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Central Catholic Dominates Rival Woodland Hills in Season Opener



Pittsburgh Central Catholic quarterback Payton Wehner

TURTLE CREEK, Pa. — Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Woodland Hills faced off Friday night at the Wovlarena in what was once a great rivalry in the original WPIAL 4A. Central Catholic dominated Woodland Hills and took home the victory 43-7.

The Vikings (1-0) win the first game of the historic rivalry against the Wolverines (0-1), since the WPIAL 4A semifinals in 2015, which ended in a 24-6 victory for the Vikings en route to a PIAA Title. This is the sixth straight win for the Vikings in the rivalry, dating back to 2010.

This is also the first win for new Central Catholic head coach Ryan Lehmeier. He took over for long-time head coach Terry Totten. who retired in 2022 after 18 seasons at the helm.

After what appeared to be a opening kickoff return for a touchdown from junior wide receiver/defensive back XXavier Thomas got called back for a flag, Central Catholic started their offense. A mixture of runs and quick passes ended in a touchdown to senior wide receiver and Penn State commit Peter Gonzalez for the first score.

Woodland Hills responded right back, with sophomore Will “Scoop” Smith taking a pass 62 yards to the end zone. Smith is an electric player and holds offers from Nebraska, UNLV and Toledo.

The Vikings responded with a four-minute, 56-yard drive, which ended on a go-around for junior running back Elijah Faulkner, who dived to the pylon to make it 14-7.

The next four drives featured punts from both teams and then interceptions for both defenses. Woodland Hills had a drive into the red zone, that amounted to nothing after sophomore Jacob Mroz missed a short field goal.

Wehner threw a beautiful ball into coverage that senior wide receiver Jacob Sassic caught and ran back for a 68-yard touchdown. He’d also throw another great pass to Gonzalez right over the middle of the field for a 54-yard score, to increase Central’s lead to 29-7 at halftime.

The Vikings defense stood the Wolverines up the rest of the way. Possessing great players like senior linebackers Cole Sullivan and Anthony Speca and others, the Vikings overpowered a weaker Wolverines squad and didn’t allow any score the rest of the game.

Wehner threw two more touchdowns in the third quarter, both to senior wide receiver Vernon Settles. The first was a screen pass, that Settles ran 52-yards for the score and the second was a short pass to the back of the end zone for a 43-7 lead.

He didn’t play in the fourth quarter, but Wehner finished a great game for the Vikings, five touchdowns to just one interception in the victory.

Central Catholic takes on powerhouse St. Ignatius in Cleveland, Ohio next Friday, Sept. 1, while Woodland Hills plays host to rival Gateway in week two.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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