Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Local basketball rankings

1. South Fayette (AA) 4-0
2. Peters Township (AAAA) 4-3
3. Monessen (AA) 3-2
4. Trinity (AAA) 4-2
5. Burgettstown (AA) 3-3

1. Ringgold (AAAA) 4-1
2. South Fayette (AA) 5-0
3. Charleroi (AA) 4-1
4. Trinity (AAAA) 4-3
5. Fort Cherry (A) 5-2

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thinking out loud

No local sports story sparked more interest or generated more outrage in 2009 than the controversial decisions of a newly-elected Trinity School Board to open the coaching positions of all fall sports coaches and opt not to renew the contract of athletic director Ed Dalton following the 2009-10 school year.

As a football coach, Dalton helped turn a dormant program into a respectable one. What Trinity lacked during Dalton's 11 years was the ability to defeat top teams, the lone exception coming when the Hillers upset Penn Hills in the WPIAL playoffs.

Dalton did a lot of good for Trinity football. He made it relevant. He brought it considerable attention, even helping to land a Trinity-Thomas Jefferson game on national television.

More importantly, Dalton got players to college, whether it was Ohio State University or Waynesburg University.

To me, that's Dalton's legacy at Trinity. No local coach sent more players to college football programs the past 5-6 years than Dalton.

Wins and losses draw the most attention. At the high school level, what a coach should get credit for is the development of student-athletes. Dalton accomplished it at Trinity.

That said, no matter how many rallies students and parents organize for Dalton, his days coaching football at Trinity are over. Can anyone recall a situation where a school board reversed such a decision? If so, please share.

Dalton will coach football again, as soon as the 2010 season if he wants. If I'm an athletic director at a Class AAAA, AAA or high-level AA school searching for a football coach, I'm calling Dalton to gauge his interest.

* I'm about 50 pages into a book authored by Chartiers-Houston boys basketball coach Jerry Cypher. Once completed, I'll discuss in greater detail.

* Thanks to the late start date administered by the PIAA, the basketball season enters its third full week. Usually, a lot more is known about contenders and pretenders.

Where the California boys and Chartiers-Houston girls fall remains unsolved but both count as pleasant surprises.

California, which returns to Class A next year, entered the annual Charleroi Holiday Tournament with a 6-0 record and a 2-0 spot in Section 5-AA. The Trojans are getting strong play from a group of underclassmen, including a couple freshmen. We'll know a lot more in mid-January when California plays Burgettstown, Washington and Monessen in successive games.

The C-H girls were 4-0 before the start of the LGKG Classic at Riverside High School in Beaver County. Another team getting strong play from a group of freshmen, the Bucs do own an impressive win over Brownsville, pegged by some coaches as the favorite in Section 5-AA. Starting Jan. 4, C-H plays Serra Catholic, Washington, Fort Cherry and Clairton in consecutive games.

* Judging from comments on this blog and other sources, there's displeasure over the 3-4 start of Washington's boys basketball team.

Not sure why there's so much concern. Not only will Washington qualify for the WPIAL playoffs, the guess here is the Prexies will contend for another Section 5-AA championship. Monessen and Burgettstown are also in the mix.

Wash High's schedule is nothing short of brutal. The Prexies already played a Canon-McMillan team with four returning starters, Burgettstown, South Fayette and Peters Township.

* Speaking of Wash High, senior Bryan Thomas recently committed to Bowling Green for football. He should have an opportunity to contribute immediately. Not only is Thomas physically ready for college football, he's easily this area's most underrated player.

When considering candidates for the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year, Thomas was the only player other than South Fayette quarterback Christian Brumbaugh who entered the thought process.

* The O-R sports staff received a few complaints for not covering the rally for Dalton last week. It's understandable.

From our perspective, the rally was not a sports story. In addition, it is not our responsibility to campaign for any coach or school board member.

Greene County Sports

For years, WANB Radio in Waynesburg broadcasted the best of Greene County sports, whether it was football, wrestling, basketball or softball. Guys like Jefferson-Morgan athletic director Scot Moore, former Waynesburg High standout Lanfer Simpson and Jason Tennant called the action.

A group of broadcasters who worked for WANB in the past have started They plan on webcasting four to five events per week and will cover the Powerade Wrestling Tournament this week.

For more information, please visit:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

WPIAL girls basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 5-1
2. Bethel Park 6-0
3. Shaler 5-0
4. Fox Chapel 4-0
5. Ringgold 4-1

Class AAA
1. New Castle 5-0
2. Hopewell 6-0
3. Hampton 4-1
4. Indiana 4-0
5. South Park 5-1

Class AA
1. Sto-Rox 6-0
2. Greensburg Central Catholic 5-0
3. Avonworth 6-0
4. Beaver 4-1
5. South Fayette 4-0

Class A
1. North Catholic 4-2
2. Quigley 6-0
3. Vincentian Academy 3-2
4. Fort Cherry 4-1
5. Rochester 5-2

Saturday, December 26, 2009

WPIAL boys basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 5-0
2. Hempfield 5-0
3. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 5-1
4. Seneca Valley 3-1
5. Butler 6-0

Class AAA
1. Chartiers Valley 5-0
2. Hampton 5-0
3. Hopewell 5-1
4. Belle Vernon 5-0
5. Center 4-1

Class AA
1. South Fayette 3-0
2. Quaker Valley 5-0
3. North Catholic 4-0
4. Jeannette 5-0
5. Rochester 6-0

Class A
1. Sewickley Academy 4-0
2. Union 5-0
3. Serra Catholic 4-1
4. Cornell 5-1
5. Bentworth 4-1

APB, Where are they Now?

Washington High School girls basketball has made the playoffs and won the Section 5-AA championship every year since the 1999-2000 season. During the impressive run, the Prexies have produced a number of talented players.

Amber Harris started at Seton Hall after she earned Associated Press Class AA Player of the Year honors her freshmen year at Wash High. Jocelyn Floyd, one of the school's great defensive players, is logging minutes as a freshman at Duquesne University.

Others such as Tiara Bennett, Juliet Sargeant, Marguerite Sargeant and Laura Montecalvo enjoyed success at various levels of college basketball.

Vanessa Davison, one of the top players from Wash High, is the subject of this week's All Points Bulletin.

A long, lean guard, Davison was a gifted offensive player and a two-time Observer-Reporter Player of the Year (2004 and 2006). She received a scholarship to Division I Manhattan College, where she played as a freshman and sophomore.

The Varsity Letters hasn't heard from Davison since. Anyone with information regarding Davison is urged to contact The Varity Letters.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thomas commits to Bowling Green

Washington High School senior Bryan Thomas made an oral commitment to play football at Bowling Green in the fall of 2010.

Thomas, an Observer-Reporter Elite 11 selection, helped Washington evolve from a 1-8 team in 2008 to one that qualified for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs in 2009. As a two-way starter, Thomas was a dominant defensive end, bone-crushing blocker and big-play tight end.

Bowling Green recruited Thomas (6-4, 230) as a defensive end but is considering using him at tight end.

Akron, Ohio and Toledo also offered scholarships. West Virginia, Wisconsin and Minnesota have shown interest but have not offered. According to Thomas, West Virginia is showing increased interest.

Thomas is the fourth Washington County football player to commit for 2010. Canon-McMillan's Mike Hull (Penn State), Chad Hagan (Ohio State) and Trinity's Ken Wilkins (Michigan) are the others.

Thomas, a cousin of former Wash High standout and Notre Dame starter Travis Thomas, is a three-sport athlete. He also plays basketball and runs track.

Local Basketball Rankings

The South Fayette boys look strong through three games and the Ringgold girls have been bolstered by the return of Alina Selby.

1. South Fayette (AA) 3-0
2. Canon-McMillan (AAAA) 2-0
3. Peters Township (AAAA) 2-2
4. California (AA) 5-0
5. Burgettstown (AA) 2-2
HM - Trinity (AAA) 2-2

1. Ringgold (AAAA) 4-1
2. South Fayette (AA) 3-0
3. Fort Cherry (A) 4-1
4. Beth-Center (AA) 5-1
5. Peters Township (AAAA) 1-3
HM - Trinity (AAAA) 4-2

Monday, December 21, 2009

APB, Where are they Now?

With wins over Trinity and Washington, Canon-McMillan boys basketball won its tip-off tournament and enters Section 4-AAAA play Tuesday at Mt. Lebanon with a 2-0 record.

The Big Macs return four starters – Kionte Davis, Chad Hagan, Will Glendenning and Justin Robinson – from last year's team. Davis and Hagan were selected to the Observer-Reporter All-District team.

Two years ago, Canon-McMillan qualified for its first PIAA tournament with O-R Player of the year Charles Murphy leading the way.

It's safe to say, C-M basketball isn't long on tradition but the Big Macs have produced some quality players and a few who were interesting to watch.

One player who fell a little into both categories was Anthony Polenski. A guard/forward, Polenski was a 6-3 shooting machine during his playing days with the Big Macs. When Polenski got the basketball, passing was the last option. Those days culminated with the 2001-02 season.

Polenski was named Blue Team MVP at the 2002 Washington-Greene Rotary All-Star Game and he's the subject of this week's All Points Bulletin.

Anyone knowing of Polenski's whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

Friday, December 18, 2009

WPIAL Girls Basketball Rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 2-0
2. Bethel Park 4-0
3. Shaler 3-0
4. North Allegheny 3-0
5. Fox Chapel 2-0

Class AAA
1. New Castle 3-0
2. Hopewell 4-0
3. Hampton 3-1
4. Indiana 3-0
5. South Park 3-1

Class AA
1. Sto-Rox 4-0
2. Beaver 3-0
3. Greensburg Central Catholic 4-0
4. Avonworth 4-0
5. Seton-La Salle 3-1

Class A
1. North Catholic 2-2
2. Quigley 5-0
3. Vincentian Academy 2-2
4. Fort Cherry 3-1
5. Rochester 3-1

WPIAL Boys Basketball Rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 3-0
2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 4-0
3. Hempfield 3-0
4. Seneca Valley 3-1
5. Butler 3-0

Class AAA
1. Chartiers Valley 3-0
2. Moon 3-0
3. Hampton 3-0
4. Hopewell 3-1
5. Laurel Highlands 3-0

Class AA
1. South Fayette 1-0
2. Quaker Valley 3-0
3. North Catholic 3-0
4. Jeannette 3-0
5. Rochester 4-0

Class A
1. Sewickley Academy 3-0
2. Serra Catholic 4-0
3. Union 3-0
4. Cornell 3-1
5. Bentworth 3-1

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Marnich a Rudy Award Semifinalist

Ringgold High School senior Bill Marnich is much more than the lone returning starter on the Rams football team for the 2009 season. He's an inspiration for teammates, coaches, opponents and any one who knows his story.

Earlier this year, Ringgold football coach and athletic director Lloyd Price nominated Marnich for the High School Rudy Award.

Named after Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, the famed Notre Dame walk-on whose life story was turned into the movie, Rudy, the Rudy Award is a $10,000 academic scholarship with $5,000 scholarship going to two runners-up.

Marnich is one of 30 semifinalists from 22 states and the only semifinalist from Pennsylvania.

To read more about Marnich, the other semifinalists and to vote for the Rudy Award, please visit:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Trinity Opens Fall Coaching Positions

The Trinity School Board opened the positions of all fall coaches at Thursday's meeting, including that of head football coach Ed Dalton.

Dalton has been the Hillers' football coach and athletic director since the 1999-2000 school year. In football, Dalton compiled a 54-56 record and led Trinity to the WPIAL playoffs five consecutive seasons and six times overall. Trinity won two playoff games during that span.

Before Dalton arrived, Trinity played in four postseason games from 1922 through 1999.

Dalton's position as athletic director has also been opened.

Other positions opened were boys soccer, girls soccer, boys cross country, girls cross country, girls volleyball, boys golf and girls tennis.

For more details, read Saturday's Observer-Reporter.

Local Basketball Rankings, Preseason

Received a surprisingly strong response last year with local basketball rankings for boys and girls. Why not do it again?

1. South Fayette (AA)
2. Monessen (AA)
3. Washington (AA)
4. Canon-McMillan (AAAA)
5. Peters Township (AAAA)
Next in line:
Burgettstown (AA)

1. Peters Township (AAAA)
2. Trinity (AAAA)
3. Washington (AA)
4. Ringgold (AAAA)
5. Beth-Center (AA)
Next in line:
McGuffey (AAA)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

PIAA Football Rankings

Didn't think these things were still being released.

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from the Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, November 10, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by the school’s record and last week’s ranking. NR means not ranked. Honorable mention teams listed alphabetically.

1. La Salle College HS (12) 12-1 4
2. Ridley (1) 13-1 8
3. State College (6) 11-2 7
4. Cumberland Valley (3) 12-2 9
5. Bishop McDevitt (3) 12-1 1
6. Easton (11) 13-2 5
7. North Penn (1) 13-1 2
8. Woodland Hills (7) 12-2 3
9. Gateway (7) 12-1 6
10. Bethel Park (7) 10-2 10
Honorable mention
Avon Grove (1) 11-2, Cardinal OHara (12) 8-3, Central Dauphin (3) 9-3, Downingtown East (1) 10-3, Downingtown East (1) 10-3, Downingtown West (1) 10-3, East Stroudsburg South (11) 10-2, George Washington (12) 8-3, McDowell (10) 8-3, Neshaminy (1) 9-3, North Hills (7) 6-6, Parkland (11) 10-3, Penn Manor (3) 10-3, St. Josephs Prep (12) 9-3, Wilson (3) 11-2.

1. Selinsgrove (4) 14-0 1
2. Manheim Central (3) 14-0 2
3. West Allegheny (7) 12-2 5
4. Archbishop Wood (12) 11-2 NR
5. Pottsgrove (1) 14-1 3
6. Hopewell (7) 12-1 7
7. Allentown Cent. Catholic (11) 12-2 4
8. Susquehanna Twp. (3) 12-2 8
9. Interboro (1) 12-1 9
10. Thomas Jefferson (7) 11-1 10
Honorable mention
Abington Heights (2) 11-2, Bayard Rustin (1) 11-1, Cathedral Prep (10) 11-3, Conrad Weiser (3) 10-3, Dallas (2) 10-2, Daniel Boone (3) 9-3, Franklin Regional (7) 8-3, Grove City (10) 8-4, Hershey (3) 9-3, North Pocono (2) 9-2, Owen J. Roberts (1) 11-2, West York (3) 11-2, Wilson Area (11) 11-1.

1. Lancaster Catholic (3) 13-1 1
2. West Catholic (12) 13-1 2
3. Greensburg Central Catholic (7) 12-2 3
4. Wilmington (10) 13-1 4
5. Forest Hills (6) 13-1 5
6. North Schuylkill (11) 13-1 9
7. Dunmore (2) 12-1 6
8. Aliquippa (7) 11-1 7
9. Beaver Falls (7) 10-2 8
10. Loyalsock (4) 10-4 10
Honorable mention
Bedford (5) 7-7, Bok (12) 10-1, Center (7) 9-2, Delone Catholic (3) 11-2, Freeport (7) 8-2, General McLane (10) 11-1, Hughesville (4) 10-2, Keystone Oaks (7) 10-2, Lewisburg (4) 11-2, Littlestown (3) 9-3, Martinsburg Central (6) 10-2, Northern Lehigh (11) 10-3, Panther Valley (11) 9-3, Shady Side Academy (7) 8-2, Sharon (10) 10-3, South Fayette (7) 10-1, Sto-Rox (7) 8-3, Towanda (4) 11-1, Tyrone (6) 10-3.

1. Clairton (7) 13-1 1
2. Farrell (10) 14-0 2
3. Bishop McCort (6) 13-0 3
4. Tri-Valley (11) 10-4 9
5. Rochester (7) 12-1 5
6. Bellwood-Antis (6) 11-1 6
7. Laurel (7) 10-2 7
8. Clarion (9) 10-4 NR
9. Southern Columbia (4) 9-5 4
10. Millersburg (3) 10-4 8
Honorable mention
Avonworth (7) 8-3, Cameron County (9) 10-1, Conemaugh Twp. (5) 10-1, Coudersport (9) 9-3, Curwensville (9) 9-3, Line Mountain (4) 8-3, Mercer (10) 8-4, Mercyhurst Prep (10) 10-1, North Catholic (7) 9-3, Penns Manor (6) 10-2, Portage (6) 10-1, Sharpsville (10) 10-3, St. Pius X (1) 8-5, Steelton-Highspire (3) 8-3, United (6) 9-2, Upper Dauphin (3) 10-2.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2009 O-R All-District Football Team

Observer-Reporter Player of the Year
Christian Brumbaugh, South Fayette
Junior, QB

O-R Elite 11
Quentin Briggs, Charleroi
Sophomore, RB

Lashawn Bryant, Trinity
Senior, DT

Jeff Davis, South Fayette
Junior, RB

Chad Hagan, Canon-McMillan
Senior, RB/DB

Austin Hancock, Peters Township
Junior, QB

Michael Hull, Canon-McMillan
Senior, LB/FB

Gary Kiefer, Fort Cherry
Junior, RB/LB

Logan McAnany, McGuffey
Senior, LB/RB

Nick Shuman, McGuffey
Senior, FB/LB

Jake Sofran, Beth-Center
Sophomore, LB/FB

Bryan Thomas, Washington
Senior, DE/TE

O-R All-District Team
Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Nathan Carl Jr. 5-9 210 OL
Damon Cupp Jr. 6-5 195 WR
Jared Magon Jr. 6-1 175 WR
Jesse Noble Sr. 5-8 160 DB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Ben Gregg Sr. 6-3 200 QB
Colton Korpus Sr. 6-1 220 DL
Dave Sumney Sr. 6-0 200 OL

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Chuck Bowser Sr. 5-10 170 TE/FS
Sal Faieta So. 6-1 190 QB/LB
Jordan Kinder Sr. 5-8 165 RB/DB
Tyler Miller Sr. 6-5 275 OT/DT
Matt Schneider Sr. 5-9 230 OT/DT
Zander Shashura Sr. 5-9 160 C/LB
Jake Sofran So. 5-10 205 FB/LB
Frank Vorhes Sr. 6-1 185 G/DE

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Zach Bertolotti Sr. 6-0 205 LB
Dylan Bongiorni So. 6-2 170 DB
Tyler Pavan Jr. 5-9 165 DB
A.J. Roner Sr. 5-5 155 RB
Andrew Todd Sr. 6-2 190 TE
Tim Wilson Sr. 5-11 205 OL

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Dakota Conway Jr. 5-9 170 WR/DB
D.J. Martinak Sr. 5-11 165 QB/DB
Preston Shaw Sr. 6-0 180 OL/LB
Wade Stinnett Sr. 6-1 205 TE/LB
Brad Tonini Sr. 6-0 200 RB/LB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Dom Broglia Sr. 6-2 275 OT
Luke Campbell Sr. 6-0 220 TE
Chad Hagan Sr. 6-2 227 RB
Michael Hull Sr. 6-1 220 LB
Alec Schram Jr. 5-7 140 DB
Robert Semulka Jr. 5-10 225 OG
Tommy Valerio So. 5-8 160 K

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Kody Decker Sr. 5-10 155 DB
Zach Doman Sr. 5-10 250 OL/DL
Anthonie Farrer Sr. 5-9 160 RB
Jonathan Krall Jr. 5-11 155 QB
Seth Krall Jr. 6-0 155 WR
Zach Mudell Jr. 5-10 170 LB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Cory Altemara Jr. 5-11 215 FB/LB
Quentin Briggs So. 5-10 205 RB
Ray Campbell Sr. 5-10 235 OL/DL
Jake Linn Sr. 6-1 238 TE/LB
Kyle Shannon Jr. 5-9 188 WR/DB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

D.J. Denny Jr. 6-0 165 WR
Nathan Grandelis So. 6-1 245 DL
Thomas Hairston Sr. 6-2 195 LB
Zach Hamilton So. 5-10 165 PK
Joey Joscak Sr. 5-10 185 LB
Dan Lis So. 5-10 170 DB
Anthony Oliver Sr. 5-9 160 LB

Fort Cherry
Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Ryan Babirad So. 6-2 175 WR
Jordan Crowley Sr. 6-1 285 OL
Corey Garry So. 6-1 235 LB
Tanner Garry So. 6-2 180 DB
Nick Hurley Jr. 5-11 170 WR
Gary Kiefer Jr. 5-11 190 RB
Justin Richards Sr. 5-10 170 LB
Mike Silla Sr. 6-2 255 DL

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Taylor Barchiesi Sr. 5-9 163 K
Derek Haiden Sr, 5-9 170 FB/LB
Thomas Jordan Sr. 6-1 951 G/DE
Ryan Knight Sr. 6-1 195 RB/LB
Hans Lubich Sr. 5-10 150 RB/DB
Brent Moskola Sr. 6-3 170 TE/DB
Josh Schinkovec Sr. 6-4 200 TE/DB
David Sisler Sr. 5-11 215 G/LB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

William Cox Jr. 6-1 170 WR/DB
Cory Minnick Sr. 6-0 200 QB/LB
Jarrett Porterfield Sr. 6-1 175 WR/DB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Trenton Bedillion Sr. 5-11 170 RB/DB
Adam Fischer Sr. 6-1 220 OL/DL
Tyler Kerns Sr. 6-0 185 RB/DB
John Leasure Jr. 6-2 230 OL/DL
Taylor McAdoo Sr. 5-11 185 TE/LB
Logan McAnany Sr. 6-1 190 RB/LB
Nick Shuman Sr. 5-11 210 FB/LB
Derrick Whipkey Jr. 5-8 165 QB/DB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Nick Bolias Jr. 5-10 160 WR/DB
Trae Cook Jr. 5-8 178 RB/DB
Brett Crenshaw Jr. 5-11 179 RB/DB
Stephen Jarabeck Sr. 6-0 187 G/LB
ShelDon Miller Sr. 6-1 190 RB/LB
Mike Pace Jr. 6-2 340 T/DT
James Shuma Sr. 6-1 270 T/DE
Josh Stepoli So. 6-5 215 G/DT
Terrance Stepoli Jr. 6-4 205 QB/DE

Peters Township
Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Andrew Erenberg So. 5-9 185 RB
Chris Freyder Sr. 5-10 210 OG
Nevin Hagman Jr. 6-3 245 OT
Austin Hancock Jr. 6-3 218 QB
Dylan Heitmeir Sr. 5-9 170 DB
Brandon Hoffman Sr. 6-1 215 WR
Boyd Jones Jr. 5-10 270 C
Will McClure Jr. 6-1 200 LB
Justin Simpson Sr. 6-2 210 DL

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Nick DePalma Jr. 5-11 239 DL
Derrick Fiore Jr. 5-10 178 DB
Skyler Fransko So. 5-10 145 K
Damond Goggins Jr. 5-8 179 LB
Dylan Patch Jr. 5-10 183 ATH
Neal Rands Jr. 6-0 181 LB
Ryan Rosenfeld Sr. 5-10 162 WR

South Fayette
Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Dan Black Sr. 5-11 245 C
Christian Brumbaugh Jr. 6-3 195 QB
Tyler Challingsworth Jr. 5-10 150 DB
Tanner Cortad Jr. 6-3 200 LB
Jeff Davis Jr. 5-10 165 RB
Nick Faraci Jr. 6-3 250 OG/DT
Jon Gardner Sr. 5-7 170 WR/LB
Steve McElhinny Sr. 6-0 235 OT/DE
Eric Myers Jr. 6-1 190 TE
Justin Ramous Sr. 6-0 160 DB
Ryan Ross Sr. 5-9 180 WR
Nolan Spicer Jr. 6-3 230 OT/DE
Chris Williams Sr. 6-0 170 LB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Dusty Avolio Sr. 6-0 165 WR
Ty Billie Jr. 6-1 180 P
Ben Brownlee Sr. 6-5 231 OT
Lashawn Bryant Sr. 5-10 270 DL
Joe Havrilak Sr. 6-0 175 DB
Hunter Landock Sr. 6-0 330 OG
Kyle McWreath Jr. 6-0 225 LB
Ryan Moore Sr. 6-4 285 OT
Larry Woods Sr. 5-10 175 LB

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Julien Anderson Jr. 6-1 183 WR/DB
Zach Barnes Jr. 6-1 220 FB/LB
Marquis Brown Sr. 5-10 160 QB/DB
Laquan Edwards Sr. 5-11 249 OL/LB
Luke Pleta Sr. 5-11 235 OL/DT
Bryan Thomas Sr. 6-4 230 TE/DE

Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Matt Kabay Sr. 6-0 160 DB
John Sinnott Sr. 6-1 230 RB
Mark Stillwagon Sr. 5-7 155 LB

West Greene
Player Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.

Curtis Jones So. 5-10 185 RB/LB
Dillon Main Jr. 6-0 160 RB/DB

New basketball coaches for 2009-10

Fort Cherry – Brent Fleissner
Washington – Mark Gaither (pictured)
Waynesburg – Dave Sarra


Jefferson-Morgan – Ellen Hildebrand
McGuffey – Amanda Burchett
Monessen – Gina Naccarato
Peters Township – Kyra Kaylor
Trinity – Jackie Kotchman

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2008-09 O-R All-District Basketball

Boys Player of the Year – Nick Wilcox, Peters Township

Boys All-District
Big School (AAAA-AAA)
First team
Name, School Yr. Pos. Avg.

Dave Bassi, Ringgold Sr. F 15.0
Kionte Davis, Canon-McMillan So. G 15.1
Steve Radke, Peters Township Sr. C 8.7
Nick Wilcox, Peters Township Sr. G/F 21.2
Craig Wolcott, Peters Township Jr. G 14.8

Second team
Name, School Yr. Pos. Avg.

Matt Czulewicz, McGuffeySr. F 11.4
Chad Hagan, Canon-McMillan Jr. F 13.0
Phil Horensky, Peters Township Jr. G 5.0
Sean McKnight, Trinity Sr. F 10.5
Josh Valentic, Trinity So. G 13.2

Small School (AA-A)
First team
Name, School Yr. Pos. Avg.

Robert Anderson, Washington Sr. G 11.2
Zach Bellhy, Fort Cherry Sr. G 22.5
Nick Bryant, Washington Sr. G 17.1
Mike Lamberti, South Fayette So. F 15.6
Troy Wilson, Washington Jr. F 13.7

Second team
Name, School Yr. Pos. Avg.

Mike Burroughs, South Fayette Jr. C 10.7
Ian McCombs, Carmichaels Sr. F 13.0
Ryne Niemiec, Beth-Center Sr. G 24.2
Eli Obade, Charleroi Sr. C 16.4
Joe Silko, South Fayette Sr. G 10.5

Girls Player of the Year – Emily Correal, Peters Township

Girls All-District
Big School (AAAA-AAA)
First team
Name, School Yr. Pos. Avg.

Emily Correal, Peters Township Sr. C 20.3
Danielle Gilmore, Trinity Sr. G 10.0
Samantha Higgins, Peters Township Sr. F
Emily Schartner, Ringgold Sr. G 17.5
Elise Schober, McGuffey Sr. G 11.9

Second team
Name, School Yr. Pos. Avg.

Jennie Affinito, Ringgold Sr. G 10.0
Emily Hansen, Canon-McMillan So. G 10.2
Chelsea McWreath, Trinity Sr. G 9.0
Ashley Morran, Trinity Jr. F 11.8
Marissa Pattison, McGuffey Jr. G 13.1

Small School (AA-A)
First team
Name, School Yr. Pos. Avg.

Jordan Duke, Carmichaels Sr. F 17.0
Jocelyn Floyd, Washington Sr. G/F 20.8
Marissa Miles, Fort Cherry Sr. G 16.5
Megan Sowers, Beth-Center Jr. G 15.0
Joelle Yamber, Avella Sr. C 11.7

Second team
Name, School Yr. Pos. Avg.

Chelsea Evans, Washington Jr. G 10.2
Kaitlyn Novak, Mapletown Sr. G 15.4
Aly Lee, Charleroi Sr. G 12.8
Paige Uram, South Fayette Sr. G 10.5
Sidney Walter, Fort Cherry Sr. G 9.2

Alderson leaves C-H baseball

Dan Alderson, the most successful baseball coach in Chartiers-Houston High School history, had his resignation accepted by the school board Monday night.

Alderson went 133-44 in nine seasons as Bucs head coach. He spent the previous six years as an assistant with the baseball team. During his tenure as head coach, Alderson won three section titles and coached in two PIAA Class A semifinals and the 2005 WPIAL championship game at Consol Energy Park.

"Most people enjoy fishing, hunting and golfing," Alderson said Tuesday. "This was my fishing, hunting and golfing. It's something I had a passion for."

Alderson resigned to spend more time with his two daughters, Kaci (8) and Kelli (3). Alderson's wife Tricia coaches the Chartiers-Houston softball team.

For more details, read Wednesday's Observer-Reporter.

APB, Where Are They Now?

Our last All Points Bulletin, issued for former California High School boys basketball player Shane Tonkavitch, was answered by Tonkavitch himself. Thanks for the update Shane and best of luck to you.

This week, we're looking for former Canon-McMillan boys basketball player Justin Moore.

Moore's story was an interesting one. He started for Bethel Park as a freshman before he ended up at Canon-McMillan, where his transfer made headlines sparked meetings with the WPIAL.

A talented power forward, Moore experienced an up-and-down varsity career with the Big Macs and he landed in prep school. From there, Moore matriculated to Division II Edinboro University, where he was a key player for the Fighting Scots.

Anyone knowing Moore's whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A different list

Checking for stats on and a link caught my attention. Got to wonder if the writer watched all these games.

All-State/All-WPIAL soccer

The following local players earned All-State and All-WPIAL soccer honors. Both are determined by coaches.

Nate Troscinski, Peters Township

Ryan Bowen, Peters Township
Charlie Swisher, Peters Township
Doug Perino, Canon-McMillan
Brandon Malloy, Beth-Center
Zach Hamilton, Chartiers-Houston

Megan Junker, Peters Township
Shelli Spamer, Peters Township
Taylor Schram, Canon-McMillan

Taylor Parisse, Canon-McMillan
Marissa Pattison, McGuffey
Devon Burkholder, Peters Township
Heather Holeva, South Fayette
Amanda Hill, Trinity

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The Special Olympics partners with members of the Tri-County Athletic Directors Association and the Observer-Reporter each year to sponsor Hoopfest, a collection of high school basketball games featuring many of the area's top teams. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics.

Hoopfest takes place on Saturday, Dec. 19 and this year the event will be held at three venues – Washington High School, Monessen High School and Laurel Highlands High School.

The schedule is:
at Washington High School
6 p.m. – Washington boys vs. Trinity
4 p.m. – Washington girls vs. Peters Twp.
2 p.m. – Peters Township boys vs. Burgettstown
Noon – Fort Cherry boys vs. Chartiers-Houston

at Monessen High School
6 p.m. – Monessen boys vs. Canon-McMillan
4 p.m. – Monessen girls vs. Fort Cherry
2 p.m. – McGuffey boys vs. West Greene
Noon – McGuffey girls vs. Jefferson-Morgan

at Laurel Highlands High School
3:15 p.m. – Albert Gallatin boys vs. Mapletown
1:30 p.m. – Chartiers-Houston girls vs. West Greene
Noon – Albert Gallatin girls vs. Laurel Highlands

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mr. Hathaway, a Backyard Brawl APB

Spent the final few minutes of the 102nd Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia – a game won 19-16 by the Mountaineers – on the field at Milan Puskar Stadium Friday night.

The first person I ran into on the sidelines was former Carmichaels High School two-sport standout Bobby Hathaway. One of the toughest high school football players I've seen, Hathaway was invited to walk-on at West Virginia by former coach Rich Rodriguez.

Hathaway earned a scholarship by his sophomore year of eligibility and eventually became a starting linebacker for the Mountaineers.

Hathaway is "living in the real world" as he put it, engaged and living in Morgantown. He said he's employed and working in Bridgeport, W.Va.

Every time I talk to the young man, I keep going back to a quote John Menhart – Hathaway's high school football coach – had as Hathaway was being ignored by most Division I programs.

"If Bobby Hathaway isn't a Division I player then nobody else around here is."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Picking the Winners, WPIAL Championships

A 6-2 record in the WPIAL semifinals took the record to 44-12 (.786 percentage) during the postseason. Time for one final week of picks.

Class AAAA
Woodland Hills over Gateway
Class AAA
Hopewell over West Allegheny
Class AA
Aliquippa over Greensburg Central Catholic
Class A
Clairton over Rochester

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Fall of Peters Township

Peters Township claimed the second PIAA and WPIAL girls tennis team titles in school history. Julie Stroyne and Caroline Nixon won the state girls doubles tournament. The Indians field hockey team won their first WPIAL title.

And the wild thing is Peters Township didn't have as good a fall sports season in 2009 as it did in 2008.

Still, Peters Township remains the area's leader in athletics.

The success of the girls tennis and field hockey teams highlight another successful sports season.

Peters Township girls soccer played in the WPIAL Class AAA championship match a second consecutive year. The Indians controlled much of the action but lost to Seneca Valley on penalty kicks. They were bounced in the PIAA quarterfinals by Erie McDowell in another match where Peters Township controlled play but was unable to finish. In 2008, PT reached the state championship.

With North Carolina State recruit Shelli Spamer leading a strong cast of returning players (Hannah Caso, Olivia Roberson, Christina O'Connor, etc.), Peters Township should achieve similar success in 2010.

Peters Township boys golf also fielded a roster loaded with underclassmen. The Indians won a difficult section and reached the finals of the WPIAL Division I team championship, which they won in 2008 with a senior-laden roster.

Peters Township boys soccer exited the WPIAL playoffs in the quarterfinals with a loss to Bethel Park. The Indians just weren't themselves in that match and watching them lose so early in the postseason is kind of like watching Thomas Jefferson lose to West Allegheny in the football playoffs. It's a rarity.

And, for the first time since 2003, Peters Township football finished with a winning record. At 5-4, the Indians managed two wins over Class AAAA teams (Canon-McMillan, Kiski Area) and returns several top players, most notably quarterback Austin Hancock and running back/defensive back Andrew Erenberg.

APB, Where Are They Now?

The fall sports season is officially over in these parts and high schools began practicing for winter sports (basketball, wrestling, swimming/diving, rifle) last Friday. The first play date for rifle is Dec. 7 and Dec. 11 for all other winter sports.

This week's All Points Bulletin is for Shane Tonkavitch, one of the better shooters on one of the best teams in California High School history.

Tonkavitch played four years of varsity (one for coach Don Martin and three for Steve Luko) and, as a senior, joined the 1,000-point club. A shooting guard, Tonkavitch provided the perfect complement for forward Rick Cope as California advanced to the WPIAL Class A semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals in 2003.

Anyone knowing Tonkavitch's whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Picking the Winners, WPIAL Semifinals

Missed on two WPIAL quarterfinals to up the overall postseason record to 38-10 (.792 win percentage).

Class AAAA
Gateway over North Hills, Woodland Hills over Bethel Park
Class AAA
Thomas Jefferson over West Allegheny, Hopewell over Hampton
Class AA
Aliquippa over Beaver Falls, Keystone Oaks over Greensburg Central Catholic
Class A
Rochester over North Catholic, Clairton over Laurel

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Avella in the Times, again

In New York City, it's the Yankees, the Giants, the Knicks, the Jets, the Mets, the Rangers … and Avella football.

The Eagles made the New York Times a second time.

Trinity softball coach hired; West Greene opens football position

The Trinity School Board hired Bill Loar Thursday night as varsity softball coach and West Greene opted to open the head football coaching position held the past three years by Charles Harris.

Loar previously coached softball at Washington High School, where he guided the Prexies to two WPIAL Class AA championship game appearances in 2005 and 2007. Wash High also made the PIAA playoffs three times during his tenure.

A teacher at Washington and former member of the Trinity School Board, Loar replaced Linda Rebish, Trinity's highly successful softball coach. Rebish guided the Hillers to two WPIAL championship game appearance and, in 2009, Trinity was one win from playing for a PIAA championship.

Rebish retired from teaching in 2009 and expressed interest in returning as coach. She applied but was not hired by the school board.

West Greene nearly ousted Harris during the 2009 regular season but elected to keep the coach on the sidelines.In three years, the Pioneers went 3-24. Harris went 3-1 in his first four games as coach.

West Greene enters the 2010 season on a 23-game losing streak.

Soccer fight

Covered a lot of soccer, seen a few fights in the stands and the occasional exchange between players. I've never witnessed a all-out brawl like this one.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Local enrollment numbers

The following are PIAA enrollment numbers for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years:
School Boys Girls
Avella 80 73
Bentworth 136 158
Beth-Center 149 149
Burgettstown 188 178
California 139 100
Canon-McMillan 577 540
Carmichaels 125 129
Charleroi 233 198
Chartiers-Houston 148 134
Fort Cherry 162 122
Jefferson-Morgan 104 101
Mapletown 69 68
McGuffey 317 287
Monessen 106 123
Peters Township 541 550
Ringgold 418 416
South Fayette 266 250
Trinity 429 405
Washington 263 241
Waynesburg 267 233
West Greene 112 108

Friday Night Thoughts, Final Edition

Beth-Center's loss to Laurel in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals and South Fayette's loss to Aliquippa in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals closes another high school football season locally.

How did 2009 compare to 2008? Let's take a look.

Five teams - South Fayette, McGuffey, Beth-Center, Monessen and Fort Cherry - hosted first-round playoffs games this year. That's one more than a year ago when the latter three previously mentioned plus Canon-McMillan were home for the first round.

Looks like a positive, albeit small, step.

Two teams - South Fayette and Beth-Center - won first-round games. The top seed in the Class AA playoffs, South Fayette routed Beaver. Beth-Center, seeded seventh in Class A, knocked off Serra Catholic. That's one more first-round victory than the area produced last year when Monessen beat Serra.

Looks like a positive, albeit small, step.

The bad news for the Lions and Bulldogs was neither could advance past the quarterfinals. South Fayette watched a 12-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate against defending WPIAL champion Aliquippa in a well-played, highly entertaining game. Beth-Center made too many mistakes during the first half against a very good Laurel team and the Spartans won in a runaway.

The good news for the Lions and Bulldogs is that both return key players. Christian Brumbaugh, Jeff Davis and Tyler Challingsworth are among a handful of returnees for South Fayette. Beth-Center brings back standouts such as Sal Faieta, Jake Sofran and Deshan Brown.

Both teams should factor into their respective WPIAL championship pictures once again.

There were other intriguing story lines.

1. Canon-McMillan senior Chad Hagan was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome in April and was told the heart condition could mean the end of his athletic career. The Ohio State football recruit not only beat the condition, he returned to the field by Week 3.
2South Fayette put together its first undefeated regular season in 73 years.
3. Avella won two games, including a conference contest against Fort Cherry. The lovable loser tag no longer exists for the Eagles.
4. Washington went from a one-win team in 2008 to a WPIAL playoff team this year and one that played for a possible home playoff game in the final week of the season. The Prexies accomplished all of that with strong play from Zach Barnes, Bryan Thomas and Marquis Brown and a new head coach in Mike Bosnic who was hired in May.
5. McGuffey shut out WPIAL semifinalist Greensburg Central Catholic and did not allow a point at home until the fourth quarter of the final regular season game. The Highlanders hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1994.
6. Waynesburg bumped its win total to three and were considerably more competitive under the direction of head coach Joe Kuhns, who spent the previous seven years at California.
7. Peters Township finished with a winning record for the first time since 2003 but failed to qualify for the Class AAAA playoffs.
8. Charleroi tailback Quentin Briggs continues to dazzle. The sophomore topped 1,000 yards a second-consecutive season and it's not a stretch to say he's the best running back in the area.
9. Ringgold, with one returning starter and a new head coach in Lloyd Price, showed its future is a promising one.
10. Carmichaels made the postseason for the 12th straight year, tops among local teams.

There were some odd story lines.

1. Trinity's Ken Wilkins, an all-state defensive end as a junior, wasn't playing much defense through a large portion of the Hillers' schedule. The Michigan recruit also missed several games late in the year.
2. Canon-McMillan's Mike Hull, a Penn State recruit who is ranked among the nation's top seniors, endured an injury-plagued year. Hull missed the Big Macs' game versus Mt. Lebanon with illness and was limited the remainder of the year. Hull also missed the finale against Peters Township as he watched from the sidelines on crutches.
3. Wilkins, Hull and Hagan graced the cover of the Observer-Reporter's preseason football edition. The trio combined to miss no fewer than seven games. Is there an O-R cover jinx?
4. Trinity didn't produce a 500-yard rusher.
5. Mapletown averaged more than 30 passes per game.
6. Jefferson-Morgan's Hans Lubich was on pace to rush for 1,000 yards and have 500 yards receiving before breaking a leg against West Greene.
7. Price was suspended by the Ringgold school board for two games early in the schedule. Assistant coach Matt Humbert served as interim head coach and guided the Rams to their first two wins.
8. Charleroi coaches were livid at the end of the Washington game when officials ruled that Briggs had fumbled after picking up a first down that would have ended the game and sealed a spot in the postseason for the Cougars. Instead, Wash High's Brown returned the fumble for a score, the Prexies won and Charleroi wasn't in the postseason.
9. Postgame antics ensued after Clairton beat Fort Cherry in Week 5. Among the activity were pushups from Clairton players and a fight between two Rangers.
10. Avella led all WPIAL Class A teams in scoring after the opening week.

There are a few story lines to follow.
1. There is a chance Mapletown has played its last football game.
2. Rumors are swirling about WPIAL football realignment. A few Class AA powers may be moving down, which should drastically change the landscape of local conferences.
3. Ringgold, Washington, California and Waynesburg had new coaches in 2009. Which schools will have new coaches in 2010?

Monday, November 16, 2009

TVL's WPIAL Football Rankings

Anyone have North Hills and Hampton in the WPIAL semifinals? Anyone surprised Greensburg Central Catholic made it this far?

Last week's ranking in parentheses.

Class AAAA
1. Gateway 11-0 (1)
2. Woodland Hills 10-1 (2)
3. Bethel Park 10-2 (3)
4. North Hills 6-5 (8)

Class AAA
1. Thomas Jefferson 11-0 (1)
2. Hopewell 11-0 (2)
3. West Allegheny 9-2 (3)
4. Hampton 7-4 (8)

Class AA
1. Aliquippa 10-1 (3)
2. Beaver Falls 10-1 (5)
3. Keystone Oaks 10-1 (6)
4. Greensburg Central Catholic 9-2 (7)

Class A
1. Rochester 11-0 (1)
2. Clairton 10-1 (2)
3. Laurel 10-1 (3)
4. North Catholic 9-2 (4)

APB, Where Are They Now?

During the 2009 girls tennis season, Peters Township won its first WPIAL team title since 1996 and a second PIAA Class AAA championship. The first came in 2006. In addition, the doubles team of Julie Stroyne and Caroline Nixon won a PIAA championship. For Stroyne, it was the third PIAA gold of her scholastic career.

The 2006 team was led by standout Ali Riske. In one year with Peters Township, Riske won PIAA and WPIAL individual gold and held the team to its first state championship.

This week's All Points Bulletin is for Ali's sister Sarah Riske.

In the latter part of the 1990s, Riske was a dynamic player at Peters Township, where she became the first Washington County player to win WPIAL and PIAA individual championships.

Riske went on to Vanderbilt, where she also excelled. She was a four-time All-American at the SEC school.

Anyone knowing Riske's whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

State Football Rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from the Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, November 10, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by the school’s record and last week’s ranking. NR means not ranked. Honorable mention teams listed alphabetically.


1. Bishop McDevitt (3) 9-0 1
2. Gateway (7) 10-0 2
3. North Penn (1) 10-0 3
4. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) 8-1 4
5. La Salle College HS (12) 8-1 5
6. Woodland Hills (7) 9-1 6
7. McDowell (10) 8-2 8
8. North Allegheny (7) 9-1 10
9. Downingtown West (1) 9-1 NR
10. Easton (11) 9-1 NR
Honorable mention
Abington (1) 7-2, Avon Grove (1) 9-1, Bethel Park (7) 9-1, Cardinal OHara (12) 8-2, Council Rock South (1) 8-2, Central Dauphin (3) 8-2, Cumberland Valley (3) 8-2, East Stroudsburg South (11) 9-1, Garnet Valley (1) 9-1, Neshaminy (1) 8-2, Parkland (11) 8-2, Pennsbury (1) 9-1, Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) 8-2, Ridley (1) 9-1, Shaler (7) 9-1, State College (6) 7-2, Wilson (3) 9-1.

1. Thomas Jefferson (7) 10-0 1
2. Selinsgrove (4) 10-0 2
3. Wilson Area (11) 10-0 3
4. Manheim Central (3) 10-0 4
5. Hopewell (7) 10-0 5
6. Bayard Rustin (1) 10-0 6
7. Pottsgrove (1) 10-0 7
8. Cathedral Prep (10) 8-2 8
9. Allentown Cent. Catholic (11) 9-1 10
10. Interboro (1) 10-0 NR
Honorable mention
Abington Heights (2) 9-1, Archbishop Wood (12) 8-2, Berwick (2) 7-3, Conrad Weiser (3) 8-2, Dallas (2) 9-1, Franklin Regional (7) 8-2, Greencastle-Antrim (3) 7-2, Hershey (3) 8-2, North Pocono (2) 9-1, Northern (3) 8-2, Oliver (8) 9-1, Owen J. Roberts (1) 9-1, Strong Vincent (10) 8-2, Susquehanna Twp. (3) 9-1, West Allegheny (7) 8-2, West York (3) 9-1.

1. Dunmore (2) 10-0 1
2. West Catholic (12) 8-2 2
3. Center (7) 9-1 2
4. Beaver Falls (7) 9-1 4
5. Aliquippa (7) 9-1 5
6. Lancaster Catholic (3) 9-1 6
7. Wilmington (10) 9-1 7
8. South Fayette (7) 10-0 9
9. General McLane (10) 10-0 8
10. Keystone Oaks (7) 9-1 10
Honorable mention
Bok (12) 9-0, Burrell (7) 7-3, Danville (4) 8-2, Delone Catholic (3) 9-1, Forest Hills (6) 10-0, Freeport (7) 8-2, Greensburg Central Catholic (7) 8-2, Lewisburg (4) 9-1, Littlestown (3) 8-2, Loyalsock Twp. (4) 7-3, Martinsburg Central (6) 9-1, Milton Hershey (3) 7-3, Mount Pleasant (7) 10-0, North Schuylkill (11) 10-0, Shady Side Academy (7) 8-2, Sto-Rox (7) 8-2, Towanda (4) 10-0, Tyrone (6) 8-2, Wilkes-Barre GAR (2) 8-2.

1. Clairton (7) 9-1 1
2. Rochester (7) 10-0 2
3. Farrell (10) 10-0 3
4. Bishop McCort (6) 9-0 4
5. Laurel (7) 9-1 5
6. Steelton-Highspire (3) 7-2 6
7. Old Forge (2) 10-0 7
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 9-0 8
9. Portage (6) 9-0 9
10. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 10-0 NR
Honorable mention
Avonworth (7) 8-2, Bethlehem-Center (7) 8-2, Calvary Christian (1) 7-1, Cameron County (9) 9-1, Conemaugh Twp. (5) 8-1, Coudersport (9) 7-2, Curwensville (9) 8-2, North Catholic (7) 8-2, Penns Manor (6) 9-1, Sharpsville (10) 8-2, United (6) 9-1.

Records are current. Previous ranking indicates the teams position in last weeks Patriot-News rankings.
Honorable mention teams are listed in alphabetical order.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Picking the Winners, WPIAL Quarterfinals

The Varsity Letters only hit on 24 of 32 winners last week for a .750 win percentage. The games get tougher to predict this week.

Class AAAA
Gateway over Penn Hills, North Allegheny over North Hills, Woodland Hills over Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Bethel Park over Shaler
Class AAA
Thomas Jefferson over Franklin Regional, West Allegheny over New Castle, Hopewell over Mars, Hampton over Uniontown
Class AA
South Fayette over Aliquippa, Beaver Falls over Sto-Rox, Keystone Oaks over Mt. Pleasant, Greensburg Central Catholic over Center
Class A
Rochester over Brentwood, North Catholic over Springdale, Laurel over Beth-Center, Clairton over Avonworth

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Friday Night Thoughts, First-Round Playoff Edition

Beth-Center 38, Serra Catholic 17.

Beth-Center's WPIAL Class A first-round playoff victory over visiting Serra Catholic Friday night might not seem like much to the outside observer but the victory carries some significance.

For the Bulldogs, who lost their entire starting backfield from last year due to graduation or moving or lack of interest in the sport, it proved that they're a little ahead of schedule when it comes to recapturing the success achieved in 2006. That team went 11-1 and reached the WPIAL semifinals.

Now, this doesn't mean Beth-Center (8-2) is going to knock off No. 2 seed Laurel (9-1) Friday night in Beaver, but any time a team as youthful as B-C can win in the postseason, it serves a strong barometer for future success.

And, in typical Beth-Center fashion, the Bulldogs won the game with a balanced offense, big special teams play and five forced turnovers. Those have been characteristics of every Beth-Center team since head coach Ed Woods rebuilt the Bulldogs.

This might be the biggest reason Beth-Center is still playing: the defense has forced 34 turnovers in 10 games. The Bulldogs have recovered 21 fumbles, picked off 13 passes and have around 50 tackles for loss on the year.

++ South Fayette put up an impressive 35 points against a strong Beaver defense. It's the same Beaver that lost at Aliquippa, 7-0, in Week 4.

South Fayette, undefeated and the top seed in Class AA, plays Aliquippa Friday night at Chartiers Valley High School in a game to be televised by FSN. It might be the night the casual WPIAL football fan gets to know Lions quarterback Christian Brumbaugh.

++ Beth-Center's victory did more than notch the Bulldogs fourth WPIAL playoff victory since 2005, which is tops among teams within the Observer-Reporter's coverage area.

It broke the postseason winless streak for teams from Washington and Greene Counties.

In 2008, those teams went a combined 9-0 in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. This year, the record was 1-7. Trinity, McGuffey, Washington, Fort Cherry, Jefferson-Morgan, Burgettstown and Carmichaels each lost.

Trinity, Washington and Fort Cherry were shutout.

++ While the season continues at Beth-Center and South Fayette, it's over for the rest of the area and it figures to be an interesting offseason.

Which school booards will force out coaches?

Which coaches will find other jobs?

Will any schools drop football?

And will conferences look anything like they did the past two years? There promises to be plenty of teams dropping in classification for the next two-year cycle.

Monday, November 9, 2009

TVL's WPIAL Football Rankings

Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Class AAAA
1. Gateway 10-0 (1)
2. Woodland Hills 9-1 (2)
3. Bethel Park 9-1 (3)
4. North Allegheny 9-1 (5)
5. Pgh Central Catholic 8-2 (NR)
6. Shaler 9-1
7. Penn Hills 5-5
8. North Hills 5-5

Class AAA
1. Thomas Jefferson 10-0 (1)
2. Hopewell 10-0 (2)
3. West Allegheny 8-2 (3)
4. New Castle 8-2 (NR)
5. Mars 7-3 (NR)
6. Franklin Regional 8-2
7. Uniontown 7-3
8. Hampton 6-4

Class AA
1. Mt. Pleasant 10-0 (1)
2. South Fayette 10-0 (2)
3. Aliquippa 9-1 (3)
4. Center 9-1 (4)
5. Beaver Falls 9-1 (5)
6. Keystone Oaks 9-1
7. Greensburg Central Catholic 8-2
8. Sto-Rox 8-2

Class A
1. Rochester 10-0 (1)
2. Clairton 9-1 (2)
3. Laurel 9-1 (3)
4. North Catholic 8-2 (4)
5. Avonworth 8-2 (NR)
6. Springdale 8-2
7. Beth-Center 8-2
8. Brentwood 6-4

WPIAL Football Quarterfinals Set

All games Friday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

WPIAL Football Quarterfinals
Gateway (10-0) vs. Penn Hills (5-5) at Norwin High School
North Allegheny (9-1) vs. North Hills (5-5) at Pine-Richland High School
Woodland Hills (9-1) vs. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (8-2) at West Mifflin High School
Bethel Park (9-1) vs. Shaler (9-1) at Baldwin High School

Thomas Jefferson (10-0) vs. Franklin Regional (8-2) at Elizabeth Forward High School
West Allegheny (8-2) vs. New Castle (8-2) at North Allegheny High School
Hopewell (10-0) vs. Mars (7-3) at Ambridge High School
Hampton (6-4) vs. Uniontown (7-3) at Yough

South Fayette (10-0) vs. Aliquippa (9-1) at Chartiers Valley High School
Beaver Falls (9-1) vs. Sto-Rox (8-2) at Seneca Valley High School
Mt. Pleasant (10-0) vs. Keystone Oaks (9-1) at Penn-Trafford High School
Center (9-1) vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (8-2) at Fox Chapel High School

Rochester (10-0) vs. Brentwood (6-4) at Montour High School
North Catholic (8-2) vs. Springdale (8-2) at Deer Lakes High School
Laurel (9-1) vs. Beth-Center (8-2) at Beaver High School
Clairton (9-1) vs. Avonworth at Chartiers-Houston High School

High School Sports Hall of fame in Pa.

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A new museum honoring excellence in scholastic sports is going up in eastern Pennsylvania.
The High School Sports Hall of Fame Museum will be built in Easton, a sporting hotbed known nationally for its wrestling programs and for its century-old football rivalry with neighboring Phillipsburg, N.J.
Easton’s mayor and museum officials made the announcement on Monday.
The $20 million museum will highlight inductees who, as girls and boys, excelled in 20 high school sports. Past inductees have included NBA stars LeBron James and Dwight Howard, American League batting champ Joe Mauer, and Olympic gold medal swimmer Allyson Felix.
The museum is to open in the summer of 2011 and will be run by the National High School Coaches Association.

We're back

The Varsity Letters is up and running once again. Check back periodically throughout the evening for posts. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Games of the Week - First-round Edition

Lots of intriguing matchups throughout the WPIAL playoffs tonight including Penn Hills at Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon at Shaler, New Castle at Greensburg-Salem and Sto-Rox at Shady Side Academy.

Aliquippa (8-1) at McGuffey (7-2)
The Quips were one of three teams from the always-tough Midwestern Conference to finish 8-1 overall and 7-1 in conference. Center and Beaver Falls were the others. Aliquippa finished third thanks, in part, to its loss to Beaver Falls.

The last time Aliquippa lost in the first round came in 2005, when No. 14 Washington shut out the Quips, 7-0. That team was seeded to high. This version sure looks better than a No. 9 seed in Class AA but that's the only place the WPIAL could put Aliquippa because of the third-place finish.

McGuffey has played sound defense all year, particularly at home. The Highlanders allowed 12 points in five home games, all coming last week versus Washington. They'll need to chew up clock with the wing-T offense and create a couple turnovers in this one.

Trinity (4-5) at Mars (6-3)
A month ago, Trinity was 1-5 following what Hillers coach Ed Dalton called "embarrassing" performances against teams like Belle Vernon and Chartiers Valley. Three consecutive wins got Trinity back into the playoffs and one interesting first-round contest.

Sophomore running back Eric Richards has played well for Trinity and it's helped the passing game. Quarterback Andrew Steratore has two reliable targets in Joe Havrilak and Dusty Avolio. They'll need to make some big plays on the road against a tough Mars team.

The Planets run their own version of the wing-T and they'll challenge a Trinity defense that has played well this year despite the record. That defense will be without Ken Wilkins (mono).

Brentwood (5-4) at Fort Cherry (7-2)
Brentwood's regular season mirrors that of Trinity. It started 0-4 with losses to defending PIAA Class AA champion Wilmington, South Side Beaver, Avonworth and North Catholic. The latter two were the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Brentwood finished third thanks to a five-game win streak.

Of those final five wins, only one (Springdale) came against a team with more than three victories.

Fort Cherry has seven wins after rallying to take three straight following a puzzling loss to Avella. With the exception of a loss to Clairton, Fort Cherry finds ways to make big plays at Jim Garry Stadium, whether it's a long run or kickoff return from Gary Kiefer, a Tanner Garry to Nicholas Hurley touchdown pass or a blocked kick.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

APB, Where Are They Now?

The Varsity Letters originally wanted to issue an All Points Bulletin for former Fort Cherry running back and Observer-Reporter Player of the Year Jordan Clemons. Upon a quick search of the O-R archives, Clemons has made several appearances in the paper since his senior year.

So, this week's APB is for Clemons' fullback, Scott Wharton.

A hard-running fullback and hard-hitting linebacker, Wharton was a lot more than Clemons' lead blocker during the 2006 season, which ended with a first-round playoff loss at Jefferson-Morgan in a game where FC rushed for more than 300 yards. He led the Rangers in receptions and finished with 127 tackles, including 27.5 tackles for loss.

Wharton received some interest at the Division I and II level but ended up at Waynesburg University. He was not on the Yellow Jackets roster this year.

Anyone knowing Wharton's whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Picking the winners

One year ago, nine teams from Washington and Greene counties entered the first round of the WPIAL football playoffs. None made it to the quarterfinals.

Eight teams (Beth-Center, Burgettstown, Carmichaels, Fort Cherry, Jefferson-Morgan, McGuffey, Trinity and Washington) qualified this year and three of them (Beth-Center, Fort Cherry and McGuffey) host first-round games.

Will one or more teams break the losing streak? Many outsiders say no. The Varsity Letters sees three teams advancing.

Class AAAA
Gateway over Plum, Upper St. Clair over Penn Hills, North Allegheny over Latrobe, McKeesport over North Hills, Woodland Hills over Baldwin, Central Catholic over Seneca Valley, Bethel Park over Penn-Trafford, Shaler over Mt. Lebanon
Class AAA
Thomas Jefferson over Laurel Highlands, Montour over Franklin Regional, West Allegheny over Knoch, New Castle over Greensburg-Salem, Hopewell over Derry Area, Trinity over Mars, Chartiers Valley over Hampton, Belle Vernon over Uniontown
Class AA
South Fayette
over Beaver, Aliquippa over McGuffey, Beaver Falls over Steel Valley, Shady Side Academy over Sto-Rox, Mt. Pleasant over Kittanning, Keystone Oaks over Burrell, Center over Washington, Greensburg Central Catholic over Freeport
Class A
Rochester over Carmichaels, Fort Cherry over Brentwood, North Catholic over Jefferson-Morgan, Springdale over Monessen, Laurel over Burgettstown, Beth-Center over Serra Catholic, Clairton over South Side Beaver, Avonworth over Monaca

PIAA Football Rankings

Blogger's note: Notice No. 10 in Class A.

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from the Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, November 3, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by the school’s record and last week’s ranking. NR means not ranked. Honorable mention teams listed alphabetically.
1. Bishop McDevitt (3) 9-0 1
2. Gateway (7) 9-0 3
3. North Penn (1) 9-0 2
4. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) 7-1 4
5. La Salle College HS (12) 7-1 6
6. Woodland Hills (7) 8-1 7
7. McKeesport (7) 7-2 5
8. McDowell (10) 7-2 9
9. Cardinal O’Hara (12) 8-1 10
10. North Allegheny (7) 8-1 NR
Honorable mention
Abington (1) 6-2, Avon Grove (1) 8-1, Bethel Park (7) 8-1, Council Rock South (1) 7-2, Cumberland Valley (3) 8-1, Downingtown West (1) 8-1, Easton (11) 8-1, East Stroudsburg South (11) 8-1, Garnet Valley (1) 8-1, Neshaminy (1) 8-1, Parkland (11) 7-2, Pennsbury (1) 8-1, Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) 7-2, Ridley (1) 8-1, Shaler (7) 8-1, State College (6) 7-2, Wilson (3) 8-1.

1. Thomas Jefferson (7) 9-0 1
2. Selinsgrove (4) 9-0 2
3. Wilson Area (11) 9-0 3
4. Manheim Central (3) 9-0 4
5. Hopewell (7) 9-0 5
6. Bayard Rustin (1) 9-0 6
7. Pottsgrove (1) 9-0 7
8. Cathedral Prep (10) 7-2 8
9. West York (3) 9-0 9
10. Allentown Cent. Catholic (11) 8-1 10
Honorable mention
Abington Heights (2) 8-1, Archbishop Wood (12) 7-2, Berwick (2) 7-2, Chartiers Valley (7) 8-1, Dallas (2) 8-1, Greencastle-Antrim (3) 7-2, Hershey (3) 7-2, Interboro (1) 9-0, North Pocono (2) 8-1, Northern (3) 7-2, Owen J. Roberts (1) 8-1, Strong Vincent (10) 7-2, Susquehanna Twp. (3) 8-1, West Allegheny (7) 7-2.

1. Dunmore (2) 9-0 1
2. West Catholic (12) 7-2 5
3. Center (7) 8-1 2
4. Beaver Falls (7) 8-1 3
5. Aliquippa (7) 8-1 4
6. Lancaster Catholic (3) 8-1 7
7. Wilmington (10) 8-1 8
8. General McLane (10) 9-0 6
9. South Fayette (7) 9-0 9
10. Keystone Oaks (7) 8-1 10
Honorable mention
Bok (12) 9-0, Burrell (7) 7-2, Danville (4) 7-2, Delone Catholic (3) 8-1, Forest Hills (6) 9-0, Freeport (7) 8-1, Lewisburg (4) 8-1, Loyalsock Twp. (4) 6-3, Martinsburg Central (6) 8-1, Mount Pleasant (7) 9-0, North Schuylkill (11) 9-0, Shady Side Academy (7) 8-1, Sto-Rox (7) 7-2, Towanda (4) 9-0, Trinity (3) 7-2, Tyrone (6) 8-1.

1. Clairton (7) 8-1 5
2. Rochester (7) 9-0 1
3. Farrell (10) 9-0 2
4. Bishop McCort (6) 9-0 3
5. Laurel (7) 8-1 4
6. Steelton-Highspire (3) 6-2 6
7. Old Forge (2) 9-0 7
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 9-0 8
9. Portage (6) 9-0 9
10. Serra Catholic (7) 7-1 10
Honorable mention
Avonworth (7) 7-2, Calvary Christian (1) 7-1, Cameron County (9) 9-0, Conemaugh Twp. (5) 8-1, Coudersport (9) 7-2, Curwensville (9) 7-2, Mercyhurst Prep (10) 9-0, North Catholic (7) 7-2, Penns Manor (6) 8-1, Sharpsville (10) 7-2, United (6) 8-1.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Football Pairings Breakdown

Class AAAA
Top seeds: 1. Gateway (9-0), 2. Woodland Hills (8-1), 3. Bethel Park (8-1), 4. North Allegheny (8-1)
Defending champion: Bethel Park, lost in PIAA championship game.
Bits and pieces: Six of the 16 teams enter the tournament with a losing record. No. 15 Baldwin won two games. ... Gateway has played for the last two WPIAL titles, losing both games. ... Woodland Hills has not lost to a WPIAL team this year. The Wolverines dropped a Week 1 contest to Steubenville. ... Bethel Park won back-to-back conference titles for the first time.
Sleeper: Bethel Park. Despite the No. 3 seed, few are giving the defending champs much of a chance.
Championship: Woodland Hills over Gateway

Class AAA
Top seeds:
1. Thomas Jefferson (9-0), 2. Hopewell (9-0), 3. Chartiers Valley (8-1), 4. West Allegheny (7-2)
Defending champion: Thomas Jefferson, won PIAA championship.
Bits and pieces: Thomas Jefferson can win a fourth straight WPIAL championship, which hasn't happened since the dominant Braddock teams of the 1950s. Waynesburg lost to Braddock in a WPIAL title game during that era. ... Teams from the Keystone Conference are 0-32 the past eight years and it might be difficult to break the losing streak. Conference champion Greensburg-Salem, seeded fifth, plays New Castle. ... Trinity has gone with a pair of sophomore running backs in recent weeks are enters postseason play on a three-game win streak. ... Hopewell running back Rushel Shell has rushed for 2,000 this season.
Sleeper: New Castle
Championship: Thomas Jefferson over Hopewell

Class AA
Top seeds:
1. South Fayette (9-0, 2. Mt. Pleasant (9-0), 3. Center (8-1), 4. Beaver Falls (8-1)
Defending champion: Aliquippa, lost in PIAA semifinals
Bits and pieces: Aliquippa, the No. 3 team in the Observer-Reporter Class AA rankings, is the No. 9 seed and plays at No. 8 McGuffey in the first round. The Quips finished third in the Midwestern Conference. ... Greensburg Central Catholic, considered the top Class AA team in the state by some publications entering the year, finished third in the Interstate Conference and plays at Freeport. ... Aliquippa and Beaver Falls are on the same side of the bracket but could not meet until the semifinals. ... McGuffey is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1994. ... The last time Washington made the playoffs was 2005 when the 14th-seeded Prexies shut out Aliquippa, 7-0. Washington is seeded 14th again this year and plays at Center.
Sleeper: Greensburg Central Catholic
Championship: Beaver Falls over Mt. Pleasant

Class A
Top seeds:
1. Rochester (9-0), 2. Laurel (8-1), 3. Clairton (8-1), 4. North Catholic (7-2)
Defending champion: Clairton, lost in PIAA championship
Bits and pieces: Rochester is the only undefeated team in the bracket. The Rams have played in six championship games this decade. ... Beth-Center, the No. 7 seed, drew Serra Catholic in the first round. The Eagles may be without quarterback Rob Heatherington, who was knocked out of the Week 9 loss to Clairton with a shoulder injury. ... Laurel opened eyes with a Week 1 win against Rochester. The Spartans have lost just once, by seven points to Rochester. ... Carmichaels is in the WPIAL playoffs for the 12th consecutive year. ... Monessen head coach Andy Pacak was re-instated by the PIAA after it was ruled he was incorrectly ejected from the Greyhounds' last game against California.
Sleeper: Springdale
Championship: Rochester over Clairton

Monday, November 2, 2009

WPIAL football playoff pairings

First Round
Friday, Nov. 6
All games begin at 7:30 p.m.
No. 16 Plum (3-6) at No. 1 Gateway (9-0); No. 9 Penn Hills (4-5) at No. 8 Upper St. Clair (6-3); No. 13 Latrobe (4-5) at No. 4 North Allegheny (8-1); No. 12 North Hills (4-5) at No. 5 McKeesport (7-2); No. 15 Baldwin (2-7) at No. 2 Woodland Hills (8-1); No. 10 Seneca Valley (5-4) vs. No. 7 Central Catholic (7-2) at Fox Chapel; No. 14 No. Penn-Trafford (3-6) at No. 3 Bethel Park (8-1); No. 11 Mt. Lebanon (5-4) at No. 6 Shaler (8-1).
Sites to be determined
Plum-Gateway winner vs Penn Hills-Upper St. Clair winner; Latrobe-North Allegheny
winner vs. North Hills-McKeesport winner; Baldwin-Woodland Hills winner vs. Seneca Valley-Central Catholic winner; Penn-Trafford-Bethel Park winner vs. Mt. Lebanon-Shaler winner.

First Round
Friday, Nov. 6
All games begin at 7:30 p.m.
No. 16 Laurel Highlands (3-6) at No. 1 Thomas Jefferson (9-0); No. 9 Montour (5-4) at No. 8 Franklin Regional (7-2); No. 13 Knoch (3-6) at No. 4 West Allegheny (7-2); No. 12 New Castle (7-2) at No. 5 Greensburg Salem (8-1); No. 15 Derry (3-6) at No. 2 Hopewell (9-0); No. 10 Trinity (4-5) at No. 7 Mars (6-3); No. 14 Hampton (5-4) at No. 3 Chartiers Valley (8-1); No. 11 Belle Vernon (5-4) at No. 6 Uniontown (6-3).
Sites to be determined
Laurel Highlands-Thomas Jefferson winner vs. Montour-Franklin Regional winner; Knoch -West Allegheny winner vs. New Castle-Greensburg Salem winner; Derry-Hopewell winner vs. Trinity-Mars winner; Hampton-Chartiers Valley winner vs. Belle Vernon-Uniontown winner.

First Round
Friday, Nov. 6
No. 16 Beaver (5-4) at No. 1 South Fayette (9-0); No. 9 Aliquippa (8-1) at No. 8 McGuffey (7-2); No. 13 Steel Valley (6-3) at No. 4 Beaver Falls (8-1); No. 12 Sto-Rox (7-2) at No. 5 Shady Side Academy (8-1); No. 15 Kittanning (6-3) at No. 2 Mount Pleasant (9-0); No. 10 Burrell (7-2) at No. 7 Keystone Oaks (8-1); No. 14 Washington (6-3) at No. 3 Center (8-1); No. 11 Greensburg Central Catholic (7-2) at No. 6 Freeport (8-1).
Sites to be determined
Beaver-South Fayette winner vs. Aliquippa-McGuffey winner; Steel Valley-Beaver Falls winner vs. Sto-Rox - Shady Side Academy winner; Kittanning-Mount Pleasant winner vs. Burrell-Keystone Oaks winner; Washington-Center winner vs. Greensburg Central Catholic -Freeport winner.

First Round
Friday, Nov. 6
No. 16 Carmichaels (4-5) at No. 1 Rochester (9-0); No. 9 Brentwood (5-4) at No. 8 Fort Cherry (7-2); No. 13 Jefferson-Morgan (7-2) at No. 4 North Catholic (7-2); No. 12 Springdale (7-2) at No. 5 Monessen (7-2); No. 15 Burgettstown (4-5) at No. 2 Laurel (8-1); No. 10 Serra (7-2) at No. 7 Beth-Center (7-2); No. 14 South Side Beaver (6-3) at No. 3 Clairton (8-1); No. 11 Monaca (5-4) at No. 6 Avonworth (7-2).
Sites to be determined
Carmichaels-Rochester winner vs. Brentwood-Fort Cherry winner; Jefferson-Morgan - North Catholic winner vs. Springdale-Monessen winner; Burgettstown-Laurel winner vs. Serra - Beth-Center winner; South Side Beaver-Clairton winner vs. Monaca-Avonworth winner.

TVL's WPIAL Football Rankings

Class AAAA
1. Gateway 9-0 (1)
2. Woodland Hills 8-1 (3)
3. Bethel Park 8-1 (4)
4. McKeesport 7-2 (2)
5. North Allegheny 8-1 (5)

Class AAA
1. Thomas Jefferson 9-0 (1)
2. Hopewell 9-0 (2)
3. West Allegheny 7-2 (3)
4. Greensburg-Salem 8-1 (4)
5. Chartiers Valley 8-1 (5)

Class AA
1. Mt. Pleasant 9-0 (1)
2. South Fayette 9-0 (2)
3. Aliquippa 8-1 (3)
4. Center 8-1 (4)
5. Beaver Falls 8-1 (5)

Class A
1. Rochester 9-0 (1)
2. Clairton 8-1 (2)
3. Laurel 8-1 (3)
4. North Catholic 6-2 (4)
5. Monessen 7-2 (NR)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Predicting the seeds

The WPIAL Football PLayoff Pairings will be released Monday. The Varsity Letters offers ts thoughts on how the brackets should be seeded. Keep in mind a few things: 1. No same-conference opponents in the first round; 2. The WPIAL tries to avoid pairings teams who played each other during the year (for example Trinity and Greensburg-Salem); and, 3. If an attractive first-round matchup can be drawn (i.e. Washington at South Fayette), it gets done.

Class AAAA
1. Gateway 9-0
2. Woodland Hills 8-1
3. Bethel Park 8-1
4. McKeesport 7-2
5. North Allegheny 8-1
6. Shaler 8-1
7. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 7-2
8. Upper St. Clair 6-3
9. Penn Hills 4-5
10. Seneca Valley 5-4
11. Latrobe 4-5
12. Mt. Lebanon 5-4
13. North Hills 4-5
14. Penn-Trafford 3-6
15. Baldwin 2-7
16. Plum 3-6

Class AAA
1. Thomas Jefferson 9-0
2. Hopewell 9-0
3. Chartiers Valley 8-1
4. West Allegheny 7-2
5. Greensburg-Salem 8-1
6. Mars 6-3
7. Franklin Regional 7-2
8. Uniontown 6-3
9. New Castle 7-2
10. Montour 5-4
11. Belle Vernon 5-4
12. Hampton 5-4
13. Trinity 4-5
14. Knoch 3-6
15. Derry Area 3-6
16. Laurel Highlands 3-6

Class AA
1. South Fayette 9-0
2. Center 8-1
3. Beaver Falls 8-1
4. Mt. Pleasant 9-0
5. Keystone Oaks 8-1
6. Shady Side Academy 8-1
7. Freeport 8-1
8. McGuffey 7-2
9. Aliquippa 8-1
10. Sto-Rox 7-2
11. Greensburg Central Catholic 7-2
12. Burrell 7-2
13. Beaver 5-4
14. Steel Valley 6-3
15. Kittanning 6-3
16. Washington 6-3

Class A
1. Rochester 9-0
2. Laurel 8-1
3. Clairton 8-1
4. North Catholic 7-2
5. Monessen 7-2
6. Avonworth 7-2
7. Fort Cherry 7-2
8. Beth-Center 7-2
9. Serra Catholic 7-2
10. Brentwood 5-4
11. Monaca 5-4
12. Springdale 7-2
13. South Side Beaver 6-3
14. Jefferson-Morgan 7-2
15. Burgettstown 4-5
16. Carmichaels 4-5

Saturday, October 31, 2009

WPIAL Football Playoffs

Friday night thoughts and protecting the playoff seeds will be later this weekend due to a WPIAL soccer tripleheader today at Chartiers Valley.

Class AAAA
Big East
1. Woodland Hills, 2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 3. Penn Hills, 4. Plum
1. Gateway, 2. McKeesport, 3. Latrobe, 4. Penn-Trafford
Great Southern
1. Bethel Park, 2. Upper St. Clair, 3. Mt. Lebanon, 4. Baldwin
Northern Six
1. North Allegheny, 2. Shaler, 3. Seneca Valley, 4. North Hills

Class AAA
Big Seven
1. Thomas Jefferson, 2. Chartiers Valley, 3. Belle Vernon, 4. Trinity
Greater Allegheny
1. Mars, 2. Franklin Regional, 3. Knoch, 4. Hampton
1. Greensburg-Salem, 2. Uniontown, 3. Derry Area, 4. Laurel Highlands
1. Hopewell, 2. West Allegheny, 3. New Castle, 4. Montour

Class AA
1. Shady Side Academy 2. Freeport, 3. Burrell, 4. Kittanning
1. South Fayette, 2. Keystone Oaks, 3. Sto-Rox, 4. Steel Valley
1. Mt. Pleasant, 2. McGuffey, 3. Greensburg Central Catholic, 4. Washington
1. Center, 2. Beaver Falls, 3. Aliquippa, 4. Beaver

Class A
Big Seven
1. Rochester, 2. Laurel, 3. Monaca 4. South Side Beaver or Shenango or Western Beaver
Black Hills
1. Clairton, 2. Fort Cherry, 3. Serra Catholic, 4. Burgettstown
1. North Catholic, 2. Avonworth, 3. Brentwood, 4. Springdale
Tri-County South
1. Monessen, 2. Beth-Center, 3. Jefferson-Morgan, 4. Carmichaels

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Games of the Week – Week 9

Playoff spots and postseason positioning will be decided tonight.

Washington (6-2, 6-2) at McGuffey (6-2, 6-2)
With its combination of youthful playmakers, toughness and belief brought on by its first-year coach, Washington has rebounded from a one-win season to a possible second-place team from the always rugged Interstate Conference.

Like the Prexies did last week against Charleroi, the defense must come out and tackle early to establish confidence. McGuffey's stable of physical runners may be the toughest group in the conference.

Here's one of the statistics of the 2009 season: McGuffey has not allowed one point in four home games.

Ringgold (1-4, 3-5) at Trinity (2-3, 3-5)
Anyone think two weeks ago that the winner of this game could make the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs? Let's see those hands.

Ringgold, behind Dylan Patch, is playing spirited, competitive football and the Rams crept back into the Big Seven Conference playoff picture with last week's win over West Mifflin - the first for head coach Lloyd Price. (Ringgold's other two victories were with assistant coach Matt Humbert filling in for the suspended Price.) Think the Rams wish they could have back that performance against Elizabeth Forward?

After a dismal, turnover-filled start, Trinity has won two straight and has beat Ringgold four straight meetings. The Hillers are running the football with greater efficiency while Joe Havrilak, Dustin Avolio and Ken Wilkins are making plays for quarterback Andrew Steratore.

Fort Cherry (4-2, 6-2) at Chartiers-Houston (3-3, 5-3)
Fort Cherry already clinched a WPIAL Class A playoff berth out of the Black Hills Conference but things haven't been easy for the Rangers since a loss to Clairton. To the Rangers' credit, two straight wins but them back in position to claim second place, and a home playoff game, should Serra Catholic lose to Clairton.

Beating rival Chartiers-Houston won't be easy either.

The Bucs' last three wins (Avella, Frazier, Bentworth) has been shutouts. C-H isn't putting up dazzling offensive numbers this year but are winning games with a balanced attack and tough defense. A win here guarantees another trip to the postseason.

Bits and pieces
A victory at Bishop Canevin on Saturday gives South Fayette its first unbeaten and untied season since 1936. Lions quarterback Christian Brumbaugh leads the WPIAL with 22 touchdown passes. … Carmichaels has qualified for the WPIAL Class A playoffs 11 straight years. California has made it 10 straight. One will miss out this year as the two contend for fourth place in the Tri-County South. Carmichaels plays West Greene. California plays Monessen. The Mikes own the head-to-head tiebreaker. … Mapletown's Jarrett Porterfield leads the WPIAL with 46 receptions. The Maples have attempted 232 passes and completed less than 40 percent of them. … Five players are in contention for the local scoring title. Fort Cherry's Gary Kiefer enters the final week with 98 points and is followed by Carmichaels' Anthonie Farrar (96), California's D.J. Martinak (92), Jefferson-Morgan's Ryan Knight (84) and South Fayette's Jeff Davis (84).

Best friends, Canon-McMillan overcoming obstacles

CANONSBURG – Mike Martin always wanted to be part of the Canon-McMillan High School varsity football team and, in his senior year, the tall, slender and loyal Big Macs booster has found several roles to fill.
Martin (6-3, 178) backs up classmate Zach Hoffman at quarterback. In spot duty, Martin has completed three of seven passes for 53 yards.
He's also Canon-McMillan's third outside linebacker, meaning Martin is one of the first defensive replacements to enter a game. With his holding duties on extra points and field goals, Martin is one busy player at practice.
"Mike has progressed very nicely. I feel we would not be at a disadvantage with him at quarterback if something happened to Zach," Canon-McMillan coach Guy Montecalvo said. "He's come a long way."
And, for most of that journey, Martin has been joined by Big Macs' ballboy and best friend Grant Chupinka.
"He's been my best friend since third grade," said Martin, who wakes up at 5 a.m. most mornings to help rebuild the family barn. "We played football outside our houses because he wasn't allowed to play real football."
Chupinka, a senior at Canon-McMillan, is blind in his right eye and losing the sight in his left. Six months into his life, Chupinka was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer that occurs in the chest and lungs.
With the cancer long gone, Chupinka plans to attend CCAC next fall and eventually work with his father's real estate company. For now, he's enjoying the view from the Big Macs sideline.
One of his favorite moments came during a 37-7 loss at Woodland Hills. Martin scored Canon-McMillan's lone touchdown on a 33-yard interception return.
"Oh yes, that was awesome," Chupinka said.
That play came a little more than a month after Martin's older brother Andrew, a former Canon-McMillan football player, was seriously injured in a dirt bike accident. Martin was flown to UPMC-Presbyterian for treatment.
Adversity is nothing new for Mike Martin. Maybe that's why he maintains a calm demeanor during one trying football season.
Not much has gone right for Canon-McMillan (1-3, 3-5) as the Big Macs prepare for the regular season finale at Great Southern Conference rival Peters Township (0-4, 4-4).
"We're just taking it one game, one step at a time," Martin said. "We're trying to stay healthy and work through everything."
Staying healthy has been the Big Macs' problem.
Canon-McMillan opened the year without Ohio State recruit Chad Hagan, who missed two games recovering from Wolff-Parkinson-White disorder. Key players Dom Broglia (stingers) and Karon Adams (hip) have also missed significant time and both are questionable, at best, against Peters Township.
Adding to the woes last week was a team-wide illness.
Canon-McMillan could not practice last Monday in preparation for defending WPIAL champion Bethel Park and, on Tuesday, 22 players missed school.
"It was the most pervasive case I've ever seen," Montecalvo said. "We tried to get as much done as we could but when you can't practice it greatly impacts preparation."
One of the affected players was Penn State recruit Mike Hull, who is still recovering from the flu.
Hull played against Bethel Park and made 22 tackles (20 unassisted) but was so fatigued when the Big Macs were on offense that he had trouble standing.
"We can only worry about our squad and our health," Montecalvo said. "(Hull) wasn't even allowed to go to the Mt. Lebanon game but we can't worry too much about what's happened. We're trying to field a healthy football team."
Despite the adversity, Canon-McMillan can still qualify for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.
The Big Macs must beat Peters Township coupled with a Baldwin loss at Bethel Park.
"We've hit a few rough patches but we're a good team and we feel we should be in the playoffs," Martin said. "We just need to get there."

Wilson's parents sue hospitals

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The parents of a western Pennsylvania high school football player who died after sustaining massive head injuries during practice are suing two hospitals for malpractice.

Seventeen-year-old Kyle Wilson, a running back for Central Catholic in Pittsburgh, died a year ago at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. He had been in the hospital for several days after collapsing while watching a game the day after his injuries.

The suit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Tuesday, claims Childrens' and West Penn Allegheny Health System doctors failed to recognize and treat his head injuries despite symptoms including repeated vomiting and decreased consciousness.

Children's didn't immediately comment and West Penn declined comment.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

State Football Rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from the Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, October 27, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by the school’s record and last week’s ranking. NR means not ranked. Honorable mention teams listed alphabetically.

1. Bishop McDevitt (3) 8-0 1
2. North Penn (1) 8-0 2
3. Gateway (7) 8-0 3
4. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) 6-1 4
5. McKeesport (7) 7-1 5
6. La Salle College HS (12) 6-1 6
7. Woodland Hills (7) 7-1 7
8. Pennsbury (1) 8-0 8
8. McDowell (10) 6-2 9
10. Cardinal O’Hara (12) 7-1 10
Honorable mention
Avon Grove (1) 7-1, Bethel Park (7) 7-1, Council Rock South (1) 6-2, Cumberland Valley (3) 7-1, Downingtown West (1) 7-1, Easton (11) 7-1, Garnet Valley (1) 7-1, Neshaminy (1) 7-1, North Allegheny (7) 7-1, Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) 6-2, Ridley (1) 8-0, Shaler (7) 7-1, State College (6) 7-1, Wilson (3) 7-1.

1. Thomas Jefferson (7) 8-0 1
2. Selinsgrove (4) 8-0 2
3. Wilson Area (11) 8-0 3
4. Manheim Central (3) 8-0 4
5. Hopewell (7) 8-0 5
6. Bayard Rustin (1) 8-0 6
7. Pottsgrove (1) 8-0 7
8. Cathedral Prep (10) 6-2 8
9. West York (3) 8-0 9
10. Allentown Cent. Catholic (11) 7-1 10
Honorable mention
Abington Heights (2) 7-1, Berwick (2) 6-2, Chartiers Valley (7) 7-1, Dallas (2) 8-0, Greencastle-Antrim (3) 6-2, Hershey (3) 6-2, Interboro (1) 8-0, North Pocono (2) 7-1, Owen J. Roberts (1) 7-1, Strong Vincent (10) 6-2, Susquehanna Twp. (3) 7-1, West Allegheny (7) 6-2.

1. Dunmore (2) 8-0 2
2. Center (7) 7-1 NR
3. Beaver Falls (7) 7-1 1
4. Aliquippa (7) 7-1 4
5. West Catholic (12) 6-2 6
6. General McLane (10) 8-0 5
7. Lancaster Catholic (3) 7-1 7
8. Wilmington (10) 7-1 9
9. South Fayette (7) 8-0 10
10. Keystone Oaks (7) 7-1 NR
Honorable mention
Bok (12) 8-0, Burrell (7) 6-2, Forest Hills (6) 8-0, Freeport (7) 7-1, Lewisburg (4) 7-1, Loyalsock Twp. (4) 6-2, Martinsburg Central (6) 7-1, Middletown (3) 6-2, Montoursville (4) 7-1, Northern Lehigh (11) 7-1, North Schuylkill (11) 8-0, Shady Side Academy (7) 7-1, Sto-Rox (7) 6-2, Towanda (4) 8-0, Trinity (3) 6-2, Tyrone (6) 7-1.

1. Rochester (7) 8-0 1
2. Farrell (10) 8-0 2
3. Bishop McCort (6) 8-0 3
4. Laurel (7) 7-1 4
5. Clairton (7) 7-1 5
6. Steelton-Highspire (3) 5-2 6
7. Old Forge (2) 8-0 7
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 8-0 8
9. Portage (6) 8-0 9
10. Serra Catholic (7) 7-1 10
Honorable mention
Avonworth (7) 7-1, Calvary Christian (1) 6-1, Cameron County (9) 8-0, Conemaugh Twp. (5) 7-1, Mercyhurst Prep (10) 8-0, North Catholic (7) 6-2, Sharpsville (10) 7-1.

Playoff breakdown

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WPIAL Football Playoff Clinchings

Check Wednesday's Observer-Reporter for as detailed a breakdown of the current Garnder Points/WPIAL playoff situation as one can find courtesy of WJPA's Bob Gregg, Western Pennsylvana's authority on Gardner Points.

For now, here's who is in the WPIAL football playoffs:

Class AAAA
Big East - Woodland Hills, Penn Hills, Pittsburgh Central Catholic
Foothills Conference - Gateway, McKeesport, Greater Latrobe
Great Southern - Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair
Northern Six - North Allegheny, Shaler, Seneca Valley, North Hills

Class AAA
Big Seven - Thomas Jefferson, Chartiers Valley
Greater Allegheny - Mars, Franklin Regional, Knoch, Hampton
Keystone - Greensburg-Salem, Uniontown, Laurel Highlands, Derry Area
Parkway - Hopewell, West Allegheny, Montour, New Castle

Class AA
Allegheny - Shady Side Academy, Freeport, Burrell
Century - South Fayette, Keystone Oaks, Sto-Rox
Interstate - Mt. Pleasant, McGuffey
Midwestern - Center, Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, Beaver

Class A
Big Seven - Rochester, Laurel, Monaca (in its final season)
Black Hills - Clairton, Serra Catholic, Fort Cherry
Eastern - North Catholic, Avonworth, Brentwood
Tri-County South - Monessen, Beth-Center, Jefferson-Morgan

Sunday, October 25, 2009

TVL's WPIAL Football Rankings

Class AAAA
1. Gateway 8-0 (1)
2. McKeesport 7-1 (2)
3. Woodland Hills 7-1 (3)
4. Bethel Park 7-1 (4)
5. North Allegheny 7-1 (5)

Class AAA
1. Thomas Jefferson 8-0 (1)
2. Hopewell 8-0 (2)
3. West Allegheny 6-2 (3)
4. Greensburg-Salem 7-1 (4)
5. Chartiers Valley 7-1 (5)

Class AA
1. Mt. Pleasant 8-0 (2)
2. South Fayette 8-0 (3)
3. Aliquippa 7-1 (3)
4. Center 7-1 (5)
5. Beaver Falls 7-1 (1)

Class A
1. Rochester 8-0 (1)
2. Clairton 7-1 (2)
3. Laurel 7-1 (3)
4. North Catholic 6-2 (4)
5. Serra Catholic 7-1 (5)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday night thoughts, Week 8

Pinpointing when a youthful football team begins to mature is difficult and for Washington High School, there are several options for consideration.

There was a dominating three-game stretch where the Prexies outscored East Allegheny, Brownsville and South Allegheny, 107-14.

Then there's last Friday's gutty win over Jeannette where Washington scored the final 18 points.

How about last night's thrilling 20-18 win over a good Charleroi team when Marquis Brown picked up a Quentin Briggs fumble and returned it 66 yards for the tying touchdown before adding the winning points on a two-point run?

All solid choices.

For me, the moment came during the fourth quarter of a loss to Mt. Pleasant in Week 2. The Vikings led 28-0 before Washington scored 15 points. Those points looked meaningless at the time but it showed this group of Prexies isn't about to quit.

That attitude has shown through the past two weeks against strong competition.

So did Washington's toughness and evolving maturity.

Last night, for example, several key plays came from a variety of underclassmen. Freshman Daron Whitaker, all 5-4 or 5-5 of him, rushed for a team-high 62 yards and moved the chains during the first half. In the second half, freshman Jaylin Kelly came in and picked up 16 yards. Doesn't sound like much but he converted two third downs and added a touchdown.

Runs like the ones Kelly had and just about every yard picked up by Zach Barnes were as important in beating Charleroi as Brown's fumble.

Washington needed to match Charleroi's desire up front and it did. Sure, Briggs rushed for 180 yards but the Prexies tackled him early. Keeping Briggs contained on those first few drives had to give Washington's defense a boost.

Grinding out tough yards had to as well.

And, no matter how many big-play athletes Washington has, it's the ability to tackle and pick up tough yards that produce victories in the postseason.

** Doubt this will be the popular opinion on the board but it looked like Briggs was down when he lost the football that was scooped up by Brown for Washington's game-winning touchdown.

** Jefferson-Morgan's 21-20 victory at California in a key Tri-County South Conference game added to one dramatic Friday night.

Ryan Knight's 17-yard touchdown reception from Brandon Kozich with 1:01 remaining provided the winning points and clinched a playoff berth for the Rockets, who are in third place.

The loss hurts California's playoff chances. The Trojans close the regular season at first-place Monessen. Carmichaels, tied with California for fourth place but owner of the head-to-head tiebreaker, concludes its conference slate with winless West Greene.

The Mikes have reached the WPIAL Class A playoffs 11 consecutive years. California has been in the last 10 playoffs.

** Covered high school football for 13 years an can honestly say that I have never seen an ending like Charleroi at Washington.

** South Fayette clinched a share of the Class AA Century Conference championship with an impressive 21-0 victory at Steel Valley. It's the Lions first conference title since moving up from Class A.

South Fayette shared the Ohio Valley Conference title with Bishop Canevin and Chartiers-Houston in 2000 and with Fort Cherry and Brentwood in 1999.

Here's something to consider, with Beaver Falls losing to Center, will South Fayette receive the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL playoffs if they beat Bishop Canevin to wrap up a 9-0 record.

South Fayette and Mt. Pleasant are the only remaining undefeated teams in WPIAL Class AA.

** Trinity's Ken Wilkins has three touchdown catches the past two weeks.