High school football notebook: Parkway Conference still on top of Class AAA
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This was supposedly the year a Greater Allegheny team or one from the Big 9 Conference would leave Heinz Field with the Class AAA trophy.
Yet, for the fourth consecutive season, the WPIAL championship belongs to the Parkway Conference. No. 4 seed West Allegheny (12-1) won the title Friday with a lopsided 34-8 victory over No. 7 West Mifflin (11-2).
It's the second title in four years for the Indians, who started the Parkway's recent winning streak in 2009. Central Valley won in 2010, and Montour won last season.
“There's a lot of pride in it,” West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said, “and that doesn't mean I'm talking bad about the other conferences. But I think until you line up against our teams week in and week out. ... It's about continuing to get better.”
As conferences, the Parkway's five qualifiers finished the playoffs with an 8-4 combined record, the Greater Allegheny was 2-5 and the Big 9, which qualified six teams, was 5-6.
In Class AAAA, the Quad North was 7-4, the Quad Central was 7-5, and the Quad East was 1-6. In Class AA, the Midwestern was 6-3, the Keystone was 6-4, the Century was 3-4, and the Allegheny was 0-4. In Class A, the Big 7 finished 7-4, the Black Hills was 6-3, the Eastern was 2-4 and the Tri-County South was 0-4.
Lenny Williams has been the main offensive threat for Sto-Rox all season with more than 2,000 passing yards and more than 1,000 yards on the ground. He again led the Vikings in Friday's title game loss to Clairton, but the Bears took away his go-to play — the counter trap.
He still managed to throw for 106 yards and run for 103. On defense, he picked off two passes.
“That's what he's done all season,” Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley said. “Usually, he does more in the trap game, counter game. But they did a great job closing down the run lanes.”
End of a run
The WPIAL's leading rusher, Washington's Shai McKenzie, had his record-breaking season come to an end Friday night after a 34-7 loss to Aliquippa. The junior running back was held to just 33 yards on 18 carries.
“Football is a team game,” Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. “They were able to overwhelm us and fly to the football. We just couldn't get Shai going.”
McKenzie finished the year with 2,689 yards, just 51 short of Rushel Shell's WPIAL single-season record of 2,740.
Southern Columbia out
If Clairton reaches a fifth straight PIAA championship game, the Bears will not see their most recent state title game opponent. Southern Columbia (12-1), the state's second-ranked team behind the Bears according to the (Harrisburg) Patriot-News state rankings, lost to third-ranked Dunmore, 35-29, on Friday in the first round of the PIAA tournament.
Clairton defeated Southern Columbia, 35-19, in last year's PIAA championship game. Southern Columbia won five straight state titles from 2002-06. Clairton is aiming for its fourth straight.
WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley estimated between 16,000 and 17,000 fans attended the WPIAL championship four-pack of games at Heinz Field on Friday.
“I don't think there will be a letdown from our guys. They understand (Heinz Field) is an unbelievable venue, but there is not going to be a championship hangover. We're going to get right back where we need to and concentrate on what we need to do.”
— North Allegheny coach Art Walker, on the upcoming PIAA tournament
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