Mark Druga

Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

Burgettstown High School football coach Mark Druga, left, runs practice as his brother and defensive coordinator, Rich, watches.

There isn’t much for Burgettstown football coach Mark Druga to go on.

Seton LaSalle has a new coach in Mike Zmijanac.

The Rebels, like Burgettstown, didn’t play in a Week Zero game.

So as the Blue Devils prepared for the Week 1 opener trying to defend their Three Rivers Conference crown, it has come with one message from Druga.

“We aren’t sure what they’re going to do, so you better be ready for anything,” he said. “It’s a nice test at the beginning of the season.”

With how WPIAL football schedules now work, early season tests have turned into midterm exams with crucial conference games. Week 1 games won’t win any team a championship but could be a big step into eventually clinching one, especially if its against another viable conference contender.

Several games tonight match conference favorites, including a Class 5A Allegheny Eight Conference showdown between Upper St. Clair and Peters Township and when Burgettstown hosts the visiting Rebels at Hill Memorial Stadium.

Both kickoffs are scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Blue Devils have spent the last two weeks scrimmaging Yough and South Park. Seton LaSalle has opted for a pair of scrimmages against Class 3A schools, Central Valley and North Catholic.

“How will we answer when we commit mistakes?” Druga said. “How will we respond? But if we make too many mistakes, we aren’t going to win.”

The errors were few and far between for Burgettstown last season. It rolled to an undefeated regular-season record before falling to Freedom in the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals. The Blue Devils began their historic regular season with a 20-6 win over Seton LaSalle, a team that primarily remains intact and is eager to bounce back from its first losing season since 1997.

The Rebels return quarterback Joe Ranft, who split time with Max Schipani last year. Schipani will form a 1-2 punch with James Yanders at wide receiver.

“Those two receivers are fantastic,” Druga said. “They are big, fast and strong. You name it and they have it. (Seton’s) lines, while not overwhelming in size, are sound and executes nicely.”

Needing to fill multiple spots on the offensive line, Druga and the Blue Devils coaching staff were pleased with what they saw at both scrimmages.

“It’s going to be about limiting their big-play ability,” Druga said. “We have to continue to gel on the offensive line and grow through the air on offense. We were very pleased with both scrimmages. Hopefully, playing in front of our big crowd takes us to the next level.”

Upper St. Clair at Peters Township

Both are coming off big Week Zero wins – USC beat South Fayette, 27-13, and the Indians hammered Fox Chapel, 45-0.

It was since-retired Jim Render’s 400th career victory as the Panthers continued their dominance of Peters Township last season.

Since 2008, USC has won all nine games between the two neighbors. Last year’s game was the closest as USC held off a second-half comeback by Peters Township to prevail, 16-14.

Charleroi at Washington

Revenge can be a powerful motivator.

The 64-33 loss Washington suffered at the hands of Charleroi last year qualifies as motivation enough.

It ended the Prexies’ 39-game regular season winning streak that dated back to 2013.

It was the first time Charleroi defeated Washington since 2008.

The Cougars poured salt in the wound when members of its student section made a poster with a picture of the scoreboard and brought it during a mid-January basketball game between the two schools.

The two will meet again in a Class 2A Interstate Conference game tonight at Wash High Stadium.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Staff Writer

Luke Campbell has been handling a multitude of tasks since joining the Observer-Reporter in 2015, following his graduation from Waynesburg University. He graduated from Waynesburg with a bachelor’s degree in sports broadcasting and information.

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