Trib HSSN rewind: A look back at the 2018 football season

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Monday, July 1, 2019 | 11:54 PM


Fifteen years had passed since Darrelle Revis last played WPIAL football, but his name came up often last December in Hershey.

Penn Hills senior Daequan Hardy had a four-touchdown, three-interception effort in the PIAA Class 5A football championship that drew comparisons to the former Aliquippa great. A day later, Revis’ alma mater won the Class 3A title, which was the Quips’ first since the future NFL star was a senior in 2003.

Those two state titles capped a 2018 football season that included farewells, some surprises and a little smoke.

The lasting image from Penn Hills’ 36-31 victory over Manheim Central was Hardy’s 100-yard interception return as the cornerback sprinted from goal line to goal line. The title was Penn Hills’ first in 23 years.

Aliquippa used four touchdowns and 198 yards from running back Avante McKenzie to defeat Middletown, 35-0. The Quips celebrated under first-year coach Mike Warfield, who took over the program after longtime coach Mike Zmijanac was ousted by the school board.

The state title was Aliquippa’s third joining wins in 1991 and 2003.

An Aug. 31 victory over Peters Township made Upper St. Clair’s Jim Render the first coach in WPIAL football history with 400 wins. His Panthers took an early 16-point lead and then held on for a 16-14 victory.

Render retired after the season, his 49th overall and his 41st at USC.

West Allegheny coach Bob Palko took what felt like a farewell lap around the WPIAL last season and led the Indians to the WPIAL finals, but his retirement lasted only three months. Palko is now coach at Mt. Lebanon.

Winning WPIAL titles were Pine-Richland in Class 6A, Penn Hills in 5A, South Fayette in 4A, Aliquippa in 3A, Steel Valley in 2A and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in A.

Four championships were played at Heinz Field. The Class 5A and 2A games were held a week later at alternate venues.

Robert Morris hosted the Class 2A final. Norwin was host for Class 5A, but that game wasn’t without controversy.

A pregame smoke grenade by Penn Hills players drew ire from the WPIAL.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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