Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alumni Football USA comes to Washington County

Old rivalries will be renewed Friday at Chartiers-Houston when Alumni Football USA hosts two full-contact games featuring four local teams.
Long-time rival Fort Cherry and Burgettstown play at 5:15 p.m. followed by South Fayette against Chartiers-Houston at 7:30 p.m.
Gates open at 4 p.m. Tickets for adults are $8 and $6 for seniors and students. Children under 10 are admitted free. There are no pre-sale tickets available.
Alumni Football USA has organized 18 high school alumni games in Western Pennsylvania between Nov. 24 and Dec. 5. The four local schools are among the ones with the largest rosters as each expect to dress 35-50 players.
Former players from all schools in the region can sign-up at www.AlumniFootballUSA.com or call event coordinator Robert Bishop at 724-456-3000 for more information on games scheduled for next July.

Hoopfest schedule

The annual Hoopfest, which benefits Special Olympics, will tip-off Saturday, Dec. 18. Games will be played at Trinity High School and Laurel Highlands High School.

Schedule for Trinity
Main gym
Noon – Ringgold girls vs. Peters Township girls
2 p.m. – McGuffey boys vs. Monessen boys
4 p.m. – Mapletown boys vs. Burgettstown boys
6 p.m. – Washington girls vs. Fort Cherry girls
8 p.m. – Washington boys vs. Fort Cherry boys
Auxiliary gym
1 p.m. – West Greene girls vs. Char-Houston girls
3 p.m. – West Greene boys vs. Char-Houston boys
5 p.m. – Avella girls vs. Monessen girls
7 p.m. – Mapletown girls vs. McGuffey girls

Schedule for Laurel Highlands
(Times to be determined)
Albert Gallatin girls vs. Laurel Highlands girls
Peters Township boys vs. Albert Gallatin boys

PIAA quarterfinals take to the air

One thing is certain when District 9 champion Brockway (12-0) plays WPIAL champion South Fayette (13-0). There will be plenty of passing.

Two of the top quarterbacks in PIAA history, statistically speaking, headline this game.

Brockway feature Derek Buganza, the top passer in state history with 9,413 passing yards. His 92 touchdown passes are fourth-best in the state.

South Fayette counters with Christian Brumbaugh, who has led the Lions to a 23-1 record the past two seasons. Brumbaugh ranks second in WPIAL history and is tied for 11th in PIAA history with 75 touchdown passes. His 6,371 passing yards ranks fourth in WPIAL history and 19th in state history.

Brumbaugh needs 202 passing yards to tie Andrew DiDonato (2002-2005) for the school record of 6,573 yards and with 371 yards, Brumbaugh could pass former Sto-Rox quarterback Adam DiMichele (2000-03) for the WPIAL record. DiMichele passed for 6,741 yards.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Live blog, WPIAL Class AA final South Fayette vs. Aliquippa

Final – South Fayette 19, Aliquippa 6

SF wins first WPIAL championship since 1964 and third overall.

Lions plays D9 champs Brockway Friday night at West Allegheny in the PIAA playoffs.

3:24 p.m. – Trevor Fiorentini caps 12-play drive (all runs) with a 2-yard touchdown as South Fayette takes 19-6 lead with 2:25 left. SF eats up 6:01 on drive that covers 70 yards.

3:21 p.m. – SF goes for it on 4th and 1 at Aliquippa 7. Trevor Fiorentini gets 3 yards. SF in control.

3:19 p.m. – South Fayette out of shotgun. Running Davis and churning out a few first downs. With 4:23 to go, Lions have 3rd and 8 at Quips' 14.

3:04 p.m. – Aliquippa fumbes in SF territory again. Nick Guyan recovers for Lions.

2:58 p.m. – Both teams trade turnovers. Brumbaugh throws an interception. Aliquippa fumbles deep in SF territory for the second time. Quips have lost three fumbles.

SF 12-6 end 3rd.

2:42 p.m. – Brumbaugh shakes off a rough first half, completes three straight passes including one where Zach Challingsworth gets toes in at the Quips' 5. Then he scores on the next play on a pass from Brumbaugh.

Two-point pass failed. South Fayette leads 12-6 with 7:16 left in 3rd.

2:35 p.m. – Dravon Henry fumbles on first-down run up the middle. Recovered by South Fayette at its 47. Still 6-6 in the third quarter.

South Fayette struggling on offense.

For some reason my last three posts have disappeared.

1:43 p.m. – Aliquippa still moving up and down field but little top show for efforts. Still tied, 4:46 2nd.

1:28 p.m. – End of 1st Aliquippa 6, South Fayette 6

A little of subject, found it somewhat surprising that former Charleroi football player Zach Hooks starts at right guard for the Quips. With Hooks' size and skill set, figured he'd be a tackle.

1:18 p.m. – Quips freshman Dravon Henry scores on a 3-yard run. Aliquippa running with ease, already with 61 yards rushing. Kick is wide right. Game tied, 6-6 with 3:07 left in first.

1:10 p.m. – A Jeff Davis 33-yard run sets up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Christian Brumbaugh to Tyler Challingsworth. South Fayette goes 88 yards in 5 plays and takes a 6-0 lead with 6:51 left in the first quarter. Tyler Yee's extra point is blocked.

1:06 p.m. – Aliquippa QB Mikal Hall fumbles snap. Recovered by SF's Eric Myers at the Lions' 12. Ends nice opening drive for Quips.

12:59 p.m. – South Fayette set to kickoff.

12:53 p.m. – South Fayette takes the field. Saw a lot of green and white in the parking lots outside. Some of that is tricking inside.

By the way, Clairton 12, Rochester 0. Wasn't much to watch but the Bears defense remains strong.

Friday, November 26, 2010

WPIAL championships picks

An intense glare from the curious. Television cameras. Aliquippa as the opponent.

South Fayette entered last year's WPIAL Class AA playoffs with an undefeated record and the No. 1 seed in the bracket. Considering the Lions had never achieved such lofty success in the classification, it raised a few eyebrows.

And it meant Aliquippa would be the Lions' opponent in the second round, a game FSN deemed worthy to broadcast live.

"We're talking about a group that was 3-6 (the year before)," South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said.

South Fayette played like a veteran team through three quarters and led by two scores. The lead almost expanded on a couple occasions in the fourth quarter before Aliquippa rallied with 32 late points to win a wild one and eventually advance to the WPIAL championship game.

It's a performance that has bothered South Fayette for over a year.

"It was the first time we had a lot of success. We were undefeated and a lot of people we're wondering how good we were," said senior Eric Myers, a two-way starter at tight end and middle linebacker. "Looking back, I think we might have been a little in awe of Aliquippa and the situation."

That's not the case anymore.

If South Fayette (12-0) will be in awe of anything when it takes the field against Aliquippa (12-0) in the Class AA championship game Saturday at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field the Lions will be in awe of the venue.

"I'm sure going into Heinz Field the guys will be in awe a little bit," Rossi said. "They have to erase those thoughts and prepare like they're getting ready to play on our field."

Awe or not, stopping South Fayette's offense is something no team has done. Don't expect it to happen here, even against an Aliquippa defense that might be the best in the state in Class AA.

South Fayette, 42-34.

In other games, Clairton 16, Rochester 12; Montour 38, Central Valley 21; North Allegheny 17, Woodland Hills 14.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Frisco's Pennsylvania football rankings

Mr. Frisco, who sat beside me during the PIAA Class AAA girls soccer final between Peters Township and Archbishop Wood, was able to get his weekly rankings done early this week. So, for the first time in several weeks, we can publish them.

Rank School (District) Record Pvs Last week’s result Next opponent
1. La Salle College HS (12) 11-1 1 W, Northeast Philadelphia, 35-0 idle, plays Easton-Whitehall winner on Dec. 3 or 4
Comments: Explorers‟ late season going completely as planned, get a week‟s vacation before plowing into D-11 champ. The real start of the title defense.
2. Lansdale North Penn (1) 11-1 3 W, Downingtown East, 49-33 at No. 7 Council Rock South (11-1)
Comments: Super-fast start – five touchdowns in the first half – was all the Knights needed against shocked Downingtown East.
3. North Allegheny (7) 11-1 5 W, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 17-7 No. 4 Woodland Hills (9-3) at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Comments: Caveman offense wasn‟t much to look at against PCC, but NA HC Art Walker wasn't complaining. Hard to believe it‟s been 20 years since last NA WPIAL title
4. Woodland Hills (7) 9-3 10 W, North Hills, 24-14 No. 3 North Allegheny (11-1) at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Comments: Defending champs are as dangerous as anybody left in the playoffs right now, including team ranked above them. Healthier WH means trouble for opponents.
5. Easton (11) 11-1 7 W, East Stroudsburg South, 68-20 Phillipsburg, N.J. (8-2) at Lafayette College
Comments: Time for the annual Easton two-fer, the T-Day war with P-burg NJ and the 11-AAAA title game against Whitehall. Easton has survived this before.
6. Neshaminy (1) 11-1 8 W, Abington, 35-21 HM Bayard Rustin (11-1)
Comments: Every bit the threat to win the 1-AAAA title. Redskins give up a few too many points for our taste, but they‟re not shy about winning games.
7. Council Rock South (1) 11-1 9 W, Central Bucks West, 52-41 No. 2 Lansdale North Penn (11-1)
Comments: CRS and NP never crossed paths during regular season, but they make up for it Friday. Biggest game for South since Council Rock ‟04 split
8. Cumberland Valley (3) 10-2 NR W, Wilson, 28-14 at No. 9 Central Dauphin (10-2)
Comments: Eagles bounce back into the Top Ten after superbly crafted win over former TT resident Wilson. Must make 2 nd trip of season to CD.
9. Central Dauphin (3) 10-2 NR W, Governor Mifflin, 35-26 No. 8 Cumberland Valley (10-2)
Comments: Ditto the Rams, who opened big lead against Mifflin and held off Mustangs. Two sophs (RB Zayd Issah and QB Brandon LaVia) have been outstanding.
10. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) 11-1 2 L, North Allegheny, 17-7 Season complete
Comments: PCC spent a lot of time at No. 1, but late-season scoring production went flat (17 points in last two games), so the season has gone dark for Vikings.

Honorable mention: Abington (1) 9-3, Bayard Rustin (1) 11-1, Central Bucks West (1) 9-3, Dallastown (3) 11-1, Daniel Boone (3) 11-1, Downingtown East (1) 9-3, Governor Mifflin (3) 9-3, Harrisburg (3) 9-3, Henderson (1) 8-4, Mount Lebanon (7) 10-1, Nazareth (11) 9-3, Northeast Philadelphia (12) 8-3, North Hills (7) 10-2), Penn Wood (1) 9-2, Perry Traditional Academy (8) 11-1, Red Lion (3) 9-3, Ridley (1) 10-1, Upper St. Clair (7) 8-3, Whitehall (11) 10-2, Wilson (3) 11-1.

Rank School (District) Record Pvs Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Allentown Central Catholic (11) 12-0 1 W, Southern Lehigh, 41-0 No. 3 Abington Heights (12-0) at Scranton Memorial
Comments: ACC did a great job of navigating Lehigh Valley minefield, but Heights ain‟t no joke, especially at “home” in Scranton. Schedule does help Vikes.
2. Archbishop Wood (12) 12-0 2 W, Dobbins, 44-7 idle, plays winner of Strath Haven-Pottsgrove on Dec. 3-4
3. Abington Heights (2) 12-0 3 W, West Scranton, 28-21 No. 1 Allentown CC (12-0) at J.Birney Crum, Allentown
Comments: Heights scored an unbeaten season against a better-than-usual schedule – 2-AAA was decent this year – but has to kick it in to stop flying ACC offense.
4. Montour (7) 12-0 4 W, Mars, 35-14 No. 10 Central Valley (9-3) at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Comments: Spartans played very good schedule, but who gave „em clsoest game? That‟s right, Central Valley, which is even hotter now.
5. Bishop McDevitt (3) 10-2 5 W, Hershey, 63-0 at HM Lampeter-Strasburg (11-1)
Comments: OK, McD lit up poor Hershey like a, um, Roman candle, but lest it get too puffy, it can draw a lesson from neighbor Harrisburg. L-S is one tough nut.
6. Grove City (10) 11-0 7 W, Corry, 34-7 HM Cathedral Prep (7-4)
Comments: That win over a good Corry team is impressive, but GC needs A-game against a Prep team that‟s way better than any four-loss AAA team in the state.
7. Cardinal O’Hara (12) 9-2 8 Season complete
Season complete
Comments: Still leaving the Lions on the grid, repeating my belief that they have one of the 10 best teams in the state in AAA.
8. Clearfield (9) 12-0 10 W, Johnstown, 26-12 HM Shikellamy (9-3) at Kemp Memorial, Shamokin
Comments: Can't go home for Thanksgiving after thumbing my nose at alma mater, believing Johnstown speed and passing game would score. I‟m sorry.
9. Strath Haven (1) 11-1 NR W, Springfield-Delco, 28-21 HM Pottsgrove (10-2) at Coatesville Area HS
Comments: Good to see the Panthers back in the bigs after a spell in the playoff wilderness. Must be wary of Pottsgrove team that recovered from mid-season hiccup.
10. Central Valley (7) 9-3 NR W, Thomas Jefferson, 42-24 No. 4 Montour (12-0) at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Comments: It‟s almost impossible to get a first-year merger (Center and Monaca) to get along, but Central Valley has done it, at least on the football field. Great story.

Honorable mention: Cathedral Prep (10) 7-4, Cocalico (3) 7-5, Conrad Weiser (3) 9-3, Corry (10) 9-3, Dallas (2) 10-1, Dobbins Vo-Tech (12) 10-2, Greencastle-Antrim (3) 11-1, Johnstown (6) 10-2, Knoch (7) 9-2, Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 11-1, Mars (7) 10-2, Pottsgrove (1) 10-2, Punxsutawney (9) 10-1, Shikellamy (4) 9-3, Thomas Jefferson (7) 10-2, West Scranton (2) 9-3.

Rank School (District) Record Pvs Last week’s result Next opponent
1. West Catholic (12) 10-2 1 W, Bok Vo-Tech, 34-6 idle, plays winner of Northern Lehigh-GAR Dec. 3 or 4
Comments: The third PCL/District 12 champion to get a week on the chaise lounge. It‟s a bit of a scheduling quirk, but the PCL haters sure aren‟t digging it.
2. Aliquippa (7) 12-0 2 W, Ford City, 26-7 No. 3 South Fayette (12-0) at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Comments: The Quips‟ defense has been magnificent, especially in the postseason (7 points in 3 games). They‟ll need it against explosive SF offense.
3. South Fayette (7) 12-0 5 W, Beaver Falls, 53-28 No. 2 Aliquippa (12-0) at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Comments: Let‟s be honest. It‟s weird seeing SF as a WPIAL finalist; it‟s 46 years since that phrase applied to Lions. Weirder yet: They‟re pick'em against Aliquippa.
4. Northern Lehigh (11) 12-0 6 W, North Schuylkill, 25-23 HM GAR Memorial (11-1) at J.Birney Crum, Allentown
Comments: Big start enough for NL to hold off fourth-quarter charge by NS and gain a high-quality triumph. GAR is potent (see second half v Lakeland), so antennae up.
5. Forest Hills (6) 11-1 7 W, Huntingdon, 25-7 No. 9 Tyrone (12-0) at Mansion Park Stadium, Altoona
Comments: Everyone had this game penciled in as the 6-AA title game. FH has scored at will most of the year, but needs all weapons against stingy Tyrone D.
6. Danville (4) 12-0 10 W, Mount Carmel, 38-28 No. 7 Lewisburg (12-0)
Comments: The Ironmen vault to their highest ranking of the season after keeping Mount Carmel from storming the fort. „Men have played really tough football.
7. Lewisburg (4) 12-0 8 W, Towanda, 39-14 at No. 6 Danville (12-0)
Comments: I can see the arrows raining down now after leaping D-ville past a Lewisburg team that merely took apart an unbeaten Towanda team. Illogical, but that‟s me.
8. Trinity (3) 11-1 NR W, Bermudian Springs, 48-12 HM Wyomissing (9-3) at Hersheypark Stadium
Comments: Under the radar since losing big to fallen Lancaster Catholic in week 1, the Shamrocks are a genuine TT team now. Have been for weeks, really.
9. Tyrone (6) 12-0 NR W, Martinsburg Central, 17-7 No. 5 Forest Hills (11-1) at Mansion Park, Altoona
Comments: Tyrone always brings a lot of blaze orange to Mansion Park, and the fans just could be shooting off their cap guns after this outstanding matchup.
10. North Schuylkill (11) 11-1 4 L, Northern Lehigh, 25-23 Season complete
Comments: Tough to leave some deserving teams (Brockway, GAR, Sharon) out of TT with NS done, but Spartans really are one of the state‟s best this year.

Honorable mention: Beaver Area (7) 8-3, Beaver Falls (7) 10-2, Bloomsburg (4) 8-3, Brockway (9) 11-0, Ford City (7) 11-1, GAR Memorial (2) 11-1, General McLane (10) 10-2, Greensburg Central Catholic (7) 9-1, Hickory (10) 9-2, Lancaster Catholic (3) 11-1, Lakeland (2) 10-2, Littlestown (3) 10-1, Pen Argyl (11) 9-2, Seton-La Salle (7) 9-2, Sharon (10) 102, Susquehanna Community (2) 9-2, Towanda (4) 11-1, Wyomissing (3) 9-3.

Rank School (District) Record Pvs Last week’s result Next opponent
1. Clairton (7) 12-0 1 W, Springdale, 26-7 No. 2 Rochester (12-0) at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Comments: I keep trying to think of something new to say about Clairton, but the Bears play the same darn game every week. Oh, wait, NOT a shutout last week.
2. Rochester (7) 12-0 2 W, Avonworth, 20-7 No. 1 Clairton (12-0) at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Comments: Here we are: the annual Heinz Field collision between two of the best Class A programs. It was a one-pointer last year. Wouldn‟t surprise this year, either.
3. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 12-0 3 W, Sharpsville, 56-33 No. 6 Farrell (11-1) at Veterans Memorial, Erie
Comments: OK, count among those who were blown away by the Lakers‟ 56-point production against known quantity defense. If they do that to Farrell ...
4. Southern Columbia (4) 10-2 4 W, Line Mountain, 48-13 No. 5 Taylor Riverside (11-1) at Valley View HS, Peckville
Comments: A little inside baseball: In this class – well, any class, usually – No. 4 is no different than No. 1. No insult to top 3 intended, but SCA could be PIAA champ
5. Taylor Riverside (2) 11-1 5 W, Dunmore, 22-14 No. 4 Southern Columbia (10-2) at Valley View HS
Comments: The wins have become a little tougher and tighter for Riverside, which isn‟t necessarily a red flag. But they‟ll have to be at full steam in PIAA first-rounder.
6. Farrell (10) 11-1 6 W, Lakeview, 34-7 No. 3 Mercyhurst Prep (12-0) at Veterans Memorial, Erie
Comments: OK, I really doubt M-Prep can hang 56 on Farrell (I will gladly make a wager any willing sap, er, soul). But Steelers, awakened 3 weeks back, know the danger.
7. Holy Name (3) 10-1 10 W, Steelton-Highspire, 42-7 HM Millersburg (8-3) at Hersheypark Stadium
Comments: The Blue Jays (not a very manly nickname, IMO) finally get to nail Steel-High‟s scalp to the post, but must be wary of Jekyll-and-Hyde Millersburg team.
8. Schuylkill Haven (11) 10-2 NR W, Pius X, 30-14 HM Calvary Christian (8-3) at Souderton Area HS C
omments: The Hurricanes return to the Twin Ts and sit as solid favorite against Calvary, a nice program that has yet to win at this level.
9. Bishop Carroll (6) 9-2 NR W, Penns Manor, 21-6 HM Bishop McCort (8-4) at Mansion Park Stadium, Altoona
Comments: The private-public issue is at its hottest in hoops and in the Philly area, but it should noted that Carroll and McCort have flat dominated 6-A footies.
10. Curwensville (9) 10-1 NR W, Cameron County, 22-13 HM Port Allegany (7-4) at Frank Varischetti Field, Brockway
Comments: If Clearfield gets a TT call, so does the down-river rival. Golden Tide had to scramble against CamCo, but scored ticket to 9-A title game and is mild fave.

Honorable mention: Avonworth (7) 10-2, Bellwood-Antis (6) 8-2, Bishop Canevin (7) 9-2, Bishop McCort (6) 8-4, Calvary Christian (1) 8-3, Line Mountain (4) 10-2, Millersburg (3) 83, Northern Bedford County (5) 11-1, North Star (5) 9-3, Penns Manor (6) 9-1, Pius X (11) 8-4, Portage (6) 8-3, Port Allegany (9) 7-4, Sharpsville (10) 10-2, Springdale (7) 10-2, York Catholic (3) 7-4.

Tale of the tape, South Fayette vs. Aliquippa

South Fayette

Nickname: Lions
Colors: Green and white
Record: 12-0
Rankings: No. 2 WPIAL Class A by Observer-Reporter, No. 3 Class AA by Rod Frisco, No. 4 Class AA by The Patriot-News, No. 6 by Pennsylvania Football News
Conference: Century
How they got here: Century Conference champs, No. 3 seed WPIAL playoffs
1st round – W, Ellwood City 35-0
Quarters – W, Freeport 47-13
Semis – W, Beaver Falls 55-28
Mercy, mercy: South Fayette, which had never won more than one playoff game since joining Class AA, has mercy-ruled all three postseason opponents.
"I would have never thought that," South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. "The breaks have gone our way and the ball has bounced our way."
The 137 postseason points scored are the most in the WPIAL this year. Clairton ranks second with 113 points scored.
Key players: QB Christian Brumbaugh (2,728 yds, 37 TD, 6 INT); RB/DB Jeff Davis (1,238 rush yards, 564 receiving yards, 23 TD); WR/DB Tyler Challingsworth (749 rec. yards, 6 TD); TE/LB Eric Myers; FB/LB Trevor Fiorentini; OL/DL Nick Faraci
Quotable: "We're not used to winning more than one game in the playoffs. We called it the South Fayette Curse," Challingsworth said. "Once we got past the first round, that was over."
Bits and pieces: South Fayette has not appeared in a WPIAL championship game since 1967. That year the Lions lost to Crafton, 7-6. … South Fayette's last WPIAL title came in 1964, when the team did not have to play a game to be declared champion by Gardner Points. … The Lions only other title came in 1936. … South Fayette has posted two consecutive undefeated regular seasons. The Lions are 22-1 the past two seasons with the lone loss against Aliquippa. … South Fayette is plus-18 in turnover margin and has scored five defensive touchdowns.


Nickname: Quips
Colors: Red and black
Record: 12-0
Rankings: No. 1 WPIAL Class AA by Observer-Reporter, No. 1 Class AA by Pennsylvania Football News, No. 2 Class AA by Rod Frisco, No. 2 Class AA by The Patriot-News
Conference: Midwestern
How they got here: Midwestern Conference champs, No. 1 seed WPIAL playoffs
1st round – W, Shady Side Academy 41-0
Quarters – W, Beaver 34-0
Semis – W, Ford City 26-7
Almost zero tolerance: The Quips defense has allowed just seven postseason points and that performance is indicative of how dominant that side of the football has been throughout the season. Aliquippa has allowed just 93 points and an average of 7.8 points per game.
Only four teams have scored 10-plus points on the Quips and no team has topped 14. Aliquippa's secondary, which faces a South Fayette offense with five capable receivers, has allowed less than 900 yards passing on the season.
"They're tremendous skill-wise and, up front, they are good," Rossi said.
Last year: Aliquippa beat South Fayette in last year's quarterfinals. The Lions led by 14 points in the fourth quarter before the Quips scored 32 points inside the final nine minutes.
"That was our first time in that situation," Brumbaugh said. "We had been in the playoffs but we hadn't done anything special. We weren't used to being there and it showed in the fourth quarter."
Key players: QB Mikal Hall (1,404 yards, 19 TD); WR/DB Haetaun Mathis (591 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT); RB Dravon Henry (789 yards, 12 TD); OL/DL Zach Hooks
About the Quips: "They're a group that's never going to quit," Rossi said. "We were up on them by two TDs last year with chances to expand that lead to 21 and we had two drives fizzle out. We made mistakes and created opportunities for them. They took advantage."
Bits and pieces: Aliquippa lost to Greensburg Central Catholic in last year's WPIAL championship game. … The Quips have won a record 13 WPIAL titles, six in Class AA. … Both teams played Ellwood City and Beaver Falls. Aliquippa plays each during the regular season as part of the Midwestern Conference schedule. The Quips beat Beaver Falls, 27-14, in Week 2 and the Wolverines, 29-7 in Week 6. … Hooks, who has drawn Division I interest including an offer from Pitt, transferred from Charleroi to Aliquippa last year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Remembering Tommy Sypula

One of the great eras in the rich tradition of Washington High School sports occurred during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

  • The football team, led by Guy Montecalvo, regularly competed for the WPIAL Class AA championship. The Prexies won WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2001 and played for the WPIAL championship in 1998 and 1999. Wash High produced a long line of college talent led by future WVU All-American Dan Mozes, Notre Dame special teams captain Travis Thomas and Old Dominion pitcher Justin Gregula.
  • The baseball team, coached by Bob Peton, also found itself in the title hunt most seasons. Wash High won the 2002 WPIAL title. In 1998, the Prexies won WPIAL and PIAA titles and many still remember Diontae Walker pitching a perfect game in the WPIAL championship.
  • The boys and girls track and field teams were usually among the best in the WPIAL and beyond.
  • The boys basketball team, coached by Ron Faust, continued its consistent success. In 2001, the Prexies reached the PIAA quarterfinals.
  • The girls basketball team enjoyed an influx of young talent in future Seton Hall starter Amber Harris as well as Tiara Bennett and Jaime Bush. These Prexies played for a WPIAL championship.
  • The wrestling team filled its weight classes far more successfully in those days and won a WPIAL title.

One of the better multi-sport athletes at Wash High during its championship-filled era and one of its bigger overachievers was Tommy Sypula, an undersized, hard-nosed tough guy with Popeye arms and a desire to make the teams he played for great ones.

In other words, Sypula was the guy coaches talk about when they say, "If we only had 11 of him."

Sadly, Tommy Sypula died unexpectedly Friday, Nov. 19 in his home. He was 27.

Sypula's athletic credentials were top-notch, as was his work ethic. A member of the 1997 Pony baseball team that advanced to the championship game, Sypula graduated Wash High in 2002 with a slew of championships and more varsity letters than most athletes proud to be part of the Prexies family.

A team captain, on the 2001 state championship football team, Sypula was an undersized offensive lineman and linebacker. What he lacked in size, he made up for in determination and his play was all-state caliber. Sypula was also a key contributor on WPIAL championship teams in baseball and wrestling.

He played hard. He practiced hard. Always. Watching him compete was always enjoyable.

There's no doubting Sypula will be missed tremendously by the Wash High community, the countless friends he made and his family. I didn't get to see Tommy too often after high school but I often speak with his father Tom, a passionate, hard-working man for a local television station who donated his spare time to record football games for Washington and, when Montecalvo moved to Canon-McMillan, the Big Macs.

If you know Tom, it's easy to see where Tommy got his passion and work ethic.

I'd like to extend my deepest sympathies to the family during this tough time. Tommy will be in my thoughts and memories of his achievements remain vivid to this day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Live blog, PIAA Class AAA girls soccer final … Peters twp. vs. Archbishop Wood

Peters Township 1, Archbishop Wood 0

Peters Township dominated match, could have been 4-0, 5-0. If Archbishop Wood was the No. 4 team in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings, Peters Township is a top-two team.

4:30 p.m. – Veronica Latsko's shot saved by goalie, rebound goes right to Dani Hume, who buries it. PT 1-0 in the 65th minute.

4:24 p.m. – Gotted booted off for a few. Are we headed toward a scoreless tie and co-champions?

Why does the PIAA determine every other match by penalty kicks if there's a tie after two overtimes but declare co-champs in the final?

Be consistent PIAA.

3:56 p.m. – Halftime, Peters Township 0, Archbishop Wood 0. PT has 7 shots to 1 for the Wood, which is ranked No. 4 in the country by the NSCAA.

3:46 p.m. – Dani Hume just misses header off Spamer cross. PT looking good.

3:41 p.m. – Shelli Spamer hustle play where she heads ball twice to herself and gets quality shot that hits post at 13:49 mark. Forty seconds later, Spamer gets another quality opportunity but Wood defender Brianna Heck saves goal.

3:35 p.m. – Archbishop Wood's Monica Re blasts shot off post. Still scoreless.

3:22 p.m. – PT defender Brroke Smith clears a Archbishop Wood corner kick with a header but gets knocked on the side of the head on the play. She comes out of game.

3:09 p.m. – Lineups being announced. Not too far off schedule.

3:06 p.m. – The press box at Hersheypark Stadium is hotter than a sauna. Better than being cold. By the way, the hot chocolate at the stadium is Swiss Miss. Where's the Hersheys?

Friday night thoughts, WPIAL semifinals

Based on nothing more than gut feeling, here's my picks for Saturday's championship games:
Class AAAA – North Allegheny;
Class AAA – Central Valley;
Class AA – South Fayette;
Class A – Clairton.

Let's hear your picks.

* South Fayette's Jeff Davis has to be one of the top running backs in the WPIAL. Davis makes defenders miss in the open field, at the line of scrimmage and he can carry tacklers for a few yards.

If there's a better back in the WPIAL at catching balls out of the backfield, I want to see the guy play.

* The Class A title game between Clairton and Rochester will kick off at 9:30 a.m. to accommodate FSN. No word if overnight camping is permitted in the Heinz Field parking lot.

* With Central Valley in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game in its first year, Ringgold fans should feel a little better about the Rams' performance in the first round. Didn't cover the Thomas Jefferson-Central Valley game, but it didn't sound as competitive as the Ringgold game.

* Before the playoffs started, I picked Pittsburgh Central Catholic to win Class AAAA and Thomas Jefferson to win Class AAA. Oops!

* People can say what they want about the South Fayette defense, and the unit is not the most dominating, but the Lions' pass rush makes up for a lot of things.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Patriot-News Pennsylvania football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, Nov. 16, 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. La Salle College HS(P) (12) 10-1 2
2. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 11-0 3
3. North Penn (1) 10-1 4
4. North Hills (7) 10-1 5
5. North Allegheny (7) 10-1 7
6. Harrisburg (3) 9-2 8
7. Cumberland Valley (3) 9-2 9
8. Easton (11) 10-1 8
9. Wilson (3) 11-0 NR
10. Nazareth (11) 9-2 NR
Honorable mention
Central Dauphin (3) 9-2, Council Rock South (1) 10-1, Downingtown East (1) 9-2, Mount Lebanon (7) 10-1, Neshaminy (1) 10-1, Ridley (1) 10-1, West Chester Henderson (1) 8-3, Woodland Hills (7) 8-3.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Allentown C.C. (11) 11-0 1
2. Archbishop Wood (12) 11-0 2
3. Thomas Jefferson (7) 10-1 3
4. Montour (7) 11-0 4
5. Abington Heights (2) 11-0 6
6. Grove City (10) 10-0 7
7. Bishop McDevitt (3) 9-2 8
8. Cardinal OHara (12) 9-2 5
9. Clearfield (9) 11-0 9
10. Greencastle-Antrim (3) 11-0 10
Honorable mention
Central Valley (7) 8-3, Johnstown (6) 10-1, Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 10-1, Manheim Central (3) 8-3, Mars (7) 10-1, Southern Lehigh (11) 9-2, Strath Haven (1) 10-1, Susquehanna Twp. (3) 9-2.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Lancaster Catholic(P) (3) 11-0 1
2. Aliquippa (7) 11-0 2
3. North Schuylkill (11) 11-0 3
4. South Fayette (7) 11-0 4
5. West Catholic (12) 9-2 5
6. Tyrone (6) 11-0 6
7. Northern Lehigh (11) 11-0 7
8. Keystone Oaks (7) 8-3 NR
9. Forest Hills (6) 10-1 7
10. Danville (4) 11-0 NR
Honorable mention
Brockway (9) 10-0, Ford City (7) 11-0, General McLane (10) 10-1, Lakeland (2) 10-1, Lewisburg (4) 11-0, Trinity (3) 10-1.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Clairton(P) (7) 11-0 1
2. Rochester (7) 11-0 2
3. Mercyhurst Prep (10) 11-0 3
4. Southern Columbia (4) 9-2 4
5. Farrell (10) 10-1 6
6. Sharpsville (10) 10-1 7
7. Riverside (2) 10-1 8
8. Avonworth (7) 10-1 9
9. Line Mountain (4) 10-1 10
10. Springdale (7) 10-1 NR
Honorable mention
Bellwood-Antis (6) 8-2, Bishop McCort (6) 7-4, Dunmore (2) 7-4, Holy Name (3) 9-1, Penns Manor (6) 9-0, Schuylkill Haven (11) 9-2.

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

Kovak's fearless prognostications, WPIAL semifinals

The Class AA and Class A pairings were not kind to last week's picks as I went 4-4 in those respective brackets for a quarterfinals record of 11-5 and an overall mark of 76-26, a .745 win percentage.

Class AAAA
Pittsburgh Central Catholic over North Alleghent
Woodland Hills over North Hills

Class AAA
Mars over Montour
Thomas Jefferson over Central Valley

Class AA
Aliquippa over Ford City
South Fayette over Beaver Falls

Class A
Clairton over Springdale
Rochester over Avonworth

Brumbaugh's career numbers

South Fayette quarterback Christian Brumbaugh will likely top 6,000 career passing yards on his first completion of Friday night's WPIAL Class AA semifinals against Beaver Falls at West Allegheny High School.

Here's his career statistics:
414 completions
659 attempts
62.8 completion percentage
5,993 yards
69 touchdowns
25 interceptions

Brumbaugh's numbers include 78 yards passing during his freshman year that came during mop-up time. Those numbers weren't originally included in his career numbers.

With 69 TDs, Brumbaugh is believed to rank third in WPIAL history. Former Gateway quarterback Rob Kalkstein passed for 72 touchdowns during his varsity career and, according to the Pennsylvania Football News Resource Guide, that numbers tops all WPIAL quarterbacks.

However, it is believed that former Sto-Rox quarterback Adam DiMichele - the WPIAL's career passing leader - threw for 82 touchdowns with the Vikings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Observer-Reporter WPIAL football rankings

Class AAAA
1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 11-0 W, Gateway 10-0
2. North Hills 10-1 W, Upper St. Clair 16-14
3. North Allegheny 10-1 W, Bethel Park 23-13
4. Woodland Hills 8-3 W, Mt. Lebanon 29-22 (OT)

Class AAA
1. Montour 11-0 W, Indiana 36-14
2. Thomas Jefferson 10-1 W, Hopewell 38-28
3. Mars 10-1 W, West Allegheny 29-3
4. Central Valley 8-3 W, Knoch 16-0

Class AA
1. Aliquippa 11-0 W, Beaver 34-0
2. South Fayette 11-0 W, Freeport 47-13
3. Beaver Falls 10-1 W, Keystone Oaks 28-0
4. Ford City 11-0 W, Seton-La Salle 35-21

Class A
1. Clairton 11-0 W, Bishop Canevin 47-0
2. Rochester 11-0 W, Beth-Center 35-0
3. Springdale 10-1 W, Monessen 30-6
4. Avonworth 10-1 W, North Catholic 17-3

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday night thoughts, WPIAL quarterfinals

South Fayette's Christian Brumbaugh may not have the arm strength of former Penn Hills quarterback Anthony Morelli and Trinity quarterback Cody Endres, but I can't remember watching a more intelligent high school player at the position.

Which makes it all the more odd that Brumbaugh hasn't secured a college yet.

His first choice was Division I-AA power William & Mary but the school hasn't made an offer yet. Brumbaugh does have offers from Akron, Bowling Green and Buffalo. Ohio and Toledo are also interested.

After watching Brumbaugh pass for 324 yards and three touchdowns on only 12 completions in a complete dissection of Freeport's defense in Friday night's 47-13 victory in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals, it's befuddling that more schools are interested.

Let's see. Brumbaugh has the size, the smarts to read through four or five progressions, the ability to elude pressure, a decent arm and he's a winner.

If there's a better quarterback playing in the WPIAL, KinPA (a regular reader of this blog) has promised to eat a printout of this story with hot sauce.

* It's amazing how certain teams can't beat certain schools, such as Monessen's five-game playoff losing streak to Springdale.

The Dynamo cruised to a 30-6 win to advance to play Clairton in the semifinals. Not sure how Springdale posted 30 points against a Monessen defense that I considered stout. I did figure the Greyhounds would have trouble scoring. Just not that much trouble.

* Does Spiringdale's win change anyone's belief that Clairton and Rochester are destined to meet at Heinz Field once again? I still say it's the Bears and Rams two Saturdays from now.

* Impressive statement made by Aliquippa against a Beaver team that took the Quips to overtime in the regular season.

It's old school vs. new school in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals. Aliquippa vs. Ford City and Beaver Falls vs. South Fayette.

*If Beth-Center's play up front catches up to the talent of the skill positions, the Bulldogs could be better poised to make a deeper run in the postseason.

Still, Beth-Center remains the only team from Washington and Greene counties to win a playoff game this year or last year.

* South Fayette's Jeff Davis has to be one of the toughest running backs in the WPIAL to defense. He's equally adept at running and receiving, actually he might be a better pass catcher.

* I also like the play of Lions senior tight end/linebacker Eric Myers. The guy makes key catches on third down and finds a way to the football on defense.

* South Fayette has never been to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals, though the Lions previously made it that far in Class A and won the 1964 title, back when Gardner Points decided who played for the championship.

That said, the business-like approach the Lions displayed last night at Freeport shows this team has one objective in mind, and it involves winning at Heinz Field.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Comcast to broadcast North Hills-USC

A WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal between North Hills and Upper St. Clair at Chartiers Valley High School will be the Comcast High School Game of the Week.

Comcast customers can watch the game Saturday at 7 p.m. on the FYI Channel. The game, pitting two legendary WPIAL coaches in Jack McCurry and Jim Render, is also available On Demand in the "Get Local" folder the day following the game.

North Hills (9-1), the No. 3 seed, beat Penn-Trafford 20-3 in the first round. Upper St. Clair (8-20 upended Penn Hills 37-21.

It marks the sixth postseason meeting between the two perennial playoff contenders and USC holds a 3-2 advantage thanks to victories in the last two games.

Kovak's fearless prognostications, WPIAL quarterfinals

Several upsets highlighted the first Friday night of the WPIAL football playoffs. While yours truly watched Monessen dismantle Chartiers-Houston, several lower-seeded teams not off single-seeded opponents. Even more pushed home teams to the final minute of competition.

The lowest seeded team moving on the the WPIAL quarterfinals is Keystone Oaks, the No. 15 seed in Class AA. The Golden Eagles beat No. 2 Greensburg Central Catholic, 20-16, despite losing three games at the end of the season after Jordan Maddox left the South Fayette game with an injury.

In speaking with a few Class AA coaches this week, none were surprised at the result.

What was surprising was a mediocre 25-7 record and failing to pick a clean slate in any of the four brackets. For the season, my record is 65-21 (a .756 win percentage).

On the the picks.

Class AAAA
Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Gateway
North Allegheny over Bethel Park
Woodland Hills over Mt. Lebanon
North Hills over Upper St. Clair

Class AAA
Montour over Indiana
West Allegheny over Mars
Thomas Jefferson over Hopewell
Central Valley over Knoch

Class AA
Beaver over Aliquippa
Seton-La Salle over Ford City
Beaver Falls over Keystone Oaks
South Fayette over Freeport

Class A
Clairton over Bishop Canevin
Monessen over Springdale
Rochester over Beth-Center
North Catholic over Avonworth

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Patriot-News Pennsylvania football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, Nov. 9, 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) 10-0 1
2. La Salle College HS(P) (12) 9-1 2
3. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 10-0 3
4. North Penn (1) 9-1 4
5. North Hills (7) 9-1 7
6. Mount Lebanon (7) 10-0 8
7. North Allegheny (7) 9-1 9
8. Harrisburg (3) 8-2 5
9. Cumberland Valley (3) 8-2 10
10. Easton (11) 9-1 NR
Teams to watch
Central Dauphin (3) 8-2, Council Rock South (1) 9-1, Downingtown East (1) 8-2, Nazareth (11) 8-2, Neshaminy (1) 9-1, Upper St.Clair (7) 8-2, Wilson (3) 10-0.

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

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

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

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

Ed Dalton Football

Trinity football coach Ed Dalton, one of the best at getting players to college and getting the names of his players known by colleges, recently set up a page on YouTube.com to showcase highlights from some of his top players, particularly seniors.

Here's a link to Mike Cleveland's highlight video:

For the link to the site, click

Dalton said he's willing to post video from any Washington County player on the site at no cost. Given Dalton's ability to generate publicity for players, it certainly is worth the time. Interested players or parents can contact Coach Dalton via email at eddalton.football@gmail.com.

School suspends football coach for play list

D.J. Hernandez was a pin in Pitt's side during his days as a quarterback and wide receiver for the UConn Huskies. Looks like Hernandez's high school coaching career is off to a shady start.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Week in Review, Week 10

Blogger's note: This will be the final Week in Review until the start of boys and girls basketball season.

Team of the Week – Monessen
Every bracket in the WPIAL playoffs featured some sort of upset (at least in terms of how teams were seeded) but one trendy pick that did not become reality was Chartiers-Houston beating Monessen.

Monessen, the No. 4 seed in the Class A playoffs, jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its first possession and the Greyhounds never looked back as they rolled to a 33-0 victory.

Monessen's defense allowed just three first downs (one by penalty) and kept C-H quarterback Daniel Lis in check. The Bucs gained a little over 60 yards, with 41 coming on one pass play. Brett Crenshaw and Trae Cook were part of a run game that churned out 250 yards rushing and each scored a pair of touchdowns.

Runners-up – Beth-Center and South Fayette

Starting 11
Ryan Babirad, Fort Cherry
Deshan Brown, Beth-Center
Christian Brumbaugh, South Fayette
Aaron Cook, Monessen
Brett Crenshaw, Monessen
Sal Faieta, Beth-Center
Nick Faraci, South Fayette
Derrick Fiore, Ringgold
Trevor Fiorentini, South Fayette
Eric Meyers, South Fayette
Jake Sofran, Beth-Center
First sub
Andrew Erenberg, Peters Township

Game of the Week – Bishop Canevin 24, Fort Cherry 16
In one of two competitive games involving a local team, Fort Cherry saw its season end in a back-and-forth affair at Jim Garry Stadium against one-loss Bishop Canevin.

The Rangers led 9-6 in the second quarter after a Tanner Garry touchdown pass to Nate Bellhy, the Crusaders tied the game on a 30-yard field goal from Jacob Schnelbach with 2:13 left before halftime. Fort Cherry then had a touchdown called back on a holding penalty. The Rangers ended up punting.

Bishop Canevin then surged to a two-touchdown lead in the third quarter before a Garry touchdown pass to Ryan Babirad got the Rangers within five. Fort Cherry had a couple chances in the fourth quarter but came up empty.

Weird, wild stuff – Moving Ringgold and Franklin Regional to the Keystone Conference was supposed to strengthen the league, but the Keystone was one of two conferences to go 0-4 in the first round. The Interstate Conference was the other. ... Springdale – Monessen's opponent in the quarterfinals – knocked the Greyhounds out of last year's playoffs, the fourth time since 2004 the Dynamo ended Monessen's season. ... California's Dakota Conway caught 15 touchdown passes this year, which is believed to be a Washington County record.

Which program is better – Peters Township or South Fayette?

A combination of growing population, good facilities, strong youth programs, established head coaches and even better student-athletes have helped turn Peters Township and South Fayette into the area's top two sports programs and two of the better ones in the WPIAL.

Here's a quick look at some of the athletic highlights for the respective schools from the past calendar year. Not sure which one is better.

Peters Township
Baseball - Peters Township made another appearance in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs, where the Indians lost in the semifinals.
Boys basketball - The defending WPIAL Class AAAA champs surprised some by being one of the better teams again during the 2009-10 season. Led by Craig Wolcott, the Indians knocked off highly seeded Butler in the first round.
Boys golf - One of the WPIAL's better programs, Peters Township won its third WPIAL Division I title this fall and finished second at the state tournament with only one senior.
Boys soccer - Peters Township won its seventh WPIAL championship Saturday, beating Pittsburgh Central Catholic in overtime on Jesse Scheirer's goal.
Field hockey - PT won its first WPIAL championship in 2009 and qualified for the playoffs this year.
Football - The Indians qualified for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs for the first time and made the team's first postseason appearance since 2003. PT lost to North Allegheny in the first round.
Girls basketball - Led by first-year coach Kyra Kaylor, Peters Township reached the WPIAL semifinals and won a preliminary round game in the state tournament.
Girls lacrosse – The three-time defending WPIAL champs were upended in the quarterfinals last spring.
Girls soccer - Peters Township won its first WPIAL championship with a 3-0 win over Norwin Saturday.
Girls tennis – The defending state champs were upset in the WPIAL semifinals this fall.
Girls volleyball – Peters Township tied for the second championship and qualifed for the WPIAL playoffs.
Softball - The Indians were upset by Latrobe in the first round after having one of its best regular seasons.
Wrestling – Not known as a wrestlin powerhouse, Peters Township made the WPIAL Class AAA team playoffs.

South Fayette
Baseball - One year after appearing in the PIAA final, South Fayette was the top seed in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. The Lions lost a shocker to Riverview in the first round.
Boys basketball - Defeated Strawberry Mansion for the PIAA Class AA championship, the first state team title in school history. The Lions move to Class AAA and return three starters including Division I prospect Mike Lamberti and top-notch point guard Pat Zedreck.
Boys golf - South Fayette won its section and advanced to the WPIAL Division II team playoffs.
Boys soccer - South Fayette upset Southmoreland in the first round of thew playoffs before losing in the quarterfinals to Belle Vernon.
Cross country - Nicole Hilton won the WPIAL Class AA title and the boys finished second in the team race. Hilton finished fifth at Satturday's PIAA championships.
Football - Seeded third in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, South Fayette is 10-0 for the second consecutive year following a 35-0 win over Ellwood City in the first round. The Lions are 20-1 the past two seasons.
Girls basketball - Very quietly, South Fayette has turned into one of the better teams in the WPIAL Class AA. The Lions reached the PIAA quarterfinals last year.
Girls soccer - South Fayette exited the playoffs in the first round.
Girls volleyball – A perennial playoff team, the Lions were knocked out in the first round this fall.
Softball – The Lions lost to powerhouse Sto-Rox in the first round of the postseason.
Track - An emerging program, South Fayette produced a pair of WPIAL champions in Nikki Hilton and Nolan Spicer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Observer-Reporter WPIAL football rankings

Class AAAA
1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 10-0 W, Pine-Richland 37-10
2. Mt. Lebanon 10-0 W, Plum 35-14
3. North Hills 9-1 W, Penn-Trafford 20-3
4. North Allegheny 9-1 W, Peters Township 38-7
5. Upper St. Clair 8-2 W, Penn Hills 37-21

Dropped out: McKeesport

Class AAA
1. Montour 10-0 W, West Mifflin 21-13
2. Thomas Jefferson 9-1 W, Highlands 42-7
3. Mars 9-1 W, Hollidaysburg 52-20
4. Hopewell 6-4 W, Franklin Regional 24-14
5. West Allegheny 7-3 W, Trinity 35-14

Dropped out: Ringgold

Class AA
1. Aliquippa 10-0 W, Shady Side Academy 41-0
2. South Fayette 10-0 W, Ellwood City 35-0
3. Beaver Falls 9-1 W, Steel Valley 19-18
4. Seton-La Salle 9-1 W, Mt. Pleasant 28-6
5. Beaver 8-2 W, Deer Lakes 34-21

Dropped out: Greensburg Central Catholic

Class A
1. Clairton 10-0 W, Carmichaels 42-0
2. Rochester 10-0 W, California 42-7
3. Springdale 9-1 W, Western Beaver 35-14
4. Bishop Canevin 9-1 W, Fort Cherry 24-16
5. Monessen 9-1 W, Chartiers-Houston 33-0

Dropped out: Avonworth

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday night thoughts, opening round edition

Observations from the first Friday night of the postseason hours before emerging myself in "Super Soccer Saturday" at Elizabeth Forward High School.

Keystone Oaks' 20-16 victory over Greensburg Central Catholic did more than provide the rare No. 15 over No. 2 victory in the WPIAL playoffs - a feat Trinity accomplished against Penn Hills in 2005.

The Golden Eagles' impressive road win blew that side of the bracket wide open for South Fayette, a team predicted to win the WPIAL Class AA title on this site.

Granted, Greensburg Central Catholic wasn't playing up to the seeding it received the final month of the season but some of those Centurions were around last year when they won the WPIAL title as the 11th seed and advanced to the PIAA championship game.

Now, it sure looks like one of the great eras in South Fayette sports has a chance to add the area's most prestigious trophy to its ever-growing trophy case.

The Lions' 35-0 victory over Ellwood City is a testament to a defense playing without Nolan Spicer, perhaps the Lions' top two-way player. Spicer suffered a knee injury against Seton-La Salle but Erie Meyers, Nick Faraci and Tanner Courtad led a strong effort against an Ellwood City team that deserved better than a No. 14 seed.

Meyers and Faraci can be menacing defensive players at times and South Fayette will need continued play on that side of the football to achieve its goals. That said, with Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette both losing, South Fayette and Beaver Falls could be headed for a semifinal matchup.

* I've seen Monessen twice this season and the Greyhounds defense has been absolutely dominant in both victories. Against Beth-Center and Chartiers-Houston, two strong rushing offense, Monessen allowed a combined two first downs rushing.

That's one rushing first-down for Beth-Center and one rushing first-down for Chartiers-Houston.

Monessen will need a similar performance against crafty Springdale, which has knocked the Greyhounds out of the playoffs four times since 2003.

* About a month ago, a topic of discussion dealt with the Tri-County South and Black Hills conferences. Specifically, we discussed which conference was stronger this year, top-to-bottom.

I went with the TCS and Friday's results backed that up.

Monessen and Beth-Center convincingly advanced to the quarterfinals. Carmichaels lost to Clairton, 42-0, one of the better results posted against the Bears this year. Of course, I have no idea as I type this when the Bears called off the dogs.

Only Clairton advanced from the Black Hills. Fort Cherry, Chartiers-Houston and Brentwood lost its first-round games.

* Good to see Ed Woods back at Beth-Center. The Bulldogs have won first-round games the past two years. South Fayette and Beth-Center are the only area teams who can claim that.

* Shifting Ringgold and Franklin Regional to the Keystone Conference was a move the WPIAL hoped would strengthen the league. To some extent it did, but the Keystone went 0-4 Friday night.

Before the fingers get pointed at certain facets of Ringgold's team, let's start by saying the Rams' 9-1 season was an excellent one despite the first-round exit.

The Rams ignited an often-dormant fan base with their exciting play and there's certainly reasons to be optimistic for the future. Given some of the talent returning at the skill positions - players like Quad Law and Demetrius Louis - Ringgold will be expected to return to the postseason in 2011.

Here's one opinion as to why Central Valley advanced: Besides playing in a strong conference (Parkway), Central Valley is comprised of two school districts (Center and Monaca) with players who have been in the postseason and advanced several times. Those players know how to win close games and win on the road.

It's Ringgold's first time at the dance when something was expected of the team. Sometimes, it takes getting a foot in the door before kicking it down.

* If the season ended today, Ringgold's Matt Humbert gets my vote for Coach of the Year.

* According to the bracket, Ringgold was the No. 3 seed in Class AAA and Central Valley the 14th. No way was CV a 14th seed.

Maybe, when the WPIAL drew up the bracket, they put Ringgold in the No. 3 spot due to the 9-0 record but I'm wondering if the committee thought of the Rams as more of a No. 5 or No. 6 seed and Central Valley a No. 12 or No. 11.

While the pairings say one thing, it's not always a true seeding.

* Has Ed Dalton coached his final game at Trinity? The guess here is yes.

While I will never question Dalton's commitment to the Trinity players, a coach who has produced as many college players and drawn as much press (positive and negative) as Dalton has at Trinity would be an attractive candidate for other positions.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Patriot-News Pennsylvania football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, Nov. 2, 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) 9-0 1
2. La Salle College HS(P) (12) 8-1 2
3. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 9-0 3
4. North Penn (1) 8-1 6
5. Harrisburg (3) 8-1 NR
6. Downingtown East (1) 9-0 7
7. North Hills (7) 8-1 NR
8. Mount Lebanon (7) 9-0 10
9. North Allegheny (7) 8-1 4
10. Cumberland Valley (3) 7-2 5
Teams to watch
Council Rock South (1) 8-1, Easton (11) 8-1, McDowell (10) 7-2, Nazareth (11) 7-2, Neshaminy (1) 8-1, Upper St.Clair (7) 7-2, Wilson (3) 9-0.

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

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

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

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

First-round playoff picks

For the second straight week, Kovak's fearless prognostications went 4-2 to make the regular season record a slightly above average 40-14 or a .741 win-percentage. In a bold move, prognostications ventured outside the high school sports world and into the political realm where a win was predicted for Tom Corbett as the Governor-elect of Pennsylvania.

It was a tough call for prognostications, who thinks Democratic candidate Dan Onorato bears a resemblance to Beth-Center head coach Ed Woods.

This week, rather than pick a small handful of games, we're picking all the first-round playoff contests (home team in CAPS).

Class AAAA
PITTSBURGH CENTRAL CATHOLIC over Pine-Richland, Erie McDowell over GATEWAY, MCKEESPORT over Bethel Park, NORTH ALLEGHENY over Peters Township, MT. LEBANON over Plum, WOODLAND HILLS over Norwin, NORTH HILLS over Penn-Trafford, UPPER ST. CLAIR over Penn Hills

Class AAA
MONTOUR over West Mifflin, BELLE VERNON over Indiana, MARS over Hollidaysburg, WEST ALLEGHENY over Trinity, THOMAS JEFFERSON over Highlands, Hopewell over FRANKLIN REGIONAL, RINGGOLD over Central Valley, KNOCH over Greensburg-Salem

Class AA
ALIQUIPPA over Shady Side Academy, Beaver over DEER LAKES, East Allegheny over FORD CITY, SETON-LA SALLE over Mt. Pleasant, GREENSBURG CENTRAL CATHOLIC over Keystone Oaks, BEAVER FALLS over Steel Valley, SOUTH FAYETTE over Ellwood City, Freeport over JEANNETTE

Class A
CLAIRTON over Carmichaels, BISHOP CANEVIN over Fort Cherry, MONESSEN over Chartiers-Houston, SPRINGDALE over Western Beaver, ROCHESTER over California, BETH-CENTER over Cornell, AVONWORTH over Brentwood, STO-ROX over North Catholic

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week in Review, Week 9

Team of the Week - Fort Cherry
No matter the result of Friday's game against Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry already ensured itself a playoff berth out from the Black Hills Conference. Beat the Bucs by five or more points, however, and the Rangers wrapped up a home playoff game as the second-place team.

Through much of three quarters, Chartiers-Houston led (often by double digits) as the Bucs appeared primed to host their first playoff game since 2001. Then, toward the end of the third quarter, Fort Cherry's defense - pliable for most the game - stiffened and created turnovers.

The Rangers rallied to take a one-point lead by the end of the third quarter on a highlight-reel pass from Tanner Garry to Nate Bellhy. Fort Cherry tacked on another scoring pass in the fourth quarter to win, 48-40 and clinch second place.

The game was filled with eye-popping stats, most notably from Garry and his counterpart, C-H quarterback Daniel Lis. Each passed for 190-plus yards and rushed for more than 100. Bucs receiver D.J. Denny had 150 yards receiving and four scores, while Rangers running back Gary Kiefer rushed for 170 and Ryan Babirad had 107 receiving by the time the track meet ended.

Runner-up - Peters Township

Starting 11
Zach Barnes, Washington
T.D. Conway, California
D.J. Denny, Chartiers-Houston
Andrew Erenberg, Peters Township
Brady Kunsa, Monessen
Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry
Kyle Gray, Waynesburg
Gary Kiefer, Fort Cherry
Daniel Lis, Chartiers-Houston
Jared Magon, Avella
Brad Martin, Trinity
First sub
Josh Wise, Washington

Game of the Week - Fort Cherry 48, Chartiers-Houston 40 (See Team of the Week)

Weird, wild stuff - Peters Township running back Andrew Erenberg edged California receiver Dakota Conway and Ringgold running back Derrick Fiore for the local, regular-season scoring title. With four touchdowns against Canon-McMillan, Erenberg has scored 110 points. ... Brady Kunsa is the first Monessen quarterback to pass for 1,000-plus yards since 1999. ... Washington plays Freedom Wednesday in a Week 10 game. The Prexies, albeit against weaker competition than they played early in the year, are running the football extremely well.

Comcast to broadcast Central Valley at Ringgold

The WPIAL Class AAA first-round playoff game between Central Valley and Ringggold Friday night at Joe Montana Stadium will be available this weekend for Comcast customers.

One of the more intriguing first-round games, Central Valley (6-3) finished fourth in the Parkway Conference behind Montour, West Allegheny and Hopewell. Those are the three teams Central Valley, a first-year merger of Center and Monaca, lost to during the regular season. Among Central Valley's wins is a 20-point home victory over Trinity.

Ringgold (9-0) completed its first undefeated regular season and earned the No. 3 seed in the upcoming playoffs. The Rams won the Keystone Conference with key victories at Hollidaysburg and at home versus Greensburg-Salem and Franklin Regional.

Comcast customers can watch a replay of the game on the FYI Channel beginning Saturday at 7 p.m. The game will also be available On Demand in the "Get Local" folder the same day.

Chris Shovlin and John Sanders will call the game while Ellis Cannon offers sideline reporting.

Monday, November 1, 2010

WPIAL football playoff capsules

Class AAAA
Top seeds - 1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (9-0), 2. Mt. Lebanon (9-0), 3. North Hills (8-1), 4. McKeesport (8-1)
Players to watch - Bre' Ford (Bethel Park), Luke Hagy (Mt. Lebanon), Austin Hancock (Peters Township), Damion Jones-Moore (PCC), Sam Gooden (McKeesport), Alex Papson (North Allegheny), Lafayette Pitts (Woodland Hills), Manny Simpson (Penn-Trafford)
Best game - No. 11 Penn Hills at No. 6 Upper St. Clair
Defending champion - Woodland Hills
Sleeper - No. 7 Woodland Hills
Bits and pieces - Peters Township is in the Class AAAA playoffs for the first time. ... Papson averages 10 yards per carry for North Allegheny - Peters Township's first-round opponent. ... Woodland Hills, the preseason favorite, is finally healthy and the Wolverines have won five straight, including back-to-back shuouts over Pine-Richland and Penn Hills.
Prediction - Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Woodland Hills

Class AAA
Top seeds - 1. Montour (9-0), 2. Thomas Jefferson (8-1), 3. Ringgold (9-0), 4. Mars (8-1)
Players to watch - Chad Barton (Hollidaysburg), Dylan Bongiorni (West Allegheny), Julian Durden (Montour), Derrick Fiore (Ringgold), Michael Kizzie (Greensburg-Salem), Quad Law (Ringgold), Kyle McWreath (Trinity), Austin Miele (Mars), Rushel Shell (Hopewell)
Best game - No. 14 Central Valley at No. 3 Ringgold
Defending champion - West Allegheny
Sleeper - No. 10 Hopewell
Bits and pieces - Few teams enter the playoffs hotter than Hopewell, winners of four straight including Central Valley and West Allegheny, and no player is hotter than Shell. The closest thing to a household name in the WPIAL, the junior is already third on the WPIAL's all-time rushing list. ... Ringgold is 9-0 for the first time and the Rams are trying to win their first WPIAL title since 1982. ... Thomas Jefferson has not lost to WPIAL competition.
Championship - Thomas Jefferson over Montour

Class AA
Top seeds - 1. Aliquippa (9-0), 2. Greensburg Central Catholic (9-0), 3. South Fayette (9-0), 4. Ford City (9-0)
Players to watch - Christian Brumbaugh (South Fayette), Jeff Davis (South Fayette), Mikal Hall (Aliquippa), Trey Hall (Beaver Falls), Kevin Hart (Seton-La Salle), Matt McCann (Keystone Oaks), Bernie Sarra (Greensburg Central Catholic), Delrece Williams (Steel Valley)
Best game - No. 10 Steel Valley at No. 7 Beaver Falls
Defending champion - Greensburg Central Catholic
Sleeper - No. 9 Beaver
Bits and pieces - Both of Beaver's losses came in overtime. The Bobcats were tied with Aliquippa and Beaver Falls at the end of regulation. ... Ellwood City - South Fayette's first-round opponent - is seeded 14th, two spots behind Mt. Pleasant. Ellwood City won at Mt. Pleasant, 35-0, earlier in the season. ... Ford City is seeded fourth but the Sabers only played three teams with a winning record. ... Deer Lakes is in the playoffs for the first time.
Prediction - South Fayette over Beaver

Class A
Top seeds - 1. Clairton (9-0), 2. Rochester (9-0), 3. Avonworth (8-1), 4. Monessen (8-1)
Players to watch - Nick Bolias (Monessen), Dakota Conway (California), Desimon Green (Clairton), Daniel Lis (Chartiers-Houston), Gary Kiefer (Fort Cherry), Martin Long (North Catholic), Zach Mundell (Carmichaels), Josh Page (Clairton), Jeff Tarley (Beth-Center), Chris Walko (Bishop Canevin)
Best game - No. 13 Chartiers-Houston at No. 4 Monessen
Defending champion - Clairton
Sleeper - No. 11 North Catholic
Bits and pieces - North Catholic won at Monessen and lost by a touchdown to Avonworth. If the Trojans beat Sto-Rox in the first round, they could draw the Antelopes in the quarters. ... The top three teams (Avonworth, Springdale and Bishop Canevin) from the Eastern Conference are all 8-1. Bishop Canevin plays at Fort Cherry, which is 5-4. ... Clairton is the prohibitive favorite. ... The Bears and Rochester are the only undefeated teams in the Class A pairings but there are no teams with a losing record in the bracket.
Championship - Clairton over Rochester

WPIAL playoff seedings

Here's my take on how the WPIAL playoff pairings should look when released tonight:

Class AAAA
No. 16 Pine-Richland (3-6) at No. 1 Pittsburgh Central Catholic (9-0)
No. 15 Penn-Trafford (4-5) at No. 2 Mt. Lebanon (9-0)
No. 14 Bethel Park (4-5) at No. 3 McKeesport (8-1)
No. 13 Plum (6-3) at No. 4 North Hills (8-1)
No. 12 Norwin (5-4) at No. 5 North Allegheny (8-1)
No. 11 Peters Township (5-4) at No. 6 Woodland Hills (6-3)
No. 10 Penn Hills (5-4) at No. 7 Upper St. Clair (7-2)
No. 9 Erie McDowell (7-2) at No. 8 Gateway (5-4)

Class AAA
No. 16 West Mifflin (4-5) at No. 1 Montour (9-0)
No. 15 Hollidaysburg (6-3) at No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (8-1)
No. 14 Highlands (5-4) at No. 3 Ringgold (9-0)
No. 13 Greensburg-Salem (7-2) at No. 4 Mars (8-1)
No. 12 Trinity (6-3) at No. 5 Knoch (8-1)
No. 11 Indiana (7-2) at No. 6 West Allegheny (6-3)
No. 10 Central Valley (6-3) at No. 7 Belle Vernon (5-4)
No. 9 Hopewell (5-4) at No. 8 Franklin Regional (7-2)

Class AA
No. 16 Shady Side Academy (6-3) at No. 1 Aliquippa (9-0)
No. 15 Freeport (6-3) at No. 2 Greensburg Central Catholic (9-0)
No. 14 East Allegheny (5-4) at No. 3 South Fayette (9-0)
No. 13 Keystone Oaks (6-3) at No. 4 Beaver Falls (8-1)
No. 12 Mt. Pleasant (6-3) at No. 5 Seton-La Salle (8-1)
No. 11 Ellwood City (6-3) at No. 6 Ford City (9-0)
No. 10 Steel Valley (7-2) at No. 7 Jeannette (7-2)
No. 9 Beaver (7-2) at No. 8 Deer Lakes (7-2)

Class A
No. 16 Carmichaels (6-3) at No. 1 Clairton (9-0)
No. 15 California (6-3) at No. 2 Rochester (9-0)
No. 14 Brentwood (7-2) at No. 3 Avonworth (8-1)
No. 13 Western Beaver (6-3) at No. 4 Springdale (8-1)
No. 12 North Catholic (6-3) at No. 5 Sto-Rox (7-2)
No. 11 Cornell (7-2) at No. 6 Monessen (8-1)
No. 10 Chartiers-Houston (7-2) at No. 7 Beth-Center (7-2)
No. 9 Bishop Canevin (8-1) at No. 8 Fort Cherry (5-4)

Observer-Reporter WPIAL football rankings

Class AAAA
1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 9-0 W, Fox Chapel 49-0
2. Mt. Lebanon 9-0 W, Upper St. Clair 14-10
3. McKeesport 8-1 W, Gateway 28-14
4. North Hills 8-1 W, North Allegheny 21-16
5. North Allegheny 8-1 L, North Hills 21-16

Dropped out: Upper St. Clair

Class AAA
1. Montour 9-0 W, Moon 42-6
2. Thomas Jefferson 8-1 W, West Mifflin 31-12
3. Ringgold 9-0 W, Uniontown 40-7
4. Mars 8-1 W, Knoch 23-12
5. Hopewell 5-4 W, West Allegheny 34-31

Dropped out: Knoch, West Allegheny

Class AA
1. Aliquippa 9-0 W, East Allegheny 28-13
2. South Fayette 9-0 W, Quaker Valley 48-13
3. Greensburg Central Catholic 9-0 W, Jeannette 21-9
4. Beaver Falls 8-1 W, Beaver 23-17
5. Seton-La Salle 8-1 W, Keystone Oaks 32-22

Dropped out: Beaver

Class A
1. Clairton 9-0 W, Serra Catholic 60-0
2. Rochester 9-0 W, South Side Beaver 49-13
3. Avonworth 8-1 W, Northgate 35-0
4. Springdale 8-1 W, Riverview 47-0
5. Bishop Canevin 8-1 W, North Catholic 40-15