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