Party is on hold for 8-0 Passion
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There was no sparkling grape juice on ice in the Pittsburgh Passion locker room last night.
Just the traditional handshake line and a long huddle with helmets raised after the team dismantled Central Pennsylvania, 77-0, at Cupples Stadium to finish the regular season undefeated at 8-0 and champions of the Central Division.
Anything more will have to come later -- and the National Women's Football Association team is confident it will be weeks from now.
"We're not doing anything until it's all over," Passion general manager Jayne Beatty said. "We have our [postseason] picnic planned for August, and the [NWFA] championship is July 21."
The playoffs are on the horizon.
"This has been five years coming," said quarterback Lisa Horton, an original member of the team who played just the first half last night, going 3-for-7 passing for 93 yards and two touchdowns to reach 1,012 passing yards this season.
The Passion had winning records the past three seasons but missed the postseason.
Horton and her teammates now will head to the playoffs with a home game Saturday against Erie. A win would bring another home game. Then would come the semifinals. The NWFA championship is July 21 in Nashville, Tenn.
Some of the team's veterans have talked about moving on after this season, so getting this far without a loss is especially meaningful.
"And the younger players want to win for us, too," Horton said. "It was great to see them tearing up for us older players."
Ron Coder, a former Penn State and NFL player who is the Passion's fifth coach in as many seasons, predicted earlier that going undefeated was a possibility.
Passion running back Torina Henley had 11 carries for 176 yards and four touchdowns in three quarters and has rushed for 1,010 yards this season.
Central Pennsylvania couldn't stop the Passion. It's a first-year team that finished the season winless and with just 22 players. The Passion fields more than three times as many players.
"Our first scrimmage was against Cleveland five years ago, and we played terrible," Horton remembered, laughing. "We talk about that now, saying, 'Remember that first scrimmage when we were struggling even with terminology?' "
Things are so much smoother now.
"We're just balanced," Beatty said. "The chemistry is phenomenal. Anytime you get 70 women getting along, it's a plus."
They're convinced they still have miles to go in their attempt to become the latest black and gold football team to win a league championship.
So that celebration will have to wait.
First Published June 17, 2007 12:56 am