A little over two weeks ago, senior Cornelio Coates was only focused on becoming a better wide receiver for his Commodores that were preparing for the playoffs.
But he’d begun to work on something that Perry hadn’t worked into its game plan since the 2009 season.
|2012 CITY LEAGUE CHAMPS—Perry team members celebrate after winning the City League Championship with a 9-6 overtime win over USO on Nov. 3. (Courier Photo/William McBride)
“We knew that he was a soccer player for a long time, since he was five,” Perry coach Bill Gallagher said. “So we asked him how he would feel kicking in a pressure situation. He said he was used to it. He was all for it.”
After being on U.S.O.’s (University Prep, Sci-Tech, and Obama) 9-yard line, in overtime, Gallagher elected to use Coates with the chance of his seventh football championship as a head coach.
|ROBERT WILLIE, who scored the only touchdown for Perry, was named “Jeron Grayson Most Valuable Player for City League Championship Game” and was presented a trophy from Steel City Sports World.
“All throughout the time we were working him out at kicker, he looked good,” he said. “He was getting good explosion through the ball. Good height. It just looked like he knew what he was doing. So we just felt really comfortable with sending him out there.”
Coates lives on the North Side but attends the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. So by rule, since they have no football team, he plays for his home school Perry.
The 27-yard field goal sailed through the uprights and Perry went on to claim a 9-6 victory for the league crown on a crisp Nov. 3 at Cupples Stadium on the South Side.
“This title just like are the rest are very special to all of us,” Gallagher said. “Most of our assistants are Perry guys, so it makes it special for them knowing that these young men go out there and put it all on the line to maintain the Perry tradition.”
As the winners of the city, the Commodores will move on to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (PIAA) state football championships as the Quad-A representative. They will play Erie McDowell— the winners of district X— on Nov 16 at Fairview High School, which is located in Erie County.
“They are a talented team that is very well coached,” Gallagher said of his next opponents. “They have a very prolific run game and they love to control the ball.”
The runner-up, U.S.O., will be the Triple-A representative and will play a home game at Cupples Stadium against Somerset on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
“i’m very proud of the effort that the young men of U.S.O. put forth,” U.S.O. coach Lou Berry said in a written statement. “All year long, my staff and I have stressed the importance of eliminating penalties. They were our worst enemies in the game. We picked the wrong time to beat ourselves.”
Senior linebacker Myles Catlin also admitted that his team’s five turnovers and sloppy play didn’t help matters for the Wildcats.
“We committed too many penalties and made too many mistakes,” he said. “It was a disappointing loss. We could have done way better than what we showed out there.”
U.S.O. committed 14 infractions for 136 yards.
“We did a lot of shooting ourselves in the foot in the beginning,” Gallagher added. “We weren’t doing many things to help our chances and when (senior running back) Curtis Edmonds went down, we had to find something that worked.”
Perry’s running game culminated 133 rushing yards to U.S.O.’s minus eight.
“Congratulations to coach Gallagher and his staff,” Berry said. “They did a great job preparing their kids. (I’m looking) forward to the opportunity of representing the City League on Friday night.”
(Follow our continuing coverage of City League football and add your comments to our website at newpittsburghcouier.com. Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @malikvincent.)