Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic will shut its doors on Troy Hill in June, and the school will move to Cranberry. The football team just might have a perfect way to close the school.
North Catholic moved a step closer to a perfect regular season with a 21-12 victory against host Avonworth Friday night in a WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference game.
North Catholic, the Post-Gazette's No. 2-ranked WPIAL Class A team, is 6-0 overall and in first place in the Eastern with the same record. Since joining the WPIAL in the mid-1970s, North Catholic has had one perfect regular season (1997). North Catholic has only three regular-season games remaining.
North Catholic 21, Avonworth 12
North Catholic takes on Avonworth in Friday night football action. (Video by Andrew Rush; 10/4/2013)
West Mifflin 40, Elizabeth Forward 16
West Mifflin bests Elizabeth Forward 40-16 on Thursday, October 3 at Warrior Stadium. (Video by Matt Hafley; 10/4/2013))
Central Catholic 49, Pine Richland 14
Central Catholic takes on Pine Richland in Friday night high school football action. (Video by Lucas Good; 10/4/2013)
South Fayette 49, Quaker Valley 15
South Fayette takes on Quaker Valley in Friday night football action. (Video by Lake Fong; 10/5/2013)
"I think some of the kids are taking it personally," North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl said of the school closing. "Some of them have played for North Catholic for four years. We set some goals this year. We had a good team last year, and most of those guys are returning, so we were expecting big things."
Quarterback Adam Sharlow was talking about real big things after leading the Trojans to their win against Avonworth (5-1, 4-1) with two touchdown runs. One came on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter that gave North Catholic the lead for good.
"We're just going to try and fight the best we can to try and get down to Heinz Field [for the WPIAL championship]," Sharlow said. "No one is going to be at this school next year. It's the last year. We just want to do what we can and play our hearts out."
Sharlow took the heart out of Avonworth with a superb effort on his second touchdown.
North Catholic had controlled the ball for nine minutes while going on a 14-play drive. But the Trojans, trailing, 12-7, faced a fourth-and-5 early in the fourth quarter. Avonworth defensive lineman Kadale Coles had just made a big stop, holding Sharlow to a 1-yard gain on third down. On fourth down, Coles burst through the line and had Sharlow wrapped up for an apparent loss.
But Sharlow somehow got free, broke another tackle, ran to the outside and darted into the end zone for a touchdown.
"That was just all effort," Ravenstahl said of Sharlow's touchdown.
Sharlow said: "I thought [Coles] had me. I just tried to keep my feet going."
Sharlow made up for one bad play in the first half. He was back to punt and started to run when he took the snap. Then, he decided to punt, barely kicked the ball, and Avonworth took over at the North Catholic 26. Three plays later, Josh Drwal turned a short pass from Matt Donovan into a 21-yard touchdown play.
In the first half, Sharlow scored North Catholic's first touchdown on a 25-yard run. Running North Catholic's no-huddle offense, Sharlow finished with 90 yards rushing on 25 carries and completed 8 of 21 passes for 106 yards.
"That was a killer, just a killer," Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said of Sharlow's fourth-quarter touchdown. "You have him wrapped up, he spins out of two tackles and scores on it. ... He's a tough kid who just plays physical, but he really was about the only kid who did a lot for them."
North Catholic's defense did a lot, holding Avonworth to 172 total yards. The defense also accounted for a touchdown. Avonworth took over at its 26 with 1:37 left. But Donovan's pass was tipped by Ronnie Meder and intercepted by Jarred Fragapane, who returned it 21 yards for a touchdown.
"We came out in the second half and wanted to throw some, but our quarterback struggled a little," Johncour said. "We couldn't get our playmakers open, and that hurt us."
Avonworth took the lead when Jesse Zubik returned the second-half kickoff 69 yards to the 1-yard line. Moses Giles scored on the next to play to make it 12-7.
The score stayed that way until Sharlow's second touchdown.
P.J. Fulmore, a standout running back for North Catholic who hadn't played since the season opener because of an ankle injury, ran for 60 yards on 14 carries.
"We just weren't in sync offensively," Ravenstahl said. "We're used to running down the field. But Avonworth played one heckuva game."
Just not perfect.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published October 5, 2013 4:15 AM