WPIAL Football Team of the Week: Week 10
Monday, November 4, 2019 | 6:37 PM
Three WPIAL schools were looking for milestone victories as well as a win to advance on opening night of the district playoffs.
Greensburg Salem and North Hills will have to wait for wins No. 700 and 500, respectively.
South Park, however, was able to enjoy the program’s 400th victory, a 32-27 eyebrow raiser over Big East Conference champion North Catholic in a Class 3A quarterfinal Friday.
“It is important for our kids, our community, and every single person that has worn a South Park or Snowden jersey or ever coached for South Park because they all had a hand in it,” South Park coach Marty Rieck said. “We have always prided ourselves on the tradition here, and the kids view it as their obligation to add to that tradition and inspire the kids coming down the pipeline.
“In the grand scheme of the season, however, it is a win, and it provides us with another week of opportunity, and our focus is now on preparing ourselves for the next opponent. We are well aware that the game could have gone either way.”
Early on, it looked like it was going to go the way of the No. 3 Trojans, who scored first, led 13-7 at the half and built a 21-7 lead in the third quarter.
“One thing our kids have never done is quit, get discouraged, or back down to anyone,” Rieck said. “These kids are built and trained to look for the next opportunity, whether we are up or down on the scoreboard. If there is time on the clock these guys are going to make the most of it, and they showed that this week.”
That’s when South Park turned to Rudy Mihoces; the running back responded with touchdown runs of 36 and 4 yards to pull the Eagles to within one point early in the fourth quarter.
Junior Rudy May scored for South Park on a 17-yard run that gave the Eagles their first lead at 26-21.
North Catholic answered when Zack Rocco connected with Nick Maher on an 89-yard touchdown pass as the Trojans went back on top 27-26.
“As had been the trend in the game, when one team made a mistake the other immediately capitalized,” Rieck said. “I can tell you truthfully that not a single kid that came off the field after North Catholic scored had a look of dejection though.
“Ninety-nine times out of 100 a play like that in any football game is the nail in the coffin, and the game is all but over.”
Down by one point, South Park could not move the ball, but the Eagles got a big break when the Trojans fumbled and Mihoces recovered.
On the very next play, Mihoces scored on a 59-yard run with just over two minutes left. South Park was able to hold on for the upset.
Mihoces rushed for 198 yards with four touchdowns and the key fumble recovery on defense. The senior has 1,114 rushing yards this season with 16 touchdowns.
“He has been special since the first day that he walked into the weight room as a freshman,” Rieck said of Mihoces. “Rudy is hungry and focused, and the attitude that he exudes is contagious. Big-time players make big plays in big- time games, and that is exactly what he did.”
South Park moves on to the Class 3A semifinals and a second matchup with defending district and state champion Aliquippa.
“I have the utmost respect for the Aliquippa community and the football program there,” Rieck said. “This week will be the seventh time South Park has played Aliquippa since the 2016 season. To say that we know each other is an understatement.
“What I appreciate most about their kids is that they love the game, and everyone knows that they play it at the highest of levels.”
To have any chance against the Quips, Rieck knows it has to be a total team effort for the Eagles. Something the head coach realizes is why South Park is still alive heading into the Final Four this week.
“Offensive coordinator Brian Abbey and the offensive staff put together a phenomenal game plan, and it was a pleasure watching our kids execute it. Bob Kitchen and the defensive staff had our kids in excellent position to make plays all night,” he said.
“Credit should go to where it is deserved, and the result of this game is a testament to the belief and hard work of our assistant coaching staff and players.”
2019 Trib HSSN football teams of the week:
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.
Tags: South Park