PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals preview: Central Catholic vs. Erie McDowell
PIAA AAAA Quarterfinals
Central Catholic (13-0) vs. Erie McDowell (7-5) 1 p.m. Saturday at Erie's Veteran's Stadium
It's been nine years since Central Catholic and McDowell last met.
In 2004, the Vikings, led by Shane Murray, Eugene Jarvis and John Pelusi, topped the Trojans, 44-3, in the PIAA playoffs on their way to a state title.
The programs meet again Saturday with a trip to the state's Class AAAA final four on the line.
“Our minds have been on being in the state playoffs since the offseason,” Central Catholic senior tailback Luigi Lista-Brinza said. “If you're in the state playoffs, that means you have won WPIALs. We're here to win games, that's the tradition.”
Central Catholic's 27-7 victory over Woodland Hills on Saturday wrapped up its first WPIAL title since 2007 and fourth since 2003.
The Vikings now are on a quest for a fourth state title, with their first coming in 1988, followed by the 2004 crown and a championship in 2007.
McDowell, which has won five games in a row after navigating through a tough early-season schedule, is predominantly a running team out of the triple option. Four backs, including junior quarterback Jake Tarasovitch, have at least 400 yards rushing. The Trojans average 240 yards per game on the ground.
“They are big up front and come off the ball well,” Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said. “They have the ability to possess the ball and keep the clock churning.
“They have a couple of nice options on each play. We have to be disciplined and play assignment football.”
Central Catholic's formula against Woodland Hills was to run the football extensively, as the Vikings totaled 250 yards on 47 carries.
The Central Catholic defense limited Woodland Hills' potent running attack to 85 yards.
“They just don't have any weak spots, and that makes them tough to prepare for,” McDowell coach Mark Soboleski said.
“They don't have spots where you think you can exploit them. But our kids are up for this challenge.”
— Michael Love