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Hard work pays off for Titan seniors

HOLLIDAYSBURG — It was fitting that Tussey Mountain trailed 10-0 for the majority of its District 5 Class 1A championship game Friday night, because for the seniors on the team, it was a metaphor for how their careers began.

The Titans went just 2-18 in 2016 and 2017 before winning eight games last season. Friday’s 28-23 victory over Northern Bedford was the 11th win of this season and the culmination of a dream that started more than half a decade ago.

“We won two games my first two years here,” Tussey Mountain four-year starting quarterback Matt Leonard said. “What we have done the last couple years has just been amazing. This is what we’ve been working for since elementary school. After we saw the 2013 team win districts, we wanted to do the same thing.”

The turnaround began when coach Anthony Sottasante took over the job in 2018 and revamped the Titans offense.

“It was a bit of a change to move from the Wing-T style offense to move to the triple-option, but with the help of all the coaches that have helped us improve daily, it worked,” Tussey Mountain running back Tyler Rhodes said. “There were practices where we didn’t want to be there, but they knew we had to get better and just work. That is what we did the past two years. We worked for this moment.”

Rhodes went over 1,000 rushing yards on the season Friday night and caught three passes for 103 yards and has more than 600 yards through the air for the season. He helped Leonard become the school’s all-time leading passer last week.

The Titans finished off their quest by dumping Gatorade all over Sottasante, who remained poised despite the chilling temperature.

“We told our kids before the game that this storm has been brewing for two years,” Sottasante said. “Everything we have done was to work to get to this point, and I’m just glad that we were able to come out with the win.”

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