DISTRICT 9 CHAMPIONSHIP, WHAT'S THAT? CARDINALS ASK
By Chris Rossetti
CLARION – District 9 title, who needs a stinking District 9 title?
That is what the DuBois Central Catholic Cardinals are saying today after a 51-50 win over Kennedy Catholic in the PIAA Class A Western Final Tuesday night moved them within one win of a PIAA championship.
DCC (27-3), who after a great 1-loss regular season, finished a disappointing fourth in District 9 after a D9 semifinal loss to Keystone and a D9 consolation game loss to Coudersport.
Three years ago that would have meant DCC’s season was over. But thanks to the PIAA awarding District 9 four Class A playoff berths – and DCC fans should be sending a big thanks to West Forest, East Forest, Sheffield, Rocky Grove and Venango Catholic, five District 10 schools that joined District 9 three seasons ago and who without D9 would probably still only have three PIAA playoff berths – the Cardinals had another chance to erase that disappointment.
“This makes up for (the disappointing District 9 playoffs) like you won’t believe,” DCC junior guard Dom Varacallo said. “This is crazy. The District playoff don’t mean a thing. The state playoffs is where it is at.”
Varacallo’s sentiments were shared by teammate and semifinal hero Andrew Welch, whose short jumper with just over two seconds left lifted DCC to the win.
“This most certainly makes up for the (D9 playoffs),” Welch said. “We played poorly at district, and I think that motivated us so much more to get where we are now. We are playing as best as we can play right now.”
DCC head coach Mike Nesbit agrees whole heartedly with his players.
“Who remembers the district playoffs now?” Nesbit said. “And who cares? Really, who remembers and who cares? I don’t remember that. What was that? We were a completely devastated team after we lost to Keystone. I got the kids back and came back in on Monday and sat them down and told them we lost those games because we didn't play as a team and got away from what we wanted to do. What they needed to do was think about what they needed to do as an individual to make this team better. I wanted something tangible. The next day we did this, and they made promises to each other. It was a brand new season. You have to give these kids credit. They could have quit. To many teams, districts is the end-all-be-all of everything. We haven't won a district championship since 1976. For us, not to win was crushing. But they also realized we could still do something here. I gave them examples. Valley High School in 1979. I went to Burrell as a freshman, and we crushed Valley twice. Valley finished fourth in the WPIAL that year and won the state championship. This isn't the end. It happens.”
It does happen. And now DCC is already secured something few thought possible three weeks ago. Even with the worst-case scenario, the Cardinals will have been No. 4 in District 9 and No. 2 in the state, and best-case scenario, they will be No. 4 in District 9 but No. 1 in the state, and in the end that is all anyone really will remember.