Head-to-head matchup to highlight Parkway battle

Chris Harlan
| Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, 11:02 p.m.

Montour's Devin Wilson relishes games against Central Valley and the blossoming rivalry between the schools.

“It's not so much a mean-type of rivalry,” Wilson said. “It's two good teams, and we both know we're pretty good. So, when we play, sparks fly.”

The Parkway foes meet again tonight at Central Valley in a game televised by Root Sports. Central Valley is ranked No. 1 in Class AAA, and Montour is No. 2. The winner inherits WPIAL favorite status.

But Wilson, a talented receiver and cornerback, also has built his own personal rivalry with Central Valley star Robert Foster. When their teams met four times in the past two seasons, seldom were the two far apart. When Foster was at wideout, Wilson was at corner. When Wilson was playing receiver, Foster was at safety.

“He's just fun to go up against,” Wilson said. “He's so fast and elusive and athletic. He's someone I actually look forward to playing against.”

That eagerness shows. Because, while Foster is a five-star recruit, a national preseason all-American and ranks among the country's best receivers, Wilson has defended him better than anyone.

It's a fact Foster doesn't deny.

“I'll give it to him, he's a good corner,” Foster said. “He's locked me down a few times, but I've got to get revenge this year.”

“Locked” is a relative term.

In two games last season, Foster had 286 combined rushing and receiving yards, a solid total for most athletes. But the 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior had only two offensive touchdowns.

For the most part, Wilson prevented big plays, his strategy when facing Foster. Wilson tried to limit Foster to 5- or 10-yard gains, “and make him work for everything he gets.” Foster is too strong to jam, but too fast to play loosely, he said.

“You never know what he's really going to run,” Wilson said. “He could take you deep or he can stop short and then take a play 50 yards.”

In last year's WPIAL semifinal, Foster had nine catches for 91 yards. But his only touchdown was a 40-yard run. In their Week 6 game, Foster had two catches for 47 yards and scored with a 55-yard run and a 70-yard interception return.

The damage could have been worse.

“Devin really impressed me,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. “I think he was the one kid who was a challenge for Robert, no question. I know he was a challenge for our staff.”

A week ago against Hopewell, Wilson caught three touchdowns. Against New Castle, Foster had eight catches and a 2-yard touchdown run.

At 6-4, 185, Wilson has the size and athleticism to rival Foster. He's a true two-sport star and has Division I scholarship offers in both football and basketball. Those hoops skills help him with Foster. Those skills showed late in last November's semifinal, when Wilson made two interceptions. Also, on the next-to-last play, Wilson tipped a pass away from Foster, helping to preserve a 21-14 victory.

“Robert might have had him a step,” Lyons said, “but what Devin did well was he high-pointed the ball better. His basketball skills came out.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at charlan@tribweb.com or 412-380-5666.

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