Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Top 10 teams (Sept. 1999-present)

Blogger's note: This is the first is a series covering the best in local high school sports from Sept. 1999 to present. Today's topic – teams.

10. 2000 Burgettstown boys golf.
A dominant program at the turn of the decade, Burgettstown won four consecutive WPIAL Division II team championship from 1998-2001. For argument's sake, we'll pick the 2000 squad as the best from the past 10 years.

The Blue Devils crushed the competition at the team tournament, winning the championship by 19 strokes over Waynesburg. Burgettstown shot only five stroke off the total shot by Division I winner Upper St. Clair. In addition to that impressive showing, David Vallina and Sean Dove finished first and second at the WPIAL individual championship.

9. 2003 Washington girls basketball.
The No. 1 PIAA Class AA team in the preseason, big things were expected from the Washington Prexies and they came close to delivering.

Led by Class AA Player of the Year and future Seton Hall starter Amber Harris, Washington lost to Girard in the state semifinals by five points to finish 25-5. Wash High lost to Girard in four straight state playoffs.

8. 2004 Peters Township baseball.
They didn't win the WPIAL. They needed to win a third-place game to enter the state tournament. Once there, they nearly won a state title and beat Pine-Richland along with first-round draft pick Neal Walker in a memorable contest along the way.

The 2004 Indians were a senior-laden group led by Jim Gallagher, Anthony Rossi, Aaron Janusey and Sean Karpen. In total, six seniors went on to play college baseball, three at the Division-I level. The group reached the PIAA semifinals for a second straight year and made the first of two straight state championship games for PT.

7. 2005 Chartiers-Houston softball.
Top-to-bottom, the C-H softball teams of the last 1990s may have boasted more talent, but this group started a run of three straight WPIAL Class A championships and reached the state final.

Led by a fresh-faced freshman named Jaci Timko, the Bucs lost one regular season game to Trinity. They won a WPIAL championship by beating powerhouses Beth-Center and Leechburg. Then, the Bucs beat the Bulldogs again in the state semifinals before losing to Minersville in the championship.

6. 2008 Carmichaels baseball.
The 2003 Mikes scored more runs but this group gutted out wins and became the first sports team from Carmichaels since the softball team won it all in 1999 to play for a state championship. (Note to bloggers: the Mikes' 1999 PIAA Class AA title was won before my hire date. Thus they are ineligible for this list.)

Led by pitcher Joby Lapkowicz and Chuck Gasti, Carmichaels could win the close games and blow outs lesser opponents. The Mikes won their third WPIAL Class A championship for head coach Dave Bates and finished with a 23-2 record.

5. 2006 Peters Township girls tennis.
Alison Riske spent one year with the Peters Township girls tennis team and the Indians made it count. As Riske smashed her way to PIAA and WPIAL singles championships, she carried the Indians to the PIAA Class AAA team championship.

Now at Vanderbilt, Riske was considered the No. 2 college tennis recruit in the country. Another key member in the title run was Julie Stroyne, then a freshmen

4. 1999 Waynesburg football.
Many believe these Raiders were the state's best Class AA team in 1999 as Lee Fritz and Lanfer Simpson formed a powerful one-two punch. Waynesburg rolled through the WPIAL, beating Wash High in the championship at Three Rivers.

A tough defense, fueled by middle linebacker Greg Carson and a great defensive front, helped Waynesburg to a 13-0 record before the Raiders made a couple costly mistakes in the red zone during the PIAA semifinals versus Tyrone, which won the state title.

3. 2008 Canon-McMillan baseball.In winning the 2008 PIAA Class AAAA championship so convincingly, the Big Macs can stake a claim that they are the best baseball team from the Washington-Greene region to play since the state tournament was adopted. It's a claim that would be difficult to dispute.

C-M needed to win the WPIAL third-place game to enter the state tournament. The Big Macs did, by one-run, and slipped past Allderdice in the first round. From there, all-staters Matt Pierpont and Chris Dittmar led a great cast of supporting players as they routed their final three opponents.

2. 2007 Peters Township boys soccer.
Shane Pruitt's overtime goal sealed the third PIAA soccer championship in Peters Township history. It also capped the story of one of Washington County's greatest teams.

PT finished 24-2 and No. 12 in the country according to the NSCAA rankings. Pruitt, now at Bucknell, was the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year and an All-American.

1. 2001 Washington football.
The only team from Washington and Greene Counties to win a PIAA football championship and compile a 15-0 record, Wash High had it all - high-powered offense, grind-it-out offensive line, dominating pass rush, hard-hitting linebackers and a lock-down secondary.

The individual talent speaks for itself, so do the 612 points in 15 games - a number that ranked second in WPIAL history at the time.

Dan Mozes went to West Virginia, where he became a consensus All-America center. Travis Thomas started on offense and defense in addition to being a special teams captain at Notre Dame. Justin Gregula played baseball at Old Dominion. J.R. Ward, Tom Giles, Tom Sypula, Dale Calloway, Brian Skaggs and Vontey Johnson were just a few of the standout players.

This team, coached by Guy Montecalvo, literally had no weakness. The Prexies made solid teams like Waynesburg and Seton-La Salle pedestrian. They rolled through the WPIAL playoffs and rallied to beat Pen Argyl in the state championship.

Hats off to the Prexies. The best of the past 10 years.


Russ Moore said...


I thought you might be interested in knowing that they are going to recognize this team on October 16th at Raider Field. This team not only had great players, but built off of the team from the year before that also went undefeated in regular season. I would also like to say that a coach could not have had any better coaching staff than I did. Those were great times and great memories. Wish it could have kept going on.

Anonymous said...

Did you consider South Fayette and Monessen for this list?

mike_kovak said...


There was one caveat, however, with Monessen. There have been times we've covered the Greyhounds in the past and times we haven't. When the girls basketball team won the state title, we weren't covering them that year.

And, if memory serves correct, I covered the Monessen-Clairton WPIAL championship game (Charel Allen vs. Kamela Gissendanner) the year before.

The goal was to stick with teams we covered.

As for the Monessen state champs, it would be a definite top 5.

mike_kovak said...

Thanks for the heads up Russ. I've been thinking about a 10th anniversary story on the Raiders.

Anonymous said...


Monessen & Clairton did not compete for the 2003 WPIAL girls basketball championship - Serra won that year. The Clairton/Monessen game you refer to was probably 2001, when Charel was a Freshman and broke the record for points scored (39) in a game.

Don't forget that the girls also won the WPIAL championship in 2006 and that the boys won back-to-back championships in 2001 & 2002.

Are you saying that the OR didn't cover Monessen at all during those years. Whether the OR covered Monessen or not during that period, not including the Monessen girls AND boys basetball teams on the list of Top 10 area teams is ridiculous.

So what if the Wash Hi girls team was ranked #1 in the state preseason, they didn't deliver the goods.

mike_kovak said...

Didn't that Wash High girls team travel deeper into the state playoffs than the Monessen boys?

I do remember covering Monessen losing to West Middlesex at the CCBC Golden Dome pretty early in the state tournament.

Either way, the best thing about this list is it is subjective and I want to hear about other teams that weren't included. Thanks for the input.

Drew Denham said...

Although the 2008 Carmichaels team played for the state championship game they did not win. (If Joby played the would've won hands down.) Having watched this team close and played against the 2003 Carmichaels Baseball team I would definetly give the edge to that team. As a TEAM which this is the top 10 TEAMS they were way more solid 1-9 as almost everybody in the lineup was a tough out. They are way better defensively and offensely my vote goes to the 03 class over 08.

mike_kovak said...

Drew, I agree with you on one thing for sure. That 2003 team may have been the best 1-9 lineup I've seen a Class A team field.

It still amazes me what the Wagner kid from Bishop McCort was able to do to them in the first round of states.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! The raiders were bad A$$!! That Wash High squad from 2001 was just as bad. Great teams there.

Anonymous said...

What about Charels senior year when Monessen won State and W.P.I.A.L Titles. That was one of the best girl basketball teams I evar saw.

Mailman said...

I wish they would honor the '99 Waynesburg at the Brownsville/Waynesburg game at Week 9.

Drew Denham said...

The kid from Bishop McCourt was a stud and in baseball once pitcher can dominate a game that team was 9-0 with him on the mound and a below .500 team without him on the mound teams tend to hit and play better defensively with their ace on the mound. They ran into a buzzsaw with that kid but still the best team around here on a diamond I faced except maybe our legion team that summer. ha

Mailman said...

Alison Riske decided to turn pro, rather than head to Vanderbilt.

Anonymous said...


FYI...CM State Championship baseball team finished the season ranked #22 in the country as determined by Maxprep