Central Catholic Tops Penn-Trafford For WPIAL Title

Posted on:

The Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings won their second WPIAL Class AAAA championship in the last three years with a 24-17 triumph over the Penn-Trafford Warriors on Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field. Toledo recruit Ronnie Jones spearheaded the Vikings toward victory with 142 yards rushing and two touchdowns. It’s the fifth consecutive season that a team from the Northern Eight Conference has won the Class AAAA crown.

Making their third straight appearance in the WPIAL finals, Central Catholic was familiar with the usual pomp and circumstance of the championship game at Heinz Field and promptly marched the opening possession 68 yards in 13 plays for the first score of the day. Jones punctuated the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead with 7:11 remaining in the opening stanza.

Central Catholic nearly expanded the lead on two occasions in the second quarter, but two penalties negated a pair of long-distance touchdowns by Jones. The first was a block in the back penalty that nullified a 74-yard punt return by Jones. On the same possession, a 70-yard touchdown reception by Jones was washed out on an illegal man down field infraction. Despite firmly leading in total yardage at the half, 153-51, the Vikings held only a one-touchdown lead at intermission, 7-0.

The much-ballyhooed Central Catholic defense made a big play to start the third quarter as Rashad Wheeler intercepted a Brett Laffoon pass and returned it six yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 advantage. The defensive score by the Vikings, however, only seemed to spark the Warriors offense.

Making its first appearance in the WPIAL championship since 1997, Penn-Trafford wasn’t go to waste the opportunity and surged back into the game on their next possession. The Warriors drove 78 yards on eight plays with the key play a 40-yard pass from Laffoon to Timmy Vecchio. It was that same connection, Laffoon to Vecchio, that was dialed up for an 11-yard touchdown pass and the Vikings lead was trimmed to 14-7 with 7:34 on the third quarter clock.

Central Catholic did nothing its next possession and punted the ball back to Penn-Trafford who rode the wave of momentum into the end zone yet again. This time the Warriors chewed up 57 yards on nine plays and capped the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Laffoon to tie the game at 14-14 with 4:48 to play in the third quarter. Laffoon finished the day with 167 yards passing and two total touchdowns.

Vikings head coach Terry Totten had described Ronnie Jones this season as a “home-run hitter” at the running back position and the senior tailback hit one out of the park in the fourth quarter with a 72-yard touchdown run. The lightning bolt by Jones gave the Vikings a 21-14 lead with 10:15 to play in regulation.

Following a Warriors punt, Central Catholic took a two-score lead with a time-consuming 13 play drive that ate up over six minutes and was capped on a 24-yard field goal by Jacob Rocchi to give the Vikings a 24-14 advantage with 2:47 to play.

Familiar with the role of rallying from behind, something Penn-Trafford did to beat McKeesport and Pine-Richland to reach the WPIAL championship, the Warriors tried to mount another playoff comeback and marched to the Central Catholic 3-yard line before their drive stalled. With 1:24 remaining, Penn-Trafford settled for a 17-yard chip-shot field goal by Nick Tarabrella to cut the score to 24-17, Central Catholic. The ensuing onside kick did not go 10 yards, however, and the Vikings ran out the clock for their fifth WPIAL championship.

Penn-Trafford’s season ends with a 12-1 overall record. Central Catholic improves to 12-1 and will compete in the PIAA playoffs next weekend.

Southeastern Conference - First Team

Eddie JenkinsMt. LebanonQB
Thomas VissmanUpper St. ClairRB
Miles SandersWoodland HillsRB
Billy KisnerPenn HillsMB
Jack YoungMt. LebanonWR
Charlie DavisBethel ParkWR
Jake DixonBethel ParkTE
Eric MitchellWoodland HillsT
Sean DavisBethel ParkT
Tearl GrayWoodland HillsG
Matt FennellUpper St. ClairG
Lamont SpratleyWoodland HillsC
Garrett MontillaMt. LebanonK
Tyler GlantonPenn HillsDL
Paul GrattonMt. LebanonDL
Chris PauleyBethel ParkDL
Wilford ClarkWoodland HillsDL
Tyriq ThompsonWoodland HillsLB
Jo-El ShawWoodland HillsLB
Eric KrausMt. LebanonLB
Levi MethenyBethel ParkLB
Jaymond DunnWoodland HillsDB
Gene RobinsonPenn HillsDB
Edgar ParrillaMt. LebanonDB
Vince PerischettiBaldwinDB
Reagon LawlorPeters TownshipP
George NovakWoodland HillsCoach of the Year