Waynesburg became the first team from Greene County to win a WPIAL football championship in 25 years when the Raiders controlled the second half and defeated conference rival Washington for the Class AA title on Nov. 27, 1999.
PITTSBURGH – Behind a dominating defense and the bruising running of fullback Lanfer Simpson, Waynesburg claimed the WPIAL Class AA football championship Saturday with a convincing 30-3 win over conference rival Washington at Three Rivers Stadium.
The Raiders became the first team from Greene County to win a WPIAL football title since Jefferson-Morgan claimed back-to-back crowns in 1973 and ’74.
Waynesburg (13-0), playing its first game at Three Rivers, overcame early jitters and determined Washington (11-2), which was playing its fifth game here this decade.
“We were tight,” Waynesburg coach Russ Moore said of his team’s scattered offensive effort in the first quarter. “We came in here and saw this place, and it’s quite big.”
Both teams appeared nervous, but the Little Prexies grabbed the early advantage, thanks to some Waynesburg mishaps.
On the Raiders’ first offensive play, quarterback Lee Fritz muffed the handoff but managed to recover the loose ball. On the next play, a holding penalty wiped out a 10-yard run. On the fourth play, Fritz’s pass went off the hands of Washington’s Chet Henderson.
The Little Prexies took possession at the Waynesburg 46-yard line and marched to the five. With Washington facing a third-and-goal, Raiders linebacker Greg Carson sacked Little Prexies quarterback Brent Marsteller for a 10-yard loss.
The sack forced Wash High to try a 32-yard field goal and Justin Gregula’s kick sailed through the uprights for a 3-0 lead with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
Waynesburg, which had defeated Washington (25-7) for the Three Rivers Conference championship during the regular season, continued to struggle on its next possession as Fritz was intercepted by DeAngelo Velez at the Raiders’ 28. Washington, however, failed to convert and turned the ball over on downs.
“We’re up 3-0 and have the ball inside their 40-yard line,” Washington coach Guy Montecalvo said. “Not cashing in on those kind of things is something that hurt us.”
And it provided Waynesburg with momentum despite being outplayed early.
“I don’t think some of the guys realized how big that was to come out of there with only three points,” Carson said. “Myself and some of the fellow seniors let them know that it was and things took off.”
Waynesburg began imposing its presence on its second drive in the second quarter.
The offense used fake tosses to tailback Bryce Cree and gave the ball to Simpson. The 6-2, 235-pound junior carried six times for 43 yards in the drive and capped it with a six-yard run that gave Waynesburg the lead for good, 7-3, with 4:56 left in the second quarter.
“Our kids play defense until the offense makes plays,” Moore said. “Sometimes they just have to be a little more patient.”
Waynesburg’s special teams came up with a big play late in the first half. On fourth-and-three at the Wash High 35, Fritz stood in the shotgun formation but elected to pooch-punt. Brian Chapman downed the ball just inside the one-yard line.
“That was certainly tough,” Montecalvo said. “But we have nobody to fault but ourselves. We had a single guy going back and he didn’t field the ball.”
The Little Prexies failed to move the ball off the one and punted with 21 seconds remaining in the half. After Fritz returned the punt to Washington’s 10, Simpson booted a 32-yard field goal with one second left.
Washington opened the second half determined to run the football with slotback Jason Ellis. Ellis drove the team to the Waynesburg 29 but Simpson and defensive end Rashad Diggs stuffed a fourth-and-eight pitch to Larry Wingfield and Wash High turned the ball over on downs.
Momentum swung back the Little Prexies’ way when Fritz fumbled at the Washington 25 and Ryan Moye recovered. But on the next play, Ellis fumbled and Carson recovered for Waynesburg.
Four plays later, Simpson scored his second touchdown on a nine-yard run, shedding three tacklers in the process. Waynesburg led 17-3 with 2:59 left in the third quarter.
“I felt like this game was ours the whole time,” Simpson said. “But when we went up 17-3 the thoughts of winning a WPIAL title were in the back of my mind.”
Fritz added a 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Simpson capped the scoring with a one-yard plunge with 41 seconds left.
Simpson rushed for 100 yards on 20 carries.