Two WPIAL teams are one game away from Hershey and the PIAA State Championships. Central Catholic out of Class AAAA and Aliquippa in Class AA remain after Thomas Jefferson (Class AAA) and Clairton (Class A) saw their seasons end in the PIAA Quarterfinals.
We preview the remaining match-ups:
Central Catholic Vikings (14-1) vs. Cumberland Valley Eagles (13-2) at Altoona Area High School
The Match-Up: Cumberland Valley need seven overtimes to get past Central Dauphin and advance to the PIAA Class AAAA Semifinals. Central Catholic moved past State College 19-3 to get to the semifinals.
How they Got here: Central Catholic cruised to the WPIAL Class AAAA Final at Heinz Field moving past Upper St. Clair (49-0), North Allegheny (31-17), and Woodland Hills (24-6) rather easily to get to a showdown against undefeated Penn-Trafford. The Vikings defeated Penn-Trafford 24-17 to capture the WPIAL crown and advance to the PIAA Quarterfinals to face State College. Central Catholic defeated the Little Lions 19-3.
Cumberland Valley moved past Red Lion 48-21 in the opening round of District 3 playoffs before defeating Exeter Township 35-17 to win the District 3 Class AAAA Championship. In the opening round of PIAA Playoffs, the Eagles defeated Central Dauphin East 22-14 before coming out on the victorious end of a 62-61 seven overtime thriller last weekend against Central Dauphin in the PIAA Quarterfinals.
Who to Watch: The Vikings employ a rush heavy offensive attack with a two-headed monster made up of seniors Ronnie Jones and Vinny Emanuele. The tandem has accumulated over 2,100 yards on the ground as well as 29 touchdowns.
Cumberland Valley loves to run the ball which is evident via three Vikings having over 90 carries with seniors Nicholas Rhodes and Joey Heikel getting 133 and 202 carries respectively. The Vikings will be facing a defense that allowed only 54 rushing yards last week.
Prugar’s Prediction: Central Catholic
Central Dragons (13-1) vs. Aliquippa Quips (14-0) at Hempfield Area High School
The Match-Up: Central, out of Martinsburg, PA, reached the PIAA Class AA Semifinals by way of defeating Hickory 31-21 last weekend. Their lone loss came to Clearfield a Class AAA school, in week three. Aliquippa, the WPIAL Class AA Champion, defeated Karns City 27-17 to advance to the semifinals.
How they got here: Central, the District 6 Class AA Champion, began their playoff run with a victory over Forrest Hills 35-6, the Dragons followed up that victory by beating Ligonier Valley 31-13 in the District 6 Class AA Semifinals. To advance to the state playoffs, Central dismantled Juniata 27-7 to win the District 6 championship. In the PIAA Class AA Quarterfinals, the Dragons moved past Hickory with a 31-21 victory.
Aliquippa breezed through the first three rounds of the WPIAL playoffs beating Keystone Oaks (42-26), Seton-LaSalle (46-6), and Freeport (36-14) to reach the Class AA Finals against South Fayette. The Quips ended the South Fayette reign at the top of the Class AA field with a 44-38 victory at Heinz Field. In the PIAA Quarterfinals, Aliquippa defeated Karns City 27-17.
Who to Watch: The Central offense comes into the match-up against Aliquippa averaging 383.9 yards per game. Junior Alex Hoenstine leads the Dragons on offense and defense amassing 1,408 yards on the ground and 38 total touchdowns while leading the defense with 95 total tackles. Senior Noah Benton leads the passing attack for the Dragons passing for 2,084 yards and 23 touchdowns on the season.
Aliquippa is averaging 39 points per game in their five playoff contests thus far. Pitt commit Kaezon Pugh leads the Quips on the offensive side of the ball scoring twice in their quarterfinal match-up with Karns City. Sheldon Jeter leads Aliquippa on the defensive side of the ball with six interceptions.
Prugar’s Prediction: Central