Plenty of respect between Parkway Conference rivals
Something is going to give when Central Valley and West Allegheny meet for the WPIAL Class AAA championship at 8 p.m. Friday at Heinz Field.
Since the playoffs began, both squads have blown out any opponent put in front of them. Top seed Central Valley has racked up 130 points and allowed 53, with many of those points allowed by backups at the end of the game. The Indians have outscored the opposition 116-21.
Like the way each team piles up points, the amount of admiration lobbed back and forth has been plentiful as well.
“They’re a heck of a football team and hitting on all cylinders right now,” West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said.
Said Central Valley quarterback John George: “They do everything well and they play very hard, especially now in the playoffs. Every aspect of the game, they do well.”
The respect each team has for its Parkway Conference rival has been earned.
West Allegheny (11-1) is going for its third straight WPIAL title. The Indians won it last season by defeating Central Valley, 16-6.
“They beat us last year, and that was one of the worst feelings,” George said. “We don’t want to feel that again.”
The all-time series between the schools is 3-3 after the Warriors (12-0), going for their second championship since the school’s inception in 2010, scored a 28-17 victory in the last week of the regular season.
The Warriors feature Pitt cornerback recruit Jordan Whitehead, who has averaged 14 yards per carry en route to 1,360 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns this season. He also has 235 yards receiving and is an electrifying kick returner.
“He’s a special young man, he really is,” Palko said. “You don’t get many guys like that, and they take advantage of what he does real well.”
George has been hobbled by a high left-ankle sprain for most of the season, but after passing for more than 100 yards in each of the past two playoff games, he is rounding into form just in time. His main targets are B.J. Powell (649 yards, 7 TDs) and Dante Lucci (455, 4 TDs).
While the Warriors are a big-play offense that can strike at any time, West Allegheny is a more methodical squad.
“They can score anytime from anywhere,” Palko said. “Sometimes we have to work for it.”
The experienced Indians offense, which may use the wildcat formation at Heinz Field, features quarterback Andrew Koester, a St. Francis (Pa.) recruit who has passed for 1,211 yards and 15 scores against four interceptions. Running backs Chayse Dillon (929 yards, 18 TDs) and Terence Stephens (764, 13 TDs) have more than 100 carries apiece.
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.