NA Storms Baldwin Tonight To Open Conference Play In Class 6A

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The North Allegheny Tigers (2-1) will play their conference opener tonight with a visit to the South Hills to face the Baldwin Fighting Highlanders (0-3). Tonight’s meeting on the gridiron pits two teams that don’t often play each other. The last time North Allegheny and Baldwin were members of the same conference was back 1989 as members of the Quad West. The Highlanders bumped up into Class 6A in 2020 but last season’s scheduled meeting between the two teams was canceled due to COVID-19.

As historical records best indicate, the last meeting between North Allegheny and Baldwin occurred in the 1998 WPIAL playoffs, a first round game that the Tigers won 40-0. That season, North Allegheny also defeated Bethel Park, 20-14, and Penn Hills, 14-0, en route to the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game at Three Rivers Stadium. The Tigers fell in the title tilt to New Castle, 14-7.

North Allegheny enters tonight’s game coming off an impressive 20-16 win against Mentor (OH) last week. The Tigers’ victory was keyed by the defense, which included a pick-six by defensive back Dwayne Taylor and an interception by Kyrell Hutcherson that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tanner Potts. The touchdown by Potts put NA up 17-10 in the third quarter and proved to be the game-winning touchdown. Potts rushed for 65 yards on 18 carries and J.R. Burton had five totes for 79 yards, including a 68-yard burst in the waning minutes that helped put the game away.

Tonight’s opponent has had a rough go of it so far in 2021 with blowout losses to McKeesport, Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair. Last week, Baldwin dropped a 48-14 decision to USC. The Highlanders are led by second-year head coach Tim Sweeney, who recently turned around the Derry football program. Under Sweeney’s tutelage, the Trojans posted a record of 40-8 and reached the WPIAL Class AAA championship game in 2018. Derry put forth a valiant effort but fell to perennial Class AAA power Aliquippa in the championship game, 42-19. As he did at Derry, coach Sweeney is hoping to rebuild the football program at Baldwin as well.

One of the fun storylines for tonight’s game is that it will be a homecoming of sorts for North Allegheny head coach Art Walker. Walker was a standout wide receiver and track athlete at Baldwin before a Hall of Fame football career at Clarion. A member of Baldwin’s graduating class in 1988, Walker will return to his old stomping grounds tonight but on the opposing sideline as the 17th-year head coach of the Tigers.

Kickoff for tonight’s game is slated for 7:00 p.m. at Baldwin. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m. To listen to tonight’s broadcast, click here.