Class AA breakdown: Aliquippa leads list of usual suspects that could contend
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Any discussion about the 2012 WPIAL Class AA title favorite includes a hearty amount of focus on Aliquippa, the defending champion and a finalist the past four seasons.
So the better question is this: What team might stand in the Quips' way?
A handful of programs, perennial powers themselves, have enough depth and talent to challenge Aliquippa, which graduated just eight players from a squad that went 14-1 and beat all but two of its WPIAL opponents by double-digit margins. Coach Mike Zmijanac acknowledged that the Quips, in search of their first back-to-back championships since the late 1980s, can't let their guard down.
“Once you get to the championship game — if you're fortunate enough — there just aren't many mismatches,” said Zmijanac, whose team beat Jeannette, 14-7, for the title and fell to Tyrone, 20-19, in the PIAA semifinals last season.
Count Jeannette among Aliquippa's top challengers again. Two-way star Demetrious Cox graduated and moved on to Michigan State, but the Jayhawks still have seven returning starters on each side of the ball. And they know they came as close as any WPIAL team to knocking off Aliquippa.
“It kind of reminds me of 2006, when we almost won the state championship,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “Those guys came back to the table hungry and won it all. I could see the same thing happening this year. The kids got a taste of the meal, and now they want the whole meal.”
Jeannette first will learn whether it's even the top team in its own conference. The Jayhawks, 2011 semifinalist Greensburg Central Catholic and Mt. Pleasant are expected to clash for the best spots in the Interstate. And Washington, which returns after two years in the Century Conference and has a speedy backfield, is an intriguing addition to the mix.
“We have some nice athletes,” Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. “We have to develop some discipline and get better in a couple other areas before I can consider us among the upper-echelon teams.”
Team additions and subtractions most affected the Century and Allegheny conferences.
Seton-La Salle and South Fayette are front-runners in the Century, which now includes former Class AAA programs South Park and McGuffey.
“I'm not sure moving down to (Class) AA is a big reward for anyone,” said Seton-La Salle coach Greg Perry, whose Rebels reached the semifinals a year ago. “There are just so many strong teams.”
Freeport figures to again vie for the Allegheny Conference title, as the Yellowjackets, co-champions last season, lost just three starters to graduation.
But they're certain to find this season's schedule more challenging, as Burrell, Shady Side Academy and Ford City also will field promising teams; struggling programs West Shamokin and Apollo-Ridge moved to Class A; Kittanning and Valley dropped back into the conference after two years in Class AAA; and East Allegheny moved over from the Interstate.
“It'll be very difficult for everybody,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “I don't see anybody taking off and running away with (the conference) this year.”
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.
- Police plan homicide charge for cop-killing suspect
- New Kensington man killed in North Buffalo crash
- Penn State coach fires offensive coordinator
- Police officer fatally shot in New Florence; suspect in custody
- As historic breakup nears, Alcoa works to redefine its ‘advantage’
- Four downs: Steelers might still be Adams’ best bet
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Man surrenders after standoff in Middle Hill
- Thomas Jefferson uses defense, running game to capture WPIAL title
- Indiana Twp. liver transplant recipient, 2, takes steps toward normal life
- Steelers find success vs. NFC