Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Is Central Issue in Playoffs

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Is Central Issue in Playoffs

Article excerpt

When Central Catholic brings its "A" game to the field, there's not a team in WPIAL Class AAAA the Vikings are incapable of beating. It's going to take that top-level of play Friday night when the Vikings take on Upper St. Clair in a quarterfinal matchup.

In a first-round game last week against Penn-Trafford, the Vikings (8-2) had to rally to secure a 30-27 victory. In its seven regular-season victories, however, Central Catholic outscored its opponents, 217-11, allowing an average of 1.6 points per game, and closed out the season with consecutive shutouts.

Upper St. Clair (9-1), the Post-Gazette's third-ranked team in Class AAAA, rolled to a 49-0 victory against Kiski Area in its playoff opener and presents a balanced attack on offense and defense.

The Panthers rallied from 17 points down to beat Mt. Lebanon, 21- 19, in the final week of the regular season to earn a share of the Southeastern Conference championship and gain the top seed out of the conference. Upper St. Clair, seeded third in the playoffs, held Kiski Area to 63 yards total offense last week in the easy victory.

On offense, senior Pete Coughlin has quarterbacked a unit that has scored 349 points this season, an average of 34.9 points a game. He has completed 68 of 93 passes for 1,078 yards. Defensively, the Panthers have allowed just 78 points, second fewest in Class AAAA.

Central Catholic jumped out to a 17-12 halftime lead last week against Penn-Trafford, then traded scores with the Warriors in the second half before hanging on for a three-point victory.

Luigi Lista-Brinza led the No. 11-seeded Vikings to the upset [well, an upset according to seeding numbers], scoring on runs of 15 and 8 yards while gaining 168 yards on 27 carries. A junior running back, Lista-Brinza has carried the ball 141 times this season for 892 yards.

Central Catholic will take on Upper St. Clair Friday night at Baldwin. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. The winner will meet the winner of the Gateway-Woodland Hills game in the semifinals.

Early exits

Several East Xtra region teams made disappointing exits from the playoffs last week, none more so than Burrell.

The Buccaneers (8-2) battled Freeport for the Class AA Allegheny Conference championship before sharing the title with the Yellowjackets with identical 7-1 league marks. …

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