Central Valley rolls to 3rd straight WPIAL Class 3A championship

Saturday, November 27, 2021 | 2:53 PM

Though the school is in just its 12th year of existence, the trophy case at Central Valley High School is getting crowded.

The Warriors (13-0) won their fifth WPIAL football title Saturday afternoon with a 52-15 victory over North Catholic (12-1) to become 12th school to win three consecutive WPIAL crowns.

Senior running back Landon Alexander rushed for 217 yards and became the school’s all-time leading ballcarrier, surpassing Jordan Whitehead, now with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Junior wide receiver/defensive back Jayvin Thompson scored twice on pass plays and intercepted four Trojans passes.

“That’s pretty special,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said of the three straight titles. “I don’t know if it’s soaked in yet as to what these guys have accomplished in three years of high school football.”

The Warriors scored 21 points in a stretch of 3 minutes, 28 seconds to break a 7-7 tie.

Thompson scored on a 69-yard pass from Antwon Johnson with 38 seconds left in the first quarter. Following a fumble recovery by Pitt-bound Sean FitzSimmons, Jack Bible scored on a 14-yard jump pass from Matt Merritt five plays later.

After Thompson’s second interception, Alexander scored on a 50-yard run with 9:10 left in the half.

But the Warriors and Thompson weren’t done. A third pick-off by Thompson at the North Catholic 25 put Central Valley in favorable scoring position. Three plays later, a pass from Merritt was tipped by a Trojans defender into the hands of Alexander to illustrate how the day was going. Alexander scored from 15 yards out to put the Warriors in front, 35-7.

After forcing a North Catholic punt, Thompson scored on a 15-yard pass from Johnson.

Serafino DeSantis booted a 36-field goal with 1:27 left before intermission to make it a 45-7 Central Valley advantage.

“This is just a tribute to what they’ve done and all the work they’ve put in,” Lyons said. “I’ve been in this a long time, and I started my career losing three straight with Monaca. I never thought to myself I’d have this opportunity again and here we are.”

North Catholic was seeking its second WPIAL title to go with the championship won in 2013.

“We knew during practice all week that there’d be a point where we’d have to withstand that Central Valley blitz and that would be our chance,” said Trojans coach Pat O’ Shea. “We’d have to get through that period. I thought we did well in the first quarter, but when things started to unwind, they took advantage of everything, and that’s how good they are.”

After Central Valley’s first touchdown, Liam Straub ran the kickoff back 93 yards, skirting the sideline in front of the Trojans bench during the run.

Said Straub: “It was a reverse and I saw an opening and didn’t want to step out of bounds.”

“Liam’s a humble guy,” O’ Shea added. “In a game like this, you want to see a spark and this young man gave us a spark for a little bit today. I was hoping that would be the spark we needed, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Central Valley is a merger of Monaca and Center high schools that took place in 2010 after about five years of planning.

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