West Allegheny captures its sixth WPIAL title
West Mifflin had one of the most potent two-man running attacks in the WPIAL this season.
In the WPIAL Class AAA championship game, though, the Titans were ground down by a three-headed monster.
Led by a trio of running backs, West Allegheny ran for 386 yards to earn a 34-8 victory over West Mifflin in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game Friday at Heinz Field.
It is the sixth title for West Allegheny and 18-year veteran coach Bob Palko. The Indians are now an unprecedented 6-0 in WPIAL championship games, the most titles without a loss in league history.
Palko also became the second coach of the day — joining Clairton's Tom Nola — to win six career WPIAL championships.
“It's a tribute to the kids,” Palko said. “Like I said, it's not me, it's us. It's all about us, and it's not about one person and never has been. I get 45 or 50 texts from ex-players, and they live it, too.”
West Allegheny (12-1), which won a fourth consecutive Class AAA title for the Parkway Conference, will play District 10 champion Cathedral Prep in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals Nov. 30 or Dec. 1 at a site and time to be determined.
West Mifflin (11-2) had no defensive answer for the West Allegheny zone-read running game as the Indians gashed the Titans' front time after time.
“We started it when we had Dorin (Dickerson) and went into some things with Mike Caputo. “It's something that we like and it works right now,” Palko said.
“As long as it works and you're scoring points and your defense is playing like that, it shortens the game and takes care of some things.”
Sophomore halfback Chayse Dillon, who rushed for 121 yards, shook loose into the secondary on several occasions and scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, including a 39-yarder with 7:26 remaining in the second quarter to give the Indians a 13-0 lead at the intermission.
West Allegheny outgained West Mifflin, 175-86, in the first two quarters. Dillon and senior Nick Halbedl consistently alternated shotgun snaps throughout the game, and both were effective at finding holes in the defense.
Halbedl finished with 16 carries for 148 yards and two scores, including a 35-yard touchdown late in the third quarter on which he carried several West Mifflin players the final 10 yards until he collapsed over the goal line to give the Indians a 34-0 lead.
Armand Dellovade scored the team's other two touchdowns, including one on a 34-yard run.
Defensively, the Indians contained 2,000-yard rusher Jimmy Wheeler. Though the junior speedster finished with 13 carries for 82 yards — the first time he was held under 100 all season — and scored the team's lone touchdown, he wasn't able to traipse into the open field for the back-breaking runs that had helped West Mifflin make its way into the WPIAL Class AAA championship game for the first time in eight years.
“We just didn't play very good or they're just that good,” West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo said. “We just didn't seem to be able to stop them. Basically, they just controlled the line of scrimmage both ways. When you do that, you're going to win the game.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.