By Mike White | Friday, Nov. 27
Live blog from WPIAL football championships at Heinz Field
CLASS AAAA FINAL SCORE - WOODLAND HILLS 10, GATEWAY 0
10:44 p.m. - Woodland Hills did the unthinkable - shut out Gateway. More stats and thoughts later.
10:12 p.m. - Gateway turns the ball over on downs. End of third and it's still 10-0
10:04 - Fake punt gains 21 yards for Gateway and the Gators are now at the Woodland Hills 41 with 3:32 left in the third quarter.
9:25 p.m. - Gateway QB Rob Kalkstein is off his game. So is the entire Gateway team. It's halftime and Woodland Hills leads, 10-0.
9:09 p.m. - Woodland Hills was threatening again, driving to the Gateway 30. But Gateway's Dondi Kirby intercepted a pass in the end zone to kill the threat.
8:59 p.m. - On fourth-and-4, Woodland Hills scores on a trick play. Jayron Polk takes a handoff on a reverse and runs 14 yards for a touchdown. it is now 10-0 Woodland Hills.
8:50 p.m. - Gateway is struggling to do much offensively. Woodland Hills is getting a good rush on standout quarterback Rob Kalkstein. First quarter is over and Woodland Hills leads, 3-0.
8:34 p.m. - Woodland Hills scores first in the Class AAAA final. The Wolverines recovered a squib kick at the Gateway 37. After nine plays, the Wolverines got a 24-yard field goal from Sam Scifo. 3-0 Woodland Hills first quarter.
CLASS AAA FINAL SCORE:
WEST ALLEGHENY 36, HOPEWELL 28
FINAL STATS: Hopewell's Rushel Shell rushed for 274 yards on 42 carries. West Allegheny's Mike Caputo rushed for 178 yards on 25 carries and scored four touchdowns.
7:44 p.m. - Fourth-down pass broken up by Ben Simmen with 1:09 left. This one is over. West Allegheny will win, 36-38. Rushel Shell didn't carry the ball on any of the final four plays.
7:40 p.m. - Fourth down for Hopewell. Fourth-and-13.
7:38 p.m. - Hopewell makes it on fourth-and-one. Hopewell ball on the West Allegheny 24.
7:35 p.m. - Shell seems to be in a groove. He's getting 7 yards or more every touch. Hopewell now inside the 40-yard line of West A.
7:34 p.m. - This is as good of a championship as you can see.
7:32 p.m. - Hopewell gets a stop and now takes over at its 35-yard line with 6:45 left in the game.
7:28 p.m. - Caputo back in.
7:27 p.m. - West Allegheny star Mike Caputo is out of the game. He limped off after returning the ensuing kickoff. Interesting to see what West A. does without him.
7:25 p.m. - Rushel Shell finally broke a long runs. Out of the Wildcat, he runs 68 yards for a score and Hopewell is now behind, 36-28. Shell now has 236 yards rushing.
7:22 p.m. - Not going to see many championship games with running backs like this. Through three quarters, West Allegheny's Mike Caputo had 178 yards on 25 carries. Shell has 165 on 32 attempts.
7:17 p.m. - End of the third quarter and West Alleghen leads, 36-21
7:15 p.m. - Just when it looked like Hopewell might score again, Rushel Shell fumbled inside the 20 and West Allegheny recovered. Then a bad call by the officials. On the first play after the turnover, Shell clearly stripped the ball from Caputo, but the official said Caputo was down. Replays showed a bad call.
7:05 p.m. - West Allegheny answers. After Hopewell sliced the gap to eight, West Allegheny drove for a touchdown, with Jared Buck scoring on a 1-yard QB sneak. The Indians changed things up a little on offense. With Mike Caputo's ankle being taped, Aaron McKinney played in the "Wildcat" formation and had a couple of nice gains to set up the score. PAT makes it 36-21 with 5:13 left in the third quarter.
6:57 p.m. - We have a game!!!! Hopewell scores on first possession of second half - Rushel Shell on 4-yard run - and the PAT makes it 29-21 with 7:49 left in the third quarter. That score at the end of the half was gigantic for Hopewell.
6:55 p.m. - Hopewell on the move to start the second half, inside the 20-yard line.
6:35 p.m. - West Allegheny leading at halftime, 29-14. Mike Caputo of West Allegheny is on his way to 200 yards. He has 127 yards on 21 carries in the first half. Rushel Shell has 76 yards on 17 attempts. Scoring at the end of the half was gigantic for Hopewell. Without that TD, it would be very tough for Hopewell to come back.
West allegheny is simply riding Caputo. The Indians had 24 plays in the first half - and Caputo carried on 21 of them.
Hopewell is in trouble, but the Vikings don't need to abandon their game plan yet. They are not a good come-from-behind team, but Shell can break a long one on any carry.
6:22 p.m. - Some poor clock management by Hopewell at the end of the half, but Rushel Shell came through with a 6-yard TD run on the final play of the half. The PAT was good and it's 29-14 at the half, West Allegheny leading.
6:13 p.m. - It's turning into a blowout. Mike Caputo is winning the battle of the backs and West Allegheny is winning big. Caputo just scored on an 11-yard run and the PAT gives West Allegheny a 29-7 lead with 1:32 left in the half. Caputo has all four West A. TDs.
Hopewell just can't stop Caputo. The kid is absolutely tremendous in the "Wildcat." Finding holes. Using cutbacks. Breaking tackles. He has done it all. Even when there is no room, he still gets 5-6 yards.
6:05 p.m. - Ha. Just watching Tyler Palko (former West Allegheny QB signed to Steelers practice squad this week) being interviewed by Meg Bulger on FSN. Those two used to be boyfriend and girlfriend when they were in high school. And you thought there was only good stuff like this on Entertainment Tonight.
Here is Tyler Palko after winning the state championship his senior year at West Allegheny.
5:53 p.m. - This running showdown might live up to the pregame hype. After a long kickoff return and a personal foul penalty by Hopewell, West Allegheny's Mike Caputo ran 29 yards for a touchdown and the PAT makes it 22-7 West Allegheny. Caputo has all three West Allegheny touchdowns.
5:49 p.m. - We have a game. Rushel Shell scores on an 8-yard run out of the "Wildcat" with 9:49 remaining in the first quarter. PAT brings Hopewell within 15-7.The drive was 48 yards in seven plays - and they were all runs by Shell. .... Shell, by the way, is now over 4,000 yards for his career - only the second in WPIAL history to have 4,000 as a sophomore.
5:46 p.m. - Hopewell now is using the "Wildcat" formation with Rushel Shell getting direct snaps. Shell is starting to find a few creases and Hopewell is now on West Allegheny's 22-yard line.
5:41 p.m. - End of the first quarer and West Allegheny leads, 15-0.
5:40 p.m. - Shell gets a 49-yard kickoff return to give Hopewell some life at the West A. 48.
5:37 p.m. - Caputo scores again - this time on a 5-yard run - and West Allegheny leads, 15-0, with 1:03 left in the first quarter. West A's scoring drive was 55 yards long in 10 plays. Caputo carried on nine of the 10 plays.
5:33 p.m. - Hopewell has yet to pick up a first down and West Allegheny is on the move again. Mike Caputo is taking direct snaps in the Wildcat formation and simply getting 6-7 yards a play. West Allegheny has moved to the Hopewell 30.
5:24 p.m. - After Revtai's INT, Mike Caputo runs 12 yards on the first play for a touchdown. The Indians throw for the two-point converstion and it's now 8-0 West Allegheny with 8:01 left in the first quarter.
5:23 p.m. - Matt Hundenski's pass for Hopewell is intercepted by C.J. Revtai and returned to the 12-yard line. West Allegheny first-and-10 with 8:06 left in the first quarter.
5:19 p.m. - In the press box is former Gateway coach Pete Antimaino, with his son, Pete Jr. The last time Gateway won a title was 1986 and Pete Sr. was the coach. He's 83 years old and still has the wit of a 22-year-old. In 1986, Terry Smith was Gateway's quarterback against North Hills in the title game. Smith is below, making a pass in the championship game.
5:18 p.m. - We're underway in the Class AAA game. West Allegheny loses 3 yards on its first possession and will punt.
West Allegheny-Hopewell Class AAA final will start at 5:15 p.m.
FINAL SCORE: Greensburg Central Catholic 33, Aliquippa 7
4:29 p.m. - Final stats from Class AA game: David Miller rushed for 203 yards on 34 carries for Greensburg Central Catholic. Aliquippa was held to 153 total yards. GCC had 302 total yards. Greensburg Central Catholic intercepted four Aliquippa passes.
3:40 p.m. - Aliquippa is supposed to love its sports. Then why does Greensburg Central Catholic have a bigger crowd here than Aliquippa?
3:36 p.m. - HEY, THEY FINALLY TURNED THE LIGHTS ON HERE. But it's pretty much lights out for Aliquippa. No one should be surprised that GCC is winning. But I don't think anyone could've predicted this margin. It's 33-7.
3:33 p.m. - David Miller finds the end zone again. Heckuva power runner, Miller scores on a 2-yard run PAT good and it's 33-7 Greensburg Central Catholic. The TD capped an 18-play drive and Miller carried all but two of the plays.
3:25 p.m. - Would you call this the "triple I?" Greensburg Central Catholic is lining up with three running backs in an "I" formation and giving the ball to David Miller - EVERY TIME. He has now carried 10 times in a row. End of the third quarter and it's still 26-7.
3:09 p.m. - Mikal Hall back at QB, but is intercepted on third play of second half and GCC is at the Aliquippa 28. Don't think there will be a great Aliquippa comeback, unless GCC self destructs.
3:05 p.m. - This game is bringing back memories of 2004 Class AA final when Aliquippa trailed Seton-LaSalle, 35-13, at halftime. Seton-LaSalle QB Bill Stuff was terrific in the first half. Quips came back and had Seton-LaSalle on the ropes before losing, 42-35. One big difference, though. Seton didn't have a running back like Greensburg Central's David Miller. I look for Miller to carry the ball maybe 20 times in the second half.
Seton-LaSalle's Carmen Connolly runs after catching a pass against Aliquippa in the 2004 Class AA title game.
2:59 p.m. - First-half stats. Greensburg Central has 247 yards to 88 for Aliquippa. David Miller has 152 yards on 16 carries. Aliquippa has three turnovers - two fumbles and an interception.
2:41 p.m. - Halftime score: Greensburg Central Catholic 26, Aliquippa 7
2:39 p.m. - Hey, how did Greensburg Central Catholic lose two games? But really, they're simply living up to what they were supposed to be at the start of the year. GCC was ranked No. 1 in the state in the preseason.
2:36 p.m. - Aliquippa decision t go for it o fourth down backfired because GCC just scored again. Evan Marshall caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Trent Hurley. Marshall made a great one-handed catch. GCC went for two and failed. It's now 26-7.
Post-Gazette photo by Pete Diana
2:34 p.m. - David Miller gains 29 yards on first down and GCC is at Aliquippa 21.
2:32 p.m. - Aliquippa just went for fourth-and-2 at the 49 and was stopped. 1:15 left in the half and GCC has a chance to score again.
2:26 p.m. - GCC QB Trent Hurley scores on a 2-yard QB bootleg with 2:40 left in the first half. PAT missed. It's GCC 20-7. Quips can't stop them.
2:19 p.m. - Looks like GCC is getting adjusted to Aliquippa's speed.
2:18 p.m. - Rasheem Jones is now in at quarterback for Aliquippa.
2:17 p.m. - Personal note. Sometimes you just don't know your neighbors. My neighbor, Stephanie Higgins, a sophomore at North Hills, sang the national anthem before this game. I heard she could sing, but I didn't know she was that good.
About the crowd: The attendance last year was a little more than 18,000 for all four games. That was disappointing to the WPIAL. I think they'll be lucky to get to 18,000 this year. The Class A crowd was well below 1,000. Not that many here for Class AA, either, as you can see below. The weather hurts. So does the Pitt-West Virginia game. So does Black Friday.
2:15 p.m. - David Miller scores again on a 4-yard run. Greensburg Central isn't as quick as Aliquippa, but Greensburg Central is bigger. The Centurions are moving the ball with power. 8:40 to go in the second quarter and it's now 14-7 GCC.
2:07 p.m. - Quips and Greensburg Central are tied, 7-7, after the first quarter. Greensburg Central had a 1-yard punt and Aliquippa took over in good field position. But the Quips' Mikal Hall threw an INT.
2:03 p.m. - Aliquippa fumbles the ball away. GCC with it at midfield.
1:58 p.m. - David Miller just ran 79 yards for a touchdown for Greensburg Central Catholic. PAT good and it's now tied, 7-7.
1:54 p.m. - Aliquippa has gone ahead, 7-0. QB Mikal Hall ran a sneak 6 yards for a touchdown. PAT good. Aliquippa looks too fast and quick for Greensburg Central Catholic.
1:47 p.m. - Field is in good shape. It should be OK for the day.
1:45 p.m. - Aliquippa's Rashad Kenney just returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back because of a block in the back.
CLASS A FINAL SCORE: Clairton 14, Rochester 13
In the Class A final, Clairton edged Rochester, 14-13. Rochester scored a touchdown with 1:10 left in the game when Terry Gettings caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Jasson Adamson. A facemask penalty put the ball at the 1 1/2 for the extra point. So Rochester went for the win, but Trey Johnson was stopped on a run just short of the goal line.
Clairton then ran out the clock for the win.
"We had to make a decision at the end, and I thought we made the right decision," said Rochester coach Gene Matsook. "If we had to do it again, we'd do it again."
Defenses were good on both sides, as expected. This was two of the top three teams in the state going at it. Clairton had 215 yards offense and Rochester 166. Deontae Howard of Clairton went over 4,000 yards rushing for his career and finished with 73 yards on 17 attempts. But he had only 8 yards in the second half.