WPIAL Class A semifinal matchup: Sto-Rox vs. North Catholic
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Class A semifinals: (2) Sto-rox (10-1) vs. (6) North Catholic (9-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Dormont Stadium
Heading into the season coming off a trip to Heinz Field for the WPIAL title game last November, Sto-Rox returned star quarterback Lenny Williams, four linemen and not much more starting experience. It didn't take long for the rest of the Vikings' roster to catch up to Williams and his linemen.
As expected, Williams has been one of the best quarterbacks in the WPIAL, and Sto-Rox's play in the trenches has been strong. But it's been the play of others that's been the difference in the Vikings' return to the semifinals.
“I hate to say it this way, but it kind of went according to plan,” first-year Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley said. “We ended up getting the leadership from the guys who returned from playing all those big games in the playoffs last year, and there was a group of younger guys who really have stepped up at a good pace.”
Included in that group are running back Brendan Blair, fullback Marcus Jackson and receivers Ben Shackleford and Javelle Kirkland. Sto-Rox entered the quarterfinals ranked seventh in the WPIAL in total offense, split almost equally between rushing and passing.
“We're playing well-balanced football,” Bradley said.
The Vikings are averaging 39.4 points per game, tied for second in WPIAL Class A. But it's been the defense that has been at the forefront lately: Sto-Rox has allowed only 15 points in its past five games. Then again, North Catholic's defense has been its strength all season. The Eastern Conference champion Trojans rank third among Class A teams in opponents' scoring (11.7 per game) and have four shutouts.
North Catholic's offense has increasingly been built around a player who has emerged as one of the top sophomores in the WPIAL — P.J. Fulmore. His 22 touchdowns and 1,616 rushing yards rank among the WPIAL leaders.
The Trojans won the Eastern conference title, and the Vikings shared the Big Seven championship with Neshannock and Rochester. North Catholic beat Rochester last week, one of three common opponents between the teams. Sto-Rox and North Catholic both lost to Neshannock, who is in the other WPIAL semifinal. The Vikings, which beat Rochester in the regular-season finale, topped Northgate, and the Flames beat North Catholic in September.
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.