By John Knebels
Sports Columnist

No matter what they do, and no matter where they go, everyone associated with West Catholic’s football program can always return to the night of Dec. 18, 2010 and bask in the memory.

And for the rest of their lives, those same people will probably break into a smile every time they encounter Hershey’s chocolate.

That’s what happens when you are crowned state champions in Hersheypark Stadium. {{more}}

“I’m so proud of the guys,” said West coach Brian Fluck, referring to the Burrs’ convincing 50-14 PIAA Class AA triumph over Western Pa.’s previously unbeaten South Fayette High School. “They were determined to get this thing done.”

Two years ago, the Burrs suffered a 35-34, overtime setback in the state final. It was the type of loss that never really goes away; go and ask the New York Giants if they can identify with that kind of performance.

Fluck admitted that the loss still haunted him. He has admitted several times that he blames himself for the defeat, and the fact that others don’t see it that way did little to compensate self-flogging.

Perhaps the sting of the 2008 loss will never fully dissipate. But now that West Catholic has reached the Class AA pinnacle, maybe Fluck’s anxiety about any past losses will.

“A lot of things have to happen to win a state championship,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not enough just to play well. Sometimes you need a break here and there.

“We played well on both sides of the ball, and instead of waiting for breaks, we created them. It’s such a great feeling.”

Against South Fayette, the post-game statistics suggest that West Catholic was completely transfixed on its opponent. The Burrs, proving that tremendous speed often trumps impressive bulk, accrued a staggering 535 yards of offense and probably could have scored more if they had wished.

Mythic game ball recipients included sophomore David Williams (14 carries, 183 yards, two touchdowns), senior Brandon Hollomon, (14 rushes for 114 yards and one touchdown), senior Josh Matthis (8 for 61 and a touchdown), and senior quarterback Anthony Reid. The latter carried the ball five times for 32 yards and one touchdown. Through the air, he managed 124 yards passing and two touchdown connections to senior Jaelen Strong-Rankin (101 yards receiving).

And of course a quick, powerful offensive line.

“That’s where it starts,” said Hollomon, who after the game presented Fluck with the no-longer-elusive state title trophy. “The line created the holes and we just flowed their blocks.”

When the Burrs (13-2) weren’t scoring on offense, their defense was hovering over their perplexed opponents. Senior linebacker Kevin Burns was in on 14 tackles while senior end Jim Lynch made 10 by himself.

“We tried to come after them right away,” Lynch said. “We didn’t want to find ourselves in a close game. We challenged ourselves to play all four quarters. If we did that, we knew we would win the game.”

After the victory, people could not help mention that several Burrs would have attended North Catholic had the school not closed at the end of last school year.

At this point, that’s ancient history. West Catholic’s state championship plaque has made that loud and clear.

John Knebels can be reached at