Three Rivers Conference
The Ironmen haven’t won a WPIAL title since they repeated as Class AA champs in 1988 and 1989 which is a span of almost 30 seasons but that streak of championship futility could come to an end this year.
Steel Valley was 10-2 last season, finished 7-1 in the Century Conference and lost in the semifinals and return one of the best running backs in the state in senior DeWayne Murray, who is 5-foot-10, 180 pounds.
Murray rushed 165 times for 1,615 yards (9.8 yards per carry) and scored 36 touchdowns and he was first-team all conference at both running back and linebacker.
He has more than a dozen Division I scholarship offers, including a Big 12 offer from West Virginia, and he will likely add a few more before he makes his decision as he has that rare combination of power and speed.
But opposing defenses won’t be able to load up to stop Murray because the passing game got a huge boost in the form of transfer wide receiver Paris Ford, a Pitt recruit.
Ford caught 47 passes for 818 yards last season and scored 23 touchdowns last season as a receiver at Seton-LaSalle and his addition gives the Ironmen one of the most explosive groups of skill position players in the WPIAL.
Murray and Ford are also excellent defensive players and will anchor a unit on that side of the ball that is both deep and loaded with speed so they should be stingy and create a lot of big, game-changing plays as well.
Steel Valley fell just short – like, about 1 yard short – of making it to Heinz Field last season and thus have a little extra motivation to finish the job and will play with a chip on their shoulder.