South Fayette wins WPIAL footbal title
For the second time in four years, South Fayette captured a WPIAL football championship at Heinz Field by virtue of a victory over Aliquippa. In 2010, the Lions beat the Quips, 19-6. This year, the Lions edged the Quips, 34-28.
“To win two titles in four years tells you that we have a good program,” said Lions’ head coach Joe Rossi. “These kids understand what it takes. It’s such a focused group of special kids.”
To beat the Quips, who were two-time defending champions and who have won a record 15 WPIAL titles, required a special effort and the Lions received such a performance by a plethora of players.
For starters, Brett Brumbaugh, whose brother, Christian, was at the helm when the Lions last won the title, completed 16 of 35 passes for 315 yards. The junior, who has passed for over 3,000 yards this season, connected with Justin Watson for a 68-yard scoring strike to initiate the Lions’ scoring in the first frame and with Conner Beck for a 19-yard TD pass to complete the scoring and ice the victory with 2:48 left in the game.
Watson finished with six receptions for 130 yards. Beck had five grabs for 112 yards.
The Lions connected on a pair of field goals, measuring 26 and 27 yards by Brian Coyne. The back-to-back scores gave the Lions leads of 17-16 before intermission and 20-16 to start the third quarter.
Though the Quips regained the lead, 22-20, on a 9-yard TD strike, J.J. Walker scored on a 7-yard TD run to put the Lions ahead, 27-22, with 11 minutes to play. Again the Quips responded and forged the advantage, 28-27, with 4:01 to play.
Hayden Orler pounced on a fumble in the end zone, accounting for South Fayette’s other score.
Though Terry Swanson rushed for 166 yards on 26 carries and scored three times on 9-, 48- and 29-yard rushes, the Lions’ defense held the rest of the Quips’ offense in check. In fact, South Fayette stopped the Quips on five, fourth-down attempts and their rush defense forced the Quips to pass. They were successful at times as Darrien Fields completed 8 of 17 aerials for 149 yards and one score, a 9-yard strike to Patrick Anderson. Anderson had four grabs for 122 yards.
“We have guys who get to the football. They have will and desire and they are unselfish,” said Rossi. “That’s what we tell them. ‘Just do your job. You don’t have to be a super hero.’ We were able to get key stops on defense.
“I’m so proud of my guys on defense. They bend but do not break,” said Rossi, adding how excited he was, too, that his linemen were able to compete against players, who had a distinct weight advantage.
Defensively, Roman Denson and Beck intercepted passes. Zach Walker and Beck led with 13 and 11 tackles while J.J. Walker and Bryce Christoff followed with eight each.
With the win, South Fayette (13-0) moved to the quarterfinals of the PIAA playoffs. The Lions will face District 9 champion Karns City (12-1) in the quarterfinals at Clarion University at 1 p.m. on Saturday.