Undefeated Central Valley will head into its Parkway Conference showdown against West Allegheny tonight without head coach Mark Lyons, who is serving the first of his two-game suspension for alleged recruitment.
Taking the reins for Central Valley (4-0, 4-0), the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's No. 3-ranked Class AAA team, is interim coach Shawn McCreary, usually the offensive line coach. He also is one of the high school's two principals.
"We're just trying to keep the status quo," McCreary said. "[The coaches] delegated the responsibilities out. Our focus and level of preparation is the same as always."
Central Valley vs. West Allegheny, 7:30 p.m.
West Allegheny's Joe DiMichela Stadium in Imperial.
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West Allegheny's only loss in 13 contests against WPIAL opponents last year came against Central Valley, 28-14.
It's a unique situation, but facing the reigning WPIAL champions tonight in the Post-Gazette Game of the Week is helping keep the focus on what's ahead.
No. 2-ranked West Allegheny (4-0, 4-0) has rushed for more than 1,100 yards in its first four games and can attack with several runners. Chayse Dillon leads with 513 yards on 33 carries, but Tory Delmonico and Whitney White average almost 6 yards a carry each and Terence Stephens averages 7.4.
"Our front seven has to be able to control their power run game," McCreary said. "They're going to want to run ... we have to control the line of scrimmage to neutralize them."
When West Allegheny decides to pass -- the Indians average a little more than 10 attempts per game -- quarterback Andrew Koester completes 61.5 percent and averages more than 100 yards per game for a team that has scored the second-most points (180) in Class AAA, behind only West Mifflin (191).
But Central Valley's defense is no pushover and has posted three consecutive shutouts after beating New Castle, 29-6, in its opener.
"We're having a lot of success on defense," McCreary said. "We're playing well as a unit. The next seven or eight [backups] coming in are doing a great job, too. The key is we're playing team defense, getting to the football, getting turnovers. That's making good situations on defense and getting good field position for our offense."
On offense, Central Valley boasts running back Jordan Whitehead, a preseason Fabulous 22 selection who has 265 yards on 27 rushes (9.8 yards per carry) and nine total touchdowns. JaQuan Pennington has carried 43 times for 240 yards.
"We have a luxury there," McCreary said. "We make sure they get some rest and always have fresh legs out there."
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