IMPERIAL – Even since Peters Township suffered its only loss of the season to Moon on Oct. 4, the Indians have pulverized every team in their path.
It started Oct. 11, with a 43-14 win over Chartiers Valley.
The Indians (11-1) then won the next three games over Bethel Park, Baldwin and Mars by a combined 115-13.
In Friday’s Class 5A quarterfinal matchup at West Allegheny, the Indians had a chance to avenge their only blemish of 2019, and they did so emphatically, with a 33-7 win over their Allegheny Eight foe.
Head coach T.J. Plack said that the real Peters Township Indians stood up Friday night.
“This is us,” Plack said. “We had a good season last year, came into this season, got on a win streak (before losing to Moon). But this is exactly who we are. I think we needed something like that.”
Although the loss to Moon (9-3) cost the Indians (11-1) an undefeated season and an outright conference championship. Senior receiver Josh Casilli felt it was a necessary punch in the mouth.
“We skated by with a bunch of wins, and (the loss) exposed our mistakes,” Casilli said. “We fixed them up, and became a better team out of it.”
Although Casilli has established himself as one of the WPIAL’s top receivers, he did his most damage in the run game. The University of Pennsylvania commit caught two passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 159 on 15 carries and another score, often taking snaps in the wildcat formation.
Casilli’s performance earned him a personal congratulations from Moon head coach Ryan Linn well after the handshake lines had ended.
“He’s a stud,” Linn said. “He’s a flat-out stud. That’s why he’s going to Penn. That’s why he’s a special kind of kid. He makes a difference for those guys.”
Another receiver, Aidan McCall, gained 64 yards on six carries. Plack said running the ball with seniors Casilli, McCall and traditional running back Ryan Magiske was the game plan.
“They’re ready to graduate,” he said. “So we’re going to use them as much as possible.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Peters broke the shutout with one of its most impressive drives of the season. The Indians drove 98 yards in 5:55, with a seven-yard run by Magiske – his first of two on the night – capping it off. The PAT was good and the Indians had momentum.
Peters Township’s next possession took just one play. A 53-yard run by Casilli made it 14-0. Peters busted the game open on a 48-yard pass from quarterback Logan Pfeuffer to McCall late in the second quarter.
The Indians’ defense, which came into the night allowing just 8.5 points per game, held Moon to 68 yards total offense in the first half, and three yards rushing.
Part of Moon’s issues offensively was that it couldn’t find stability at quarterback. The Tigers rotated between Dante Clay and Tyler McGowan all night. For PT, Pfeuffer overcame a first quarter interception and threw two long touchdown passes to go with 152 yards in the air.
It was still a successful season for the Tigers, who rose from the pits of a two-win season to win their first conference title in 16 years.
“You’re never satisfied when you get to the moment or in you want to kind of keep it going,” Linn said. “But when you sit back – not right now, because it’s still a little fresh– but you sit back and look at the season, all and all, it was a success.”
Peters Township will take on Penn Trafford in the 5A semifinals with a berth in the WPIAL championship game on the line. The Indians ended Penn-Trafford’s season last year in a 38-35 quarterfinal win, and Plack is expecting another exciting football game.
“They’re a well-coached team, and they’re good offensively, defensively and (on) special teams,” he said. “So it’s going to be one heck of a game.”
If the Peters Township team that showed up in the quarterfinals does so next week, chances are good that the Indians will avenge last year’s semifinal loss to Penn Hills and get to the WPIAL championship game.
“This is the real Peters Township,” he said.
Plack summed up the night in his postgame speech.
“That was four quarters of us kicking their (butt).” he told his team.