There is an old saying in athletics, “Defense wins championships.” Last night in the 2015 WPIAL Class AAA Championship, that saying could not have been more true. Thomas Jefferson used a stellar defense holding Central Valley to 126 yards while allowing seven points as it captured the Class AAA title in its 20-7 victory.
The defensive line for the Jaguars seemed to be all over Central Valley quarterback Chris Callaghan for the entire 48 minutes. The Jaguars amassed 4 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
Leading the way for Thomas Jefferson on defense was Zane Zandier with seven tackles, who also hauled in a nine-yard touchdown reception from Bobby Kelley.
The only points scored were on the Jaguar offense via an interception returned for a touchdown as the Thomas Jefferson defense dominated from the start.
Senior Braden Pahanish got the scoring started for the Jaguars with a 57-yard run on the first Thomas Jefferson drive of the game. The two-way running back-linebacker finished with five tackles, two for a loss on the defense side of the ball.
Quinton Hill finished the scoring for the Jaguars with a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Central Valley’s scoring came via their defense as Kyle Vreen intercepted a Bobby Kelley pass with 11 minutes left in the third quarter and took it 56 yards to the end zone.
Vreen would intercept another Kelley pass on the next drive, but Central Valley couldn’t move the ball on offense.
The Warriors gave up 290 yards of total offense and limited the Jaguars to 83 passing yards while giving up 207 yards on the ground.
While the Warriors came up short on the offensive end, their defense kept them within two possessions throughout the game. Allowing only 20 points, Central Valley never seemed to be out of the game until the final whistle blew.
The Jaguars advance to the PIAA Class AAA Quarterfinals to face Cathedral Prep next weekend.
Photo by: Matt Freed/Post-Gazette