Central Catholic serves notice at ‘Wolvarena,’ inexperience hurts other WPIAL powers

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The old adage that football teams improve most between game one and game two rang true Saturday at the “Rally at the Wolvarena” as the WPIAL went 1-3 against some of the nation’s top teams. Ohio’s Steubenville Big Red and Akron Buchtel; and Florida’s Cocoa and Manatee, all rode into Turtle Creek with one game in their holster and took advantage of the inexperience of the WPIAL opening weekend teams.

McKeesport, Thomas Jefferson and Woodland Hills all went down to defeat but the Vikings of Central Catholic served notice to all WPIAL teams that they expect to win a championship by blowing out Ohio powerhouse Buchtel, 35-6.

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ANTHONY NIXON, DAMIAN JONES-MOORE

The Vikings (1-0) went into halftime leading 7-0 on the strength of Damion Jones-Moore’s 11-yard touchdown run. Buchtel answered quickly in the second half when quarterback Tyler Jones took a direct snap from the shotgun and darted 34 yards, untouched, for a score, but the subsequent two-point pass was no good, and the Vikes maintained the lead.

Buchtel out hit the Vikings in the first half, holding them to only 41 yards of total offense. Buchtel looked like they were playing with James Harrison on defense.

“James Harrison of the Steelers started off at Buchtel but he got into trouble. You can understand,” said coach Ricky Powers.

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OHIOMON VALLEY SHOWDOWN—Steubenville’s “Big Red” quarterback Anthony Pierro scrambles away from McKeesport’s Brandon Jackson as Steubenville defeated the Tigers 7-0 Sept. 10 at the “Rally at the Woverena.”

Not even the entire Harrison clan could have saved Buchtel in the second half. Jones-Moore ran for 122 yards and two scores on 19 carries and the Vikings scored 28 unanswered points.

“I have been watching Damion Jones-Moore play since he was in Midget league,” said Luther Dupree, host of Steel City Sports World. “He reminds me a lot of Eugene Jarvis (Central and Kent State) and Cam Saddler (Gateway and Pitt).”

McKeesport (0-1) played so conservatively that many fans thought their new head coach was Dave Wannstedt. Jim Ward, who took over for veteran coach George Smith in February will not easily forget a coaching debut that was filled with poor strategy and undisciplined players. McKeesport and Steubenville (2-0) kicked off at 11:00 a.m. and both teams slept through the first half and entered halftime tied 0-0.

On the first drive of the third quarter, everything unraveled for the Tigers’ defense. McKeesport forced Steubenville into a third and 12 situation, and quarterback Anthony Pierro’s pass sailed incomplete, but McKeesport’s coaching staff was called for a 15-yard penalty because the side judge ran into assistant coach John Harper, who wandered outside the coaching box onto the field.

After that first down, McKeesport’s defense committed three more penalties—all encroachment penalties, and Pierro threw a 40-yard bomb to senior tight end Blake Carroll to the three yard line. Two plays later, Anthony’s brother Jo Jo scored on a three-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 victory. McKeesport committed a total of 14 penalties, so look for the Tigers to do a lot of bear crawls all week.

Cocoa (2-0) extended its winning streak to 26 consecutive games by bulldozing Thomas Jefferson (0-1) 43-7. They held the Jaguar ground game to minus-5 yards on 28 carries.

Star running back and Rutgers recruit Chevelle Buie scored three touchdowns.

Manatee (2-0), from Bradenton, Fla., ranked No. 3 nationally by ESPN and No. 6 by USA Today defeated Woodland Hills (0-1) 39-16.

Upset-minded Woody High lost all hope when star Lafayette Pitts left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. Pitts, a University of Pittsburgh recruit, was on fire in the first half, rushing for 59 yards on 14 carries. Pitts was on crutches and in street clothes for the second half.

It appears that the WPIAL’s top three seniors may be out for the season. Wisconsin recruit and West Allegheny running back Mike Caputo had surgery to repair his dislocated and fractured left ankle. Gateway All-American Dondi Kirby tore his ACL and now Pitts.

Steubenville, Cocoa and Manatee were able to defeat the WPIAL’s very good, but not very best.

The best teams are North Allegheny, who defeated State College 42-7, defending champion Clairton blew out Washington 41-0 and Gateway.

Central Catholic improved to 3-1 against Ohio’s top opponents since 2005. In its three wins, the Vikings have averaged 40 points per game, with their only loss coming to Lakewood-St. Edwards, 14-6, in 2005.

Florida, next time you come to town give Central Catholic a call and the powerful Vikings will show up expecting a victory.

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