Underdogs sweep WPIAL championships

The new wave is here. Like Moses parting the Red Sea, the time has come to make way for the new generation of WPIAL’s finest running backs. Woodland Hills’ Dom Timbers is a Syracuse recruit, Clairton’s Deontae Howard has rushed for more than 4,000 career yards. Greensburg Central Catholic’s David Miller and West Allegheny’s Mike Caputo both have rushed for over 2,000 yards this season.

2009 QUAD A CHAMPS— Woodland Hills players celebrate at Heinz Field after shutting out Gateway 10-0 for the WPIAL AAAA championship.

Hopewell super sophomore Rushel Shell, arguably the greatest back in WPIAL history, has rushed for over 2,700 in 2009 and has 4,300 yards in only two seasons.

Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, West Allegheny and Woodland Hills all entered Heinz Field Nov. 27 as underdogs, but all were able to pull off the upset with their running style.

To win the war you have to win the battles.

Clairton dedicated Friday’s WPIAL Class A championship game to their former linebackers coach, the late Demonje Rosser. Rosser was shot and killed outside his home in March and the team wears a patch on their jerseys in his honor.

The Bears were able to knock off the Rochester Rams 14-13 behind playmakers Desimond Green and Deontae Howard. Green, a 6-5, 220-pound junior, has blossomed into one of the WPIAL’s most dangerous quarterbacks. He has excelled defensively and is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the state.

2009 CLASS A CHAMPS —The Clairton Bears celebrate after beating Rochester 14-13 in the WPIAL Class A championship.

“We watched them on film,” said Green. “And we knew they were not a good as some of the other Rochester teams.”

Rochester scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter and decided against overtime, instead choosing to go for the two-point conversion and the win. The two- point conversion failed.

“At Rochester, when you get to the championship game, you come here to win,” senior 1,000 yard running back Trey Johnson said. “It wasn’t just coach’s decision to go for it. We told him we wanted to go for the win.”

In boxing they say to beat the champ, you have to knock him out. David Miller and Trent Hurley were the 1-2 punch by Greensburg Central Catholic that clearly KO’d defending WPIAL Class AA champion Aliquippa, 33-7.

SUPER SOPHOMORE— Rushel Shell, Hopewell’s record breaking running back, rushed for 274 yards and four touchdowns but it was not enough as the Vikings fell to West Allegheny 36-28. Shell went over 4,000 career yards and now has 4,255 yards in two years.

“There is no quit in this team,” said Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac. “We didn’t get to be who we are by quitting. They wore us down. Last year we were big up front, this year we have young babies.”

David Miller rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns including a 79-yard run where he pulled away from all the Aliquippa speedsters. It looked as if the battle-worn soldier would falter, but he dug down deep and refused to surrender. He continued pumping his legs and breaking tackles. “I was dead tired. It was a ‘26 power.’ We run that about 35 times a game,” said Miller. “It’s the only play Muzzy really knows.”

Miller broke a school record for touchdowns in a season with his last score. He has 37 touchdowns and has gained 2,143 yards this season.

“David is a great running back. He reminds me of Don Nottingham,” said coach Muzzy Colisimo. “I have an offensive coordinator but I call all the plays. If I’m going to get fired I want to make sure I have all the control. I got some great kids here. I got fired from Hempfield and I got fired from Franklin Regional. But the kids here buy into our system. If we would have lost today we would have been in the weight room on Monday. That’s how quickly we go from one year to the next.”

When ask what colleges are recruiting him.

“I have not had any offers yet. I would love to go to Bowling Green with my quarterback, Trent Hurley. When I was in junior high school I played fullback and I love to block, but then one day I got really fast and Muzzy moved me to tailback.”

Bowling Green needs to recruit this bowling ball.

Hopewell and West Allegheny have become accustomed to playing against each other every year in their annual conference game.

The game featured the WPIAL’s two leading rushers in Rushel Shell and Mike Caputo, who combined for 452 yards and eight touchdowns in Friday night’s WPIAL Class AAA championship and West Allegheny was able to hold on for the 36-28 upset victory. It was West Allegheny’s fifth WPIAL Class AAA title in five tries,

Despite his greenhorn status, Shell, Hopewell’s super sophomore, is already in the discussion as the greatest runner in WPIAL history. His 274 yards shattered the WPIAL championship game record and his 4,300 career yards are the most ever by a sophomore.

Losing the WPIAL last year sent Gateway coach Terry Smith back to the drawing board and filled him with a level of obsessive vengeance that consumed his every waking moment, but Woodland Hills was able to knock off the Gators 10-0 in their Backyard Brawl.

Woodland Hills has been one of the WPIAL’s most successful programs since the school opened in 1987.

Sam Scifo’s opening kickoff went out of bounds, and the Wolverines were forced to re-kick after a 5-yard penalty. Scifo squibbed his second try, it bounced off Orne Bey’s chest near the Gateway 40, and Caprara recovered for the Wolverines at the 37. That set up a 24-yard field goal by Scifo, giving Woodland Hills a 3-0 lead with 6:46 to go in the first quarter. Jayron Polk ran a reverse up the left sideline for a 14-yard touchdown to extend their lead to 10-0.

The Wolverines walked into Heinz Field, but they limped home.

The Wolverines were shutout in the second half, because Gateway linebacker Delbert “The Hitman” Tyler played like a man possessed. He is another character guy who is coming in from the shadows. Delbert played one terrific football game. His run stuffing at the line of scrimmage after the first half kept the Wolverines off the scoreboard

Stuffing ball carriers is the only way he knows how to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Delbert put out four of Woodland Hills top players, tight end Richard Gray, running back Lafayette Pitts, fullback Cameron Thompkins and Syracuse recruit Dom Timbers.

“We were down to our fourth tailback,” said coach George Novak. “But they just kept gutting it out and never gave up.”

After losing three straight WPIAL championship games in a row, the Gators will probably never buy another bottle of Heinz ketchup.

Gateway opened the season as the “People’s Champion.” And if Coach Smith continues on the path he is on now, eventually he and his Gators will be WPIAL champions as well.


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