Saturday, October 4, 2008

Passing grade

High school football is all about the running game. It has always been this way.

Perhaps no conference in the WPIAL has been as run-happy through the years as the Class A Tri-County South. That's why the conference has produced six of the WPIAL's 35 4,000-yard career rushers. For the record, they are West Greene's Rodney Wilson, Mapletown's Derek Bochna, Mon Valley Catholic's Jon Green, California's Donte Valentino and Nathan Peters and Carmichaels' Rocky Doman.

Offenses in the Tri-County South used to be built around giving the ball to the tailback 10 times in a row, then giving it one time to the fullback, just to prove he's not a guard. Passing was considered a trick play to be used only on third down and at least 20 yards to go.

It seemed that Tri-County South coaches lived by the old Woody Hayes saying: "When you throw the ball, only three things can happen and two of them are bad."

Not this year.

During the third quarter of Carmichaels' 40-34 victory Friday night over California, it struck me that I might be watching a Tri-County South first. Both Carmichaels' Joby Lapkowicz and California's D.J. Martinak, pictured, passed for more than 200 yards. Lapkowicz was 11-for-12 for 235 yards and one touchdown. His only incomplete pass should not have counted because of an obvious pass interference penalty by California that was not called. Martinak, a junior who is one of the most improved players in the area, completed 12 of 19 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw for a two-point conversion and ran for 85 yards.

There might have been another game over the years in the Tri-County South in which both quarterbacks topped 200 passing yards, but I don't recall any. Neither could two longtime coaches in the conference who were standing next to me Friday night.

Another oddity from that game: both quarterbacks are left-handed.

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