WPIAL championships loaded with upsets

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South Fayette high octane offense too much for Aliquippa

BRETT BRUMBRAUGH (7) South Fayette's junior quarterback did not let the conditions at Heinz Field bother him as he threw for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Lions 34-28 win over Aliquippa in the WPIAL Class AA championship game.

BRETT BRUMBRAUGH (7) South Fayette’s junior quarterback did not let the conditions at Heinz Field bother him as he threw for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Lions 34-28 win over Aliquippa in the WPIAL Class AA championship game. (Courier Photo by William McBride)

Brett Brumbaugh lived up to his billing.  The South Fayette (13-0) quarterback, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior who was named player of the year in the Century Conference, picked apart Aliquippa’s (12-1) defense.

Brumbaugh, who eclipsed 3,000 yards for the season, completed 16 of 35 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns.

The Quips were going for their 16th WPIAL title and making their sixth consecutive trip to the finals.  Aliquippa, the No. 1 ranked Class AA team in the state, had its hopes of winning a third straight WPIAL championship end on a controversial call.

Brumbaugh threw a 19 yard pass to Conner Beck at the one yard line with 2:48 left in the game.  Dravon Henry drilled Beck at the goal line and knocked the ball loose.

TERRY SWANSON (12) of Aliqiuppa takes one to the house for 1 of his 3 touchdowns , but it was not enough as the Quips lost 34-28 to South Fayette in the WPIAL Class AA championship game.

TERRY SWANSON (12) of Aliqiuppa takes one to the house for 1 of his 3 touchdowns , but it was not enough as the Quips lost 34-28 to South Fayette in the WPIAL Class AA championship game. (Courier Photo by William McBride)

Since there is no instant replay in high school football, the officials provided the decision.  The referee at the goal line was holding his hands skyward, indicating a touchdown and a 34-28 South Fayette victory.

“Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac took the high road when asked about the controversial finish.

“It appeared to me it should have been an incomplete pass,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said.  “But I’m not an official, just a coach.  They have a tough enough job to do without us parsing every call they make.”

Terry Swanson led all rushers with 166 yards and 3 touchdowns. Swanson finished the season with 1,704 yards.

Aliquippa took a 22-20 lead with 1:18 left in the third when junior quarterback Darrien Fields threw a 9 yard touchdown to junior receiver Patrick Anderson.  Anderson gained 122 yards on four receptions for the Quips.

J.J. Walker scored on a 7 yard run to put the Lions up 27-22.

Patrick Anderson (9) of Aliquippa runs by Justin Watson(5) of South Fayette for a nice gain of yards, Anderson had 4 catches for 122 yards and 1 touchdown in the WPIAL Class AA championship game. (Photos by William McBride)

Patrick Anderson (9) of Aliquippa runs by Justin Watson(5) of South Fayette for a nice gain of yards, Anderson had 4 catches for 122 yards and 1 touchdown in the WPIAL Class AA championship game. (Courier Photo by William McBride)

Swanson scored on a 29 yard run to put the Quips ahead 28-27, before Beck’s controversial catch broke the hearts of all the Beaver Valley fans.

Zmijanac kept the loss in perspective for his players.

“If losing this game is the worst thing that happens to them, then they’ll live a really good life,” Zmijanac said.

Stairway to seven

West Allegheny coach Bob Palko became the first coach in WPIAL history to win seven WPIAL titles.  They have been crowning WPIAL champions since 1914 and not coach has won more than six outright titles.

Palko is in his 19th season as West Allegheny’s coach and he is 7-0 in title games.

West Allegheny (13-0) defeated Central Valley (11-2), 16-6, to win their second consecutive WPIAL Class AAA championship Saturday night at Heinz Field.

Warriors got on the scoreboard first when Preston Johnson scored from one yard out to take a 6-0 lead in the second quarter.  Tony Delmonico 3 yard touchdown run gave the Indians a 7-6 lead and they never looked back.

Central Valley’s Jordan Whitehead, is one of the most explosive players in the WPIAL and he was held to 31 total yards.

D.J. Opsatnik, a freshman kicker, scored a game-high 10 points Saturday night in helping West Allegheny beat Central Valley.  He connected on field goals of 30, 32 and 24 yards.

Before Saturday night, Opsatnik had kicked 55 PATs and six field goals as a freshman.

“We don’t even think of him as a freshman anymore,” Palko said.  “We knew he was special when he was in eighth grade.”

West Allegheny quarterback Andrew Koester passed for more than 1,000 yards entering the WPIAL title game, and he added to that totals on Saturday with 120 yards through the air.  Koester, is a 6-foot-4 junior, who will be heavily recruited in 2014.

Central Catholic pays attention ot details

The old adage that defense wins championships was proven accurate again Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field.

The Central Catholic’s (13-0) defense calls themselves the “chain gang”, and they held Woodland Hills (10-3) to 85 yards rushing on 39 carries and 141 total yards and an easy 27-7 victory.

“Coach Fleming instills a tenacity in us and the will that we don’t stop,” Central Catholic linebacker Niko Thorpe said.  “Everybody is running around every play.  We’ve all bought into it.”

Dave Fleming was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator and Fleming’s aim is to build a defense with a nasty streak, which shouldn’t be a problem since the players are more like their coach.

The Vikings took a 7-0 lead when Luigi Lista-Brinza ran 13 yards for a touchdown.

The Central Catholic coaches preached to their players to always pay attention to details and it finally paid off.

The Vikings’ punter Riley Redman kicked the football sideways and the wind prevented the ball from crossing the line of scrimmage.  The ball continued to roll backwards when Graham Adomitis picked up the football and ran 66-yards for a touchdown.

“Everybody on our sideline was asking what just happened?” Thorpe said.  “Plays like that don’t happen ever.  That was a big momentum shift.”

Central led 20-0 at halftime.

“I can’t say that I knew the rule, but I’d seen this once before in my 30 years,” Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said.  “Credit the referree’s for knowing the rule and Graham for picking it up.”

Lista-Brinza rushed for 136 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Talented senior quarterback Harry Randell scored Woodland Hills only touchdown on a one yard run.

Sewickley resident Shafer Swann, son of former Steelers great Lynn Swann, hoisted the championship trophy.  Swann, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior wide receiver now has some bragging rights.

“I don’t know if this is a special group yet,” said coach Totten.  “If they want to be special then they have to come to practice on Monday ready to work.  If they want to join some of our great teams they have to continue to work.”

Lynn Swann and Chuck Noll couldn’t have said it any better.

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