HERSHEY, Pa. —
The thick steel chain Art Walker was lugging amidst North Allegheny (Wexford)
celebrating its second PIAA Class AAAA state championship in the last three years held special significance. After each game this season, the Tigers' coach presented it to the best offensive player of the game for moving the chains.
This time, Walker had to place the chain around the neck of Kevin Edwards
, North Allegheny's senior linebacker. A fitting reward to a perfect season, and in some ways a perfect game by Edwards, who returned a fumble for a touchdown and an interception that led to another score in North Allegheny's record-setting 63-28 victory over Coatesville
in the PIAA Class AAAA championship before 6,047 at Hersheypark Stadium Saturday night.
The Tigers' 63 points is an all-time Pennsylvania state record for points scored in a state title game, snapping the previous mark of Dunmore's 57-point outburst in the 1989 Class A championship over Keystone.
The North Allegheny senior class finished with a 16-0 mark this season and 45-2 over the last three years, winning the state title in 2010. But this team did something the previous two North Allegheny state champions didn't do and that's finish undefeated and untied (the 1990 state championship team went 14-0-1).
"We worked for this week by week since August, and coach kept saying we earned seven more days," said Edwards, whose 52-yard fumble return gave North Allegheny a resounding 21-0, second-quarter lead that Coatesville was never able to recover from. "We're all close, we care about the game and we care about each other. This was a little emotional, because I don't want to leave these guys."
Edwards then was interrupted by Walker, who put the chain around Edwards' neck and made sure to ask for the chain back on Monday. It was the Tigers' defense that was wrought-iron strong, unbending to one of the most explosive teams in the state, which averaged 40.1 points a game.
Causing two early fumbles and scooping them up for touchdowns seemed to make Coatesville cautious.
"It made them think, that was perfect for our defense," said Edwards, who also intercepted a pass in the third quarter that set up another Tigers score.
With 3:56 left in the first quarter, North Allegheny had forged a 21-0 lead. Coatesville, however, wouldn't go away that easily. The Red Raiders mounted a drive that resulted in an Emmitt Hunt
1-yard touchdown. Later in the second quarter, Daquan Worley
bolted 89 yards for another score. The Worley run was the longest in PIAA state Class AAAA championship game history.
Worley, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior, finished with a game-high 160 yards on 17 carries.
But the Red Raiders couldn't stop North Allegheny's offense.
"They did everything we expected them to do, and we worked hard, we just couldn't get it done," said Coatesville's 6-foot-4, 240-pound junior defensive end Tyler Burke
, who had an outstanding game and gained the attention of the Penn State coaches who were there watching. "We can keep our heads held high. It was a great experience getting here. We learned not to give up. But their offensive line was pretty good, probably the best we went up against this year."