As Austin Cunningham and his Central High School teammates celebrated an upset victory over undefeated Richland in the District 6 Class AA title game, the Rams quietly huddled at the opposite end of Mansion Park.
Head coach Brandon Bailey and his staff spoke, often emotionally, to a group that included 25 seniors who have enjoyed immense success.
The ride came to an unexpected conclusion as Central strung together a number of big plays on both sides of the ball and held off yet one more dramatic finish by the Rams. The Scarlet Dragons edged Richland 27-22.
Matt Shaffer’s statistics certainly make the Richland High quarterback worthy of Tribune-Democrat Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Shaffer’s 36 wins at the Rams’ starting quarterback, including 12 this season, also provide credibility.
But there are intangibles that make Shaffer one of the area’s top quarterbacks over the past three seasons.
When North Star middle linebacker Levi Albright was on the field, coaches had to account for his whereabouts.
The 6-foot, 220-pound senior wasn’t the biggest, the strongest or the fastest in the WestPAC, finishing with 106 tackles, including 63 solo stops, three interceptions and a fumble recovery, but he certainly got the attention of his opponents and was selected as the Tribune-Democrat Defensive Player of the Year.
There was a buzz generated by the Somerset Golden Eagles this past fall.
A 10-2 mark and the program’s first playoff win in over two decades were the visible effects of Somerset’s ascension to joining the top tier of the region’s football powers.
Those strides and successes – like Somerset – were hard to top when it came time to decide The Tribune-Democrat’s All-Area Team Coach of the Year.
A quartet of area players gained recognition for their efforts throughout the season when the 2013 Pennsylvania Football Writers’ All-State Class AA team was released on Wednesday.
Richland’s Matt Shaffer and Ben Verhovsek were named to the squad along with Ligonier Valley’s Alec Bloom and Chestnut Ridge’s Noah Osman.
Stacy Schmitt has roamed the sidelines wearing green and white for the past 20 autumns.
In 2014, the long-time North Star coach will spend more Friday nights with his family.
Schmitt coached his final game with the Cougars in a District 5 Class A playoff loss at Tussey Mountain last month.