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Burrell Ground Attack No Match for Serra Gridders

Eagles on the road to face Imani Christian Academy

By Jason A. Mignanelli
The Tube City Almanac
September 22, 2022
Posted in: Sports

Burrell High School’s archaic gameplan was not enough to ground the Serra Catholic Eagles last Friday night.

Using an unrecognizable game plan for the year 2022, the Burrell Buccaneers did not attempt a single forward pass the entire game against Serra Catholic last Friday night. The Burrell offense could have literally “taken the air out of the ball,” and the results would have been same.

However, the ground-and-pound offense was only effective until halftime and that’s when the Serra Catholic football coaches went to work making the necessary adjustments on their way to a 35-20 victory.

The Eagles are on the road this week to face 2-2 Imani Christian Academy of Pittsburgh. Game time is 7 p.m.

“Burrell did a great job taking advantage of what our defense was giving them in the first half,” said Serra Catholic associate head coach Michael Betler. “They also had a nice play where the running back cut back against the grain and broke for about 50 yards. At halftime, we put our defense in a better alignment that gave us our success in the second half.”

The Burrell offense finished the first half with 220 rushing yards, but the splash plays were in favor of Serra Catholic.

The game began quickly with Burrell scoring first. The Eagles then answered abruptly on a 69-yard shuffle pass from Elijah Ward to Amire Spencer making the score 7-7.

Deep in the second quarter with the score tied 14-14 the Burrell running back broke away on a would-be touchdown but out of nowhere came Serra Catholic’s John Payne who chased him down and punched the ball out creating a fumble.

The first quarter was filled with excitement seeing both teams score 14 points. Although, the second quarter was scoreless which brought the game to a 14-14 tie at the halfway mark.

The Serra Catholic coaches made the necessary adjustments at the half which stymied the Burrell rushing attack and the Serra defense only gave up 77 yards the entire second half.

“We were in control of the game and should have been up if not for a bad turnover that we had. Our defense had settled, and our offense responded to their scores. We felt confident in our adjustments at the half,” said Betler.

The Serra Catholic offense went to work quickly in the third quarter as quarterback Quadir Stribling hit wide receiver Amire Spencer for a 37-yard touchdown pass. 

Then Elijah Ward connected with John Payne on 46-yard touchdown pass bringing the score to 28-14.

Then, it was the Serra defense that shined when Jadell Minniefield created a fumble that Amire Spencer picked up and ran for a 51-yard touchdown making the score 35-14.

The game ended with a score of 35-20 after Burrell recovered a late fumble in the endzone for a touchdown.

Neither the Eagles coaches nor players are about to rest, Betler said.

“Every game is our most important game. We want to be 1-0 each week. Imani is a good team that will be well coached. We must be prepared,” said Betler.

In other local WPIAL football news, the 3-1 East Allegheny Wildcats beat South Allegheny 33-14 last week. They travel to Greensburg-Salem (3-1) Friday night.

Undefeated McKeesport (4-0) pounded Laurel Highlands, 33-0, and will host the 2-2 Trinity Area Hillers at Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium on the high school campus.


Jason A. Mignanelli is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh’s North Hills and a student at Duquesne University. He may be reached at mignanellij@duq.edu.

Originally published September 22, 2022.

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