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Young Waynesburg team looks to continue improvement when the Raiders host Beaver Falls this Friday night.

 Waynesburg hosts Beaver Falls in a non-conference game tonight. The Tigers, from the Midwestern Conference (AA-section 3) enter the game with a 2-1 record. They beat Mohawk 41-6, lost at Aliquippa 27-14, and beat Laurel 34-7. All section games.


"Beaver Falls is a very tough team. When you play any team from Beaver County, you're in for a battle," Waynesburg head coach Joe Kuhns said. "They're similar to Rochester but all those teams from Beaver County play the same fundamental, no-nonsense style of football where they line up and say, 'Here is what we do, try to stop us.'" 


Kuhns still focuses on his teams' game plan, no matter who the competition or what style of football they play.


"We can't worry about how the other team plays or who we go up against," Kuhns said. "We need to focus on ourselves because we can't change who we are from week to week."


Waynesburg has had a tough start this year. The Raiders lost section games to Greensburg Central Catholic, at East Allegheny, and to Jeannette in the first three contests this season. Kuhns attributes the rough start partly to the youth of his team and the competition in the Interstate Conference. 


"We lost 17 seniors my first year here and we have a pretty young team this year," Kuhns said. "We've also had to play some tough teams in our conference right out of the gate, so it's been a rough start this season."


Kuhns is in his second year at Waynesburg. He previously coached at California High School for seven years and was also a defensive coordinator at Ringgold.


He commented on how tough the conference (class AA, section 4) is for any team, let alone a young team. The other section members include Brownsville, Charleroi, Mt. Pleasant, Southmoreland and Yough. Many players from the conference have advanced to play division-I college football.


"We have a brutal conference and have to face a ton of good athletes every week, so I would put the athletes in our section up against the athletes of any section in double-A," Kuhns said. "As the season goes on, we hope to improve each week and be more competitive, and we have to continue to focus on executing our game."


Kuhns employs a ball-control, run-oriented offense using two backs and a quarterback that can run, use play-action, or drop back in the shotgun.


"We're mostly a pro-set offense with some play-action and shotgun at times, and not a big play, explosive kind of offense," Kuhns said. "We'll use two backs and try to move the ball down the field by gaining three or four yards a snap, being patient, and protecting the ball. So with that kind of offense, it really hurts you when you make mistakes."


The offensive line is anchored by senior guard Robert Simpson, junior center Daniel Davis and junior guard Tevan McDowell.


"Our offensive line has been playing together for years and they're the key to our success on offense," Kuhns said. "If our line isn't opening up the holes, our backs aren't really able to get anything going."


Junior Nick Zupper is the starting tailback and junior fullback Kyle Gray is the leading rusher. Senior Alex Teagarden is the quarterback.


"Alex [Teagarden] runs the ball well and is good with the play-action," Kuhns said. "Also, being a senior, his experience and leadership is probably his strength and the reason he won the job over some underclassmen this year."


On defense, Kuhns uses a 4-6 alignment with a style designed by former NFL coach Buddy Ryan.


"We play a bunch of people near the line and swarm to the ball," Kuhns said. "When you have younger players, they're trying to figure out how to play in space and that's one of the areas we work on every week to correct."


Gray also plays inside linebacker along with Chris Caldwell. Robert Simpson lines up at end and Matt Losiego plays defensive line and tight end. 


"Our inside linebackers need to carry us in between the tackles," Kuhns said. "We have a bunch of young guys up front, so if anything gets past them, our linebackers need to be there to stop the big play."


Kuhns credits his team for continuing to work hard and he feels as the season goes on, the team will become more competitive each week.


"A weaker team may have folded up after some tough losses early-on but we're still staying together and looking ahead, which I think says how impressive our players are," Kuhns said. "No one is arguing or pointing fingers and they're all working hard to get on the same page and get better every day."


He points out that the practices are still focused as he strives to teach the fundamentals of the game.


"We want the kids to work hard but have fun, both during the games and at practice," Kuhns said. "If the kids aren't having fun, they aren't going to give their all and work to get better."


He also thinks it is important in the community for his team to give its best effort every game.


"I think Waynesburg is a great community and a great school and we have a group of boosters that really help out tremendously," Kuhns said. "We want everyone to be proud of us and we strive to give 100 percent effort on and off the field at all times because that's what this community deserves."

Tammie Dashio

Tigers won 50-7!

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