ShareThis Page
High School Sports

Montour-Central Valley blossoms into rivalry

Chris Harlan
| Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011

Rivalries don't always need decades to develop, as Montour and Central Valley have discovered. Under the right circumstances, one emotional year might be enough.

"We've still got Moon, West Allegheny and Hopewell," said Montour quarterback Dillon Buechel, listing more traditional rivals, "but this last year, all you've heard is Central Valley this, Central Valley that. This is turning into a real rivalry."

The teams meet again Friday night at Montour in a rematch of last season's WPIAL Class AAA championship game. Montour entered Heinz Field last November unbeaten, but first-year program Central Valley left with the title.

It's a game neither side has forgotten.

"I'm sure their guys are pretty much looking for revenge," Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. "I'm sure it's in the back of their minds that we were able to beat them in the game that mattered."

Yet this time the roles have somewhat reversed. It's Central Valley that's unbeaten and ranked No. 1, while No. 3 Montour readies for the upset.

"Everybody's looking at them as the top team of Class AAA," Buechel said. "Knocking them off would definitely catapult us back to where we thought we should be."

The Parkway Conference series stands tied at 1-1. Montour won the regular-season meeting last year, 12-7. Central Valley won the championship, 24-7. No, this rivalry isn't yet North Hills-North Allegheny or Aliquippa-Beaver Falls, but it's a game both sides have awaited eagerly.

"When you know you're going to play them the next year, kids start talking about that," Montour coach Lou Cerro said.

"Is Montour our top rival• It could be," Lyons said. "When you play on a bigger stage, that makes an instant rival."

With more than a dozen starters back from that title game, Montour began this year as the preseason favorite before losing to Hopewell. Since that 22-19 loss, the Spartans have won three straight games.

They've been led by tailback Julian Durden, one of the WPIAL's top rushers. The senior has 836 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, including four in last week's 35-25 victory over New Castle. It was the third time this year that Durden has scored four touchdowns in one game.

"We have to stop Durden," Lyons said. "He's been making a big run against everybody. I think he's twice as good as he was last year with his vision and his balance."

Central Valley's best weapon has been big plays. The Warriors have eight touchdowns of 60 yards or longer, including an 80-yard pass, a 75-yard kick return and a 72-yard run last week against Moon. But they've had even longer touchdowns other weeks, with a 91-yard fumble return by Justin Shaw and a 95-yards interception return by Jordan Whitehead among them.

"They take advantage of other teams' mistakes," Cerro said. "We've got to stop those big plays."

No matter the outcome, this rivalry always could resume come November.

Predicton: Montour 31-28

Lighting things up

High-scoring Central Valley and Montour have averaged nearly 40 points per game, fifth-most among WPIAL Class AAA teams.

Team — PPG

1. Franklin Regional — 47.4

2. Knoch — 43.2

3. Greensburg Salem — 42.6

4. Indiana — 40.4

t5. Central Valley — 39.4

t5. Montour — 39.4

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.

click me