Warriors ready to host Central Catholic
Oakland's boys are coming to Harrison City this Friday.
Penn-Trafford's football team received the No. 6 seed in this year's WPIAL Quad-A football tournament, which means it will face 11th-seeded Central Catholic in the first round at Warriors Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Although the Warriors (7-2) are seeded appropriately for a second-place team, the Vikings (7-2), the third-place team from the Quad North, are slightly underseeded with a pair of fourth-place teams — Bethel Park and North Hills — ahead of them on the bracket. In fact, it is the only Quad-A first-round game that features two teams with at least seven wins.
Regardless, Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane knew whoever his Warriors drew in the first round would be a challenge, and he hopes to have his team ready to battle the Vikings.
“We kind of thought we would end up with them or Bethel Park,” said Ruane, knowing the pairings committee likely wouldn't set them up with a rematch against regular-season opponent North Hills.
“Man, what a team to be playing. With the tradition that Central Catholic has and how well-coached they are — Coach (Terry) Totten is a great man — it's going to be a tough one. We've got to play our best.”
Penn-Trafford last faced Central Catholic in the first round of the 2008 playoffs, a game that the Vikings won, 42-0. That game, coincidentally, also was a 6 vs. 11 matchup, but it was Central Catholic holding the higher seed in that meeting.
While the Vikings have a long tradition of quarterbacks dating back to NFL Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino, this year's Central Catholic team is a run-oriented bunch, led by leading rusher Luigi Lista-Brinza, who has nearly 800 yards on the season.
Penn-Trafford can match up physically with the Vikings, but where Ruane said the Warriors will need to be at their best is in the mental aspect of the game.
“They're in the right position on every snap,” Ruane said. “They're so well-coached, they're so sound, and they play hard. There's no weak spots.”
The Warriors' defense didn't appear to have any weak spots in its regular-season finale last week, as Penn-Trafford defeated Hempfield on the road, 16-0, in a Quad East Conference game.
Penn-Trafford forced five turnovers by the Spartans (4-5), Tom Stinelli ran for 162 yards, and Matt Loughnane made field goals of 42, 39 and 44 yards in a strong all-around effort by P-T.
The Warriors also overcame injury, as they came out with the win despite playing without starting quarterback/defensive back Dorian Stevens and running back Devin Austin. The rest of the team picked up the slack, as senior quarterback Matt Arzenti stepped in to go 7-for-14 for 86 yards and a touchdown pass to Ryan Marasti, who also had a fumble recovery and an interception on defense.
That kind of performance, Ruane said, is what his team needs to continue to advance beyond the Vikings this week.
“We're in the playoffs, and that's all you can hope for,” Ruane said. “Everybody's 0-0 at this point, and it's going to be a tough road no matter who you play. Central Catholic is tough, and we're going to have to play our best to win.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.