Eighth-seeded Quaker Valley draws No. 9 New Brighton in opening round
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When John Tortorea took over as coach of the Quaker Valley football team in 2011, he wanted to restore pride to the program.
The Quakers took another step forward this season as they clinched their first playoff berth since 1999.
“It's fun,” Tortorea said. “It is going to be a great experience. I am so happy for the school, the young men on the team and everyone involved in the Quaker Valley football family. Three years ago, this is where we planned to be.
“Now we are here, and hopefully we can stay here.”
No. 8 seed Quaker Valley (7-2) will face ninth-seeded New Brighton in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Chuck Knox Stadium.
The Lions finished the season with a 6-3 overall record and a 5-2 mark in Midwestern Conference play — finishing behind top-seeded Aliquippa and No. 6 Beaver Falls.
New Brighton averaged 33.8 points during the regular season, though the Lions could be ready to score more than that as quarterback Gabe Greco could potentially return after suffering an ankle injury in a 43-0 loss to Aliquippa on Sept. 20. Even if Greco doesn't play, the Lions have a strong quarterback in Payton Faith, who has more than 1,300 all-purpose yards this season.
Running back Scott Florence ran for more than 800 yards and seven touchdowns.
The defense allowed 30.7 points per game and allowed four opponents to score more than 40 points.
“We figured that would be the matchup,” Tortorea said. “After the Ellwood City game last week, we started hearing rumors so we have been preparing. They are an explosive team.”
The Quakers' first playoff game in Chuck Knox Stadium will give the team a chance to regain its focus after falling to Ellwood City, 27-16, in a nonconference game in Week 9. The usually sharp Quaker Valley offense had six turnovers in the setback. The Quakers led 16-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but two late Wolverines touchdowns led to the upset.
Quarterback Dane Jackson led the team in the loss with 99 passing yards and 66 rushing yards — including a 45-yard touchdown scamper.
Tortorea said losing in the final week of the regular season should get the team's attention heading into Friday's game.
“It was a slap in the face,” Tortorea said. “I hope it made the kids angry. I know it sure made me mad. We talked about that game this week, and we are going to use that as motivation on Friday.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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