ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — Central Valley (9-1, 7-0) shocked Aliquippa (9-1, 6-1) in an impressive 45-6 win on Friday night at Carl A. Ashman Stadium in Aliquippa.
The win crowned the Warriors the Tri-County West conference champions and likely earned them a No. 1 playoff spot in the WPIAL 3A playoffs that start next week.
“Who would have expected this?” Central Valley head coach Mark Lyons said. “I’m so proud of our guys. They’ve been working at this since the end of last year.”
Last year, Warriors were eliminated in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs by Derry in dominant fashion. This year, they carried a chip on their shoulder and to make sure they would come out of this 2019 season with a different feeling.
“We just have a lot of unselfish guys that understand their roles,” Lyons said.
In a game that was supposed to be a showdown between two undefeated teams from the same zip code, didn’t turn out that way.
Aliquippa dug itself a hole on the first play from scrimmage when running back Vernon Redd fumbled and gave the Warriors prime real estate in Quips territory.
On the Warriors second offensive play after the fumble, dual-threat junior quarterback Ameer Dudley took matters in his own hands and ran it in from 7 yards out to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead.
This wasn’t the end of the scoring for Central Valley, by any means.
Dudley seemed to hit his top weapons in Juwon Hall and Michael Barbuto, when the Warriors were in need on a positive play. Along with Dudley’s touchdown run for the first score of the game, he also threw for another touchdown in the first half that was a 49-yard pass to Hall.
“Everybody made some great catches,” Lyons said. “You can’t be afraid to execute — We trust our guys (to make big plays).”
The Warriors added a 30-yard field goal from Ethan Ott, and Stephon Hall’s 3-yard touchdown to give them a 38-0 lead at the break. Dudley and Hall connected again in the third quarter to bump their lead to 45-0 on a 35-yard touchdown.
The mercy-rule was in affect for the first time ever for a Quips team at The Pit.
With the running clock on during the second half, it was hard for Aliquippa to ever find any momentum after they found themselves in a funk from the start.
“I put this on me,” Aliquippa head coach Mike Warfield said about his team’s showing. “We got beat on all phases. Yeah, we had turnovers, but (Central Valley) created those turnovers. The team wasn’t ready to play and I take the blame for that.”
Nothing seemed to click for the Quips who had the number one scoring offense and defense in Class-3A coming into Friday night.
Aliquippa had only allowed 126 rushing yards in their first nine games combined allowed the Warriors to gain 152 on the ground. Dudley was able to throw for 142 yards passing yards. Aliquippa only gained 147 yards of total offense.
Antonio Quinn scored the lone touchdown for the Quips on a four-yard run in the fourth quarter.
On Friday, the Warriors leader on the defensive end was senior linebacker Reed Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons was all over the field making crucial tackles and was the beneficiary of 24-yard fumble recovery for a Central Valley touchdown in the second quarter.
“I love that. I don’t get to score too many touchdowns,” Fitzsimmons said. “We knew out defense had a chance to do something like this (holding the Quips to six points).
The energy that the Warriors had all night was remarkable to watch, especially against an opponent that has so much pride and history.
For someone who has coached around the Beaver County area for quite some time now, Central Valley’s Lyons knows just how important this kind of win is for his football team.
“It’s special (coming in here and getting a win like this),” Lyons then eluded to Aliquippa being 52-1 in the last 11 years at home, prior to this game. “You always want to be in a big crowd and big atmosphere. I (told my players before the game) when we leave this locker room, you’re going to feel some electricity (from the crown). I told them to welcome it.”
Lyons’ team and coaching staff, sure welcomed the task in the hostile environment on the road at Aliquippa.
“They just outplayed us and came ready to play,” Warfield said. “We never matched their competitiveness.”
A rematch in a couple weeks is surely going to be in the minds of both teams heading into the playoffs.
Both teams will go into the WPIAL playoffs with two different emotions after Fridays game. Though, you can be bet that both Aliquippa and Central Valley will be preparing with the same championship goals on their minds.