Yough looking to gain respect with playoff victory
The Yough football team is not happy. When the WPIAL football committee released the pairings for the upcoming Class AAA tournament, the Keystone Conference champions were seeded eighth, behind second place Mt. Pleasant.
The pairings disturbed Yough coach Jim Wehner.
"I don't think we got a decent seed," Wehner said. "We have a pretty good team. It seemed to me they took care of the big teams."
But Wehner isn't going to lose any sleep over the seeding, which has his Cougars (8-1) playing host to Blackhawk (5-4), the third-place team from the Parkway Conference.
He told his team earlier this week that they won't get respect until they win a playoff game, something the Cougars never have done.
"(Respect) That's what I'm pushing for," Wehner said. "These guys played in the playoffs last year and lost to Hampton. When I was hired as coach, all they talked about was getting stronger. They talked about how tough it was to tackle (Hampton running back) Steve Paskorz."
Blackhawk might not have a player the caliber of Paskorz, but it does have rich tradition. Blackhawk dominated Class AAA in the early 1990s by winning four WPIAL titles.
This Blackhawk team, however, has had an unusual season. Blackhawk was trounced by Thomas Jefferson (35-0) and West Mifflin (37-0) in non-conference games, and then lost consecutive conference games to Hopewell (14-12) and Moon (28-21).
"We started slowly and it took us time to get things going," Blackhawk coach Joe Hamilton said. "We play in a pretty good conference and the players never quit working. They believed in what we were doing and they continued to work hard."
They ended the season with wins against Montour (47-16) and Ambridge (23-22) to qualify for the playoffs. Blackhawk does own a victory against conference champion West Allegheny.
Hamilton said this isn't a typical Blackhawk team, one that features a big offensive line and a dominating tailback.
Blackhawk has been forced to mix the pass and the run this season. Alan Denman, Blackhawk's quarterback, has thrown for 932 yards.
"We've been outsized in games all year," Hamilton said. "But we've found ways to stay in games."
Although Yough didn't get the respect from the WPIAL, the Cougars have impressed Hamilton.
"They're very explosive on offense," Hamilton said. "and their defense creates a lot of problems. They're not afraid of throwing the ball, which is scary."
Yough has many offensive weapons. Quarterback Justin Shaffer has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and running back Cody Wilson has rushed for more than 1,000 yards. Multi-talented Craig Sedunov is a dangerous runner and receiver Tom Burkett is an equally dangerous receiver and return specialist.
Wehner said the offense would go nowhere without the solid offensive play of linemen Terry Quashnock, Josh Lester, Miles Bashur, Justin Hoffer and Matthew Everly.
"This game in going to be won in the trenches," Wehner said. "Turnovers also will be another key."
In Yough's only loss of the season, at New Castle, the Cougars turned the ball over five times.
Wehner said defense and special teams kept Yough in games early in the season.
"We're finally on the same page," Wehner said. "Now we're clicking in all phases."