Local football teams exceed expectations
A great local football season came to a close last Friday with losses by Springdale and Ford City in the WPIAL semifinals.
This year exceeded expectations when it was originally thought that few local schools would compile solid seasons.
Few predicted that Deer Lakes would turn out to be the feel-good story of 2010, making the playoffs for the first time and earning home-field advantage. Businesses and residents in the Deer Lakes area had marquees and yards signs exhorting the Lancers — something I never had seen in my years of covering local sports.
Knoch went into the final night of the regular season undefeated and seemingly set new school scoring records every week.
Plum and Highlands had plenty of question marks before the season but ended up in the playoffs.
Seven teams won at least six games, including Riverview, a team that didn’t make the playoffs.
Now, who was that guy that writes for the Valley News Dispatch that said before the season that this would be the first time since 1958 that no more than three local teams would win six or more gamesâ¢ I think his name was George something?
Well, while we try to figure that one out, let’s pass along this year’s awards:
• Most memorable moment : After Deer Lakes lost its playoff game against Beaver on Nov. 5, several students and others stayed in their seats despite cold, rainy weather to give the Lancers one final ovation after their on-field, post-game huddle.
• Toughest schedule : Who was the masochist who drew up Kiski Area’s scheduleâ¢ Seven of the nine Cavaliers opponents made the playoffs — including the two Class AAAA finalists, North Allegheny and Woodland Hills — and combined for a 54-23 record.
• Biggest upset : Freeport’s 30-22 win over Jeannette in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs. It was the first Yellowjackets playoff win since 2002.
• Aimless fact of the year : To illustrate how much Valley struggled this season, the Vikings lost games in five different counties: Westmoreland, Butler, Allegheny, Indiana and Fayette.
• Best quote : Mars public address announcer Fred Shumaker, when Knoch’s defensive line gang-tackled a Mars player: “He was tackled by a round table of Knights.”
• Most continuous success story : This also marked the sixth straight decade that Freeport made the WPIAL playoffs at least once, starting with the 1960s.
• Best finish : Plum’s Ryan Garrity hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Chris Zdinak with 24 seconds left to give the Mustangs a 27-21 victory over Franklin Regional.
• Nolo contendere : Farrell must have thought it was at Conneaut Lake for a picnic instead a football game, as the Steelers earned a 78-0 win Oct. 23.
• Defensive play of the year : Freeport’s Jake Campbell ran back an interception 99 yards against Apollo-Ridge on Oct. 8.
• Outlook for 2011 : The schedules and alignments will stay the same, only the game sites will be reversed from this season. … After not having any coaching vacancies during the previous offseason, we already have three — at Apollo-Ridge, Fox Chapel and Valley. … Can Springdale make it 10 straight playoff appearancesâ¢ … Although it seemed like the school opened just yesterday, Kiski Area will play its 500th game Sept. 2. … Could 2011 be Leechburg’s last season as a WPIAL schoolâ¢ … Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the area’s most beautiful venue, Oakmont’s Riverside Park.
In the books
With another football season finished, here are the all-time records of local schools:
Apollo-Ridge(started in 1969) :1-8 in 2010;167-233-9 all-time
Deer Lakes(1969) :7-3;149-246-9
Ford City(1908) :11-1;336-430-7
F ox Chapel(1961) :1-8;191-290-8
Freeport (1922) :7-4;508-301-47
Kiski Area(1962) :2-7;274-218-7