WPIAL Class AAA semifinal preview: Central Valley vs. Thomas Jefferson
TribLIVE Sports Videos
class AAA Semifinals
Central Valley (10-1) vs. Thomas Jefferson (11-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Chartiers Valley
Thomas Jefferson has tested the notion that games aren't won in the first quarter, despite what coaches like to say. Only one first-quarter touchdown has been allowed all season by the Jaguars, who've outscored opponents, 133-7, in those first 12 minutes.
“TJ wants to impose its will on other teams,” said Central Valley coach Mark Lyons. “We've got to withstand that initial surge, settle into what we do and let them know this isn't going to be a pushover like they're used to.”
Thomas Jefferson has the highest-scoring offense (40.9 ppg) and the stingiest defense (6.4 ppg) in Class AAA. But Central Valley, the Parkway runner-up, believes it's the best all-around team the Big 9 champ has met.
“They're the best team I've seen on film this year,” TJ coach Bill Cherpak said. “We have to control the ball to keep their offense off the field.”
The semifinals aren't new to either team. Thomas Jefferson has reached the final four in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Central Valley lost in the semifinals the past two seasons since winning the WPIAL title in 2010.
“The last couple years, losing at the end maybe toughened us up a little more,” Lyons said.
Both teams have a Division I recruit who starts both ways. Central Valley is led by junior Jordan Whitehead, a slotback and cornerback. TJ has leaned on its offensive line and senior Chase Winovich, a Michigan linebacker recruit who also plays quarterback.
Winovich rushed for 200 yards and three TDs in last week's 23-14 quarterfinal victory over Highlands.
A week ago, Whitehead scored on a 92-yard kickoff return, a 74-yard run and a 6-yard pass.
— Chris Harlan
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.
- WPIAL, coaches are still looking to schedule Week 9 rivalry games
- Previewing some of Western Pa.’s top Week 9 matchups
- Gorman: A WPIAL playoff drought about to end
- Ford City, Kittanning matchup to be part of SI.com’s ‘Underdogs’
- Longtime rivals Kittanning, Ford City set for final act
- High school football notebook: WPIAL might welcome another team next year
- Now in Class A, rivals GCC, Jeannette to battle for 2nd place in Eastern Conference
- Connellsville focuses on nailing down playoff berth
- Heavyweights West Allegheny, Central Valley meet in test for Parkway
- The Leader eager for Kittanning finale
- Penn Hills football team jets to success behind ground attack