In its first year of existence Central Valley won the WPIAL Class AAA championship after falling to Montour in Week 6 of the 2010 regular season. In 2011 Central Valley picked up where it left off by beating Montour en route to the conference title, but the Spartans made the champs take their medicine in the district semifinals before capturing their first Class AAA crown since 1964.
This has become the marquee rivalry in the Parkway Conference, and don’t be surprised if it’s a harbinger of things to come at Heinz Field in 2012. On Thursday it will get the Hollywood treatment by kicking off ROOT Sports’ Thursday night football schedule, and the two biggest stars are ready to slug it out on the red carpet.
As he prepares for upcoming college visits to Drexel, Rider, and Temple, Montour senior receiver/defensive back, also a one-time WPIAL champion in basketball, is busy deciding which sport to pursue, and where to go. But he’s made up his mind on how to cover Robert Foster of Central Valley, one of the premier D-1 prospects in western Pennsylvania.
“I’ve just got to limit him to his big plays. If he doesn’t make those plays, he’s not easier to stop, but he’s easier to control,” Wilson said.
He’s made a few of those himself. Wilson led the WPIAL with 72 receptions in 2011, totaling 901 yards and 12 TD’s. Last Friday he hauled in three touchdown passes from new quarterback Ty Greer in a 34-8 romp over conference rival Hopewell.
“Both these defenses are fast, they’re big, and they’re physical, so they’ll match up well,” Wilson added. “It’ll just be a matter of who executes on offense.”
Few players execute better than Foster, who has been scouted by a growing number of major college programs locally and beyond over the course of his varsity tenure. He matched Wilson’s 12 touchdowns as a junior, finishing the 2011 season with over 1,000 all-purpose yards, including 584 receiving, and he’s used to being the focal point of opposing defenses.
“It’s hard, because I really can’t make the same plays as last year, because I’m drawing double-coverage,” said Foster, who scored his first TD of 2012 on a two-yard run in last Friday’s 31-7 Parkway Conference rout of New Castle. “But one thing I always try to do is fight through those coverages.”
He believes sophomore and converted tailback Jordan Whitehead, who also scored in last week’s season-opening win, will help take some of the heat out of his kitchen.
“He’s like a ‘Mini-Me,'” Foster quipped. “He just makes plays when the coaches tell him to. He’s a surreal athlete, he works hard, and he’s committed to the sport.”
It’ll be up to the Warriors to avoid falling to “Number Two” in what promises to be a typically tight playoff race.
Thursday’s game will air live from Sarge Albert Stadium at 7:00 on ROOT Sports, with replays at midnight and 3:30 P.M. Friday.
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)