Serra Stifles Springdale for Class A Title

Article excerpt

Serra Catholic slot back Chris Loving said it was tough to catch passes Friday morning because his hands were cold.

The WPIAL trophy warmed them right up.

Loving caught a touchdown pass and Serra Catholic's defense stifled Springdale as the Eagles won their first WPIAL Class A football title in 26 years with a 10-6 victory at Heinz Field. Serra's win marked the first time in 28 years that a team outside of the Eastern Conference or Big Seven Conference won the championship. The WPIAL went to four classes in football in 1980.

No. 2-seeded Serra (13-0) held Springdale (10-2) to 75 total yards and did just enough offensively to spoil the underdog Dynamos' run.

"We found a way to win," said Serra running back/linebacker Isaiah Jackson, who had 13 tackles on defense.

Fifth-seeded Springdale, which upset No. 4 Western Beaver and No. 1 Clairton to get to the final, was seeking its fifth WPIAL title and second in five years.

All season, Serra won with offense. Yesterday, the Eagles proved they can win a defensive struggle. They have not allowed an offensive touchdown in 20 quarters.

Serra came in averaging 452 yards per game, but was limited to 258. The Eagles' lowest point total of the season was 28 last week against Monessen in a semifinal game.

"You don't win games like this, or championships, if you don't play defense," Serra coach Rich Bowen said.

Speaking of struggles, Serra knows them well, having muddled through years of losing before regaining its competitiveness. A turnaround, led by third-year coach Bowen, the quarterback of the team's previous title-winning team in 1981, appears complete.

At least at the WPIAL level.

Serra advances to the PIAA playoffs where it will play North Star (10-2) on Friday at a site and time to be determined.

"This is pretty special," Bowen said. "We have good kids and good football players and they strive to turn this program around. I think (the second championship, as a coach) is more special. As a kid, it doesn't really sink in. Years down the road, these kids will realize what they accomplished."

Springdale will take pride in the fact that it slowed down the Eagles' offense, but the Dynamos wanted badly to fulfill another surprising title run, much like they did in 2003 when they won their first title in 30 years as a No. 8 seed.

"If someone told me we would hold them to 10 points," Springdale coach Chuck Wagner said, "I'd have figured we'd win. …