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.


Anonymous said...

What is wrong with the WPIAL when they align teams in a conference? Could someone please explain?

Finally a competitive game when Avella and Bentworth met Friday night. They along with the likes of Geibel, West Greene, Mapletown, etc should be in a conference where these small teams could play competitive football. It makes no sense whatsoever to place 2 "losers" (for lack of a better word, meaning no disrespect, 2 "winners", and 4 "middle men" in a conference. We already know the outcome in many cases.

It seems as though they align where their "loyalties" lie so their favored team, or someone on it can have their fame on a "winning" team. Does politics have to play a role in everything, including high school football match-ups!

Joey Niklas said...

Anon 9:40

Posts like yours drives me crazy. It was probably people such as yourself that was against the 6 class realignment. Regardless of how many class's there was Clairton, Monessen and Rochester would've been in the smallest class. I think we all need to enjoy the final few years of true small school football. Within 10 most of our schools won't exist. Harrisburg is being for real with their threats of mergers. They want to go from 500+ HS Districts to a meager 100 school districts.

If parents such as yourself are this upset with how your school is performing on the field, then join your respective school board and open up the wallets to bring in a better coach. Its as simple as that. It wasn't long ago that West Greene was a 1A powerhouse. These things go in cycles. And yes I understand in small school football you have so many kids to choose from. Springdale is a great example of how a school can go from being a bottom feeder one decade to a power the next. Geibel has been making strides the past 2-3 years and I'm happy to see this.

I wished Clairton and Serra was still in the Eastern with our traditional rivals. But we're not and I have to deal with it. I for one hope we go to a 6 Class format and scrap Heinz Field and play the title games at Cal U and Robert Morris.

Your right about one thing, Politics will always play a role in HS football. It boils down to the mighty dollar esp with FSN/MSA/PCN and other major outlets involved. The WPIAL doesn't care about tradition.

Clairton Alum said...

For the most part I agree with your bracket. Personally, after that loss to Western Beaver, I dont believe Sto Rox should be at #5 ahead of Monessen. Remember, Sto Rox had their entire team available for that game with Western Beaver and they got beat...badly. One spot doesnt seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but the difference between 5 and 6 is huge because it changes the side of the bracket you are on. I believe Clairton is the best team in Class A and will beat everyone, but I would prefer the path of least resistance to the championship. I dont think the path of least resistance involves both Sto Rox and Rocehster. Guess we'll see tomorrow night.

Anonymous said...

No, I was not against the 6 class realignment...on the contrary, i think that should have occurred for reasons i know you would appreciate.

Again, why can't the WPIAL see this?
They are the "so called experts" (and I use the term loosely). Even I can see the advantages to the need for more classifications.

I do however object to your comment about opening up wallets to bring in a better coach.
What is wrong with the current coach? much money should a school district pay for a coach and his staff?
Why do you assume that it is the coaches fault? Don't players have any responsibility or dedication to playing the game?

And to address one of your other points....about the WPIAL not caring about tradition... isn't that what they claim to be all about? They are supposed to stand for sportsmanship, etc. and blah, blah, blah.........but do they?

Joey Niklas said...

The least path of resistance doesn't matter to me. We're Clairton and we're supposed to beat whoever we play. If Sto Rox, Monessen, Springdale, and Canevin is on our side of the bracket. Then so be it. The #1 seed almost never has the least path of resistance ever. Normally the best 3rd place team gets the #9 seed. And in a lot of cases its a team that tied for first place. Canevin would be a tough tough game for the Bears. I still think Clairton is a 3-4 TD favorites over Canevin. But if we're sleeping on them, they could beat us.

Clairton Alum said...

Anon, teams and conferences in the WPIAL are cyclical. A decade ago Fort Cherry, Char Houston, West Greene and others were major power players while Clairton was down a little. You're calling for aligning conferences based on "fairness". Whose definition of "fairness" are we going to use? Would it really be "fair" to put Avella, Bentworth, West Greene, Mapletown, Geibel, Frazier and say OLSH and Leechburg in the same conference? What good does that do anybody? It doesnt give those teams an opportunity to see real competition and get any better. Come playoff time, the top 4 teams in that conference would all get mercy ruled in the first round of the playoffs. Is that "fair"? Also, would you put teams like Clairton, Rochester, Monessen, Sto Rox, Springdale, Avonworth, Bishop Canevin, and Chartiers Houston in the same Conference? If you do that, 4 quality teams that could beat any team in the other conference I mentioned earlier would be left out of the playoffs. Is that fair?

It is what it is...the conferences are aligned for the most part based on geographic location and an attempt is made to make them as competitive as possible. Sometimes, however, you get those outlying teams like Clairton that just plas on another level and you have teams like Avella and Bentworth that have bad seasons.

However, I suppose that if you want to be a socialist about things I guess we could redistribute the wealth around the know I mean since Clairton has too many skill players lets send some of them to schools like Avella and Bentworth to help make them better. Does that sound "fair"? We can call it athletic justice...

Joey Niklas said...

You're right it ultimately comes down to the kids on the field. Better coach's would teach better techniques, routes, schemes, etc. It shouldn't be a coincidence that coach's from PA and Ohio are coaching in North Carolina and Georgia and those 2 states are becoming hotbeds for D1A Talent.

Personally I was all for the 6 class realignment. I like the idea of shortening the season by a week or 2. No reason for the championship games to be played a week before Christmas in Hershey. 2 more championship games at college sites would produce more money for the WPIAL and have a better overall atmosphere. Having the games at Heinz with 4-5k fans there and 60k empty seats its just a stupid idea. IMO.

At the same time with 6 class's, you're still going to have competitive imbalance. There are still going to be teams 30/40/50 points better than other teams. Under the 6 class proposal, schools wouldn't have been allowed to play up(correct me if i'm wrong). Schools like Clairton, Aliquippa, Jeannette, Rochester, Monessen all would've been stuck in 1A while schools like Beth Center, Brentwood, Canevin, Sto Rox, Carlynton and others would've been in 2A. The gap between the strong and weak teams would've been wider in our neck of the woods.

Anonymous said...

Clairton alum & Joey...

wouldn't the 6 class realignment address some of what I am saying? So why won't the WPIAL do it?

I understand they all couldn't play at Heinz field, but so what.

And Clairton alum, if you use your analogy of the small schools not getting any competition and not getting any better, then the same thing would happen with the Bears...if they don't have any competition then they won't play to their potential. Consequently, when they go on to college and play, they can get eaten alive because they haven't had to "play" to win, but just show up. So how fair is that to them?

Sarcastic Sword said...

@ Joey...It doesnt matter in some school districts if Bill Cowher was brought in - some districts are just devoid of high-end athletes. Has nothing to do with a school board needing to open up the checkbook to bring in a better coach. Maybe a better coach can help in a district that has some potential but needs a better leader, etc, but overall, unless a coach has some horses, it isnt getting to the finish line before others.

Anonymous said...

Such harsh words when you pinpoint only one school Mike! Just curious, have you or any of your writers been to a Charleroi game this year? I know they might have had a rough season, but they are a school in your newspapers coverage area. How many "other" local high school games have you guys been to this year.....other than theirs?

mike_kovak said...


Charleroi was the ONLY team not to call in a single game all season. That tells us they don't want covered; so why would we go there when the majority of our other schools called in results every week?

I also made a couple attempts early in the season to update the status of injuries to their team and did not have calls returned.

Am I singling them out? Sure. I'm tired of seeing, in other games Charleroi yada, yada, yada, results were not reported to the Observer-Reporter.

Coverage goes both ways anon. Seems like every other football team in our coverage area understands that.

Anonymous said...

If this happened with Peters or Canon Mac, would you have singled them out as well? You said you would list the other schools....list them!

Joey Niklas said...

@ Sarcastic Sword

How does that explain some of the schools out east that don't have athletes at all? They just have big OLineman and a deception offenses like the Wing T, Double Wing, and Single Wing offenses. Those schools out east play great disciplined defense as well. This is where the coaching and schemes come into play. The demographic's of those schools out east are very similar to Beth Center, Springdale and Carmichaels. They may be even more country than the Greene County Schools. I say the biggest advantage the schools out east have over us is that they play against bigger schools on a more regular basis while our schools play mostly 1A schools. Picture Beth Center playing Belle Vernon, Uniontown, AG, and Charleroi before they play their 1A schedule. Playing those schools would certainly prepare Beth Center for the playoffs. Maybe we should go to 8 conferences of 4 teams and the top 2 make the playoffs. Let each school pick 3 of their games, have 3 conference games, and 2 picked from the WPIAL. Maybe that would help a little with these mismatch's just a little that anon was referring to.

mike_kovak said...

I said, "Maybe I'll release a list of teams that never call in results someday."

Makes me wonder why you're so upset.

Anonymous said...

I have no affiliation to the team, but I am affiliated to the community. Singling out one school is a little off the wall if you are claiming there are others. Is there another reason that you are calling out Charleroi? Back up your words and list the other schools!

mike_kovak said...

Anon, again you must not understand my quote. Let me copy and paste it again.

"Maybe I'll release a list of teams that never call in results someday."

I didn't say I'm going to or I will. But I am calling out Charleroi football, a team that hasn't called in results the entire year and, if you go into the past, for some time.

They are without a doubt the No. 1 culprit of failing to report results, whether it's a Washington County school, a Greene County school or a bordering school like South Fayette or Monessen.

Anonymous said...


Clairton Alum said...

If your AD and/or your school district refuse to put the effort in to make a 2 minute phone call to attract some publicity why should the news organizations put an effort into covering them? Just saying...

Anonymous said...

Mike, I agree about the comment regarding charleroi.not calling in the scores.Just curious have you been able to contact the AD in regards to this? Then again a lot of schools that have been succesful in the last few years that have fallen on hard times have gotten away from calling in...

mike_kovak said...

Every month, there is a meeting of the Tri-County Athletic Directors Association which is attended by one of our staff writers.

It provides a good forum to let schools what we need and who is not calling. If I bump into an AD and I know we're not getting results from a team or two, I'll let him know. There's only so much the paper and ADs can do. Ultimately, it is up to the team to have a representative call in results.

Anonymous said...

Was their AD notified about the problem?