Trib Cup: Fall sports leaders have had all-around success
The first third of the 2013-14 high school sports calendar has come to an end with four of the top districts in the area reigning supreme in the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award standings.
North Allegheny (Class AAAA), Central Valley (Class AAA), Greensburg Central Catholic (Class AA) and Sewickley Academy (Class A) are all schools that were at one point last season near or at the top of their respective classifications and this year has been no different.
Class AAAA: North Allegheny
North Allegheny enters the winter months atop the WPIAL's largest classification thanks to playoff berths by the boys and girls soccer teams and a quarterfinal appearance by the football team. The girls volleyball and tennis programs captured WPIAL titles, with the tennis team winning its first PIAA title in school history.
“I'm ecstatic in terms of the success with our student-athletes in their athletic arena,” NA athletic director Bob Bozzuto said. “Our athletes and their coaching staffs put a lot of hard work into accomplishing what it is they want to get done and so they deserve to be acknowledged for their accomplishments.”
But despite North Allegheny's wealth of championship banners draped around the athletic facilities, it's the student-athletes' success in the classroom that makes him most proud of what the school district is all about.
“We do an Athletic Director All-Scholar Athlete Program, and it's really impressive what our numbers show this year,” he said. “Over 72 percent of student-athletes are scholar-athletes, which are those kids with a grade-point average of 3.4 or higher. To date, the average is a 3.72.”
Class AAA: Central Valley
The Central Valley football team lost a 16-6 decision to West Allegheny in the WPIAL finals at Heinz Field, while the girls soccer program completed a 23-0 season with both WPIAL and PIAA state titles. The girls golf team captured its second consecutive state championship.
“I think it's a great accomplishment thus far,” CV athletic director Sam Cercone. “We have to credit the girls and boys and their coaches for putting their work in to be successful in their seasons.”
Something to consider with Central Valley's current standing, the school has only been open for four years. The merger of Center and Monaca came with skepticism years ago, but Cercone said the performance of the school's student-athletes has silenced critics.
“I think it just goes to show you what a great mesh our student body had to be successful,” he said. “They came together from two different communities and quickly set the tone for what the merger was about.”
Class AA: Greensburg C.C.
Greensburg Central Catholic added a few trophies to its case this season so far. The golf team won the section title, the girls soccer team was the WPIAL runner-up and state champion, girls tennis won the WPIAL title and the girls volleyball team finished second in the WPIAL. The football team clinched a playoff berth but was bounced in the first round.
“I'm so proud of our kids because they are so academically sound and their time management skills are so good that they can succeed on the field or on the court and can also succeed in the classroom,” GCC athletic director Dan Mahoney said.
Mahoney said the success of the students starts at home and the Greensburg Central Catholic student body is full of talented, intelligent individuals with the desire to go on to bigger and better things. He said having students like that roaming the halls makes his, as well as the rest of the administrative staff's jobs easier.
“Parents send their kids here with the frame of mind that they'll be able to succeed, but their purpose is to achieve academically and athletically as well,” he said. “It's our responsibility to see that through and meet those expectations.
“I am proud of them for the work ethic and just as important their family background is an influential force making sure they are on track to accomplish what they need to on the fields and in the classroom.”
Class A: Sewickley Academy
The Sewickley Academy boys soccer team claimed the WPIAL and PIAA titles while its girls program made it to the WPIAL semifinals and played a first round state match. The girls tennis team was the WPIAL runner-up, and the boys golf team qualified for the PIAA team playoffs after winning a WPIAL championship.
“This was the first time we sent four sports to the state tournament all during the same season in our school's history,” SA athletic director Win Palmer said. “That's a rare distinction for any school to achieve. So we're so proud of all of our students.”
Throughout the course of the fall sports calendar, Palmer noticed a great deal of support and adoration among the school's various sports teams and how they presented themselves in representing the school. All accolades aside, Palmer said it's a joy to see the student body rallying to represent the school in a positive light.
“The thing that motivates me is the fact that our students are so hard working and really good sports,” he said. “The sportsmanship they demonstrate is outstanding. We have a great set of coaches that guides these young men and women.”
Brian Graham is a freelance writer.