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Belle Vernon Shuts out McKeesport 20-0 on the Road

Written by: on Saturday, September 12th, 2020

 

 

If anything has seemed strange in 2020, Friday night WPIAL football at George L Smith Stadium Weigle- Schaeffer Field in McKeesport, Pennsylvania confirmed it following a 20-0 point shutout of the visiting Belle Vernon Leopards over the McKeesport Tigers. McKeesport, sporting its trademark Flexbone Triple Option offense, and moving down from 5A into the Big 8 seemed like the true favorite against a Belle Vernon squad that ended their season in the WPIAL Final last year. All indications said that a Leopards team that had not faced such an unique offense before would be outmatched, however, like all things 2020, the least expected is sometimes the truest outcome. 

For the Belle Vernon defense, the domination began early, not allowing McKeesport on the other side of the field for the entirety of the 1st quarter. Leaders on the defense for the Leopards included Dakota Marion, Joe Klanchar and Cole Weightman, each getting in action on reading the triple option and avoiding long gains. “We just went over everything they did, we went over all their formations.” DB Logan Cunningham said on the team’s preparation, “We just kept repping it and drilling it into our heads until we knew it like the back of our hand. We were ready to come out full speed this week.”

For Cole Weightman, the long 2020 offseason has given the young star an opportunity to learn, “I really focused on trying to understand the game a lot more, working on my hands, trying to get people off of me to make more tackles”. The young star is beginning to hold plenty interest from Division 1 schools around the country. With the Leopards defense on all night, only one score was needed, and with 8:19 remaining in the 1st quarter, newly minted QB, Devin Whitlock would break his first carry for a 73 yard score making it 6-0. 

Devin Whitlock is not a new face to southwest Pennsylvania, standing out in his freshman year at Monessen before transferring to Belle Vernon. In 2020, the Leopards star would make his first start at QB. “From starting to learn the plays to ending up on the field today, I just had to stay focused and do the job that I came here to do” Whitlock said on making his first start. 

With a new QB firing on all cylinders, and a defense that was suffocating the Tigers offense all night, the Leopards rode their six point lead into the 4th quarter. A 2 yard TD run by Dane Anden and a successful 2 pt conversion later would make the score 14-0. 

Following a long kickoff return by the Tigers, on the following play, an errant throw would lead to a 60 yard pick-6 from Logan Cunningham, essentially sealing the game at 20-0. “I was telling everybody on the sidelines, I’m gonna get one.” Cunningham said. “Even though they’re not that big of a passing team I still made sure I was doing my assignments and I was at the right place at the right time.”

Belle Vernon hopes that the road ahead will be as fruitful as their opening night. A matchup at home against West Mifflin will prequel a rematch against the same Thomas Jefferson team that eliminated the Leopards en route to a state championship. “I’m going to prepare just like any other game it’s not going to be any different.” Said Devin Whitlock on West Mifflin and preparing for 3 star Pitt Commit Nahki Johnson, “Gotta come into it with a good mindset and be ready to win. “

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