Fa­ther- son duo drive Lions to play­offs

Ale­mada de­liv­ers with younger Rossi as tar­get

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - High School Football - By Mike White Mike White: mwhite@ post- gazette. com and Twit­ter @ mwhite­burgh.

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.

Steph Cham­bers/ Post- Gazette

South Fayette’s Charley Rossi catches a touch­down pass against West Al­legheny’s Nodin Tracy.

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