Coaching is no more important on any level than it is in high school, and Aliquippa football coach Mike Zmijanic indicated as much after his team’s 27-12 loss to Class AA rival Beaver Falls on Thursday night.
With the game still in the balance in the fourth quarter and Aliquippa sitting with a first down at the Beaver Falls 7, the Quips insisted on running into the teeth of a stout defense — four consecutive times.
That defense is led by Division I prospect Todd Thomas, a broad-shouldered safety/linebacker who has offers from Pitt and Michigan. The result was predictable. Aliquippa couldn’t score and turned the ball over on downs, handing the keys to the Class AA Midwestern Conference kingdom to Beaver Falls.
With Thomas and other Beaver Falls linebackers and defensive backs attacking the line of scrimmage, a pass might have been in order on at least one of those downs. Later, Zmijanic said, “It’s all a matter of coaching or uncoaching. Absolutely unimaginable lack of organization by the coaching staff.”
That’s as strong a self-indictment as you ever will hear from a high school coach, but Zmijanic is being too tough on himself.
It’s difficult to imagine a problem at Aliquippa, given Zmijanic’s success (a 114-21 record since 1997). Here’s betting he gets whatever it is fixed before the end of the month.
Don’t be surprised if Beaver Falls and Aliquippa meet again.
- In any event, Beaver Falls, the runnerup to Jeannette last year in Class AA, has the team to challenge the two-time defending WPIAL champion Jayhawks, who have recorded three shutouts while scoring 129 points this season. Beaver Falls’ Cody Cook ran 18 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns and Thomas was 4 short of 100 on 12 carries. Don’t forget Aliquippa’s Terry Patrick (15 for 132, including the 89-yard run that put the ball at the 7).
- Pitt sent three coaches to the game, including offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, wide receivers coach Bryan Bossard and assistant head coach/defensive line coach Greg Gattuso. Before the game, Bossard spent the day at Beaver Falls and Gattuso was roaming the halls of Aliquippa.
- Seneca Valley senior wide receiver Matt Plautz has many Mid-American Conference coaches scribbling his name in their files, but word is he doesn’t want to wander too far from home after graduation. Pitt might be interested, especially after Plautz ran a 4.75-second 40-yard dash at Pitt’s camp over the summer. There are some people who are comparing Plautz, 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, to Pitt freshman wide receiver Mike Shanahan of Norwin. Shanahan, 6-5, 220, ran a 4.77 before Pitt offered him a scholarship. More important than Plautz’s speed is his production. He is leading the WPIAL with 24 receptions for 435 yards in only three games. His quarterback, C.J. Brown, already has thrown for 874 yards, completing 60 of 92 passes. Brown has 1,093 total yards, including 219 on the ground and six touchdowns. He also has thrown for six scores.
- Woodland Hills will be without junior defensive end Richard Gray, 6-2, 250, for a game or two after he had arthroscopic knee surgery recently. Gray delayed the surgery until after Woodland Hills played Justin Northwest Aug. 30 at Texas Stadium in Dallas.
- Running back Dom Timbers, who started as a freshman at Central Catholic two years ago and sat out last season wilth a knee injury, is attending Woodland Hills and will become academically eligible in time for the sixth game of the season, at Kiski Area, according to coach George Novak.