WPIAL Playoff Preview

Central Valley vs West Allegheny

It was Friday night football for the ages at Heinz Field. The City of Champions was all lit up on “Light Up Night,” while across the river on the North Shore, the Central Valley Warriors lit up the scoreboard early and often, capturing the WPIAL class AAA championship with a thrilling 35-28 win over archrival West Allegheny. The Warriors jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the 1st quarter thanks to two touchdowns by Jordan Whitehead and one from quarterback John George to B.J. Powell on a 52 yard strike. This would not be the last time these two stars found the end zone.

West Allegheny, which entered the game 7-0 all-time in WPIAL championships under Coach Bob Palko, battled back. Two impressive drives led to two touchdown runs from West A. running back Chayse Dillon. CV took a 21-14 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, a George interception deep in his own territory led to another touchdown from Dillon, tying the score at 21-21.

Central Valley then responded by getting the ball in the hands of their playmaker. Late in the third quarter, George hit Whitehead on a swing pass, then Whitehead did the rest. The “human highlight reel” scampered 55 yards, breaking five tackles on his way to the house, breaking the 21 all stalemate. In this match-up of two heavyweights, the Indians answered the bell, with Terence Stephens scoring a three yard touchdown with 2:28 to play to tie it up at 28.

George, who finished the game 10 of 15 for 276 yards, saved his best completion for last. With 19 seconds left, he connected with B.J. Powell on a 23 yard touchdown pass to clinch the victory, and give Central Valley its second championship in five years. Whitehead would finish with 107 yards rushing and 179 yards receiving.

Outside of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt stars Tyler Boyd and James Conner, it can be said that Whitehead is the best player in the city of Pittsburgh. Bar none. Central Valley, now 13-0, advances in the PIAA tournament and will square off against District 10 champ Conneaut next week. That contest will be played at North Allegheny High School.

Aliquippa vs South Fayette

In the AA final, things didn’t turn out the way Aliquippa and their fans had hoped. Beaver County’s version of “Superman,” the Aliquippa Quips, ran up against their version of kryptonite. Coincidentally, they also take on the color green in the form of the South Fayette Lions. For the second consecutive year, South Fayette gave Aliquippa fits en route to a 31-22 victory in the WPIAL championship.

The Quips entered the game with #1 scoring offense and #1 scoring defense in AA. South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, the WPIAL’s all-time leading passer, dissected the Quips defense, going 24 of 35 for 352 yards and three touchdowns. In two WPIAL championship games vs. Aliquippa, Brumbaugh has thrown for 667 yards and five touchdowns.

The Lions, under head coach Joe Rossi, jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back. Junior RB Kaezon Pugh was one of the lone bright spots for Aliquippa, at least on the stat sheet. Pugh ran 24 times for 111 yards, while as a team the Quips could only muster 154 yards on the ground.

South Fayette’s physicality along the line of scrimmage made things difficult. Stephon McGinnis, a mid-season transfer from Ambridge, scored twice for the Quips, and Anthony Barton also found the end zone. South Fayette, now 13-0, will take on district 9 champ Karns City in the PIAA quarterfinals next week.

Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz

Marc is a lifelong resident of Beaver County. A 2001 graduate of Center High School and 2005 graduate of Point Park University, Marc is employed by the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and officiates high school and college football. Follow Marc on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram @marcgrando