Kiski Area off to best start since 1986 after edging West Allegheny

Friday, September 24, 2021 | 10:26 PM

The sixth time turned out to be the charm for Kiski Area.

After failing to score the first five times they reached West Allegheny territory, Brock Wilkins made sure the final trip was worth it for the Cavaliers.

Wilkins broke free for a 37-yard score midway through the fourth quarter, which proved to be the only touchdown of the game as Kiski Area won 7-0 in a Class 5A nonconference game Friday night at Dick Dilts Stadium.

With the win, Kiski Area improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1986, and West Allegheny fell to 3-1.

Kiski Area started with the ball four times in West Allegheny territory but only ran one play in the red zone all night. Those squandered opportunities kept the game scoreless until Wilkins finally broke through with six minutes remaining.

“We dropped two or three passes that would have been touchdowns, but it’s high school so that’s going to happen,” Kiski Area coach Sam Albert said. “I couldn’t be prouder of our defense. They played unbelievable. Brock stepped up when we needed him, too, and the offensive line opened up the hole for him.”

Wilkins finished with 106 yards on 17 carries and was the only player to eclipse 100 yards of offense for either team.

West Allegheny had several players out with injury on offense, including starting quarterback Gavin Miller, tight end Devin Zirwas and wide receiver Nick Longo. The Indians offense only crossed midfield twice all game.

“Our defense played unbelievable,” West Allegheny coach Dave Schoppe said. “They kept us in the game all night. We had one breakdown, and as a result, they scored. Offensively we had a lot of guys out. We had guys that could step up into those positions, but when you are missing that many guys, it’s hard to get everyone to mesh together in a short amount of time.”

Miller’s absence was felt all night, as West Allegheny did not complete a pass until there was four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Junior Gage Upton made his first career start at quarterback and completed three passes on West Allegheny’s final drive. That got the Indians to midfield, but they eventually turned the ball over on downs.

For the majority of the night, West Allegheny used a wildcat formation with running back Nodin Tracy and wide receiver Jashon Spencer alternating at quarterback.

“We know that our best athletes are (Tracy) and (Spencer), so we tried to use them as much as we could,” Schoppe said. “We needed to be a little more patient with that gameplan. We aren’t used to having to grind it out 4 yards at a time. We struggled at times.”

Kiski Area’s defense has allowed only one touchdown over the last eight quarters and has allowed two touchdowns or less in four of its five games.

It has been 35 years since Kiski Area has been undefeated this late into a season, and Albert is hopeful they can keep the momentum rolling into conference play next week.

“This is a special group of kids,” Albert said. “I told them this is our time. We’ve waited for this team. If we can stay healthy and put our best 11 on the field, we’ll play with anybody.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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