WPIAL Finals Produce Four Undefeated Champions1
By Rick Smith, Nauticom Sports Network
WPIAL Finals Produce Four Undefeated
By: Rick Smith, Nauticom Sports Network
Photos by Pete Gyrich
|Waynesburg Raiders celebrate
the school's first-ever WPIAL title
Five teams came into the WPIAL football finals last Saturday
at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh with undefeated records.
Four emerged unblemished. South Side Beaver (13-0) started the
day of gridiron fun by winning the Class A final, 21-14, over
Monaca (10-3). Waynesburg (13-0) pounded Washington (11-2), 30-3,
to claim the Class AA crown. West Allegheny (12-0) rolled to a
37-12 win over Belle Vernon (11-1). In the nightcap, Woodland
Hills (13-0) topped McKeesport (8-5), 21-7. For South Side
Beaver, Waynesburg, and Woodland Hills, it was their second
victory this season over their respective opponents. Only
Waynesburg, a #3 seed, was not the top dog in its bracket. Over
25,000 fans enjoyed the four title games.
Before the morning dew had dried, South Side Beaver was locked
in a scoreless defensive struggle late in the first half of
action when Dave Brandon blocked a punt by Monaca punter Todd
DiBacco. Brandon scooped up the loose ball and raced 24 yards to
make the score 6-0 in favor of the Rams.
|The Rams' Dave
"Coach (Glenn McDougal) told me he knew I had a chance to
block it," said Brandon.
"The block gave us momentum," said McDougal.
Monaca was unable to gain a first down on its next possession
and the Rams took advantage of good field position following
another Monaca punt. The Rams quickly drove 43 yards in 5 plays
to add another touchdown just 37 seconds before halftime. Cory
Boyd scored from 2 yards out to make the score 12-0. It was the
junior fullback's 26th touchdown of the campaign.
"The other players call him The Truck," said
McDougal of the 5'7" 212 pound Boyd, "He loves to run
South Side's Sean McCune, the holder on the extra point, ran a
fake into the endzone for the two point conversion to give the
Rams a 14-0 cushion at the intermission.
Monaca appeared primed to mount a comeback on the initial
possession of the third quarter. The Indians drove 68 yards on 16
plays to the South Side 5 yard line. Unfortunately for the
Indians, however, they could not capitalize as third down and
goal and fourth down and goal passes were both overthrown. The
unsuccessful drive consumed 8:30 from the clock.
"When they didn't score, that was in our favor because
they ate up all that time," said McDougal.
Tiller makes tackle
South Side quickly exploded for the back breaker. The Rams
took only 5 plays and 2:46 off the clock to travel the 95 yards
for a 21-0 lead. Dan Nale scored on a thrilling 71 yard run for
what turned out to be the game winning score with 44 seconds
remaining in the third stanza. Nale, a 6' 160 pound senior,
finished the game with 108 yards on just five rushes.
|Dan Nale gets a
Monaca wasn't ready to go down without a fight. The Indians
scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to make things very
uncomfortable for McDougal and his Rams down the stretch. Mike
Rossi caught a 23 yard touchdown pass from Noah McKay with 9:18
remaining in the game to cut the advantage to 21-7.
|Monaca's Mike Rossi scores
With South Side Beaver poised to run out the clock, the
Indians' Matt Phillips wrestled the ball away from Nale and
rambled 84 yards to cut the Rams lead to 7 points. The Rams were
understandably shocked by the play.
"What the heck happened?" was McDougal's reaction,
"That play makes it a little too exciting."
"What's going on?" Brandon asked himself, "I
couldn't believe it happened."
Soon thereafter, the South Side players and fans breathed a
collective sigh of relief as Adam Cilli jumped on the Monaca
on-side kick. The Rams ran out the remaining two minutes on the
clock and South Side had its second WPIAL championship. The last
District 7 title for the Rams was won back in 1970.
|Raiders' Lanfer Simpson scores
While the Class A final tightened up in the fouth quarter, the
exact opposite was true of the Class AA title game. Waynesburg
made its first-ever trip to the WPIAL championship game a
After Washington gained the initial lead in the contest with a
32 yard field goal by Justin Gregula, it was all Waynesburg.
|Prexies' Vontey Johnson is
|down by Waynesburg's Bryce
The Raiders grabbed a 10-3 halftime lead on the stength of a 6
yard touchdown run and 32 yard field goal by Lanfer Simpson. The
6'1" 235 pound junior has rushed for 1,452 yards and 20
touchdowns this season. It was his second field goal this year.
A swarming Raiders defense never let the Prexies get close in
the second half. Led by senior linebacker Greg Carson, Waynesburg
recorded 7 quarterback sacks and caused 4 second half Washington
turnovers. Carson finished the game with 3 sacks on the
afternoon. The Raiders defense only allowed Washington 96 total
yards on 56 plays from scrimmage.
|Raiders' Lee Fritz takes
|Justin Martinchek for a ride
The first two Raider touchdowns of the second half both
followed Washington fumbles. Simpson scored his second touchdown
of the game from 9 yards out with 2:59 remaining in the third
quarter and quarterback Lee Fritz, a 6'2" 180 pound junior,
raced in from 30 yards out to give Waynesburg a 23-3 lead midway
through the final quarter. Fritz rushed for 74 yards on 9 totes.
Simpson, also a top-notch heavyweight wrestler for Waynesburg,
added a 1 yard touchdown plunge in the final minute of the game
for his third tally. He finished the contest with 100 yards on 20
his third touchdown
Perhaps the must heavily publicized game heading into
Saturday's WPIAL championship games was the Class AAA match-up.
Both West Allegheny and Belle Vernon entered the game with
undefeated 11-0 marks and most pundits expected a barn burner.
West Allegheny quickly deflated the hopes of those
anticipating a memorable game. The Indians' offense, overshadowed
all season long by one of the state's top defenses, scored early
and often to quickly turn the game into a laugher.
West Allegheny scored on its first possession of the game on a
7 yard touchdown run by junior tailback Kellen Campbell to give
the Indians a 7-0 lead. It took West Allegheny only 3 plays and 1
minute to travel 63 yards for the score. The big play was a 51
yard strike from sophomore quarterback Tyler Palko to Allen
Miller on the first play from scrimmage for the Indians.
Allegheny's Allen Miller
West Allegheny scored again early in the second quarter to
double its advantage. Again it was Campbell with a 1 yard plunge.
Following a 30 yard field goal by the Indians' Derek Javarone,
Palko and Miller again hooked up for a big play. This time it was
for a 12 yard touchdown pass, a beautiful over the shoulder catch
by Miller, that gave West Allegheny a 24-0 lead.
tailback Kellen Campbell scores one of his three TDs
Palko added a second touchdown pass in the second half on a 61
yard reception by Chris Leonard. Palko, a 6'2" 200 pounder,
finished the evening with 7 completions on 9 attempts for 183
yards. The future blue-chip prospect did not throw an
Belle Veron scored on two Josh Cramer to Cameron Totedo
touchdown passes. The first came on a 16 yard toss with 12
seconds remaining in the first half and a 9 yarder midway through
the third quarter. Nick Kalcevic rushed for 150 yards on 19
carries for the Leopards. The junior tailback finished his season
with 2,135 yards on the ground.
|Leopards' Nick Kalcevic on the
Kellen Campbell added a third touchdown run, this one from 4
yards out, for the game's final score early in the fourth
quarter. Campbell rushed for 92 yards on 16 carries.
The win gave West Allegheny its second WPIAL championship in
The final game of the evening featured rivals from the WPIAL's
Quad East Conference. Despite a 21-0 loss to Woodland Hills
during week #8 of the regular season, the play of McKeesport
quarterback Cecil Howard during three previous playoff games gave
the Tigers reason to be optimistic going into the game. Howard
had amassed over 750 yards on the ground running out of the
McKeesport triple option offense during those three contests.
But it was the Woodland Hills' defense that would ultimately
earn the accolades by limiting Howard to 77 yards on 17 carries
during the game.
Woodland Hills, despite sputtering on offense throughout the
first half, took a 7-0 lead into halftime. On their last
possession of the half, it was the Wolverines' passing game that
set up a 3 yard touchdown run by quarterback Shawntae Spencer.
First, Spencer hit senior wideout Jason Russell on a 31 yard
pass. The key play of the drive, however, came later in the drive
on a pass interference penalty committed against Woodland Hills'
receiver Rafael Smith inside the McKeesport 5 yard line.
Shawntae Spencer scores from 3 yards out
Smith extended the Wolverines' lead to 14-0 on a 48 yard bomb
from Spencer that left the Woodland Hills fans covered in
confetti with 2:19 left in the third quarter. Woodland Hills'
soon-to-be-famous Confetti Crew is making quite a name for itself
in the postseason!
Hills Confetti Crew celebrates a Wolverines' score
Woodland Hills took advantage of a McKeesport fumble late in
the game for its final score. It took the Wolverines just 5 plays
to drive 24 yards to gain a 21-0 lead with 1:47 left on the game
clock. Tailback Maurice Walker did the honors with a 5 yard
touchdown scamper off right tackle.
McKeesport's only score was on the ensuing kickoff on an 87
yard kickoff return by junior Jamie Goodwin.
Anthony Gallaher gets a tackle
All four WPIAL champions now advance to the state playoffs for
semi-final games this weekend. South Side will take on District 6
champion Bishop Carroll (13-0) Friday night at 7pm at Altoona's
Mansion Park Stadium in the Class A Western final. In Class AA,
Waynesburg will face District 6 champion Tyrone (13-0) at West
Mifflin High School on Friday at 7pm. West Allegheny travels to
Pittsburgh's South Stadium to face District 8 champ Perry (9-3)
for a 1pm Saturday kickoff in the Class AAA Western final. In a
much anticipated Class AAAA clash, Woodland Hills will battle
with District 10 titlist Erie Cathedral Prep (12-0) at Hempfield
High School on Friday night at 7pm.