Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Best Route to Heinz? Run There

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Best Route to Heinz? Run There

Article excerpt

As his South Side Beaver team's season churns forward, Glenn McDougal can't help but harken back to a jarring lesson he learned 17 years ago.

It was 1997 and, in his first stint at South Side Beaver, the Rams were undefeated heading into the WPIAL semifinals. Once there, however, a high-powered, pass-first offense averaging more than 30 points per game was slowed down in sloppy conditions in a 14-6 loss to Riverview that ended any championship dreams.

Painful as the loss was, something good came out of it, as McDougal realized that, in the unpredictable fall climate of Western Pennsylvania, prioritizing the pass over the run may not present the best route to a title.

"I learned in a big hurry that it needs to be the other way around," he said.

Two years after that, he rode a more balanced attack to WPIAL and PIAA Class A championships and though such accomplishments are unlikely for his 2014 team, that same principle has allowed it to excel.

The Rams moved to 7-3 and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals last week with a 26-12 victory against Frazier, their first playoff win since 2008.

That win was the most recent one in what's been a turnaround season for a proud program that had gone 3-34 from 2010-13.

For the seniors who were there for much of that dreadful run, winning a playoff game was especially sweet.

"I think it was validation for them that if you do work hard, you'll get paid and winning the game was that pay day," McDougal said.

The Rams defeated Frazier in the same way they have so many other teams this season -- by running the ball and trying to exert their will on offense.

As a team, they rushed for 208 yards and got a pair of touchdown runs from star senior Nathan Block. For Block, it was the continuation of a breakout season, one in which he has rushed for 1,451 yards, the sixth-most of any WPIAL player. …

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