Although the Class 1A and 2A semifinals featured some thrilling contests that came down to the wire, the focus of this installment of Plays of the Week is the WPIAL title games at Heinz Field. In 5A, a fabulous freshman made the biggest plays for the Gators; the Quaker Valley Cinderella story in 3A was capped off by an incredible defensive effort, keyed by a late interception; the Rams season of dominance continued in 6A, as their prolific quarterback put his stamp on the game; and in 4A, a key special teams play gave the Jaguars a lead they were not relinquish. Here are the very best plays on the final stop on the Highway to Heinz.
1. Gateway 21, Penn-Trafford 16
In the regular season, the Warriors scored a decisive victory against the Gators. The rematch was far from lopsided, though. Gateway held the lead for most of the second half, but Penn-Trafford scored a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the Warriors got the football back with just over one minute remaining. The drive quickly reached the Gateway 30-yard line, but was ultimately cut short, thanks to the efforts of Gateway freshman Derrick Davis. Davis first sacked PT quarterback Cam Laffoon, and then intercepted Laffoon with just 18 seconds left to seal the outcome.
The TribLive High School Sports Network’s Cory Campano and Donny Chedrick have the call of the Gators first district gold since 1986:
2. Quaker Valley 2, Aliquippa 0
While the Quakers winning a championship seemed improbable just a few months ago, the way they did it was even more unlikely. QV and Aliquippa engaged in a defensive battle that featured a slew of turnovers in the wet conditions. The only points came courtesy of a controversial safety recorded by the QV defense in the second quarter. Late in the fourth, though, the Quips began to find a rhythm offensively, and drove into Quakers’ territory. Then, Quaker Valley’s Ethan Moore intercepted the pass by William Gipson.
The Trib Live High School Sports Networks Sean Saputo and Kevin Zielmanski provide the audio of the decisive defensive play that catapulted the Quakers to their first WPIAL football crown:
3. Pine-Richland 42, Central Catholic 7
For much of the season, there was little doubt that Pine-Richland was the most talented team in 6A. The Rams mad sure that talent was on full display at Heinz Field, as they took care of business against the Vikings. QB Phil Jurkovec cemented himself as one of the best players in recent memory, and perhaps his finest play was a 48-yard connection with Raymond Falcone in the first quarter. The TD gave the Rams a 14-0 lead, and they never looked back en route to the title.
The Trib Live High School Sports Networks Paul Paterra and Lou Rood detail the long strike for Pine-Richland:
4. Thomas Jefferson 27, Montour 0
The Spartans showed some magic with comeback victories in their first two playoff games, but the Jaguars made sure that wouldn’t happen at their expense. TJ’s defense recorded its third-straight postseason shutout, while the special teams provided all the points the Jags needed. In the first quarter, Garret Fairman returned a punt 67-yard into the end zone to stake Thomas Jefferson to a 6-0 edge.
The Trib Live High School Sports Networks James Dotson and Rennie Detore have the call on the first of many big plays that led TJ to the three-peat: