W. Mifflin, Central Valley poised for WPIAL semifinal shootout
TribLIVE Sports Videos
If contrasting styles make for compelling fights, West Mifflin and Central Valley could produce a special WPIAL Class AAA semifinal Friday night.
Third-seeded Central Valley's exceptional talent against the precision of the Titans' ball-control offense illustrates two contrasting teams with one common goal — to play next week at Heinz Field.
Led by tailback Jimmy Wheeler and an offensive line that has dominated almost every opponent this season, West Mifflin (10-1) is fresh off an upset over second-seeded Mars and feeling confident.
“It's not going to be easy,” West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo said. “But beating a team like that last week does have us feeling good. It's not cockiness, but it is confidence.”
Braszo's style is simple, but it works. He wants his team to run the ball effectively and have time-consuming drives. Against an explosive team like Central Valley (9-2), such a game plan already is required.
Central Valley coach Mark Lyons knows what No. 7 West Mifflin will do Friday, and he also knows that having advanced knowledge of the Titans' plan is worthless.
“That's the thing about Coach Braszo's teams over the years,” Lyons said. “They don't try to trick you. His teams are going to be fundamentally sound, they're going to execute as well as anyone, and they won't make mistakes. That's what they do. His teams have been that way for a long time.”
If West Mifflin is the stoic, predictable team in this matchup, Central Valley is the opposite.
Boasting one of the WPIAL's best players and one of its most explosive offenses, Central Valley would prefer to turn the game into a shootout.
West Mifflin will have an eye on Central Valley wideout Robert Foster, Braszo said.
“He's just an incredible football player,” Braszo said. “They have a lot of good players, but he's different. He's just so big, and if he gets in the open field, forget about it.”
Foster, one of the area's most sought-after players, is a significant part of Central Valley's game plan. The West Mifflin defense might be the best Foster has faced all season, but Lyons intends on getting his star the ball as much as possible.
“He's a special talent,” Braszo said. “We're coming down to the end of an extraordinary high school career. We're hoping we can extend it just for the sheer enjoyment of watching him play again.”
Keeping Foster off the field is West Mifflin's ultimate goal, and they might have the perfect attack to make such a thing happen. Wheeler, a star in his own right, has exploded onto the scene this season by becoming the first player in West Mifflin history to rush for 2,000 yards.
Wheeler's talent is obvious, but Braszo is just as eager to applaud his offensive line.
“I've been saying all along that those guys are the key for our football team,” Braszo said. “They've done a great job of making holes for our running backs. If you're going to have success in our offense, you better have a good line. They've been a heck of a strength.”
For all their schematic differences — West Mifflin regularly runs the ball out of the same formations, while Central Valley is more balanced and frequently changes looks — the teams both average 36 points per game.
“It should be a great game,” Lyons said. “Just two good teams going at it.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Multi-sport soccer players abound in WPIAL
- Greensburg high school roundup: Greensburg Salem girls blank Mt. Pleasant
- High school roundup: No. 4 Fox Chapel girls blank Gateway
- Lynn’s two goals lead BVA girls over Raiders
- Despite several unknowns to start the season, GCC boys clinch Section 1 title
- Daily News roundup: Johnson’s 4 goals lead East Allegheny to victory
- VND notebook: Injury woes continue to plague Knoch girls
- Moon girls turn into WPIAL contender
- Greensburg high school roundup: Mt. Pleasant shuts out Greensburg Salem in Section 1
- Greensburg high school roundup: Greensburg Salem boys shut out Derry
- Charleroi soars past Monessen, 10-0