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Scholastic Notebook
By Rich Emert
Valley News Dispatch

For the entire football season Woodland Hills and coach George Novak have been the hunted. Friday night in the PIAA Class AAAA western final, the Wolverines will be the hunter.

Woodland Hills (13-0) plays Erie Cathedral Prep (12-0) at 7 p.m. at Hempfield High School for the right to represent the west in the PIAA championship game Dec. 11 against either Central Bucks West or Bethlehem Catholic. Those two teams will play 1 p.m. Saturday at Lehigh University. Cathedral Prep is ranked No. 2 in the state behind two-time defending PIAA champion Central Bucks West, and is No. 14 nationally.

"They are a very good football team with plenty of speed," Novak said. "They have plenty of speed on defense, especially at the cornerbacks."

Cathedral Prep's defense has allowed just 59 points and is led by junior linebacker Joe Dipre, who is 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, and end Charles Rush, who checks in at 6-3, 275. Offensively, running back Demond Sanders and quarterback Eric Carlson are the leaders.

"Joe Moore (former Pitt and Notre Dame assistant) runs their defense and does a great job,'' Novak said. "Offensively, they do a lot of the same things we do. They're a very good football team."

Cathedral Prep hasn't been challenged much this season. It defeated Hollidaysburg 27-0 last weekend and has scored 570 points. The most points it has allowed in a game this season is 14 and that was in a 54-14 victory against Schenley.

Woodland Hills, meanwhile, was favored to capture the WPIAL title since the start of the season, but struggled at times. It just got past Franklin Regional 17-14 and defeated McKeesport 21-7 in the WPIAL final.

"After winning the WPIAL championship our players needed something to get them excited," Novak said. "Playing a nationally ranked team has kept their attention."

This will be the second consecutive year Cathedral Prep has advanced to the PIAA western final. The Ramblers were edged by New Castle 27-25 last year. Woodland Hills played in the PIAA final. Woodland Hills went to the PIAA final in 1996, losing to Downingtown 49-14.

Class AAA: Two years ago, West Allegheny won the WPIAL title and played Perry Traditional Academy in the PIAA western final at South Stadium. Perry defeated the Indians, 29-17, and then went on to lose to Berwick 17-14 in the PIAA final. West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said his players were just happy to win the WPIAL title in 1997. That isn't the case this year.

"They want more," he said. "Most of the year they've talked about playing 15 games. To do that, we'd have to go to the state final. That's what they are after."

West Allegheny (12-0) plays Perry (9-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday at South Stadium. Perry was defeated by Oliver, 20-14, in the City League playoffs but has since downed Greenville and Bellefonte.

Perry doesn't have a lot of size but does have speed to burn. William Graham is the Commodores leading rusher with 836 yards on 159 carries. Wingback Owen Macklin has caught 41 passes for 694 yards.

Perry's problem will be trying to solve West Allegheny's defense that has allowed just 36 points. The Indians kept Belle Vernon's high-powered offense under wraps in a 36-12 victory in the WPIAL title game. The Perry-West Allegheny winner will play either Stath Haven or Manheim Central at 7 p.m. Dec. 10.

Class AA: Tyrone and Waynesburg are both undefeated and led by powerful running games. They will meet in the PIAA Class AA western final at 7 p.m. Friday at West Mifflin. The winner plays either Northern Lehigh or Mount Carmel in the PIAA final at noon Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

Tyrone is paced by junior standout Jesse Jones who has rushed 292 times for 2,091 yards and has scored 35 touchdowns. Waynesburg is led by Lanfer Simpson, who has gained 1,452 yards on 196 carries. The Raiders also have slick sophomore quarter Lee Fritz who has run for 726 yards and passed for another 909.

This is the first time in a western final for Waynesburg. Tyrone has been here before, beating Aliquippa 14-13 in 1996 before losing to Mount Carmel 25-6 in the PIAA final.

Class A: Bishop Carroll and South Side Beaver are also undefeated after 13 games and meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.

Bishop Carroll's offensive leader is Chad Schilling who has rushed for 1,361 yards on 147 attempts. Anthony Piccioni has kept opponents honest by gaining 657 yards on 92 carries.

South Side Beaver's leading rusher is Cory Boyd who has 1,154 yards on 173 carries. Quarterback Sean McCune has rushed for 840 yards on 133 attempts and passed for 989 yards.

The winner will meet either Tri-Valley or Southern Columbia in the PIAA championship game at 2 p.m. Dec. 10 at Hersheypark Stadium.

On the air: All of the western finals can be heard on the Nauticom Sports Network.