WHEELING - It's out of the frying pan and into the fire for Wheeling Central. After holding off a determined Harrison Central team, 7-6, to open the 2013 season, Coach Mike Young's club is preparing for what appears to be anything but a normal Pittsburgh city school cupcake.
It would be safe to assume the Westinghouse's 40-0 victory at Buckeye Local last Saturday has the attention of the Maroon Knights (1-0), who are ranked No 2 in Class A in the state sportswriter's poll.
"Without a doubt,'' Young said. "Putting 40 points on the board and holding their opponent, which is twice, maybe even three times our size scoreless, that says a lot for them.''
Young compared the Bulldogs' offense scheme favorably to that of Harrison Central, which primarily ran the ball but wasn't afraid to go to the air, which the Maroon Knights' three interceptions will attest.
That Raphael Drummond scored three times for Westinghouse last week, or the fact Troy Smith threw touchdown passes of 16 and 66 yards, isn't what concerns Young. The veteran coach is more worried about what he saw, or didn't see, from the Maroon Knights, No. 6 in the Small School portion of The Intelligencer/News-Register poll, in their narrow opening-week escape.
"After Friday's practice and (Monday's) practice, we've learned a lot,'' Young said. "We've got to get better, especially up front.
"I think we took them a little bit for granted. They played Park even in a scrimmage and it's a pretty good JM team that they held their own with in another scrimmage.''
Week 1 marked the return of Wheeling Central quarterback Parker Henry, who missed all of last season after tearing up a knee in a scrimmage. Probably unfairly, most assumed the Maroon Knights would automatically start rolling again like they did by winning a West Virginia Class A state championship Henry's sophomore season.
"It showed that Parker Henry missed a year. He's back, but he didn't play last year,'' Young cautioned. "At the same time, for us to be able to hang on for a 7-6 victory, it's the mark of a good group of kids that didn't fold.''
The game ended in controversy after a Harrison Central runner was ruled to have been down prior to getting into the end zone for what would have been a go-ahead 2-point conversion late in the contest.
"The official was right there and made the call. He didn't get in,'' Young said. "It was a great play by Benny Duplaga and Matt Pleva was also there along with Joey John.
"We definitely didn't'' play our best.
Henry completed just one pass, but it was a 22-yarder to C.J. Burch on a fourth-and-long play during what turned out to be the game-winning drive. He finished with 55 yards on 24 carries.
Burch, who replaced Henry as the quarterback last season but has since moved back to his more natural tailback spot, led the way with 72 yards on 13 carries, including the Knights' lone touchdown.
Young hopes to take advantage of Westinghouse's aggressiveness on defense.
"Very aggressive, fast and athletic,'' he said. "In some areas they are big, but not as huge as they have been.
"Hopefully we can outscheme them.''