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WPIAL Class AAA semifinal matchup: West Mifflin vs. Central Valley

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Central Valley's Robert Foster catches a touchdown pass over West Allegheny's Jake Johnson during the second quarter Friday September 28, 2012 in Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Central Valley's Robert Foster catches a touchdown pass over West Allegheny's Jake Johnson during the second quarter Friday September 28, 2012 in Center.
| For the Tribune-Review - West Mifflin running back Jimmy Wheeler (26) avoids a Knoch defender while returning the opening kickoff for 68 yards on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, at West Mifflin Titan Stadium. Ronald Vezzani Jr.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  |  For the Tribune-Review</em></div>West Mifflin running back Jimmy Wheeler (26) avoids a Knoch defender while returning the opening kickoff for 68 yards on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, at West Mifflin Titan Stadium. Ronald Vezzani Jr.

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PLAYER TO WATCH

Robert Foster Central Valley

WR, Sr.

6-foot-3, 190 pounds

One of the WPIAL's most heavily recruited players this season, Foster is looking to put the finishing touches on a spectacular high school career. A big, physical wideout with electrifying ability in the open field, Foster is one of the area's finest talents. He also is a dangerous punt returner and could play a huge role in the semifinal showdown.

how they got here

CV: Beat No. 14 Belle Vernon, 17-16, in the first round; beat No. 11 Hopewell, 49-21.

WM: Beat No. 10 Knoch, 28-14; beat No. 2 Mars, 28-13.

statistical leaders

CV: Passing: Nathan Climo: 65-111-1,080, 10 TDs; Rushing: Jordan Whitehead, 103-907, 10 TDs; Receiving: Robert Foster: 43-736, 8 TDs.

WM: Passing: Derrick Fulmore: 36-72-726, 7 TDs; Rushing: Jimmy Wheeler: 242-2,000 27 TDs; Receiving: Marcus Martin, 13-375, 4 TDs.

by the numbers

CV: All-time: 30-7

Playoff appearances: 3 Last title: 2010

WM: All-time: 249-257-12

Playoff appearances: 12 Last title: 1963 (as West Mifflin North)

Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Josh Yohe
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 7:26 p.m.
 

Class AAA semifinals: (7) West Mifflin (10-1) vs. (3) Central Valley (9-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at North Allegheny

If contrasting styles make for compelling fights, West Mifflin and Central Valley could produce a special WPIAL Class AAA semifinal Friday night at North Allegheny.

Central Valley's exceptional talent against the precision of the Titans' ball-control offense illustrates two contrasting teams with one common goal — to play next week at Heinz Field.

Led by tailback Jimmy Wheeler, the first West Mifflin running back to top 2,000 yards in a season, and an offensive line that has dominated almost every team in its path this season, West Mifflin is fresh off an upset over No. 2 seed Mars and feeling confident.

“It's not going to be easy,” West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo said. “But beating a team like that last week does have us feeling good. It's not cockiness, but it is confidence.”

Braszo's style is simple, but it works. He wants his team to run the ball effectively and have time-consuming drives, and against an explosive team like Central Valley, such a game plan is required.

Central Valley coach Mark Lyons knows what West Mifflin will do Friday, and he also knows having advanced knowledge of the Titans' plan is worthless.

“That's the thing about Coach Braszo's teams over the years,” Lyons said. “They don't try to trick you. His teams are going to be fundamentally sound, they're going to execute as well as anyone and they won't make mistakes. That's what they do. His teams have been that way for a long time, and nothing has changed.”

If West Mifflin is the stoic, predictable team in this matchup, Central Valley is the opposite.

Boasting one of the WPIAL's best players and one of its most explosive offenses, Central Valley would rather turn this contest into a shootout.

West Mifflin, Braszo promises, will have an eye on Central Valley wideout Robert Foster throughout the contest.

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