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South Side Story
By Paul Paterra

South Side Beaver football coach Glenn McDougal admits it hasn't hit him yet. He hasn't grasped the fact that his team just finished a 15-0 season, which culminated in a state championship last Friday.

Not only did the Rams win a Class A PIAA title, they did so in the most dramatic of fashions. Cory Boyd rambled three yards for a touchdown with just nine second left in the game to wrap up a 27-21 victory over Southern Columbia.

For McDougal, a graduate of South Side Beaver High School, it was a dream come true. A dream that began for him as a seven-year old as he watched South Side win the WPIAL Class A title in 1970.

“Wow, it's been a long season and it's been a long-time coming,” McDougal said earlier this week. “A lot of people worked hard to get here. It's really neat and gratifying when it all comes together. It's hard to explain. As each day goes by, it hits me a little more. We approached (the state title game) as another football game. When you put state champs behind it, it doesn't even seem like it really was. It all happened so fast. I've always had that dream and to be able to do it is gratifying to me.”

This hard work paid off in a big way. South Side Beaver was the dominant force in Class A throughout the WPIAL football season and captured the title with a 21-14 win over Monaca.

It was another game against Monaca that gave McDougal an indication that he could be in the midst of something special. The Rams opened the season against a Monaca team ranked number one in the state. South Side won 22-6.

“Early in the year, I thought we could be a pretty good football team,” McDougal admitted. “But I wasn't sure if we were ready for that next level. When we opened up with Monaca, I had a feeling that we could be good.”

The Rams went on to steamroll most of their opponents through the season. They outscored the opposition 568-120. The 21 points allowed in the state title game was the highest amount of points the Rams' defense permitted all season and only the second time a team scored 20 points against them.

Sean McCune, the senior quarterback, seemed to be the on-field leader of the squad. His numbers were good. He completed 74 of 130 passes for 1,227 yards and rushed for 887 yards on 152 carries.

After the Rams had clinched the victory, McDougal and McCune hugged for a full 30 seconds. It was a moment McDougal described as “emotional.” McCune has been a regular for four years for the Rams and was the first player McDougal brought to the varsity to play as a freshman.

“I'd be proud to call Sean my own son,” McDougal explained. ”In a lot of ways, I think he is a part of me. I call him my own because we have a lot of similarities. He wants to get better every day and he's willing to pay the price. He hugged me and I hugged him and it was very emotional. It was just a culmination of what we've been through for the last four years.”

McDougal said he collected the team's equipment earlier this week and the moment was kind of depressing. After all, this squad was together since August, fighting for the common goal that had been realized.

“It was kind of a downer,” McDougal explained. “They guys were all looking at each other and looking at me. One guy even asked if the team could practice. It ended the perfect way it should end, but it's still a letdown. You go through that rollercoaster ride and you become a family. It's hard to believe it's actually over.”

The Rams victory continued an amazing streak. The WPIAL's Big Seven Conference has collected four of the last five PIAA Class A titles. Each team beat Southern Columbia in the state title game.

“We just have a lot of good players and coaches in our conference,” McDougal explained. “These kids come from backgrounds with a strong work ethic and have a great background. If you can make it through the conference, you feel you can make some noise in the playoffs. Playing in this conference prepares you for what you night face in the playoffs.”

What do the Rams do for an encore? It will be tough to repeat this year's performance since the Rams will lose 19 of 36 players to graduation.

“Time will tell,” McDougal said. “We may not have as many athletes as we had this year, but these kids work hard. A lot of times, success breeds success. Hopefully, we work from there.”

But that's next year. McDougal and the Rams now can sit back and realize the joy of a dream come true.