CTK 2010 – WPIAL AAAA BIG EAST Conference Preview

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Monday, August 16, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Winning back-to-back WPIAL Class AAAA championships is not easy. It has happened only three times in the past 22 seasons. But at least Woodland Hills coach George Novak can say he knows what it takes to repeat. He's been there, done that.

Woodland Hills is the defending WPIAL champion and many are pegging the Wolverines as the No. 1 team heading into the 2010 season. Novak guided Woodland Hills to consecutive titles in 2001-02.

While winning the WPIAL won't be easy, getting through the Big East Conference might not be a walk in the park, either. Central Catholic seems poised to challenge for the title while Penn Hills always seems to have talent.

The Big East grew by one team since last season. Altoona joined the WPIAL and was placed in the conference.

Here is a look at the Big East Conference with a predicted order of finish at the end:

ALTOONA MOUNTAIN LIONS

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact Altoona has in its first year in the WPIAL. Altoona actually used to play in the WPIAL a long time ago, but has been in District 6 for decades.

One thing is for sure. The Lions don't come in with exactly impeccable credentials. A year ago, Altoona finished 2-8, scored only 98 points and gave up 365. The Lions lost one game to Harrisburg, 75-6.

Running back DeRon Lee, lineman Braden Luciano and tight end Jordan Sneed are a few of the top returnees. Lee was the team's leading rusher last season.

PITTSBURGH CENTRAL CATHOLIC VIKINGS

With a number of talented juniors, the Vikings still might be a year away from having its best team, but they are still strong enough this year to challenge Woodland Hills for the conference title.

Damion Jones-Moore is only 5 feet 6, but among WPIAL running backs, he figures to be gigantic this season after rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore last season. Perry Hills became the starting quarterback in the middle of last season as a sophomore, and showed plenty of promise. Anthony Nixon is a talented receiver who was first-team all-conference as a sophomore.

What also makes Central Catholic look good is a group of big, talented linemen. One of them is senior Jordan Elliott, who was a second-team all-conference defensive lineman last year.

A question mark could be the defense, at least against the top teams. In seven wins against WPIAL teams last season, Central Catholic gave up seven points or less in six of those games. But in the three losses to WPIAL teams, Central Catholic gave up 36, 27 and 36 points.

FOX CHAPEL FOXES

The Foxes can only hope conference play goes better this time around. A year ago, Fox Chapel was feeling good after going 3-1 in non-conference games. But the Foxes didn't win another game and didn't score more than 14 points during the five-game losing streak to end the season.

It doesn't help that Noel Wilson, last year's starting quarterback, transferred to Valley. But there are a few players that give Fox Chapel hope of possibly grabbing the fourth and final playoff spot in the Big East. Senior running back Montay Green rushed for 1,001 yards last season and he has a few big linemen to run behind.

Junior Adam Bisnowaty is 6-6, 280 pounds and already has a number of Division I colleges looking at him. Also, Matt Sasson can be a force on the line.

KISKI AREA CAVALIERS

One and four.

You can bet Kiski Area is sick of those numbers. For the past three seasons, Kiski Area has finished 1-4 in the Big East and missed the playoffs. The Cavaliers might hard-pressed to get to the playoffs again this year under second-year coach Troy Wilson.

Most of the Cavaliers' top skill-position players graduated. While the defense wasn't exactly tremendous last season, maybe Kiski Area's biggest objective is to improve its offense. The Cavaliers averaged only 10 points in five conference games and only 15 points overall. Aaron Frye is back at defensive back after making second-team all-conference last year.

Kiski Area's playoff fate could very well be determined in the fourth and fifth weeks. That's when the Cavaliers play Altoona and Fox Chapel.

PENN HILLS INDIANS

Start the season with high hopes, but then lose three of the first four games. Then come back, make the playoffs, show some talent and win a postseason game or two.

That's the way it's been for Ron Graham's first two seasons as head coach. With the loss of some key players to graduation and a tough first two games, it might not be a great start to this season, either Penn Hills opens on the road at St. Edward, Ohio, and then plays at Gateway.

Penn Hills lost a handful of seniors to Division I colleges

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