Trick play helps propel West Allegheny past Central Valley
Top-ranked West Allegheny and No. 3 Central Valley were so evenly matched Friday night at Joe DiMichela Stadium in Imperial, it took a trick play in the third quarter to propel the Indians to a key 13-7 Class AAA Parkway Conference victory.
West Allegheny's Tory Delmonico turned a lateral from quarterback Andrew Koester into a 32-yard touchdown pass to Robert Threet, and the Indians' defense put the clamps on Central Valley's talented duo of Jordan Whitehead and JaQuan Pennington to secure the victory.
A contest featuring two undefeated teams with WPIAL title aspirations lived up to its billing, as both offenses were forced to play a grind-it-out affair that wasn't decided until the game's final minute.
“When you play a game of this magnitude, it always comes down to turnovers and defense,” West Allegheny's Bob Palko said. “You have to tip your hat to Central Valley. We will probably see them again.”
West Allegheny welcomed back hometown hero Tyler Palko for induction into the district's Athletic Hall of Fame, and the former Pitt and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback witnessed a classic showdown between Class AAA powers.
As usual, the Indians (5-0, 5-0) slowed the tempo by using a trio of runners, but the Warriors still had a shot to tie the game with a minute remaining.
Whitehead tried to advance a West Allegheny punt, but the junior fumbled as he was hit by a host of defenders, and the Indians were able to run out the clock.
“We played great defense and held a great team to only 13 points,” Central Valley's Shawn McCreary said.
“But we only ran 12 plays in the first half. We just couldn't get the offense on track.”
McCreary filled in for suspended coach Mark Lyons, who missed his first of two games because of an alleged recruiting violation.
Central Valley (4-1, 4-1) got off to a great start when Ryan Roberson intercepted Koester in stride for a 55-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Delmonico answered with a big defensive play of his own in the second quarter, as the senior intercepted Central Valley's Nate Climo to set up Chayse Dillon's 31-yard touchdown run a play later.
Dillon finished with 18 carries for 103 yards, but it was his tough play in the fourth quarter that kept Central Valley from making a push.
“In our offense, you never know who is going to be on his game,” Dillion said. “You can rely on any one of us, and we stuck with it.”
The victory helped the Indians ease the sting of last year's 28-14 loss to the Warriors, who were the only team to beat the eventual WPIAL champions.
It also gave West Allegheny sole possession of first place in a tight Parkway Conference.
Brian J. Duermeyer is a freelance writer.