Friday night’s 40-0 win over Beaver Falls marked the 20th game for Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield.
While it’s a far cry from the 21 seasons Mike Zmijanac spent with the team, it does give us a chance to evaluate the state of the Quips a la a president’s first 100 days in office.
It’s arbitrary, not very comprehensive, but it shows whether or not they’re passing the eye test.
Warfield, who graduated from Aliquippa in 1987, inherited a team last season that was almost too good to fail. A new offensive system injected life into the program and the team went 14-1 winning both WPIAL and PIAA gold.
And in his first 20 games Warfield is 19-1, they’ve scored fewer than 35 points only three times and the average margin of victory is 41 points.
Three of those players are currently on power-five college rosters (Eli Kosanovich, Will Gipson at Pitt and M.J. Devonshire at Kentucky) while Avante McKenzie and Deoveon Crute are at Slippery Rock, Solvauhn Moreland is at Ball State and Larry Walker is at Albany.
Zuriah Fisher just committed to Penn State and the offers will turn from a drip to a steady flow for receiver Chinua Soloman.
On the field, the Quips pass the eye test and it’s laughable to even bring that question up. But they’re passing the eye test in ways off the field, and that’s what matters.
“The most pleased I’ve been, I was so proud when Davion Harris accepted into an apprenticeship (sheet metal) and also Jelani Soloman, who is Chinua’s brother, who’s from Central Valley. They’re working, right out of school, making great money,” Warfield said.
“I was so pleased with that, but it can get better. We’re just trying to take every opportunity to get the kids on the right path. Whether it’s school, or the military, or an apprenticeship or anything we can do. We try to open up all avenues for them.”
This season, the Quips made renovations to the field house behind the end zone at Carl A. Ascham Stadium, which included a new weight room, new TVs and cosmetic renovations that were needed.
Warfield describes the field house — which was named the DGLR field house after Mike Ditka, Sean Gilbert, Ty Law and Darrelle Revis — as a place the players can spend a lot of time at after practice and is another way to provide an outlet for his players.
The Aliquippa native’s attitude is apparent even to those from outside of the community.
Antonio Quinn moved to Aliquippa last December from Tennessee after his father spent the last few years working at the Shell plant. Quinn described himself as vey outgoing and eager to meet new people, and said the team was receptive from the beginning.
“They brought me in like I was their own brother,” said Quinn. “And I think that’s how it should be. I’m glad they brought me in like that.
“Coach Warfield is kind of like my dad. And that’s a good thing. My dad pushes me to be better, to be great, and I see that in coach Mike. He tells me I can be great, and I believe that.”
Quinn said he and his dad spoke about Warfield before he made the move and he was told how good of a coach he was and how the attitude within the program was changing.
“When Coach Warfield came in, everything changed,” Quinn said. “The whole town loves him, because he’s a good coach. I believe it, I see it too, and I love that about him”
Warfield said Quinn spends a lot of time working out and running on his own and fit in right away with the program.
And with the Quips’ success, it’s not a surprise to see the Warfield coach tree starting to show some branches.
Derek Moye is in his first year as a coach at Western Beaver after spending a year as an assistant with Warfield. The Golden Beavers are currently 3-2 and Derek is having an impact on players at both schools.
“I’m so happy for Derek, he’s a beautiful person,” Warfield said. “He’s been great for Chinua (Soloman). I think he’s successful, part of it besides him just working hard, is he’s been working out with Derek for years. His route running is a beautiful thing to see. So I’m just happy for him.”
And while the latest victory wasn’t a Mozart – personal foul penalties for both teams bogged down any semblance of flow – Warfield shrugged it off and tried to look at the bigger picture.
“The kids know each other, so, that’s just part of that rivalry,” he said. “That’s the nature. I’d rather have them chirping on the field and competing, rather than out on the streets chirping and doing something negative. They’re just playing, they’re playing the game they love, and trying to beat each other.”
The attitude is a good one to have when the ultimate goal is to build lasting relationships with current and former players as well as the community.
“The only thing we can do, and I try to teach the kids and the staff, is that we can’t waste a day. Whether it’s in the classroom, the field or the weight room, we can’t waste a day. That’s our motto, just come to work every day.”