A 9-3 season matched expectations of a return to playoffs after a COVID-impacted absence from WPIAL’s in 2020-2021.
To playoffs, after finishing the regular season 8-2, the boys earned a first round bye. They faced Mt. Pleasant in the 2nd round,and won 49-7. Ian Syam had the half of the century rushing for 244 yards and 6 touchdowns.
There was high anticipation for the game Friday night as the Antelopes were to take on the #2 seeded North Catholic Trojans. Avonworth was the #3 seeded team going into the playoffs. “The lopes were going into the game as multiple score underdogs,” said the Pittsburgh Tribune.
Going into the game on Friday students were asked how they felt about Avonworth playing North Catholic in football. “I think it is an interesting rivalry. I think we are gonna whoop em for like the 5th time this year. I think they need to watch their mouth while talking that ish on Avonworth.”- said sophomore Aidan Osekowski.
“I think we got it under our hands. We crushed Keystone Oaks pretty good and North Catholic almost lost to them. So I think we are good.” – Said Sophomore cheerleader Sarah Pukylo.
We asked the same question to football player Ben Barnes. His response was “I think we got a good shot. We have a good game plan for them this week. I think all we have to do is go out there and execute it.”
The game was being played at Fox Chapel Area High School on a cold night. The stage was set as Avonworth and North Catholic looked to eliminate each other from the playoffs. In fall sports these two schools have played each other 3 total times while in the playoffs. The lopes fell short against the Trojans in the WPIAL Volleyball Championship, but were able to overcome North Catholic in the WPIAL soccer championship and the PIAA state semi-finals. Leading up to Friday night the rivalry would be back again for the football game.
The game started off with a lot of long drives for both teams that got cut short of the endzone. With neither team scoring a touchdown or wanting to kick a field goal, the score was 0-0 at the half. It wasn’t until 2 minutes were left in the game when North Catholic’s running back Kyle Tipinski would have a 1 yard run to put the Trojans up by 7. North Catholic was able to hold Avonworth to minimal yards until the Lopes got a fumble recovery with 2 minutes left in the game.
At this point in the game, Avonworth had attempted multiple passes in vain. With 2 minutes left in the game the Lopes took a shot at the end zone on first down. Senior wide receiver Tyler Schleis hauled in a 45+ yard touchdown that was called back due to hold at midfield. The Lopes weren’t able to replicate that success, and the drive eventually led to them facing a 3rd and 45 after 2 sideline penalties. Avonworth’s junior quarterback Nate Harper delivered a ball into the hands of sophomore receiver Andrew Kuban who picked up nearly 30 yards on the play. With the Lopes facing a 4th and 12, they threw a stick route to junior tight end Peyton Faulkner, who came up 2 yards short. The Trojans waited out the clock and secured their position at Heinz in the upcoming game.