WPIAL Class 5A final notebook: Penn Hills claims 1st title since ’95 |

WPIAL Class 5A final notebook: Penn Hills claims 1st title since ’95

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penn Hills’ Richard Martin dives into the end zone to score past West Allegheny’s Paul Newton during the WPIAL Class 5A championship game Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, at Norwin High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Marco LeDonne, son of Penn Hills coach Jon LeDonne, carries the WPIAL Class 5A championship trophy from the field game after the Indians defeated West Allegheny Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, at Norwin High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penn Hills’ Dante Cephas scores past West Alllegheny’s Kyle Marett during the WPIAL Class 5A championship game Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, at Norwin High School.

Penn Hills captured its fifth WPIAL title Friday night with a 28-18 win over West Allegheny.

The school won previous titles in 1976, ’77, ’78 and ’95. Penn Hills is now 35-30 all-time in WPIAL playoff games. Two of the titles were won in facilities that no longer exist — Pitt Stadium (1978) and Three Rivers Stadium (1995).

A Class 5A school this year, it marks the first time since 1938 that Penn Hills had not played in the largest enrollment classification. The school, then known as Penn Township, inaugurated football in 1937 and grew quickly.

As for West Allegheny, the school was going for its 10th WPIAL title, all coming since 1997. The school is 44-16 all-time in WPIAL playoff games. The school came on the scene in 1949, but never qualified for the WPIAL playoffs until 1993.

West Allegheny will begin the post-Bob Paklo era next season with Kim Niedbala, the former Western Beaver standout, at the Indians helm.

Making the most of least

The key third-quarter scoring by Penn Hills was done in quick fashion. The Indians had the ball just 2 minutes, 19 seconds and scored two touchdowns.

West Allegheny had the ball for 9:41 and was held scoreless, including on a 12-play drive to start the half that came up empty when John McArdle had a field goal attempt blocked by Dante Cephas.

Coming up with the stops

Devyn Best led Penn Hills in tackles with 10, while Armand Gustave was in on three of the five sacks for the Big Red defense. Vandamia led West Allegheny with five stops.

Up next

Penn Hills will play Philadelphia-area power Archbishop Wood in the PIAA semifinals next weekend. Wood has won the first two PIAA Class 5A titles and is shooting for its sixth state title of the decade.

It will be the first PIAA game for the Indians since 1995, when Penn Hills defeated Lower Dauphin, 35-14, to win the state crown. The PIAA did not sponsor football playoffs when the Indians won their 1970s championships.

Scoring summary

Penn Hills 28, West Allegheny 18

Score by quarters

Penn Hills 0-6-8-14 — 28

West Allegheny 0-10-0-8 — 18

How they scored

WA: John McArdle 38 field goal

WA: Drevon Baldwin 13 pass from Kam Kruze (McArdle kick)

PH: Dante Cephas 56 pass from Hollis Mathis (pass failed)

PH: Tank Martin 15 run (Daequan Hardy run)

PH: Cephas 65 pass from Mathis (Mathis pass from Daequan Hardy)

PH: Richard Martin 13 pass from Mathis (pass failed)

WA: Mateo Vandamia 56 pass from Kruze (Nico Flati pass from Kruze)

Team statistics

Penn Hills West Allegheny

First downs 18 18

Rushes-Yards 27-144 38-101

Passing yards 204 220

Passing Att-Comp-Int 9-17-1 15-26-0

Total offense Plays-yards 44-348 66-321

Punts (number-avg.) 1-32.0 2-26.0

Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-0

Penalties-yards 6-58 8-95

Possession time 17:41 30:18

Individual statistics

Rushing: PH: Tank Smith 13-79, Hollis Mathis 8-49, Ayinde Parker 3-8, Anthony Grimes 1-5, Daequan Hardy 2-3; WA: Nico Flati 10-49, Kyle Guilfoil 1-29, Dante Flati 9-15, Kam Kruze 18-15

Passing: PH: Mathis 9-17-204-1INT-3TD; WA: Kruze 13-23-211-0INT-2TD, Gavin Miller 2-3-11-0INT-0TD, D. Flati 1-1-minus 2-0INT-0TD

Receiving: PH: Dante Cephas 3-144, Hardy 4-33, Martin 2-27; WA: Mateo Vandamia 4-104, Drevon Baldwin 4-46, N. Flati 3-36, Guilfoil 3-76, Kyle Marrett 1-minus 2

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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