WPIAL Class AA semifinal preview: Aliquippa vs. Beaver
class AA SEMIFINALS
No. 1 Aliquippa (11-0) vs. No. 12 Beaver (8-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Ambridge
After pulling off upset wins over fifth-seeded Shady Side Academy and fourth-seeded Mt. Pleasant to reach the Class AA semifinals, Beaver coach Jeff Beltz has mixed feelings about his team's underdog persona.
“Being the underdog is a fun role,” Beltz said. “But it also means that maybe we didn't play as well as we could have early in the season.”
The semifinal matchup against top-seeded Aliquippa is a rematch of the final Midwestern Conference game three weeks ago. In a dominant win, Aliquippa held Beaver to a season-low 13 points while scoring 50. Alex Rowse, the WPIAL's leading passer, also had his worst game, throwing for just 110 yards on 9-for-27 passing.
But neither team is expecting the game to be as lopsided this time around.
“Both (Beltz) and I know that everything snowballed early on,” Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said, “and we got every break in the world in the first quarter.”
Not counting the loss to Aliquippa, Beaver is averaging more than 42 points per game. For Beaver to pull off yet another upset, ball security will be the key.
“We turned the ball over on our first two offensive plays, and before you know it we're down 21-0 early and momentum was clearly in their favor in that football game,” Beltz said. “We can quickly point back to the last time we played, and if we turn the football over, we'll lose again.”
Even with the history between the two teams, Beaver is the next roadblock on the way to back-to-back Class AA championships for Aliquippa.
“It's the next game,” Zmijanac said. “We're playing a team that made it to the semifinals. It doesn't matter who they are.”
— Gary Horvath