Guido: Football season comes to quick end
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Well, that was a quick postseason.And it wasn't any fun.
All seven Alle-Kiski Valley WPIAL playoff football teams lost their opening-round games Friday night.
It means that Nov. 2 is the soonest a local scholastic football season has ended since 1910.
William Howard Taft was in the White House.
New Kensington was selling vacant lots for home construction on Kenneth and Leishman avenues.
New Mexico wasn't even a state yet.
Who would have guessed that Leechburg would be the only local high school to win a football game last weekend? The Blue Devils defeated Riverview, 18-12, in a Week 10 nonconference game.
In fact, no local teams came within 14 points of their opponents. Valley lost to Beaver, Freeport lost to Beaver Falls and Knoch lost to West Mifflin by identical 28-14 scores.
It was the first time since 1993 that no local team went beyond the first round of the playoffs. That season, Kittanning, Valley and Burrell all experienced first-round exits.
At the time, only the top two teams made the WPIAL playoffs.
That's a far cry from 1960-75, when at least one A-K Valley team was in the WPIAL finals every season, including (Pine-)Richland in 1969 — a school covered then by the Valley News Dispatch.
For area fans still hungry for some football, there is one playoff game at a local setting Friday. Mars (9-1) will take on West Mifflin (9-1) in what could be an outstanding matchup at Fox Chapel.
One of the surprise football teams in the WPIAL this year was Butler.
Butler made the WPIAL playoffs for the first since 1998 before losing in the Class AAAA first round to Mt. Lebanon, 31-7, on Friday.
“I don't feel the program has turned the corner,” said coach Clyde Conti, a Freeport graduate and member of the Pennsylvania Football Coaches Hall of Fame said. “It's hard just getting the kids and the parents to buy in.”
Conti took a program in disarray and has it on the road back to respectability in two seasons.
Conti said his biggest challenge this season was coaching against a relative — Fox Chapel's Eric Ravotti, another Freeport graduate.
“I had a hard time,” Conti said of Butler's 49-7 win. “I'm used to rooting for the guy. The family has a lot of pride.”
It's one thing to set a record. It's another thing to break a record held by your coach.
That's what happened to Burrell quarterback James Liput on Friday. Liput completed 23 of 35 passes for 223 yards. That broke the Burrell mark of 19 completions, set by his coach, Kevin Horwatt, on Nov. 3, 1995, against Apollo-Ridge.
Also in Burrell's 48-28 loss to Mt. Pleasant in a Class AA first-round game, Cole Bush scored three touchdowns to pad his school record for TDs in one season to 33.
Bush's 84 yards rushing in that game gave him 1,790, another new Burrell standard.
Springdale's Sean Dugan came within 14 yards of the Alle-Kiski all-time mark of 2,276 yards, set by Riverview's Lucas Heakins in 1998. Dugan also ranks 35th all-time in WPIAL rushing history. With Friday night's 101-yard performance, Dugan passed Valley's Brandon Williams, Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor and South Park's Tyler Scruggs on the WPIAL's all-time rushing list.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.
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