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“Mr. High School Sports” LIVE from Chartiers Valley High School

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Chartiers Valley press box

We’re live from Chartiers Valley Stadium for the WPIAL Football Semifinals…

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By Matt Popchock

(mpopchock@kdka.com)

6:20 – The bad news is, these are the final Friday night lights for the WPIAL in 2011. The good news is, those lights are illuminating a path to Heinz Field, where the biggest games of the WPIAL football season will take place next Saturday.

Mr. High School Sports is live from Chartiers Valley Stadium for the Class AAAA Semifinals, as the No. 2 seed Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings take on the No. 3 seed Upper St. Clair Panthers. We’ll be blogging live updates from this and other District 7 playoff games all night long as tonight, eight teams will go home, whereas eight others will set the stage for the 2011 WPIAL Football Championships.

6:27 – USC’s special teams have taken the field for warmups, while Central works out down to my right on a chilly night in the greater Pittsburgh area, with temps just above freezing. While I’m thinking of it, special thanks to athletic director Frank Vulcano Jr. for having us, and extra special thanks to Ryan Lucas for the game notes that were waiting for all of us in the press box. By no means am I blowing smoke when I say, I wish every WPIAL football school had that…

6:30 – The gang’s all here. Just had the pleasure of meeting longtime Pittsburgh broadcaster Ellis Cannon for the first time, while the 93.7 “UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Game of the Week” crew is assembled to my right, and Mike White of the Post-Gazette is in the house as well.

6:35 – Speaking of Mike, he shared a great note on “Vinnie & Cook” (weekdays 10 AM-2 PM on 93.7 The Fan) earlier today: 11 teams with 11-0 records are playing beyond Nov. 11 (last Friday). One of those teams is Central Catholic, which is coming off a 31-14 Quarterfinal win over Mount Lebanon. Upper St. Clair’s only loss came to North Allegheny, another Semifinalist and the reigning PIAA champ, in Week 4, and the Panthers are coming off a 21-14 Quarterfinal win over McDowell…but it came at a price…

6:38 – Dual-threat QB and Pitt (linebacker) recruit Dakota Conwell is in sweats, standing at midfield. Multiple sources had said earlier that Conwell’s injury is worse than originally feared–a broken foot, not a bruised ankle. I was told earlier today that Pete Coughlin would back up Conwell. Huge blow for the Panthers.

6:45 – By the way, speaking of great stories, someone else in the press box told one too…

Mike Kryz…uh, Coach K…yeah, let’s go with that…Coach K became the all-time winningest men’s basketball coach in NCAA history earlier this week, surpassing Bobby Knight. Perhaps Knight’s most famous loss was the infamous chair-toss game against Purdue on Feb. 23, 1985. Know who the announcer was for the ESPN telecast of that game? A young man by the name of Lanny Frattare, who is on the call here tonight with Bob Orkwis.

I pressed Lanny about that earlier tonight. He remembers working with color guy Bill Hosket, and that Knight was wearing a golf sweater for that game, which was a 4:00 tip. Hosket noted that during the telecast, and when Knight threw the chair, Hosket said, “I guess his tee time was earlier than we thought.”

6:50 – Jim Render standing at midfield, talking with a Central Catholic staffer while observing warm-ups. The USC head coach, who entered this season as the third-winningest coach in PIAA football history, second among active coaches, has 353 career wins coming into tonight. This is his 43rd overall year, 33rd with USC.

7:03 – Defensive back Arnell Farmer is concussed and will not play for Central Catholic. Looks like the long season is taking its toll on both teams, as several players are gutting out minor ailments, so I’ve heard.

7:10 – Junior Pete Coughlin will get the nod at QB for Upper St. Clair. That doesn’t surprise me, as Coughlin would typically come in during garbage time on the occasions USC got an insurmountable second-half lead. But who will run the ball now? The logical answer is fullback Zack Deitrick, who has ten rushing touchdowns on the year. He is one of 15 different Panthers to record a TD in 2011. That depth couldn’t come at a better time. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if Coughlin can connect with Mike Wilcox, who has become a very handy receiver for USC and had a big touchdown catch last week.

Up front, whoever gets the ball will be well-protected. Linemen Ian Park and Jack Schwaba are both Northwestern-bound (Cookie would be proud), and Schwaba has been used as a pass-catching tight end before.

7:20 – Meanwhile, who are the players to watch for the Big East Conference champs? Running back Damion Jones-Moore ranks fifth in the WPIAL with 1,637 rush yards, second-most in Quad-A, and his 32 TD’s are one off the district lead, including three last week. He’s going to Toledo, while quarterback and top receiver Perry Hills and Anthony Nixon, respectively, are Maryland-bound. Hills has thrown for 1,571 yards and 14 TD’s…against just one interception, which happened last week. Nixon has caught eight of those TD passes.

7:25 – All games tonight are set for a 7:30 kickoff, so were moments away from the universal start of the Semifinal round. By the way, Mr. High School Sports will also be stopping by the City League title game at “The Cup” tomorrow afternoon, as 10-1 University Prep takes on surprising Allderdice (5-6) on the South Side.

Referees, game officials, and captains have been introduced. All we need now are two football teams on the field…

7:26 – Turnout is decent, considering how cold it is, though neither side appears full. USC fans bundled up and generally huddled together on the opposite side of the stadium, while Central seems to have an equal-sized turnout.

7:28 – To each their own…USC runs onto the field, while Central Catholic marches onto it.

7:30 – USC wins the toss and defers. Panthers will kick left to right on your computer or mobile device. Conwell one of the captains at midfield, albeit in pants and a hoodie. With his absence go 30 total TD’s, 19 of which have come on the ground.

7:32 – Beautiful kick return by Jones-Moore to the USC 30. Central in business before he and Hills even get to touch the ball on offense.

7:33 – Nixon makes the chains on 3rd and long with an 11-yard grab over the middle. Good job hanging on as he got sandwiched. 1st and 10 at the 20.

7:36 – Another 3rd down picked up by Nixon. Bullet from Hills, practically same play. 1st and goal.

TOUCHDOWN CENTRAL! Nixon’s 9th TD of the year, as he catches one along the near sideline, and easily eludes the man coverage for the score. Mitch Maczura converts the extra point, and Central Catholic leads USC 7-0, 7:54 left, 1st quarter.

7:38 – Central kicks off. Good job by USC to contain Vikings’ rushing attack, which includes sophomore Luigi Lista-Brinza, another one to watch, but they’ll have to pay extra attention to Nixon moving forward. A.J. McGuire, meanwhile, brought down after a very short return to the 17.

7:40 – Coughlin hands off his first two plays under center. Two short gains by Deitrick. Had Wilcox wide open on 3rd and 5 but overthrew him. Looked like Wilcox might have under-run the route. Still, I don’t think he would’ve caught up to that one.

7:42 – Central again in plus territory after the punt…

7:43 – Sack by Bobby Tuttle, first of the night for either team. When your best offensive player is out, you need your defense to step up, and Tuttle is off to a good start.

7:44 – UPDATE: Ky Kenyon QB dive…extra point no good…6-0 Knoch over Franklin Regional (1st).

7:45 – UPDATE: Rochester leads Clairton 7-0. 90-yd kickoff return by De’Andre Moon to start the game.

Coughlin completes an 11-yarder to Alex Garwig for USC’s first 1st down. Moments ago, Coughlin broke up a deep pass intended for Nixon.

7:47 – Coughlin did his best Conwell impression, eluding multiple tacklers for 14 yards and another 1st down.

7:50 – USC moving the ball nicely into Central territory, ball at the 24 as the first quarter ends. CENTRAL 7, USC 0.

Highlight of the drive has been the scrambling of Coughlin, and a diving, toe-drag catch by Wilcox in front of the USC bench to the 36.

7:51 – UPDATE: Josh Beverly 2-yd TD run…6-0 Sto-Rox over Canevin (1st).

7:53 – Wilcox with another great leaping catch inside the 10. 1st and goal…

7:54 – TOUCHDOWN PANTHERS! A.J. McGuire out to the right, and scores on a sweep from 8 yards away. 6th rush TD of 2011, and 9th overall. Killian Mulkern’s extra point is good…7-7 ballgame, 10:43 left, 2nd quarter.

Great leadership by Wilcox and Loughlin on that drive.

7:56 – UPDATES: Knoch up 6-0 after 1st…Aliquippa and GCC scoreless after 1st.

7:58 – Tuttle blows up an attempted pass, and Central has to punt…to the USC 45. Jones-Moore finding the sledding tough early on; biggest gain has been 2 yards. Reminiscent of bad outing in last year’s Semifinals.

8:00 – Coughlin picks up 5 on 1st down in shallow Central Catholic territory. He’s matriculating this offense with more confidence as the game goes on.

8:01 – Timeout taken by Render. USC has 2 left.

UPDATES: Rochester trying to break Clairton’s 42-game win streak (2nd longest in WPIAL history and currently third longest nationally)…leads 7-0 after 1st. Sto-Rox 6 Canevin 3 (27-yd FG, Jake Schnelbach) in 1st. Central Valley and Montour scoreless after 1st.

8:04 – Brandon Farrell went up to Mars, no pun intended, to make a 15-yard catch to the Central 36. 1st and 10 Vikings, 5:20 left in the half…

8:06 – A well-executed halfback delay to Jones-Moore goes for 8 and another 1st down.

8:07 – Moments later, Park, the aforementioned Northwestern recruit, makes his first solo tackle of the night, we believe.

8:08 – Four catches for 41 yards now for Nixon, who was wide open in the right flat. Why, I have no idea…

8:09 – Crowd on the USC side of the stadium suddenly looks bigger. Maybe some folks were seeking warmth before the game. Meanwhile, timeout Central. Terry Totten, who led this team to WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2007, has 2 left.

8:11 – A Hills keeper than went 26 yards for a score is wiped out by an obvious holding call at the line of scrimmage. Ball back to the USC 41.

8:12 – UPDATES: NA 14 Gateway 0 (1st)…Montour 7 Central Valley 0 (2nd)…Jeannette 7 Seton-LaSalle 7 (2nd)…Aliquippa 7 GCC 0 (2nd).

8:13 – Fumble recovered near midfield, as Tuttle stripped Hills and James Southern recovered. Coughlin gets the offense going with a 13-yard keeper down the near sideline.

8:14 – Wow. Coughlin for a 22-yard scamper. What did Dakota Conwell/Jim Render put in his water bottle?! Been a while since I’ve seen the USC sideline this jacked up.

8:15 – Timeout USC. 1 left. 7-7 ballgame, 44 seconds left in the first half. USC ball at the Central Catholic 15.

8:16 – Defensive holding against DB Ed Latimer. 10 yard infraction. 1st and goal from the 8. Not necessary a bad penalty to take, as Latimer appeared beat.

8:17 – Coughlin is stopped in his tracks. Timeout USC. None left. 32 seconds left. 2nd and goal from the 6.

8:19 – Coughlin is stopped again out of bounds, then fires incomplete. Mulkern will attempt a 25-yard extra point, right to left…

8:20 – Totten trying to ice the kicker with 22 secons left. UPDATE: Clairton now down 7-6, and has recovered a fumble deep in Rochester territory.

8:21 – It’s good! Mulkern’s kick, his first field goal attempt of the year, gives USC a 10-7 lead on Central with 19 seconds left. Central had allowed 30 1st-half points all year (and scored 273).

8:22 – UPDATE: Seton-LaSalle has taken a 14-7 lead on Jeannette in the 2nd.

8:23 – Farrell makes a catch at the USC 40, and Totten calls his last timeout with 5 seconds to go in the half.

8:24 – USC recovers a token fumble as time expires at the Central 45 yard line…and it’s Southern again.

Speaking of Southern, the Great Southern Conference champs, Upper St. Clair, lead Central Catholic 10-7 at the half. This is a battle of two of MaxPreps’ top five teams in the Commonwealth, and so far, it’s living up to the hype.

8:28 – UPDATES: Clairton makes Rochester pay and now leads 14-7 in the 2nd. 55 penalty yards for the Bears (par for the course, really). Kudos to the Trib’s Kevin Gorman for the update. Canevin now leads Sto-Rox 10-6 at half; 52-yd TD pass from Kevin Mechas to Bobby Gustine. Upset in the making?

8:30 – UPDATES: Montour playing some inspired football, leading Central Valley 14-0 late in the 2nd. Aliquippa 14-0 over GCC in the 2nd. Knoch 6-0 over Franklin Regional at the half.

8:34 – So far the key factors in this game have been the storybook play of Coughlin, and the fact that Damion Jones-Moore has yet to get his motor going. Central needs to make some room for him in the second half, because Perry Hills has been under increased pressure. 6 carries for 17 yards for Jones-Moore. Hills 7 of 11 for 84 yards and a TD, 2 fumbles lost. Coughlin 12 carries for 71 yards.

8:39 – UPDATES: Jeannette and Seton-LaSalle tied 14-14 at half. North Allegheny up 14-0 over Gateway at half.

8:40 – UPDATE: Montour leading Central Valley, now at the half. Still 14-0.

8:44 – Moments away from start of second half. Keys for both teams? For USC, I put the ball in Coughlin’s hands, and let that horse run. He’s really playing like he has something to prove. Similarly, if I’m Totten, I tell my Vikings to turn up the heat in his kitchen, which did happen toward the very end of the half. I also tell my linemen to start moving their feet; USC is controlling the line of scrimmage, which isn’t making life easy for Central’s running game.

8:46 – By the way, I’m hearing from MSA’s Bob Orkwis that Brian Jones is at QB in lieu of Tom Woodson for Gateway. Can the Gators do what USC is doing right now without Conwell? Watch on ROOT Sports (with the volume down, while you listen to us on 93.7 The Fan) to find out.

8:48 – (Much to the delight of the folks here at the Chartiers Valley press box, native son T.J. McConnell is having a big night for the Dukes, who lead the University of D.C. Follow our new blog, “The Aly Way,” on our website for more on Duquesne hoops.)

8:49 – Central kicking right to left on your computer or mobile device to begin the half…

8:55 – USC driving deep into Central territory behind the running of Coughlin and Deitrick. The former opened up the half with a 14-yard run up the middle. Vikings on their heels midway through the 3rd quarter.

8:56 – Deitrick stood up. Finally, Central’s defense takes a stand. 2nd and goal from the 9. 6:30 left in the 3rd.

8:57 – 4th and goal. Mulkern on again, this time for a 26-yarder…

9:00 – Encroachment on Central. Make it a 21-yard attempt.

It’s good! Mulkern’s second of the night makes it 13-7 USC with 5:15 left in the 3rd. 6:45 drive to open the half, and Coughlin accounted for 28 of its yards, putting him up to 112 unofficially. Credit Central, though, with bend-but-don’t-break defense. Offense needs to go to work.

9:01 – UPDATE: Clairton leads Rochester 14-7 at the half. Knoch up 6-0 after 3rd; kudos to Dom Errico of Trib Total Media for the update.

9:02 – UPDATE: Wow…Canevin driving on Sto-Rox late 3rd, still up 10-6…and I’m hearing Sto-Rox QB Lenny Williams is hurt.

Speaking of injuries, we have an injury timeout with 4:29 left in the 3rd here, as Southern is being tended to.

9:04 – USC takes a knee as Southern is helped off by Render and the training staff. Looks like a significant left leg injury.

9:05 – Central saved on 3rd and long by a pass interference call in the right flat. USC coaches up here not happy, but that one looked like a can’t-miss penalty.

9:06 – 11-yard run by Jones-Moore, his longest of the night. 1st down near midfield…and now Deitrick is shaken up with 3:56 left in the 3rd. Still 13-7 USC.

9:08 – Deitrick okay, and play resumes.

9:09 – Hills’ first attempt of the half is a screen to Lista-Brinza. His second is just his second INT of the year…but also his second in as many weeks. Another big play by Randy Boyd, one of last week’s heroes, who is downed at his own 39.

9:11 – Coughlin makes his first “rookie mistake,” if you will, of the night, and gives it right back. Can’t handle the snap, Bowling Green DL recruit Logan Dietz recovers near the USC 35.

9:12 – UPDATE: Quips have opened up a 27-0 lead on GCC in the 3rd.

9:13 – Nixon all alone in the middle of the zone defense, and picks up yardage inside the red zone as the quarter ends.

USC 13, Central Catholic 7, after 3rd.

9:16 – TOUCHDOWN CENTRAL! Perry Hills calls his own number, and, on the first play of the fourth quarter, leaps over a defender for a 15-yard scoring run. 3rd TD run of the year for Hills. Maczura converts the all-important P.A.T.; 14-13 Central Catholic just 4 seconds into the 4th quarter.

9:17 – Kickoff looked like it might head OB, but McGuire instead fielded the line drive right at him and got decent yardage. Central fans pumped up, making more noise.

9:19 – WOW!!! Pete “Crazy Legs” Coughlin with the PLAY OF THE YEAR! Panthers sideline in bedlam, running on the field after Coughlin reversed his field for a 73-YARD SCORING RUN. Just 21 seconds after Central took the lead.

McGuire barrels into the corner for two points; 21-14 USC with 11:35 left. I’ll say it again…WOW.

9:21 – UPDATE: Gateway has cut N.A.’s lead to 14-7 in the second half.

9:22 – UPDATE: Franklin Regional has taken a 7-6 lead over Knoch. Midway through 4th quarter. 3 offensive INTs for Knoch.

9:23 – UPDATES: Quips now up 35-0 on GCC. Sto-Rox now up 12-10 on Canevin.

9:24 – Damion Jones-Moore drops a pass off the fingertips. Wide open streaking down far sideline. Big, big break for the Panthers. 3rd and 6. Timeout USC, they have 2 left with 10:44 left in regulation. 21-14 USC.

9:25 – Great pressure again by Panthers on Hills to force incompletion and punt…but the punt by Dipko is a dandy. Rolls dead to the USC 16 yard line with 10:21 left.

9:27 – UPDATES: Clairton fumbles away a scoring chance, and Knoch fumbles near midfield. Is it curtains for the Knights?

9:28 – Panthers gradually digging selves out of the hole. Park, Schwaba, and company blowing guys off the line of scrimmage.

9:29 – UPDATE: The Gators tie the Tigers…14-14 in the 4th at Fox Chapel.

9:31 – A.J. McGuire, again, behind that O-line, picks up a 2nd and short past midfield. Dirt-simple run up the middle. 5:30 left.

9:32 – Timeout USC. 2 left. UPDATES: Aliquippa defeats GCC 35-0. Tyler Boyd TD…Clairton now up 22-7 on Rochester.

9:34 – Gateway and Knoch both threatening in their games. Gateway now takes a 17-14 lead with 9 minutes left in the 4th.

Meanwhile, Coughlin zigs and zags for 15 yards and a 1st down. You gotta be KIDDING me!

9:35 – TOUCHDOWN USC! Coughlin, on the play fake, hits Wilcox on the side of the end zone, from 25 yards out! Mulkern is true, and one of the feel-good stories of the playoffs continues getting greater. 28-14 Panthers. 3:35 left in regulation.

9:37 – The pit gets deeper, as Central is called for a block in the back.

9:38 – UPDATE: Knoch wins on a walk-off field goal! 9-7 is your final. That game went the exact opposite of how I thought it would go (16 combined points). Kory Wood is your hero for the Knights. Meanwhile, Hills is sacked with 2:10 left.

9:42 – UPDATE: Sto-Rox picks off Mechas, and it appears the Vikings will kneel and win 12-10. Meanwhile, Central turns the ball over on downs. Looks like USC is North Shore bound…

9:45 – Upper St. Clair shocks Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 28-14. More to come…

10:20 – Just got done talking with Ian Park, Jim Render, and yes, Pete Coughlin. Pete did pretty well for what he says was his first-ever postgame media scrum. And I know I haven’t been doing this as long as some of my peers, but let me just say, to Coach Render’s credit, this was one of the most lighthearted moments I’ve seen from him, even after a win. You can tell he’s both ecstatic and impressed by his team tonight.

I’ll have more from all three gentlemen later.

Meanwhile…N.A. has rallied to defeat Gateway 21-17. Looks like ROOT got its money’s worth too. It’ll be USC-NA at Heinz Field, in a rematch of Week 4…once again, USC’s only loss of the season.

Congratulations to Terry Totten and the Vikings on a fine campaign that ends at 11-1. Third Semifinal berth for that team in the last five seasons. But I give all the credit in the world to Coughlin and the Panthers’ “D” for making me eat a big helping of “C”…”C” for “crow.” (I reneged on my pick earlier today, and took Central when I found out Conwell wouldn’t play.)

Tune into “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services High School Football Show” Saturday morning 7-8 for a complete recap of the WPIAL Semifinals, and watch Bob Pompeani’s 11:15 sports report on KDKA-TV tonight for all the other playoff results.

10:21 – All 4 WPIAL championship matchups have been confirmed:

NEXT SATURDAY:

11 am – Clairton vs. Sto-Rox (A)

2 pm – Montour vs. Knoch (AAA)

5 pm – Aliquippa vs. Jeannette (AA)

8 pm – Upper St. Clair vs. North Allegheny (AAAA)

11:57 – First of all, just to echo a message sent earlier, now that I’m back in  Green Tree…congratulations to Clairton, Sto-Rox, Aliquippa, Jeannette, Montour, Knoch, Upper St. Clair, and North Allegheny on reaching the 2011 WPIAL Football Championships, and congratulations to Rochester, Bishop Canevin, Seton-LaSalle, Greensburg Central Catholic, Central Valley, Franklin Regional, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, and Gateway on solid seasons as well.

Second of all, a shameless plug: once again, I will be tweeting from Cupples Stadium during tomorrow’s City League Final between University Prep and Allderdice. That game kicks off at 1:00 P.M. Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock for live updates on that game.

Third of all, here are tonight’s other Semifinal scores, in case you hadn’t heard:

Clairton 43, Rochester 7 (Tyler Boyd runs for 200 yards and 4 TD’s)

Sto-Rox 12, Bishop Canevin 10

Aliquippa 35, Greensburg C.C. 0

Jeannette 40, Seton-LaSalle 21

Montour 21, Central Valley 14 (Jordan Whitehead is stripped at the 1 yard line before he can get across for a potential tying score, and Montour recovers in the end zone to end the game)

Knoch 9, Franklin Regional 7

North Allegheny 21, Gateway 17 (Nick Passodelis scores game-winning TD on 4th and 1 from 1 inside 45 seconds left in regulation)

12:23 – Pete Coughlin…on epic 73-yard TD run: play was to the left, saw a wall of defenders there, then cut it back toward middle and saw a lane to the left, just followed his blockers. Could he have envisioned this game going any better? “No, not at all.” Felt confident coming into the game, teammates talked him up, Dakota was helpful in practice all week, instilled confidence in him. Gave him a number of tips on Central Catholic’s coverage all week. “Feels surreal” going to Heinz. Found out last Saturday Dakota was not well off, had a whole week to prepare. Thankful for having a whole week of preparation. Offensive line played “unreal, gave me time all day.” “I was mad at myself after the fumble, but my teammates talked me up, and told me to fight through it.” Heard naysayers saying USC was one-man team, feels they showed they can be a great team without Dakota. Thinks Conwell might play next week. Familiarity with offense all year made this challenge easier to handle. “Can’t believe this is happening, been wanting this my whole life.” Only nerves came right before game time (threw up). At halftime Render simply told team to “finish the game off.”

12:35 – Ian Park…on play of Coughlin: knew he had it in him since last year; “He’s shifty, he’s very athletic. I trust Pete 1,000 percent.” Sense of urgency of linemen definitely went up a notch without Conwell. “This was definitely a week where we had to come out and prove we could run the ball and open up holes no matter who was playing.” Best the linemen have played all year? “I think so.” On going to Heinz Field: “It hasn’t hit me yet. I’m speechless right now…though I did call my brother and tell him (moments before I spoke to Ian).” On Coughlin’s nerves…”I could tell he was nervous inside, but that he was going to take them and leave it on the field.” “No matter who’s playing, we felt we were going to play well.” Central is definitely one of the most athletic lines they’ve faced. After every play, line coach was on them to do the little things right.

1:00 - Jim Render: Didn’t have to change much even with Coughlin in place of Conwell. Ran a lot of formation plays tonight, didn’t really add a lot. Team practiced really well this week; “I was worried. The team picked me up, and picked our coaches up.” Where does the 73-yard run rank among the great plays he’s ever seen? “Well, I saw O.J. run 90 yards in the Rose Bowl in 1969, but this ranks right up there. (laughs) Are you allowed to talk about [non-high school plays]?” Was this the best the line has played? “Yes, but I saw it coming in practice.” Ian Park is as healthy as he’s been all year. Has “never seen a better receiver” than Wilcox. What impressed him the most about Pete’s game tonight? “His composure. People asked me what I said to him during the week…I didn’t say anything. I knew he was a confident young man, and I knew our players were feeding off him. They weren’t worried…and if they were worried, they hid it well.” Didn’t feel that they took Central’s stars out of the equation, but contained them enough to win; Perry Hills did better against his defense than he thought he would. WPIAL championships are always special, but “this team excites me.” Told anecdote about taking team bus to Seneca Valley on a detour past Heinz Field last week; used it to motivate his team. How does he feel about a rematch with North Allegheny? “People have been predicting we were going to meet again…in that first game, we had four turnovers in the second half, which is a great equation on how to lose a game. Hopefully we don’t do that again.” QB Mack Leftwich has been a great addition to N.A.; when his family moved to western PA from Oklahoma, USC was one of the schools he was considering…or so Render was told at the time. “He was going to come out…he never fulfilled that obligation,” Render said, smiling. Admits deferring kickoff and giving Central field position to start game was probably bad choice by him. Will Dakota Conwell play at Heinz Field? “He’ll be x-rayed again on Monday.” Is there any realistic possibility he’ll play? Would it be incorrect to characterize Conwell’s injury as a break? “I haven’t seen the x-rays,” Render said, smiling. Less worried now that he’s seen what Pete can do in a big spot? “He’s certainly got a big game under his belt now, but I wouldn’t say that. I probably still won’t sleep the night before,” he lightheartedly said.

1:05 – Pete Coughlin: 1 rush TD, 1 pass TD, 1 fumble lost; 204 rush yards, 5-of-8 passing for 61 yards

1:15 – Damion Jones-Moore was held to 30 rush yards in his final high school game.

1:20 – Mike Wilcox unofficially with 50 total yards and a score…

1:25 – Perry Hills: 9-of-18, 105 (gross) yds, TD, INT, sacked 3 times, 2 fumbles lost; 25 rush yards, TD

That’s it, and that’s all. Keep reading the Mr. High School Sports blog, and listen to “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services High School Football Show” for more WPIAL Semifinal and Championship coverage.

See you in cyberspace!

(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)

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