North Allegheny completes a championship season in convincing fashion
North Allegheny's Alex DeCiantis dives for the pylon to score a touchdown in the first half Saturday night in the PIAA Class AAAA final in Hershey, Pa.
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If this was a finishing kick, then North Allegheny put two feet to Coatesville's head.
North Allegheny, one of the most dominant Class AAAA teams ever to come out of the WPIAL, won a PIAA title and finished a perfect season with a record-breaking, 63-28 victory against Coatesville Saturday night at Hersheypark Stadium.
North Allegheny had talked about wanting to cap a terrific season with a strong finishing kick. After this performance, you can put the stamp of greatness right on North Allegheny. And after kicking Coatesville back to the Philadelphia area, the Tigers earned their stripes as one of the best teams from the WPIAL. In three PIAA playoff games, North Allegheny outscored opponents, 164-44.
It was the second PIAA title in the past three years for North Allegheny, but the Tigers put 63 exclamation points at the end of this championship.
• The 63 points set a record for a PIAA championship in any classification.
• Senior quarterback Mack Leftwich set a Class AAAA title game record with 199 yards passing, bettering the old mark of 198 by North Hills' Eric Kasperowicz in 1993. Leftwich completed 16 of 20 passes.
• North Allegheny tied a championship-game record with 28 first-quarter points.
• North Allegheny also tied a title-game record with 26 first downs.
On top of those records, North Allegheny finished as the sixth-highest scoring team in WPIAL history (671 points).
"After a statement win like this in a state championship game, I think our team has to be considered one of the best of all time," Leftwich said.
Leftwich spent only two years of high school in Pennsylvania and might not know much about other dominant teams, but his point was well taken.
"We only had one game that was within 10 points," said Leftwich, who finished this year with 3,331 passing yards. "With the schedule we had, running the table like we did and finishing the way we did says something."
North Allegheny coach Art Walker also won a PIAA title at Central Catholic in 2004, and that team is considered one of the best in recent history.
"It's tough for me to make comparisons," Walker said. "But this group of seniors won more games than any group of players in [WPIAL] [Class AAAA] history. They won 45 games. That says a lot."
North Allegheny's defense also said a lot against Coatesville as the Tigers got two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter. North Allegheny scored on its first possession when Leftwich hit Skylar Cox for an 8-yard touchdown. Four plays after the ensuing kickoff, Coatesville receiver Dre Boggs caught a pass, but fumbled trying to get extra yardage. North Allegheny's Layne Skundrich forced the fumble, defensive back Brendan Coniker picked up the ball and raced 80 yards for a touchdown.
On Coatesville's next possession, quarterback Emmett Hunt fumbled trying to scramble away from a rush. Linebacker Kevin Edwards picked it up and rambled 52 yards for a touchdown to give North Allegheny a 21-0 lead before the game was nine minutes old.
"It's not just our offense and it's not just our defense. The two feed off one another," Walker said. "I think with our defense scoring like they did, giving us insurance points in the first half, that was unbelievable."
North Allegheny held a 28-7 lead after the first quarter. Leftwich also had a 5-yard scoring run in the quarter and finished with 90 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
Alex DeCiantis, who had 115 yards on 21 carries, scored on a 22-yard run in the second quarter, but Coatesville got an 89-yard touchdown run from Daquan Worley to make it 35-14 at halftime.
Coatesville made things a little interesting early in the third quarter when Hunt scored on a 1-yard run to bring Coatesville within 35-21. But North Allegheny answered with a scoring drive capped off by Leftwich's 17-yard touchdown pass to Gregg Garrity. Leftwich finished the season with 45 touchdown passes, the most in Pennsylvania Class AAAA history.
The rout was on when DeCiantis scored on two more 1-yard runs later in the second half. Nick Cully scored the Tigers; final touchdown on a 60-yard run with 4:32 remaining.
"We didn't play well on either side of the ball, and they played very well," Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said. "For us to make this a game, we had to play our best game and that didn't happen. ... Leftwich is a great player.
"Going into this game we had played very physical, but they were more physical than us, and that was the difference."
First Published December 16, 2012 12:00 am