WPIAL players show ‘West runs this state’ in East-West all-star victory

Sunday, May 5, 2019 | 6:56 PM

ALTOONA — It might have been a high school football game played in May. Just don’t tell the Pittsburgh-area players it didn’t matter.

“We wanted to win. We wanted to represent the WPIAL,” Yough’s Dustin Shoaf said. “We wanted to show the West runs this state.”

In the end, Shoaf and his teammates made good on that objective. The West dominated the second half, scoring both third-quarter touchdowns to pull out a 41-35 victory over the East in the 18th Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association East-West All-Star game Sunday afternoon at a rainy Mansion Park Stadium.

“We had the mentality to win,” Shaler’s Jeff Bonnette said.

Playing right tackle, Bonnette helped spring West MVP Dayjure Stewart of York on a 14-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in the third quarter that turned a 28-24 halftime deficit into a 38-28 West advantage.

The WPIAL paved the way for the West’s success. Bonnette was one of five District 7 products on the offensive line: McKeesport’s Dan Vaniel, Canon-McMillan’s Riley Noble, South Fayette’s Tom Elia and Pine-Richland’s Mike Dorundo joined him.

The West rolled up 344 yards.

“We all were familiar with each other. We pretty much all have played against each other,” Bonnette said. “There was a lot of pride. We wanted to bring the West back.”

Shoaf was a big part in setting the tone as the West captured its third straight East-West contest. He ran for 24 yards and caught two passes in the third quarter.

“Our line just blew them off the ball,” Shoaf said.

Meanwhile, the West defense was every bit as dominant, holding the East to 6 net yards in the second half after being torched for 222 yards and four touchdown passes by Lower Merion quarterback Matt O’Connor over the first two quarters.

The East’s only points in the second half came after a fumbled punt return at the West 26 followed by two penalties that advanced the ball to the 11.

The WPIAL also had a big hand in the defensive performance: Armand Gustave (Penn Hills) recorded a pair of sacks for 21 yards in lost yardage.

“We just kept our heads down and kept playing hard,” Gustave said.

Gustave had a lot shorter layoff than most of the players in the game, having helped Penn Hills to a 16-0 record and a PIAA Class 6A championship last fall.

“It means a lot,” Gustave said of winning the East-West Game. “It’s not the first big game I’ve played in. You know what it’s all about.”

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