Guido: Looking back at memorable 2013 A-K Valley football season
By George Guido
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 1:26 a.m.
With WPIAL quarterfinal losses by Highlands and Apollo-Ridge last Friday, it's time to put a lid on the local high school football season.
At least this season was longer than last season, when all local playoffs teams were bounced in the first round.
Still, it was a season to remember.
Kittanning rebounded to post one of the best seasons in its history.
Apollo-Ridge had one of the highest-scoring teams in area history.
Plum finally removed a huge weight off its shoulders with a Week 10 nonconference victory at Greensburg Salem.
The Alle-Kiski Valley was shut out when its comes to playoff sites this weekend, as the closest WPIAL semifinal is probably at Mars where Neshannock plays North Catholic from the Eastern Conference.
But without further delay, it's time to pass out this year's awards:
• Best game: The regular-season finale between 8-0 Kittanning and Shady Side Academy, won by the Wildcats, 28-27. Shady Side had scored a touchdown with 3:56 left, but the Indians were whistled for a celebration penalty. That moved the extra-point attempt back to the 18 where it was missed.
• Fantastic finish: On opening night, Apollo-Ridge took North Catholic, the state's current No. 6 team, into double overtime before losing, 22-21, on a touchdown and 2-point conversion.
• Upset of the Year: Highlands put everything together and slammed Franklin Regional, 17-0, on Sept. 13, dominating a team still alive in the playoffs.
• Feel-Good Story of the Year: A tie between West Shamokin and Summit Academy making the playoffs for the first time. Both programs came from the unimaginable depths.
• Best sustained success story: Beaver County football. With Friday's Aliquippa-Beaver Area winner headed for Heinz Field, it means that the WPIAL finals day will have a least one Beaver County school playing for 16 consecutive seasons.
• Most memorable moment: The post-game huddle at Summit Academy on Oct. 26. Coaches congratulated the playoff-bound team, and the look of satisfaction conveyed by team members at the court-adjudicated institution for accomplishing something positive was inspiring.
• Spirit of '76 Award: Kittanning completed its first undefeated regular season since 1976, and Avella made the playoffs for the first time since that Bicentennial Year.
• John Hancock Award: Kiski Area's 34-14 victory over Penn-Trafford on Oct. 11 was the Cavaliers' first signature win in 10 years.
• All-Royalty Team: Jordan King (Valley), David Queen (McKeesport), Connor Jack (Berks Catholic), Nick Prince (New Castle), Reese Crown (Montour), Jesse Noble (Kiski Area), Marquise Turner (Highlands) and Alex Middleton (Johnstown).
• Cold Feet Award: With Ford City's eighth-grade team undefeated and Kittanning with a bevy of talented ninth-graders, the fans from the individual schools are now saying on Facebook and other outlets how much of a shame it is that the respective schools are about to merge.
• Outlook for 2014: There will be the biennial realignment, and many local schools are hoping to be placed in a lower classification. Apollo-Ridge thinks it might end up back in Class AA. Next year looks to be the swan song for Ford City and Kittanning. The 100th anniversary of Kittanning football appears to be its last. With merely a 1975 playoff win, it would be nice to see Kittanning win another playoff game before the school meets it demise.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.
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