Central Catholic and Woodland Hills may be different, but both win
Central Catholic senior Luigi Lista-Brinza, despite missing the final four games of the regular season, will be there.
Same for Woodland Hills sophomore Miles Sanders, who sat out the first two playoff rounds.
But outside of a pair of 1,000-yard tailbacks who've returned from ankle injuries, Central Catholic and Woodland Hills — who square off for the WPIAL Class AAAA title at 2 p.m. Saturday — don't have much in common.
Well, besides winning.
“It's going to be interesting,” Central Catholic quarterback J.J. Cosentino said. “We play two different styles of ball.”
Central Catholic (12-0) would rather possess it, with Cosentino feeding Lista-Brinza and Riley Redman, both 1,000-yard rushers.
Fullback Devin Faloon is as big a high school fullback (5-11, 230) as you'll see, and Cosentino, at 6-5, 220 pounds, typifies a pro-style quarterback.
“They're not flashy,” Woodland Hills coach George Novak said. “They're a ball-control offense.”
Or, put another way, the opposite of the score-fast Wolverines.
Quarterback Harry Randall has scored 26 touchdowns, and rarely do they come at the end of a methodical, 10-play drive. Sanders, Art Thompkins and Trevon Mathis all have enough speed to make sure that no lead is safe.
“We're definitely going to have to keep those people bottled up for us to have a chance,” Vikings coach Terry Totten said.
Central Catholic's defense has allowed just 68 points, 41 of them coming during blowout, playoff wins and a 27-21 victory over Gateway in the quarterfinals.
Woodland Hills (10-2) faces a tough assignment in stopping Lista-Brinza and Redman, and the Wolverines can't stack the box for fear that Cosentino goes deep to Shafer Swann or Cam Sutherland.
“They don't have any weaknesses,” Novak said. “We have to try and possess the ball more than them and figure out a way to move the ball against their defense.”
That starts with Sanders, who has 1,076 yards and 13 touchdowns. If Woodland Hills can, as Novak said, mimic Central Catholic, that may be the Wolverines' best shot at avoiding a second consecutive title game loss and a third in the past four years.
“Last year we went down there and lost, but we've kept practicing hard and working as a team,” Woodland Hills linebacker Daechaud Ausbrooks said. “We feel like we can win it. It's going to be a good game.”