They weren't the Minnesota Vikings, but don't tell that to some fans who watched the Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings punish the Altoona Mountain Lions on Friday night.
Central Catholic came to Mansion Park undefeated, ranked No. 4 in the state by the Pennsylvania Football News and lived up to that billing, spoiling Altoona's senior night while mercy-ruling the Lions, 38-0, in a WPIAL Quad-A non-conference matchup.
"They're the best I've seen all year," Altoona coach John Franco said. "That is a top-notch team with a bunch of Division I guys. That quarterback [JJ Cosentino] is bigger than our linemen and their receivers are bigger than our linemen.
Altoona’s Tony Roefaro tackles Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s Cameron Sutherland on a punt return on Friday night at Mansion Park.
"That's just a great program."
The Vikings had a 276-65 margin in offensive yardage and held the Lions to minus-6 yards rushing on 33 carries. The Pittsburghers led 28-0 at the half and put the running clock in effect midway through the third quarter.
While Franco believes Central is capable of making a deep run in the state playoffs, CC veteran coach Terry Totten isn't as confident.
"You've got to show up every week," Totten said. "When it's November, it's one and you can be done. If we have the fight some of our other teams had, we'll see. The talent is there, but it's a question of doing it every night."
Cameron Sutherland showcased his speed, scoring three touchdowns. He caught a 10-yard TD pass from Cosentino, broke an 82-yard punt return and put the running clock in motion with a 25-yard scamper on a reverse.
Running back Riley Redman, who didn't play the second half, scored on runs of 32 and 2 while gaining 70 yards on just eight carries the first two quarters. Kicker Mitchell MacZura, who booted five extra points, capped the scoring with a 30-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
Cosentino, who is headed for Florida State, was picked off three times by Altoona - twice by Joel Reighard and once by Jaret Berardinelli.
"I thought Joel Reighard was tremendous," Franco said. "He really battled them, and Jaret Berardinelli had some nice breakups as well as the interception."
The Lions also forced a fumble by linebacker Kevin Givens, who ran it back 50 yards before being forced out at the CC 40 early in the third quarter.
"They're much better than their record shows," Totten said of Altoona. "These coaches here are doing the right things. Their kids never gave up, they played hard, hit, and ran to the football.
"I saw a lot of good stuff and I credit them for the direction they're in."
Although the Lions never got closer than Central's 30-yard line, Franco was impressed with the effort.
"I was really proud of the way the kids battled," Franco said. "This is a team that pounded North Allegheny, Seneca Valley and Pine-Richland. They've really put up some points and held teams down.
"Our kids battled them," he said. "We didn't quit at any time. I was really proud of them."
Game notes: Eric Weaver, the Joe Cohen blanket winner in 1997, was the Lions' honorary captain. ... Now 1-7, the Lions close the season at Connellsville next Friday. ... Central (8-0) played without three starters out, including receiver Shafer Swann, son of former Steeler great Lynn Swann. ... Justin Kurpaikis, former Penn State and NFL standout, was on the Central sideline. Kurpaikis, who lives in State College, won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Catholic14 14 7 3 - 38
Altoona0 0 0 0 - 0
CC-Redman 32 run (MacZura kick), 7:41.
CC-Sutherland 10 pass from Cosentino (MacZura kick), 0:00.
CC-Sutherland 82 punt return (MacZura kick), 10:03.
CC-Redman 2 srun (MacZura kick), 4:32.
CC-Sutherland 25 run (MacZura kick), 7:04.
CC-MacZura 30 FG, 7:22.
RUSHING: Central Catholic-Redman 8-70, Foster 11-58, Faloon 2-39, Rutherford 1-25, Farina 4-12, Troesch 1-7, Cosentino 1-(-4). Altoona-Mencer 18-34, Givens 4-7, McConnell 1-1, Weston 4-(-1), D. Miller 6-(-47).
PASSING: Central Catholic-Cosentino 6-11-3-69. Altoona-D. Miller 8-14-1-50, Mencer 1-8-0-21.
RECEIVING: Central Catholic-Sutherland 5-56, Redman 1-13. Altoona-Givens 2-9, Steave 2-(-1), Berardinelli 1-28, Stroh 1-21 McConnell 1-7, Mencer 1-6, Lytle 1-1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Central Catholic-Tarpley. Altoona-Reighard 2, Berardinelli.