ports Town will review the 2011-12 school year during July. Today we are visiting the football season.
The 2011 WPIAL football season in the North area will be remembered as much for a team that just missed out on winning a WPIAL championship as much as one that won its second title in a row.
North Allegheny won the Class AAAA championship for the second year in a row, pulling out a thrilling overtime victory against Upper St. Clair in the title game at Heinz Field Nov. 26.
Knoch made it to the WPIAL's Championship Saturday for the first time. Even though the Knights lost to Montour, they were one of the area's more touching stories. Three days before the greatest playoff run in Knoch football history began, senior cheerleader Alexis Summers, who also was star running back's Andrew Rumberg-Goodlin's girlfriend, died in an auto accident.
Knoch coach Mike King said he'd "never been a part of anything like" the postgame ceremony on the Knights' home field following their 28-7 win against West Allegheny in the first round. The scene that featured moments of silence, the releasing of balloons, the marching band playing "Amazing Grace" and a lengthy moment of silence.
"I think more than any other thing, there's an undercurrent on this team and there's feeling among the seniors in particular that they are so tremendously focused," King said in the week following that game. Knoch dedicated its postseason to Summers, who had always talked about how much she wanted to cheer at Heinz Field.
"These guys, they know the emotions and the attitude with which they want to play and are focused during the week to do what they can to get this team to Heinz Field."
North Allegheny fell short of defending its PIAA championship, losing in the PIAA semifinals to Central Dauphin, a loss that snapped a 20-game winning streak that included two WPIAL championships, a PIAA title and the Northern Seven title.
"The senior group in three years was 38-4," Walker told the Post-Gazette in December. "I don't know if there's a group that has gone through North Allegheny that has been that successful. To win two WPIAL championships and a state final, and to make it to the state semifinals this year, it's pretty remarkable."
The team that tied for second in North Allegheny's conference, Seneca Valley, enjoyed a breakout campaign, going 7-2 during the regular season and advancing to the WPIAL quarterfinals before losing to the Tigers for the second time that season.
Shady Side Academy was the area's only other North team to win a conference title, the Allegheny. The Indians advanced to the Class AA quarterfinals.
Highlands and Mars (Class AAA) and Avonworth and Springdale (Class A) were other area teams that had winning records and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.
(Photo: Knoch quarterback Kyler Kenyon has rushed and thrown for more than 500 yards each this season, helping the Knights to an 8-0 record. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette.)