Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Top 10 Male Athletes (Sept. 1999 to present)
Blogger's note: This is the final installment of the 10th anniversary series, commemorating the best of local high school sports in the past 10 years. Today's topic - top male athletes.
10. Joby Lapkowicz, Carmichaels
Lapkowicz accomplished so many things at Carmichaels, Mikes fans believed he could complete a pass to himself or catch one of his 88-90 mph fastballs at home plate. Lapkowicz was Carmichaels' primary offensive threat in football, a defensive-minded guard who could put up points in basketball and one of the best pitchers the area has seen in years. He lost two games on the mound in four years.
9. Nick Wilcox, Peters Township
Wilcox offered glimpses of greatness during his junior year. He assisted on both goals in Peters Township's state soccer championship and averaged nearly 18 ppg in basketball. His senior year goes down in the record books. Wilcox earned all-state honors in soccer and basketball, in addition to winning WPIAL championships in both and making another state title appearance in soccer.
8. Robert Heller, Ringgold
Heller set a NCAA single-season rushing record for freshman at Waynesburg two years ago. Many people forget that he was a standout in three other sports at Ringgold. In basketball, Heller's determination turned him into a reliable scorer. In his only year running track, Heller qualified for the PIAA championships. In baseball, Heller was one of the top leadoff batters in the WPIAL.
7. Mike Hull, Canon-McMillan
Consider Hull's ranking incomplete as he has his senior year to finish. The Penn State recruit's football exploits are stuff of legend in Canonsburg, as is his single-season rushing record and 300-plus tackles. As a sophomore, Hull placed at the PIAA wrestling meet and, that year, batted leadoff for the Big Macs state championship baseball team.
6. Lanfer Simpson, Waynesburg
Every time Simpson carried the football for Waynesburg, a group of die-hard fans yelled, "He's too big." Simpson was also too good. Quick, nimble and agile for his size, Simpson rushed for more than 4,000 yards and was a two-time all-state linebacker in high school. He was a WPIAL wrestling champion and, for good measure, Simpson placed second in the shot put at the state meet his senior year.
5. Andrew Sweat, Trinity
Like Heller, people tend to think of Sweat strictly from a football perspective. That's slighting the man selected as the 2007 O-R Boys Athlete of the Year. Sure, he's one of the best high school linebackers Washington County has seen during the decade, but his skill set in basketball was far better than he receives credit for and his big bat was a big reason Trinity made the state playoffs that year. Missing that bat (Sweat graduated early) might have kept them from winning the 2008 state title.
4. Lee Fritz, Waynesburg
Arguably the most clutch athlete to come through the area the past decade, Fritz found ways to win more big games over a three-year stretch than some high schools have ever won. The quarterback and safety on three of the greatest football teams in Waynesburg history - including the 1999 WPIAL championship quad - Fritz became the first district player to run and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. His bat and pitching arm also got Waynesburg to one PIAA championship game and a WPIAL championship.
3. Coleman Scott, Waynesburg
Will Scott be the last three-time PIAA champion to wrestle in these parts? Chances are he's not but until someone else comes along, the guess here is my esteemed colleague Joe Tuscano (operator of the Mat Matters blog) would name Scott the "Wrestler of the Decade." Maybe wrestling fans should encourage him to do one. (After all, he needs something to do). Scott's wrestling abilities make him a shoo-in for this list but what ranks him so high is that he was also an outstanding all-section soccer player.
2. Dan Mozes, Washington
Recently named by the Varsity Letters as the best local football player of the past 10 years, readers don't likely need reminded of Mozes' havoc-wreaking ways on the football field. I can still see him spending most of the 2001 game versus Waynesburg chasing the Raiders' quarterback everywhere. Mozes also played basketball on some excellent Prexies teams in a role similar to what Bryan Thomas provided during the 2008-09 season. In the spring, Mozes played first base and annually ranked among the top offensive producers in the WPIAL for Wash High's baseball team.
1. Jim Gallagher, Peters Township
Speaking of baseball, the area has not seen a better player the past decade than Peters Township's Jim Gallagher, who was inexplicably not selected as the O-R Boys Athlete of the Year in 2004 by the sports staff (he got my vote). A top-notch defensive outfielder, Gallagher hit with the best of them and did it in clutch situations, like the PIAA playoffs. A dual-threat quarterback, Gallagher had scholarship offers from as far away as Stanford.