Central Valley a powerful football machine
When the Center and Monaca school districts merged in 2010 to form the Central Valley School District, a football powerhouse was created.
In each of the Warriors’ five seasons, they have advanced to at least the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals and twice reached the championship game, winning the title in their maiden season 2010.
CV (11-0) is the top seed in the field and meets Ringgold (10-1) in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Chartiers Valley.
The Warriors have earned their top seed, as their wins include a 28-17 victory over West Allegheny (10-1), which also is in the semifinals.
Coach Mark Lyons’ team features a balanced attack led by running back Jordan Whitehead (85 carries, 1,246 yards, 16 touchdowns, 14.6 average.).
Whitehead, a Pitt recruit, has also caught 13 passes for 194 yards and 2 TDs.
The 6-0, 185-pound senior running back has accounted for 25 TDs this season, ranking him ninth in he WPIAL.
Whitehead isn’t the only offensive weapon that the Rams will need to be concerned with.
“Jordan is just an explosive athlete who is very gifted,” said Lyons. “He is very unselfish, and honestly, deserves to touch the ball 30 times a game. But our philosophy is to spread the ball around as much as we can.”
The Warriors are also bolstered by the return of quarterback John George.
George (5-11, 165) missed a portion of the season with a high ankle sprain. He has thrown for 728 yards (42-60) with 10 TDs and 2 interceptions.
George has also rushed for 243 yards and 5 TDs.
He returned to the lineup last week and helped lead the Warriors to a 41-14 win over Indiana in the quarterfinals.
Junior Chris Callaghan ran the offense in George’s absence and threw for 1,268 yards, hitting 72 of 117 passes. He has 14 TDs and just 2 interceptions.
“Callaghan got a chance to play when George was out and he really performed well,” said Lyons. “For a stretch, he was lights out. We’re not afraid to use either one of them.”
B.J. Powell (6-4, 178) has 32 receptions for 582 yards and 7 TDs. Dante Lucci (5-8, 155) has 26 receptions for 435 yards and 4 TDs. Kurt Reinstadler (5-11, 165) has 20 receptions for 391 yards and 4 TDs.
“Our strength is that we are well balanced running and passing,” Lyons said. “We don’t pass the ball because we have to. We pass it because we want to.”
In CV’s romp over Indiana in the quarterfinals, the Warriors raced to a 21-0 first quarter lead as George threw 3 TD passes and completed 7 of 14 passes for 50 yards.
Whitehead rushed for 135 yards on just 11 carries and scored twice.
Ringgold will have to be wary of the Warriors’ explosive starts as CV jumped to a 28-0 lead over Laurel Highlands in the first quarter.
In that game, Whitehead rushed for 277 yards on 9 carries, including scoring jaunts of 70, 80 and 90 yards. He also returned a kickoff 80 yards for a score.
Callaghan completed 7 of 12 passes for 115 yards, including a TD.
Looking at Ringgold, Lyons said he sees a team similar to his.
“They remind a lot of us in that they have great athletes who are dangerous in space,” he said. “Like us, they have a lot of kids they spread the ball around to who are explosive.
“We are going to have to tackle in space. We will be in space and they will be in space. Whoever does a better job of tackling will win because if you don’t, 5-yard gains turn into 70-yard gains real quick.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or [email protected].