Butler chasing trophy, SV chasing victory
JACKSON TWP — Butler and Seneca Valley know what it feels like to be on the wrong side of lopsided football scores.
For the Raiders, it’s against WPIAL 6A competition this season, being outscored 154-40 in their first four games before dropping a heartbreaker, 17-14, to Mt. Lebanon last week.
For the Golden Tornado, it’s against Seneca Valley itself, having been outscored 254-20 by the Raiders in the last six meetings between the teams.
Both will look to right their respective ships when they clash at 7 p.m. Friday at SV’s NexTier Stadium. The Eagle Traveling Trophy will be presented to the winning team after the game.
The Raiders have won the trophy 14 straight times. Butler’s last win over SV was in 2006. The teams did not play each other in 2020 or 2021.
“It’s a big game,” Butler coach Eric Christy said. “It’s always big when Butler plays Seneca Valley. I don’t care if they’re 0-5, they’re the best team we’ve seen this year.
“They play WPIAL 6A football and that’s rough. They’ve played a bunch of great teams. We’re in for that same schedule next year. We have to rise to that level of play.”
The Tornado are 2-3 on the year, losing at home the past two weeks to Hollidaysburg (33-13) and Erie (20-19). The latter loss means Butler must defeat McDowell and Cathedral Prep later this season to return to the District 10 playoffs.
“That’s a huge task, obviously,” Christy said. “If we do this, now we have to do it the hard way. We put ourselves in that position. But we’re still in it (playoff hunt). Our kids need to recognize that.”
Seneca Valley has lost to the likes of Penn Hills, Peters Township, Canon-McMillan, Pine-Richland and Mt. Lebanon. The Raiders are unaccustomed to being winless through five games.
Butler will start senior Noah Ritchie at quarterback on Friday. Braylen Littlejohn suffered a broken finger on his throwing hand against Erie last week and will not behind center. He will be in the lineup at other positions.
“We’re not sure how we’re going to use Braylon at this point, but he’ll be out there,” Christy said. “Noah is very capable of moving our offense. He’s not very tall, so we have to give him a clean pocket to throw.”
Two-way lineman Keegan Bracken returned to Butler’s lineup from injury recently and has been named the Tornado’s Lineman of the Week. A.J. Baker, the team’s center, received consideration there as well.
David Graef continues to produce for the Tornado offense. The running back has rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns, caught 16 passes for 153 yards and a score. Landon Lacey has rushed for 190 yards and four TDs, caught 10 passes for 168 and two scores.
Quarterback Sean O’Shea has been Seneca Valley’s main offensive threat, throwing for 529 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 255 yards.
“Seneca Valley is typical WPIAL 6A football,” Christy said. “They are strong everywhere. They have a versatile quarterback, have a nice pass rush, a strong offensive line ... They can hurt you in a lot of ways.”
Kai West is SV’s top running back. Luke Challingsworth and Dejaun Webb are the Raiders’ top receivers.