Saturday afternoon, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic picked up one more thing it has to move to its new school in Cranberry -- a WPIAL football championship trophy.
In their final school year on Troy Hill before moving, the Trojans (13-0) won their first WPIAL football title by defeating Sto-Rox, 14-0, in the Class A championship at Heinz Field.
"We said when we started the season we wanted to start a new tradition," North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl said. "We have a lot of old tradition up there, too, but this is a new tradition."
North Catholic 14, Sto-Rox 0
North Catholic takes on Sto-Rox in the 2013 WPIAL football championships. (Video by Lucas Good; 11/23/2013)
North Catholic will take on District 5 champion Tussey Mountain (11-2) next week in the PIAA quarterfinals.
For Sto-Rox (12-1), it was its third consecutive loss in the WPIAL title game. The problem Saturday for the Vikings was they couldn't help going backwards, either because of North Catholic's defense or self-inflicted wounds.
The Trojans had six sacks and 12 tackles for losses, eight of which were by the defensive lineman trio of Jarred Fragapane, Ryan Long and Thadeus Benson.
They were integral in containing the WPIAL's all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, Lenny Williams. Williams was 16 of 26 for 203 yards passing, but gained just 16 yards on 19 carries and turned the ball over twice.
"We played against one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the WPIAL and shut them out, so that sends a statement right there," junior P.J. Fulmore said.
Williams had to play without his top target, Mallory Claybourne, for the second half after the senior wideout injured his right shoulder in the first half.
But even with Claybourne, the Vikings couldn't muster any points because of North Catholic's consistent pressure, which also forced six false start penalties. The Vikings were penalized 15 times for 99 yards.
"Unfortunately we didn't play with enough discipline like we had most of the season," Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley said.
A costly offside penalty by the Vikings on a third-and-1 kept North Catholic's first drive of the game alive, and Fulmore made Sto-Rox pay later in the drive when he scored on a 2-yard run on fourth down to make it 7-0 with 3:20 left in the first.
North Catholic had only 16 yards the rest of the half and missed two golden opportunities to add to its lead, as Ronnie Meder and Ryan Kirby each dropped potential touchdowns.
"To be honest with you, if we have had those two catches in the first half, then the game might have been a little easier than it was," Ravenstahl said.
Instead, it was 7-0 entering the fourth quarter and the Trojans faced a third-and-14 at their 26. North Catholic spread the offense out with only Fulmore in the backfield, and he took off for a 42-yard run.
"It was just what the doctor ordered," Long said.
Fulmore, who moved from running back to quarterback when Adam Sharlow was injured in the eighth game of the season, led all rushers with 83 yards on 26 carries. But he injured his hamstring on the long run, so he handed off to Jerome Turner for the final five plays of the drive. Turner gained 32 yards, including 17 on the final carry for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 8:14 to play in the game.
Sto-Rox lost a fumble on its next possession and the Trojans never gave the ball back, making school history in the process.
"This is the last year the school is going to be on Troy Hill and we end up getting a WPIAL championship," Fulmore said. "It's just crazy."
First Published November 23, 2013 2:08 PM