North Allegheny becomes first Quad-A team to win back-to-back-to back championships

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In the game of bowling, three strikes in a row is termed a “turkey” and North Allegheny (13-0) celebrated Thanksgiving Day weekend by stuffing Woodland Hills (10-3) 21-14. The Tigers became the first team in the history of Quad-A to bag the “turkey”, three straight WPIAL championships.

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OUT AT THE ONE—Elijah Zeise of North Allegheny is pushed out of bounds at the one yard line by Trevon Mathis (3) of Woodland Hills. Zeise had 5 catches for 89 yards in the Tigers 21-14 win over the Wolverines in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game.

Friday’s WPIAL title for North Allegheny was the fifth overall for Tigers coach Art Walker – three at North Allegheny and two at Central Catholic. That comes within one of the number of championships won by his father, also named Art Walker. The dad won five at Mt. Lebanon and one with Shady Side Academy.

Alex Beasley, a Woodland Hills senior linebacker, had something he’d been itching to tell any member of the media willing to listen. “Our success came because we had a family atmosphere—there were no superstars on our teams, no one thought they were better than anybody,” Beasley said. “We have a Wolverine motto and that’s ‘To achieve, you must endure.’ Nobody thought we would be where we were today.”

Woodland Hills has always been known as a team that gives excuses whenever they lose.

North Allegheny opened the scoring when Quarterback Mack Leftwich threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Zach Lyon. Woodland Hills took a 14-7 led after quarterback Cody McClelland threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to star receiver Tom Greene and freshman sensation Miles Sanders scored on a 1-yard run.

Leftwich, a Stephen F. Austin recruit and the son of a college football coach, hit Lyon for a five yard touchdown in the third quarter to tie up the game 14-14.

Gregg Garrity, whose dad is a former Penn State and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver, caught the winning 32 yard touchdown pass from Leftwich.

Elijah Zeise, son of sports writer Paul Zeise, led the Tigers in receiving yards for the second consecutive game with 89 yards on five catches.

North Allegheny’s best player is two-way lineman and Michigan recruit Pat Kugler. Kugler is a three-year starter and he is the son of Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler.

“To win 3 straight championships required a lot of work and commitment from the kids. Mack Leftwich is a quarterback who wants the ball in his hands. He has been great for us for two years,” said coach Art Walker. “We don’t care who we play next. Just tell us where we need to be and we will be there.”

The debate as to who is the greatest— WPIAL team rages on like a Rush Limbaugh monologue. If you want to find out who the best baseball hitter in history, the thing to do is go to the experts, the ones who really know the game: the players, past and present.

If you want to find out who is better Aliquippa or Clairton?

Ask former Gateway and legendary Hall of Fame coach Pete Antimarino.

That’s a question that can only be answered on the football field,” said coach Antimarino. “In 1986 North Hills was USA Today’s No. 1 team in the country and we were ranked No. 3 in the country and we settled things on the field. We knocked off North Hills to win the championship.”

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