Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Top 10 Moments (Sept. 1999 to present)
Blogger's note: This is the second in a series covering the last 10 years of local high school sports. Today's topic – best moments.
10. Zach Jeney's home run lifts California to WPIAL Class A title
Jeney's arm carried Cal through the playoffs. His bat won the Trojans' third WPIAL baseball title. Jeney blasted a one-out, two-run home run over the centerfield fence at Consol Energy Park in the top of the seventh inning to give Cal a 5-4 lead. Jeney then struck out two in the bottom of the seventh to beat Geibel.
9. Jordan Jankowski goes yard – four times
Jankowski won two WPIAL Class AAAA championships at Peters Township and graduated as the district's all-time home run hitter. What he did on a chilly April afternoon in 2007 against Mt. Lebanon may not be topped any time soon. Jankowski went 5-for-5 with four home runs and eight RBI.
8. Christian Goetz wins WPIAL in dramatic fashion
After 18 holes, Burgettstown's Goetz was tied with three others, including John Popeck (then of Trinity), for first place at the 2005 WPIAL Boys Golf Individual Championship at Sewickley Heights Country Club. On the second playoff hole, Goetz drained a 65-foot chip to win the tournament. He went on to win a share of the PIAA title.
7. Trinity upsets Penn Hills
Mike Wise's 25-yard field goal with 7.5 seconds remaining lifted 15th-seeded Trinity over Penn Hills in the first round of the 2005 WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. It remains one of the biggest upsets since the WPIAL expanded to a 16-team playoff format. Wise also kicked a 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and Ben Jennings for 264 yards and two scores.
6. Ringgold brings back its legends
Ringgold opened the 2006 season in style. First, the school honored its inaugural Hall of Fame class. The inductees were Joe Montana, Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Sr. and Fred Cox. Only Musial was unable to attend. In addition, the football field was renamed Joe Montana Stadium for the man many believe to be the best quarterback in NFL history.
5. Timko sisters beat the boys
Karli Timko and Tanya Timko won PIAA and WPIAL Class AA doubles championships while representing the Chartiers-Houston girls tennis team. When that team folded before the 2008 school year, the Timkos opted to join the boys team. Both proved to be dominant singles players and, when it came time for postseason doubles play, they drew considerable attention.
The Timko sisters rolled through the WPIAL Class AA boys bracket, becoming the first girls to win the District 7 boys doubles title on May 1, 2009. Their quest to become state champions ended in the first round.
4. Jim Gallagher steals spotlight
Fans flocked to Consol Energy Park on June 7, 2004 to watch Pine-Richland's Neil Walker play baseball on the day the Pittsburgh Pirates made him the 11th overall selection in the Major League Baseball Draft. In this PIAA Class AAA first-round game, Walker belted a home run that may still be the longest hit at the Wild Things' ballpark.
Gallagher, however, tied the game in the seventh with a dramatic solo home run before his eighth-inning single lifted the Indians to an 8-6 win. PT went on to play for the state title.
3. Mike Vernillo sets WPIAL rushing record
Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo found a hole in the middle of the Cornell defense and, seven yards later, entered the WPIAL record books. The culmination of countless 20, 40, 60 and 80-yard runs, Vernillo's seven-yard run broke the WPIAL record of 6,512 set by Penn-Trafford's Matt Gavrish in 1997.
Vernillo, a three-time Observer-Reporter Offensive Player of the Year, finished his playing days at Fort Cherry (1996-99) with 7,646 yards. It's a record than may never be broken.
2. Retirement talk sparks Wash High comeback
Frustrated with Washington's play during the first half of its 2001 PIAA Class AA championship versus Pen Argyl, head coach Guy Montecalvo ran out of things to yell about. So, he told the Prexies he was retiring after the game. It was so convincing, Montecalvo's assistants believed him until he took them aside.
Pen Argyl led 12-6 at halftime thanks to three first-half turnovers. Washington won, 19-12, after J.R. Ward ran behind Dan Mozes on a fourth-and-goal at the 1 with 6:33 remaining and Darnell Barnes' second interception secured the win.
1. Shane Pruitt's golden goal wins state championship
It's a moment any athlete in any sports craves – the opportunity to win the big game in a clutch situation. For Peters Township's Shane Pruitt, the dream became reality at the 2007 PIAA Class AAA boys soccer championship.
National power Downingtown West led 1-0 with nine minutes remaining when the Indians' Mark Majoras tied the championship off a Nick Wilcox assist. With 6:18 remaining in overtime, another Wilcox pass found Pruitt. The physically dominating Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year, sprinted past the defender marking him and his left-footed shot went inside the far post.
Pruitt's goal was his sixth of the state playoffs, an extraordinary number considering the competition. It also provided PT its third state soccer championship.