as Baldwin's head coach. He previously coached at Derry and led the Trojans to the WPIAL Class 3A title game in 2018.

Sweeney could not be reached for comment.

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Derek Pyda

Derek Pyda

- Graduated from Connellsville High School in 1996
- Graduated from Clarion University in 2000 with a Bachelors in Communications
- Have also written for Clarion News (Clarion, PA) and the Herald-Standard (Uniontown, PA)
- Started at the Butler Eagle on April 2, 2002
- Interests include sports, history and geography