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West Mifflin looks to spoil West Allegheny's perfect record in WPIAL finals

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West Allegheny (11-1)

Playoff history Won WPIAL Class AAA titles in 1997, 1999-2001 and 2009.

Coach Bob Palko has been the coach for all five Indians titles.

Leaders Passing: Andrew Koester, 46-102-825-5 TDs; Rushing: Chayse Dillon, 96-747-9 TDs; Receiving: Zech Medved, 16-369-3 TDs.

Starting offense

QB 18 Andrew Koester 6-4 180 so.

RB 33 Nick Halbedl 5-9 195 sr.

RB 23 Chayse Dillon 5-11 180 so.

RB 42 Armand Dellovade 5-11 195 so.

FB 37 Oleg Chubko 5-8 205 sr.

WR 17 Colin Cunningham 5-7 160 sr.

LT 57 Jordan Diven 6-1 230 sr.

LG 52 Shea Beaumont 5-11 230 sr.

C 55 Billy Steele 5-10 220 sr.

RG 59 Bryan Frauens 6-2 260 sr.

RT 56 Dustin Windemaker 6-3 260 sr.

TE 10 Zech Medved 6-0 195 sr.

K/P 22 Evan Pelcher 6-0 200 sr.

Starting defense

DE 57 Jordan Diven 6-1 230 sr.

NT 58 Dwain Fisher 5-11 255 sr.

DT 56 Dustin Windemaker 6-3 260 sr.

OLB 33 Nick Halbedl 5-9 195 sr.

ILB 42 Armand Dellovade 5-11 195 so.

ILB 44 Sean Orsini 6-2 190 sr.

OLB 10 Zech Medved 6-0 195 sr.

DB 11 Lew Walls 6-0 175 sr.

SS 17 Colin Cunningham 5-7 160 sr.

FS 8 Nic Daigle 5-9 175 jr.

DB 13 Jake Johnson 5-8 165 jr.

West Mifflin (11-1)

Playoff history West Mifflin has never won a title, but West Mifflin North did in 1963.

Coach Ray Braszo has been to the title game twice, in 2000 and 2004, including a loss to West Allegheny, and was an assistant under George Novak at Steel Valley.

Leaders Passing: Derrick Fulmore, 37-75-731-7 TDs; Rushing: Jimmy Wheeler, 276-2,144-28 TDs; Receiving: Marcus Martin, 13-375-4 TDs.

Starting offense

QB 2 Derrick Fulmore 6-0 190 sr.

FB 3 John Green 5-10 175 jr.

RB 5 Jimmy Wheeler 5-9 165 jr.

WR 8 Davon Dutrieuille 6-1 162 sr.

WR 16 Jarod Wright 6-0 160 sr.

TE 44 Marcus Martin 6-2 225 sr.

C 58 Jimmy Keys 6-0 225 sr.

G 77 Joe Faiello 5-9 240 sr.

G 62 Tyler Bornak 6-2 210 sr.

T 50 James Popa 6-1 260 sr.

T 75 Shawn Devey 6-4 260 jr.

K 39 Dom Benson-Gajdos 5-9 150 sr.

Starting defense

DE 50 James Popa 6-1 260 sr.

DT 55 Hayden Rotella 5-9 220 sr.

DT 77 Joe Faiello 5-9 240 sr.

DE 44 Marcus Martin 6-2 225 sr.

ILB 58 Jimmy Keys 6-0 225 sr.

ILB 42 Colton Weber 6-1 190 jr.

OLB 32 DiAngelo Mitchell 5-10 165 so.

OLB 4 Kenny Hughes 5-8 140 sr.

CB 8 Davon Dutrieuille 6-1 162 sr.

CB 16 Jarod Wright 6-0 160 sr.

S 2 Derrick Fulmore 6-0 190 sr.

P 77 Joe Faiello 5-9 240 sr.

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By Keith Barnes
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 10:26 p.m.

There are very few constants in WPIAL football but one has held true for more than a decade.

When West Allegheny makes it to the WPIAL Class AAA championship game, whether at Three Rivers Stadium or Heinz Field, the Indians win.

West Allegheny (11-1) has qualified for the finals five times — in 1997, 1999-2001 and 2009 — and the Indians have come away with a title every year. That also includes a 2000 win over West Mifflin (11-1), the team it will face when it goes for its sixth title in 16 seasons Friday at 8 p.m. at Heinz Field.

The Titans have only been to the championship game one other time, a 2004 loss to Thomas Jefferson, since West Mifflin North and South merged in the 1980s. West Mifflin North defeated Butler for the Class AAA title in 1963.

“We never really talk about the history and things like that, and most of the time we never even stress that they have to win because we just want them to do their best to prepare and everything will fall in place,” West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo said. “We haven't made it a major point and it hasn't been stressed by us, and we'll let the chips fall where they may.”

The two teams have very similar approaches when it comes to their plan of attack, albeit with different methodology. Both rely heavily on their running games and staunch defenses, but while West Allegheny has a three-pronged ground game, West Mifflin utilizes a two-man game with quarterback Derrick Fulmore and speedster running back Jimmy Wheeler.

And, though neither coach had seen their opponent firsthand before going through the film this week, both had similar reactions to their counterparts.

“Wow they've got a lot of talent,” West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said.

Wheeler, who was known more for his track prowess as one of the best sprinters in the state before becoming the team's feature back this season, is the WPIAL's second-leading rusher behind Washington's Shai McKenzie with 2,141 yards and 28 touchdowns. Fulmore provides a talented counterpoint as a dual-threat quarterback and is coming off an outstanding game against Central Valley in which he rushed for 162 yards and three scores and capped the night with the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime.

Fulmore has more than 1,700 combined rushing and passing yards and, along with Wheeler, provides a defensive challenge.

“Wheeler is really quite a talented young man and he's just got a gift. It's easier said than done, but we just have to be as sound as possible and tackle well because, since you don't see that speed in practice, you have to adapt and adjust your angles in the game,” Palko said. “Fulmore is really good too, and we haven't seen a team that has two players like that this year.”

By the same token, West Allegheny has three running backs — Chayse Dillon, Armand Dellovade and Nick Halbedl with more than 450 yards.

If that weren't enough, the Indians also have an added passing threat with sophomore Andrew Koester, who threw his fifth touchdown in a semifinal win over Thomas Jefferson.

“You can't get real sophisticated because they do so many things, so you kind of have to stick with what you do and make sure that your guys know exactly where to line up and know their assignments, but that's why they're in the final,” Braszo said. “Nobody's really found an answer to it, but with both teams being ball-control teams, we just have to be able to move the ball as well as they do.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-664-9161, ext. 1977.


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