Father- son duo drive Lions to playoffs
Alemada delivers with younger Rossi as target
On a pretty fall Friday night in Western Pennsylvania, less than an hour before the game, the setting sun on the open side of South Fayette Stadium was picturesque.
Then the game started — and the son came up and shined.
Charley Rossi, senior receiver at South Fayette and the son of coach Joe Rossi, had a huge game and his play helped pretty much clear up the playoff picture for the Lions. They are almost guaranteed of a postseason spot for the 12th consecutive season.
South Fayette defeated visiting West Allegheny, 38- 14, in a pivotal WPIAL Allegheny Six Conference game. The win kept South Fayette ( 4- 2 overall, 3- 1 in conference) in a tie for second place in the conference with Upper St. Clair, and the two teams meet in the regular- season finale next week. Even if South Fayette loses, the Lions almost assuredly will get one of the WPIAL wild- card playoff spots in Class 5A.
And the heart of the Lions in their final regular- season home game was a smallish 5- foot- 8 player who calls the coach “Dad.”
Charley Rossi caught 9 passes for 137 yards and had two touchdown receptions in the first half. He also played defensive back and returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Joe Rossi has done some wonderful things as South Fayette’s coach, winning WPIAL and PIAA titles. But having your son play a huge role on the team adds a little something to the coaching — and parenting — experience.
“Every day I go to bed, I pray that we can practice together again and enjoy these moments with him in his senior year,” Joe Rossi said. “He was special tonight. He needed to make some big plays. This league is full of some big- time players. On a night like tonight, we’ve got to rely on him and some others to make big plays.”
Charley Rossi has done good things for South Fayette this season. He came into the game as the WPIAL’s leading receiver. But this game had some special meaning to him.
“With all the virus stuff, your senior year can be taken from you so fast,” Charley Rossi said. “Tonight, being on our home field, this was the first time my whole family could come to a game and we had 50 students here. It was a crazy night. You have to take things day by day and cherish every moment like this.”
Rossi the coach is cherishing the way South Fayette is playing lately. After losing two consecutive games early in the season, South Fayette has won three in a row. Against West Allegheny, senior quarterback Naman Alemada finished 19 of 26 for 211 yards.
West Allegheny ( 3- 3, 1- 3) saw its
playoff hopes dashed. Quarterback Gavin Miller threw for 179 yards, but was intercepted three times.
“Offensively, we’ve struggled to [ pass] protect,” Joe Rossi said. “But I think our coaches did a great job and I think this is the first time we put it all together. I think we’ve played good defense all year. But this is the first performance with offense, defense and special teams.”
South Fayette scored the first 21 points of the game and took a 24- 7 lead into halftime. Rossi’s touchdown catches were of 7 and 36 yards.
In between Rossi’s touchdowns, South Fayette got an 11- yard touchdown run
from Shay Aitken.
Although South Fayette led, 24- 7, things got a little interesting when West Allegheny recovered a short kickoff to start the second half. The Indians had the ball at the South Fayette 28 and moved to the 12, but West Allegheny turned the ball over on downs. That pretty much doomed West Allegheny the rest of the way.
South Fayette had two touchdowns in the second half. The first came on Tristan Bedillion’s 65- yard interception return. Less than two minutes later, Rossi intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yards.
South Fayette’s Charley Rossi catches a touchdown pass against West Allegheny’s Nodin Tracy.