As Thanksgiving nears, the Mt. Lebanon football team is counting its blessing.
A semifinal showing in the WPIAL 6A playoffs and a third-place finish in the Quad County Conference are reasons for appreciation. However, the Blue Devils reserve their biggest praise for the opportunity to have played during a global pandemic.
“To actually participate and compete together as a team and represent our school and community was truly a blessing under these unprecedented times,” said Lebo head coach Bob Palko. “I can guarantee you that the team did not take anything for granted.”
Eighteen seniors set the tone for the Blue Devils as they posted dramatic victories against Central Catholic, 37-30, and Seneca Valley, 28-27, to earn a playoff berth. The Blue Devils lost a rematch with the Vikings, 35-0, who went on the capture the WPIAL title with a 38-24 triumph against North Allegheny.
Among those who will graduate from the roster are Maurice Plummer, Owen McGeary, Ronan Donnelly, Patrick Dunn, Trevor Barrett, Cortland Peer, Andrew DeCaro, Visawn Pennix, Furio Fedel, A.J. Lombardo, Billy Green, Colin Plesco, Tyler Long, Alex Tambouratzis, Graham Thoresen, Fadi Alkhafaji, Ben Streiff and Nick Gevauden.
Palko was thrilled that his seniors embraced teamwork.
“To see the kids working for a unified common goal, not caring who got the credit, and just trying to bring value every single day,” he said. “The kids did an unbelievable job of finding their role on this team and carrying out that role to the best of their abilities on a daily basis. The discipline it takes to perform this is unique and their legacy will not be forgotten.”
With a nucleus of veterans returning that includes quarterback Joey Daniels, who had 913 yards passing for 14 touchdowns, leading rusher Alex Tecza, who finished with 465 yards and 10 touchdowns, and top receiver Eli Heidenreich, who garnered 12 catches for 303 yards and 7 touchdowns, the Blue Devils are poised to improve upon this season’s accomplishments.
Palko, however, said there are conditions.
“If the groundwork this senior class has started will continue to take hold and the underclassman will continue to grow upon the team-first mentality and continue to develop as much grit and unselfishness as possible,” Palko said, “We have a chance to be pretty good.
“Winning is a byproduct of doing all of the little things properly. Just keep stacking them on top of each other and continue to be grateful for being able to play this wonderful game as a team.”