WPIAL football notebook: Balanced passing attack boosts North Allegheny
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Through the first 12 games of the season, more than 40 percent (47 of 115) of North Allegheny senior quarterback Mack Leftwich's completions went to senior wide receiver Gregg Garrity.
But in Friday's WPIAL Class AAAA championship game against Woodland Hills, Leftwich and Garrity connected only once, for a 32-yard touchdown right before halftime to give the Tigers their final score of the game in their 21-14 win.
Leftwich's other 12 completions were spread out among six receivers, including five to senior tight ends Zach Lyon, Skylar Cox and Kevin Edwards. Lyon finished with three catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
"It's one of those situations where if they take the guys outside away, you tend to forget about [the tight ends] and think more about them as blockers," said North Allegheny head coach Art Walker. "But Zach and Skylar and Kevin Edwards have proven they can catch the ball and turn it up the field. They have done it all year."
Lyon has the most catches (8) and second-most yards (187) for the Tigers the past two games. He had 12 catches for 288 yards in the first 11 games of the season.
Elijah Zeise led the Tigers in receiving yards for the second consecutive game with 89 yards on five catches. Zeise's 50-yard reception set up Garrity's winning touchdown.
"I'm really grateful we have so many weapons on offense and Mack to give us the ball," Lyon said. "It's really great."
Woodland Hills freshman running back Miles Sanders left the field on a stretcher after his head hit the ground awkwardly when he was tackled with 3:04 remaining in the fourth quarter of the WPIAL Class AAAA title game.
On his way off the field, Sanders gave the "thumbs up" sign to the crowd. After the game, Woodland Hills head coach George Novak said Sanders had a sprained neck and was taken to the hospital.
Before the injury, Sanders rushed for 97 yards on 17 carries and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. He also had two catches for 50 yards.
It was the second time in three weeks Sanders left the game due to a neck/head injury. After exiting the WPIAL quarterfinal game against Gateway, the injury forced him to miss the Wolverines' game against Upper St. Clair last week.
With Sto-Rox losing to Clairton in the Class A championship game, Vikings head coach Dan Bradley's schedule will ease up a bit.
While Bradley was preparing Sto-Rox for its past two games, he also has been preparing the Avonworth boys basketball team for the start of the season.
The official start of high school basketball practices in Pennsylvania was Nov. 16, and Bradley, the Antelopes' head coach, went to Avonworth for basketball practice after school. He then traveled to Dormont Stadium that night to coach Sto-Rox to a 34-20 win against North Catholic in the Class A semifinals.
This past week, Bradley led Sto-Rox football practices after school and Avonworth basketball practices at night.
Bradley took over as Sto-Rox's head coach in July when Ron Butschle stepped down for personal reasons. Bradley had been the offensive coordinator under Butschle last season.
Total attendance for the four games was about 17,000, according to WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley. West Mifflin and North Allegheny sold the most tickets in advance.
"You always hope for a little more, but with the weather forecast, I don't think we can complain about the crowds," O'Malley said. "Root Sports does such a good job televising the games, so I'm sure because of the weather, some people stayed home and watched. But we still think for the players, having a chance to play here and having a chance to be on television is a good thing for them."
Clairton star Tyler Boyd has a number of scholarship offers from Division I college and is now taking a second look at Penn State.
As of Friday afternoon, Boyd planned to visit Penn State today for the Nittany Lions' game against Wisconsin. He had a strong liking for Penn State in the summer, but cooled on the school after it was hit with NCAA sanctions. Pitt also is high on Boyd's list. He visited Pitt last weekend.
Clairton's 58 points against Sto-Rox was the fourth-highest point total in the WPIAL championships, which date to 1914. Bridgeville beat Trafford, 64-0, in 1949, Jeannette defeated Beaver Falls, 61-12, in 2007 and Washington defeated Allegheny, 60-0, in 1923.
Aliquippa quarterback Malik Shegog and running back Terry Swanson both reached season highs for rushing yards in a game in the Class AA championship against Washington.
Swanson had 15 carries for 206 yards, which eclipsed his previous season high of 168 yards. Shegog carried the ball nine times for 100 yards, topping his previous single-game high of 63 yards. Aliquippa outrushed Washington, 505-91.
North Allegheny's Walker tied his father, Art Walker Sr., Upper St. Clair's Jim Render and Woodland Hills' Novak for the most WPIAL Class AAAA titles by a coach, with five. The younger Walker has won three with the Tigers and two with Central Catholic.
First Published November 24, 2012 12:09 am