Aliquippa wins 15th WPIAL championship
TribLIVE Sports Videos
By the time the WPIAL Class AA championship kicked off just before 6 p.m. Friday, conditions at Heinz Field already had begun to rapidly deteriorate from tranquil and sunny to gusty winds and plunging temperatures.
Washington's chances of an upset fell off even more quickly.
Terry Swanson rushed for 206 yards, and Malik Shegog accounted for three touchdowns as top-seeded Aliquippa dominated both sides of the ball, defending its title with a 34-7 rout of Washington.
The Quips (13-0) outgained the Prexies, 543-114.
“We blocked them; they couldn't block us,” Quips coach Mike Zmijanac said. “It was really very simple. We played such great defense that I don't know if they might have ever scored today.”
Leading, 34-0, in the final minute of the third quarter, Aliquippa was on track for its seventh shutout of the season and third in four playoff games until Josh Wise returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown.
Three players had at least 100 rushing yards — but the WPIAL rushing champion was not one of them.
In fact, Washington's Shai McKenzie totaled less than one-sixth of what Swanson did. McKenzie entered with 2,656 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns. But against the team that led the WPIAL by allowing an average of 76.6 total yards per game, McKenzie was limited to 33 rushing yards on 18 carries.
“They have a tremendous running back, (but) he didn't have a chance to run,” Zmijanac said. “They couldn't block us, so he had nowhere to go.”
McKenzie came into the game averaging 12.4 yards per carry. He couldn't even average that per quarter against the Quips.
“They were able to overwhelm us and fly to the football, so we just couldn't get Shai going tonight,” Washington coach Mike Bosnic said.
“He's a great player. We just ran up against one of the best teams — maybe ever.”
No. 3 Washington (12-1) hadn't yet faced a team with Aliquippa's speed and playmaking ability.
Dravon Henry had 123 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Shegog had 100 rushing yards for the Quips, who were making their fifth consecutive title-game appearance.
“It (seemed) to me they didn't even want to win enough — they just felt good playing on Heinz Field,” Quips linebacker Devon Walker said.
Swanson had the Quips' biggest play, when he burst up the middle and outran the Washington defense 60 yards to give the Quips a 14-0 lead with 2:08 left in the first quarter.
“You can prepare maybe for size, but you can't prepare for speed — and that's something they have a lot of,” Wise said.
Shegog scored on a 12-yard run six minutes into the game and on a 22-yard run in the second quarter. He lofted a perfect ball into the hands of Dajon Perry in stride for a 28-yard touchdown reception with 26 seconds to play in the first half.
By the time Henry scored on an 8-yard touchdown run midway through the quarter, fans behind the Aliquippa bench were content in knowing the Quips were well on their way to their 15th WPIAL championship, third since 2008 and fifth under Zmijanac.
Zmijanac and most of his assistants are Aliquippa alumni, and many of the Quips are second- or third-generation Aliquippa players.
“The quarterback tradition in my family is very high, and they always tell me what they used to do; they did this and they did that,” Shegog said. “Well ... I want to be sitting with them saying, ‘I did this or I did that.' ”
Three wins away from its third PIAA championship, Aliquippa will meet Karns City next week in a quarterfinal at a time, date and site to be determined.
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates down Cardinals, inch closer in wild-card chase
- For Steelers outside linebacker Jones, size is not an obstacle
- Police searching Level Green area for bank robber
- High school football notebook: Summer heat possible for season’s first week
- Federal appeals panel orders new trial for Penn Hills man
- Homeowners warned of bogus land surveyors
- Pitt’s ACC men’s basketball schedule announced
- John Lennon’s killer sorry for ‘being such an idiot’
- WVU secondary adjusting to changes as No. 2 Alabama looms
- Pirates notebook: McCutchen returns to starting lineup; Alvarez out
- Penguins goalie Fleury likely to enter season without new contract