Surging Valley meets rival Burrell in Allegheny Conference clash
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Emotions of joy and relief flowed as Valley's football team celebrated the end of a 22-game losing streak after a hard-fought victory against Deer Lakes last Friday night.
By Saturday morning, the Vikings were scanning the horizon.
Soon after sacking that ignominious streak, Valley turned its attention to ending another skid of local significance, particularly in the vicinity of Route 366.
Valley (1-0, 1-0) will visit next-door neighbor and archrival Burrell (1-0, 0-0) for a Class AA Allegheny Conference game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Buccaneer Stadium.
Valley has dropped its last three meetings to Burrell, but the Vikings plan to continue their turnaround.
And for the first time since 2009, this matchup is more than a nonconference contest for bragging rights. Valley spent two winless seasons in Class AAA before being returned to Class AA by the WPIAL's biennial realignment.
“Being a conference game makes it even more special,” first-year Valley coach Chad Walsh said. “Not only is it a big rivalry, but now it's for position in the conference standings. To get a big win early certainly helps out down the line.”
This game marks the start of conference play for Burrell, which is ranked No. 8 in Class AA by Trib Total Media after rolling over Brownsville, 41-7, in nonconference action.
In front of what's expected to be a large crowd, the Bucs will aim to make an early statement that they still are a conference heavyweight after tying for third place in the Allegheny last year.
“It does add to it that it's a conference game,” Burrell coach Kevin Horwatt said. “It doesn't take away from it when it's nonconference, but it means so much more when it's a conference game. It's always a battle between Burrell and Valley, and it's great for the surrounding communities.”
Horwatt, a former Burrell quarterback who's in his second year as head coach, recalled when he made his first varsity start as a sophomore on the road against Valley.
“It was unbelievable, the nerves, the tension, and knowing all the past,” Horwatt said. “That puts so much more on the line. We've got to have the kids relaxed this week.”
Last week, Valley rallied to edge Deer Lakes, 14-7. On Friday, the Vikings will face a much more experienced team, which is led by 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior running back/linebacker Cole Bush, who rushed for 221 yards and five touchdowns in the season-opener. Valley must slow Bush to have a shot at pulling off an upset.
“If we can limit what he does, eliminate his big plays, and maybe get some three-and-outs, that will be huge,” Walsh said. “The more hands we get on him, the better. We have to trust in our gang-tackling.”
Walsh was pleased with the performance of Valley's offensive and defensive lines in the season-opening win. When the Vikings competed in Class AAA, they were outsized at the line of the scrimmage and struggled to rush the ball and stop the run.
The Viking linemen should match-up better against Class AA opponents, but Walsh pointed out there are big and experienced teams in the Allegheny Conference, including Burrell.
“We've stressed the defensive and offensive lines have to play really well this week,” Walsh said.
Burrell has won the last three meetings with Valley and matched its streak from 1993-95. But the Bucs have never pieced together four victories in a row against the Vikings. That could change Friday when one of the top rivalry games in the WPIAL is played.
“You couldn't ask for a bigger stage,” Horwatt said. “It's exciting to think the kids get the opportunity to play Valley when it's a conference game.”
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-224-2696.
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.
- Starkey: Pirates, Burnett could work again
- Polamalu enters training camp as Steelers’ longest tenured player
- Outfielder Polanco driving force for Pirates in victory over Dodgers
- Pirates notebook: Phillies’ Burnett not demanding trade
- Allegheny County warns of uptick in Lyme disease cases
- Pitt swingman Jones ready for breakout season
- Contractor shot, killed in Homewood
- Selig: Pirates’ rebirth a positive step for baseball
- Paterno son, another ex-football assistant coach suing PSU
- Jefferson Hospital doctor serves as panelist for mental health legislation
- Mountaineer workers fear smoking ban will harm ‘livelihood’