Central Valley, Wyomissing set for battle of unbeatens in PIAA Class 3A final

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Thursday, November 26, 2020 | 1:29 PM


Experience matters. Or does it?

That is one of the big questions heading into Friday afternoon’s battle of the unbeatens in Class 3A as WPIAL champion Central Valley (11-0) squares off with District 3 champion Wyomissing (9-0) in the PIAA finals.

It has been eight years since Wyomissing appeared in a state championship football game. The Spartans beat Aliquippa, 17-14, to win their only PIAA title.

Meanwhile, it has been 11 months since Central Valley fell to Wyoming Area, 21-14, in last year’s PIAA Class 3A title game.

Central Valley coach Mark Lyons does not believe his team’s trip to Hershey last year gives the Warriors an edge coming into this title contest.

“I honestly believe once the ball is kicked to start the game it really doesn’t matter who played here before,” he said.

Wyomissing coach Bob Wolfrum, now in his 33rd year as Spartans head coach, agrees with Lyons.

“No, there is no advantage,” he said. “Each team has played in plenty of big games, so I’m not seeing them playing last year as an advantage.”

Both teams are coming off impressive victories in the state semifinals.

After beating Elizabeth Forward to win the school’s fourth WPIAL championship, Central Valley rolled past District 5 champion Bedford, 49-20.

“I thought our offensive line played with a chip on their shoulder,” Lyons said. “I was not real happy tough with our pre-snap penalties and after-the-play penalties.”

In the win, Warriors junior running back Landon Alexander continued his postseason dominance with 159 yards and three touchdowns.

Wyomissing defeated District 4 champion Danville, 44-14. Despite rushing for 262 yards, the Spartans leading rusher was Jordan Auman with 59 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.

Wolfrum feels experience is one of the reasons his team is 9-0 and playing for state gold at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

“The maturity of our team with a big senior class, our talent and we’ve stayed even keel throughout the season,” Wolfrum said.

Central Valley has been explosive offensively this season, averaging more than 51 points. The Warriors have size up front, a strong running attack and a dynamic quarterback.

“I’m impressed with how athletic and fast the entire team is,” Wofrum said. “It will be a challenge to see if we can stay with them and if we can tackle their speed in space.”

The Warriors have a challenge themselves as they prepare for the Spartans’ Wing-T offense. They have several backs who handle the run-oriented attack, but they are strong in play-action with senior quarterback Zach Zechman.

“They have a great running game that is very efficient where everyone knows their role in that offense,” Lyons said. “It will be difficult to have our scout team replicate their offense and then have our defensive players stay aggressive but maintain eye discipline.”

While Central Valley has size up front, Wyomissing may be able to match it.

“The Wing-T is designed for smaller lineman, but we’re happy we have some bigger ones this year,” Wolfrum said. “We will take any scores we can get against them, but we would like long drives to eat up the clock.”

Wolfrum sees some similarities between this year’s Spartans team and his state title squad from 2012.

“Both had big senior classes, plenty of talent in class and experience in playing big games,” he said.

While winning another title may drive the Spartans, the Warriors are haunted by missing out on gold last December. It’s a memory that Lyons admits may have driven this 2020 Central Valley team to the heights it has reached with one more hurdle left.

”Deep down inside, I believe our guys were fighting the temptation of looking ahead,” Lyons said, “but it has been a quiet motivation factor.”

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