Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday night thoughts week 5

Let's actually start with Saturday's result – Burgettstown 21, Seton-La Salle 3. How bout those Blue Devils?! At 4-1 overall and 4-1 in the Class AA Century Conference, Burgettstown stands alone in third place, behind South Fayette and Steel Valley, which are both 5-0.
Burgettstown is, without a doubt, the best local story of the high school football season.

Don't be surprised if Jefferson-Morgan finds itself back in the WPIAL Class A semifinals. The Rockets are a tough, well-disciplined bunch and they learned how to win last year. This week's game against Monessen should determine the Tri-County South Conference championship.

Canon-McMillan is so close to becoming a very good Quad-A football team. The skill set is there. The Big Macs need to tackle better and eliminate the costly mistake.

Mapletown will make the playoffs. Mark it down.

I really like the way Trinity bounces back from losses. They won two straight after losing to C-M and beat West Mifflin after losing to Char Valley. Not that any loss looks good, but maybe Trinity doesn't feel so bad after the Colts shutout Hopewell, 27-0, last night.

If Donte Valentino plays Saturday for California at Geibel, he will pass 4,000 career rushing yards. Mark it down.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Must see games, Week 5

We're at the midway point and there are several big games this week.

1. Bethel Park at Canon-McMillan – Bethel Park is the surprise team of Class AAAA. The Black Hawks are 3-1 and narrowly lost to North Allegheny. They also put up 62 points last week. Canon-Mac had a chance to put last week's game away at Shaler but failed to do so and lost. It's the conference opener for both and the winner could stake a claim as the favorite to win the title.

2. West Mifflin at Trinity – The scenario is simple. If Trinity loses, it's postseason chances decrease dramatically. A win makes a third-place finish in the Big Seven Conference possible.

3. Mapletown at West Greene – The winner establishes itself as a contender in the crowded Class A Tri-County South Conference playoff picture. The winner also improves to 4-1.

Other games throughout the WPIAL:
Class AAAA – Mt. Lebanon at McKeesport, Penn Hills at Kiski Area, Upper St. Clair at Baldwin
Class AAA – Thomas Jefferson at Keystone Oaks, Indiana at Pine-Richland
Class AA – Brentwood at Steel Valley, Beaver Falls at Sto-Rox, Southmoreland at East Allegheny
Class A – Clairton at Springdale, Jefferson-Morgan at California

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Recruiting story

Here's an interesting story that moved late Thursday night:

Associated Press Writer
FRESNO, California (AP) — An assistant football coach at a U.S. high school led his team to a string of victories by improperly recruiting more than a dozen players from American Samoa and offering them housing, according to an investigation by local sports authorities.
The six-month probe alleges a Samoa-based relative of the coach began meeting with the students’ parents as early as 2004, and persuaded them to send their sons from the remote South Pacific island to Stockton, a city 50 miles south of Sacramento. Once there, the coach is accused of housing the students at his home, with his brother or with other coaches.
Fourteen students and their families flew to California on tickets purchased by the coach’s mother, and were put up in motels for a week paid for by Franklin High School personnel, authorities said. The coaches helped the parents get fake utility bills to establish their sons’ residency, and the Yellowjackets gained a new set of recruits to advance their standing within the league, officials said.
“Who knows where they would have been if they hadn’t had those kids,” said Pete Saco, a regional commissioner of the California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for high school sports in the state. “Our goal is that everybody has to play by the rules. That’s the essence of what high sports is all about.”
While not criminal, athletic recruiting at the high school level is not permitted by high school sports governing bodies in United States, along with exercising “undue influence” to coerce young students to switch schools, sports authorities said.
Still, administrators in the Stockton Unified School District questioned the report’s focus on students from one ethnic group.
Dozens of students of Samoan descent play on other teams in the Central Valley area, and all three Samoan students enrolled at Franklin High School are in compliance with the rules, said Superintendent Jack McLaughlin.
“We viewed this in the beginning as kind of an attack on a culture,” McLaughlin said. “We did not violate anything.”
Messages left for the high school’s assistant principal and athletics departments were not immediately returned Thursday.
Local sports authorities started probing allegations that parents of students at five high schools in the capital city, Pago Pago, were being paid to fly to California, and that their children were being housed with American coaches, according to the investigation.
In June, a consultant and a Sacramento lawyer flew to Samoa, where they interviewed student recruits, parents and administrators.
Saco would not say how much the investigation cost, but a federation spokeswoman said it was the most extensive inquiry undertaken in California in recent years.
If Saco finds the school violated the rules, Franklin High may have to forfeit games when the accused students were on the team or could be suspended from playing in section championships, the federation said.
Stockton Unified School District officials must respond by Oct. 5.

Non-revenue success

Chances are a few readers will be mad with a column I've written for tomorrow's Observer-Reporter concerning that woes of local football as a whole. While there are some great individual talents, team success seems to be suffering more than any year in recent memory.

Consider this: only six teams from the area (South Fayette, Monessen, Burgettstown, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown and West Greene) have winning records.

Now consider the abundant success some area teams hve enjoyed recently in non-revenue fall sports. Attempting to pick the best is difficult.

My vote goes to Peters Township boys soccer, but several teams certainly rival the Indians' success, they just don't produce as many Division I players.

There's Burgettstown and South Fayette boys golf. How about Bentworth volleyball? The Bearcats are beating schools in larger classifications rather handily. Don't forget about Peters Township girls soccer or South Fayette boys soccer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Help wanted, part 2

Time to put this old post back at the top of the blog. Hopefully a few more suggestions come this way. So far, the names Drew Denham, Dom Wytovich and Lloyd Williamson have been suggested. Looking for those hidden gems or forgetten players.

Here's the original:
Spent part of the day compiling something I hope turns out interesting. Working on my all-time high school football team (yeah, I know, not much of a life). There's two conditions:
1. The player must be from the Observer-Reporter coverage area.
2. The player have played high school football at any time from 1999 to the present. This exludes the likes of Wash High's Brian Davis or Ringgold's Joe Montana. The reason? I started at the O-R in 1999, and I'm still here.

There are a few definites on the club and I'm working on a starting lineup with the possibility of a few backups. I'm asking for help. Offer your suggestions. Any player, within reason, can be considered.

Monday, September 24, 2007

O-R football rankings, Week 4

The Class AAA rankings take on a new look as my No. 1 (Pine-Richland), No. 2 (Hopewell) and No. 5 (Trinity) teams all lost. Also, in Quad-A, Upper St. Clair goes from No. 1 to unranked after its home loss to North Allegheny.

Class AAAA
1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 4-0
2. North Allegheny 4-0
3. Gateway 3-1
4. McKeesport 3-1
5. Bethel Park 3-1

Class AAA
1. Thomas Jefferson 4-0
2. Montour 4-0
3. Highlands 4-0
4. Chartiers Valley 3-1
5. Knoch 3-1

Class AA
1. Jeannette 4-0
2. Ford City 4-0
3. Aliquippa 3-1
4. Greensburg Central Catholic 4-0
5. Beaver 4-0

Class A
1. Clairton 3-1
2. Springdale 4-0
3. Serra Catholic 4-0
4. Monessen 4-0
5. Western Beaver 4-0

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Friday night thoughts, Week 4

Can anyone figure out Class A football? California loses to Beth-Center, which lost to Chartiers-Houston, which lost to West Greene. Does that mean the Pioneers are the second-best team in the Tri-County South? Somebody help me.

Monessen might find its way to Heinz Field. The Greyhounds could be peaking early but anyone else notice they have several impressive wins. Clairton is clearly the class of Class A. Second place is up for grabs. Monessen, Springdale and Monaca look like frontrunners for the honor.

The teams I'm most disappointed with? Hard to say because there are so many. Trinity lacks cohesion. Canon-McMillan is 1-2 against Quad-A teams with the lone win against a team that would struggle to make the playoffs in the weak Class AAA Keystone Conference. Washington is 1-3 and are struggling defensively. Waynesburg has yet to score. Peters Township is 1-3. Yikes!!! Are five of the area's biggest schools going to miss the playoffs?

South Fayette may this year's Beth-Center. The Lions aren't impressive but they're 4-0 and 3-0 in the Century Conference. Teams that find ways to win close games win games in the postseason.

Jefferson-Morgan looks like a contender again. I wonder if you took the best players from the other four Greene County schools, gave them two weeks of practice and gave them a game against the Rockets, which team would win? I bet on J-M.

Chartiers-Houston quarterback Brad Banas is one tough hombre.

Hard to believe considering recent success, or a lack of it, but Burgettstown stands as good a chance as any Class AA team in the area of reaching the playoffs.

Are there any stat men out there in the Ringgold, Charleroi and Waynesburg school districts? Start calling games in please.

Hillers helpings

After watching Chartiers Valley whip Trinity Friday night, three things became incredibly clear about the Hillers:
1. Trinity relies on Mike Yancich and Andrew Sweat way too much. A few other players must find ways to contribute immediately or opponents with good coaching staffs won't have much difficulty preparing.
2. Yancich and Sweat have to be incredibly tired after games. They start on both sides, not that unusual, but these guys aren't receivers or defensive backs. They're running backs and linebackers drawing contact and collisions on every play. Another reason why a few other Hillers need to contribute to the cause.
3. I watched head coach Ed Dalton address the team following the game. I watched the reactions on players faces and, I only saw the looks on half the team, but the only player I saw who looked angry or even bothered was Sweat. Please keep in mind, I could only see the faces of half the team. After the talk, Sweat, Yancich and Brandon Weaver had an on-field pow-wow. I bet they're not happy with that 2-2 record.

And another thing, given Friday night's results, Class AAA is wide open with the exception of Thomas Jefferson at the top. Hopewell, Trinity and Pine-Richland all lost. Trinity can still get it done, but the passing game and secondary are the keys to the rest of the season

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not Wild about the Things

Now, I know this blog is about high school sports, specifically the WPIAL with a concentration on Washington and Greene counties. However, something in Tuesday's sports section of the Observer-Reporter angered me and it's time to comment. (Editor's note: I worte this on Tuesday and am publishing it Thursday afternoon. It still rings true.)

Of course, I'm going to tie in some high school events to my rant.

The Washington Wild Things, losers of three straight playoff games after taking a 2-0 lead in the Frontier League championship series, did not have the maturity or class to speak with sports editor and Wild Things beat writer Chris Dugan after Monday's loss. That loss cost the Things the championship they've sought for six years. And he traveled to Illinois to cover the game.

"Washington's players refused to comment after the game." The Things ignored him in the clubhouse but were brave enough to hurl insults at him as Dugan walked away.

Nice. Grow up. Be professional. Be men. Boo-hoo. You lost. It's not the first time.

And it's not a right to play pro baseball, no matter the level. It's a privilege.

During my time at the O-R, and a couple other places, I've covered countless high school events, a lot of Big East football and hoops, a few Pirates games and a large amount of Steelers home games. I've had words with coaches – once had a high school softball coach chew me out in front of spectators and other reporters because his team's story in a previous edition wasn't as big as another team's story right beside it. I've had a female student-athlete throw a plastic bottle (full of soda) at me for reasons I don't know then jump in front of my car as I tried to leave a parking lot. I've had parents chew me out because their kids aren't in the paper enough. And I've received a lot of angry e-mails over the years from athletic directors to Joe Fan.

But I can't recall the last time a coach or athlete refused comment when I sought one.

I've spoken with freshmen on the Chartiers-Houston girls softball team after they've lost the state championship. I remember speaking with Waynesburg's Lanfer Simpson on the turf at West Mifflin as tears streamed down his eyes following a loss to Tyrone in the state playoffs. Guys like Jimmy Gallagher and Ryan Maize were willing to speak when Peters Township baseball teams lost two straight PIAA championship games.

These are, or were, teenagers. Yet, they showed more maturity than an entire roster of professional baseball players.

Patting myself on the back

A lot of odd looks came my way during the 2005 and 2006 football seasons when I told people the only other WPIAL quarterback I saw with as strong an arm as Trinity's Cody Endres was former Penn Hills standout Anthony Morelli, now in his senior year at Penn State.

Endres puts some serious zing on tricky sideline patterns and could throw the ball a quarter-mile (sorry, Napolean Dynamite reference. Uncle Rico rules!) Seriously, Endres has a big-league arm. His stats suffered some due to a lack of playmakers at receiver, particularly last year. Give him the guys Jim Gallagher (the best Washington Co. athlete I've covered in my days at the O-R) had to throw to at Peters Township and Endres may have had 2,000-yard seasons.

And now Endres is third-string QB at Connecticut as a freshman and he'll return to the area Saturday when the Huskies play Pitt at Heinz Field. UConn wants to redshirt Endres and plans to groom his as its QB of the future.

Read more about the guy who Ed Dalton says, "forced me to become a better football coach" in Friday's O-R.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Must see games, Week 4

A few must-win contests and an intriguing non-conference contest are the ones to watch Friday night.

1. Trinity at Chartiers Valley. The Colts looked good, real good, in lopsided wins over Moon and Peters Township but were shut out by Montour in Week 2. CV has speed and toughness. The Colts are a very tough matchup for Trinity, which plays its first conference game here. The Hillers rebounded from the Week 1 debacle with hard-fought wins over Blackhawk and Hampton, both quality opponents. The winner will challenge Thomas Jefferson for the Big Seven title.

2. California at Monessen. Cordero Jackson is dominating for the Greyhounds, who can actually throw the football with QB Adam Caputo. The last two years, Monessen has not been able to stop Donte Valentino and it must to win this game. The winner establishes itself as the team to beat in the Tri-County South.

3. Canon-McMillan at Shaler. Not a fan of non-conference games at this point, but it's Quad-A and that's how it goes. Canon-Mac rebounded from a blowout at Kiski with a record-setting performance against Latrobe. That game wasn't a test. Playing at 3-0 Shaler will be a big one. If C-M wins here, it might signify the team's biggest win since 2004. Then again, it might not mean much. The Great Southern is looking tougher than anticipated with Bethel Park playing extremely well and Mt. Lebanon overachieving.

Other games:
Class AAAA - Gateway at Norwin
Class AAA - Blackhawk at Hopewell, Montour at New Castle
Class AA - Valley at Ford City, South Fayette at South Park, Beaver Falls at Aliquippa
Class A - Nada. It's a weak slate for the small schools.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

College pipeline

Trinity senior Natalie Abel, one of the WPIAL's premier girls volleyballers, is headed to James Madison University, where she'll continue her academic and athletic career.

It's still September and Abel is already the third member of the Trinity Class of 2008 to have a Division I scholarship. Andrew Sweat and Mike Yancich, both linebackers and running backs for the Hillers football team, are headed to Ohio State and Penn State, respectively.

Abel's decision got me to thinking about the number of student-athletes Trinity is sending to colleges for sports. Not sure the exact number in recent years but I bet it's more than any other local school.

"We do have a pretty athleic class," Abel said. 'It's nice to see other Division I players. You don't get that too often."

The football team has sent more than 30 players to colleges over the last five years. That's a staggering total and shows the dedication of the players as well as the coaching staff. Ed Dalton must lose a lot of sleep compiling tape for recruiters, but I know from speaking to him, that he's more proud of how many players he has in college football than he is the number of Division I players Trinity has produced the last five years.

Monday, September 17, 2007

WPIAL football rankings, Week 3

For the first time since I've been at the O-R, Rochester is not in my Class A rankings. The Rams lost a one-point game at Riverview, which had previously lost to California and Monessen. Also, in Class AAAA, Bethel Park cracked the rankings. The Black Hawks are one of the WPIAL's more pleasant surprises. Head coach Jeff Metheny, a former Waynesburg h.c., always fields a competitive team.

WPIAL Football
Class AAAA
1. Upper St. Clair 3-0
2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 3-0
3. Gateway 2-1
4. North Allegheny 3-0
5. Bethel Park 2-1

Class AAA
1. Pine-Richland 3-0
2. Thomas Jefferson 3-0
3. Hopewell 3-0
4. Montour 3-0
5. Trinity 2-1

Class AA
1. Jeannette 3-0
2. Mars 3-0
3. Greensburg Central Catholic 3-0
4. Ford City 3-0
5. Aliquippa 2-1

Class A
1. Clairton 3-0
2. Springdale 3-0
3. Serra Catholic 3-0
4. Monessen 3-0
5. Western Beaver 3-0

Poll comments

Back after a few days off (family wedding) and I'm catching up on the weekend's happenings.

Before I do that, however, it's time to share my thoughts on a poll posted on this blog throughout last week. I asked visitors to vote for the sport they thought was the best in the area and I'm absolutely stunned by the results.

Football was the clear-cut winner and wrestling finished second. No other sport was close. My question is this: Did voters actually think about the topic before making their decision?

I'd like to hear some arguments from those who voted football as the area's best sport. Remember, this wasn't a vote for the favorite sport. There's no way football is the area's best sport. Not one team from the two-county area has played for a WPIAL championship since 2001 (Washington and Fort Cherry). Most years, only one or two teams make it out of the first round.

As for wrestling, there are definitely several accomplishment student-athletes competing, but there was not one PIAA individual champion and no local team won a WPIAL team title either.

Maybe it's the traditionalists voting for football and wrestling.

My vote goes to baseball and softball. Our area dominates both. In baseball, Peters Township, Canon-McMillan, Washington, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston and California are annual contenders. In softball, Char-Houston has won three straight WPIAL titles, while Peters Township, Washington, Waynesburg, West Greene, Carmichaels, Burgettstown, McGuffey and Beth-Center are always in the postseason.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Must-see games, Week 3

Some conference races are taking shape and a few teams need to win this week.

1. California at Beth-Center. Donte Valentino leads the WPIAL in rushing yards (460) and scoring (7 TDs, 42 pts). He was knocked out of the Beth-Center game a year ago and the Bulldogs won 14-13, in one of the hardest-hitting games I've seen. Cal is out for revenge. Beth-Center is angry about losing last week, which snapped a 15-game regular season win streak.

2. Washington at East Allegheny. The influx of 18 players from now-closed Duquesne High School has bolstered East Allegheny, which nearly defeated Greensburg Central Catholic in Week 1. The Wildcats are faster and more skilled, plus the Duquesne players know how to win. Washington needs to forget about last week and remember they are fast, talented and tough on defense. The loser of this one faces a near-impossible path to the WPIAL playoffs.

3. Chartiers Valley at Peters Township. Both teams posted huge wins in Week 1 (CV blanked Moon and PT blasted Laurel Highlands). Both teams were shutout in Week 2 (Montour beat CV, Pine-Richland beat PT) and both teams are playoff contenders for now. The winner sits in good shape to finish second or third in the conference. Peters Township struggled in all phases last week and there's rumblings that some position changes could occur if the Indians falter again.

Other WPIAL games:
Class ÅAAA
Mt. Lebanon at Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Norwin at Bethel Park
Class AAA
Hopewell at Ambridge
Class AA
McGuffey at South Fayette, Steel Valley at Seton-La Salle, Center at Beaver Falls, New Brighton at Beaver, Yough at Jeannette (this game will be televised by ESPNU)
Class A
Jefferson-Morgan at West Greene, South Side Beaver at Monaca

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Under par

I don't golf. Don't want to and I like to tease the people I know that do golf with the line "You're only golfing because you're too out of shape to do anything else." I do respect the sport and the people who play it, however, especially the ones that play at a high level.

Like the Peters Township boys golf team.

Now, I've never stepped foot on Dogwood Hills Golf Course, the home of the McGuffey Highlanders. No idea how tough it is or isn't, but I am impressed with the accomplishments of the Indians golf team on Tuesday.

Peters Township posted a team score of 174, one-under par. I can't recall the last time I saw that in high school golf. Grant Burkhardt, Corey Martinez and Chris Resnik all shot a one-under 34. Jon Stewart and Jon Ross each shot one-over 36. How on were the Indians? They threw out a 39.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kicking things off

The WPIAL's 7:30 p.m. kickoff time is a subject I wrote about last year and it's also the subject of a Post-Gazette varsity blog today, so I thought I'd weigh in on the matter.

There's no reason not to start games at 7 p.m. and I know a lot of people who believe the same thing. High school football games are 15-20 minutes longer than they were just eight to 10 years ago. Last Friday, I covered the Blackhawk at Trinity contest, a fun-to-watch 34-33 win for the Hillers in double overtime. The game featured fine performances by both teams but the clock read 10 p.m. and there were several minutes left in the fourth quarter. (Not that it matters to the masses, but that is a prep sports writer's worst-case scenario).

I didn't walk off the field from post-game interviews until 10:56 p.m.

That's ridiculous. Games are ending late because of the 7:30 p.m. kickoff, more passing, more substitutions and injuries.

It's unlikely anything will ever change, but, a year ago, Mike Ciarochi, the sports editor of the Uniontown Herald-Standard, attended a meeting of the Tri-County Athletic Directors Association with the idea of a 7 p.m. kickoff. Ciarochi had my full-fledged support, and a few ADs thought it to be a good idea.

However, the WPIAL is convinced a 7:30 p.m. kickoff brings in larger audiences. Hard to argue. It also causes many high schoolers with junior licenses to be driving illegally following the game.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Help wanted

Spent part of the day compiling something I hope turns out interesting. Working on my all-time high school football team (yeah, I know, not much of a life). There's two conditions:
1. The player must be from the Observer-Reporter coverage area.
2. The player have played high school football at any time from 1999 to the present. This exludes the likes of Wash High's Brian Davis or Ringgold's Joe Montana. The reason? I started at the O-R in 1999, and I'm still here.

There are a few definites on the club and I'm working on a starting lineup with the possibility of a few backups. I'm asking for help. Offer your suggestions. Any player, within reason, can be considered.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Football thoughts

A few things to ponder as I clear out the notebook:

1. Trinity must sure up its pass defense. If the Hillers don't , they won't make much noise in the postseason.
2. Mike Yancich looks like he could be a Division I running back.
3. Burgettstown's Dan Conley is the best player nobody knows. Granted, he's played on bad teams, but this senior running back/linebacker was first-team all-conference a year ago and he led the Blue Devils to a win against South Park Friday night. Not sure where he'll end up, but Conley sounds like he's at least a solid Division II prospect.
4. As strange as it sounds, California may be better off with Donte Valentino carrying the offensive work load than it was last year, when he shared duties with other talented players.
5. Either Kiski Area is very good (which I believe they might be), or Canon-McMillan put too much into beating Trinity two weeks ago.

WPIAL football standings

WPIAL football

Class AAAA
Big East Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Kiski Area 0-0 2-0 64-14
Gateway 0-0 1-1 23-33
Plum 0-0 1-1 19-23
Fox Chapel 0-0 0-2 21-66
Penn Hills 0-0 0-2 24-51
Woodland Hills 0-0 0-2 19-35
Foothills Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Central Catholic 0-0 2-0 83-27
Norwin 0-0 2-0 62-14
Connellsville 0-0 1-1 28-75
Hempfield 0-0 1-1 27-42
Latrobe 0-0 1-1 45-60
Penn-Trafford 0-0 0-2 19-30
Great Southern Confernce
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Mt. Lebanon 0-0 2-0 41-25
Upper St. Clair 0-0 2-0 65-21
Baldwin 0-0 1-1 35-38
Bethel Park 0-0 1-1 43-43
Canon-McMillan 0-0 1-1 48-46
McKeesport 0-0 1-1 41-25
Northern Five Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Erie McDowell 0-0 2-0 77-20
North Allegheny 0-0 2-0 46-26
Shaler 0-0 2-0 59-21
North Hills 0-0 1-1 63-36
Seneca Valley 0-0 1-1 20-39
Butler 0-0 0-2 7-66

Class AAA
Big Seven Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Thomas Jefferson 0-0 2-0 58-34
Chartiers Valley 0-0 1-1 34-7
Keystone Oaks 0-0 1-1 45-50
Peters Township 0-0 1-1 34-38
Trinity 0-0 1-1 47-67
West Mifflin 0-0 1-1 42-23
Elizabeth Forward 0-0 0-2 10-74
Greater Allegheny Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Highlands 0-0 2-0 48-14
Indiana 0-0 2-0 78-20
Pine-Richland 0-0 2-0 76-7
Franklin Regional 0-0 1-1 23-6
Greensburg-Salem 0-0 1-1 33-41
Hampton 0-0 1-1 52-21
Knoch 0-0 1-1 53-50
Keystone Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Mt. Pleasant 0-0 1-1 49-22
Albert Gallatin 0-0 0-2 14-64
Belle Vernon 0-0 0-2 27-67
Derry Area 0-0 0-2 33-70
Laurel Highlands 0-0 0-2 3-54
Ringgold 0-0 0-2 49-82
Uniontown 0-0 0-2 46-73
Parkway Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Ambridge 0-0 2-0 81-46
Hopewell 0-0 2-0 65-21
Montour 0-0 2-0 28-14
New Castle 0-0 2-0 61-13
Blackhawk 0-0 1-1 47-47
Moon 0-0 0-2 30-65
West Allegheny 0-0 0-2 20-59

Class AA
Allegheny Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Kittanning 2-0 2-0 42-7
Valley 2-0 2-0 42-21
Burrell 1-0 2-0 59-16
Ford City 1-0 2-0 49-7
Shady Side Academy 1-1 1-1 23-28
West Shamokin 1-1 1-1 49-48
Deer Lakes 0-2 0-2 2-27
Freeport 0-2 0-2 10-37
Northgate 0-2 0-2 19-76
Century Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Brentwood 2-0 2-0 63-20
South Fayette 2-0 2-0 42-25
Steel Valley 2-0 2-0 69-6
Seton-La Salle 1-0 1-1 28-21
Burgettstown 1-1 1-1 38-41
Charleroi 0-1 0-2 29-43
Carlynton 0-2 0-2 12-76
South Allegheny 0-2 0-2 8-54
South Park 0-2 0-2 28-46
Interstate Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Jeannette 2-0 2-0 112-12
Greensburg C.C. 1-0 2-0 58-18
Southmoreland 1-0 1-1 66-33
East Allegheny 1-1 1-1 67-23
McGuffey 1-1 1-1 27-62
Washington 1-1 1-1 28-52
Yough 1-1 1-1 47-14
Brownsville 0-2 0-2 7-115
Waynesburg 0-2 0-2 0-50
Midwestern Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Beaver Falls 2-0 2-0 55-8
Beaver 1-0 2-0 83-6
Aliquippa 1-0 1-1 68-42
Freedom 1-1 1-1 28-41
Sto-Rox 1-1 1-1 33-68
Center 1-1 1-1 60-27
Ellwood City 0-2 0-2 7-85
New Brighton 1-1 1-1 44-20
Quaker Valley 0-2 0-2 7-70
Tri-County North Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Mars 2-0 2-0 60-14
Mohawk 2-0 2-0 70-30
Summit Academy 2-0 2-0 54-27
Laurel 1-1 1-1 55-46
Riverside 1-1 1-1 27-21
Neshannock 0-1 1-1 48-38
Shenango 0-1 0-2 6-61
Cornell 0-2 0-2 21-75
Union 0-2 0-2 29-58

Class A
Big Seven Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Monaca 0-0 2-0 70-41
Rochester 0-0 2-0 75-27
S.S. Beaver 0-0 2-0 40-19
Western Beaver 0-0 2-0 39-7
Avonworth 0-0 1-1 28-58
Bishop Canevin 0-0 1-1 28-61
North Catholic 0-0 1-1 47-54
Black Hills Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Frazier 0-0 2-0 57-9
Serra Catholic 0-0 2-0 87-21
Beth-Center 0-0 1-1 25-32
Avella 0-0 0-2 12-29
Bentworth 0-0 0-2 6-44
Chartiers-Houston 0-0 0-2 31-45
Fort Cherry 0-0 0-2 21-49
Eastern Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
Clairton 0-0 2-0 85-9
Springdale 0-0 2-0 76-14
Apollo-Ridge 0-0 1-1 62-49
Leechburg 0-0 1-1 32-63
Riverview 0-0 0-2 16-58
Wilkinsburg 0-0 0-2 21-60
Tri-County South Conference
Team Conf. Overall PF-PA
California 0-0 2-0 67-21
Monessen 0-0 2-0 70-24
West Greene 0-0 2-0 40-24
Geibel 0-0 1-1 10-36
Jefferson-Morgan 0-0 1-1 21-47
Mapletown 0-0 1-1 32-34
Carmichaels 0-0 0-2 20-63

WPIAL football rankings, Week 2

It was not a good weekend for most local teams. Canon-McMillan, McGuffey, Peters Township and Washington were all handed lopsided losses by teams from outside the two-county area.

Class AAAA
1. Upper St. Clair 2-0
2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 2-0
3. Gateway 1-1
4. North Allegheny 2-0
5. Kiski Area 2-0
Teams to watch: Mt. Lebanon (2-0), McKeesport (1-1)

Class AAA
1. Pine-Richland 2-0
2. Thomas Jefferson 2-0
3. Hopewell 2-0
4. Ambridge 2-0
5. Montour 2-0
Teams to watch: Trinity (1-1), Blackhawk (1-1), New Castle (2-0), Highlands (2-0)

Class AA
1. Jeannette 2-0
2. Mars 2-0
3. Greensburg Central Catholic 2-0
4. Ford City 2-0
5. Aliquippa 1-1
Teams to watch: Beaver Falls (2-0), Beaver (2-0), Burrell (2-0)

Class A
1. Clairton 2-0
2. Rochester 2-0
3. Springdale 2-0
4. Serra Catholic 2-0
5. California 2-0
Teams to watch: Monessen (2-0), Monaca (2-0), Western Beaver (2-0), Beth-Center (1-1)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Interstate shakedown

The Class AA Interstate Conference has not been much of a struggle the last couple years. Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic have been so dominant, the remaining teams are left scrambling for the final playoff spot.

That may change this year. Granted, Jeannette is the top-ranked team in the WPIAL and PIAA by every publication I've seen, but the gap between second place and last place (OK, leave Brownsville out of this) is much closer.

"It's definitely a lot more competitive," McGuffey coach Derek Bochna said. "The East Allegheny game with Greensburg Central was much closer and you know Wash High is going to be good. Southmoreland is better again. It's wide open. Even with Yough losing all those guys, that's a good football team."

McGuffey (1-0, 1-0) beat Yough, 14-13, last Friday and can improve to 2-0 with a win at Southmoreland.

With only three teams per conference qualifying for the playoffs in Class AA, each game is critical.

And the new-found competitive balance makes for some interesting Interstate match-ups.

"It's very encouraging," Bochna said. "Every year, you want to be right up there with the top three teams. The goals are set and you work for those goals. For us, the playoffs are where we want to be at the end of the year."

So does Washington (1-0, 1-0), which faces a difficult home game tonight against No. 1 Jeannette (1-0, 1-0).

Prexies coach Bill Britton, however, isn't quite as sure that the Interstate is wide open.

"You look at the East Allegheny-Greensburg game and what is East Allegheny? There's 18 kids from Duquesne on that football team and that makes a tremendous difference at this level," Britton said. "Do that to us and you'll see quite a change too. It's really too early to determine how it's going to play out."

The Interstate has arguably been the state's premier small-school conference in recent years. Yet, despite Jeannette and GCC playing for the 2006 WPIAL championship, teams don't seem to get there due.

"Coming back from the Waynesburg game, we were listening to the radio and someone was talking about the teams from Beaver County," Britton said. "Then he added, 'Yeah, I guess that Interstate Conference is tough.' That's a little bit of an understatement. With all due respect, I don't see a much tougher conference, even if you go up to triple-A."

A different spin

Granted, it's not on our web site for some reason but, hopefully, some readers got a chance to check out today's story about the Jeannette-Washington game. Mainly, it's about all-everything phenom Terrelle Pryor.

This marks the first time since Bran Davis played at Wash High (his last year for Prexies football was 1984) that such a highly publicized football recruit has come to town. Wash High coach Bill Britton and McGuffey coach Derek Bochna, who wants Pryot to go to Penn State, had some interesting things to say about the WPIAL's best athlete.

If you get the chance, head to Wash High Stadium tonight. Pryor is a once-in-a-generation player.

Must-see game, Week 2

1. Jeannette at Washington
Obviously, this game features the WPIAL's top player in Jeannette quarterback/defensive back Terrelle Pryor -- the most purely talented high school athlete I've seen in person. Also, this Wash High team has a legitimate shot at finishing second in the Interstate Conference.

I like the Prexies' defense. The one snag may be the health of quarterback Chad Smith, who injured his hand last week at Waynesburg. Smith is questionable for tonight's game. If he's a go, Wash High has a chance to make it competitive and they'll need him on both sides of the ball to make a postseason run.

2. Blackhawk at Trinity
After last week's disappointing loss to Canon-McMillan, Trinity had its bandwagon clear out. I'm not jumping off yet. This is a non-conference game, but it is critical for the Hillers. If they don't rebound with a win, the season could be a disaster.

3. Pine-Richland at Peters Township
The Indians nearly upset the powerful Rams at Pine-Richland a year ago. A win here and I am absolutely convinced that Tyler Porco, Nick Fazio and Peters Township will be a force this year in Class AAA.

Top games in the WPIAL:
Class AAAA - Canon-McMillan at Kiski Area, Bethel Park at Penn Hills
Class AAA - West Allegheny at Thomas Jefferson
Class AA - Sto-Rox at Aliquippa, Burrell at Seton-La Salle
Class A - Beth-Center at Jefferson-Morgan, Springdale at Avonworth

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Riske represents at U.S. Open

Alison Riske, a McMurray resident, had her stay at the U.S. Open end Tuesday when she lost in the second round of the Junior Girls singles tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
Riske, 17, lost to Poland’s Katarzyna Piter, 6-1, 6-4. Piter is the tournament’s 16th seed.
In the first round, Riske defeated Alexsandra Kolesnicmenko, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1. Riske was one of the final 16 players left in the tournament.
“It’s amazing when you think about what she’s done,” Peters Township girls tennis coach Brandt Bowman said. “In the U.S. Open Juniors, she won a round and, with that, you can argue that she’s one of the top 16 junior players in the world.
“That’s pretty awesome.”
Riske made a splash during the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament, held two weeks ago in New York.
She upset Sorana Cirstea of Roman, 6-2, 7-6 (4) in the first round. Cirstea is ranked No. 140 and was seeded 30th for the tournament.
“There’s not much difference between the No. 140 girl and the No. 1 girl,” Bowman said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Riske’s attempt to qualify for the Women’s Open ended when she lost to American Julie Ditty, 6-2, 6-1, in the second round. Ditty played with Sarah Riske, Alison’s sister, at Vanderbilt University. Riske earned a wild-card spot for the qualifier by finishing second at the Girls 18 U.S. National Hardcourt Championship in Berkeley, Calif.
Riske is the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA champion and her play led Peters Township to its first state team tennis title.
According to Bowman, Riske wants to play the 2007 season but she’s already missed three matches. Peters Township is 3-0 and has 18 scheduled matches. There is a 75-percent participation rule to qualify for the individual tournaments.
“The most she can miss is four,” Bowman said. “It doesn’t look like she’s going to play.”

Updated totals

E-mailed California High School football coach Joe Kuhns today to get an exact total on Donte Valentino's career rushing numbers. Turns out Valentino entered his senior year with 3,073 yards.

After Saturday's 210-yard performance, Valentino now has 3,283 yards, putting him 717 yards from 4,000. Valentino needs 843 yards to break Nathan Peters' school record of 4,125 yards established in 1996. And, if Valentino remains healthy and gets to 4,000, he'll be the first back from the Washington-Greene region to do so since Waynesburg's Lanfer Simpson in 2000.

Simpson, who rushed for 4,010 career yards, is one of the few fullbacks on the WPIAL's all-time rushing list.

Monday, September 3, 2007

WPIAL Football Rankings, Week 2

There were definitely a few surprises during the opening weekend and, as a result, there's some movement in the rankings.

Class AAAA
1. Upper St. Clair 1-0
2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 1-0
3. McKeesport 1-0
4. Gateway 0-1
5. North Allegheny 1-0
Teams to watch: Canon-McMillan (1-0), Penn Hills (0-1), Mt. Lebanon (1-0), Kiski Area (1-0)

Class AAA
1. Thomas Jefferson 1-0
2. Pine-Richland 1-0
3. Hopewell 1-0
4. Ambridge 1-0
5. Chartiers Valley 1-0
Teams to watch: Blackhawk (1-0), Peters Township (1-0), Trinity (0-1), West Mifflin (1-0)

Class AA
1. Jeannette 1-0
2. Seton-La Salle 1-0
3. Mars 1-0
4. Greensburg Central Catholic 1-0
5. Ford City 1-0
Teams to watch: Aliquippa (0-1), Beaver (1-0), Beaver Falls (1-0), Washington (1-0), Brentwood (1-0)

Class A
1. Clairton 1-0
2. Beth-Center 1-0
3. Rochester 1-0
4. Springdale 1-0
5. Serra Catholic 1-0
Teams to watch: California (1-0), Monessen (1-0). Bishop Canevin (1-0)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Saturday night lights, Week 1

California slash Donte Valentino took a major step toward 4,000 career rushing yards with his 210 yards during the Trojan's impressive 16-9 win at Riverview, one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Trojans lost several key starters from a year ago but Valentino, a 5-7 whirling dervish, is as talented a player as there is in Class A. He scored both of California's touchdowns, on runs of 57 and 4 yards.

According to Coach Joe Kuhn, Valentino entered the year with 2,995 rushing yards. Other estimates had him around 3,100. Either way, he's well on his way to joining an exclusive list.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Friday night lights, Week 1

The opening week of high school football never ceases to surprise. Here's a few random thoughts from the Friday that was:

1. Congrats to West Greene and first-year head coach Charles Harris. The Pioneers engineered a come-from-behind 19-18 win over Chartiers-Houston in Harris' head-coaching debut. The Bucs have been pegged as a playoff team out of the Black Hills Conference, so this win is sweet and surprising.

2. Look out Quad-A. Canon-McMillan romped all over Trinity, a team I still believe can make some noise in Class AAA despite this dispappointing showing. The Big Macs have the coaching, they have as much speed as any team in the WPIAL, a good quarterback, strong offensive line, same thing up front on the defense and there is no way there is a better sophomore in the WPIAL than Mike Hull. He's the area's next superstar and C-M is going to be playing in the postseason.

3. Don't panic Trinity. True, a 34-13 loss was not expected (hey, even I picked the Hillers to win). This loss should truly test Trinity's leadership. Teams of the past would be headed for a 3-7 season. These guys have the talent to regroup. It's up to the senior leadership to ensure it happens.

4. I like the way Waynesburg plays defense. It's going to take some time for all those underclassmen to get used to playing Scott Orndoff's new offense.

5. Wash High QB Chad Smith threw a football 45 yards across his body while rolling left Friday night at Waynesburg. Colleges need to check this guy out.

6. College should also look into Prexies receiver Ramonte Barfield.

7. Clairton 41, Jefferson-Morgan 2. Sounds lopsided but the Rockets may be one of the few teams to score against Clairton this year. Yep, the Bears are that good.

8. Peters Township QB Tyler Porco looked impressive throwing the football. South Fayette QB Jon Taglianetti looked good running the ball.

9. Isn't it amazing how Beth-Center always finds ways to win?

10. Losing to Geibel is never a good thing.