The final week of the 2010 WPIAL football regular season turned out to be a memorable one not just for the contenders, but for a few of the teams not fortunate enough to be among the 64 challenging for District 7 gold this approaching Friday. For a number of schools the mission was to gain the top spots in their respective conferences to get the inside track on their playoff-bound rivals, while for others the mission was simply one of earning pride. Mission accomplished in all four classifications.
In Single-A ties were finally broken–sort of–and one program picked up a historic victory, which was also how things went down in Quad-A. Meanwhile, one last conference championship was awarded in Double-A, and a certain Triple-A team served notice that it is not to be taken lightly in spite of its record. Before Mr. High School Sports gets ready for the real fun to begin, he gives you the best of Week 9:
Bishop Canevin 40, North Catholic 15 – In a duel between two of the leading quarterbacks in Class A the Crusaders (7-1, 8-1) scored 26 unanswered points to pull away from the Trojans (5-3, 6-3), but the former still opens the playoffs on the road by virtue of tiebreakers despite sharing the Eastern Conference crown with Avonworth and Springdale. Matt Butter needed only four completions to amass 126 yards and score twice, adding an 85-yard interception return for another TD, and running back Chris Walko kept North Catholic’s offense off the field with 149 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.
Fort Cherry 48, Chartiers-Houston 40 – The Rangers (5-2, 5-4) came to life offensively and outlasted the visiting Buccaneers (5-2, 7-2) for the right to finish behind Clairton in the Black Hills Conference and remain at home for the first round of the playoffs. Quarterback Tanner Garry racked up 298 all-purpose yards and threw two late touchdown passes to give Fort Cherry enough of a lead to break the second-place tie in their favor, in spite of a superb effort by fellow QB Danny Lis, who led Chartiers-Houston with 333 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in the air.
Carmichaels 46, Mapletown 0 – The last available playoff spot in Class A was snatched up by the Mighty Mikes (5-3, 6-3), who clinched fourth in the Tri-County South Conference with the greatest of ease in their shutout of the Maples (0-8, 0-9). Running back Zach Mundell set the table for the Carmichaels offense with 112 yards on 16 carries, and John Krall helped get the running clock going before halftime by throwing for 72 yards and two touchdowns on just three completions.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 10, West Greene 6 – A non-conference war of attrition that will likely soon be forgotten by the Pioneers (1-7, 1-8) will never be forgotten by the Chargers (0-8, 1-8), who picked up their first win in program history by concluding the game and their inaugural season with a big play late in regulation. West Greene tailback Brent Sink carried the mail 21 times for 139 yards and gave his team a 4th-quarter lead with his touchdown, but his counterpart, Isiah Neely, ran 23 times for 130 and caught a 60-yard TD pass from Matthew DiSanto for the victory.
Greensburg C.C. 21, Jeannette 9 – Although points once again came at a premium for the WPIAL champions, the Centurions’ (7-0, 9-0) defense flexed its muscles once again in shutting down the high-flying Jayhawks (6-1, 7-2) for the Interstate Conference championship, thereby improving upon their No. 11 playoff seed a year ago. The Greensburg C.C. defense limited Jeannette to 89 total yards and just 34 on the ground, and running back Andy Biros (pictured above) powered the home team with 158 yards on 18 carries, including a 62-yard score in the 3rd quarter that practically sealed the deal.
Mount Pleasant 38, Southmoreland 0 – Unfortunately the Scotties (4-4, 4-5) will have to wait another year to try and end a three-decade-long postseason drought, as the host Vikings (6-2, 6-3) used a balanced attack to knock off Southmoreland for the final spot out of the Interstate Conference. Kevin Yanok scored the only points of the 1st quarter, save for Mark Snyder’s extra point, on a four-yard run, which turned out to be the only points the Vikings would need, as the Mount Pleasant offense combined for 333 rushing yards and got touchdowns from four other individuals.
Ellwood City 24, Riverside 21 – Last Friday evening was a joyous one at Lincoln High School, a night that saw the Wolverines (5-3, 6-3) edge the visiting Panthers (4-4, 5-4) in the final moments to clinch Ellwood City’s first playoff berth since 2000 and the school’s first since moving down to Class AA in football. Gino Ceriani, who connected on 16 of 22 passes for 277 yards to lead all Double-A quarterbacks in Week 9, also threw for three touchdowns, including a game-winning 17-yarder to Kyle Crawford, who finished with 177 yards and two scores on seven catches, with two minutes left in the 4th to eliminate Riverside.
Beaver Falls 23, Beaver 17 (2 OT) – Meanwhile, second place in the Midwestern Conference took a little longer to decide than fourth, but the visiting Tigers (6-1, 8-1) used opportunistic offense to feed off the momentum of their defense and finally put away the stubborn Bobcats (5-2, 7-2). Darian Bradley, who ran for a team-leading 48 yards, scored from short distance for Beaver to tie the game in the first OT, but Trey Hall, who led Beaver Falls with 60 rushing yards, scored on a walk-off five-yard TD run, his second touchdown in extra time, following an interception by Andre Williams.
Hopewell 34, West Allegheny 31 (OT) – Neither regulation time nor a 28-point lead was enough to crystallize the fate of the Vikings (4-3, 5-4), but the team that nobody wants to play right now upset the Indians (5-2, 6-3) on their senior night to cap off an amazing stretch run, with Mike Caputo watching from the sideline, in uniform. Rushel Shell (pictured left), playing through a dislocated shoulder, ran for 190 yards and three TD’s and made a key defensive play to set up quarterback Nolan Harmatto’s game-winning ten-yard scoring run and offset a four-touchdown, 104-yard performance by Aaron McKinney.
Mars 23, Knoch 12 – The battle for Greater Allegheny Conference supremacy, which was moved to Saturday so Scott Heinauer could see his son Dan play for North Hills Friday, ended up being worth the wait, as Heinauer’s Planets (6-0, 8-1) handed the Knights (5-1, 8-1) their first loss of 2010. Austin Miele, who was held to 82 rush yards, pulled Mars even with a short touchdown run in the 2nd quarter, and defensive lineman Zack Zwigart broke the game open in the 3rd with a 30-yard fumble return to the house before recording Mars’ final points with a 4th-quarter safety.
Highlands 31, Hampton 20 – Elsewhere in the Greater Allegheny Conference the Golden Rams (3-3, 5-4) needed a productive night from their passing game to deprive the Talbots (2-4, 2-7) of the last available playoff spot. Seth Goheen (pictured left) was a very efficient 10-of-13 for 120 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns, and Hampton running back Matt Hyre, who ended with 85 yards rushing on 17 carries and ran for two touchdowns, tried to bring his team back with a 20-point second-half rally that fell short.
Hollidaysburg 40, Derry 13 – In their first year as a District 7 football program, the District 6-based Golden Tigers (4-3, 6-3) have clinched a WPIAL Playoff berth, breezing past the Trojans (2-5, 2-7) for the fourth and final spot out of the Keystone Conference. Chad Barton led all WPIAL quarterbacks in Week 9 with 306 passing yards in a 14-of-22 effort that produced three touchdowns, two of them to T.J. Keefer, who led Class AA in receiving last Friday night with 211 yards on seven catches and also ran 33 yards for a 1st-quarter score.
North Hills 21, North Allegheny 16 – There was much rejoicing at Martorelli Stadium, as the Indians (5-1, 8-1) used an unconventional defensive scheme to do something unconventional: contain Alex Papson and upset the Tigers (5-1, 8-1) for the Northern Seven Conference title. The North Hills defense held Papson (pictured left) to a season-low 82 yards and one touchdown, and receiver Brody Zangaro caught six balls for 41 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown reception from Taylor Schmidt–who also caught a TD pass–in the 2nd quarter to get North Hills going.
McKeesport 28, Gateway 14 – Recently it was Gateway who has had the upper hand in this Foothills Conference rivalry and the upper hand in the conference itself, but the Tigers (6-0, 8-1) used their trademark stifling defense and running attack to reverse their fortunes against the host Gators (5-1, 5-4) and claim the section crown. Tailback Sam Gooden (pictured left) exploded for all four McKeesport TD’s including a 49-yard jaunt in the 3rd, running 30 times for 167 yards on the night, while Gateway QB Tom Woodson, who struggled mightily, still managed 166 yards and one TD on 14-of-44 passing. Click here to relive any or all of the action from the 93.7 The Fan Game of the Week.
Mount Lebanon 14, Upper St. Clair 10 – A game for the Great Southern Conference championship billed as a slugfest between two South Hills powerhouses and bitter rivals lived up to its billing and saw the Blue Devils (5-0, 9-0) come back late against the visiting Panthers (4-1, 7-2) to cap off their first perfect regular season in almost 30 years. Lebo receiver Paul Lang, who snagged six passes for 58 yards, hauled in a two-yarder for a touchdown on 4th-and-goal in the final period, then Luke Hagy (pictured above), who ran for 153 yards and caught a two-point pass, scored on a 26-yard run for the win.
Connellsville 42, Valley 0 – Senior Night might not have erased all the memories of another embarrassing season, but Jeff Immel got an 800-pound gorilla off his back last Friday when his Falcons (0-6, 1-8) defeated the Class AAA Vikings (0-6, 0-9) to snap a WPIAL-long 34-game losing streak. Running back Matt White provided a touchdown and 167 rushing yards on 20 attempts, and the Connellsville defense scored once and forced five turnovers to help the team win for the first time since Aug. 31, 2007 and avoid becoming the first Class AAAA team since the classification was created to go winless three years in a row.
Allderdice 26, Langley 0 – The ‘Dice rolled to an easy win over the Mustangs (3-4, 4-5) at Cupples Stadium last Friday, not to mention a berth in the City League Playoffs, as running back Patrick Ferguson powered the Dragons (5-2, 5-4) with 118 yards on 13 carries, including a 41-yard touchdown.
For all the latest news and views on and off the gridiron, be sure to check out The Post-Gazette High School Football Show Presented by First Commonwealth Bank, back at its regular time, Saturday morning 8:00-10:00, on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan and 937thefan.com!