Top-ranked Central Valley routs Indiana, eases into semifinals
One quarterback stepped up while the other sat out, and that made all the difference in Central Valley’s 41-14 victory over Indiana in a WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal at Butler’s Art Bernardi Stadium.
Central Valley senior John George, who sat out last week’s game with an ankle injury, completed 8 of 15 passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’m feeling all right,” George said. “Some other players are banged up, too. You just have to step up and make plays.”
Jordan Whitehead added 127 yards rushing and accounted for three touchdowns, including a 42-yard catch-and-run from George in the second quarter.
George also had touchdown passes of 11 yards to Kurt Reinstadtler and 20 yards to Joey Shively in the first quarter.
After racing to a 35-0 halftime lead, Whitehead and George sat out the second half.
“Our guys had a great week of practice,” Warriors coach Mark Lyons said. “We were completely prepared for whatever they showed us. I tell you what, we got after it.”
Top-ranked Central Valley (11-0) will take on No. 5 Ringgold, a winner over Hampton, in the semifinals.
Since the school’s creation in 2010, the Warriors have advanced to the semifinals every year.
“It’s a tribute to our players,” Lyons said. “It’s something that they started. It’s something they’ve committed to and want to get after. Nobody wants to be that group that doesn’t follow the tradition.”
Indiana, meanwhile, has lost to the top seed in the quarterfinals in three of the past five seasons.
Indiana (7-4) was missing junior quarterback Jacob Zilinskas, who suffered a concussion last week against West Mifflin. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior passed for more than 1,600 yards and had 17 touchdowns this season.
Without him, the Little Indians suffered through a slow start. Replacement Dylan Stapleton, a converted wide receiver, missed his first three passes. Ryan Watters lost 8 yards on his first two carries, while John Gatti was unable to gain a yard despite carrying the ball twice.
Stapleton did have his moments later on, including a 38-yard strike to older brother Riley that set up a 5-yard scoring run by Dylan in the fourth quarter.
“To come in and not really have any game reps and get in a situation like this, I thought he had a lot of composure,” Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas, Jacob’s father, said of Dylan Stapleton. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way he prepared this week and went out and competed this week.”
Gatti’s 90-yard interception return in the third quarter got the Indians on the board.