Pat Goff remembers the day a decade ago when he watched Mt. Lebanon win the WPIAL football title.
“It’s hard to describe, but it was something special,” said Goff, who was a second-grader when he joined his family at Three Rivers Stadium to see Mt. Lebanon defeat Woodland Hills, 14-13, in that 2000 title game.
“It was definitely the talk of the town,” he said.
Ten years later, he’s the team’s starting quarterback and has helped bring that excitement back to Mt. Lebanon.
But, again, Woodland Hills stands in the way.
The teams will meet Friday night at Baldwin, this time in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAA playoffs.
“This is something I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” said Goff, who grew up watching older brother Andy play quarterback.
Mt. Lebanon, seeded second, has reached 10-0 for the first time since 1981, a title-winning year for the program. Led by 1,800-yard rusher Luke Hagy and an oversized offensive line, the Blue Devils are a fashionable pick to reach Heinz Field.
“They’re big, they’re strong, they’re physical,” Woodland Hills coach George Novak said. “They play solid football, just like us.”
Woodland Hills (7-3) has more talent than its record and a No. 7 seed would imply. Its losses were to No. 1 Central Catholic (10-0), No. 3 North Hills (9-1) and national power Manatee (9-0) of Bradenton, Fla. Manatee is ranked ninth in the nation by USA Today.
The Wolverines’ star, Pitt-bound senior Lafayette Pitts, has 21 touchdowns, including four in last week’s 45-7 victory over Norwin. He had scoring runs of 16, 3, 47 and 55 yards.
“It’s going to be a great football game,” Novak said. “I think both teams are evenly matched.”
By winning in 2000, Mt. Lebanon kept Woodland Hills from capturing four consecutive titles (1999-2002). Woodland Hills won again last season, but Mt. Lebanon hasn’t won a title since. Goff said his memories of the decade-old game are fuzzy, but he remembers one of the Woodland Hills players clearly.
“Mostly, I remember Steve Breaston running all over the place,” Goff said with a laugh.
But for many, that’s ancient history.
When these teams scrimmaged in August, Woodland Hills won. That loss taught the Blue Devils a lot about themselves.
“We had to learn to be disciplined,” Goff said. “That kind of woke us up and showed us what we needed to do to be successful.”
Since the WPIAL expanded to four classifications in 1980, Mt. Lebanon and Woodland Hills each have won five Class AAAA titles, tying them with Upper St. Clair for the most in the 30-year span.
Mt. Lebanon: 5
â¢ 1980, ’81, ’82, ’83, ’00
Woodland Hills: 5
â¢ 1996, ’99, ’01, ’02, ’09
Upper St. Clair: 5
â¢ 1988, ’89, ’92, ’97, ’06
North Hills: 4
â¢ 1982, ’85, ’87, ’93
Central Catholic: 3
â¢ 2003, ’04, ’07
*1982, ’83 and ’85 titles were shared.