Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday night thoughts, Week 9

In Monday's edition of the Observer-Reporter, I'll offer my brackets for the upcoming WPIAL playoffs. For discussion purposes and for a small tease of the story, here's my Class A breakdown:

1 Clairton (9-0) vs. 16 Carmichaels (6-3);
2 Rochester (9-0) vs. 15 California (6-3);
3 Avonworth (8-1) vs. 14 Brentwood (7-2);
4 Springdale (8-1) vs. 13 Western Beaver (6-3);
5 Sto-Rox (7-2) vs. 12 North Catholic (6-3);
6 Monessen (8-1) vs. 11 Cornell (7-2);
7 Beth-Center (7-2) vs. 10 Chartiers-Houston (7-2);
8 Fort Cherry (5-4) vs. 9 Bishop Canevin (8-1).

* If the Bishop Canevin at Fort Cherry matchup happens (and I don't see any scenario where it doesn't), the Rangers need to find way to shore up the defensive backfield, even if it's a small tightening.

Bishop Canevin has a strong runner in Chris Walko but it's no secret that Fort Cherry is vulnerable to big pass plays. The last four times I've covered the Rangers the past two seasons, the opponent has attacked the secondary.

Chartiers-Houston did it early Friday night, but the Rangers had the talent to win in a shootout. It also helped that Tanner Garry picked off two passes and Tyreke Brown had another second-half interception.

Those interceptions can partly be attributed to Fort Cherry's decision to begin blitzing Bucs' quarterback Daniel Lis, who ran wild for most of three quarters.

* Speaking of Lis, the Bucs quarterback is an impressive football player and I thought he was the best player on the field at Jim Garry Stadium.

Just not by much.

Lis and Garry engaged in an exciting quarterback dual that resulted in a wild, up-and-down game where Fort Cherry rallied to score the final three touchdowns for a 48-40 victory.

The Rangers needed to win by five points to clinch second place.

Lis and Garry each rushed for 100-plus yards and passed for nearly 200. Lis tossed four touchdown passes - three to D.J. Denny - and Garry shrugged off a slow start passing for two key late touchdowns.

Garry's 56-yard touchdown pass to Nate Bellhy late in the third quarter put the Rangers ahead 41-40. For those who watched the play, about 15 other things could have happened before Garry spotted Bellhy uncovered 40 yards downfield.

Garry eluded the Bucs defense and scrambled toward the Rangers sideline before reversing directions and heading back toward the middle of the field. By that point, Bellhy was left uncovered and, somehow, Garry spotted him.

A fantastic play.

Until someone can actually hang with Clairton, the Bears are undoubtedly the favorite in the Black Hills Conference in 2011 but the play of Lis and Garry are encouraging signs for their respective teams.

* Chartiers-Houston finished the regular season 7-2 with two road losses and only four seniors.

* With four multi-year starters along the offensive line, Peters Township needed that unit to respond with a good game at Canon-McMillan.

They sure did.

Tackles Jon Allen and Nevin Hagman, guards Tyler Clark and Clayton Evans, center Boyd Jones and tight end Will McClure paved the way for Andrew Erenberg and Austin Hancock as the Indians rushed for 248 yards in a must-win over Canon-McMillan.

Erenberg rushed for 125 yards and scored four first-half touchdowns.

With the continued trend toward passing offenses at the high school level, it's good to see a team identify a strength, use the strength and keep the game-plan simple.

Sure, it's nice to have 1,000-yard passers to go with 1,000-yard rushers but there's still no easier way to beat a football team that to run the football effectively and repeatedly.

* Given the personnel, Avella believed its only chances for offensive success this season came throwing the football and quarterback Cameron Geresti along with freshman Kolton Kobrys quietly put together strong seasons.

Geresti passed for approximately 1,500 yards, which has to be a single-season school record, and Kobrys finished with 50-pus catches.

* Beth-Center is obviously a different football team when Jeff Tarley is healthy but the player that intrigues me is Deshan Brown.

Brown occasionally lines up in the backfield and sometime at receiver. When he touches the football, Brown often moves the first-down chains as his four catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns against Jefferson-Morgan indicates.

* Ringgold completed its undefeated regular season with a 40-7 win at Uniontown. Derrick Fiore topped 1,100 yards for the season and the Rams got their usual contributions from their large cast of characters.

Uniontown may not have a good record but this counts as an impressive win for the Rams.

Following last week's big win against Franklin Regional, Ringgold was primed for a letdown. The coaching staff ensured that wouldn't happen. In Matt Humbert's Gatorade-drenched postgame speech to his players, he congratulated them on the performance against Franklin Regional but his main message concerned Uniontown.

* The Varsity Letters would like to extend a sarcastic "Thank you" to the Charleroi football Team for not reporting any of its games to the Observer-Reporter this year. It continues to fathom me how teams (and Charleroi football isn't the only one) can't be bothered to spend five minutes calling in results from a game to earn a little extra recognition for their student-athletes.

Maybe I'll release a list of teams that never call in results someday. Then, readers may have an idea of why certain schools/teams rarely have Athletes of the Week, Players of the Week or feature stories done. Calling in results is essential to our coverage.

It's also tempting to relay a story of what recently happened to one of our stringers (a person hired by the paper to cover an event) at a local football game when he was confronted and accosted by a parent demanding coverage for his/her child in an inappropriate manner.

Note to parents, if you put reporters in a situation where we feel it is unsafe to cover a game at your place, we will be reluctant to come.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Ain't no flags"

Try and imagine Bob Gregg and Mark Uriah of WJPA with a similar call to these.

WPIAL football playoff picture

Class AAAA
Big East Conference – 1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (9-0), 2. Woodland Hills (6-3), 3. Penn Hills (5-4), 4. Plum (6-3)
Foothills Conference – 1. McKeesport (8-1), 2. Gateway (5-4), 3. Norwin (5-4), 4. Penn-Trafford (4-5)
Great Southern Conference – 1. Mt. Lebanon (9-0), 2. Upper St. Clair (7-2), 3. Peters Township (5-4), 4. Bethel Park (4-5)
Northern Seven Conference – 1. North Hills (8-1), 2. North Allegheny (8-1), 3. Erie McDowell (7-2), 4. Pine-Richland (3-6)

Class AAA
Big Eight Conference – 1. Thomas Jefferson (8-1), 2. Belle Vernon (5-4), 3. Trinity (6-3), 4. West Mifflin (4-5)
Greater Allegheny Conference – 1. Knoch (8-0) and Mars (7-1) play for title Saturday night, 3. Indiana (7-2), 4. Highlands (5-4)
Keystone Conference – 1. Ringgold (9-0), 2. Franklin Regional (7-2), 3. Greensburg-Salem (7-2), 4. Hollidaysburg (6-3)
Parkway Conference – 1. Montour (8-0), 2. West Allegheny (6-3), 3. Hopewell (5-4), 4. Central Valley (6-3)

Class AA
Allegheny Conference – 1. Ford City (9-0), 2. Deer Lakes (7-2), 3. Freeport (6-3), 4. Shady Side Academy (5-4)
Century Conference – 1. South Fayette (9-0), 2. Seton-La Salle (8-1), 3. Steel Valley (7-2), 4. Keystone Oaks (6-3)
Interstate Conference – 1. Greensburg Central Catholic (9-0), 2. Jeannette (7-2), 3. Mt. Pleasant (6-3), 4. East Allegheny (5-4)
Midwestern Conference – 1. Aliquippa (9-0), 2. Beaver Falls (8-1), 3. Beaver (7-2), 4. Ellwood City (6-3)

Class A
Big Seven Conference – 1. Rochester (9-0), 2. Sto-Rox (7-2), 3. Cornell (7-2), 4. Western Beaver (5-3)
Black Hills Conference – 1. Clairton (9-0), 2. Fort Cherry (5-4), 3. Chartiers-Houston (7-2), 4. Brentwood (7-2)
Eastern Conference – 1. Avonworth (8-1), 2. Springdale (8-1), 3. Bishop Canevin (8-1), 4. North Catholic (6-3)
Tri-County South Conference – 1. Monessen (8-1), 2. Beth-Center (7-2), 3. California (6-3), 4. Carmichaels (6-3)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kansas high school player dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A northeast Kansas high school senior who died Friday after collapsing during a football game had sustained a concussion during a recent football game, his father said.
Nathan Stiles, 17, a linebacker for Spring Hill, Kan., left the game against Osawatomie, Kan., before half time Thursday evening. He collapsed on the sidelines, and was flown to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead early Friday. A cause of death was not immediately released.
Ron Stiles, Nathan Stiles’ father, said he was not certain what caused his son’s death. But he said Nathan had sustained a concussion in the school’s homecoming game earlier this month.
“He had a concussion several weeks ago from football, from that homecoming game,” Ron Stiles said. “He had the green light to play, and I don’t know exactly what all has happened there. The problem is that he definitely had the trauma.”
Stiles said “there wasn’t any type of malicious hit” during the game Thursday.
“There was certainly nothing that was done that was bad by any part of any player. I certainly don’t want that to be thought,” he said. “The last thing I thought we’d be doing is losing my son that night.”

Also receiving votes

When it comes to leading scorers in local football, running backs have always dominated the standings.

A quick look back at some of the annual scoring leaders from the Observer-Reporter includes past winners such as Trinity's Mike Yancich (2007), Carmichaels' Bobby Hathaway (2002), Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo (1997, 1998, 1999), Waynesburg's Josh Koshcheck (1996), Mapletown's Derek Bochna (1988), Wash High's Brian Davis (1983, 1984), Beth-Center's Chuck Colborn (1976) and Carmichaels' John Menhart (1973).

The 2010 season offers a unique situation, and a first.

With one week left in the regular season, California receiver Dakota Conway is the area's leading scorer with 86 points. Thirteen of Conway's touchdowns have been receptions from his brother, T.D. Conway.

Playoff-bound California plays at least two more games, which gives Conway a couple opportunities to extend his margin. Peters Township junior running back Andrew Erenberg ranks second locally with 84 points, while South Fayette senior tailback Jeff Davis (74 points) and Ringgold senior Derrick Fiore (72 points) lurk on teams capable of making extended postseason runs.

Should Conway hold on to the lead, he'd become the first receiver to lead the area in scoring.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Games of the Week, Week 9

Conference titles are up for grabs throughout the WPIAL. OK, throughout most of the WPIAL. In these parts, titles are locked up and only Peters Township and Carmichaels are playing for playoff spots.

It takes a little luster off the final week of the regular season but there are a couple key games worth examining.

Chartiers-Houston at Fort Cherry
Chartiers-Houston hasn't been 7-1 since 2000, and that's the last time the Bucs won a playoff game. That year, C-H knocked off Clairton, 14-7, in the first round at home before taking eventual state champion Rochester to the limit in a 7-3 loss. With a win, C-H clinches second place in the Black Hills conference and a home playoff game.

Fort Cherry, already assured a playoff berth, can clinch second place with a win of five points or more. A loss makes the Rangers the fourth-place team in the conference and a possible candidate to play Avonworth or Rochester in the first round. The Rangers lost to the Rams in Week 2.

There's talents players for both teams but one facet that has not been discussed and could factor into the final score is Fort Cherry's pass defense. The Rangers have been probe to big passing plays throughout the year. Chartiers-Houston prefers to run but, given the matchup, receiver D.J. Denny could be a focal point of the game plan.

Peters Township at Canon-McMillan
Should Peters Township beat Canon-McMillan by nine points or more, the Indians erase a couple shaky weeks and qualify for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs for the first time. Peters Township hasn't been in the playoffs since 2003, the longest streak of any school in Washington County except Avella.

Canon-McMillan would relish ruining PT's season. To do so, the Big Macs are going to need some big plays from the run game and the defense must be better at stopping the run. Andrew Erenberg could be in line for a big game.

Jefferson-Morgan at Beth-Center
The game has no impact on the Tri-County South Standings. Beth-Center locked up second place and a home game last week. Jefferson-Morgan is out of the postseason picture. These two rivals, however, are intertwined. Not only are they neighboring districts, they run similar systems on both sides of the football. Why? Because head coaches Jan Haiden and Ed Woods both played at Beth-Center and were tutored by legendary coaches Bill Connors and Don Bartolomucci.

How close are Woods and Haiden? When Woods fell off the roof of his house Saturday and sustained broken ribs, he called Haiden to come help him. Scott Faieta and Royce Sofran will assume extra coaching duties in Woods' absence.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Week 9 picks

After a string of successful weeks, Kovak's fearless prognostications were humbled with a 4-2 record in Week 8 to make the overall record 36-12, a .750 win percentage.

The final week of the regular season is a big one for many teams. There's a lot of games to pick from, but here is the selected six pack.

Peters Township (4-4) at Canon-McMillan (1-7)
Peters Township opened the Great Southern Conference season with a hard-fought win against Bethel Park. Since then, the Indians have failed to win a game and are in danger of missing the playoffs once again. Considering how many seniors Peters Township returned, that would go down as a serious disappointment.

Canon-McMillan is near the completion of a retooling phase as first-year head coach Tom Sohyda guided an inexperienced group under a new system. The record doesn't show it but the Big Macs are playing better football these days and have a pair of playmakers in Alec Schram and Alex Adams who are capable of breaking through the PT defense.

Peters Township needs to win by nine points to ensure a WPIAL playoffs berth, the team's first at the Class AAA level. The pick says the Indians will need some outside help. Peters Township 28-20.

McKeesport (7-1) at Gateway (5-3)
Only North Allegheny has allowed fewer points in Class AAAA than McKeesport, The dominant Tigers' defense has allowed 55 on the year, 28 came against Penn-Trafford. Gateway doesn't stop opponents like McKeesport but the Gators sure do score more often. Gateway, 17-7.

Upper St. Clair (7-1) at Mt. Lebanon (8-0)
Another border clash in the Great Southern Conference with the victor claiming the coveted crown. The Panthers, unbeaten on the road, shrugged off a shaky offensive performance two weeks ago against Canon-McMillan by putting up 44 on Bethel Park. Mt. Lebanon has rarely looked awe-inspiring but the Blue Devils keep winning. They find a way to win another one. Mt. Lebanon, 22-14.

Hopewell (4-4) at West Allegheny (6-2)
Thursday's game for FSN offers an intriguing showcase. First, there's Hopewell and junior sensation Rushel Shell, who is on pace to break the WPIAL all-time rushing record set by Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo. And Shell has been beyond sensational the past three weeks as Hopewell got back into the WPIAL Class AAA playoff picture. West Allegheny, which has been without Wisconsin recruit Mike Caputo since the first half of the first game, continues its workmanlike pace. West Allegheny, 38-26.

Jeannette (7-1) at Greensburg Central Catholic (8-0)
Let's see … Greensburg Central Catholic is the defending WPIAL Class AA champion and the Centurions went to the PIAA title game in 2009. Now, they sit atop the Interstate Conference with an undefeated record and people are doubting them. Well, it's because narrow wins over Mt. Pleasant, Mohawk and East Allegheny have not inspired believers. Jeannette has been in one close game, and the Jayhawks lost that one to Laurel. Maybe the Interstate isn't as sturdy as its reputation suggests. GCC, 17-14.

Chartiers-Houston (7-1) at Fort Cherry (4-4)

The youthful Bucs haven't been 7-1 since 2000, when they beat Clairton in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs before giving eventual state champion Rochester its toughest game in a 7-3 loss in the quarterfinals. These Bucs are the surprise of Class A at this point.

Fort Cherry can finish anywhere from second to fourth in the conference and the Rangers may have played their best game of the season last week in a 42-7 loss at Clairton. Finishing fourth means a likely first-round game at Rochester. C-H can finish fourth if it loses a complicated three-way coin flip with FC and Brentwood. Fort Cherry has more at stake. Fort Cherry, 28-13.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week in Review, Week 8

Team of the Week – Ringgold
Ringgold went undefeated through the season's first seven weeks but questions concerning the Rams lingered. Was Ringgold legit? Could Ringgold's fast start be attributed to the schedule? Was the defense capable of stopping a big-play back? Would the big-play offense continue to produce?

The answers to all questions are "Yes" after Ringgold's 24-13 victory over Franklin Regional.

The Rams are 8-0 for the first time and claimed the Keystone Conference championship with their impressive performance. Ringgold popped big plays, got a kickoff return for a touchdown, created turnovers on defense and stuffed Franklin Regional's running game.

Runner-up – South Fayette

Starting 11
Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette
Dakota Conway, California
Keith Cox, McGuffey
Mykal Dorsey, Chartiers-Houston
Derrick Fiore, Ringgold
Corey Garry, Fort Cherry
Austin Hancock, Peters Township
Quad Law, Ringgold
Kyle McWreath, Trinity
Jake Sofran, Beth-Center
Jordan Thomas, Washington
First sub
Brady Kunsa, Monessen

Game of the Week – South Fayette 42, Seton-La Salle 35
Two undefeated teams. A Thursday night platform with the FSN cameras there to televise the game on tape delay. This contest lived up to the hype, and then some.

Each offense made big play after big play. Receivers cut through defenses. Running backs Kevin Hart and Jeff Davis sliced through running lanes. Defenses gasped and often looked helpless in stopping the opponent.

At the end of this marathon, South Fayette wrapped up a second consecutive Century Conference championship but the loss of offensive tackle/defensive end Nolan Spicer (left knee injury), most likely for the rest of the season, tempered the celebration.

Weird, wild stuff – With two interceptions against Franklin Regional, Ringgold defensive backs Niko McPherson has seven on the season. … Mt. Lebanon's Luke Hagy has six touchdowns the past two years against Peters Township. … Winning teams from the Observer-Reporter coverage area averaged 42.2 points per game. ... A total of seven games were competed with the 35-point mercy rule in effect.

Patriot-News Pennsylvania football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, Oc. 19, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by the school’s record and last week’s ranking. NR means not ranked. Honorable mention teams listed alphabetically. (P-PIAA champion.)

Rec Pvs
1. Ridley (1) 8-0 1
2. La Salle College HS(P) (12) 7-1 2
3. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 8-0 3
4. North Allegheny (7) 8-0 4
5. Cumberland Valley (3) 7-1 5
6. North Penn (1) 7-1 6
7. Downingtown East (1) 8-0 7
8. Council Rock South (1) 8-0 8
9. Wilson (3) 8-0 9
10. Mount Lebanon (7) 8-0 10
Teams to watch
Easton (11) 7-1, Harrisburg (3) 7-1, McDowell (10) 6-2, Neshaminy (1) 7-1, North Hills (7) 7-1, Upper St.Clair (7) 7-1, Whitehall (11) 7-1.

Rec Pvs
1. Allentown C.C. (11) 8-0 1
2. Archbishop Wood (12) 8-0 3
3. Thomas Jefferson (7) 7-1 2
4. Montour (7) 8-0 4
5. Cardinal OHara (12) 8-0 5
6. Abington Heights (2) 8-0 6
7. West Allegheny (7) 6-2 7
8. Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 8-0 8
9. Clearfield (9) 8-0 9
10. Ringgold (7) 8-0 NR
Teams to watch
Bishop McDevitt (3) 6-2, Dallas (2) 8-0, Greencastle-Antrim (3) 8-0, Greensburg Salem (7) 7-1, Grove City (10) 8-0, Knoch (7) 8-0, Pottsville (11) 7-1, Upper Moreland (1) 7-1.

Rec Pvs
1. Lancaster Catholic(P) (3) 8-0 1
2. Aliquippa (7) 8-0 2
3. Greensburg C.C. (7) 8-0 3
4. North Schuylkill (11) 8-0 4
5. South Fayette (7) 8-0 5
6. West Catholic (12) 6-2 6
7. Forest Hills (6) 8-0 7
8. Tyrone (6) 8-0 8
9. Northern Lehigh (11) 8-0 9
10. Seton-LaSalle (7) 7-1 10
Teams to watch
Beaver Falls (7) 7-1, Bloomsburg (4) 7-1, Danville (4) 8-0, General McLane (10), 7-1, Jeannette (7) 7-1, Lewisburg (4) 8-0, Littlestown (3) 8-0, Steel Valley (7) 6-2, Trinity (3) 7-1.

Rec Pvs
1. Clairton(P) (7) 8-0 1
2. Rochester (7) 8-0 2
3. Farrell (10) 8-0 3
4. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 8-0 4
5. Riverside (2) 8-0 5
6. Southern Columbia (4) 6-2 6
7. Sharpsville (10) 7-1 7
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 7-1 8
9. Avonworth (7) 7-1 9
10. Line Mountain (4) 7-1 10
Teams to watch
Beth-Center (7) 6-2, Juniata Valley (6) 7-1, Monessen (7) 7-1, North Catholic (7) 6-2, Penns Manor (6) 7-0, Springdale (7) 7-1, Sto-Rox (7) 6-2.

(P)-PIAA champion. Number in parentheses is PIAA district.

Football coach injured in fall

Beth-Center football coach Ed Woods suffered multiple injuries Saturday after falling from the roof of his home.

Woods has five broken ribs and a collapsed lung from the fall and was flown by helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he remains. He is not expected to be on the sidelines when Beth-Center plays rival Jefferson-Morgan in its season finale.

The Bulldogs, 6-2 overall and 6-1 in the Tri-County South Conference, have clinched a WPIAL Class A playoff berth and will host a first-round playoff game next week.

Head coaching duties at practice and for the Jefferson-Morgan game have been split between offensive coordinator Royce Sofran and defensive coordinator Scott Faieta.

For more information, read Wednesday's Observer-Reporter.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Observer-Reporter WPIAL football rankings

Class AAAA
1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 8-0 W, Altoona 38-10
2. North Allegheny 8-0 W, Shaler 45-0
3. Mt. Lebanon 8-0 W, Peters Township 27-15
4. McKeesport 7-1 W, Hempfield 30-7
5. Upper St. Clair 7-1 W, Bethel Park 44-21

Class AAA
1. Montour 8-0 W, West Allegheny 28-20
2. Thomas Jefferson 7-1 W, Belle Vernon 14-13
3. Ringgold 8-0 W, Franklin Regional 24-13
4. Knoch 8-0 W, Highlands 28-21
5. West Allegheny 6-2 L, Montour 28-20

Class AA
1. Aliquippa 8-0 W, Mohawk 35-14
2. South Fayette 8-0 W, Seton-La Salle 42-35
3. Greensburg C.C. 8-0 W, East Allegheny 14-13
4. Beaver 7-1 W, Laurel 41-7
5. Beaver Falls 7-1 W, Ellwood City 10-3

Dropped out: Seton-La Salle

Class A
1. Clairton 8-0 W, Fort Cherry 42-7
2. Rochester 8-0 W, Neshannock 27-0
3. Avonworth 7-1 W, OLSH 54-6
4. Springdale 7-1 W, Leechburg 42-16
5. Bishop Canevin 7-1 W, Riverview 45-7

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Friday night thoughts

With one week remaining before the postseason begins, it's time to begin considering candidates for the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year.

Christian Brumbaugh, the reigning POY, is having another strong statistical season for undefeated South Fayette. Brumbaugh's won-loss record the past two years is 18-1.

Ringgold running Derrick Fiore has 1,005 rushing yards to go with 12 touchdowns. Fiore averages nearly nine yards per carry and is capable of a big play at any moment, as his 60-yard touchdown run in Friday's 24-13 win against Franklin Regional demonstrated. Fiore is also a candidate for the All-Keystone Conference team as a safety. Oh, and Ringgold just wrapped up its first conference title since 2000 and is 8-0 for the first time.

When healthy, Trinity senior Kyle McWreath is a menacing two-way player. As the Hillers' fullback, McWreath gets limited opportunity to run but he makes big plays when he does. As a middle linebacker, I haven't seen a better one this year.

One player who placed himself on the short list this past week is Ringgold junior quarterback Quad Law. Statistically speaking, Law doesn't stack up against Brumbaugh or Fiore but there's no disputing his impact. Law makes a one-yard run look like a work of art and has the knack for clutch plays.

* After seeing Thomas Jefferson two weeks ago and Ringgold on Friday, a possible playoff matchup between the two seems awfully intriguing.

Ringgold has an advantage in speed and athleticism. Thomas Jefferson is stronger up front. If I was a betting man, my money would be on Thomas Jefferson because of the "been there, done that" factor.

* If Ringgold beats Uniontown to finish the regular season with a 9-0 record, the guess here is the Rams will receive the No. 4 seed or 5 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. Ringgold may have a tradition but the Rams haven't accomplished anything the past 10 years.
2. Montour and Thomas Jefferson look like locks for the top two seeds. A two-loss West Allegheny is the defending WPIAL champion and a strong team.

3. It's the Keystone Conference. Granted, Ringgold and Franklin Regional have made the conference better but until teams from the Keystone regularly win playoff games, teams from conferences like the Parkway will draw better seeds.

* Peters Township is a senior-dominated team that entered the season with high expectations. The Indians wanted to win the Great Southern Conference and host a playoff game. Those goals can no longer be achieved.

Now, the only way Peters Township can get into the playoffs for the first time at the Class AAAA level is to beat rival Canon-McMillan in Week 9. The Big Macs are winless in conference play but they are certainly playing better football now than they were early in the year.

* As important as that game is to Peters Township, the biggest Week 9 game from a local perspective looks like Chartiers-Houston at Fort Cherry.

The Bucs are 7-1 and their lone loss in the Black Hills Conference is to Clairton. A win over their biggest rival gives them an 8-1 record, a home playoff game and a seed anywhere from six to eight.

Fort Cherry has lost conference games to Brentwood and Clairton but the Rangers have an opportunity to finish second in the conference with a win. Since an overtime loss to Brentwood, the Rangers are playing some of their best football in recent years. Part of that stretch includes a five-touchdown loss to Clairton, which, by some accounts, was a competitive game despite the score.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Fort Cherry has the talent to win a playoff game, maybe even make a mini-postseason run. A win against Chartiers-Houston gets that going.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A note from the blogger

Friday night thoughts will be published sometime Sunday complete with my thought's on Ringgold's solid win over Franklin Regional, a weekend filled with blowouts and other tidbits.

Meanwhile, feel free to share your thoughts here. I'll check back to publish them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Legends of the Fall, Chapter 9

Baptiste John "Bap" Manzini was a standout football player during the Great Depression era at Monongahela High School. Manzini went on to Saint Vincent College, where he was team captain in 1942.

His success at the college level caught the eye of the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played for two years and was an NFL All-Pro and even the MVP of the Pro Bowl. Manzini left the pros to coach St. Vincent in 1946 and 1947 before he returned to the NFL with the Eagles and the Detroit Lions in 1948.

A couple jobs later, Manzini became the head football coach at Bellmar High School, where he remained for 14 years and compiled an 84-38-7. When Bellmar became part of Belle Vernon Area, Manzini went to coach at Thomas Jefferson and never had a losing record in 16 seasons. Manzini's teams at TJ went 119-36-1.

His final game as head coach came in the 1980 WPIAL Class AAA championship when the Jaguars beat favored Aliquippa, 28-8.

The Mon Valley Sports Hall of Famer is enshrined in numerous halls of fame and he remained in coaching as an assistant at Belle Vernon and California among others. Manzini died on May 9, 2008 at the age of 87.

VanSickle hired as Carmichaels baseball coach

Scott VanSickle, a former assistant baseball coach at Carmichaels, was hired as the Mikes' head coach at Thursday night's school board meeting.

VanSickle replaces highly successful Dave Bates, who resigned in August to become principal at his alma mater – Jefferson-Morgan High School.

Bates (pictured) coached Carmichaels baseball for 11 seasons and the Mikes were annually one of the tougher teams to beat in WPIAL Class A. Bates guided Carmichaels to its first WPIAL baseball championship in 2003 and the Mikes added title in 2005 and 2008.

Carmichaels played for the PIAA Class A championship in 2008 and also played for WPIAL championships in 2004 and 2009.

VanSickle takes over a team that started the 2010 season 0-9 but rebounded to make its 10th consecutive playoff appearance.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Former Trinity QB has played his last game at UConn

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut quarterback Cody Endres will not play again for the Huskies, coach Randy Edsall said Thursday.
Endres, a three-year starter at Trinity, was suspended Wednesday for the remainder of the academic year for an unspecified violation of university policies.
The junior is on track to get his degree, Edsall said, but will not be allowed back on the team next season. He said when he informed Endres, the quarterback told him was wasn’t planning to come back.
“I think a lot of times you are better off,” Edsall said. “You get addition by subtraction. It’s just unfortunate that people who were given another opportunity, didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.”
The school would not confirm several published reports that Endres failed a third drug test. The junior had already served a monthlong suspension in August and September for a violation of school rules.
The school’s student code of conduct mandates a 30-60 day suspension for a second positive drug test. After a third positive test the policy states that a student-athlete is “barred from practice and competition for the remainder of the academic year in which the third positive test result was obtained.”
Days after returning from his initial suspension, he replaced senior Zach Frazer midway through the Huskies’ game with Buffalo on Sept. 25 with the score tied at 14 and led UConn to a 45-21 win. He threw for 471 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions in three games.
Endres was not made available to the media, and he did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Patriot-News Pennsylvania football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, Oc. 19, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by the school’s record and last week’s ranking. NR means not ranked. Honorable mention teams listed alphabetically. (P-PIAA champion.)

1. Ridley (1) 7-0 1
2. La Salle College HS(P) (12) 6-1 2
3. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 7-0 3
4. North Allegheny (7) 7-0 4
5. Cumberland Valley (3) 6-1 5
6. North Penn (1) 6-1 6
7. Downingtown East (1) 7-0 8
8. Council Rock South (1) 7-0 NR
9. Wilson (3) 7-0 9
10. Mount Lebanon (7) 7-0 10
Teams to watch
Easton (11) 6-1, Harrisburg (3) 6-1, McDowell (10) 5-2, Neshaminy (1) 6-1, North Hills (7) 6-1, Shaler (7) 5-2, Upper St.Clair (7) 6-1, Whitehall (11) 6-1.

1. Allentown C.C. (11) 7-0 1
2. Thomas Jefferson (7) 6-1 2
3. Archbishop Wood (12) 7-0 3
4. Montour (7) 7-0 4
5. Cardinal OHara (12) 7-0 5
6. Abington Heights (2) 7-0 6
7. West Allegheny (7) 6-1 8
8. Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 7-0 9
9. Clearfield (9) 7-0 7
10. West Scranton (2) 6-1 NR
Teams to watch
Bishop McDevitt (3) 5-2, Dallas (2) 7-0, Greencastle-Antrim (3) 7-0, Greensburg Salem (7) 6-1, Grove City (10) 7-0, Pottsville (11) 6-1, Ringgold (7) 7-0.

1. Lancaster Catholic(P) (3) 7-0 1
2. Aliquippa (7) 7-0 2
3. Greensburg C.C. (7) 7-0 3
4. North Schuylkill (11) 7-0 4
5. South Fayette (7) 7-0 5
6. West Catholic (12) 5-2 6
7. Forest Hills (6) 7-0 7
8. Tyrone (6) 7-0 9
9. Northern Lehigh (11) 7-0 10
10. Seton-LaSalle (7) 7-0 NR
Teams to watch
Beaver Falls (7) 6-1, Bloomsburg (4) 6-1, Danville (4) 7-0, General McLane (10), 6-1, Lewisburg (4) 7-0, Littlestown (3) 7-0, Steel Valley (7) 5-2, Trinity (3) 6-1.

1. Clairton(P) (7) 7-0 1
2. Rochester (7) 7-0 2
3. Farrell (10) 7-0 3
4. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 7-0 4
5. Riverside (2) 7-0 6
6. Southern Columbia (4) 5-2 5
7. Sharpsville (10) 7-0 9
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 6-1 8
9. Avonworth (7) 6-1 NR
10. Line Mountain (4) 6-1 NR
Teams to watch
Beth-Center (7) 5-2, Juniata Valley (6) 7-0, Monessen (7) 6-1, North Catholic (7) 5-2, Penns Manor (6) 7-0, Saegertown (6) 7-0, Springdale (7) 6-1, Sto-Rox (7) 5-2.

(P)-PIAA champion. Number in parentheses is PIAA district.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Week 8 picks

Another 5-1 record last week upped Kovak's fearless prognostications to a 32-10 overall mark and a .762 win percentage.

South Fayette (7-0) at Seton-La Salle (7-0)
FSN cameras will be at Chartiers Valley High School to televise this game on tape delay following the conclusion of the Pittsburgh Penguins' postgame show. It's the only matchup of unbeaten teams in the WPIAL this week and features two contrasting offenses. Seton-La Salle relies on running back Kevin Hart, while South Fayette quarterback Christian Brumbaugh is playing his best football the last few weeks. South Fayette, 28-20.

Chartiers Valley (3-4) at West Mifflin (3-4)
The winner could finish third in the Big Eight Conference but most likely locks up fourth place. Chartiers Valley is a better team than it was early in the season when quarterback Wayne Capers was lost for the season. The Colts' 21 points against Thomas Jefferson is all that needs to be know. Chartiers Valley, 27-20.

Franklin Regional (6-1) at Ringgold (7-0)
Not even Joe Montana guided Ringgold to a 7-0 start, a first in Rams history. Franklin Regional has been very businesslike in building a six-game win streak since a season-opening loss to Plum. Ringgold is scoring points at a rapid rate and hasn't allowed more than a touchdown since Week 3. The pick says Ringgold locks up the Keystone Conference championship ... Ringgold 28-14.

West Allegheny (6-1) at Montour (7-0)
With all due respect to Franklin Regional and Ringgold, the winner of this game is looking at a possible No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs. West Allegheny just keeps winning without Mike Caputo and the Indians are getting more impressive in doing so. Montour hasn't been tested much this year but, when it is, the Spartans find different ways to win. Smells like an upset. West Allegheny, 28-26.

Greensburg Central Catholic (7-0) at East Allegheny (5-2)
GCC hasn't lost but the Centurions have looked anything but impressive in narrow seven-point wins over Mt. Pleasant and Mohawk in two of the last three games. East Allegheny scored 13 more points than GCC did against Mt. Pleasant but the Wildcats lost that game. Until someone actually beats GCC, it's not wise to pick against them. Greensburg Central Catholic, 14-7.

California (4-3) at Frazier (4-3)
The winner of this game might not be a winner if it finished fourth in the Tri-County South Conference and has to travel to Rochester or Clairton for a first-round playoff game. California can finish third thanks to a win over Carmichaels. Frazier is coming off a tough overtime loss to the Mikes. Both teams have plenty to play for, but the Trojans have a little extra incentive. California, 35-28.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rod Frisco's Pennsylvania football rankings

1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) 7-0
2. La Salle College HS (12) 6-1
3. Ridley (1) 7-0
4. North Allegheny (7) 7-0
5. North Penn (1) 6-1
6. Cumberland Valley (3) 6-1
7. Council Rock South (1) 7-0
8. Wilson (3) 7-0
9. Mount Lebanon (7) 7-0
10. Downingtown East (1) 6-1
1. Allentown Central Catholic (11) 7-0
2. Archbishop Wood (12) 7-0
3. Cardinal O’Hara (12) 7-0
4. Abington Heights (2) 7-0
5. Thomas Jefferson (7) 6-1
6. Montour (7) 7-0
7. West Allegheny (7) 6-1
8. Dallas (2) 7-0
9. Greencastle-Antrim (3) 7-0
10. Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 7-0
1. Lancaster Catholic (3) 7-0
2. Greensburg Central Catholic (7) 7-0
3. Aliquippa (7) 7-0
4. North Schuylkill (11) 7-0
5. West Catholic (12) 5-2
6. South Fayette (7) 7-0
7. Forest Hills (6) 7-0
8. Northern Lehigh (11) 7-0
9. Lewisburg (4) 7-0
10. Littlestown (3) 7-0
1. Clairton (7) 7-0
2. Rochester (7) 7-0
3. Riverside (2) 7-0
4. Farrell (10) 7-0
5. Sharpsville (10) 7-0
6. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 7-0
7. Southern Columbia (4) 5-2
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 7-0
9. Springdale (7) 6-1
10. North Catholic (7) 5-2

Monday, October 18, 2010

Week in Review, Week 7

Team of the Week - Washington
Numbers rarely lie and they certainly didn't in Wash High's 61-27 win over Quaker Valley at Wash High Stadium.

The Prexies rushed for 541 yards and four players - Jaylin Kelly, Jordan Thomas, Zach Barnes and Shai McKenzie - topped 100 yards rushing.


Washington's offensive line turned in a performance of a lifetime as Kelly rushed for three touchdowns. Barnes and Thomas each had two, while McKenzie topped it off with a 90-yarder during late-game duty.

Runner-up - Carmichaels

Starting 11
Zach Barnes, Washington
Christian Brumbaugh, South Fayette
Trae Cook, Monessen
Cody Durant, Beth-Center
Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry
Cameron Geresti, Avella
Jaylin Kelly, Washington
Daniel Lis, Chartiers-Houston
Demetrius Louis, Ringgold
Ryan Mundell, Carmichaels
Nick Zupper, Waynesburg
First sub
Jordan Thomas, Washington

Game of the Week - Carmichaels 15, Frazier 14 (OT)
Two playoff hopefuls from the Tri-County South Conference took the field in Frazier and, for four quarters, the defenses ruled as the Mikes and Commodores were tied, 7-7, at the end of regulation. Frazier struck first in overtime on a five-yard run from Josh Guiser. Kyle Rodriguez's extra point gave Frazier, who was a sturdy 4-1 in conference, a 14-7 lead.

Carmichaels got the football and countered with Zach Mundell's second rushing touchdown of the game to make it 14-13. Head coach John Menhart, in a gutsy move, went for two points and quarterback Josh Mundell scored the game-winning run. After an 0-3 start in conference play, Carmichaels is 3-3 in the TCS and looking good for a postseason berth.

Menhart's decision proves an old adage that too often gets overlooked - you play for the win on the road.

Weird, wild stuff - Ringgold is 7-0 for the first time. Repeat - Ringgold is 7-0 for the first time. ... Monessen has won 17 straight Tri-County South games. The Greyhounds' last conference loss was at Beth-Center in 2008. ... Hopewell junior Rushel Shell has past a laundry list of local legends the past two weeks to climb all the way to fifth on the WPIAL's all-time list. The record held by Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo appears to be in Shell's sights. ... On the same weekend as Shell continued his rapid climb, Ryan Brumfield of Owen J. Roberts became Pennsylvania's all-time rusher as he now has 7,451 career yards.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Observer-Reporter WPIAL football rankings

Class AAAA
Team Record
1. Pittsburgh C.C. 7-0 W, Gateway 21-7
2. North Allegheny 7-0 W, Pine-Richland 35-7
3. Mt. Lebanon 7-0 W, Bethel Park 21-7
4. McKeesport 6-1 W, Norwin 14-7
5. Upper St. Clair 6-1 W, Canon-McMillan 10-0

Dropped out: North Hills

Class AAA
Team Record
1. Montour 7-0 W, Blackhawk 44-20
2. Thomas Jefferson 6-1 W, Trinity 30-6
3. West Allegheny 6-1 W, New Castle 35-7
4. Ringgold 7-0 W, Derry Area 45-7
5. Knoch 7-0 W, Kittanning 56-6

Class AA
Team Record
1. Aliquippa 7-0 W, Beaver 20-14
2. South Fayette 7-0 W, South Allegheny 54-17
3. Greensburg C.C. 7-0 W, Mohawk 21-14
4. Seton-La Salle 7-0 W, Burgettstown 54-14
5. Beaver 6-1 L, Aliquippa 20-14

Class A
Team Record
1. Clairton 7-0 W, Brentwood 52-0
2. Rochester 7-0 W, Cornell 41-0
3. Avonworth 6-1 W, Beth-Center 28-20
4. Bishop Canevin 6-1 W, Leechburg 56-8
5. Springdale 6-1 W, Wilkinsburg 58-21

Dropped out: Sto-Rox, Cornell

Records since 2001

Washington won a PIAA Class AA championship in 2001, the same year Fort Cherry narrowly lost to Rochester in the WPIAL Class A title game at Heinz Field. It marks the last year a local team reached such pinnacles in football.

So how have teams fared the past decade? Some have resurrected proud programs. Others have evolved into emerging contenders. A few are middling along and a few others struggle to survive.

The following are the won-loss records for local football teams from the 2001 season through Week 7 of this season.

Beth-Center 75-35 (11-1 in 2006)
Monessen 74-28 (11-1 in 2007)
South Fayette 63-35 (10-1 in 2009)
Carmichaels 61-38 (11-1 in 2002)
Fort Cherry 59-41 (10-3 in 2001)
Washington 57-42-1 (15-0 in 2001)
Trinity 53-47 (7-4 in 2005)
Chartiers-Houston 52-45 (7-3 in 2004)
Jefferson-Morgan 51-44 (9-3 in 2006)
California 51-46 (7-4 in 2006, 2005)
Canon-McMillan 45-51 (8-3 in 2004)
Mapletown 39-54-1 (8-2 in 2005, 2001)
Charleroi 38-54 (6-4 in 2004)
Waynesburg 38-55 (8-2 in 2001)
Peters Township 37-58 (8-3 in 2003)
Ringgold 37-64 (7-0 this year)
McGuffey 33-62 (7-3 in 2009)
Burgettstown 31-64 (7-3 in 2007)
Bentworth 24-69-1 (6-5 in 2005)
West Greene 22-67 (5-4 in 2002)
Avella 9-80 (4-5 in 2002)

Items stolen from Bentworth players

Several Bentworth football players had items stolen when the Bearcats played at Clairton last Friday.

Here's the story from Saturday's Observer-Reporter:

Friday night thoughts, Week 7

Every time I see Trinity play, I come away more impressed with freshman tailback Pat Frey.

Frey didn't put up huge numbers against Thomas Jefferson as he rushed for 55 yards on a handful of carries but, against one strong defensive line, Frey continually fought off tackles for extra yards. There were carries where Frey looked to be swarmed at the line of scrimmage and he ended up with eight yards.

In another sequence, Frey got to the second level of TJ's defense and he came down on the crown of his helmet as he was tackled. Frey grabbed the top of his helmet but went right back to the huddle and carried on the next play.

Trinity ran the ball hard against Thomas Jefferson but the Hillers were completely undone by three second-quarter fumbles that turned a 3-0 game into a 17-0 one that felt like the margin was much larger.

To keep TJ from stacking the box, Trinity had to throw some and every time quarterback Brad Martin passed, the Jaguars' front chased after him.

Martin was sacked eight times.

Eight sacks and three fumbles spells doom against Thomas Jefferson, which will be an extremely difficult out in the postseason.

* Baldwin entered Friday's game at Peters Township with a 1-5 record. Among those losses were games against Upper St. Clair, Thomas Jefferson, Mt. Lebanon and Erie McDowell. The Highlanders weren't blown out in any of those losses.

That's one reason why Baldwin's 12-9 victory over the Indians isn't too surprising.

* Changing a culture of losing is one of the hardest things to do in high school football. For all the hard work Ed Dalton and his devoted staff have put in at Trinity, the Hillers have yet to have that signature win at the Class AAA level.

The same can be said for Peters Township. The same could be said at places like Norwin, Butler, Hempfield, etc.

* Clairton, a lightning rod for readers of this blog, had a scary moment during last night's win over Brentwood when senior Desimon Green was taken off the field in an ambulance.

Green, the Bears' quarterback and defensive end, is a Pitt recruit and possibly the state's top Class A player. Thanks to regular poster Joey Niklas who informed me that, fortunately, Green was taken off the field for precautionary reasons.

* It's been a trying start to the season for Washington, which struggled offensively through the first half of the season and all but fell out of the playoff picture in the Century Conference. That said, the guess here is most Prexies fans would probably agree that the young players needed to play well in the final three regular season games to begin building for a successful 2011.

How does four running backs rushing for 100-plus yards in a blowout of Quaker Valley sound?

Sophomore Jaylin Kelly had 125 yards and three scores. Jordan Thomas has 131 yards and freshman Shai McKenzie got 91 of his 102 yards on a fourth-quarter touchdown. Throw in 115 yards and two TDs from senior Zach Barnes and it goes down as one of Wash High's best rushing outputs in its storied history.

* McGuffey, which lost 18 seniors from last year's strong squad, has endured two of the toughest losses of the season.

There was the gut-wrenching loss a few weeks ago at Moon when the Highlanders took a late lead then gave up a late kickoff return. Last night against Chartiers Valley, McG quarterback Derrick Whipkey was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal at the 1 in double overtime.

* California receiver Dakota Conway has 12 touchdown catches on the year after having three against Jefferson-Morgan. Not sure but that has to rank high on the all-time single-season list for Washington County schools.

* Waynesburg's Nick Zupper is quietly on pace for 1,000 yard season.

Speaking of rushers, if the current pace holds, only Ringgold's Derrick Fiore and Zupper will rush for 1,000 yards in the regular season. Peters Township's Andrew Erenberg is just off 1,000-yard pace.

* Ringgold's upcoming game against Franklin Regional is the Rams' biggest since at least 1999.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Games of the Week, Week 7

Blogger's note: Peters Township boys golf claimed the area's first WPIAL championship of the 2010-11 school year Thursday at Cedarbrook. The Indians rolled to the Division I team title by a whopping 16 strokes as none of its top 6 golfers finished with a round higher than 80. If memory serves correct, it's the third WPIAL team title for PT since David Kuhn became head coach.

Which football teams will turn in equally dominating performances tonight?

Baldwin (1-5) at Peters Township (4-2)
Judging by record, this Great Southern Conference contest looks like a matchup. Upon closer inspection, Baldwin has played competitive football against some of the WPIAL's premier teams in Thomas Jefferson, Mt. Lebanon and even Erie McDowell. Last year, Peters Township entered the conference schedule with a 4-0 mark against shoddy competition. Baldwin beat them in the conference opener to start a four-game losing streak.

Trinity (4-2) at Thomas Jefferson (5-1)
With three future Division I linebackers in Andrew Sweat (Ohio State), Michael Yancich (Penn State) and Brandon Weaver (Ohio), Trinity believed 2007 was the year it finally hung tough and got past Thomas Jefferson. The game even drew national attention as TJ featured future Pitt lineman Lucas Nix and the telecast was picked up in several FSN regional markets. The game was close at halftime before TJ pulled away. Fast forward to today and Trinity feels this game is its best chance to knock the Jaguars off the top of the Big Eight Conference perch since. The Hillers will need a few big plays to do so.

Beth-Center (5-1) at Avonworth (5-1)
A non-conference game at this point of the season rarely means much but these two teams have been among the best in Class A throughout the season. The Antelopes haven't lost since the season opener against Bishop Canevin, while Beth-Center is coming off a loss to Monessen where the Bulldogs struggled offensively. To steal this one from an Avonworth defense that hasn't allowed a point in a month, Beth-Center must run the football behind an undersized offensive line better than it did last week.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Week 7 picks

Covering high school football can provide the occasional adventure. Just two weeks ago at Brentwood, the game story for Fort Cherry at Brentwood - a game that went to overtime - was written from the driver's seat of my vehicle while the car ran, with the radio tuned to MSA's post game scoreboard show and McDonald's only a few minutes away. The fast food restaurant provided the much-appreciated free wireless Internet connection to send the story to the guys at the office.

Last week's Beth-Center at Monessen game provided a different experience. Given the number of media covering the key Tri-County South Conference game (four newspapers and MSA), Monessen athletic director John Sacco did an excellent job of not only fitting everyone into the press box at historic Memorial Stadium, the accommodations were also outstanding. I got the opportunity to sit inside the Monessen coach's box and beside Greyhounds OC Jamie Reader, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles not that long ago.

Now, I've heard many coaches spew anger during games but I've never previously sat in the box with them during an entire game. It provided an intriguing experience. High school football coaches live in a frantic, high-pressure, head-scratching, high-reward world. At one point, Reader looked at me and said, "Isn't this crazy?" It sure was but it also made me realize just how many little mistakes are made in a game, even one that produces a win.

With a minute or two remaining and Monessen's victory secure, I made the long trek from the press box to the playing field for postgame interviews. Monessen's players deservedly basked in the glow of a hard-fought victory, one that few sports writers (myself included) predicted for them.

Among the others who did not was Valley Independent sports editor Brian Herman. He covered the Ringgold blowout win but that didn't stop the Greyhounds from chanting "Brian Herman" at the press box after the game.

As I watched from 10 yards away, I thought to myself, "I'm glad these guys have no idea who I am."

The Beth-Center at Monessen game was the lone incorrect pick for Kovak's fearless prognostications. The 5-1 mark upped my overall record to 27-9, a .75o win percentage.

Gateway (4-2) at Pittsburgh Central Catholic (6-0)
The Foothills Conference schedule provided Gateway an opportunity to steady itself following an 0-2 start. Now, the perennial powerful Gators venture outside the conference comforts again to play a Pittsburgh Central Catholic team that could be the best in Pennsylvania. Gateway scored seven points in a loss to Penn Hills earlier this season. PCC put up 35 against the Indians in a resounding win. Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 35-21.

Trinity (4-2) at Thomas Jefferson (5-1)
Readers of this blog continue to state that Thomas Jefferson isn't as strong as usual. On-the-field results indicate otherwise as the Jaguars have dominated WPIAL competition. When fielding a healthy lineup, Trinity has not only been competitive, the Hillers have won. Trinity is healthy this week. Is this the year Trinity finally takes Thomas Jefferson into the final minutes of a football games. Hmmmmm ... Thomas Jefferson, 35-13.

Aliquippa (6-0) at Beaver (6-0)
Gypsy Glen Stadium will be packed for this Beaver County showcase game with the winner getting the inside edge on a valuable Midwestern Conference championship. The Quips have been nothing short of dominating as only Beaver Falls reached double digits in points against them. The Beavers are equally tough on the defensive side as they've allowed just one touchdown the past month. Aliquippa, 12-7.

Beth-Center (5-1) at Avonworth (5-1)
This game lost a little luster with the Bulldogs' loss last week but it remains an important game for both teams in terms of seeding for the WPIAL Class A playoffs. Beth-Center needs to shake off last week's disappointing offensive performance and gain some first downs against the Antelopes. The presence of Jeff Tarley could help if he plays. Avonworth hasn't allowed a point the past four games, including impressive shutouts over Riverview and North Catholic the past two weeks. Avonworth is looking like a top four seed. Avonworth, 20-13.

Jeannette (5-1) at Mt. Pleasant (4-2)
Anyone else have questions about the strength of the Interstate Conference? I sure do. Jeannette's lone loss came at Laurel, where the Jayhawks allowed 38 points to a three-win Laurel. Mt. Pleasant was mercy ruled at home by Ellwood City but only lost to top-ranked Greensburg Central Cathlolic, 7-0. One of these teams will host a first-round playoff game. Better hope they don't draw a team from the MAC. Jeannette, 33-20.

Steel Valley (4-2) at Keystone Oaks (5-1)
The Golden Eagles were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten and the state rankings with last week's loss at South Fayette. The loss proved costly as senior running back/linebacker Jordan Maddox suffered knee injury and will not play in this one. Steel Valley running back Delrece Williams scored six touchdowns against Washington last week. Even without Maddox, Keystone Oaks is more stout than the Prexies. Keystone Oaks 21-14.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rod Frisco's Pennsylvania high school football rankings

CLASS AAAA – WEEK 7 Previous
Rank School (District) Record Ranking Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) 6-0 2 W, Plum, 33-6 HM Gateway (4-2), Friday (at Carnegie-Mellon U.)
Comments: What’s this? No. 1 Ridley wins and Central Catholic leaps it? How BCS-ish is this? We’ve done our midseason review: We think PCC merits a raise.
2. La Salle College HS (12) 5-1 3 W, Neumann-Goretti, 63-0 Father Judge (5-1), Saturday (at Lincoln)
Comments: OK, maybe this team is the one we should have elevated to No. 1. Explorers have navigated a really tough schedule well.
3. Ridley (1) 6-0 1 W, Conestoga, 28-14 at Marple-Newtown (2-4), Friday
Comments: Now that I’ve lost what few friends I have in Delaware County, I can tell you Ridley’s demotion is not severe. It just lost its window seat for a while.
4. North Allegheny (7) 6-0 4 W, Kiski Area, 49-7 at Pine-Richland (2-4), Friday
Comments: Maybe this team is the best in the state. Frankly, no race for the state title is more wide open than Class AAAA, and it won’t begin to settle until WPIAL finals.
5. Lansdale North Penn (1) 5-1 5 W, Central Bucks West, 38-21 at Quakertown (3-3), Friday
Comments: Only that poor second half in opener against La Salle is keeping the Knights on the No. 5 perch.
6. North Hills (7) 6-0 7 W, Butler, 34-0 HM McDowell (4-2), Friday
Comments: Dicey spot for the Indians? McDowell will either be cranked or crumbled after controversial, last-play loss to Shaler last week.
7. Cumberland Valley (3) 5-1 8 W, Central Dauphin, 30-17 at Central Dauphin East (3-3), Friday
Comments: Outgained, but definitely not outplayed in showdown with CD. Four huge own-territory stops keeps CV fat and happy in the Top Ten.
8. Council Rock South (1) 6-0 9 W, Bensalem, 35-7 at No. 9 Neshaminy (6-0), Friday
Comments: Cruise past Bensalem sets up the Golden Hawks’ Suburban One showdown with Neshaminy in the Redskins’ crib.
9. Neshaminy (1) 6-0 NR W, Council Rock North, 35-8 No. 8 Council Rock South (6-0), Friday
Comments: Redskins, who have banging at the top ten door since the start of the season, break in based on steady play since that point.
10. Central Dauphin (3) 5-1 6 L, Cumberland Valley, 30-17 HM Harrisburg (5-1), Saturday
Comments: Yep, down by 20 against CV thanks to red zone failures. End of top ten? No. Those errors are correctable, and CD still has state-caliber line.

Honorable mention:
Boyertown (1) 6-0, Dallastown (3) 6-0, Daniel Boone (3) 6-0, Downingtown East (1) 5-1, Easton (11) 5-1, Gateway (7) 4-2, George Washington (12) 5-1, Harrisburg (3) 5-1, McDowell (7) 4-2, McKeesport (7) 5-1, Mount Lebanon (7) 6-0, Roman Catholic (12) 4-2, Shaler (7) 4-2, Upper St. Clair (7) 5-1, Whitehall (11) 5-1, Wilson (3) 6-0.

CLASS AAA – WEEK 7 Previous
Rank School (District) Record Ranking Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Allentown Central Catholic (11) 6-0 1 W, Whitehall, 21-14 at Parkland (3-3), Friday
Comments: ACC dials down the passing game and shows some defense, coming up with several big stops against unbeaten Whitehall.
2. Archbishop Wood (12) 6-0 2 W, Haverford School, 48-20 Archbishop Carroll (4-2), Sat. (at Wissahickon)
Comments: Believe it or not, Wood was outgained by Haverfor School in last week’s game. Can’t afford to make a habit out of that.
3. Cardinal O’Hara (12) 6-0 5 W, Red Lion Christian, DE 30-0 HM Monsignor Bonner (4-2), Saturday
Comments: O’Hara wanders into Delaware and flattens embattled program (RLC is being self-investigated for violating Delaware recruiting rules).
4. Abington Heights (2) 6-0 3 W, Valley View, 10-7 Scranton Prep (2-4), Saturday
Comments: The Comets and Valley View stage a tractor pull – both teams had fewer than 100 net yards rushing – and the Comets prevail on a 24-yard field goal.
5. Thomas Jefferson (7) 5-1 8 W, Chartiers Valley, 42-21 Washington Trinity (4-2), Friday
Comments: Make it five straight for TJ, which doubles up a game Chartiers Valley team that has been soldiering on without QB Wayne Capers.
6. Montour (7) 6-0 4 W, Central Valley, 12-7 at HM Blackhawk (5-1), Friday
Comments: Montour survives the opening wave of once-beaten hordes. The Spartans follow up the 5-pointer over CV with games against Blackhawk and West Allegheny.
7. West Allegheny (7) 5-1 6 W, Moon, 48-7 New Castle (3-3), Friday
Comments: Mike Caputo-less West Allegheny continues to impress, but can’t afford to look past decent New Castle side with Montour ahead.
8. Dallas (2) 6-0 7 W, Wyoming Valley West, 21-17 at Crestwood (3-3), Friday
Comments: Dallas doesn’t blow people away – its largest winning margin is 14, the lowest such number among the state’s top ten teams – but it wins.
9. Greencastle-Antrim (3) 6-0 10 W, Gettysburg, 61-13 at James Buchanan (1-5), Friday
Comments: Slow-growth process at G-A (HC Chuck Tinninis had 8 losing season before first winning season) has worked a border-hugging school.
10. Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 6-0 9 W, Manheim Central, 27-24 at Garden Spot (3-3), Friday
Comments: Crazy play (60-yard return of stripped ball with less than 3 minutes remaining) gives L-S the win and status it craves. It’s a program now.

Honorable mention: Bishop McDevitt (3) 4-2, Blackhawk (7) 5-1, Clearfield (9) 6-0, Conrad Weiser (3) 5-1, Franklin Regional (7) 5-1, Greensburg Salem (7) 5-1, Grove City (10) 60, Johnstown (6) 6-0, Knoch (7) 6-0, Monsignor Bonner (12) 4-2, Oil City (10) 6-0, Pottsgrove (1) 5-1, Pottsville (11) 5-1, Punxsutawney (9) 6-0, Ringgold (7) 6-0, Susquehanna Twp. (3) 4-2, West Scranton (2) 5-1.

CLASS AA – WEEK 7 Previous
Rank School (District) Record Ranking Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Lancaster Catholic (3) 6-0 1 W, Pequea Valley, 41-7 Northern Lebanon (2-4), Friday
Comments: Coaches will cringe at this, but there’s just no way LC loses in the regular season this year. Remaining 4 opponents have just 7 wins. Total.
2. Greensburg Central Catholic (7) 6-0 2 W, Brownsville, 35-13 Mohawk (2-4), Friday
Comments: Centurions survive their 7-0 hiccup ( a win, just the same) a week ago, have it on cruise control for the time being.
3. Aliquippa (7) 6-0 3 W, Ellwood City, 29-7 at HM Beaver Area (6-0), Friday
Comments: Any time Aliquppa plays a team that starts with the word “Beaver,” you should buy a ticket and go.
4. North Schuylkill (11) 6-0 4 W, Tamaqua, 49-0 HM Mount Carmel (5-1), Friday
Comments: North Schuylkill has been unchallenged, for the most part, in its first six game. That changes with Big Kahuna game with Mount Carmel.
5. West Catholic (12) 4-2 5 W, Wyncote Bishop McDevitt, 35-14 Conwell-Egan (0-6), Saturday (at So. Philadelphia)
Comments: Not much resistance for the Burrs as they cruise toward the Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs.
6. South Fayette (7) 6-0 6 W, Keystone Oaks, 28-19 South Allegheny (2-4), Friday
Comments: Senior back Jeff Davis celebrates his 18 th birthday with 229 all-purpose yards in the Lions’ “we belong” win over Keystone Oaks.
7. Forest Hills (6) 6-0 7 W, Central Cambria, 48-13 Penn Cambria (5-1), Friday
Comments: Once again, the Rangers are unstoppable against an opponent that, while not top-shelf, certainly isn’t bargain rack.
8. Northern Lehigh (11) 6-0 8 W, Pen Argyl, 35-20 at Northwestern Lehigh (5-1), Friday Comments: Big D-11 showdown delivers with Pen Argyl, overcoming 78 yards in penalties and a very good team to stay unbeaten.
9. Lewisburg (4) 6-0 10 W, Montoursville, 31-3 at Warrior Run (3-3), Friday
Comments: Green Dragons keep on rolling, no letdown after the huge win over Southern Columbia.
10. Littlestown (3) 6-0 NR W, Eastern York, 65-3 York Tech (3-3), Friday
Comments: No, I didn’t vault the Thunderbolts because they beat a team by 62. They vaulted because they’re worthy of the top ten spot.

Honorable mention: Beaver Area (7) 6-0, Beaver Falls (7) 5-1, Bloomsburg (4) 5-1, Brockway (9) 6-0, Danville (4) 6-0, Ford City (7) 6-0, GAR Memorial (2) 6-0, General McLane (10) 5-1, Hughesville (4) 5-1, Jeannette (7) 5-1, Keystone Oaks (7) 5-1, Lakeland (2) 5-1, Mount Carmel (4) 5-1, Northwestern Lehigh (11) 5-1, Pen Argyl (11) 5-1, Seton-La Salle (7) 6-0, Sharon (10) 5-1, Towanda (4) 6-0, Trinity (3) 5-1, Tyrone (6) 6-0, Wyomissing (3) 5-1.

CLASS A – WEEK 7 Previous
Rank School (District) Record Ranking Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Clairton (7) 6-0 1 W, Bentworth, 60-0 at Brentwood (5-1), Friday
Comments: Is Brentwood the team that finally slows down this juggernaut? If so, it will have to pick itself off the floor after last week’s loss.
2. Rochester (7) 6-0 2 W, Western Beaver, 34-18 HM Cornell (6-0), Friday
Comments: Cornell has had a lot of experience impersonating a door mat. But no more. Possibly the biggest game in Cornell’s history.
3. Southern Columbia (4) 5-1 3 W, Bloomsburg, 41-14 at AA HM Danville (6-0), Friday
Comments: Yeah, Lewisburg went and made the Tigers mad. Crushing win over previously unbeaten Bloomsburg an impressive one.
4. Taylor Riverside (2) 6-0 4 W, Western Wayne, 44-23 at Honesdale (1-5), Friday
Comments: Expect no change in Riverside’s status quo this week against defenseless Honesdale.
5. Farrell (10) 6-0 5 W, Linesville, 41-21 at West Middlesex (4-2), Friday
Comments: Steelers hold firm against a good Linesville team, should be able to get past neighboring West Middlesex.
6. Dunmore (2) 4-2 6 W, Honesdale, 39-6 AA HM Lakeland (5-1), Friday
Comments: Dunmore has recovered from 1-2 start, but the Bucks face a team that is charging hard and is always a tough out.
7. Sharpsville (10) 6-0 7 W, Lakeview, 34-0 Mercer (3-3), Friday
Comments: Make that shutout No. 5 for Sharpsville. Blue Devils have Farrell on the road a week out.
8. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 6-0 8 W, Youngstown (O) Christian, 66-20 Cochranton (0-6), Friday
Comments: Only surprise in this one is that Youngstown Christian found the end zone three times. Another romp on tap for MP.
9. Sto-Rox (7) 5-1 9 W, South Side Beaver, 36-0 at Western Beaver (3-3), Saturday
Comments: Its eligibility policy on hold, the Vikings have no trouble with South Side. But the Vikings only have a week left to right their academic ship.
10. Bellwood-Antis (6) 5-1 NR W, Moshannon Valley, 53-6 at Glendale (4-2), Friday
Comments: We welcome the Blue Devils to the top ten. Five straight easy wins after opening loss to quality Tyrone team recommended B-A to the upper house.

Honorable mention: Avonworth (7) 5-1, Berlin-Brothersvalley (5) 6-0, Bishop Carroll (6) 5-1, Bishop McCort (6) 4-2, Brentwood (7) 5-1, Chartiers-Houston (7) 5-1, Conemaugh Twp. (5) 5-1, Cornell (7) 6-0, Curwensville (9) 5-1, Elk County Catholic (9) 6-0, Holy Name (3) 5-1, Juniata Valley (6) 6-0, Line Mountain (4) 5-1, Monessen (7) 5-1, North Catholic (7) 4-2, Northern Bedford County (5) 6-0, Penns Manor (6) 6-0, Saegertown (10) 6-0, Springdale (7) 5-1.

A possible local sweep at WPIAL team golf

The WPIAL Division I and II boys golf team championships will be determined Thursday at spacious Cedarbrook Golf Course outside Belle Vernon. Not surprisingly, the area will be well represented and the possibility for a local sweep strongly exists.

Steady-as-ever Peters Township, which sends three individuals to Monday's PIAA Western Regional, won its semifinal Tuesday at Norvelt Golf Course. The Indians beat Fox Chapel by seven strokes (383-390) while defending WPIAL Division I champion Greater Latrobe placed third.

Sophomore Tommy Nettles paced Peters Township with a round of 70. Nettles was followed by Hunter Stanchak (75), Trent McPherson (75), Jeremy Merich (80) and Connor Crane (84). The group gives Peters Township an outstanding chance at winning its third team championship under the direction of head coach David Kuhn.

South Fayette, which won four consecutive Division II team titles earlier in the millennium, cruised to an eight-stroke victory at its semifinal held at Fort Cherry Golf Course. The Lions (388) will be joined at Cedarbrook by Bentworth (399), which placed third at Fort Cherry. Perennial contender Burgettstown took second at its semifinal, which was held at River Forest Country Club in Freeport.

At Fort Cherry, no golfer was closer than six strokes to Evan Lestini's round of 69. Kyle Kubovcik shot a 76 for Bentworth and Garrett Damich, one of only three Division II golfers to advance to the PIAA Western Regional, carded a 78.

Burgettstown, a program that put together one of the more dominating runs in WPIAL golf history during the late 1990s, finished 15 strokes behind Neshannock (404-419) at River Forest CC. Owen Miller and Michael Callas each finished with a round of 81.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week in review, Week 6

Team of the Week – South Fayette
The Lions ran their Century Conference win streak to 13 games by beating Keystone Oaks, 29-18, for the second consecutive year in a game between two Class AA teams ranked in The Patriot-News and Rod Frisco's statewide top 10.

Jeff Davis totaled 177 yards, including 109 on the ground. That presence was just enough to offset the dominating ground game of Keystone Oaks, which came close to totaling 300 rushing yards.

Christian Brumbaugh had another strong outing as he passed for 278 yards with one TD and one interception. Tyler Challingsworth caught five passes for 112 yards and younger brother Zach Challingsworth – whom head coach Joe Rossi believes will be a Division I player – caught three for 98.

Runner-up – Monessen

Starting 11
Alex Adams, Canon-McMillan
Nick Bolias, Monessen
Christian Brumbaugh, South Fayette
Michael Cleveland, Trinity
T.D. Conway, California
Jeff Davis, South Fayette
Gary Kiefer, Fort Cherry
Daniel Lis, Chartiers-Houston
Jalen Madison, Monessen
Niko McPherson, Ringgold
Zach Mundell, Carmichaels
First sub
Brett Crenshaw, Monessen

Game of the Week – Carmichaels 27, Jefferson-Morgan 21
The oldest and most-played rivalry in Greene County (not to mention the WPIAL) had one of its better editions in its recent history as Carmichaels rallied to beat Jefferson-Morgan at home and keep its playoff chances alive.

The Mikes trailed 21-12 heading into the fourth quarter before a pair of Josh Mundell touchdown runs pushed Carmichaels' record in the Tri-County South to 2-3 and evened the overall record at 3-3. Mundell's final touchdown came with 3:15 remaining and Carmichaels trailing by two points.

Weird, wild stuff – Avella is 0-6 but the pass-happy Eagles have a pair of the WPIAL's leading pass catchers in Kolton Kobrys and Damon Cupp. Kobrys, a freshman, had eight catches for 102 yards against Carlynton to push his season totals to 37 receptions and 331 yards. … Frazier has a 4-1 record in the Tri-County South Conference. … Bethel Park and Canon-McMillan combined to rush for 608 yards.

Observer-Reporter WPIAL football rankings

Class AAAA
1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 6-0 W, Plum 33-6
2. North Allegheny 6-0 W, Kiski Area 49-7
3. Mt. Lebanon 6-0 W, Baldwin 31-21
4. North Hills 6-0 W, Butler 34-0
5. McKeesport 5-1 W, Penn-Trafford 31-28

Class AAA
1. Montour 6-0 W, Central Valley 12-7
2. Thomas Jefferson 5-1 W, Chartiers Valley 42-21
3. West Allegheny 5-1 W, Moon 48-7
4. Ringgold 6-0 W, Laurel Highlands 61-7
5. Knoch 6-0 W, Indiana 27-7

Class AA
1. Greensburg C.C. 6-0 W, Brownsville 35-13
2 Aliquippa 6-0 W, Ellwood City 29-7
3. South Fayette 6-0 W, Keystone Oaks 28-19
4. Beaver 6-0 W, Mohawk 37-7
5. Seton-La Salle 6-0 W, South Allegheny 41-14

Dropped out: Keystone Oaks

Class A
1. Clairton 6-0 W, Bentworth 60-0
2. Rochester 6-0 W, Western Beaver 34-18
3. Sto-Rox 5-1 W, S.S. Beaver 36-0
4. Avonworth 5-1 W, North Catholic 7-0
5. Cornell 6-0 W, Shenango 48-14

Dropped out: Beth-Center

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday night thoughts, Week 6

If one word can describe Monessen's 20-6 victory over Beth-Center Friday night, gutsy fits the bill.

The Greyhounds' performance was one of the gutsiest I've seen.

Jalen Madison moved from fullback to guard during the game. Brett Crenshaw went from tailback to tackle. Both players gave up size to Beth-Center's defensive front but size doesn't matter when a team with talent wants to win as badly as Monessen did.

Madison and Crenshaw weren't the only ones sacrificing personal statistics to put Monessen atop the Tri-County South Conference. Defensive backs moved the linebacker. Tight ends offered to move further inside the line to help an injury-depleted team dominate the previously unbeaten Bulldogs, 20-6.

Gutsy. Tough. Unselfish. Maybe even improbable considering the circumstances and how thoroughly Monessen dominated the second half, particularly on defense.

Beth-Center averaged 48.8 points coming into the game. Monessen allowed 80 yards.

* Beth-Center's Jeff Tarley practiced throughout the week according to Bulldogs coach Ed Woods but Tarley did not play against Monessen.

* Monessen played like a team in its biggest game of the year, which it was. Beth-Center failed to show similar emotion.

* Borrowing a call from the Bill Belichick school of coaching, Beth-Center went for it on a fourth-and-five from its own 25 with just under six minutes left and only trailing, 12-6. The Greyhounds put the game away a few plays later.

* After covering the Fort Cherry at Brentwood game last week, Brentwood's defense looked vulnerable against run plays through the middle. Chartiers-Houston must have noticed too when watching game tape.

Quarterback Daniel Lis rushed for 207 yards in the Bucs' 21-7 win.

The Bucs are a surprising 5-1 and if they can beat Fort Cherry in the regular season finale (which is anything but a sure thing), C-H will finish second in the Black Hills Conference.

* Due to the success of South Fayette and Seton-La Salle, it's easy to perceive the Century Conference as a pass-happy league, but some of the best runners in the WPIAL call the conference home.

Steel Valley's Delrece Williams went 259 yards and six touchdowns - six TDs! - against Washington.

Seton-La Salle's Kevin Hart is a scoring machine and wears down a defense, much like Williams.

South Fayette's Jeff Davis, who could be a slot receiver in college, celebrated his 18th birthday last night by rushing for 109 yards and totaling 177 yards in a critical win over Keystone Oaks.

Speaking of the Golden Eagles, Matt McCann and Jordan Maddox combined to rush for nearly 300 yards against the Lions.

* Losing to Steel Valley pretty much ends Washington's slim playoff hopes but the Prexies showed some life by giving the Ironmen a good game in a 48-33 loss. Wash High led 27-21 at halftime and 21-7 at one point.

The Prexies' schedule gets easier the final three weeks and it will be interesting to see if some of the younger players can build momentum and confidence heading toward 2011.

* The University of Tennessee has shown interest in Trinity senior Mike Cleveland, an athletic 6-6 multiple-position player who happens to have the strongest kicking leg I've seen on a high school player.

* Nice bounce-back win for Fort Cherry after a heartbreaking overtime loss at Brentwood the previous week.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rod Frisco's Pennsylvania Football Rankings

CLASS AAAA – WEEK 6 Previous
Rank School (District) Record Ranking Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Ridley (1) 5-0 1 W, Penncrest , 41-7 Conestoga (3-2), Friday
Comments: Ridley HC Dennis Decker said it took his team five weeks to play a “complete game.” We can hardly imagaine what the next five weeks will be like.
2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) 5-0 2 W, Penn Hills, 35-20 Plum (3-2), Friday (at Carnegie-Mellon U.)
Comments: Looks like a solid two-touchdown win for the Vikings, but they had to come from way back to overtake feisty Penn Hills.
3. La Salle College HS (12) 4-1 4 W, Roman Catholic, 43-17 at Neumann-Goretti (3-2), Saturday (at South Philly)
Comments: Yet another impressive win for La Salle, which gets a relative breather before another 15-rounder next week with Father Judge.
4. North Allegheny (7) 5-0 5 W, Seneca Valley, 47-10 Kiski Area (2-3), Friday
Comments: The Tigers blast decent Seneca Valley side, appear to be getting better every week. Beginning the run-up to season-ending blowout with North Hills.
5. Lansdale North Penn (1) 4-1 6 W, Central Bucks East, 28-6 Central Bucks West (4-1), Friday
Comments: Virtually every story on the North Penn-CB East game described Knights’ win as “workmanlike.” That’s code for “waiting for CB West.”
6. Central Dauphin (3) 5-0 7 W, Central Dauphin East, 41-0 No. 8 Cumberland Valley (4-1), Friday
Comments: CD is the surprise AAAA team of the first half of the season. But the element of surprise is over now, must play top shelf game against CV.
7. North Hills (7) 5-0 8 W, Greensburg Hempfield Area, 37-13 at Butler (0-5), Friday
Comments: Let’s be honest, the Indians are coasting. No problems against Hempfield, fewer yet against Butler.
8. Cumberland Valley (3) 4-1 9 W, Chambersburg, 42-13 at No. 6 Central Dauphin (5-0), Friday
Comments: Loudest crowd I’ve heard in HS football was a Cumberland Valley-Central Dauphin game. A reprise in the works on Friday?
9. Council Rock South (1) 5-0 NR W, Pennsbury, 24-0 Bensalem (1-4), Friday
Comments: The Golden Hawks make their first appearance in the Top Ten after posting their fourth straight shutout.
10. Downingtown East (1) 4-1 10 W, Avon Grove, 56-14 Malvern Prep (2-2), Saturday
Comments: Been waiting for that Downingtown East offense to explode, and the Cougars oblige againt Avon Grove.

Honorable mention: Easton (11) 4-1, Father Judge (12) 5-0, Garnet Valley (1) 5-0, George Washington (12) 4-1, Henderson (1) 5-0, McDowell (7) 4-1, McKeesport (7) 4-1, Mount Lebanon (7) 5-0, Neshaminy (1) 5-0, Whitehall (11) 5-0, Wilson (3) 5-0.

CLASS AAA – WEEK 6 Previous
Rank School (District) Record Ranking Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Allentown Central Catholic (11) 5-0 1 W, Nazareth, 39-36 AAAA HM Whitehall (5-0), Saturday
Comments: You know how coaches always bleat on about adversity. ACC got a full plate of it in narrow over Naz. Game-tying FG hits upright.
2. Archbishop Wood (12) 5-0 2 W, Friendship Academy D.C., 20-19 Haverford School (0-5), Saturday
Comments: Wood has won two straight one-point games. That’s either a red flag or a merit badge. I opt for the latter, given the decent opposition.
3. Abington Heights (2) 5-0 3 W, Delaware Valley, 39-10 at Valley View (4-1), Friday Comments: A lot of people sniff at District 2 football because of lack of state championship success. Smirk away; Abington Heights will laugh all the way to another win.
4. Montour (7) 5-0 4 W, New Castle, 24-6 at Central Valley (4-1), Saturday
Comments: Montour has been a steady hand thus far, but the schedule ramps up considerably in the second half of the season.
5. Cardinal O’Hara (12) 5-0 5 W, Chester, 35-0 at Red Lion Christian, DE (3-0), Saturday
Comments: RLC has a Division I recruit at QB, David Sills V (as in the fifth), who’s made a verbal to Southern Cal. He’s pretty good. He’s also in the 8 th grade.
6. West Allegheny (7) 4-1 6 W, Ambridge, 41-28 at Moon (3-2), Friday
Comments: West Allegheny is on the verge of mercy rule, Ambridge rallies enough to make the Indians sweat.
7. Dallas (2) 5-0 7 W, Williamsport, 52-43 at Wyoming Valley West (3-2), Friday
Comments: Return of Dalls HC Ted Jackson Sr must have had some kind of effect on this game. Look at all of those points.
8. Thomas Jefferson (7) 4-1 8 W, Elizabeth-Forward, 42-0 at Chartiers Valley (2-3), Friday
Comments: Jaguars shut out Elizabeth-Forward for third straight year. And last time EF scored against Jags in 2007, TJ scored 73.
9. Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 5-0 9 W, Cocalico, 42-21 Manheim Central (3-2), Friday
Comments: Lots of weapons for the Pioneers, who finding the new section home to be quite comfy. But nothing counts unless they beat the Barons.
10. Greencastle-Antrim (3) 5-0 10 W, Waynesboro, 44-0 Gettysburg (3-2), Friday
Comments: Since winning opener on last-second field goal, the Blue Devils have played like a top ten team. Will need that consistency against revived Gettysburg.

Honorable mention: Bishop McDevitt (3) 3-2, Cathedral Prep (10) 3-2, Clearfield (9) 5-0, Grove City (10) 5-0, Johnstown (6) 5-0, Monsignor Bonner (12) 3-2, Oil City (10) 5-0, Pottsgrove (1) 4-1, Punxsutawney (9) 5-0, Ringgold (7) 5-0, West Scranton (2) 4-1.

CLASS AA – WEEK 6 Previous
Rank School (District) Record Ranking Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Lancaster Catholic (3) 5-0 1 W, East Pennsboro, 42-0 at Pequea Valley (1-4), Friday
Comments: In all honesty, there aren’t too many hurdles between the Crusaders and an unbeaten regular season.
2. Greensburg Central Catholic (7) 5-0 2 W, Mount Pleasant, 7-0 at Brownsville (2-3), Friday
Comments: Oops, there goes the scoring average of nearly 50 ppg for the Centurions. But they man up and a win tough rivalry game.
3. Aliquippa (7) 5-0 3 W, New Brighton, 48-6 Ellwood City (4-1), Friday
Comments: Quips hang out and flick away gnat-like New Brighton in advance of back-to-back challenges against Ellwood City and Beaver Area.
4. North Schuylkill (11) 5-0 4 W, Marian Catholic, 48-2 Tamaqua (1-4), Friday
Comments: Same old story. NS blows out opponent and HC Rick Geist is dissatisfied. (see link above). If Rick hit the PowerBall, he’d complain about the taxes, I swear
5. West Catholic (12) 3-2 5 W, Archbishop Ryan, 40-6 at Wyncote Bishop McDevitt (3-2), Friday
Comments: Burrs finally slip into relaxtion mode after brutal opening schedule. Pity that’s the “other” McDevitt coming up on Friday at Cheltenham HS.
6. South Fayette (7) 5-0 6 W, Burgettstown, 48-7 No. 9 Keystone Oaks (5-0), Friday
Comments: Ah, here we go. A serious Class AA tussle. South Fayette has corrected some early-season defensive issues, will need full throttle versus KO.
7. Forest Hills (6) 5-0 7 W, Cambria Heights, 49-13 at Central Cambria (3-2), Friday
Comments: Another Forest Hills game, another game in the 40s (four out of five thus far). Reaching 40 will be a much tougher chores against Central Cambria.
8. Northern Lehigh (11) 5-0 8 W, Salisbury Twp., 67-28 HM Pen Argyl (5-0), Friday
Comments: Another Class AA bell-ringer. There’s simply not enough room in the top ten for all of the quality AA teams, Pen Argyl included. Must see FB.
9. Keystone Oaks (7) 5-0 9 W, Washington, 37-0 at No. 6 South Fayette (5-0), Friday
Comments: Golden Eagles have been smacking people around. That’s not as likely this week on the road at South Fayette.
10. Lewisburg (4) 5-0 NR W, Southern Columbia, 28-21 Montoursville (2-3), Friday
Comments: Big, big win for the Green Dragons last week against Southern Columbia. Have to wary of emotional letdown against admittedly weakened Montoursville.

Honorable mention: Beaver Area (7) 5-0, Beaver Falls (7) 4-1, Bloomsburg (4) 5-0, Brockway (9) 5-0, Danville (4) 5-0, GAR Memorial (2) 5-0, General McLane (10) 4-1, Littlestown (3) 5-0, Pen Argyl (11) 5-0, Seton-La Salle (7) 5-0, Sharon (10) 4-1, Towanda (4) 5-0, Trinity (3) 4-1, Tyrone (6) 5-0.

CLASS A – WEEK 6 Previous
Rank School (District) Record Ranking Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Clairton (7) 5-0 1 W, Avella, 65-0 Bentworth (1-4), Friday
Comments: Getting a little monotonous with the Bears, isn’t it? It won’t be any different against outmanned Bentworth side.
2. Rochester (7) 5-0 2 W, Shenango, 42-7 at Western Beaver (3-2), Saturday
Comments: No problems for Rochy in a rare Saturday game ... wait, not so rare. The Rams gets to do it again this Saturday against Western Beaver.
3. Southern Columbia (4) 4-1 3 L, Lewisburg, 28-21 AA HM Bloomsburg (5-0), Friday
Comments: No, no. No way we drop the Tigers, who have held up beautifully in the face of one of the best small-school schedules in the state.
4. Taylor Riverside (2) 5-0 4 W, Old Forge, 36-7 at Western Wayne (1-4), Friday
Comments: Count Riverside as one of the teams that have exceeded preseason expectations. The Vikings have looked very, very good thus far.
5. Farrell (10) 5-0 5 W, Conneaut Valley, 40-0 Linesville (3-2), Friday
Comments: The Steelers have outscored their opponents 206-19 to date. And that’s come against a representative schedule. Imagine if Farrell was still in WPIAL.
6. Dunmore (2) 3-2 6 W, Mid-Valley, 40-6 at Honesdale (1-4), Friday
Comments: The Bucks are enjoying their cruise through the soft middle portion of the schedule. No prob this week against dreadful Honesdale defense (52 ppg yield).
7. Sharpsville (10) 5-0 7 W, Kennedy Catholic, 71-0 at Lakeview (3-2), Friday
Comments: 55 points scored per game. 12 total points yielded. Mercy rule every time out. Sharpsville is well-named this year. Farrell looms in two weeks.
8. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 5-0 8 W, Youngsville, 59-9 Youngstown (O) Christian (0-6), Friday Comments: Oh, boy. Prep has smashed everyone, and Youngstown Christian is one of the weaker teams in that region. I see lots of subs in this game.
9. Sto-Rox (7) 4-1 9 W, New Castle Union Area, 46-0 at South Side Beaver (0-5), Saturday Comments: Sto-Rox had its game-day roster slashed by more than half due to strict board-imposed eligibility stand. That story is here.
10. Schuylkill Haven (11) 4-1 10 W, Panther Valley, 40-7 at Shenandoah Valley (2-3), Friday Comments: Haven seems to have shaken off its two-week funk (one-point win vs. Minersville, 22-point loss to North Schuylkill). Good for the Hurricanes.

Honorable mention: Bellwood-Antis (6) 4-1, Berlin-Brothersvalley (5) 5-0, Brentwood (7) 5-0, Cornell (7) 5-0, Curwensville (9) 5-0, Elk County Catholic (9) 5-0, Line Mountain (4) 41, Maplewood (10) 5-0, Monessen (7) 4-1, North Catholic (7) 4-1, Penns Manor (6) 5-0, Springdale (7) 4-1.

Associated Press Pennsylvania high school football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, September 28, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by the school’s record and last week’s ranking. NR means not ranked. Honorable mention teams listed alphabetically. (P-PIAA champion.)

Team Rec Pvs
1. Ridley (1) 5-0 1
2. La Salle College HS (P) (12) 4-1 2
3. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 5-0 3
4. North Allegheny (7) 5-0 4
5. Cumberland Valley (3) 4-1 5
6. North Penn (1) 4-1 7
7. Downingtown East (1) 4-1 8
8. Neshaminy (1) 5-0 9
9. Wilson (3) 5-0 10
10. Mount Lebanon (7) 5-0 NR
Teams to watch
Central Dauphin (3) 5-0, Council Rock South (1) 5-0, Easton (11) 4-1, McDowell (10) 4-1, North Hills (7) 5-0, Upper St.Clair (7) 4-1, Whitehall (11) 5-0.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Allentown C.C. (11) 5-0 1
2. Thomas Jefferson (7) 4-1 2
3. Archbishop Wood (12) 5-0 3
4. Montour (7) 5-0 4
5. Cardinal OHara (12) 5-0 5
6. Abington Heights (2) 5-0 6
7. Clearfield (9) 5-0 7
8. West Allegheny (7) 4-1 8
9. Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 5-0 9
10. Pottsgrove (1) 4-1 10
Teams to watch
Bishop McDevitt (3) 3-2, Cathedral Prep (10) 3-2, Central Valley (7) 4-1, Dallas (2) 5-0, Greencastle-Antrim (3) 5-0, Manheim Central (3) 3-2, West Scranton (2) 4-1.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Lancaster Catholic (P) (3) 5-0 1
2. Aliquippa (7) 5-0 3
3. Greensburg C.C. (7) 5-0 2
4. North Schuylkill (11) 5-0 4
5. South Fayette (7) 5-0 5
6. West Catholic (12) 3-2 6
7. Forest Hills (6) 5-0 7
8. Keystone Oaks (7) 5-0 9
9. Tyrone (6) 5-0 8
10. Northern Lehigh (11) 5-0 10
Teams to watch
Beaver Falls (7) 4-1, Danville (4) 5-0, General McLane (10), 4-1, Lewisburg (4) 5-0, Littlestown (3) 5-0, Seton-LaSalle (7) 5-0, Trinity (3) 4-1.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Clairton (P) (7) 5-0 1
2. Rochester (7) 5-0 2
3. Farrell (10) 5-0 5
4. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 5-0 4
5. Riverside (2) 5-0 6
6. Southern Columbia (4) 4-1 3
7. Dunmore (2) 3-2 7
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 4-1 8
9. Sharpsville (10) 5-0 9
10. Sto-Rox (7) 4-1 10
Teams to watch
Avonworth (7) 4-1, Beth-Center (7) 5-0, Line Mountain (4) 4-1, North Catholic (7) 4-1, Penns Manor (6) 5-0, Schuylkill Haven (11) 4-1, Springdale (7) 4-1.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week 6 picks

One week following a perfect slate of picks, a 4-2 record brought Kovak's fearless prognostications back to reality. Heading into Week 6, a schedule with a lot of strong local flavor, the overall record stands at 22-8, a .733 win percentage.

Peters Township (4-1) at Upper St. Clair (4-1)
One week after a confidence-building win against Bethel Park, Peters Township faces another difficult challenge in Upper St. Clair. The Panthers shook off a humbling loss to North Allegheny with back-to-back wins over West Allegheny and Baldwin. Slowing Dakota Conwell will be the primary focus of a Peters Township defense that allowed 14 points to the Black Hawks. There's no doubting the Indians are vastly improved, but does that translate against an Upper St. Clair team they never seem to beat? Upper St. Clair, 21-20.

Montour (5-0) at Central Valley (4-1)
With each passing week, Montour further establishes itself as the favorite in Class AAA. Nobody has slowed Julian Durden, who averaged 11 yards per carry. Quarterback Dillon Buechel has double-digit touchdown passes. Central Valley has been a pleasant addition to the perennially tough Parkway Conference but the handsome record can be questioned considering some of the competition. Montour, 35-16.

Keystone Oaks (5-0) at South Fayette (5-0)
For my money, this is the best matchup in Week 6. Try finding a WPIAL Class AA ranking that doesn't include these two Century Conference heavyweights. Heck, try finding a state ranking that doesn't include these two. Keystone Oaks, behind the two-headed monster of Matt McCann and Jordan Maddox, has what may be the WPIAL's most potent run game. Add Rico Cannello to the mix and it makes the Golden Eagles look indefensible.

And that's exactly what South Fayette has been since the emergence of Christian Brumbaugh as one of the area's top passers. South Fayette has weapons - Jeff Davis, Tyler Challingsworth, Josh Patterson - everywhere and the Lions are better along the offensive and defensive lines than people realize. Plus, these guys just know how to win. South Fayette, 27-21.

Brentwood (5-0) at Chartiers-Houston (4-1)
Anyone think these two teams would account for a 9-1 combined record heading into this Black Hills Conference game? Not this guy.

The Spartans keep finding ways to win. Through four weeks, it came by defense. Against Fort Cherry last week, Cory Bauer made play after play. The surprising Bucs, led mostly by underclassmen, learned how to win in Weeks 1 and 2. Now, they are challenging for second place in the conference. Danial Lis and Mykel Dorsey continued to be offensive forces. Chartiers-Houston, 24-21.

Avonworth (4-1) at North Catholic (4-1)
Figuring out the Eastern Conference is as complicated as the New York Times crossword puzzle. Let's see, Bishop Canevin beat Avonworth. Avonworth beat Springdale. Springdale just beat Bishop Canevin. North Catholic lost to Springdale and is fresh off a win at Monessen. Actually, all that deciphering just made this pick a lot easier. Avonworth, 21-10.

Beth-Center (5-0) at Monessen (4-1)
Since Beth-Center joined the Tri-County South in 2008, this winner of this game went on to win the conference championship. In 2008, the title went to Beth-Center. Monessen claimed the crown in 2009.

The Bulldogs may have bulldozing tailback Jeff Tarley back, which only bolsters an already strong offense. The Greyhounds are likely smarting after a one-point loss knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Beth-Center, 41-28.