Central Valley dominates Ringgold, goes for 2nd WPIAL title since 2010
Central Valley flexed its offensive, defensive and special teams muscles and exploded for five first-half touchdowns Friday as the Warriors mowed down Ringgold, 41-13, in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals at Chartiers Valley.
Central Valley advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA final Friday against West Allegheny at Heinz Field.
This marks the Warriors’ second consecutive trip to the finals. They won the title in 2010.
Winning the coin toss but deferring until the second half, top-seeded Central Valley (12-0) recovered its opening squib kick to set the offense in gear. Five plays and 1 minute, 54 seconds later, Pitt recruit Jordan Whitehead scored on a 6-yard run. Whitehead rushed for 90 yards on 11 first-half carries.
After a Ringgold punt, the Warriors drove 80 yards in nine plays, with Preston Johnson capping the drive with a 2-yard run.
“We wanted to keep it away from their big-play guys,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said, referring to the unusual kickoff. “We were fortunate to cover the ball, and that put us in good field position to start the game.”
Ringgold coach Nick Milchovich agreed, noting his team (10-2) was immediately in the hole, “especially against an offense as potent as Central Valley. That play set the tone for the entire game.”
Early in the second quarter, Johnson blocked a Ringgold punt. That set up a two-play, 19-yard scoring drive as Whitehead bounced off Ringgold tacklers for an 18-yard touchdown run.
“Another big play for us,” Lyons said, referring to the blocked punt. “We were up by two touchdowns, but that was a key play, setting up another score. That added to our momentum.”
After Central Valley’s Luke Kusler recovered a Ringgold fumble midway through the second period, quarterback John George connected with Chase Maladin on a 6-yard pass for a 28-0 lead. With 1:43 remaining in the half, Whitehead intercepted a Ringgold pass to key a seven-play 87-yard drive, capped by George’s 6-yard run.
In the first half, Central Valley’s offense piled up 339 yards — 192 on the ground and 147 passing — while the defense held Ringgold to 45 yards on the ground and 56 passing. Central Valley had 14 first downs before halftime and limited the Rams to three.
George completed 10 of 15 first-half passes in the first half for 147 yards and one touchdown.
“We just couldn’t mount any effective offense,” Milchovich said. “They can run, throw, and they are physical. Regardless of classification, that may be the best team in the WPIAL.”
Central Valley upped its lead to 41-0 when backup quarterback Chris Callaghan scored on a 4-yard run at 7:56 of the third quarter. Ringgold got on the scoreboard at 10:30 of the fourth when Chacar Berry scored on a 6-yard run. Reserve Ringgold quarterback George Martin finished the scoring with a 2-yard run.
“Our goal was to get the ball to our playmakers,” Lyons said.
Les Harvath is a freelance writer.