P-T football shoots for trifecta

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Sunday, November 12, 2017 | 6:06 PM


Penn-Trafford already has put together quite a fall sports season, but it could reach another level if the football team can bring home a WPIAL championship Saturday.

The girls soccer and field hockey teams won WPIAL titles in recent weeks, and football will go for the trifecta when the Warriors (11-1) face Gateway (11-1) at 5 p.m. at Heinz Field.

“Best feeling ever,” said running back Caleb Lisbon, who was in eighth grade the last time Penn-Trafford made the finals. “We're going there to win.”

The football team never has won a title in football, finishing runner-up to Upper St. Clair in 1997 at Three Rivers Stadium and to Central Catholic in 2015 at Heinz Field.

“This group has earned it,” said Warriors coach John Ruane, who has 70 wins in eight seasons. “We're excited, and we really want to go down there and finish it. It was great to be there the first time, but our guys want to win it.”

The Class 5A final will be a matchup of Big East Conference co-champions. Penn-Trafford, however, flattened Gateway, 28-0, on Sept. 29.

“This is what we have been working towards for 10 months,” Warriors senior receiver/defensive back Cam Suman said. “We are ready to go down there and win this thing.”

Rematch time

While Penn-Trafford vs. Gateway is a conference rematch, Jeannette also is preparing for a rematch with rival Clairton in the Class A semifinals at 7:30 Friday night at Elizabeth Forward. And Ligonier Valley (12-0) is readying for Saturday's District 6 championship, where it faces Bishop McCort (11-2), the same team it defeated in last year's district final.

Jeannette and Clairton have met in the last two WPIAL title games, but Jeannette (11-1) has lost six consecutive games to the Bears (9-2) dating to 2014.

Clairton ripped the Jayhawks, 40-6, in Week 9.

Ligonier Valley cruised past Bishop McCort, 35-7, last year.

New opponents

Norwin's girls soccer team has reached the PIAA semifinals for the second time in three years, and finally, some might argue, the Knights (19-2-1) are seeing teams from outside of the WPIAL.

Norwin has played eight state playoff games in the last three years. Five opponents have been WPIAL teams, often in rematches such as North Allegheny, whom the Knights played and shut out three times this season.

Norwin finally needs a map to navigate states.

State College was a new test in the PIAA first round, and Lancaster County's Conestoga Valley (23-2-1) also will be an unfamiliar opponent Tuesday night.

Downington West was a nondistrict opponent two years ago in the Class AAA quarters.

“We have been to the semis before, but this year is different because we have never gotten out of WPIAL competition,” goalkeeper Sam Wexell said. “Now we're playing teams we never played before. You don't know anything about them, but there is some easiness about that because you're coming in a lot more excited.”

Senior defender Emily Arnold brings up an interesting point: “It allows us to focus more on our game than worry about (the other team),” Arnold said.

Unique signing

Angalee Beall is just a junior, but the softball pitcher from Franklin Regional signed a letter of intent last week with Point Park.

Since Point Park is an NAIA program, it does not have any letter-of-intent restrictions.

Recruiting

Norwin had three more baseball players sign letters of intent last week.

Pitcher/infielder Chris Wallace signed with James Madison, outfielder Brady Sigut inked with Seton Hall, and nfielder Justin Zona signed with Seton Hill.

• Penn-Trafford baseball player Christian Pfrogner, a pitcher and infielder, committed to Pitt-Johnstown.

• Penn-Trafford football player John Gay IV took an official visit to Navy this weekend.

• Ligonier Valley wrestler Robby Patrick will make his commitment to Virginia official when he signs his letter of intent Tuesday. A two-time PIAA runner-up, Patrick is the fourth member of his family to earn a Division I scholarship, joining his wrestling brothers Josh (Rutgers) and Justin (Buffalo), and Hannah, his sister who is on the track team at Lehigh.

• Yough softball player Shelby Lawrenzi signed with Seton Hill.

• Latrobe running back Iven Ettiene received a preferred walk-on offer from St. Francis (Pa.). Teammate Zach Yesho, a lineman who missed most of the this season with a knee injury, has preferred walk-on offers from Seton Hill and Wheeling Jesuit.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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