ShareThis Page

Whitehead's outburst leads Central Valley past Mars

| Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 10:36 p.m.

Central Valley junior Jordan Whitehead was so explosive that he nearly ran out of ways to reach the end zone.

Whether it was catching a touchdown pass, returning a kickoff for a score, grabbing an interception or sprinting away from everyone, Whitehead didn't lack for ways to impact Friday's WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal.

Whitehead scored three consecutive touchdowns three ways and added an interception to carry No. 3 Central Valley to a 35-21 victory over No. 6 Mars at Ambridge's Moe Rubenstein Stadium.

“I wanted to give my team a little pep,” Whitehead said. “I didn't want to lose.”

After catching a touchdown pass late in the second quarter, Whitehead took the opening kickoff of the second half 92 yards for a score.

He sprinted 74 yards for another touchdown and a 28-14 lead after he caught the 2-point conversion pass from quarterback John George midway through the third.

But Central Valley (10-1) didn't exhale until John George returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown.

“When you have special players, you expect them to make some splash plays,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. “I thought we did that (Friday).”

Central Valley advanced to play No. 2 Thomas Jefferson, a 23-14 winner over seventh-seeded Highlands, next Friday in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals at a time and site to be determined.

George, who also plays quarterback, threw for 78 yards. Whitehead rushed for 100, and JaQuan Pennington added 40.

Mars quarterback Owen Nearhoof passed for 122 yards and a touchdown.

This marks the fourth consecutive year — every one in the school's existence — that Central Valley, the 2010 WPIAL champion, has reached the semifinals.

The Warriors did it, in part, by limiting Mars running back Josh Schultheis to 85 yards — about 70 yards below his average — and a fourth-quarter touchdown.

“I thought they did a good job of understanding where he was,” Lyons said.

Central Valley drove 89 yards on 15 plays in 6 minutes, 38 seconds to grab an early 7-0 lead on a 2-yard run by Preston Johnson. The Warriors converted three third downs and once on fourth down to keep the drive going.

Mars (9-2) answered with a nine-play drive that Nearhoof capped with a 9-yard scoring strike to Travis Ganter.

The Planets jumped ahead 14-7 on Jason Lozzi's 6-yard run midway through the second quarter, but the lead didn't last long.

Taking advantage of a short field, Central Valley covered 40 yards in 28 seconds and tied it after a 6-yard pass from George to Whitehead with just 19 seconds left before halftime, the start of Whitehead's impressive takeover.

“He came up big,” Mars coach Scott Heinauer said of Whitehead. “He was the difference in the game.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.