Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic wins 1st WPIAL football championship
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans are celebrating a day 40 years in the making.
In its first-ever trip to the WPIAL Class A final since joining the conference in 1973, North Catholic (13-0) defeated top-seeded Sto-Rox, 14-0, on Saturday at Heinz Field.
“I'm proud of our whole team,” North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl said. “We've stuck together all year. We've had a lot of adversity, a lot of injury. I'm amazed at what these kids do every day, and it's a credit to them. They deserve it, and they honestly earned it. This is something that I'll always remember in my life, and I know they'll always remember, too.”
Sto-Rox (12-1) has lost three straight title games, falling to Clairton the past two seasons.
The North Catholic defense handed Sto-Rox its first shutout since Sept. 9, 2005, and held senior quarterback Lenny Williams, the WPIAL's all-time leading passer, to 203 yards on 16-of-26 passing with an interception.
“Hit him, that's it,” said NC senior lineman Ryan Long, who had two of the team's six sacks. “Put pressure on him. Keep him in the pocket. Probably the same thing every defensive coordinator would tell his team playing a team like that.”
North Catholic forced Williams into two first-half turnovers — an interception by senior captain Ryan Kirby and a fumble forced by senior Jarred Fragapane and recovered by Long.
“We had a lot of mistakes that I should have handled. It's just too many,” Williams said. “It seems like every time we had some momentum, something set us back.”
Sto-Rox lost leading receiver, Mallory Claybourne, when he separated his right shoulder in the first quarter. The Vikings were crippled even further by committing 15 penalties for 99 yards.
“We did have some mistakes lining up,” Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley said. “We had some personnel issues once some injuries started, and unfortunately we didn't play with enough discipline like we have for most of the season.”
North Catholic has fought through plenty of injuries as well. Fulmore stepped into the quarterback role when starter Adam Sharlow went down with an injury in October.
“We had people go down all through the season,” North Catholic junior quarterback P.J. Fulmore said. “We had people hurt through the lineup every game and people just step up and step up. We faced so much adversity and we came out victorious.”
Despite the Trojans' stifling defense, Sto-Rox trailed by just a touchdown entering the fourth quarter.
Leading, 7-0, Fulmore took the second play of the final quarter 42 yards on a designed draw on third-and-14 from the Trojans' 26. The drive finished with five straight rushes by junior running back Jerome Turner, capped by a 17-yarder that gave North Catholic a 14-0 lead with less than nine minutes to play.
Fulmore, who scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter, finished with 83 yards rushing on 26 carries. Turner added 64 yards on 19 carries.
North Catholic will play District 5 champion Tussey Mountain (11-2) in the PIAA quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Hampton's Fridley Field.
Gary Horvath is staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Penguins call up prized defensive prospect Pouliot
- Pittsburgh police break up customer fights over Air Jordan 11 shoes
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- Penguins’ defensive depth proves valuable
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Pitt: Football coach hire comes 1st, athletic director 2nd
- Pitt’s acting athletic director is deft facilitator
- Man involved with crash with officer dies in Pittsburgh hospital
- Brass plaque stolen from McKeesport veterans memorial
- Ex-juvenile center director claims he was fired because he’s black