Like it did for most of the season, West Allegheny traveled by land to win the WPIAL Class AAA championship game Friday night against West Mifflin Area at Heinz Field.
The Indians (12-1) ran the ball 57 times for 402 yards, as they mixed and matched a trio of running backs -- Nick Halbedl, Chayse Dillon and Armand Dellovade.
Halbedl, the only senior among the bunch, led the way with 16 carries for 148 yards, while Dillon, a sophomore, had 121 yards on 15 carries and his classmate, Dellovade, had 88 yards on 11 rushes.
While the player carrying the ball seemed to change every snap for the Indians, the players responsible for creating the holes for the running backs remained constant all game long.
"Oh my gosh, all the credit goes to the [offensive line]," West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said. "Everybody wants to talk about [the running backs], but these kids are busting their butts and working hard, so you just have to tip your hat to them."
Tackles Jordan Diven and Dustin Windemaker, guards Shea Beaumont and Bryan Frauens, center Billy Steele and tight end Zech Medved make up the group up front for the Indians.
The unit, made up entirely of seniors, has played a big role for the Indians in the playoffs.
West Allegheny rushed for 1,063 yards in four playoff games to help Palko win his sixth WPIAL title at the school.
It's not as if the Indians took other teams by surprise, either. West Allegheny hadn't thrown more than 14 passes in a game since the season opener and the Indians averaged 39.7 rushes per game for the season. In the past three playoff games, that average increased to 50 carries per contest.
Diven joked that the Indians' offensive scheme takes the pressure off him.
"I like it because I won't get embarrassed in pass protection obviously and I won't get in trouble for letting up sacks as much," Diven said.
Although Halbedl, Dillon and Dellovade will get much of the credit outside of the team because of their stats, Diven said that inside the locker room, it's the linemen who get most of the accolades after a rushing performance such as the Indians had on Friday.
"That's great because the coaches know that we get all the credit for blocking for them," Diven said.
The Indians will move on to the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals to face an Erie Cathedral Prep team that is 12-0 and averaging 51 points per game while allowing just 10 points per contest. Not helping matters for West Allegheny is the fact the game, which is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, will be played at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Erie.
It is the first time West Allegheny has played in a state quarterfinal game since 2009, when the Indians beat Erie Cathedral Prep before losing to Manheim Central in the semifinals.
Although Diven said he enjoys being part of a WPIAL championship team, he stressed that he won't be fulfilled unless the Indians are raising another trophy in Hershey on Dec. 14.
"Honestly, I love it but I'm not satisfied," Diven said. "I want a state championship."
Diven and the rest of the Indians' linemen will be responsible for paving the way.hsfootball