Top quarterbacks to square off when Central Valley, Wyoming Area meet for PIAA 3A title

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Thursday, December 5, 2019 | 10:10 PM


As Central Valley football coach Mark Lyons and Wyoming Area’s Randy Spencer look back on the past four months that have led up to their teams meeting on Saturday in the PIAA Class 3A championship game, they both found that the turning points for their respective teams were remarkably similar.

For Lyons, it wasn’t Central Valley’s 45-6 thrashing of defending state champion Aliquippa or any of the nine times the Warriors induced the mercy rule this season. Spencer, meanwhile, said it had nothing to do with the relative ease in which Wyoming Area went through the season.

No, Lyons pointed to Central Valley’s 28-3 loss to Thomas Jefferson that showed him how good his team could be, while Spencer said his team’s game with Southern Columbia — a 42-0 loss — was a turn in the right direction.

Toward Hershey as it turned out.

“The opportunity to play against a team the caliber of Southern Columbia’s program was tremendous,” Spencer said. “To play against a team like that and to play in that environment was huge for us. Our team grew from that point.”

Southern Columbia will play in the 2A title game this weekend.

“I don’t agree with the notion that a loss can be a good loss,” Lyons said of his team’s game against Thomas Jefferson, which won the PIAA 4A title Thursday. “Obviously our players and we as a coaching staff were not happy with the way we executed our gameplan that night.

“But after a few days, looking back, I realized that we didn’t play all that bad in that game. It truly was just a play here and there.That was the point where I kind of realized that if we did the things we are capable of doing, we were a tough team to beat.”

The similarities between Central Valley and Wyoming Area — both of whom are the “Warriors” — go farther than dominating the majority of their opponents and lone losses to state powers. While the two teams each have a plethora of weapons to choose from, their respective offenses live and breathe based on the play of dual-threat quarterbacks.

Wyoming Area is led by senior quarterback and three-year starter Dom Deluca. The 6-foot-2 senior with preferred walk-on offers from Pitt and Penn State as well as numerous other scholarship opportunities does a little bit of everything for Wyoming Area. Deluca has amassed 2,460 yards of offense, passing for 1,479 yards and 19 touchdowns, while adding 958 yards rushing and 12 TDs, along with 23 receiving yards. He also punts and returns kicks for the Warriors.

“He is a legitimate threat in every phase of the game,” Spencer said. “His football IQ is off the charts and he elevates every players around him.”

“Everything starts and ends with their quarterback,” Lyons said. “He makes them go. I think they’re a team that would rather run the football, but you can’t load up to stop the run because he can hit one over the top.”

Central Valley, meanwhile, has one of the WPIAL’s top quarterbacks in junior Ameer Dudley, who passed for 1,844 yards and 23 TDs this season, while adding 584 on the ground and nine TDs.

“What an impressive athlete,” Spencer said. “He’s a guy that extends plays, and I think that’s when he’s the most dangerous. He puts a lot of run-pass pressure on the defense, and then he can distribute the ball to their playmakers, which they have a lot of.”

Indeed, Dudley is far from a one-man show. Central Valley has an impressive running game led by Jalen Guy with 1,242 yards and 11 TDs, while Jawon Hall has 761 yards receiving and 11 TDs. Receiver Myles Walker and tight end Justin Thompson have also proven to be effective targets for Dudley as well.

Wyoming Area also has more at its disposal than just Deluca. Two other players are also NCAA Division I prospects. Behemoth two-way lineman Sammy Solomon (6-3, 290) has offers from Temple, Virginia, Boston College, Rutgers, Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Buffalo. Tight end Derek Ambrosino (6-3, 215) is also a major college prospect with an offer from Albany.

While this is Wyoming Area’s first trip to the PIAA title game, it will be Central Valley’s second since it was formed 10 years ago. Central Valley will also be playing for conference pride on Saturday. A Tri-County North team — Aliquippa, Quaker Valley and Beaver Falls — has won each of the last three PIAA 3A titles.

“We want to continue that streak,” Lyons said.

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