Thomas Jefferson Shuts Down Central Valley to Win AAA Gold

Sunday, November 29, 2015 | 12:43 AM

After Thomas Jefferson dropped its first two contests of the 2015 season, some began to question if the Jaguars had lost their distinction as a powerhouse team. Those questions have been definitively answered, as the Jaguars won 11 straight games from that point, culminating with the WPIAL Class AAA Championship, defeating top-seeded Central Valley 20-7 at Heinz Field.

With the triumph, the No. 6 Jaguars captured their sixth championship, and first since 2008, when Thomas Jefferson notched the final of three-consecutive titles.

The Jaguars’ defense turned in a dominant performance, holding the Warriors’ offense scoreless and allowing just 124 yards. Perhaps more impressively, Thomas Jefferson limited Central Valley, the defending champions, to -4 yards rushing.

The Jaguars (11-2) wasted little time taking command, scoring on just their second play from scrimmage, as fullback Braden Pahanish found the end zone on a 57-yard run.

The Jaguars’ extended their lead to 14-0 with a key play with just more than two minutes left in the opening half. Facing a fourth down scenario from the 9-yard-line, Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak elected to keep his offense on the field, and the decision proved wise. Quarterback Bobby Kelly lofted a perfect pass into the end zone, and 6-foot-3 receiver Zane Zandier hauled it for the touchdown.

Central Valley (11-2) responded just one minute into the third quarter, however, as Kyle Vreen intercepted a pass from Kelly and returned it 43 yards for the score.

Vreen came up with another interception on the ensuing Thomas Jefferson drive, but the Warriors could not capitalize, resulting in one of their nine punts in the contest.

TJ then took over at the Central Valley 20-yard-line after a strong punt return by Zandier, and Quinton Hill capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run on which he dove just inside the pylon to put TJ ahead 20-7.

Staked to a two-score lead, the Thomas Jefferson defense again rose to the occasion, as the Jaguars held Central Valley scoreless for the duration. Nick Freiwald sealed the win with a leaping interception in the end zone with just more than five minutes left.

Hill concluded his terrific WPIAL postseason run with 31 carries for 161 yards, while Pahanish tallied 69 yards rushing in the victory. In the defeat for Central Valley, quarterback Chris Callaghan threw for 128 yards, while receiver Kurt Reinstadtler compiled 85 yards on eight receptions.

Courtesy of the victory, Thomas Jefferson qualifies for the Class AAA PIAA playoffs. The Jaguars will face District 10 Cathedral Prep at a time and location to be determined.

Scoring Summary:

Thomas Jefferson : 7 – 7 – 6 – 0 = 20
Central Valley : 0 – 0 – 7 – 0 = 7

First Quarter
TJ: Braden Pahanish 57 run (Tommy Campbell kick) 8:57

Second Quarter:
TJ: Zane Zandier 9 pass from Bobby Kelly (Campbell kick) 2:13

Third Quarter
CV: Kyle Vreen 43 interception return (Brendan Jugan kick) 11:00
TJ: Quinton Hill 7 run (kick blocked) 5:13

Fourth Quarter






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