Steel Valley draws Beaver Falls again
Delrece Williams first got word via text message from Steel Valley defensive coordinator Shane Murray.
Several minutes later, the standout Ironmen running back received a phone call from head coach Rod Steele to reiterate the news he had just been relayed from the ballroom at the Radisson Green Tree where the WPIAL unveiled its playoff brackets at the annual football pairings meeting Monday.
Although learning Steel Valley had drawn Beaver Falls in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs came as somewhat of a surprise, for Williams his team’s matchup couldn’t have felt any more appropriate.
“I think it’s our time,” Williams said. “I think the third time is going to be a win.”
For the third time in the past four seasons the 10th-seeded Ironmen (7-2) and the seventh-seeded Tigers (8-1) will meet in the WPIAL postseason.
Beaver Falls first dispatched Steel Valley from the 2007 quarterfinals with a 30-3 victory. After missing out on the playoffs in 2008, the Ironmen took a 42-14 first-round loss against the Tigers last fall.
“I think they were just better than us the last couple years we played them,” Williams said. “We’re going to really prepare for this game and it’s going to be a heck of a game. I think it’s going to be a different outcome then the last couple years.”
“We’re determined to win,” he added. “We can’t make it a three-peat.”
For Steele and his coaching staff the playoff showdown with Beaver Falls may be new territory, but the feeling of a burgeoning rivalry between the schools was certainly apparent Monday.
“Our kids are familiar with their team and vice versa,” Steele said. “They’re familiar with our kids. It’s just a new system. Just the background on them, they’re athletic. It should be a competitive contest. I really don’t know much about them. I just know they have athletes out there.”
In Steele’s first season as coach, the longtime former Pittsburgh Central Catholic running backs coach, led the Ironmen to a third-place finish in the Century Conference regular season standings.
The staples of Steele’s team have been predicated upon a high-powered rushing attack and a punishing, run-stopping defense.
Williams, who has been recruited by several Division I collegiate programs including Connecticut, West Virginia and Michigan State, set the single-season WPIAL rushing record with 2,149 yards and 29 touchdowns during the 2010 regular season.
His lofty rushing total eclipsed the former record of Mars running back Bill Bair, who racked up 2,112 yards in 2007.
Including Bair and Williams, only one other player in the history of the WPIAL has eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark for a single regular season. Hopewell junior Rushell Shell has rushed for more than 2,000 yards each of the past two years.
“It feels pretty good,” Williams said. “It was in the regular season. I’m ready to do damage in the playoffs, so we’ll see what happens. I’m ready for the playoffs and I’m ready to rest my legs up and get ready for Beaver Falls.”
And the Tigers also will look to rely upon its own star running back once the playoffs begin later this week. Junior Trey Hall has rushed for 1,105 yards and 17 scores to lead Beaver Falls to a second-place finish in the Midwestern Conference behind Class AA’s top playoff seed Aliquippa.
“I’m anxious to get back and watch the film and get at it,” Steele said.