Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Central Valley Was Special in Semifinal

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Central Valley Was Special in Semifinal

Article excerpt

It would be difficult to dispute just how good the Central Valley offense has been this season.

With weapons including 1,300-yard rusher and Pitt recruit Jordan Whitehead, a quarterback in John George who has thrown for nearly 900 yards despite an injury-plagued campaign, and his backup, Chris Callaghan, who came off the bench to throw for nearly 1,250, it's easy to see why the Warriors lead Class AAA with 560 points, a 46.7 points-per-game average.

Even with such a dominant attack, though, Central Valley (12-0) wouldn't be making a trip to Heinz Field Friday at 8 p.m. to take on Parkway Conference rival and two-time defending champion West Allegheny (11-1) in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game if it weren't for outstanding efforts on the team's defense and special teams.

"This time of year, you're going to have to play good defense, but the bottom line is that it does get overlooked because we score a lot of points at times," Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. "But you need defense because, when you play this late in the season, you're playing against some special athletes and pretty good teams and you've got to have defensive stops."

In the regular-season meeting against West Allegheny, Central Valley fell behind, 14-0, in the first five minutes, but the Warriors recovered to limit the Indians to 188 total yards and eight first downs in what turned into a 28-17 victory.

That game emphasized how good the Central Valley defense is -- and will have to be again at 8 Friday night -- against a team that is second to the Warriors in the classification, averaging 43.2 per game. Central Valley's semifinal victory against Ringgold, though, swung the spotlight deservedly onto its special teams.

"It's important and coaches say it all the time and it's a clich 3; that it's a third of the game, but we work on it daily," Lyons said. "It's part of our practice plan and we don't take guys out. We use our top guys in special teams."

Their emphasis on the kicking game could not have been more evident than in the Warriors' 41-13 win against Ringgold in the semifinals. …

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