WPIAL Class AAA semifinal capsule: Ringgold vs. Central Valley
class AAA semifinal
No. 1 Central Valley (11-0) vs. No. 5 Ringgold (10-1) 7:30 p.m. Friday at Chartiers Valley
A program that last made the WPIAL semifinals in the late 1980s squares off with an opponent that knows only long playoff runs.
While Central Valley is one game away from Heinz Field for the fifth time in as many tries, Ringgold (10-1) is a semifinalist for the first time since 1987.
“I have some players whose fathers were on that team, so it’s pretty neat,” Ringgold coach Nick Milchovich said. “We hope we won’t have to wait another 30 years to do it again, but it’s been real special this year.”
A resilient effort in the quarterfinals against No. 4 seed Hampton left Ringgold assured about its talent. The Rams prevailed 21-20 in overtime after senior quarterback Nico Law forced overtime with a 1-yard touchdown run in the final minute of regulation and scored again in the extra period.
Ringgold’s defense clinched the win as it stopped Hampton when the Talbots tried to go for a 2-point conversion following their overtime touchdown.
“That game did a lot of wonders for our confidence,” Milchovich said. “We had five turnovers, and we played pretty bad in the first half. So that game, it showed our kids that they can overcome anything if they work together. I think it sharpened our resolve.”
Steady, sound minds might be required against Central Valley. Senior do-it-all and Pitt recruit Jordan Whitehead helps break opponents’ spirits thanks to a splashy offense that averages a Class AAA-high 47.2 points.
“Our strength is that we are well balanced running and passing,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. “We don’t pass the ball because we have to. We pass it because we want to.”
The Warriors were bolstered by the late-season return of quarterback John George. He missed time with a high-ankle sprain. The senior has thrown for 728 yards with 10 TDs and two interceptions.
Of Ringgold, Lyons added: “They remind a lot of us in that they have great athletes who are dangerous in space. Like us, they have a lot of kids they spread the ball around to who are explosive.”