IMPERIAL - After West Allegheny's 38-6 victory over Hollidaysburg in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs Friday night at West Allegheny, two things became evident.
First, the Indians (10-0) proved why they are the top seed with a dominant performance. They did whatever they wanted, from running the ball, to passing, to blitzing on the many third-and-longs they forced.
Second, the Golden Tigers (3-7) have an uphill climb to make before they become a player in the Triple-A shuffle.
With just 13 seniors on the roster, the young Golden Tigers, under first-year coach Homer DeLattre, could not keep pace with perennial powerhouse West Allegheny and ended the season on a four-game losing streak.
"We're a much better football team than how we played tonight," said senior quarterback Caleb Parnell, who was repeatedly harassed by the relentless West Allegheny defense. "It was a transition year, and we're just really proud of the underclassmen. We feel that we can compete at this level. They will be able to up their game and compete next year."
The Indians produced 265 first-half yards in the form of 188 on the ground and 77 passing. Hollidaysburg managed just 34 totals yards and averaged less than 1 yard per play rushing - 10 attempts for 9 yards.
For the game, West Allegheny used 10 different rushers to amass 247 yards on the ground. Chunks of yardage came via direct snaps to a rusher, sweeps and power runs. It was all expected but hard to stop.
"They executed well," said DeLattre. "They played hard. They ran the ball hard. They were bigger, faster, stronger than us.
"They're a championship program, and we're not. That's where we want to be."
The second half was sped up by virtue of the mercy rule which forced the clock to run. However, it was during that time that the Golden Tigers scored. Mitchell Augustine picked off backup quarterback Jake Cunningham and returned it 28 yards.
The Golden Tigers could have used more big plays. Instead they committed one of football's mortal sins twice when they turned the ball over in their own territory in the first half. Both times the Indians capitalized by navigating the short fields for touchdowns that put the game out of reach shortly after it started.
After targeting Nathaniel Diminick early, the Indians got wise to it and linebacker Sean Orsini intercepted a pass intended for the senior wideout and took it in for a score. The second turnover, another interception at the Golden Tigers' 47, resulted in a 32-yard scoring run by Chayse Dillon.
West Allegheny built a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and took a 38-0 lead by halftime.
Hollidaysburg's best drive was during the final minutes of the first half. Diminick caught a 14-yard pass and an unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit to the head moved the ball to the Indians' 46. But a sack on the next play was all the home team needed, as the clock ran out before Hollidaysburg could run another play.
As West Allegheny coach Palko, winner of six WPIAL championships, pointed out, the game was a matchup of an experienced team and one with young talent that has not quite come together. But, Palko noted, the future looks promising.
"They don't have anything to hang their heads about," he said. You had an experienced team against one that's not that right now - but they're going to be.
"We have nothing but admiration for Homer and his staff. He's a guy that's well-known across the state. Trust me when I say that. They'll be fine."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Hollidaysburg 0 0 0 6 - 6
West Allegheny21 17 0 0 - 38
W-Orsini 9 interception return (Opsatnik kick), 10:09.
W-Dillon 1 run (Opsatnik kick), 6:22.
W-Dillon 32 run (Opsatnik kick), 2:24.
W-Dellovade 3 run (Opsatnik kick), 9:39.
W-Amedure 39 pass from Koester (Opsatnik kick), 6:59.
W-Opsatnik 32 field goal
H-Augustine 28 interception return (run failed), 10:20.
RUSHING: Hollidaysburg-Bickley 1-0, Parnell 1-(-)7, Ruggery 7-12, Hilling 1-2, Weaver 1-(-)1, Brenich 2-3, Augustine 1-1. West Allegheny-Koester 1-5, Delmonico 2-45, Dillon 2-37, White 9-24, Stephens 11-65, Dellovade 5-50, Manson 4-12, Cunningham 2-5, Ross 1-1, Casciato 1-3.
PASSING: Hollidaysburg-Bickley 3-12-2-11, Parnell 1-4-0-14, Augustine 1-2-0-3. West Allegheny-Koester 6-10-0-77, Cunningham 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING: Hollidaysburg-Diminick 4-25, Gildea 1-3. West Allegheny-Delmonico 1-13, Johnson 1-14, Amedure 2-18, Ross 1-19, Scanlan 1-13.
INTERCEPTIONS: Hollidaysburg-Augustine. West Allegheny-Orsini, Dillon.