Jeannette ready to roll against Quips
There are two football games that are the Jeannette High School football players remember from the past two seasons.
There is last year's WPIAL Class AA second round lost to Mars, when the team didn't quite have the right focus for the game. And then there was this year's game against Waynesburg, when the Jayhawks took their opponent for granted.
That won't be the case 1:30 p.m. today at Heinz Field when the No. 1 ranked Jayhawks (12-0) play No. 2 Aliquippa (11-1) in the WPIAL Class AA Championship game, the Jeannette players have nothing but respect for their opponents.
"They're a great team," Jeannette linebacker Anthony Matt said. "They have a lot of talented players."
Both teams are a lot a like. Both programs have a rich tradition, have talented players and are loved by their communities.
Jeannette coaches Ray Reitz and Paul Noonan said Thursday night at a team function that they're not planning anything different for this game.
"We're going to do what we've done all season," said Noonan, the Jayhawks offensive coordinator. "Hopefully, that will be enough."
Reitz, the team's defensive coordinator, said the Quips have a lot of offensive weapons.
"They can run and throw the ball," Reitz said. "They do both very well. We'll have to play a sound defensive game."
Despite being undefeated, some media experts from Pittsburgh favor Aliquippa in the game. The Quips are going after their 12th WPIAL title, the Jayhawks are going after their seventh.
"These players remember the bitter ending to last season," Reitz said. "It's still on their minds. That has been a driving force for that team this season."
There have been a few games this season that Jeannette has found ways to pull out victories.
Senior tight end Mike Dent said the team is confident when they play a game.
"There is no panic even when we're down," Dent said. "We've been practicing real well and everybody is one the same page."
Dent said the team that executes and makes the fewer mistakes will win the game.
Many of the Jeannette players said pride is the biggest drive force for the team.
"We do it for the town. We do it for our families," senior lineman Chris Errett said. "It's wonderful. The people in the town are behind us. There is no better team to play for than the Jayhawks."
Matt said it's all about playing with heart and playing for the fans in the community.
"We have great support," Matt said. "Even when we get down, none of us give up. We don't believe about giving up. We play every play like it's our last play."
Aliquippa football coach Mike Zmijanac said he expects that the fans from both communities will flock to Heinz Field.
"I'm sure they won't miss this game," he said. "You never, this might be the last time these teams ever play for another title."
|No. 1 Jeannette (12-0) vs. No. 2 Aliquippa (11-1)|