WPIAL ‘Fantastic Four’

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Clairton makes it three in a row defeating Rochester

Clairton has practically owned this decade. It should be renamed the era of “The Bears” and they’re still going strong. The Bears have won eight WPIAL titles and are now the three-time defending Class A champions. Clairton’s (13-0) 12-0 victory Saturday over Rochester (12-1) at Heinz Field was a tooth-and-nail fight to the bitter end.

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THREE-PEAT—The Clairton Bears celebrate their WPIAL Class A Championship after defeating Rochester 12-0 at Heinz Field. (Photos by William McBride)

“It was your typical Clairton-Rochester game,” Clairton coach Tom Nola said.

Those second-place trophies are starting to stack up on the Rams’ mantel.

“Nobody gave us a chance to win this football game. We proved today that our defense is just as good as theirs,” said Rochester coach Gene Matsook. “Our defense held a team to 6 points that has more skill players than the freakin’ Pittsburgh Steelers.”

The Bears got on the board first when superstar quarterback Desimon Green ran 26 yards for a touchdown with 8:28 left in the first half. The second, a 21-yard Green touchdown pass with 37 seconds left in the game to Trenton Coles to put the game on ice. Green said he doesn’t pay any attention to his statistics. That’s a shame because he is missing out on some impressive numbers. Green has passed for over 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns and he is even better on defense. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, Green often looks like a man among boys. He has over 50 career sacks and Pitt is recruiting him to play defensive end.

Clairton defensive coordinator Wayne “Rinky” Wade is a legend, an all-time great player and now coach. Wade saw his unit produce another shutout, the ninth of the season. It could be argued that no WPIAL or City League team has ever looked as dominant defensively as this group of Grizzly Bears.

“I am very proud of our trainer Tammy “Faye” Ridgley and coach Wade,” said school Principal Debra Marshall. “Coach Wade has never forgotten where he comes from. He works with the little league and visits the youth.”

The fans witnessed history being made when Clairton took the crown for the third time running. Desimon Green calls Heinz Field his castle. Where else would the King reside? The Bears play Friday at 7 against North Star in the PIAA quarterfinals at Somerset High School.

South Fayette fulfills a promise by smashing Quips

South Fayette (13-0) lived up to its preseason promise to win a WPIAL Class AA title for Bill Faraci, father of senior tackle Nick and assistant coach Ryan by defeating Aliquippa 19-6. Bill Faraci was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in June.

Aliquippa (12-1) simply wasn’t ready for a South Fayette team that is so much more than just the sum of quarterback Christian Brumbaugh’s parts. Maybe you noticed that Lions tailback Jeff Davis ran 18-times for 85-yards, which took a little pressure off the high-profile, high-expectation and record breaking QB. Brumbaugh has passed for over 6,000 career yards and is within one touchdown pass of the WPIAL’s all-time leader.

The Lions got on the board first when Brumbaugh passed 38-yards to Tyler Challingsworth to take a 6-0 lead. The kick failed.

“Being that they fired Jeff Reed I wasn’t thinking about kicking at all,” said Lions Coach Joe Rossi. “I wanted to put the ball in the hands of my play­makers.”

Aliquippa answered when Dravon Henry scored from 2-yards out to tie the score at 6-6. The kick failed. South Fayette took a 6-6 tie into intermission. The Lions broke that tie on the initial possession of the second half on a 5-yard scoring pass from Brum­baugh to Zach Challings­worth. Aliquippa would force Brumbaugh into an interception later in the period, but Tyler Challings­worth recovered a fumble at the Lions’ 17 yard line to thwart the threat.

South Fayette broke the Quips’ backs with a drive that began at the 8:26 mark of the fourth quarter. Using mostly power and pro formations, the Lions plowed their way 70 yards – all on the ground – to put the game out of reach. Trevor Fiorentini scored the title-clinching points with a 2-yard run with 2:25 left in the game.

“We lost but it wasn’t from lack of effort,” said Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac. “Both teams were 12-0, so somebody had to win. They’re really good. They were 23-1 coming into the game.”

Central Valley’s Foster sprints past Montour

Central Valley (10-3) scored 24 unanswered points to become the WPIAL’s first merged football program since Sto-Rox in 1966 to win a championship, defeating Montour (12-1) 24-7 in the AAA title game. The Warriors used two big touchdowns from super sophomore Robert Foster to help key the effort, as well as a stout defensive performance that harassed Spartan field general Dillon Buechel and 2,000 yard rusher Julian Durden all game long. Central Valley, which claims a Monaca address, is a first year program merged between the former Monaca and Center high schools. Coach Mark Lyons formerly served as the head coach of the Monaca Indians, guiding the red and blue to WPIAL title game appearances in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The fourth try was the charm.

The speedy Foster, was the fastest and most talented player on the field. Foster carried the ball, completed a 17-yard pass on a faked punt, caught two passes and also played a role on special teams, returning kicks and punts. He made a trio of game-changing plays – a 54-yard run, a 35-yard punt return for touchdown and a 70-yard reception for a touchdown on a pass from junior Matt Bradford. Of Central Valley’s 66 points scored the last two weeks, Foster has scored 36 of them.

The Warriors were staggering at midseason with a disappointing 4-3 record. But giving into discouragement is not in coach Lyons nature.

“We lost some heartbreakers. The West Allegheny game was one of them,” said Lyons. “We knew that we had some players who could make great plays at great times. We got hot at the right time.”

North Allegheny’s ‘Diminutive-Dynamo’ is too much for Woodland Hills

North Allegheny’s (12-1) Alex “The Diminutive-Dynamo” Papson ran and cut up Woodland Hills’ (9-4) defense like a knife through hot butter. Papson has rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and 32 touchdowns this season.

North Allegheny quickly jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind two touchdown passes by quarterback Michael Buchert. Papson’s 43-yard touchdown run with 2:56 left in the opening half pushed the Tigers’ advantage to 21-0, and it appeared the rout was on.

But stop the presses, because in the second half, Woodland Hills awakened, both offensively and defensively. Pat Menifee hit Shakim Alonzo for a 46-yard touchdown pass to break the Tigers’ shutout with 4:35 left in the third quarter, slicing the 21-point margin to just 14 after Sam Scifo’s extra point.

Woodland Hills’ Lafayette Pitts, a Pitt recruit, sprinted 24 yards for a touchdown, bringing the Wolverines to within a possession and the crowd on the visiting side of the stadium to life. But that was as close as Woodland Hills would get and the defending AAAA champions lost their crown to the Tigers 21-14.

Some
would say North Allegheny’s Art Walker was destined for coaching greatness. His dad is a Hall of Fame High School coach. The Tigers haven’t won a football title since 1990 and were able to dominate the Wolverines without any African-American representation on their team. Consider the sentiments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and base your rooting interest not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.

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