Thursday, August 19, 2010

Loud noises

High school football press boxes are a great place for conversation - and a laugh-out loud time when you're at Burgettstown - and hypothetical questions.

I count myself as a rabid fan of the hypothetical.

Probably the best hypothetical question someone posed to me occurred during a WPIAL soccer playoff doubleheader a couple years ago at Peters Township High School.

The question was, "If you had to pick a coach, any sport, to win one game, who would you pick?"

Tough one, right?

Of course, the question was meant to be narrowed to coaches within the coverage area of the Observer-Reporter. That automatically eliminated candidates such as Jim Render, Tim McConnell and Mike Zmijanac. I couldn't select Bill Palermo or Danny Holzer or John Miller.
No problem, the O-R coverage area is filled with excellent coaches.

Ron Faust, Guy Montecalvo and Ed Woods came to mind. So did Tricia Alderson, Levi Bristor and Russ Moore.

And they weren't the only ones.

Two coaches continually at the top of my thought process were Peters Township boys soccer coach Bob Dyer and Carmichaels baseball coach Dave Bates. Both rank right up there with the area's best.

Bates left the coaching ranks earlier this week when he was hired as the principal at Jefferson-Morgan High School.

He'll be sorely missed at Carmichaels, by the local baseball coaching fraternity and by the media. Bates, one of the funniest guys I've met in this business, was truly one of high school sports' good guys.

Long-time Carmichaels athletic director John Krajnak may miss Bates more than anyone. When Krajnak needed someone to run the PA for a junior high football game, Bates – the football team's statistician for years – volunteered.

"It might take eight guys to replace him," Krajnak said. "Even with everything he had outside of Carmichaels, he was the first to offer to help for everything."

Even when traveling back from a WPIAL playoff loss at Rochester.

Krajnak, who's made some excellent hires in his lengthy tenure as Carmichaels' athletic director, went on to tell a story of coming back from Rochester on a cold Friday night well past midnight. Krajnak was driving, while Bates and two other passengers were in the car. Rolling along I-79 South, they passed a stranded vehicle with a couple in need of help.

As the Carmichaels contingent passed, Bates turned to Krajnak and said they had to go back and help. Krajnak turned around and found out the car had run out of gas. So they get in Krajnak's car - now there's six inside - and head to Waynesburg. Bates runs inside a gas station, buys a gallon jug of windshield washer fluid, empties that before he fills it with gas.

They take the couple back to the car and eventually get home after 2:30 a.m.
Bates probably watched some instructional baseball video afterward. His teams at Carmichaels weren't only good, they were always fundamentally sound and mentally prepared.

* Until proven otherwise, it's impossible to pick against Clairton and Rochester in WPIAL Class A, but the feeling here is that Beth-Center is in the beginning stages of a special season.

The Bulldogs have never been flashy, even when they reached the WPIAL semifinals in 2006, but are as consistently solid as any team in this area of District 7. B-C will be solid again in 2010 and have to be the favorite to win the Tri-County South Conference.

Junior quarterback Sal Faieta is a player to watch, while linebacker Jake Sofran is the latest in a long line of outstanding middle linebackers at Beth-Center. DeShan Brown brings an element of speed to the toughness.

B-C is undersized up front but senior running back Jeff Tarley, who did not play last year, us back and at 255, might be the most difficult backfield matchup in the classification.

* Charleroi running back Quentin Briggs has some strong bloodlines. The junior, who has already rushed for more than 2,000 yards in his varsity career, is a cousin of Cougars all-time great Darrell Harding and future Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.

* As a freshman, Washington's Daron Whitaker rushed for 371 yards and averaged 5.23 yards per carry. At 5-5, Whitaker can hide behind an offensive lineman, wait for a hole to develop and he has the speed to bust big plays.

Does the description sound familiar.

Whitaker, who figures to play a larger role in the offense this season, bares some similarities to Pitt's Dion Lewis. Washington head coach Mike Bosnic offered another comparison.

"He's like a high school version of Barry Sanders," Bosnic said.


KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

I had Chicken Zmijanac for dinner Saturday.

mike_kovak said...