Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Varsity notebook

Some random thoughts before covering four championship games the next three days ...

Peters Township, Waynesburg and Chartiers-Houston are playing for WPIAL baseball championships. Either Chartiers-Houston or Fort Cherry will win the WPIAL Class A softball title.

Five teams reaching this stage of the postseason confirms something that's been evident to anyone paying attention to high school sports in this area - Washington and Greene counties excel in spring sports.

Baseball and softball top the list.

It's not close. Not even wrestling approaches the success the local baseball and softball teams have achieved.

In recent years, Peters Township, Carmichaels and California have won multiple WPIAL baseball titles. Canon-McMillan won a state championship, while Peters Township played for two, and South Fayette (I know, save your comments) and Carmichaels also reached the championship game.

In softball, Waynesburg, Carmichaels and Chartiers-Houston have won WPIAL titles. The Bucs own a state title as does Carmichaels, while Trinity, Burgettstown and Beth-Center all played for championships.

* The high school football season needs to be one week shorter.

South Fayette became the first team from our area to play a 16-game regular season. Add two scrimmages, training camp and practices to the list, and it's roughly five months of football. The Lions were a tired team leading into the state championship game.

* The Chartiers-Houston softball team is better than last year's outfit that won the state championship, yet that certainly does not mean the Bucs will repeat or even beat Fort Cherry in the WPIAL Class A championship game Thursday at California University.

Let's start with why the Bucs are better.

Colby Miller and Kayla Briggs - the top two batters - are better hitters than a year ago. Both are undoubtedly good enough to start for any team. Moving the mound back to 43 feet from home plate has seemed to help pitcher Kiersten Conwell, who relies on movement and mixing speeds more than throwing hard.

That said, the beauty (or the agony) of the postseason in baseball and softball is that one bad hop, one defensive miscue or a pitcher who is pitching his/her best game can end a more talented team's season.

* After watching Fort Cherry beat Shenango and considering the Rangers have scored a WPIAL-best 30 runs through three playoff games, it doesn't appear Class A's No. 15 seed is as much as Cinderella story as they are a dynamic offensive club.

It's not a fluke. Fort Cherry earned its spot in the finals.

* Speaking of Fort Cherry, the Rangers are in the final stages of their best school year for girls sports.

* It's disappointing to see only two Class AAA medalists - Canon-McMillan's Taylor Slaney and Peters Township's Kaitlyn Brace - at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

* With five medals, Washington had its biggest haul since 2001. All medalists return next year for the Prexies.

* Here's been a topic of discussion among those of us that cover the WPIAL baseball/softball playoffs: If the Peters Township football program climbs to the level that of the other teams at the school, would PT be considered the top sports program in the WPIAL.

At the very least, Peters Township would be considered.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

PIAA turns down non-boundary plans

CHAMBERSBURG (AP) – A PIAA committee has rejected proposals that had addressed growing concern over non-boundary schools.
That means PIAA classifications won’t change. In basketball, that means schools will remain divided into four groups, from A to AAAA.
The proposals were in response to increasing debate in recent years — especially in basketball — over whether competition was out of balance between public boundary schools and non-boundary schools, such as a Catholic or charter school.
One proposal turned down would have re-ordered boundary and non-boundary schools separately into four groups by size, then merging each set of schools again into the four classes.
PIAA assistant executive director Melissa Mertz said a strategic planning committee on Wednesday night voted down all three plans, and no action was needed by the full board.

Timko ousted in first round

The amazing high school tennis career of Chartiers-Houston senior Tanya Timko came to a conclusion Friday in the first round of the PIAA Class AA Boys' Singles Tennis Championship at the Hershey Racquet Club.

Timko lost to Doug Caplan of Harrisburg Academy, 6-0, 6-2. Caplan remains in the tournament and will play in the semifinals.

With a third-place finish at the WPIAL singles championship, Timko earned her spot at the state tournament. Timko, who will play tennis at IUP, previously won WPIAL titles in girls singles, girls double and boys doubles with her older sister Karli - a member of Marshall University's tennis team.

Timko became the first player to play in all four PIAA tournaments at the Class AA level. The Timko sisters won PIAA gold when Tanya was a freshman and, last year, she finished second in the girls individual tournament. Two years ago, the sisters qualified for the boys doubles championships after winning the WPIAL.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Long-time basketball coach Traynor dies

When the WPIAL released its basketball playoff pairings, one preliminary-round game that drew an unusual amount of attention was Trinity's Class AAA contest against Mt. Pleasant.

The matchup was not attractive because of competitiveness - Trinity put together a strong season behind Josh Valentic, while Mt. Pleasant was lucky to be in the playoffs. What drew attention - and a standing ovation from coaches and administrators - was Mt. Pleasant coach Tom Traynor.

A former basketball coach at Pitt-Johnstown and Hempfield, Traynor was preparing for his last postseason appearance with Mt. Pleasant, culminating a 49-year coaching career. Traynor had previously been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the game against Trinity would be his last.

Fittingly, Traynor and Trinity head coach Joe Dunn were long-time friends and I had the honor of doing a preview on the game, mostly on the unique relationship between the two. (As soon as I can locate the link, I will post it.)

No doubt Dunn is saddened by the death of his good friend Traynor, who died Thursday night. He was 70.

On a personal note, I covered the Trinity-Mt. Pleasant game and, after interviewing Dunn and Valentic, I tracked down Traynor outside the Vikings locker room at Belle Vernon High School. It was Traynor's final post-game interview, and, at the conclusion, he looked me directly in the eye, shook my head and thanked me for the story about him and Coach Dunn. I walked away with a feeling of pride that a man of such high character took the time to acknowledge my work.

For more on Traynor, Read Mike White's story from today's Post-Gazette web site.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fort Cherry's postseason run continues Thursday

Fort Cherry won six games during the regular season and didn't get in the win column until April 15.

Big deal.

The Rangers (8-7) are one win from appearing in the WPIAL Class A championship game.

Fort Cherry, the 15th seed, plays Shenango (15-2) Thursday at Fairhaven Park in Kennedy Township at 2 p.m. The winner advances to the championship game against either Chartiers-Houston or South Side Beaver.

Fort Cherry has scored 22 runs through two rounds, knocking off No. 2 Sto-Rox in the first round and West Greene in the quarterfinals.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Three local players honored by WPIAL baseball coaches

Peters Township seniors Justin Bianco and Ryan Minteer along with Waynesburg junior Stephen McCaw were recognized by WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association as award winners.

Bianco, a Pitt recruit, is the Class AAAA Player of the Year. He's batting .580 with 20 runs scored and 27 RBI.

Minteer, who picked up the win for Peters Township Monday night against Latrobe, is the Class AAAA Pitcher of the Year. He is 8-0 with 56 strikeouts in 46 innings.

McCaw, the Raiders' starting catcher and an emerging college prospect, is the Class AA Player of the Year. His play has catapulted Waynesburg into the PIAA playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

All three will be honored at an awards banquet June 10 at the Airport Marriott.

Others winners were (players of the year): Class AAA Logan Urtz of Central Valley; Class A John Sansone of Neshannock; (pitchers of the year) Class AAA Dan Altavilla of Elizabeth Forward; Class AA Benjamin Hartz of Shady Side Academy; Class A Alain Girman of Serra Catholic.

Coaches of the year were Mike Liebdzinski of Norwin (Class AAAA), Frank Champ of Elizabeth Forward (Class AAA), Jon Pedrosky of Deer Lakes (Class AA) and Mike Kirkwood of Neshannock (Class A).

Wednesday semifinals sites and times

Five local teams - four baseball, one softball - will play in WPIAL semifinals Wednesday. The Fort Cherry softball team will play Thursday, possibly against Carmichaels.

Class AAAA
Peters Township (18-1) vs. Butler (14-4), Wednesday at North Allegheny, 7 p.m.

Class AA
Laurel (15-3) vs. Waynesburg (17-1), Wednesday at the Burkett Complex, 3 p.m.

Class A
Serra Catholic (16-1) vs. Chartiers-Houston (11-6), Wednesday at W&J's Ross Memorial Park, 4:30 p.m.
Neshannock (19-10 vs. California (16-3), Wednesday at W&J's Ross Memorial Park, 7 p.m.

Class A
Chartiers-Houston (18-0) vs. South Side Beaver (14-4) at Fairhaven Park, 3 p.m.

Varsity notebook

There's no statistical evidence to back up the following statement, but I've covered a lot of high school baseball games.

And I never watched a team smack the baseball around like Peters Township did Monday night against Latrobe.

Peters Township, the top seed in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs, finished the four-inning game against Latrobe with 14 hits. A total of 10 went for extra bases, and it looked like a contest to see which player could hit the ball the hardest.

While a Brady Sheetz grand slam in the fourth sure looked impressive, it will be hard to top the two triples ripped by Pitt recruit Justin Bianco or the foul ball shot from Austin Hancock that drew a collective "oooooooohhhhh" from the crowd at Washington & Jefferson's Ross Memorial Park.

Where Peters Township ranks among top offensive teams will be determined. There's no guarantee that the Indians will get past Butler in Wednesday's semifinals, but if the Indians go on to win a third WPIAL Class AAAA championship and more, there's no way they are not in that conversation.

* The PIAA Track and Field Championships start Friday morning at Shippensburg University. The PIAA has released its seeds for events.

Class AAA boys

Class AA boys

Class AAA girls

Class AA girls

Seeds don't always mean much when it comes to track. It's difficult to determine which athletes faced bad weather at their district championships, which ones were pushed or which ones coasted to easy wins.

* It's been some time since a local athlete showed as much promise during his sophomore season as Ringgold's Demetrius Louis.

Louis came this close to moving from eighth, and final, place to first place in the Class AAA 100 dash at the WPIAL championships. Louis' legs actually crossed the finish line ahead of Bethel Park's Shakeil Carter but Carter leaned into the finish and his torso crossed first, and that's what counts.

Louis, who told me he's already heard from Pitt among other Division I football programs, also ran a strong third leg for the Rams' gold-medal and school-record setting 400 relay team.

If Louis continues to put in work, particularly on his starts, he could become a multiple WPIAL track champion. And, according to what Ringgold boys basketball coach Pete Logan told me at the beginning of May, Louis plans on playing basketball as a junior.

* One reason for Ringgold's sudden success in the sprints at the WPIAL level is the cooperation between football coach Matt Humbert and track coach Scott Frederick.

Humbert encouraged his players to participate in track, something some football coaches don't do. I, for one, have always believed track can significantly help football players, particularly guys at the skill positions.

Look at all the great Wash High football players/track athletes of the past for an example.

Not only will track help players like Louis, Quad Law, Alfon Cook, etc. from learning certain running techniques that can be used on the playing field, it's given them something else in which to succeed.

Success breeds confidence, which usually breeds more success. Kudos to Coach Humbert and Coach Frederick for cooperating this year.

* Wash High junior Dustin Fuller, one engaging interview, may have entered elite status with his anchor leg in the WPIAL Class AA 1,600 relay.

Fuller won the 300 hurdles earlier in the day and was part of the Prexies' third-place 400 relay team, but it was his anchor leg in the day's final event that really had people talking.

According to coaches right after the race, Fuller ran a split of 49.3 seconds as Washington broke its own WPIAl championship meet record, which was set in 2001. That's crazy, and it gives Fuller something to think about for what should be a highly decorated senior year. Should Fuller run the open 400?

* Canon-McMillan's Taylor Slaney finished fifth in the Class AAA girls javelin and qualified for the PIAA championships on what amounts on a fractured ankle.

Slaney wore a boot before the competition, and after the competition.

What she accomplished is nothing short of spectacular. It's also the highlight of an outstanding day for local throwers. Canon-McMillan and Fort Cherry are sending multiple competitors to states in the throws.

* Fort Cherry junior Jessie Merckle is a serious candidate for Girls Athlete of the Year. So is South Fayette senior Nicole Hilton. As I'm writing this, I'm not sure if they are the top two candidates or not, but the PIAA championships could push one of these two to the forefront.

* Waynesburg's baseball team qualified for the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2000 with its 10-4 win over Frazier Monday afternoon.

In those days, the Raiders were led by Lee Fritz, one of the betters multi-sport athletes in school history and the first WPIAL player to run and pass for 1,000 yards each during the same season. Maybe the best description for Fritz was that he was a winner.

The current Raiders have two exceptional players in Steve McCaw and Joe Monica. With Waynesburg in the semifinals and owning a legit shot at winning a WPIAL championship, the duo have an opportunity to create a little legend in a town that loves its sports teams.

McCaw, by the way, is one of the better catchers in a WPIAL filled with good catchers.

* Chartiers-Houston softball ranks right up there with programs like Peters Township boys soccer when it comes to sustained success.

One program that occasionally gets overlooked is Chartiers-Houston baseball.

The Bucs are in the WPIAL Class A semifinals following a one-year hiatus and will face top-seed Serra Catholic, which needed extra innings and a three-run rally in the seventh inning to knock off Carmichaels.

* Speaking of success and tradition, California baseball owns plenty of both, and the Trojans are also in the Class A semifinals following Monday's 14-7 win over Bentworth.

After the game, California coach Don Hartman informed reporters that assistant coach Shaun Rice - one heckuva pitcher during his playing days - suffered a heart attack last week and remains hospitalized.

Here's wishing a speedy and full recovery for Rice.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

WPIAL baseball quarterfinals

After a couple weeks off, Peters Township and California will finally get to play Monday.

Class AAAA
Monday, May 23
Peters Township (16-1) vs. Latrobe (10-8) at W&J’s Ross Memorial Park, 7:30 p.m.
Butler (13-4) vs. Hempfield (11-9) at LaRoche College, 3:30 p.m.
Norwin (17-0) vs. Bethel Park (13-5) at Woodland Hills, 5 p.m.
Seneca Valley (13-3) vs. Upper St. Clair (11-6) at Pullman Park, 7 p.m.

Class AAA
First round
Saturday, May 21
Chartiers Valley vs. Belle Vernon at W&J’s Ross Memorial Park, 8 p.m.
Monday, May 23
Elzabeth Forward (18-0) vs. Greensburg Salem (13-4) at Woodland Hills, 2 p.m.
Blackhawk (14-2) vs. Chartiers Valley-Belle Vernon winner at Burkett Complex, 7 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson (11-6) vs. Hampton (14-3) at Upper St. Clair, 5 p.m.
Mars (14-1) vs. Hopewell (13-8) at Upper St. Clair, 2 p.m.

Class AA
Monday, May 23
Shady Side Academy (16-1) vs. Mohawk (12-6) at Highlands, 5 p.m.
Deer Lakes (13-4) vs. Riverside (13-5) at Pullman Park, 2 p.m.
Laurel (14-3) vs. Greensburg CC (13-4) at Pullman Park, 4:30 p.m.
Waynesburg (16-1) vs. Frazier (12-5) at W&J’s Ross Memorial Park, 2 p.m.

Class A
Monday, May 23
Serra (15-1) vs. Carmichaels (10-5) at Burkett Complex, 4:30 p.m.
Western Beaver (9-6) vs. Chartiers-Houston (10-6) at Burkett Complex, 2 p.m.
Neshannock (18-1) vs. Beth-Center (13-3) at Chippewa Park, 4:30 p.m.
California (15-3) vs. Bentworth (12-4) at W&J’s Ross Memorial Park, 4:30 p.m.

WPIAL softball quarterfinals

The WPIAL softball quarterfinals are set, except for a Class A first-round game to be played Monday.

Class AAAA
Monday, May 23
Shaler (15-1) vs. Canon-McMillan (10-6) at North Allegheny, 5 p.m.
Latrobe ( 12-3) vs. Mt. Lebanon (8-10) at Woodland Hills, 2 p.m.
Hempfield (17-0) vs. Seneca Valley (11-5) at Woodland Hills, 4 p.m.
Baldwin (10-3) vs. Peters Township (9-5) at California University, 5 p.m.

Class AAA
Tuesday, May 24
Montour (12-3) vs. Ellwood City (9-6) at North Allegheny, 5 p.m.
Yough (15-1) vs. Belle Vernon (14-4), TBD
Ambridge (14-2) vs. Chartiers Valley (13-3) at North Allegheny, 3 p.m.
Valley (12-1) vs. West Allegheny (12-5) at Hampton, 4 p.m.

Class AA
Monday, May 23
Burrell vs. Bishop Canevin at North Allegheny, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, May 24
South Allgheny (10-5) vs. New Brighton (16-5) at Fairhaven Park, 2 p.m.
Freeport (13-5) vs. Deer Lakes (11-3) at Hampton, 2 p.m.
Seton-La Salle (15-1) vs. Greensburg C.C. (12-4), TBD

Class A
First round
Monday, May 23
Shenango (13-2) vs. Mt. Alvernia (11-4) at Shenango, 4 p.m.
Monday, May 23
Chartiers-Houston (17-0) vs. North Catholic (10-3) at Fairhaven Park, 4 p.m.
Frazier (12-5) vs. South Side Beaver (13-4) at Fairhaven Park, 2 p.m.
Fort Cherry (7-7) vs. West Greene (12-6) at California University, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, May 24
Carmichaels (15-0) vs. Shenango-Mt. Alvernia winner at Fairhaven Park, 4 p.m.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Zedreck headed to Clarion

A fourth local player is headed to a Division II basketball program now that South Fayette senior Pat Zedreck has accepted a scholarship offer from Clarion University, a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Zedreck was a four-year starter for the Lions, and, as a point guard, he directed a team to four consecutive PIAA playoff appearances and 17 postseason victories, including the 2010 PIAA Class AA championship - a game where Zedreck played better than anyone else on the floor.

This year, Zedreack earned Observer-Reporter Player of the Year honors. He averaged 15.2 points and a healthy 8.6 assists in addition to being one of the area's premier defensive players.

For the second consecutive year, Zedreck landed on the Pennsylvania sports writers all-state team - a third-team Class AAA selection.

Clarion finished 15-11 this past season, including a 5-9 mark in the PSAC-West.

Zedreck joins South Fayette teammate Mike Lamberti (West Liberty), Fort Cherry's Nate Bellhy (Seton Hill) and Trinity's Josh Valentic (Wheeling Jesuit) as Division II recruits from this year's senior class. With Monessen's Cam Johnson headed to Allegany Community College, a junior college known for producing Division I players, it's safe to say this has been one of the more heavily recruited groups over the past 30 years in this area.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rescheduled games

It's a fun time to be playing and tracking high school sports. here's the rescheduled, rescheduled scheduled WPIAL baseball and softball games involving area teams. If you'll be at the Burkett Complex Friday for any parts of a local tripleheader. I'll see you there.

Class AA
Laurel vs. Washington, Friday at Pullman Park in Butler, 5 p.m.
Greensburg Central Catholic vs. South Fayette, Friday at Woodland Hills, 2 p.m.
Waynesburg vs. Freeport, Friday at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township, 5 p.m.
Class A
Rochester vs. Carmichaels, Saturday at W&J's Ross Memorial Park, 11 a.m.
Chartiers-Houston vs. Avonworth, Friday at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township, 8 p.m.
Beth-Center vs. Vincentian Academy, Friday at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township, 2 p.m.
Bentworth vs. Leechburg, Friday at Mt. Pleasant, noon

Class AA
Waynesburg as previously scheduled
Bentworth at South Allegheny, Saturday at Baldwin, 1 p.m.
Seton-La Salle vs. Burgettstown, Friday at Cal U's Lilly Field, 4 p.m.

All games pushed back

WPIAL baseball playoff games scheduled have now been postponed. As soon as TVL finds out about dates, sites and times, they will be posted.

All WPIAL softball games have been pushed back, except for Waynesburg. The Raiders, however, have a site change.

Class AA
No. 8 Bishop Canevin vs. No. 9 Waynesburg, Thursday at California University's Lilly Field, 2 p.m.

No. 4 Bentworth vs. No. 13 South Allegheny, Saturday at Baldwin, 1 p.m.

No. 3 Seton-La Salle vs. No. 14 Burgettstown, Friday at Cal U, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Softball games moved to Thursday

Area softball teams started the week off right Monday.

Heavyweights like Chartiers-Houston did as expected, while Peters Township and Fort Cherry pulled off upsets according to the seeds. With Canon-McMillan, West Greene and Carmichaels adding to the win total, local teams went 6-1 on Monday.


Several teams were scheduled for Tuesday but, thanks to more rain, those games have been pushed back to Thursday - the same day as the WPIAL track and field championships. Not sure how the WPIAL plans to have track championships and softball games at the same site. Should be interesting.

Class AA
No. 8 Bishop Canevin (11-4) vs. No. 9 Waynesburg (10-5), Thursday at Baldwin High School, 2 p.m.

No. 4 Bentworth (13-2) vs. No. 13 South Allegheny (9-5), Thursday at Woodland Hills High School, 2 p.m.

No. 3 Seton-La Salle (14-1) vs. No. 14 Burgettstown (12-6), Thursday at Fairhaven Park in Kennedy Township, 2 p.m.

WPIAL baseball games postponed

All WPIAL baseball playoff games scheduled for Tuesday have been moved to Wednesday. Games will be played at the same time, same location as originally scheduled.

Class AA
No. 2 Laurel (13-3) vs. No. 15 Washington (9-7), Wednesday at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township, 4:30 p.m.

No. 7 Greensburg Central Catholic (12-4) vs. No. 10 South Fayette (10-6), Wednesday at North Allegheny High School, 4 p.m.

No. 3 Waynesburg (15-1) vs. No. 14 Freeport (11-4), Wednesday at Gateway High School, 4:30 p.m.

Class A
No. Rochester (9-4) vs. No. 9 Carmichaels (10-5), Wednesday at W&J's Ross Memorial Field, 2 p.m.

No. 5 Chartiers-Houston (9-5) vs. No. 12 Avonworth (10-5), Wednesday at the Burkett Complex in Ross Memorial Park, 2 p.m.

No. 7 Beth-Center (12-3) vs. No. 10 Vincentian Academy (11-6), Wednesday at Gateway High School, 2 p.m.

No. 6 Bentworth (11-4) vs. No. 11 Leechburg (10-6), Wednesday at Mt. Pleasant High School, 2 p.m.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

WPIAL Baseball All-Stars

The WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association, which will hold its eighth annual, All-Star games June 12 at the Burkett Complex in Robinson Township, has released the rosters for the teams.

The day begins with Class AA vs. Class A at 1 p.m., followed by Class AAAA vs. Class AAA at approximately 4 p.m.

Class AAAA Justin Bianco (Peters Township), Grant Brown (Bethel Park), Anthony DeRenzo (Pittsburgh Central Catholic), Alex Gabler (Laurel Highlands), Cody Gaertner (North Allegheny), Cody Herald (Butler), Zac Laneve (Pine-Richland), Ryan Minteer (Peters Township), Tim Norris (Hempfield), Cory Podvasnik (Plum), Taylor Schmidt (North Hills), Zach Schramm (Shaler), Brady Sheetz (Peters Township), Jason Shirley (Norwin), Jake Slater (Kiski Area), Bobby Swartout (Butler), Brian Tougher (Woodland Hills), Eric Weyant (Kiski Area), Tanner Wilt (North Allegheny), Eric Woistman (Upper St. Clair)

Coaches – Ed Carr (Penn Hills), Tony Fisher (Bethel Park), Frank LaCava (Pittsburgh Central Catholic), Todd Schiffhauer (North Allegheny)

Class AAA – Dan Altavilla (Elizabeth Forward), Carmen Barone (East Allegheny), Luke Burton (Ambridge), Matt Coholich (Hampton), Tim Crytzer (Kittanning), Tyler Dean (Mars), Blake Friday (Mars), Jesse Grundza (Ambridge), Mike Hickman (Kittanning), Brett Hoffman (Moon), Dan Jeffreys (Moon), Luke Horew (Chartiers Valley), David Kucenic (South Park), Kevin Link (East Allegheny), Michael Pavlic (Belle Vernon), Anthony Piccolini (Indiana), Matt Rubino (Hopewell), Louis Simon (Elizabeth Forward), Ryan Socol (Montour), Logan Urtz (Central Valley)

Coaches – Levi Bristor (Trinity), Scott Hruby (Uniontown), Jeff Kuzma (West Mifflin), Joe Rubino (Hopewell)

Class AA – Corey Bauer (Brentwood), Joe Babincak (Deer Lakes), Franzee Barlamas (Freedom), Jake Campbell (Freeport), Gino Ceriani (Ellwood City), Mike DelSardo (Seton-La Salle), Ryan Finnegan (Riverside), Grant Foley (Shady Side Academy), Troy Heidenreich (Carlynton), Cayman Hoggard (Riverview), Jimmy Kcehowski (Freedom), John McCormick (Shenango), Dalton Moore (Freeport), Kyle Richael (Laurel), Zach Smalich (Frazier), Zach Sufrin (Shady Side Academy), Jake Thellman (Riverside), Mark Wesolek (Deer Lakes), Dylan Wolsonovich (Ford City), Dave Yakopec (Burrell)

Coaches – Rich Griser (Riverview), Jon Pedrosky (Deer Lakes), Skooter Roebuck (Brownsville), Jason Sharop (Carlynton)

Class AMike Bodnar (Beth-Center), Joe Cioffi (Neshannock), Adam Dian (Vincentian), Julian Falascino (OLSH), Derek Kissell (Bentworth), Bryan Korzen (Cornell), Brandon Kozich (Jefferson-Morgan), Jon Krall (Carmichaels), Mathew Loftis (Serra), Chris Miller (Serra), Andrew Nicklaus (Avonworth), Michael Patsch (Quigley), Michael Phillips (OLSH), Morgan Porter (North Catholic), Andrew Powell (Quigley), Matt Sabatini (Beth-Center), Anthony Speeney (Geibel), Tom Sparrow (California), Chris Tsangaris (Neshannock), Justin Wentz (North Catholic)

Coaches – Phil Coffin (Avonworth), Brian Dzurenda (Serra), Mike Kirkwood (Neshannock), Randy Miller (North Catholic)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Football coaches plan to promote sport

STATE COLLEGE (AP) — The Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association unveiled big plans Friday to promote the sport and strengthen ties with in-state college coaches.
Group leaders met with Pitt’s Todd Graham, Temple’s Steve Addazio and Penn State’s Joe Paterno at the Nittany Lions’ team headquarters Friday in Happy Valley. Afterward, the high school coaches announced plans to turn an annual coaches clinic into a convention starting next year in Pittsburgh.
All college and high school coaches in the state would be invited.
“We’ll make that the place to be once a year to support high school football in Pennsylvania,” Clearfield High coach Tim Janocko said.
The prep coaches want to resume an East-West all-star game in 2012 following a one-year hiatus this season. The game was previously held in Altoona.
The game would be held next year in May at Gateway High School in suburban Pittsburgh, and Downingtown West in eastern Pennsylvania the following season. Both the convention and the all-star game would be rotated to locations around the state.
Graham, Addazio and Paterno offered their support to the efforts.
“It’s about building relationships,” said Elco High coach Mark Evans. “If you don’t have a prospect, or potential prospect for them, they usually skip your school, so a (convention) like this will enable us to continue to develop a strong relationship with college coaches.”
The high school coaches also hope to open high school coaches hall of fame exhibits at three locations around the state: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and State College. Plans for the exhibit at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, are closest to completion, though Janocko said the group had to wait for the NFL’s lockout to be resolved before the project could proceed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Avella tables football hire

Avella football remains without a head coach after the school board tabled a decision to fill the position during Wednesday night's meeting.

It marks the second time the decision has been tabled.

Previously, Avella graduate Ryan Cecchini's name was on the agenda to be hired. Several current players are rallying for an assistant coach.

Frank Gray spent the past three seasons as the Eagles football coach, and he helped keep the program afloat during some difficult times. More of those could be on the horizon as rumors of dropping the football program in favor of soccer have swirled for months.

Follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak

Boys Athlete of the Year

Doesn't seem like it, but an entire school year has nearly passed since Clairton, which would be on its way to another PIAA Class A football championship, came to Washington and dominated the Prexies in the opening week of the high school football season.

As long as that game seemed - and watching a contest when one of the contestants shortest third-down attempt was a third-and-7 can seem like an eternity - the year has passed by rather quickly.

There have been outstanding performances, team and individual. Peters Township soccer swept the boys and girls WPIAL Class AAA titles. The girls team went on to win PIAA gold. South Fayette dominated WPIAL Class AA football competition. Monessen won a WPIAL boys basketball championship, playing up in classification no less.Here

Yep, it's been a year to remember.

But it;s not over, not until the final team plays and not until the Observer-Reporter names Boys and Girls Athlete of the Year.

Here's a few names who come to mind as possibilities (if you need a refresher on accomplishments, let me know):

Zach Barnes, Washington; Nick Bolias, Monessen; Christian Brumbaugh, South Fayette; Dakota Conway, California; T.D. Conway, California; Andrew Erenberg, Peters Township; Austin Hancock, Peters Township; Jon Krall, Carmichaels; Josh Patterson, South Fayette; Josh Valentic, Trinity.

The spring season isn't over, which means a baseball player like Justin Bianco of Peters Township or track specialist like Trinity's Mike McClelland could enter the discussion.

Follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rivals releases Top 100 for 2012

Rivals.com has released its list of the Top 100 high school football players in the Class of 2012. The WPIAL has a representative in Hopewell's Rushel Shell, ranked No. 33. Shell has offers from Alabama to Penn State to Pitt and West Virginia, and everywhere else in between.

For the full list of the top 100, click here.

For the story, click here. Link

New twist to rivalry

Washington High School boys track and field will compete for a WPIAL Class AA team championship Thursday afternoon at West Mifflin High School. The Prexies are certainly no strangers to the team championship.

Wash High last made the final in 2006, and last won the team title in 2000. There were a couple other championship appearances in between as Washington has remained one of the better track teams in the WPIAL.

South Fayette, one of Wash High's bigger basketball rivals and an emerging football nemesis, also qualified for the team championship.

It's a new twist to one of this area's best sports rivalries for sure.

It also begs the question, what are the area's premier rivalries? When it comes to tradition, does Charleroi-Monessen top the list? Does it get more intense than Trinity vs. Canon-McMillan?

For my money, the area's premier rivalry between schools is Canon-McMillan and Trinity.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Benefit dinner for Michael Spartz

Michael Spartz played basketball and baseball at Canon-McMillan High School and was a member of the Big Macs' 2008 PIAA Class AAAA championship team.

Spartz is a student at Penn State, where, in April, he was a victim of an assault that left him seriously injured. Spartz, 21, was in intensive care for a short time after he was discovered unconscious at the bottom of an exterior stairwell at an off-campus apartment building. It is believed that Spartz was pushed down the stairs and wasn't discovered for five hours.

There will be a spaghetti dinner benefiting Spartz on Friday, May 13 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Canon-McMillan High School.

The cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Tickets are available at the C-M athletic office during school hours or at the door. Takeout orders are also available.

Fore more information, please call dave at 724-554-8160, Debbie at 724-822-6041 or Rick at 724-229-4320.