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.


Anonymous said...

Let's Go Hillers!!!!!! ITS YOUR YEAR .....GOOD LUCK

Anonymous said...


Sarcastic Sword said...

Its funny to hear that the Monessen players chanted Brian Herman's name after the game. He made up for it by selecting the Monessen QB as Player of the Week in the Valley Independent when Nico McPherson of Ringgold had a career in 2 qtrs. He had 2 TD's, 3 INT's, and 2 fumble recoveries by halftime..Not a misprint..But obviously was not deemed worthy to win that award. A high school player with those stats for a career would be looked at as having been a nice ball player...Do it in 2 quarters is amazing but not enough in Brian Herman's eyes to win that award.

mike_kovak said...

Monessen played a great game against an undefeated B-C team.

McPherson did make this blog's starting 11 in the Week in Review.

Sarcastic Sword said...

Monessen did play a great game...Overcame injuries, etc. But BC was w/o Tarley too..Does Monessen win that game if Tarley is healthy..And Player of the Week is an individual honor. In my opinion, it goes to the player that had the best performance and by that, make it statistical so there is no need to be subjective.

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

That was a great story, Mike.

Anonymous said...

What about Waynesburg vs Yough? The battle of the basement, The winner gets it's first win of the season and the loser will go 0-9. Who will win this one Mike? Will it be a shootout or a defensive battle?

mike_kovak said...

Let me ask you this Sword ...

If you want to make POW solely statistical, say Player A rushed for 220 yards and three TDs with 10 tackles against a winless team. Good numbers, but numbers against a winless team.

Say Player B puts up 140 yards with two touchdowns, including one in the final two minutes to lift a team into first place in the conference against a team that is ranked.

Which performance is better? I'll go with Player B every single time.

This is not to take anything away from any player. Just offering a different point of view.

Sarcastic Sword said...


Point well taken....It makes sense in your comparison..But McPherson's accomplishments in 2 qtrs, regardless of competition, are still ridiculous. Even if I wasnt a Ringgold supporter, I would still feel the same way. Maybe if I was wearing a sports editor hat, I would have a story done on McPherson - because it would be neat to hear from him and his head coach about it because those stats just fly off the page..If I didnt see the game, I might have trouble believing that could happen in qtrs.

Thanks for the alternative viewpoint - its fun bantering back and forth like this.

Anonymous said...

Do you think if Ringgold wins out, will they be seeded below TJ if they win out?

Anonymous said...

In watching clairton dominate wash high, i truly believe they would beat every team in the century conference easily. Just think if they put put their best foot forward how awesome they could be. they have not been tested and will not be tested. they may put up 80 points out of spite on rochester. believe it or not as far as athletes wash high them and couldnt hang. I know wh record is awful but they have more problems other than talent.

mike_kovak said...

McPherson did have a great game for sure.

If Ringgold goes unbeaten and TJ wins out, I guarantee TJ will be seeded higher.

I've seen Clairton play Wash High.

I've seen South Fayette play Wash High.

No way does Clairton easily beat South Fayette.

mike_kovak said...

80 points on Rochester, huh?

Bartender, I'll have what anon 4:27 p.m. is having.

Anonymous said...

Wash high STILL doin it! Keep lettin them boys run tha team, maybe next year their heads wont be so BIG!!!

Clairton Alum said...

Alright guys...seriously...lets take it easy. Clairton would not score 80 on Rochy. Clairton would not easily beat S Fayette. Lets scale it back a little. Lets just be quiet tomorrow and go about our business...

prexie74 said...

first of all i have to say mike ans sarcastic, you guys make some great comments and i love to read them, you both have great insight.
Next i also wish to say good luck to the hillers but its never going to happen,not with dalton at the helm.
as far as the commenter about clairton beating every century team and winning at rochester 80 -0
wow ithink tthey may beat rochester but it won't be by a large margin. as for them winning in the century,i have to say the top twwo or three teams would soundly beat them only because the bears would need to be disciplined to win and that would be their downfall.
one last comment for ringold keep up the good work but don't overlook franklin reg.

Anonymous said...

I want to see Ringgold play Franklin Regional and Montour or Central Valley against TJ.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Mike and Jimmy W.I think this clairton team is a little different, and better than last year. Don't be surprised if they do something out of the ordinary. Like blow rochester out down heinz field. There defense plays as one machine out there. and jimmy we are gonna handle our buisness in brentwood. We had a great week of practice, and we are sick and tired of being nice to teams. Come see us play tonight please. It's gonna be a lot of fun trust me.

waytogo said...

Quit asking about Waynesburg. You people fired great coaches like Russ Moore and Dave Sarra. Now, with Kuhns 1 1/2 years into trying to rebuild your sorry program, you guys have chased him off. A reliable source told me he is resigning because of the unreasonable fan base. Way to go. A young coach with a great early career is destroyed by your egotism in 2 short years. I wish Coach Kuhns luck in whatever endeavor he gets into next. (Hopefully his career is not over.)

Clairton Alum said...

I never miss a game. You boys can play mad but dont take stupid penalties. Its time to be the bad guy again. No mercy...

Anonymous said...

Coach Kuhns is a great guy and a very good motivator. He's young and loves the sport, the problem down their is the fan base. The parents don't want to here that Little Johnny is not that good and that the talent is bad for single A. The fact that the players are small and slow, but they think they are very good. The program needs stability at the head coach position, it doesn't matter who was the coach the last 5 years. Bill Cowher couldn't take them to the playoffs. Letting Kuhns go would set the program back another 10 years.

Joey Niklas said...

Can we be a little realistic my Clairton brethern. Rochy always plays us tough. 2-3 TD's seem to be a fair spread.