Monday, August 31, 2009

Camp Kovak, sixth (and final) stop – Canon-McMillan

Blogger's note: This is the final in a short series based on Observer-Reporter sports writer Mike Kovak's travels to local high school football training camps.

In recent years, Canon-McMillan posted high-profile regular season victories over Woodland Hills, Upper St. Clair, Hopewell, West Allegheny and McKeesport. Each provided evidence that Canon-McMillan is a football program in far better shape than it was 15 years ago.

Similar victories have eluded the Big Macs in the postseason since the move back to Quad-A football. One reason is Canon-McMillan never fielded a secondary that met the level of play exhibited by the linebackers and defensive linemen.

In 2008, the Big Macs rarely let a team rush for more than 100 yards. Against WPIAL champion Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan allowed 80 but lost.

"We have to get better in the secondary," C-M coach Guy Montecalvo said. "We've been good against the run. Now, we have to get better against the pass."

The Big Macs' secondary will be without Ohio State recruit Chad Hagan, who is targeting an October return after being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition which created a rapid heartbeat for Hagan.

No doubt Hagan will be missed in the defensive backfield but Canon-McMillan believes capable talent is in place. Depth, the other facet C-M needs to become a regular player at the Quad-A level, has become a characteristic of the 2009 Big Macs.

In the past, injuries to key players were something the Big Macs struggled to overcome as evidenced in last year's playoff loss to Shaler when key players such as Penn State recruit Mike Hull, Hagan and quarterback Steve Roach exited the game.

This year, as the school's enrollment increases, more talent is on the roster. While there may not be a player of Hull's caliber waiting for a chance, the gap between starters and reserves is closing.

That talent will be needed as Canon-McMillan replaces all five starters from last year's offensive line and three of four defensive linemen.

"There's two across at every position," Montecalvo said.

How well those lines perform could determine whether C-M, a second-place finisher in the Great Southern Conference, improves upon last year's 6-4 record and advances in the WPIAL playoffs.

"Our kids want to set expectations high," Montecalvo said. "There was a tremendous amount of offseason preparation, a heck of a commitment."

Coming attractions

The Observer-Reporter 2009 preseason football edition will be in newspapers on Tuesday and, for South Hills residents who receive The Almanac, check for it on Wednesday.

Included in this year's edition is a cover story on the Big Ten's local influence, stories on every team in the O-R and Almanac coverage area, 2008 standings and stats, 2009 schedules and rosters as well as trivia, photos, predictions, preseason rankings, Cal U, Washington & Jefferson, Waynesburg University and, finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Camp Kovak - fifth stop, Avella

Blogger's note: The following if the fifth in a short series based on Observer-Reporter sports writer Mike Kovak's travels to various local high school football camps.
A warm summer breeze swept across the football field just above Avella High School. As a custodian ran a tractor, one lonely jug of water sat along an equipment shed. A few tackling pads and sleds sat idle while players and coaches sat inside the cafeteria eating lunch.

Even when camp is running, there isn't much more noise at Avella. With 19 players on its roster heading into the second week of training camp, the Eagles are a small but proud group. And when they suit back up to head toward the practice field, that unmistakable click-clack sound of spikes can barely be heard over the wind.

They don't get to run scrimmages against teammates. Instead, Avella works on drills and conditioning.

At Avella, that's just how it is.

"We're so much smaller than the other teams in the Black Hills Conference," second-year Avella coach Frank Gray said. "It makes it tough just to compete."

Avella hopes the 2009 season proves more competitive than 2008, when the Eagles drew national headlines for fielding a football team with 11 healthy players - one being female.

"No girls this year," Gray added.

Once one of the WPIAL's proudest football traditions - with multiple championship game appearances to back that up - Avella struggles to field a full team.

"We're always walking the halls trying to get guys to play," said senior Jesse Noble, an athletic wingback who can play quarterback when pressed.

Next year, Avella hopes to be playing in a different conference.

Losers of 27 straight and 51 of its past 52, Avella and coach Frank Gray plan to petition the WPIAL to join the Tri-County South Conference.

The Eagles, a WPIAL small-school power in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, used to compete in the Tri-County South. Currently, the conference is comprised of Beth-Center, California, Carmichaels, Geibel Catholic, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, Monessen and West Greene.

"Those schools are closer to us in numbers. I feel that's where we belong," Gray said.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

West Greene keeps coach

The West Greene School Board elected not to open the varsity football head coaching position held by Charles Harris by a 7-2 vote at Thursday's meeting.

Harris enters his third year as the Pioneers coach. His career record is 3-15 after an 0-9 season in 2009. West Greene competes in the Class A Tri-County South Conference and last made the WPIAL playoffs in 1995, when it reached the championship game.

Iowa school prepares for season

PARKERSBURG, Iowa (AP) — As they’ve done every August for 35 years, the players on Aplington-Parkersburg High’s football team are throwing themselves into the familiar, sweaty grind of Coach Ed Thomas’ brutal, two-a-day summer workouts.
The pop of linemen clashing after the snap still fills the thick, muggy air, as do the rhythmic claps and military barks of teenagers willing themselves through endless push-ups, jumping jacks and punishment laps, their faded red jerseys caked with mud and sweat.
All that’s missing is Thomas.
This is the first time in more than three decades that Thomas hasn’t graced the sidelines of the field that bears his name, known as “The Sacred Acre.” He was gunned down in June in the school’s weight room, and one of his former players sits in jail, accused of shooting him. Though his players hit the field as they know Thomas would have wanted — even using his playbook and the preseason workouts he penned — his absence is felt every day.
“The only thing different is not hearing his voice,” said the coach’s younger son, assistant coach Todd Thomas, who returned to Parkersburg to guide his father’s team. “The only thing we’re missing is his booming voice out there on the practice field.”
The Aplington-Parkersburg team will open its season Friday night, kicking off with a game against rival Dike-New Hartford. It will be televised nationally on ESPN and followed by just about everyone in the northeast Iowa town of 1,800 people. It’s also a critical moment for a team tasked with playing a season that’s about much more than wins and losses.
The 58-year-old Thomas was a one-time National Football League high school coach of the year, and among his former players are four playing in the NFL. He won state titles in 1993 and 2001. Players said they mourn the loss of their coach but are committed to living and playing as he instructed them so often.
“You’re not going to get anywhere if you just keep thinking about the past and just like, you know, keep feeling sorry for yourself. It doesn’t work like that,” 17-year-old senior running back Alex Hornbuckle said. “You have to pick yourself up and just keep going forward.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Camp Kovak, fourth stop – Peters Township

Blogger's note: This is the fourth in a short series documenting Observer-Reporter staff writer Mike Kovak's travels to local high school football camps.

All it takes is one look and one thing is clear about the 2009 edition of Peters Township football – these Indians are one big outfit.

First, there's the numbers. Peters Township opened camp with 81 players. Heading into its first scrimmage, that number was a healthy 78 with only one freshman, which gives Peters Township the largest varsity roster in the Washington-Greene region.

And, for the most part, these guys aren't playing football to kill the time before baseball or basketball season.

"When I first got here, only a handful of kids considered football their primary sport," Peters Township coach Nick Milchovich said. "For this group of kids, this is it for them. Football is their sport."

That's unusual at Peters Township, where championships are frequently won in soccer, golf, tennis and baseball. Just last year, the Indians concluded its season with a lopsided loss to Canon-McMillan. Milchovich estimates he had 30 players on the sidelines.

"You need players, you need bodies and you need depth at Quad-A," he said. "That last game against Canon-Mac, we were out of options."

There figures to be a few more of those at Peters Township, which hopes to compete for one of four playoff spots in the wide open Great Southern Conference.

Quarterback Austin Hancock is evolving into a solid dual threat and possible Division I prospect. Receiver Brandon Hoffman caught 40 passes last year and the addition of running backs Andrew Erenberg and Chris Olivo provides offensive balance.

In previous years, the toughness of Peters Township football came under question. The Indians want to erase that stigma this year. And they certainly look like they spent a lot of time in the weight room and at the dinner table.

The players are noticeably bigger.

"When I first got the job, I wanted to see fourth-and-one kind of guys. We didn't have a lot of them," Milchovich said. "I want guys who can get a yard on fourth down and who can stop the other team when they need a yard on fourth down. If we can get this, then we're headed in the right direction."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Week 2 scrimmages

Friday, Aug. 28
Connellsville at Peters Township, 6 p.m.
Canon-McMillan at Kiski Area, 7 p.m.
Ringgold at Yough, 6 p.m.
Uniontown at Trinity, 6 p.m.
Laurel Highlands at Monessen, 6 p.m.
Jefferson-Morgan at Southmoreland, 6 p.m.
South Fayette at McGuffey, 6 p.m.
Beaver Falls at Washington, 7 p.m.
Cornell at Burgettstown, 6 p.m.
Waynesburg at Carmichaels, 6 p.m.
Brownsville at Beth-Center, 7 p.m.
Serra Catholic at Charleroi, 7 p.m.
West Greene at Bentworth, 7 p.m.
California at Chartiers-Houston, 7 p.m.
Others of interest
Upper St. Clair at North Hills, 6:30 p.m.
Bethel Park at Gateway, 7 p.m.
Elizabeth Forward at Mars, 6 p.m.
Aliquippa at Chartiers Valley, 5 p.m.
South Park at Thomas Jefferson, 7 p.m.
Albert Gallatin at Clairton, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 29
Mapletown at Wilkinsburg, 10 a.m.
Fort Cherry at Avonworth, 11 a.m.

Once again, the Varsity Letters wants to hear from readers attending the scrimmages. Some of the information provided from Week 1 was informative.

Monday, August 24, 2009

APB, Where are they now?

The Varsity Letters thanks former Mapletown QB Drew Denham for answering last week's APB on Gerod Buckhalter, one of his former receivers.

This week, we're issuing an All Points Bulletin for former Wash High football and wrestling standout Tom Giles.

Along with Dan Mozes, Giles was part of one tough and huge defensive front. At 6-5, 250, opponents were helpless against Giles, who helped Washington win WPIAL and PIAA Class AA championships in 2001.

Giles earned first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press and Pennsylvania Football News as a senior.

Anyone knowing Giles' whereabouts is urged to contact the Varsity Letters.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Camp Kovak, third stop – Fort Cherry

Fort Cherry averaged 32.0 points per game in 2008 and had games where it scored 71, 54, 47 and 41 points. It added up to a solid 8-2 record – Fort Cherry's best since 2002 – and a second-place finish to Clairton in the Class A Black Hills Conference.

Quarterback David Phillips, running backs Derric Stankus and Nate Crossey and receiver Josh Snatchko have graduated. The quartet were responsible for much of the output.

Naturally, expecting Fort Cherry to remain as prolific on offense is a stretch but the Rangers do believe they have a talented group of underclassmen inheriting those vacated positions. Among them are sophomore quarterback Tanner Garry (pictured with father and Fort Cherry coach Tim Garry), junior tailback Gary Kiefer and sophomore fullback Corey Garry, Tanner's cousin.

Fort Cherry needs the trio to play well because only two starters – senior linemen Jordan Crowley and Mike Silla – return.

"We're having a youth movement," Tim Garry said. 'We have a lot of young kids moving into position. I expect some growing pains but I've also seen signs of good things."

Among them is Fort Cherry's defense, which brings back eight starters. The unit will be relied upon as the offense strives for consistency. Conference coaches believe it might not take too long.

"They're loaded," Avella coach Frank Gray said. "They're going to be a handful."

Clairton is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as conference champions. Fort Cherry, along with a group that includes Serra Catholic, Burgettstown, Chartiers-Houston and Bentworth, are vying for the other playoff positions.

The Bears are coming off an appearance in the state championship game, just like Serra did last year. Fort Cherry beat Serra in 2008.

"Serra went to states, came back with a lot of expectations and we beat them," Silla said. "What I'm saying is anything can happen."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Camp Kovak, second stop – Trinity

Blogger's note: Part two of a short series on O-R sports writer Mike Kovak's travels through the football preseason.

When Ed Dalton stepped onto the practice field for the first time as head football coach at Trinity High School in Aug. 1999, he couldn't believe what he saw.

Somehow, in football-crazed Western Pennsylvania, Trinity, despite a sizable enrollment, fielded an inexperienced roster.

"Our first team had 50 kids of which nine played football before," Dalton said. "None of them played ninth grade football."

Among Dalton's early duties was to institute a youth program and create a different atmosphere. Before Dalton arrived at Trinity, the Hillers had won two playoff games.

If Trinity wasn't the laughingstock of WPIAL football, it was awfully close.

More than a decade later, things are decidedly different.

Trinity has produced a steady stream of Division I recruits, with the most recent being senior Ken Wilkins, who will play for Michigan next fall. The Hillers have also become postseason regulars.

Maybe the process took longer than expected but, now that Trinity has steadied itself, the Hillers want to take the logical next step.

"I don't know what it is that we don't have. We have the facilities. The kids work hard. We have talent," Dalton said. "At some point, you've got to become responsible for yourself."

The Hillers finished 5-5 last year and, thanks to a couple late wins, reached the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs out of the Big Seven Conference. Eight starters return on offense and defense but Thomas Jefferson remains the heavy favorite to win another Big Seven and WPIAL championship.

"What (TJ) has is what we want," Dalton said. "We need to come up and beat one of these teams. When that happens, we'll know what it takes to compete as a football team."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Camp Kovak, first stop – Ringgold

Blogger's note: This is the first in a short series based on Observer-Reporter sports writer Mike Kovak's stops at high school training camps.

Ringgold finished 6-4 in 2008 – its best record since 2000. Gone from that team is every starter but one (Billy Marnich) and coach Jeff Petrucci, who retired.

The Rams want to build on last year's success under first-year head coach Lloyd Price, a former three-sport standout at Ringgold and the school's athletic director. Price was a starting linebacker at Cal U and he'll be bringing some of the Vulcans coach John Luckhardt's philosophies with him.

Is Ringgold rebuilding or reloading?

"I think this is a bit of a rebuilding project," Price said before Ringgold embarked for a week-long camp at California University.

Finding another WPIAL coach with as few returning starters and lettermen as Price and Ringgold would be difficult. Still, the Rams believe the season won't be a wash despite being selected to finish six in the Class AAA Big Seven Conference in a preseason coaches poll.

Ringgold plans to rely on a large number of receivers and its overall speed. The Rams might be the smallest team in the conference but they want to create matchup problems on the football field.

"We're molding our team based on personnel," Price said. "We're not going to be a staff that has a set system and that's it."

Price believes potential breakout players could be defensive lineman Julius Coleman, receiver/defensive back Derrick Fiore and center Neal Rands, among others.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Week 1 scrimmages

Saturday, Aug. 22
10 a.m. unless noted
Montour at Peters Township
Canon-McMillan & Peabody at Hempfield
Uniontown at Ringgold
Chartiers Valley at South Fayette
Waynesburg at Albert Gallatin
Trinity & Keystone Oaks at Washington
Northgate at Fort Cherry
Beth-Center at Charleroi
McGuffey at Monessen
Burgettstown & Bishop Canevin at North Catholic (North Park)
Frazier & Brownsville at Carmichaels
Chartiers-Houston at Springdale
Avella at West Greene
Bentworth at Jefferson-Morgan
California at Westinghouse
Clay-Battelle (W.Va.) at Mapletown
Others scrimmages of interest to readers:
Pine-Richland at Bethel Park
West Allegheny at Upper St. Clair
Thomas Jefferson at Moon
South Park at Elizabeth Forward

The Varsity Letters wants to gives readers a chance to report. For those attending Saturday scrimmages, please come back and give us a honest assessment of what you saw.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Preseason Elite 11

At the end of each high school football season, the Observer-Reporter releases its All-District Football Team. Included in that group is the O-R Player of the Year, which was Canon-McMillan's Mike Hull in 2008, and the Elite 11.

Thought it might be fun to release a preseason Elite 11 comprised of players from the O-R coverage area. At the end of the year, we'll go back and examine how close this list will be to the one that matters.

(In alphabetical order)
Quentin Briggs, Charleroi
Few freshman made a bigger impact than Briggs, the cousin of former Charleroi great Darrell Harding. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last year despite being the focal point of every defensive opponent.

Christian Brumbaugh, South Fayette

Could be one of the WPIAL's more heavily recruited by the time his senior year arrives. Brumbaugh started last year as a sophomore and regularly ranked among WPIAL passing leaders.

Andrew Erenberg, Peters Township
After a year at Pittsburgh Central Catholic, where he started some as a freshman, Erenberg is back at Peters Township and figures to play a key role at tailback and defensive back. His father, Rich Erenberg, was a running back for the Steelers (1984-86).

Chad Hagan, Canon-McMillan
Hagan returned to the Big Macs as a junior after concentrating on basketball his sophomore year. A big-play specialist, Hagan is being recruited by several Big Ten teams on both sides of the football. Ohio State remains his top choice.

Thomas Harriston, Chartiers-Houston

As a junior, Hairston was one of the area's premier defensive players and hardest tacklers. The senior linebacker grew two inches (6-2) and put on 15 pounds (195) since last year.

Mike Hull, Canon-McMillan
A Penn State recruit, Hull has over 2,500 yards rushing with the Big Macs. Hull will be a four-year starter at fullback and linebacker. He was first-team all-state at linebacker a year ago.

Hans Lubich, Jefferson-Morgan
One of the area's better multi-sport athletes, Lubich – a PIAA high jump medalist – ranked among area scoring and rushing leader throughout the 2008 season and gave the Rockets a go-to player.

Kyle McWreath, Trinity
According to Hillers coach Ed Dalton, McWreath had a better sophomore year at linebacker than Andrew Sweat did. That's high praise. McWreath will start at linebacker and possibly fullback.

ShelDon Miller, Monessen

Miller will be a four-year starter as a defensive back and few opponents dare test him, as evidence by the one interception he had as a sophomore. Miller is being recruited by several MAC schools.

Bryan Thomas, Washington
One of two players on this list related to former Prexies great Travis Thomas, Bryan Thomas ranks as one of the hardest-working football players around. At 6-4, Thomas can play running back or tight end for Wash High and has offers from a couple MAC schools as a defensive player.

Ken Wilkins, Trinity
A Michigan recruit, Wilkins can dominate from the defensive end position as he finished last year with 20-plus tackles for loss. The 6-4, 245-pound cousin of Thomas, was a first-team all-state selection last year.

Honorable mention (don't be surprised to see these guys on the Elite 11 at year's end)
Dom Broglia (Canon-McMillan), Zach Barnes (Washington), Joe Havrilak, Hunter Landok (Trinity), Brad Opar (South Fayette), Trenton Bedillion, Logan McAnany, Derroick Whipkey (McGuffey), Austin Hancock, Brandon Hoffman (Peters Township), Tanner Garry, Corey Garry, Gary Kiefer (Fort Cherry), Bob Bracken (Ringgold), Zach Hooks (Charleroi), DeShan Brown, Tyler Miller (Beth-Center), Dylan Bongiorni (Burgettstown), Terrance Stepoli, Trae Cook (Monessen), Devante Brooks, D.J. Martinak (California).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Over, under or even

With the first day of football camps under way, what better time to take a quick look back at 2008 and a look ahead to the start of the 2009 regular season. At the Varsity Letters, that means taking a guess on the fortunes of local teams.

For each team, there's the 2008 record, whether it will win more, less or the same and a quick comment on the team.

Team 2008 2009 Comment
Avella 0-9, Even, Vs. Geibel in opener
Bentworth 3-7, Over, Team has a Rood attitude
Beth-Center 8-2, Even, Always tough
Burgettstown 4-6, Over, Playoff-caliber
California 4-6, Over, Expect a strong offense
Canon-McMillan 6-4, Over, Hinges on offensive line
Carmichaels 5-5, Under, Hit hard by graduation
Charleroi 4-5, Over, Could be surprise
Chartiers-Houston 6-4, Under, Hit hard by graduation
Fort Cherry 8-2, Under, Still playoff-caliber
Jefferson-Morgan 5-4, Over, Should return to playoffs
Mapletown 1-8, Over, 4-year starter at QB
McGuffey 6-4, Even, Nice group of RB
Monessen 7-4, Over, Expecting a playoff run
Peters Township 2-7, Over, Will be better on O
Ringgold 6-4, Under, One returning starter
South Fayette 3-6, Over, Took lumps last year
Trinity 5-5, Over, Hillers may take to air
Washington 1-8, Over, Must be stronger up front
Waynesburg 1-8, Over, New coach knows how to win
West Greene 0-9, Over, Also plays Geibel

Saturday, August 15, 2009

APB, Where are they now?

With the start of high school football camps hours away, the Varsity Letters felt the time was right to issue an All Points Bulletin for a former local football standout.

We're looking for former Mapletown alum Gerod Buckhalter.

In 2002 and 2003, Buckhalter put up numbers no receiver previously had for the Maples and, at 6-4, he received some interest from Division I schools. Mapletown football coach George Messich once called Buckhalter, "One of the best pure receivers I've seen in Class A football."

Buckhalter turned up as an assistant coach at Mapletown but we haven't heard his name mentioned in a while. Anyone with information regarding Buckhalter is urged to contact the Varsity Letters.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

High schooler leaves early to turn pro

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jeremy Tyler completed his jump from high school underclassman to pro basketball player on Wednesday when he signed a one-year, $140,000 contract with Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Premier League.
Tyler, 18, is the first American-born player to leave high school early to play basketball professionally overseas. The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Tyler announced in the spring that he was skipping his senior season at San Diego High because prep basketball had become boring.
“I think it’s a very good deal for Jeremy because it’s a good team, he’ll play, they speak English and he’ll learn there,” said Sonny Vaccaro, the former shoe company executive who is advising Tyler and his family. “The reason we did one year was because it will give Jeremy time to understand how hard it is to be a professional, then he’ll do whatever he wants to do next year.”
Vaccaro said Tyler had five other offers, including one from a team for more money, “but Jeremy, his family and I decided it was more important to have a chance of playing than making a couple extra dollars. If Jeremy is who he’s supposed to be, he’ll earn a lot of money in his lifetime.”
Tyler averaged 28.7 points during his junior season.
In early May, Tyler told The Associated Press that he was tired of facing triple-teams, being hacked and being limited to playing the middle when he felt he had much more to his game.
“I was the best player in San Diego this year and it was boring. Next year, it would be extremely boring,” Tyler said then. “I’d go into the game with no enthusiasm.”
Tyler is expected to return to the United States when he becomes eligible for the 2011 NBA draft.

Remembering Alex Loos

Five years ago today, Alexzandra Loos was killed when she was struck by a car while walking home from soccer practice. Her impact at Bentworth High School and beyond is felt to this day.

As a freshman, Loos was one of the WPIAL's premier distance runners, winning the Class AA 1,600 run and placing second in the 800. At states, she placed third and sixth in those respective events and became the first Bentworth athlete to medal at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

Loos never made it to her sophomore year. The 15-year-old died near Bentworth High School.

An ace student, Loos played on the boys soccer team at Bentworth and was involved with a long list of extracirricular activities. On top of that, she was a humble, polite person.

Loos' legacy lives on with the From Alex With Love Foundation.

To find out more about Loos, click the following link:

Toughest sports

While checking out's high school sports page, noticed a few stories on the toughest high school sports broken down into fall, winter and spring seasons. Thought it was interesting stuff and a few of the results may surprise you.

Here's the links:
Spring sports

Fall sports

Winter sports

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ex-coach faces new charge in player death

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury added a new charge Tuesday against a former Louisville high school football coach scheduled for trial this month in the death of a 15-year-old player who collapsed at practice.
Jason Stinson was indicted on a charge of first-degree wanton endangerment, commonwealth’s attorney’s office spokesman Steve Tedder said.
Stinson was charged in January with reckless homicide in the death last August of Pleasure Ridge Park sophomore Max Gilpin and has pleaded not guilty. Gilpin collapsed at practice and died three days later after his body temperature reached 107 degrees.
Stinson is scheduled for trial Aug. 31. His arraignment on the new charge is set for Monday, but Tedder said it may be held Friday, when another hearing in the case is set.
Tedder said it is not uncommon for a defendant to face different charges in a case and said prosecutors would proceed with both counts at trial. He declined to discuss the case specifically but said a defendant could be convicted of both counts.
Both charges carry sentences up to five years in prison.
Alex Dathorne, one of Stinson’s defense attorneys, did not immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press.
The hearing Friday will address prosecutors’ request that a school report on Gilpin’s death be barred from trial and defense attorneys’ request to bar statements from witnesses who say they heard Stinson deny players water on the day Gilpin collapsed.
Prosecutors say the school system report released earlier this month is “self serving and wholly inaccurate” because there are discrepancies between the school’s findings and the police findings. They say in some cases it misrepresents what players and coaches told police in the months after Gilpin’s death.
The school system’s report concluded that Stinson and his staff did not break any high school athletic rules, and found evidence the sophomore was ill with a headache and other symptoms before the practice.
The defense motion seeks to exclude witness statements that Stinson called a player a coward for not finishing the previous day’s conditioning drills. Defense attorneys will also ask Jefferson County Circuit Judge Susan Schultz Gibson to exclude testimony that Stinson stopped a small group of players from getting water after running drills and called them cowards.
Stinson’s attorneys say these alleged comments were not made to Gilpin and came after the player collapsed, making them irrelevant to the boy’s death.
A civil suit against Stinson and other school employees, brought by Gilpin’s parents, is scheduled for trial in 2010.
Stinson is still employed in a non-teaching position. He will remain reassigned pending the outcome of his criminal trial. Jefferson County School Superintendent Sheldon Berman has said if he’s cleared, he will eligible to apply for a coaching job again.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lapkowicz earns all-state honors

Carmichaels High School graduate Joby Lapkowicz earned a spot as one of three pitchers on the 2009 Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State Small School team.

As a senior, Lapkowicz compiled a 7-1 record with 117 strikeouts in 66 2.3 innings with a 0.84 ERA.

Lapkowicz was the only player from Washington-Greene to make the team.

Large school (Class AAAA-AAA)
Ben Rawding, Blackhawk P Sr.
Cameron Black, Penn Manor P Sr.
Mark Jones, Manheim Township P Sr.
Michael Tomko, Sharon C Sr.
Cody Dolan, Central Mountain 1B Jr.
Austin Wulf, Blackhawk 2B Sr.
Phil Bondi, Moon Area SS Sr.
Pat Kregeloh, Pleasant Valley 3B Jr.
Edwin Rohena, Frankford Sr. OF
Greg Weatherly, Blackhawk Jr. OF
Wander Nunez, Frankford Sr. OF
Addison Dunn, Warren Sr. DH

Small school (Class AA-A)
Joby Lapkowicz, Carmichaels P Sr.
Colin Kelly, Loyalsock P Sr.
Blaise Fernandez, Tulpehocken P Jr.
Christopher Miller, Serra Catholic C So.
Tyler Dawson, Union City 1B Sr.
Adam Wayman, Wilkes Barre-GAR IF Sr.
Caleb Erb, Brandywine Heights IF Sr.
Brad Goedeker, Monaca 3B Sr.
Chris Halcovage, Nativity BVM OF Sr.
Joel Nay, Pine Grove OF Sr.
Skyler Schultz, Monaca OF Sr.
Kory Foster, Towanda DH Sr.

Beanie Gordon, one of Wash High's finest

Thanks to several readers of the Observer-Reporter, my attention was drawn to a two-paragraph obituary that ran in Sunday's edition.

It read:
James E. Gordon

James E. “Beanie” Gordon, 71, of Michigan, passed away in St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital in Howell, Mich.

Arrangements are entrusted to Lantz Funeral Home Inc., 121 Ridge Avenue, Washington. A complete obituary will be published in a later edition.

According to readers, Gordon was one of Washington's High School best, if not THE best, basketball player in its history.

Gordon played at Wash High during the 1950s, an era when the Prexies produced some of the best basketball talent in the WPIAL and all of Western Pennsylvania. John Riser played three years at Pitt (1954-57) and scored ,1664 points with 775 rebounds. He averaged 14.9 points in his career. Jim Ferrell was another Wash High great from the era.

Gordon played guard for the Prexies and as a senior was a UPI honorable mention all-state selection along with Ferrell (Charleroi's Jim Chacko was a first-team pick). Gordon, a local legend in rec leagues, went on to Youngstown State. There, he played from 1957-59 on some of the Penguins' most successful teams.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Preseason top 25

It's the first of August, so it makes sense that ESPN already released its preseason Top 25 for high school football. Note the lack of teams from Western Pennsylvania, or the entire state for that matter.