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All-Conference Laurels For 16 Tigers, Seven First-Team Selections

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The Big 56 Conference announced its all-conference teams on Friday afternoon and 16 Tigers earned all-conference accolades in Class 6A, including seven first-team members.

Earning first-team laurels on offense was senior Bene Caputo at tackle, senior Mason Kress at receiver and senior Khalil Dinkins at the at-large back position. On defense, first-team honorees were Jacob Porter at defensive end, seniors Brady Leczo and Nate Hoke at inside linebacker, and senior Sean Metcalf as an at-large pick. On Thursday, Dinkins and Hoke were also both tabbed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Fabulous 22.

Caputo anchored the offensive line from the right tackle position and helped power a North Allegheny rushing attack that averaged 158 yards per game. Kress was the top target in the passing game in receptions and receiving yardage with a team-best 29 catches for 296 yards and four scores. The versatile Kress added 133 yards rushing on 17 carries and two touchdowns. Dinkins, a swiss-army knife for the Tigers, was the focal point for the “Monster Package” that terrorized opponents all season. On the ground, Dinkins rushed for 222 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries. Through the air, the Penn State commit hauled in 20 receptions for 284 yards and a team-leading four receiving touchdowns.

On defense, the combination of Porter, Leczo, Hoke and Metcalf helped limit opponents to 13.7 points per game and a scant 57.7 rushing yards per contest. At defensive end, Porter totaled 11.5 tackles and a team-best five sacks. Leczo posted 22.5 tackles, 4.5 sacks and an interception, while Hoke battled through an early-season thumb injury to total 16.5 tackles, four sacks and one interception. Metcalf was North Allegheny’s leader in tackles with 24.5 stops, adding 2.5 sacks and a pick-six in week one against Penn Hills.

Second-team accolades went to senior offensive lineman Michael Dorn, junior defensive tackle Nick Frisco, senior defensive back Josh Humphries and junior defensive back Kolin Dinkins.

Earning honorable mention recognition from the Big 56 was senior quarterback Greg Phillips, junior running back J.R. Burton, senior at-large back J.P. Cantu, senior kicker Brandon Persad and senior defensive back Ben Rohan.

This awesome collection of Tigers helped North Allegheny reach the WPIAL Class 6A championship game for the first time since 2012 and post an overall record of 6-1 during an adverse 2020 season. Congratulations to all 16 North Allegheny players who were honored by the Big 56 Conference.

Tigers To Lock Horns With Vikings For WPIAL Class 6A Championship

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In the largest classification in the WPIAL, the North Allegheny Tigers (6-0) and the Central Catholic Vikings (5-2) have been perennial contenders for the WPIAL championship. North Allegheny is making its first WPIAL title game appearance since 2012 but its fourth since 2010. Central Catholic is appearing in the championship game for the seventh time in the last eight season and 12th time overall. On Friday night, these preeminent programs will lock horns with a WPIAL championship at stake for the first time ever.

North Allegheny is the top-seed in the Class 6A bracket and is looking for the program’s fifth WPIAL title. Central Catholic is the third-seed and is trying for its eighth WPIAL crown.

In the WPIAL semifinals, the North Allegheny defense was once again dominant and permitted only 81 total yards to Seneca Valley in a 21-7 victory. The Raiders only touchdown came on a meaningless fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Senior Nate Hoke accounted for a sack and interception, along with two rushing touchdowns on offense to help secure the win.

The Central Catholic defense was equally impressive in the WPIAL semifinals, pitching a shutout against Mt. Lebanon in a 35-0 triumph. The Vikings allowed a minues-5 total yards in a complete whitewash of the Blue Devils. Offensively, running back Eddy Tillman rushed for 151 yards.

In their regular season meeting, North Allegheny claimed a 35-21 victory over Central Catholic in week three at historic Graham Field in Wilkinsburg. The NA defense held the speedy Tillman, who has college offers from Valparaiso and several Division II schools, to a scant 17 yards rushing. The Tigers also intercepted three passes, including a tide-turning 40-yard pick-six by senior Khalil Dinkins in the third quarter. Senior Brady Leczo rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and hauled in a crucial interception just before halftime to derail a Central Catholic drive. Senior tailback J.R. Burton rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Since that game, Central Catholic has revamped its lineup, especially on offense where senior Adam Obrin has taken over the starting job at quarterback. Obrin has passed for 643 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. His presence in the passing game has opened things up for Tillman, who has rushed for over 800 yards and seven scores.

Tonight’s game marks the first playoff meeting between NA and Central Catholic since these teams met in the 2015 quarterfinals at Martorelli Stadium. The Vikings used three second half turnovers from its defense to pull away for a 31-17 win. Running back Ronnie Jones rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns in the win for Central Catholic.

Kickoff for tonight’s game is set for 7:00 p.m. at North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium. The game will be televised by KDKA-TV and also broadcast by the North Allegheny Sports Network. We invite you to watch the KDKA telecast, turn down the TV sound and turn up the NA Sports Network broadcast, which begins at 6:40 p.m. with the pregame show. The pregame show includes an interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.

Test of Strength: Class 6A’s Top Two Defenses Clash In WPIAL Semifinals

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For the third time in the last five seasons, the North Allegheny Tigers (5-0) will meet the Seneca Valley Raiders (4-2) in the WPIAL semifinals. Tonight’s matchup will also mark the fourth time in the last decade that these teams have met in the WPIAL playoffs with the head-to-head playoff series split at 2-2.

Top-seeded North Allegheny is making its 17th consecutive playoff appearance and fifth straight trip to the WPIAL semifinals. The Tigers are hoping to reach the WPIAL title game for the first time since 2012.

Seneca Valley is making its eighth playoff appearance in the last 10 seasons. SV has reached the WPIAL finals in two of the last four seasons, beating North Allegheny in the semifinal round both times to get there.

The Raiders enter the postseason as the No. 4 seed following a 28-27 overtime loss to Mt. Lebanon last week that cost Seneca Valley the opportunity for a home playoff game. In that game, starting quarterback Brian Olan threw three interceptions, something he’ll need to avoid against an opportunistic North Allegheny defense.

Olan has started the last three weeks in place of injured senior quarterback Dustin Horn. Horn, who is also an outfielder on the Raiders baseball team, passed for 344 yards, four touchdowns and one interception prior to his injury. In Horn’s stead, Olan has thrown for 454 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Another injury issue for the Raiders has been at running back where senior tailback Ethan West has been absent the last few weeks. Junior tailback Nolan Dworek has performed admirably as the team’s leading rusher with 444 yards and six touchdowns, to go along with 8 catches for 100 yards and one receiving touchdown. While West has played in only two full games before exiting in a loss to Central Catholic in week three, he could make his return to the starting lineup tonight against the Tigers. West is a Division I recruit with offers from Duquesne, Army, Holy Cross, Fordham and others.

Along with Dworek, another player who has seen time rushing the football is senior wideout Connor Lyczek. The versatile Lyczek leads Seneca Valley in receiving with 16 catches for 249 yards and a touchdown. He will also run out of the Wildcat formation, as he did for nine carries and 30 yards last week against Mt. Lebanon. The Seneca Valley offensive line is anchored by senior Jimmy Royal, who is receiving some small Division I college attention, and Don Kreisberg, who is verbally committed to Division III powerhouse, Mount Union.

Royal is also a standout defensive lineman for a Seneca Valley defense that is second in Class 6A in points allowed behind North Allegheny, giving up an average of 16 points per game. Joining Royal on the defensive front is senior Josh Miller, the team leader in sacks with nine on the campaign. Junior linebacker Tyler Yurich is the team leader in tackles with 38 stops on the season. Lyczek tops the squad in interceptions with three.

While the Seneca Valley defense has been good, the North Allegheny defense has been the best in Class 6A, giving up a paltry 10 points per game. The Tigers rush defense has been particularly stout, allowing only 41 rushing yards per contest. Senior linebacker Brady Leczo is the team leader in sacks with 4.5, followed closely behind by athletic defensive lineman Jacob Porter’s four sacks. Along with Leczo, the Tigers boast all-conference linebackers J.P. Cantu, Nate Hoke and Khalil Dinkins. Hoke is a BYU commit and Dinkins recently announced his commitment to Penn State University. NA’s leading tackler is defensive back Mason Kress with 17 stops.

The North Allegheny offense is averaging 32 points per game and wears down opponents with a physical ground game. Utilizing a bevy of different ball carriers, NA’s leading rusher is junior J.R. Burton with 229 yards and four touchdowns. Dinkins, who often runs out of the “Monster Package,” has toted the football for 137 yards and three scores. Dinkins is also the team’s leading receiver, with 16 catches for 234 yards and three receiving touchdowns. Kress is another versatile wideout with 149 yards and two touchdowns receiving, to go along with 98 yards and two more scores on the ground. Far from a one-trick pony, the North Allegheny offense is led through the air by senior quarterback Greg Phillips, who recently torched Canon-McMillan in a 35-0 win for 240 yards and four touchdowns on 17 of 23 passing. The offensive line is composed of Josh Ruppert, Nick Frisco, Ben Withrow, Mike Dorn, Bene Caputo and tight end Sean Metcalf.

Kickoff for tonight’s Class 6A WPIAL Semifinal is slated for 7:00 p.m. at Newman Stadium. The game will be broadcast live via the internet on the North Allegheny Sports Network, with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m. The pregame show includes an interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.

NA Earns No. 1 Seed, Will Host Seneca Valley In WPIAL Semifinals

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The WPIAL released its football playoff pairings on Saturday. Sporting a perfect 5-0 overall record and 4-0 mark in the Quad County Conference, the North Allegheny Tigers received the No. 1 seed in the Class 6A bracket. The Tigers will play host to the fourth-seeded Seneca Valley Raiders (4-2) on Friday at 7:00 p.m. in the WPIAL semifinals. It’s the third time in the last five seasons that North Allegheny and Seneca Valley will face off in the WPIAL’s final four. For a complete look at the Class 6A bracket, click here.

(Photo by Casey Rodak and courtesy of NA Football Boosters.)

Khalil Dinkins Makes Verbal Commitment to Penn State

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North Allegheny senior Khalil Dinkins has made a verbal commitment to play college football at Penn State University. The versatile talent announced his decision via Twitter on Wednesday.

A second-team All-Big 56 Conference pick at linebacker last season, Dinkins has taken his game to new heights during the 2020 campaign. The 6-3 wideout has hauled in 16 receptions for 234 yards and 3 TDs through five games of his senior season. Additionally, he has rushed for 137 yards and three more scores, sometimes running out of NA’s “Monster Package.”

Dinkins will be reunited with former NA football standout, Joey Porter Jr., at Penn State University next season.

(Photo by Casey Rodak and courtesy of NA Football Boosters.)

Tigers To Host Canon-McMillan On Senior Night

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Sitting alone atop the Class 6A standings, the North Allegheny Tigers (4-0) will play host to the Canon-McMillan Big Macs (2-2) tonight at Newman Stadium. The Tigers are coming off a 49-13 blowout win at Norwin last week. Senior Khalil Dinkins spearheaded the NA effort with 145 total yards and four touchdowns, with two receiving touchdowns and two more scores on the ground. The Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage and outrushed the Knights, 318-44.

Meanwhile, Canon-McMillan saw a two-game winning streak snapped last week by Seneca Valley during a 31-17 defeat at the hands of the Raiders. In the contest, the Big Macs committed six turnovers and went 0 for 4 on fourth downs. The lone bright spot for CM was quarterback Deuce Lyons, who passed for 138 yards and a touchdown, to go along with one rushing score.

Lyons is in his first full season as CM’s starting quarterback and has passed for 334 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. The junior signal caller spent most of 2019 as a wide receiver before starting the final two games of the season at quarterback.

The top offensive threat for the Big Macs is junior tailback Ryan Angott, who has toted the football for 503 yards and five touchdowns so far this season. Last season, Angott earned second-team All-Big 56 Conference honors with 896 rushing yards.

Canon-McMillan boasts an experienced squad that returns four starters on the offensive line and nine starters on defense. The Big Macs also have a solid special teams unit, led by junior return man Chris Davis. In week two, Davis returned a kickoff for a touchdown that sparked a 24-17 come-from-behind victory over Mt. Lebanon.

Prior to 2018, North Allegheny and Canon-McMillan had rarely met with the lone clash this century coming in the 2002 WPIAL Class AAAA first round, which resulted in a 41-6 victory for the Tigers. Now members of the same conference, NA and CM have played each other three times in the last two seasons. All have been blowout victories for the Tigers, including a 48-7 triumph over the Big Macs in the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals last season.

Tonight’s matchup at Newman Stadium is slated to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. The game can be viewed live on the North Allegheny Sports Network, with the pregame show getting underway at 7:05 p.m. The pregame show includes an interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To watch tonight’s game and broadcast, click here.  

NA To Meet Norwin Tonight In Road Conference Matchup

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The top-ranked North Allegheny Tigers (3-0) will try to extend their three-game winning streak with a visit to Westmoreland County to take on the Norwin Knights (1-3).

North Allegheny is coming off a 14-11 win against the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils last Friday night. In the victory, senior quarterback Greg Phillips tossed a third-quarter touchdown pass to tight Sean Metcalf and senior Mason Kress hit paydirt on a 33-yard reverse in the fourth quarter that proved to be the winning score. Also aiding in the victory was senior Khalil Dinkins, who rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries, including an important fourth down conversion during NA’s first scoring drive.

After dropping three straight games to start the season, Norwin snapped its losing skid with a 28-12 win against Baldwin last week. Senior quarterback Nick Fleming spearheaded the victory for the Knights, passing for 206 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 35 more yards and another score. Fleming is in his first year as the starting QB, taking over for first-team All-Conference signal caller Jack Salopek, who is now a freshman at Western Michigan. Fleming is a strong-armed passer with a Division I scholarship for baseball. Next year, he will continue his career on the diamond at Mt. Saint Mary’s University in the Northeast Conference.

Along with Fleming, other notable players to watch for tonight will be tight end and defensive end, Tanner Krevokuch, and senior lineman, Anthony Giansante. Krevokuch was the leading tackler for the Knights a season ago with 75 stops in 2019 and has an offer from Central Michigan University. Giansante is a Division I recruit with nine FCS offers. He recently decommitted from Western Kentucky.

The last time North Allegheny and Norwin met in 2019, the Tigers came away with a 42-0 triumph. The NA defense pillaged the Norwin pass pocket for eight sacks. The Tigers outgained the Knights, 433-102, and received a 100-yard rushing performance from running back Percise Colon.

Kickoff for tonight’s game is slated for 7:00 p.m. at Norwin. The game will be broadcast live via the internet by the North Allegheny Sports Network, with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m. The pregame show includes an interview with head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.

NA Football Earning National Attention, Ranked 35th In Nation

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The North Allegheny football is receiving national attention. The Tigers (3-0) are among four teams in Pennsylvania listed in the Top 100 rankings released by High School Football America on Sunday. The Tigers checked in with a ranking of 35th in the nation.

To view the entire Top 100 poll, click here.

Nationally-ranked North Allegheny will visit Norwin on Friday night.

Top-Ranked Tigers Host Mt. Lebanon Tonight

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The North Allegheny Tigers (2-0) play host to the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils (1-1) tonight in a Quad County Conference matchup.

The top-ranked Tigers are coming off an important 35-21 victory over the formerly ranked No. 1 team in Class 6A, the Central Catholic Vikings. In the victory, North Allegheny allowed only 17 rushing yards to PCC star running back Eddy Tillman and intercepted three passes, including a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior linebacker Khalil Dinkins in the third quarter. Seniors Brady Leczo and Mason Kress added interceptions as well. So far this season, the NA defense has yielded a scant 38 rushing yards in the team’s two games combined.

The Blue Devils, meanwhile, lit up the scoreboard during a 52-26 win over Hempfield last week for their first conference win. Junior running back Alex Tecza led the way for Mt. Lebanon with rushing touchdowns of 5 and 75 yards, and added a third score on a 51-yard touchdown catch. For the season, Tecza is second on the team in rushing with 108 yards, behind senior Maurice Plummer, who paces the Blue Devils with 127 yards on 21 carries. Last year’s leading rusher, senior Visawn Pennix, has missed the first two games due to injury but could return for tonight’s contest.

Quarterback Joey Daniels is a returning starter after throwing for over 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore last season. So far in 2020, Daniels has 386 yards passing and five touchdowns with no interceptions. The top target for Daniels and the passing game is slot receiver Eli Heidenriech, who has hauled in six passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns.

The Mt. Lebanon offense averages 35 points per game, but the defense has allowed 25 points on average. In the season opener, the Blue Devils saw a 17-point lead evaporate in a 24-17 loss to Canon-McMillan.

The North Allegheny offense allows 27 points per game, while defense permits just six points per contest.

The Tigers have won 10 in a row in the head-to-head series with the Blue Devils, including a 40-14 win in their most recent meeting last season. In that game, NA sacked Daniels six times and permitted only 23 total yards in the second half. Running back Percise Colon rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

Tonight’s game between North Allegheny and Mt. Lebanon will kickoff at 7:05 p.m. from Newman Stadium and can be see live on video stream, with the pregame show getting underway at 6:45 p.m. The pregame show includes an interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To watch tonight’s game, click here.

Tigers Kickoff Conference Play With No. 1-Ranked Central Catholic

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After a one-week hiatus, the No. 2-ranked North Allegheny Tigers (1-0) return to the gridiron tonight for a Class 6A clash with the top-ranked Central Catholic Vikings (2-0). The Tigers were idle last week due a cancellation by Baldwin, their scheduled opponent, due to COVID related issues. The Vikings, meanwhile, won their second straight conference game with a 38-28 victory at Norwin last Friday night. PCC started 2020 with a convincing 45-17 win against Canon-McMillan on Sept. 11.

In week one, North Allegheny opened the 2020 campaign with a non-conference win over the Penn Hills Indians, 27-6. The NA defense was dominant, racking up five sacks and permitting a paltry 134 total yards. The Tigers took command of the game in third quarter with the help of the defense when senior Sean Metcalf intercepted a pass and returned it 30 yards for touchdown.

Defense will certainly play a prominent role in tonight’s contest involving two teams that traditionally give up points grudgingly. Despite the departure of nationally-ranked defensive tackle Elliot Donald, who decided not to play because of COVID related reason, the Vikings defense remains stout. Headlining the PCC defense is cornerback Chase Horne, boasting an offer from Akron, and lineman Bralen Henderson, who is receiving some Division II and FCS Division I interest.

On offense, Central Catholic will use a conservative approach with a potent rushing attack, paced by senior tailback Eddy Tillman. A season ago, Tillman rushed for over 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns, propelling Central Catholic to a WPIAL Class 6A championship. The Vikings have a first-year starter at quarterback in the form of junior Brandon Pezzelle, who threw three interceptions last week at Norwin.

North Allegheny has won two in a row in the head-to-head series with Central Catholic. Two years ago, the Tigers rolled to a 27-3 win at Newman Stadium. Last year, NA rallied late for a thrilling 11-10 triumph that was keyed by a 60-yard punt return for a score by Persice Colon with 2:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Tonight’s game will be played at historic Graham Field in Wilkinsburg with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show beginning at 6:40 p.m., including an interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.  

NA To Kickoff 2020 Season Against Penn Hills

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The North Allegheny Tigers kickoff the 2020 season tonight with a non-conference clash with the Penn Hills Indians. The Tigers, members of Class 6A, are coming off a 10-2 season a year ago. After four straight appearances in the WPIAL semifinals, North Allegheny is hoping to return the title game this season for the first time since 2012.

Penn Hills, out of the Northeast Conference in Class 5A, are just two years removed from winning a WPIAL and PIAA title in 2018. The Indians have won 14 straight conference games and rolled to a conference title last season before being upended in the WPIAL quarterfinals by McKeesport, 35-20.

While both teams have high aspirations this season, the two teams will have some questions marks, especially on offense. North Allegheny will need to replace its leading passer, rusher and receiver from the 2019 campaign. NA will likely lean on BYU commit Nate Hoke at running back and Division I recruit Khalil Dinkins at receiver. Hoke and Dinkins also form a tenacious duo at linebacker and will help anchor the NA defense as well.

Similar to North Allegheny, Penn Hills has some holes to fill at quarterback and running back with the graduation of Eddie McKissick and Germar Howard, respectively. However, there are a bevy of talented players ready to step up this season, including Akron commit Noel Roach, who is one of five all-conference players on defense for the Indians. Roach led the team with six interceptions last season is expected to be a top target at wide receiver.

North Allegheny is led by head coach Art Walker Jr., who boasts a career record of 207-60 and has won five WPIAL championships. Three of those WPIAL crowns have come at NA, along with two PIAA titles with the Tigers in 2010 and 2012.

Penn Hills is coached by Dr. Jon LeDonne, who has a racked up a record of 34-6 since taking over the Indians program in 2017. He led Penn Hills to a perfect 16-0 record and a PIAA crown in 2018.

Kickoff for tonight’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m. The contest will be video streamed live on the North Allegheny athletics website and can be viewed by clicking here.

Nathan Hoke Gives Verbal Commitment To BYU

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North Allegheny senior linebacker Nathan Hoke has committed to playing college football at Brigham Young University. Hoke announced his commitment via Twitter on Monday.

Last season as a junior, Hoke was a first-team all-conference selection in Class 6A by the Big 56 Conference. Hoke led North Allegheny’s in tackles with 62 stops on the season and posted a team-high eight sacks.

As a tight end on offense, Hoke hauled in six receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. He provided additional muscle for a run-heavy North Allegheny offense that averaged 226 rushing yards per game.

At BYU, Hoke will continue a family tradition.  He will join his older brother, Cade, who was a first-team all-conference linebacker for the Tigers (Class of 2019). Hoke’s father, Chris, also played football at BYU in the late 1990’s before an 11-year NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.