Trib HSSN football team of the week: Dec. 6, 2021
Sunday, December 5, 2021 | 9:19 PM
The story is well-known now. Aliquippa, a Class A school in enrollment that has always faced the challenge and played up in class in AA and then 3A upon expansion to six classifications in 2016, has spent the last two years forced to play up in Class 4A by the PIAA.
Program officials don’t like it. Neither do the other 4A teams in the district and now in the state.
After reaching and falling in the WPIAL finals in their first year in 4A in 2020, the Quips returned to the title game this fall, knocking off top-seed Belle Vernon for a record 18th district crown.
Now Aliquippa is one win from adding state gold after coming back to beat previously undefeated and the top ranked team in the state in 4A, Jersey Shore, 41-16.
“They’re playing well,” Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield said. “I think the kids are focused, which is creating confidence.”
That confidence wasn’t evident early on at Central Cambria High School as Aliquippa fell behind Jersey Shore, 10-
0, with time running down in the first half.
“Jersey Shore is a very good football team, and their coaches had a solid gameplan,” Warfield said.
The game turned on the final drive of the first half. Moving the ball through the air, the Quips faced a fourth-and-goal from the Bulldogs 1-yard line, and as time expired, freshman running back Tiqwai Hayes scored to cut the deficit to 3 points after two quarters.
“We needed some confidence, and that gave us a spark,” Warfield said.
That spark turned into a brush fire of big plays for the Quips in the third quarter from all three phases of the game.
First, a Quentin Goode 83-yard touchdown pass to senior Tajier Thornton, then a 14-yard pick-six for sophomore Cameron Lindsey followed by a 94-yard punt return by senior Cyair Clark.
“Cy came through. The senior put us on his back,” Warfield said. “We made our adjustments mentally at halftime.”
The Quips added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter with Hayes scoring on a 37-yard run and Clark coming up big again, this time with a 25-yard interception return for a score.
While the Aliquippa running game struggled early, the sophomore Goode hit some big passes, throwing for 206 yards and a score.
“He played very well,” Warfield said of his young quarterback. “He was getting pressured at times but maintained his composure. I’m very proud of him.”
Warfield is proud of all of his Quips as they prepare to play in the program’s eighth PIAA championship game Thursday evening at Hersheypark Stadium against District 3 champion Bishop McDevitt.
“They are very, very good,” Warfield said of the Crusaders. “They have talent and size. They have it all.”
2021 HSSN Team of the Week
Week 13 – Serra Catholic Eagles
Week 12 – Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils
Week 11 – Penn Hills Indians
Week 10 – Laurel Highlands Mustangs
Week Nine – South Allegheny Gladiators
Week Eight – Leechburg Blue Devils
Week Seven – Beaver Bobcats
Week Six – Seneca Valley Raiders
Week Five – Upper St. Clair Panthers
Week Four – Mohawk Warriors
Week Three – Union Scotties
Week Two – McKeesport Tigers
Week One – Shaler Titans
Week Zero – Northgate Flames
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• Hampton hiring new football coach as Jacque DeMatteo ends 14-year stint
• Keefer resigns as football coach at Southmoreland; Frazier hires Shannon
• Aliquippa wins PIAA appeal, remains in Class 4A football