Central Valley expects to be in contention again

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Sunday, August 18, 2019 | 9:39 PM


In less than a decade on the scene, Central Valley has established itself among the WPIAL’s elite football programs.

In 2010, the Center-Monaca merger became the first school in 44 years to win a WPIAL title in its inaugural season. The Warriors made at least the semifinals the first six years of their existence and missed the playoffs just once.

In nine seasons, Central Valley has compiled an 85-27 record for a winning percentage of .759.

The Warriors are expecting more of the same in 2019.

Central Valley’s success is easy to explain: great athletes and attention to details.

“We’re hoping that we always get the right people in the right places,” said coach Mark Lyons, the program’s only coach. “It’s up to the coaches and the players to do the little things to keep it going.”

Throughout the run, Lyons has valued senior leadership.

This year, the veteran coach is counting on center/linebacker Reed FitzSimmons, running back/linebacker Montel Simms and wide receiver/defensive back Michael Barbuto, who has received offers from Robert Morris and Youngstown State.

Another senior, Jawon Hall, is a quality athlete who can play multiple positions.

Paving the way up front will be 6-foot-6, 250-pound senior Ricky Foerster and Jake Wilson (6-5, 280).

Last year’s quarterback, junior Ameer Dudley, also returns. Dudley passed for 1,018 yards and five touchdowns. He also scored six touchdowns rushing.

The Warriors have to make their way through one of the state’s toughest conferences, the Class 3A Tri-County West. The last three state champions — Beaver Falls, Quaker Valley and Aliquippa — have come from the conference.

“This year will be pretty much the same suspects,” Lyons said. “We have to put ourselves in the position to get back into the playoffs.”

The nonconference schedule isn’t much easier, with Class 4A Blackhawk in Week Zero, WPIAL semifinalist North Catholic in Week 3 and perennial power Thomas Jefferson later in the season.

“The Blackhawk game will be a great test for us,” Lyons said. “We’ll be moving up in class, and it’s a nice little rivalry. We played them when we were in the Parkway Conference and in other sports. The rivalry games are important. They help the gate, boosters clubs and concession stands.”

With the task of replacing last year’s leading rusher, Noah Thompson, and the leading receiver, Anthony Mendicino, Lyons feels this might be a year the Warriors could use a second scrimmage instead of diving right in to a game.

“It’s important to work hard in certain phases of the game,” the veteran coach said. “The players have to learn to handle the flow of the game, recognizing that, and doing it in camp.”

The Oct. 18 home conference game against South Park will feature a ceremony honoring the 2010 champs.

Schedule

Coach: Mark Lyons

2018 record: 5-6, 5-2

All-time record: 85-27

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, at Blackhawk, 7

8.30, Quaker Valley*, 7

9.6, at Beaver Falls*, 7

9.13, at North Catholic, 7

9.20, Keystone Oaks*, 7

9.27, at Waynesburg*, 7

10.4, Thomas Jefferson, 7

10.11, at Hopewell*, 7

10.18, South Park*, 7

10.25, at Aliquippa*, 7

*Class 3A Tri-County West Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Ameer Dudley

73-155, 1,018 yards, 5 TDs

Rushing: Noah Thompson*

104-341 yards, 4 TDs

Receiving: Anthony Mendicino*

37-544 yards, 6 TDs

*Graduated

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