West Allegheny defends WPIAL Class AAA title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
West Allegheny defended its WPIAL title, and Bob Palko became the first coach to win seven championship games with Saturday night's 16-6 victory over Central Valley in the Class AAA final at Heinz Field.
The Indians leaned heavily on their ball-control style to remain perfect in championships. Senior tailback Tory Delmonico had a 3-yard touchdown run, and freshman D.J. Opsatnik made field goals from 20, 32 and 24 yards as No. 1-seeded West Allegheny (13-0) added another title to those won in 1997, 1999-2001, 2009 and 2012.
“It's so hard to get here,” Palko said, “and to beat a quality opponent like Central Valley really says a lot.”
West Allegheny became the first Class AAA team to defend its title since Thomas Jefferson won three straight in 2006-08.
“It feels amazing,” said Delmonico, who missed last year's championship game with a knee injury. “This is what we've been working toward since last January. To see it pay off is special.”
West Allegheny rushed for 158 yards on 43 carries, including 82 yards by Delmonico on 21 carries. The Indians also forced two turnovers, and junior quarterback Andrew Koester completed 7 of 9 passes for 120 yards, with a 72-yarder to junior Chayse Dillon in the fourth quarter.
That allowed the Indians to dominate time of possession, 29:12 to 18:48.
No. 3 Central Valley (11-2) was trying for its second WPIAL championship, joining the title it won in 2010 as a first-year program.
This was a Parkway Conference rematch of a Week 5 game that West Allegheny also won, 13-7.
“I always think it's harder to beat a team twice in a season, especially how we beat them last time,” Delmonico said. “I'm sure they were pretty upset about that. We came away with a victory, so I'm happy.”
New Castle's Phil Bridenbaugh won seven WPIAL titles while coaching the Red Hurricanes from 1924-49, but not all involved winning a championship game and one was a co-championship. Palko becomes the first coach to win seven outright WPIAL championships all on the field.
“We're a close-knit family,” Palko said. “I'm just happy for the program.”
Central Valley built a 6-0 lead, but West Allegheny scored the final 16 points. The Indians neutralized Central Valley junior Jordan Whitehead, who rushed for 13 yards on three carries and caught one pass for 18 yards.
Central Valley's John George completed 7 of 14 passes for 71 yards. Central Valley rushed for 106 yards on 29 carries.
A 1-yard touchdown run by junior fullback Preston Johnson gave Central Valley a 6-0 lead on its first possession. The drive covered 89 yards in 16 plays and consumed more than seven minutes, ending two plays into the second quarter.
West Allegheny answered with two scoring drives. A 13-play, 65-yard touchdown drive ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Delmonico. With 4:38 left before halftime, West Allegheny led 7-6.
West Allegheny linebacker Sean Orsini helped the Indians score again when he recovered a fumbled snap at Central Valley's 39-yard line. Opsatnik kicked a 30-yard field goal with 54 seconds left before halftime.
West Allegheny held a 10-6 halftime lead.
The fumble was the first of three for Central Valley, which lost two. Johnson fumbled a handoff from George at 9:39 in the third quarter, a turnover recovered by West Allegheny's Jed Buck.
Johnson's fumble led to Opsatnik's 32-yard field goal and a 13-6 Indians lead.
Opsatnik added a 24-yarder in the fourth quarter, his seventh field goal this season.
“We work on our kicking game a lot,” Palko said. “If we didn't think he could make them, we wouldn't have tried.”
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.
- Kang’s 9th-inning home run gives Pirates wild victory over Twins
- Van Halen plays plenty of favorites in First Niagara show
- School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
- Rossi: ‘Hockey guy’ Sutter will be missed
- Pirates notebook: Prospect Tucker unaware of ‘trade’ frenzy
- N. Belle Vernon man jailed after police station visit
- Penguins trade Sutter to Canucks, sign free agent center Fehr
- New Pens winger Fehr ready for defense-first role
- Pregnant woman killed by gunfire in Brighton Heights, other shootings reported in city
- U.S. Steel posts quarterly loss, declares dividend
- 2 men nabbed in Donora drug sting