Searching for Dream Street - Aliquippa
Aliquippa head coach Mike Zmijanac watches over his team during warmups before their homecoming game.
Zmijanac has never played a down of organized football but he is the winningest coach of what is said to be the best high school program in the region.
Due to the obstacles of violence and drugs in Aliquippa, Zmijanac says that he loses six or so of his players to the pull of the street each year. And although he will not hesitate to suspend a star player, he maintains an open-door policy if they want to come back, believing that everyone deserves a second chance and that he can't give up on them.
The school has one of the smallest enrollments in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) with the class of 2013 having only 58 kids, including 28 boys.
Technically, they could play against Class A completion but they elect to play at the AA level.
Pretty steep obstacles for a coach and team to overcome, but the team averaged 10 wins a year for the past 30 years. Last year Aliquippa played in its 25th WPIAL championship game, the most of any school in the district and they have won a record 15 titles. 2014 was the seventh year in a row that the Quips were in the final, also a record.
The team was the training ground to NFL greats like Mike Ditka, Sean Gilbert, and Ty Law, all of whom were Aliquippa graduates.