Plenty of respect between Trinity, W.A.
11/5/2010 3:30 AM
The football coaching profession tends to be a demanding trade, so forgive West Allegheny's Bob Palko if he isn't familiar with the off-the-field drama that swirled around Trinity before this season kicked off.
As Palko prepared West Allegheny to defend its fifth WPIAL Class AAA championship won under his watchful eye, word that the 2010 season is probably the last for Trinity head coach Ed Dalton didn't find its way to Imperial.
According to Palko, all he needs to know about the Hillers can be deduced from watching the game film he received this week.
"The one thing I know when I turn on the film and watch this football team is their kids play hard. It's a very good, a very sound and a well-coached football team," Palko said. "It's a shame if that's the situation because you can tell this team knows what they're doing. That doesn't happen by accident."
The title defense for West Allegheny (6-3) begins tonight at home against surging Trinity (6-3), the No. 12 seed and a winner in four of its last five games.
"That's one good football team. We have our work cut out for us," Palko said. "The film doesn't lie."
Of particular concern to the second-place team from the always-rugged Parkway Conference are seniors Kyle McWreath and Mike Cleveland.
McWreath, Trinity's starting fullback and middle linebacker, has rushed for 383 yards and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. He's especially effective on defense, a unit that has allowed 28 points in those four wins.
Cleveland, meanwhile, is a three-way concern.
With a team-high 13 receptions and five receiving touchdowns, the 6-6 Cleveland presents a matchup problem, On defense he's proven with six interceptions that quarterbacks throwing in his direction aren't making a wise decision.
Cleveland's greatest impact may come on special teams, where he regularly puts kickoffs in the end zone and has six field goals.
"Not only is he talented but he plays extra positions and does a good job with that," Palko said. "When he kicks, it just looks so natural. It's always a nice weapon to have."
West Allegheny played the majority of this season without its primary weapon - Wisconsin recruit Mike Caputo. He suffered a dislocated ankle in the Indians' first game.
"They're successful because they still have a lot of good players. They won the WPIAL but you don't win it with just one kid," Dalton said. "This team is so physical, so sound and so good. The other thing is you're not going to outsmart them."
Junior quarterback Dylan Bongiorni, who transferred last year from Burgettstown, has thrown for 943 yards and only two interceptions in 119 attempts.
"He's worked himself in well and he's doing a good job," Palko said. "It was tough for him coming in here and learning a new system but he works hard."
For the Indians, no one works harder than Aaron McKinney, a two-way menace who has rushed for 939 yards and 19 touchdowns. McKinney and McWreath, both excellent wrestlers, are comparable players.
"They're self-motivated kids who know how to make sacrifices," Dalton said. "(McKinney) seems to will them through certain situations. He makes a few plays and a couple other players. Kyle does the same thing." Copyright Observer Publishing Co.