WPIAL Class 2A championship notebook: Ironmen live up to their name
Talk about doing more with less, Steel Valley lived up to its “Ironmen” nickname, dressing just 17 players for Saturday’s title game. Nearly everyone went both ways, and when the game got out of hand, Steel Valley really didn’t have a second string to put in in its 48-6 win over South Side in the WPIAL Class 2A title game at Robert Morris’ Joe Walton Stadium.
“We started off with more than that, but some people quit,” Kam Williams said. “They decided football wasn’t their thing. We stuck together as a family and talked all year how we were the smallest team and we got to keep ballin’.”
The players have had to learn new positions and be willing to be moved around.
“It’s being able to maneuver the parts, and thank God we didn’t have to do that today,” coach Rod Steele said. “Guys have to know multiple positions in case we have to move people around. That shows the character of the football team, unselfishness, to be able to want to do that.”
Saturday’s victory was the fifth time the Ironmen brought home the gold to Homstead, West Homestead and Munhall. This is the second time in three seasons Steel Valley has won the title, joining efforts in 1982, ‘88 and ’89.
Steel Valley is now 27-19 all-time in WPIAL playoff games, including 10 wins in its last 11. The only loss was to Washington in last year’s title game.
The school came on the scene in 1971 when Homestead and Munhall merged. Across the river, Braddock, North Braddock and Rankin consolidated and East Pittsburgh was absorbed by Turtle Creek.
So on July 1, 1971, six Mon Valley high schools vanished.
Going for three
South Side was going for its third WPIAL crowns after winning in 1970 and ’99.
The 1999 team was 15-0 and won the PIAA title over perennial powerhouse Southern Columbia.
The 1970 title-game win over Chartiers-Houston was momentous because it was the final time the WPIAL determined the two title game combatants by way of Gardner Points. Not only did a school have to be unbeaten and untied in its classifications, but also had to be the two that accumulated the most Gardner Points.
Starting in 1971, the WPIAL took all unbeaten and untied teams, and the playoff fields expanded exponentially soon after.
The school was opened in 1957 and is now 13-13 all-time in WPIAL playoff games.
Poor Todd Hill.
Early in the game, he was grabbed by the waist of his pants by a South Side defender and pulled down, rear trousers and all.
WBVP Radio broadcaster Tom Hayes couldn’t resist, reminding listeners that “after all, we are in Moon Township.”
Kam Williams had 200 yards rushing Saturday, putting the senior at 2,009 yards for the season. Ronnell Lawrence now has 1,254 yards passing.
Jake McDougal finished a fine season for the Rams with 93 receiving yards Saturday, giving the senior 637 yards for the season.
Steel Valley will face District 10 champion Wilmington in the PIAA semifinals next Friday or Saturday at a time and site to be determined.
Steel Valley 48, South Side Beaver 6
Score by quarters
Steel Valley 14-7-7-20 — 48
South Side 0-0-6-0 — 6
How they scored
SV: Kam Williams 65 run (Brady Miller kick)
SV: Todd Hill 1 run (Walker kick)
SV: Williams 2 run (Miller kick)
SV: Hill 8 run (Miller kick)
SSB: Jake McDougal 8 pass from Trent Seik (kick failed)
SV: Williams 4 run (kick failed)
SV: Shaun Meadows 19 pass from Ronnell Lawrence (Hill run)
SV: Hill 1 run (kick failed)
Steel Valley South Side Beaver
First downs 19 10
Rushes-Yards 41-331 29-78
Passing yards 200 130
Passing Att-Comp-Int 9-12-0 9-18-2
Total offense Plays-yards 53-531 41-208
Punts (number-avg.) 2-22.5 4-30.5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 9-149 5-46
Possession time 24:55 23:05
Rushing: SV: Kam Williams 23-200, Todd Hill 16-118, Ronnell Lawrence 1-12, Eshawn Carter 1-6; SSB: Jake Botkin 15-70, Anthony Navarra 4-9, Derek Francheck 4-4, Jordan Bruce 2-4, Jake McDougal 2-3.
Passing: SV: Lawrence 9-12-200-0INT-1TD; SSB: Trent Seik 9-18-130-2INT-1TD
Receiving: SV: Williams 1-104, Hill 3-62, Meadows 1-19, Nahki Johnson 1-5; SSB: McDougal 7-93, Brandon Barber 2-37.
George Guido is a freelance writer.