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PIAA Class 6A Title Game Team Preview: The Mount Lebanon Blue Devils @mtlebofootball @EHeidenreich44

Written by: on Friday, December 10th, 2021

 

Mount Lebanon Blue Devils

PIAA District 7 – Class AAAAAA
League: WPIAL 6A
Head Coach: Bob Palko

Overview:

New, yet familiar. 

That feeling permeates, as the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils make their first ever trip to the PIAA Championship at 6A. 

The Blue Devils enter the final with a perfect record, and no team coming within a score of them all season. The only team that came close to them talent-wise, the Central Catholic Vikings, we’re nearly mercy ruled in the regular season in a rain split affair. Coach Bob Palko finished the job in the WPIAL championship. 

For Bob Palko, Hershey Park is not unfamiliar territory. Palko won the state title with West Allegheny in 2001. For Mt. Lebanon, this is the farthest the team has made it in history, however, the Blue Devils won’t settle to be just participants. 

How they got to Hershey:

OVERALL PCT LEAGUE PCT HOME AWAY STREAK
14-0 1.000 5-0 1.000 9-0 5-0 W14

DATE

OPPONENT

LOCATION

TIME/SCORE

08-21 Pine-Richland  @ Pine-Richland (SCR) 10:00 am
08-27 Bethel Park  @ Bethel Park (5-6) W 28-0
09-03 Upper Saint Clair  vs. Upper Saint Clair (6-5) W 36-13
09-10 Peters Township  @ Peters Township (7-5) W 31-0
09-17 Canon-McMillan  vs. Canon-McMillan (4-7) * W 37-7
09-24 Hempfield Area  vs. Hempfield Area (2-8) * W 48-14
10-01 North Allegheny  vs. North Allegheny (7-5) * W 51-20
10-09 Pittsburgh Central Catholic  vs. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (9-3) * W 35-14
10-15 Norwin  @ Norwin (5-5) * W 35-7
10-22 Seneca Valley  vs. Seneca Valley (6-5) * W 38-7
10-29 Baldwin  @ Baldwin (2-8) * W 35-7
11-12 North Allegheny  vs. North Allegheny (7-5) (P) W 28-17
11-20 Pittsburgh Central Catholic  vs. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (9-3) (SP) Norwin W 47-7
11-26 McDowell  vs. McDowell (9-3) (SP) W 47-14
12-04 State College  @ State College (8-6) (SP) Mansion Park W 49-28
12-11 St. Joseph's Prep  @ St. Joseph’s Prep (11-2) (SP) Hersheypark Stadium) 6:00 pm

Key players/Stats:

The Blue Devils offense has rolled everyone they’ve played all year, led by a talented backfield trio. Eli Heidenreich has been the big play threat, seemingly being able to score from all points on the field. The Navy bound senior is entering the state title game on one heck of a hot streak. 11 TDs in the last 3 games with 444 yards of receiving. 

Also in the backfield are Alex Tecza as the primary back and QB Joey Daniels. Both have been perfect pieces to an offense that has been the most effective in the WPIAL. 

One of the most impressive bits of information on the Blue Devils is the sheer amount of players who play both ways. Something not seen in such great quantities for teams as large as Lebo. Both Tecza and Heidenreich are in the top six in tackles, with Heidenreich leading the team. The defense has been one of the top in the state as well, with no team before last Saturday scoring more than 17 points on the Blue Devils defense. State College’s 28 leads that impressive category this season. 

Offensive keys to winning:

The Blue Devils have possibly the most talented and multi-faceted offensive gameplans across the entire state. Both Daniels, Tecza, and Heidenreich can run, pass and throw reliably, and all have proven to do so this playoff season. Defenses have had to account for the pass while Alex Tecza has lined up in the wildcat. Combined with a line that has dominated teams across the state, Mt. Lebanon’s offense should excel if they stick to their bread and butter. Mt. Lebanon has struggled briefly against teams that keep the Blue Devils offense off of the field. The best defense against Mt. Lebanon is a slow offense, because the Blue Devils have proved the capability to score from anywhere on the field seemingly at any time.

Defensive Keys to winning:

The Blue Devils defense gets off the field and quickly. As stated above, the Blue Devils have struggled in certain games and situations where teams churn yardage methodically and slowly. Otherwise, this is a dominant defense. Most will call out the secondary, who have been dominant all season with Heidenreich, Tecza, Brenden Anderson and Tommy Boehner. However, look out for LBs Charlie Pellegrino and Louie Pietregallo to possibly play a big role this Saturday.

Summary:

Waiting in the state title is the ever present St. Joe’s Hawks. As fresh faced as the Blue Devils are to state status, the Hawks are ever much the opposite. Since 2013, the Hawks have made every state title game in the highest classification aside from one. They have won all but one state title since the PIAA went to six classifications in 2016. The Hawks will be the toughest team the Blue Devils have faced yet, however, no one has seen the Blue Devils with all of the cards on the table yet this season. Saturday night is shaping up to be one of the most memorable PIAA championship games in history.

Starting Lineups:

Mt. Lebanon 
Defense
32 DE Grayson Dee 6-2 225 11
75 NG William Harvey 6-3 280 12
68 DT Owen Halter 6-1 235 12
17 OLB Tommy Boehner 5-9 170 12
7 OLB Jack Smith 6-3 215 12
52 ILB Daniel King 5-11 210 12
34 ILB Charlie Pellagrino 6-0 210 12
11 C Sam Ward 5-10 185 12
5 S Alex Tecza 6-0 200 12
8 S Eli Heidenreich 6-0 190 12
4 C Matt Wertz 6-0 180 12
MT. Lebanon 
Offense
77 LT Kade Capristo 6-3 280 11
68 LG Owen Halter 6-1 235 12
50 C James Kline 6-2 255 12
78 RG Cooper Austin 6-3 265 12
55 RT Joey Peters 6-6 225 12
13 WR Michael Beiersdorf 6-2 185 11
12 WR Brendan Anderson 5-10 175 12
8 HB Eli Heidenreich 6-0 190 12
32 TE Grayson Dee 6-2 225 11
7 W Jack Smith 6-3 215 12
3 QB Joey Daniels 5-9 175 12
5 RB Alex Tecza 6-0 200 12
Special Teams
38 K Noah Bhuta 6-0 175 12
3 H Joey Daniels 5-9 175 12
31 SS Luke Lombardo 6-1 210 11
38 P Noah Bhuta 6-0 175 12
31 LS Luke Lombardo 6-1 210 11
8 PR Eli Heidenreich 6-1 185 12
5 KR Alex Tecza 6-0 200 12

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