WPIAL Football Team of the Week: Week 5
Monday, September 30, 2019 | 9:48 PM
The stage was set for a fantastic finish to a classic high school football game.
Two undefeated teams clashing for first place in front of a packed house with the score tied after three quarters.
However the back-and-forth ended there as McGuffey scored the game’s final 27 points on their way to the top in the Class AA Century Conference in a 55-28 final.
“We were able to pressure their quarterback, and we began to execute our offense at a high level,” McGuffey coach Ed Dalton said when asked about the fourth quarter.
Junior running back Jared Johnson rushed for 101 yards on only seven carries and scored four touchdowns for the Highlanders, including scoring runs of 24, 8 and 57 yards in the dominant fourth quarter.
“We think he is a game changing talent,” Dalton said. “He is just really fully recovered from his ACL surgery last year. I think he will become a name that you will hear often for the rest of his career as he has undeniable great athletic talent.”
McGuffey senior quarterback Marshall Whipkey scored on a 15-yard run and threw a pair of touchdown passes.
“He is a great young man first and foremost, but as a quarterback, he can win a game with his feet or with his arm,” Dalton said. “As a flex-bone team in theory, every play is a good play if he makes the correct read, and he does most of the time.”
Whipkey’s touchdown run in the first quarter was huge because visiting McGuffey had fallen behind Southmoreland 14-0 in a wild environment as the Scotties were hoping to clinch their first WPIAL football playoff berth in 40 years.
“It was electric,” Dalton said of the atmosphere at Russ Grimm Stadium. “The place was packed during warm-ups. We were on the far sideline, and the noise level was deafening.”
Falling behind early, then losing two leads in a frenzied stadium will test the maturity and leadership of any team.
“Anytime you beat a great team on the road that’s a feather in the cap,” Dalton said. “The way Southmoreland was playing, we knew it would be quite a challenge to win in that environment.”
The big road win improved McGuffey to 4-0 in the Century Conference, a half-game ahead of Southmoreland (4-1) and Washington (3-0).
The undefeated Highlanders have a tough October coming up. After back-to-back conference games against Brownsville and Charleroi, McGuffey visits Allegheny Conference leader Avonworth before a Week Nine showdown with Washington.
It won’t be easy, but Dalton and his team have cleared five hurdles and are excited about the challenge ahead.
“Well I am privileged to coach with a great coaching staff and to coach a lot of great young men. There’s not a day I do not enjoy going to practice,” he said. “From the beginning, I thought our conference is good from top to bottom with possibly one of the best teams in the state in Washington. By the end of the season, we will know where we stand in the large picture.”
2019 Trib HSSN football teams of the week:
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