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Looking back on an eventful football season in A-K Valley

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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
Central Catholic's John Petrishen knocks down Penn-Trafford's Zach Queen on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Norwin High School. Central Catholic won 52-34.

The local high school football season is over with three teams advancing past the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

But Plum, Highlands and Apollo-Ridge all suffered setbacks in the quarterfinals.

About the only Alle-Kiski Valley representative at Heinz Field Friday will be Lower Burrell resident John Petrishen, who plays for Central Catholic.

According to more than a few, Petrishen had his best game Friday as the Vikings eliminated Penn-Trafford, 52-34. Petrishen scored on plays of 56 and 52 yards, plus ran for 43-yard gains twice to set up touchdowns.

It’s a shame no local schools will be at Heinz Field because the endless era of Route 28 delays virtually are over and it would be an easy transportation shot for area fans.

We also saw fabulous individual performances like Duane Brown of Apollo-Ridge scoring seven TDs in a Sept. 22 game and Freeport’s Andrew Romanchak passing for 442 yards in an Oct. 17 contest.

Apollo-Ridge also accumulated the most points ever scored by a local team, 499.

In addition, we saw the end of football at Ford City and Kittanning high schools, each with a century of tradition.

The local flavor and exciting teams in the Allegheny Conference brought back memories of the old AIC, where schools rarely had to travel more than 25 miles for a game.

But just like Route 28, let’s not further delay passing out this year’s awards:

Most memorable moment

About 15 minutes after Apollo-Ridge won its first home playoff game against Beaver Falls, Tre Tipton, minus his jersey and pads, came back onto the field. He stopped at the 50 and looked at the scoreboard, knelt to say a prayer, looked at the scoreboard again, then scooped up of some Owens Field turf to commemorate his final game there.

Best game

The matchup between Apollo-Ridge and Kittanning on Sept. 12. Kittanning made up a 16-point deficit late in the fourth quarter and Apollo-Ridge won it in overtime, 44-41. Tipton and Brown combined for 518 rushing yards.

Toughest schedule

Kiski Area. Seven of the nine Cavaliers opponents made the playoffs.

Striped switcheroo

Because some of the officials assigned to the final Ford City-Kittanning game were graduates of both schools, the crew was switched with the crew assigned to the West Shamokin-Deer Lakes game — just to be sure.

Biggest surprise

The Class AA Midwestern Conference went 1-3 in the opening round of the playoffs.

Quote of the year

Kiski Area coach Dave Heavner after the winless Cavaliers played well at times against Altoona on Oct. 10: “We’re just like the band on the Titanic. We’re taking in water, but we’re still playing.”

Stat of the year

The Kittanning-Ford City rivalry ended with a 38-38-1 series record.

Aimless fact of the year:

The new Armstrong High School will be the only Pennsylvania school west of the Susquehanna River to have orange and blue school colors.

Best player you’venever heard of

Riverview senior Ray Robair. The Penn Hills transfer is 6-foot-4, 235 pounds and has a great combination of speed, power and blocking ability. Don’t be surprised if he’s a late add to a major college’s recruiting haul.

Outlook for 2015

Word is that Armstrong will be in the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference next year, while Yough could move to the Big 9 Conference with the likes of Belle Vernon and Uniontown. With Kittanning and Ford City gone, the Allegheny Conference is ready to bring back Summit Academy, a conference member for years.All that should become official at the WPIAL Board of Control meeting in December.

Next year also will be the 75th anniversary of the start of Plum football.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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