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WPIAL

Central Valley Tops Martinsburg Central in PIAA Semis; Will Seek Second Straight State Title

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CENTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The Central Valley Warriors already completed a three-peat just last week when they won the WPIAL championship in blowout fashion. This week, the focus moved to going back-to-back, as Central Valley is the returning PIAA champions of Class-3A football. They completed the first step of getting to the game with a 35-21 over Martinsburg Central at home on Friday.

The game did not start out in the favor of Central Valley. On the second snap of the game, the offense fumbled the football and gave Central great field position. This led to a quick score and the only deficit of the game for the Warriors.

A key play came on third and 20 after Central Valley committed a holding. Landon Alexander fought off tackles and dragged a pile of bodies extra yards to set up a fourth down with four to go. It gave head coach Mark Lyons the confidence to go for it, and the Warriors did convert.

A big catch by Jayvin Thompson led to a Landon Alexander run from three yards out that tied the game. Alexander had a huge return after Central Valley forced a three-and-out gave them excellent field position. This led to an Antwon Johnson rush from one-yard out that made the score 14-7.

Sean FitzSimmons got his first of two sacks on the game, and Central punted. The punt led to a one-play drive when Johnson unloaded a bomb on Jayvin Thompson for a 76-yard touchdown. The Warriors took that 21-7 lead into the half.

Central started the second half with the ball, but a FitzSimmons sack ended things early. However, the next possession saw Hunter Smith pick a pass off and take it to the house to make the game 21-13. Central started to sniff momentum when they recovered an onside kick, and drove. However, Matt Merritt picked up a  loose football and went 75 yards to make the score 28-13.

Central kept fighting back, though. They converted a 4th and 10 that got them the ball on the goal line. A punch in from a yard out, and a trick play for a two-point conversion made it a 28-21 early in the fourth quarter.

Central still got the ball back after a tough stop. They got the ball all the way to the two-yard line. However, Matt Merritt made a huge tackle on third down, and FitzSimmons got a key pressure on fourth down that gave them the victory.

The Warriors will head to Hershey next weekend to take on the winner of Neumann Goretti and Wyomissing.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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