Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

West Allegheny-Blackhawk: Clean, Mean Football Rivalry

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

West Allegheny-Blackhawk: Clean, Mean Football Rivalry

Article excerpt

The word rivalry conjures up images of trash-talking, finger- pointing, cheap-shot-taking players on teams that don't like each other.

West Allegheny and Blackhawk are football rivals in the Class AAA Parkway Conference, but on a different level.

"There's no trash talking or anything like that when we play each other," West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said. "There's no animosity between the coaching staffs or anything like that.

"I've gotten to be friends with a lot of guys on [Blackhawk coach] Joe Hamilton's staff and they're all good people. We want to beat each other, but afterward we shake hands and tell each other 'Nice game and good luck the rest of the way,' and that's it. There's no bad blood."

Blackhawk and West Allegheny will square off Friday at 7:30 p.m. at West Allegheny's Joe P. DeMichela Stadium in a contest that could decide the Parkway Conference title. Both teams are 4-0 overall, with West Allegheny 2-0 in the conference and Blackhawk 1-0.

Although Moon and Hopewell can't be ignored in the Parkway battle, the Blackhawk-West Allegheny winner will have a leg up on winning the conference title and earning a spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

One definition of a rival is also, "To possess qualities or aptitudes that approach or equal those of another." Palko, in his 11th season as West Allegheny's coach, is a big admirer of Hamilton and what he has accomplished at Blackhawk and in coaching. In that context, they're rivals.

"What's he got, something like 270 wins? That's amazing, and just think of all the kids he's helped along the way and molded into men," Palko said of Hamilton. "You talk to his former players and they all love the guy. To me, that's more important than the wins."

True, but Palko would like nothing better than to pin a loss on the Cougars this week. That won't be easy because Blackhawk has one of the best backs in the WPIAL in Jeremy Bruce and a solid team around him.

Bruce, a West Virginia recruit, has 590 yards rushing on 86 carries. In Blackhawk's 10-0 victory against West Mifflin Saturday, he was held to 39 yards on 19 carries.

While that showed Bruce can be contained, it also illustrated that Blackhawk doesn't need him to have a big game to win. …

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