Loaded backfield returns for champion West Allegheny
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It was no secret that a West Allegheny running back would be handed the ball on most snaps last season.
The uncertainty was which one?
With leading rushers Chayse Dillon, Tory Delmonico and Armand Dellovade all returning this season, the defending WPIAL Class AAA champion could have opponents guessing once again.
“Teams knew we were running the ball, and we just kept running the ball,” said Dillon, a speedy junior who led the Indians with 951 yards and 12 touchdowns on 124 carries. “It may have been boring to watch, but we had a great team.”
Combined, the Indians rushed for 3,155 yards and threw for just 950. Dellovade, a junior, had 778 yards and eight touchdowns on 106 carries. Delmonico, a senior, had 726 yards and eight touchdowns on 111 carries.
Nick Halbedl, who has graduated, added another 641 yards and nine touchdowns.
“I loved it,” Delmonico said. “It's better than passing the ball.”
The run-first approach, which often used Delmonico at quarterback to take direct snaps, was an invention of necessity, said coach Bob Palko. His Indians had intended to feature a little more balance, but stuck with what worked.
“That's what we needed to do to be successful,” he said. “People asked: ‘Why didn't you throw the ball?' You have to protect the quarterback and we weren't real adept at that at times. This year, maybe we'll be able to throw the ball a little bit more.”
A season ago, they rarely needed to throw. In four WPIAL playoff games, the Indians outscored opponents, 120-24. Against a very solid defense, none scored more than a touchdown. That postseason run included a 34-8 victory over West Mifflin in the championship game at Heinz Field.
Now, the Indians are the early-season favorites to repeat.
“The expectations are very high,” Dillon said. “Coming off last season, I think we're expected to win.”
The Indians return an abundance of skill-position players, including junior quarterback Andrew Koester and a deep wideout group that includes as many as seven potential contributors. Senior cornerback Jake Johnson, a returning starter, leads a strong defensive secondary.
But to repeat last year's success, the team must do so with almost entirely new lines. Senior lineman Dustin Peluso returns, but his offensive linemates all have graduated. That includes tight end Zech Medved.
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.
- Brentwood’s Conroy shares top conference award on defense
- PIAA quarterfinalists Central Valley, Conneaut sharing success after mergers
- Penn Hills relishes conference title, reflects on season
- South Fayette, Karns City set for rematch in PIAA quarterfinals
- WPIAL’s Top 10 football champions of all time
- Thomas Jefferson gridders post 3rd straight 11-1 record
- WPIAL Class AAA notebook: Central Valley to face another merger in PIAA playoffs
- Central Valley beats rival West Allegheny to win WPIAL Class AAA championship
- Pine-Richland’s ‘Neil’ the ram has happy home
- From venues to playoff format, much has changed in 100 years of WPIAL championships
- HS highlight reel: Shaler hockey team thrives in Class AAA