The North Hills student section was decked in all red and took up an entire area of bleachers at Martorelli Stadium. Then just before kickoff, a student dressed as Moses pointed a staff and went strutting up the middle of the section as students moved right and left.
It was their version of the parting of the "Red Sea." But too bad North Hills didn't save Moses more for Central Catholic's defense.
There was nothing that could part this blue and gold sea of defenders Friday night. Central Catholic's defense was air-tight up the middle, and the Vikings covered the flanks well, too. That defense was the main reason Central Catholic shut out North Hills, 24-0, in a big WPIAL Class AAAA Northern Eight Conference game in front of a near-capacity crowd.
North Catholic 35, Springdale 3
North Catholic takes on Springdale in Friday night high school football action. (Video by Lucas Good; 9/6/2013)
Central Valley 31, Montour 0
Central Valley takes on Montour in Friday night football action. (Video by John Heller; 9/6/2013)
Thomas Jefferson 42, Elizabeth Forward 0
Thomas Jefferson takes on Elizabeth Forward in high school football action. (Video by Andrew Rush; 9/7/2013)
"We knew coming into the year that we had an experienced defense," Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said.
Experienced and good. Central Catholic (2-0, 2-0), the Post-Gazette's No. 2 WPIAL Class AAAA team, has allowed only three points in two games. This time, Central Catholic limited North Hills to eight first downs and only 139 yards of offense. The Indians had only 78 yards rushing.
"They got after it up front," North Hills coach Pat Carey said of Central Catholic's defense. "Their front four is probably as good as we'll see this year. Their linebackers can run, too. We had a lot of trouble blocking their linebackers on a lot of our schemes."
North Hills, hurt by two fumbles that set up scores, fell behind, 17-0, at halftime. North Hills did not have any passing yardage in the first half. In the second half, North Hills had only 9 yards rushing.
"We tried to get our defensive line to hunker down on their quarterback [Jake Bruder] scrambling," Totten said. "I think initially, up front, we were getting off the ball and it kind of took them out of their game early."
The game had a historical feel to it. It was the first home game for Carey, North Hills' first-year coach. Before the game, North Hills honored legendary coach Jack McCurry, placing him in the North Hills Sports Hall of Fame. Heck, go back 38 years and Central Catholic played its very first WPIAL game at Martorelli -- and also won by shutout, 20-0.
But by halftime, this game was history.
"We told our kids all week that this place would be packed and I think this is one of the great high school venues this side of the state," Totten said. "We preached to them we were walking into the hornets nest."
But the player who stung most was Central Catholic running back Luigi Lista-Brinza, who rushed for 144 yards on 29 carries.
"We've had some bigger home run hitters at tailback, but we're getting the tough yards we need out of this kid," Totten said.
Central Catholic quarterback J.J. Cosentino, a Florida State recruit, completed only 2 of 6 passes for 6 yards. One of Cosentino's passes went for a touchdown. On their first possession, the Vikings drove from their 23 to the North Hills 2, where they faced a fourth-and-goal. Cosentino scrambled to the left sideline and then flipped a pass to Graham Adomitis for a touchdown. Adomitis, the starting quarterback for the first few games of 2012, attended North Hills through eighth grade.
A fumbled punt set up Central Catholic's next score and Lista-Brinza found the end zone on a 2-yard run.
Mitch MacZura added a 27-yard field goal later in the half to make it 17-0.
Riley Redman scored Central Catholic's final touchdown on an 8-yard run with 2:32 left in the game. North Hills scored an apparent touchdown on a double-pass midway through the third quarter when Bruder threw to Kindhal Taylor, who threw to a wide-open Stephen Smith. But the play was nullified by an illegal forward-pass penalty.
"North Hills played with personality," Totten said.
"In the second half, we asked our kids to come out and play with grit and be determined to stay in the game," Carey said. "I believe our kids did that. If there was anything we could take positive from this game it's that our kids did battle."hsfootball
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published September 7, 2013 4:30 AM