Welsh, Beth-Center at their best on run

October 29, 2013
Beth-Center sophomore running back Anthony Welsh (33) has more than 1,200 yards in only eight games. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Anthony Welsh has a remarkable achievement for Beth-Center High School this season.

The 5-10, 170-pound sophomore has surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark.

The achievement isn’t a reflection on how poorly Beth-Center runs the football. It’s a reflection on how effective the Bulldogs run the football.

Beth-Center has a stable of talented running backs who are assured to get their share of the carries in every game, wearing down defenses and piling up yardage and points. That formula produced a first-place finish in the Tri-County South Conference.

Welsh has managed to break the 1,000-yard barrier because of a few of reasons: he’s a strong runner, unafraid of using that bullish style to knock people over between the tackles; he’s got remarkably quick feet that allow him to break free of tackles; and he finds the hole quickly and scoots through before anyone can even catch what number he’s wearing.

For the record, it’s 33.

Did we mention he averages 11 yards per carry? That’s not even the best on the team.

“At the beginning of the year, my goal was to get 1,000 yards,” said Welsh. “I knew it was possible to get it. I have to thank my lineman for doing such a good job.”

Welsh has 1,202 yards on 106 carries and 20 touchdowns. He has been the centerpiece to a Beth-Center running game that averages 286 rushing yards per game, which has helped produced a 9-0 record and a home game against Apollo Ridge in Friday night’s first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

“He really hasn’t had a lot of carries,” said Beth-Center head coach Ed Woods. “We’ve shared the load this year. As explosive as he is, we can share the load because our other backs are good. They are all skilled kids, and they work very hard. We’re fortunate to have those type of backs. They all have different skill sets, so we use them at different times in the game.”

The other pieces to Beth-Center’s rushing attack are Matt Riggle, the lone senior who has 440 yards on 59 attempts and nine touchdowns; Jason Stay, a slippery junior who has 355 yards on 48 carries and seven touchdowns; Nico Brown, a junior who has 289 yards on 22 carries for a team-best 13-yard average, and five touchdowns; and Johnny Sofran, another junior who has 124 on 16 tries and two touchdowns.

Now consider this: Those numbers were compiled in only eight games. The Bulldogs lost a game when Geibel could not field enough players and forfeited in Week 2.

“It was tough, because other teams were playing games,” said Welsh. “I think it got us off track. We practiced hard in the off week.”

Beth-Center had its closest game of the season after that, a six-point win over Carmichaels.

Welsh has been incredibly consistent this season, gaining at least 100 yards in seven games and getting a season-best 201 yards in a Week 8 victory over Avella. In the big conference games, he came through with 152 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns in a 28-22 win over Carmichaels; 175 yards on 11 carries and four TDs in a 54-7 rout of Jefferson-Morgan; and 132 on 23 carries and two scores in a 39-28 win over Frazier.

Now, Welsh says the Bulldogs want to avenge last year’s first-round loss to Union and make a longer run in the postseason.

“We’re excited about the playoffs,” said Welsh. “We’ve been working hard, and we get another shot to make up for last year.”

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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