Last place no longer a worry for Kittanning, Valley
The last two times Kittanning and Valley met on the football field, their games determined which team finished last and next to last in the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference.
Oh, how circumstances have changed.
Back among Class AA competition, Kittanning and Valley are above .500 and in the hunt for playoff spots. The Wildcats (4-3, 4-2) and Vikings (5-2, 4-2) sit in a three-way tie with Shady Side Academy for third place in the Allegheny Conference. Only four teams from each Class AA conference advance to the postseason, so Kittanning and Valley recognize the stakes involved with their game Friday at Valley Memorial Stadium.
“We've basically thrown it at (the players) that this is a playoff game,” first-year Valley coach Chad Walsh said. “I think it's great for both of us. Instead of us having to battle for the cellar, now we're battling to be a playoff team.”
Valley snapped a 22-game losing streak with a 14-7 win over Deer Lakes in the season opener. It's now on a different kind of streak — the Vikings have not lost since Week 3.
“The kids are starting to believe in what we're doing,” Walsh said.
Kittanning's recovery rivals Valley's. In 2010 and 2011 combined, the Wildcats won just two games — both against Valley.
Those days don't weigh on the mind of Fabian, who intended to steer Kittanning in a new direction from the start.
Most notably, the Wildcats discarded their trademark wing-T and now use a no-huddle spread offense that has Kittanning on top of the Allegheny Conference in scoring (32.1 points per game). A week ago, with a 56-14 win over Deer Lakes, Kittanning matched its highest point total since 2009.
“I think that's the best our offensive line has played,” said Fabian, whose Wildcats rushed for 282 yards, 237 of which came in the first half. “We came out in the first three drives and ran the ball as well as we have all year. So that gives us some confidence moving forward.”
Kittanning's productivity on the ground only created more confidence for a unit that has thrown well all season. Senior quarterback Kevin Barnes ranks among the top 16 in the WPIAL in passing yards.
“When you run this offense, you take what the defense gives you,” Fabian said. “Some of the plays that we've made in the passing game have certainly helped our offensive line and our run game by making sure they don't put too many guys in the box.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.