WHITEHALL TWP. — Worried about the reputation of a big-play opponent, Wyoming Valley West decided to pull out some different stops.
“We wanted to show them fronts they’ve never seen before,” Valley West quarterback Rob Dwyer said.
In the process, the Spartans showed a dominance they haven’t delivered much this season.
Dwyer ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns, caught another while lining up at wide receiver and Valley West trampled Whitehall, 32-21 to win the District 2/4/11 Class 5A football title at Whitehall’s Zephyr Stadium.
“We knew we were underdogs,” said Dwyer, who helped ensure 7-6 Valley West won’t finish with a losing season after a 1-5 start. “But we knew what we can do.
“We knew we could win this game.”
By the end, so did everyone else.
Led by hard-nosed Dwyer, Valley West rolled up 289 rushing yards and controlled the tempo and the time of possession.
That started early, as Valley West’s opening drive chewed nearly five minutes off the clock, covered 80 yards and wrapped up when Dwyer lined up as a receiver and snagged an 18-yard touchdown pass from co-quarterback Jake Shusta on fourth-and-2.
“I like running for them, I like throwing them, I like catching them,” Dwyer said. “I like it all.”
From there, it was pretty much all Valley West.
Whitehall, which finished 9-4, had the ball for just 14 plays in the first half and 21 through three quarters as the Spartans built a 32-13 lead.
The final score was a bit deceiving, as Whitehall scored its final touchdown and added a conversion pass with five seconds to play.
“I think our kids, they just came together,” Valley West coach Pat Keating said. “They’re executing things so much better right now. We accomplished everything we wanted to tonight.
“I’m just really proud of them.”
When Whitehall’s opening drive ended on a running play that was stopped short of a first down, the Spartans took off on another long, time-consuming march that covered more than six minutes, 46 yards and finished with a 33-yard field goal by Jake Gurtis for a 10-0 Valley West lead early in the second quarter.
“That was sort of our gameplan,” Keating said, “how we wanted to manage it (the clock). The (the Zephyrs) are very dangerous.”
Whitehall showed it a couple times.
Zephyrs quarterback Ethan Parvel took off on a 43-yard touchdown run to pull Whitehall within 10-7 three plays after Gurtis’ field goal, and later hit Braxton Morrero out of the backfield with a 62-yard scoring strike as Whitehall closed within 24-13 in the third quarter.
Aside from those two quick-strike scores, though, the Spartans controlled the game.
Starting up front.
“Our offensive and defensive lines, they’ve just gotten an attitude down the stretch here,” Keating said. “They’ve just been able to control games.”
That proved particularly true on offense, where Division I recruit Chris Bleich kept blasting holes in the center of Whitehall’s defense.
That allowed Dwyer to take off on runs of 15 and 26 yards during a 74-yard scoring march that he ended with a 5-yard touchdown run to boost Valley West’s lead to 17-7 by halftime.
For the game, the Spartans had nine runs covering 12 or more yards and rushed for 17 of their 23 first downs.
“Our offensive line, they beat the crap out of them up front,” Dwyer said. “I’m just following my blocks and looking at the end zone, doing whatever I can to win games.”
Dwyer wasn’t done, as he charged for a 2-yard touchdown keeper to give the Spartans a 24-13 lead late in the third quarter. He then took off on a 31-yard dash to set up Sean Mikovitch’s 4-yard touchdown run for a 32-13 lead and Valley West’s final points early in the fourth quarter.
“Our goal was to run it,” Dwyer said. “We just wanted to pound them up front.”
D2/4/11 Class 5A Championship
Valley West 32, Whitehall 21
Wyo. Valley West`7`10`7`8 — 32
Whitehall`0`7`6`8 — 21
WVW — Rob Dwyer 18 pass from Jake Shusta (Jake Gurtis kick), 7:08
WVW — Gurtis 33 FG, 10:29
WH — Ethan Parvel 43 run (Alex Khouri kick), 9:39
WVW — Dwyer 5 run (Gurtis kick), 3:25
WVW — Dwyer 2 run (Gurtis kick), 3:15
WH — Braxton Morrero 62 pass from Parvel (kick failed), 2:18
WVW — Sean Mikovitch 4 run (Mikovitch conversion pass from Shusta), 10:01
WH — Allen Negrete 9 pass from Parvel (Dez Boykin conversion pass from Parvel), 0:05
RUSHING — WVW, Rob Dwyer 17-120, Zach Davies 18-94, Sean Mikovitch 15-69, Jake Blaski 1-9, Nate Shovlin 1-4, Jake Shusta 1-1, Carson Canavan 1- (minus 1), TEAM 1- (minus 1), Darrian Tyson 1- (minus 6). WH, Ethan Parvel 8-75, Braxton Morrero 6-20, Dez Boykin 4-5, Dabriel Ayala 1-1.
PASSING — WVW, Dwyer 1-3-0-9, Shusta 4-4-0-57, TEAM 0-1-0. WH, Parvel 14-22-2-203.
RECEIVING — WVW, Blaski 3-29, Dwyer 2-37. WH, Boykin 6-65, John Kaintz 3-46, Morrero 2-66, Allen Negrete 2-20, Joe Herman 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS — WVW, Tyson 1-0, Blaski 1-4.
MISSED FGs — WVW, Gurtis, 45-Short.