A giant duck with a proportionately large bill floated in the Allegheny River Friday evening, creating a huge stir and becoming the center of attention.
Just across the way at Highmark Stadium, it was Central Catholic that earned top billing.
Sparked by long touchdowns offensively and a stingy defense that pitched its third shutout of the season, Central Catholic rolled to a surprisingly lopsided 42-0 win against Seneca Valley.
With the win, No. 2 Central Catholic (5-0, 4-0) took over sole possession of first place in the Class AAAA Northern Eight Conference. The Vikings had been tied with No. 5 Seneca Valley (4-1, 3-1), which had won its first four games for the first time in school history, entering the game.
Central Catholic led just 7-0 for most of the first half before adding a touchdown late in the second quarter. But the Vikings scored touchdowns on all four of their second-half possessions. The Vikings summoned the mercy rule when they scored a touchdown to make it 35-0 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"We did what we came out to do. We executed and got it done," said Central Catholic quarterback J.J. Cosentino. "We really didn't expect to blow them out like this, but it's a good feeling. We just have to keep taking steps forward to getting better."
Cosentino and running back Luigi Lista-Brinza were the catalysts offensively.
Cosentino, a Florida State recruit, completed only 3 of 6 passes, but each of the three completions went for touchdowns. One of them was a 96-yard heave to Shafer Swann, the son of former Steelers great Lynn Swann. Cosentino finished with 144 yards and also ran for a touchdown. He had thrown for 146 yards and one touchdown in the first four games.
"We don't throw the ball a lot. We run it down your throat," Cosentino said. "I just do what the team asks me to do. I was lucky enough to have some people who were wide open, and I got the ball to them. They made it easy for me."
Lista-Brinza rushed for 179 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries before leaving the game with a left ankle injury, which he does not believe is serious, with 5:44 left in the third quarter.
But the stingy Central Catholic defense was serious. The Vikings, who have given up only 13 points this season, forced three turnovers and limited Seneca Valley to 237 yards. Seneca Valley was 3 of 15 on third downs and 1 of 5 on fourth downs. The Raiders had been averaging 31.8 points per game.
"There's not a lot of things that tell you a lot about football games," said Seneca Valley coach Don Holl. "One of them is turnovers, plus or minus. One of them is scores in the red zone, converting those. And the other is converting third downs.
"I don't know what it was, but we didn't convert a lot of third downs, we didn't score when we got in the red zone, and we turned it over."
Lista-Brinza scored on a 73-yard touchdown -- his 10th of the season -- on the game's opening drive.
"It was great blocking. The fullback got in there and our line made some nice blocks, and I was just off to the races," he said.
Seneca Valley drove inside the Central Catholic 35 on its first three drives, but came away empty each time.
"We thought we were moving the ball," Holl said. "We thought we were doing the things that we had game-planned to do, and we didn't finish."
Cosentino connected with Graham Adomitis for a 15-yard touchdown with 1:52 left in the first half to put Central Catholic ahead by two touchdowns.
Nothing went right offensively for Seneca Valley in the second half either. Of its six possessions, two ended with fumbles, two with punts, and the other two times it turned the ball over on downs.
Central Catholic got third-quarter touchdowns on Devin Faloon's 2-yard run and Cosentino's 4-yard run. Cosentino found Cameron Sutherland (35 yards) and Swann for fourth-quarter touchdowns.