Tuesday, November 17, 2009
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?