Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

P-T's Fine Year Closes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

P-T's Fine Year Closes

Article excerpt

Penn-Trafford won its first playoff game since 1999 this year, but the Warriors will have to wait at least one more year before reaching that next hurdle: a WPIAL championship.

After an undefeated regular season and first-round win over Bethel Park, the Warriors fell to Gateway 34-9 in the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals Friday.

The Gators, who have played for the WPIAL title three of the past four years, relied on their experience.

"We've been here and they haven't," Gateway coach Terry Smith said. "Experience matters at this point."

The key turning point in the game was late in the first half, when Penn-Trafford had three drives inside Gateway's red zone but came away with just three points to show for it. On the first two, Warriors coach John Ruane opted to go for it on 4th-and-5 and 4th- and-1, but came up short both times.

When the Foothills Conference rivals met earlier this season, Penn-Trafford won, 16-14, on a last-second field goal, and Ruane said he thought this one could be just as close.

"Last time we scored 16 points and we needed to earn them all," he said. "We were thinking, 'We're down here, let's take our chances and try to get the six [points].'"

Despite the loss, Ruane has engineered a remarkable turnaround in his second season with the Warriors. Since coming agonizingly close to winning it all in 1997, they had struggled to regain that success.

"Penn-Trafford has been, I don't want to say a doormat, but a team that had kind of gone by the wayside," Ruane said. "This year, we got ourselves back to a contender."

Ruane joined Penn-Trafford before the 2010 season after a number of years as an assistant at Gateway. The results weren't immediately evident in wins and losses -- the Warriors went 4-6 in Ruane's first season -- but the young team gained valuable experience and earned a playoff berth, falling in the first round to Penn Hills.

This year, a senior-laden roster allowed Ruane's squad to run the table, with key victories over Mt. …

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