Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pass-Catch Combo Sparks Baldwin

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pass-Catch Combo Sparks Baldwin

Article excerpt

With two regular-season games left, Baldwin is still hanging in the WPIAL playoff picture in Class AAAA thanks in large part to an offense that has proven it can hang with just about anyone.

The Highlanders high-powered offense, fueled by the passing combo of junior quarterback Doug Altavilla and senior wide receiver Luke Smorey had its finest performance of the season on Friday in a 63- 48 shootout victory against Fox Chapel Area.

The win against Fox Chapel was a non-conference win but the way the way the Highlanders won it -- by rallying from a 14-point deficit -- should give Baldwin (3-4, 2-4) plenty of momentum as it heads into its final two games, this Friday against Canon-McMillan (1-6, 1-5) and Oct. 25 at Bethel Park (5-2, 5-2).

Baldwin is currently tied for sixth place in the Southeastern Conference with Mt. Lebanon (2-5, 2-4) and behind Peters Township (4- 3, 3-3). The top five teams in the conference make the playoffs. Baldwin is very much alive for a fifth-place finish in the conference or a possible Class AAAA wild card spot if it finishes sixth.

One sixth-place team among the three Class AAAA conferences will qualify for the postseason based on the WPIAL wild-card system that takes into account all games played, including non-conference contests.

"[Having a chance to play in the postseason] allows for our focus to be that much greater," Baldwin coach Pete Wagner said. "Coming to practice you can see it with our preparation, the kids are hungry, this is something they strongly desire."

It is a much better situation than last season when Baldwin entered the eighth week of the regular season with a 1-5 conference record and no real shot at the postseason.

One of the big differences this season has been the play of Altavilla and Smorey.

"Last season [Altavilla] was more of a game manager," Wagner said "This year he has stepped up and made a lot of big-time plays, it is a testament to his overall work ethic and the way he prepares and approaches each game. …

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