George Guido: Leechburg is 1st in Alle-Kiski Valley to score 500

Saturday, November 20, 2021 | 7:04 PM

In a season of firsts, first-time-sinces and never-wases, Leechburg attained a milestone that wasn’t apparent until the season ended with a 39-18 loss to Cornell.

The Blue Devils became the first Alle-Kiski Valley team in history to score 500 points in a season. It broke the local record of 499 set by Apollo-Ridge in 2014.

Before that, Knoch piled up 476 points in 2011.

Leechburg became the darlings of the A-K with their memorable 9-3 season after years of struggles. It took the school from 2006 to 2012 to win nine football games.

Seven local teams made the playoffs, and four won first-round games. All four were eliminated in the quarterfinals, however, and no local school has made it to the finals in 10 years since Knoch played at Heinz Field.

Springdale was the last team to bring home WPIAL gold in 2003.

But while lamenting that, let’s take time to pass out this season’s awards:

Play of the Year

An option pass from Braylan Lovelace to Logan Kline with 46 seconds left in Leechburg’s game against Greensburg Central Catholic on Oct. 29 enabled the Blue Devils to record a 31-27 victory and clinch home field to open the playoffs for the first time. Leechburg practiced the play for five weeks before finding the right time for it.

Stat of the Year

No one can accuse Fox Chapel of not having a balanced offense. After six games, the Foxes had 896 yards rushing and 896 yards passing.

Best Newcomer

Highlands sophomore Luke Bombalski came out of nowhere to rush for 1,276 yards after being inserted into the lineup with a knee injury to Brock White.

Quote of the Year

Burrell coach Shawn Liotta: “Scared money don’t make money” after the Bucs tried a halfback option on fourth-and-4 at the Deer Lakes 26 on Oct. 8. Caden DiCaprio threw to Kam Marmo at the 1 and scored a play later to give the Bucs a 28-24 win and an eventual playoff berth because Burrell won the tiebreaker over Deer Lakes.

Obscure Fact of the Year

There once was a WPIAL playoff game at Leechburg Veterans Stadium before this season. Kittanning defeated Union Area, 32-8, in a 1975 Class 2A semifinal.

Most Memorable Sight

After Deer Lakes lost to Freeport on the last night of the season, the Lancers milled around for 15 minutes or so after the game, looking toward the heavens at times, waiting for the Valley-Burrell result. Had Valley won, Deer Lakes would have made the playoffs under tiebreaking criteria. But Valley was stopped at the 12, the Bucs got in and the Lancers headed up the hill to their locker room.

Upset of the Year

First round of the Class A playoffs, where No. 13 Springdale traveled to rural Greene County and pulled off a 28-0 victory against No. 4 West Greene, scoring a touchdown in each quarter.

A Fond Farewell

Valley’s Muzzy Colosimo retired with 168 career victories including his time at Greensburg Central Catholic, good enough for fifth all-time among Westmoreland County coaches. He finished behind Kiski Area’s Dick Dilts, Joe Mucci (GCC and Jeannette), A. Markley Barnes (Jeannette) and Franklin Regional’s Greg Botta.

Crosby, Stills & Nash Award (Long Time Coming)

Leechburg won its first playoff game since 1978, Fox Chapel its first playoff game since ’97.

Outlook for 2022

It’s realignment time, and teams are waiting to see where they’ll play for the next two seasons. Knoch appears to be dropping to Class 3A, Valley might go to 2A and Shady Side Academy will jump to 3A, considering the new co-op with The Neighborhood Academy. Conference setup could be revealed as soon as Dec. 20.

Freeport is reportedly ready to plan its 100th anniversary of football next year.

More Football

Pine Creek Journal notebook: 6 football players make 1st team all-conference
Thomas Jefferson football ends solid season with unusually short playoff run
Redbank Valley steals momentum, stops Bishop Canevin short of state finals
Central Valley makes key defensive stop, keeps state title repeat hopes alive
5 things to watch: How many WPIAL teams will reach PIAA football finals?

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