Youth carries Steel Valley to 4th win in 5 games in victory at Summit Academy

Saturday, October 19, 2019 | 8:51 PM

For the first time in four years, Steel Valley will not be playing in the WPIAL Class 2A championship game. In fact, thanks to East Allegheny’s win Friday night, the Ironmen won’t even be participating in this year’s postseason.

However, it is not an end of an era at Steel Valley. They could be working on a new run of success.

The Ironmen traveled to Summit Academy on Saturday and knocked off the Knights, 33-16.

The win was a second straight conference triumph for Steel Valley and the team’s fourth victory in five games.

Steel Valley (4-4, 3-3) lost its first three games to playoff-bound East Allegheny, Avonworth and Shady Side Academy by a combined score of 102-6.

Ray Braszo is in his first season of his second stint as coach at Steel Valley after two successful runs at West Mifflin. He said the defending champs had a lot of hurdles earlier this season.

“We’ve kind of gone through a lot of things this first year. We had a lot of kids quit,” Braszo said. “But as the year has gone on, we’ve definitely got better in executing our offense and defense.”

Include special teams on that list.

Two botched punt snaps gave Steel Valley a short field, and the Ironmen wasted little time on both occasions making Summit Academy pay.

“We got beat in all three aspects of the game today, especially on special teams,” Summit Academy first-year coach Joe Marak said.

The first botched snap led to a 35-yard, four-play scoring drive capped by a 5-yard run by Steel Valley sophomore NiJhay Burt.

It was the start of a big day for Burt, who rushed for 116 yards and scored four touchdowns.

“It was hard, but I can’t do it without my offensive line,” Burt said. “I need them to block for me. They’re good. They stepped it up today.”

Burt’s big game did not surprise Braszo.

“He’s actually better on defense. He tackles great. When you see a great hit out there, you know it’s him,” the coach said. “He’s deceiving on offense because he’s not real big. The legs keep going, and he’s got great moves. He’s quite a talent.”

Summit Academy (1-8, 1-5) took its only lead in the second quarter on a sensational catch by Paul Hines between two Ironmen defenders on a 25-yard scoring pass from Camer Warrington-Curry.

Steel Valley answered just before halftime on the longest of Burt’s four touchdown runs on a 26-yard jaunt that made the score 13-8 Ironmen at the half.

Warrington-Curry hurt his hand on a third quarter run and could not return at quarterback. He did come back as a wide receiver as he and Hines flip-flopped.

The two combined for the Knights only other score on a 50-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to pull to within nine points.

Two scoring runs by Burt and fellow sophomore running back Amier Murray helped the Ironmen pull away to the 17-point victory.

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