North Xtra: Quaker Valley win ends drought in playoffs

Craig Meyer's high school football notebook

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For Quaker Valley, the road to success in football was long and arduous.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, the program was consistently mired with sub-.500 records and lopsided defeats among other barometers, all of which added up to a school that had not been to the WPIAL playoffs since the late 1990s.

But last Friday, the Quakers saw the end of that road rapidly approaching and with that reality facing them, they took full advantage.

With a 29-15 victory against New Brighton, they were able to collect their first postseason victory since 1999, the year which also marked the last time the program made the WPIAL playoffs.

"It was just a great sense of accomplishment," third-year Quaker Valley coach John Tortorea said. "We've been working for three years to get to that moment."

In the years since the Quakers last found postseason success, they went 25-96 from 2000-2012, a period of time which included six seasons with one win or fewer and just one season with a winning record.

Heading into the fourth quarter, Quaker Valley trailed, 15-14, but it was able to score two unanswered touchdowns. Quarterback Dane Jackson led all players with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

While the thrill of a long-awaited victory was undoubtedly sweet for the Quakers, the euphoria will have to be short-lived. On Friday, they will travel to Moon Area High School to take on two-time defending WPIAL champion Aliquippa in the Class AA quarterfinals. The Quips have outscored their 10 opponents this season by an average of 38.4 points per game.

The Quakers, however, are simply trying to enjoy their current position, one that would have been hard to imagine even five years ago.

"We're welcoming the opportunity and just trying to be who we are," Tortorea said.

Golden Rams break through

Quaker Valley was not the only WPIAL program that was able to get a playoff victory after a considerable lapse.

With its win against New Castle last Friday, Highlands got its first playoff victory since 2008, a season in which it went 11-1 and made the Class AAA semifinals. Since that season, the Golden Rams compiled a four-year record of 17-22 before going 7-3 entering their quarterfinal game Friday against Thomas Jefferson.

Standout running back Elijah Jackson rushed for 105 yards in the victory.

Knights' historic season ends

Summit Academy's first trip to the WPIAL playoffs was a brief one, as it fell to Beaver Falls, 50-26, last Friday. The setback, however, served as a bookend to the most successful season in school history, one in which it went 5-5 and finished in third in the Class AA Allegheny Conference.

For the Knights, the 2013 season marked the second time they have finished the regular season with a winning record. Prior to this season, Summit Academy had gone 32-103 since it started playing WPIAL football in 1998.

Indians reach loss plateau

Regarded as one of the most historically successful programs in Class AAAA, and all of the WPIAL, North Hills reached a feat yet again this year that shows it has struggled some in recent seasons.

With their 33-21 loss to Gateway in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, the Indians finished 5-5 in 2013, marking the sixth time in the past eight seasons in which they have had at least four losses. In that span, they have gone 51-38 compared to the 66-24 mark they posted in the eight years prior to that.

Games of interest

Upper St. Clair vs. North Allegheny, 7:30 p.m., Baldwin High School -- North Allegheny struggled for parts of the regular season, but picked up a playoff victory for the seventh consecutive year with a 28-0 win against Bethel Park last week. Can that success continue against the Post-Gazette's top-ranked team in Class AAAA?

Woodland Hills vs. Seneca Valley, 7:30 p.m., North Allegheny High School -- Since dropping their first two games, the Wolverines have won eight in a row and will get to meet a similarly hot team in Seneca Valley. After suffering its lone loss of the season on Sept. 27, Seneca Valley has won its past five games by an average of 27.6 points.


Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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