Sunday, November 6, 2011

A few thoughts from the first round

The cliche has a few variations, but it goes a little something like this, "Big-time players make big plays in big games."

Over the last two weeks, no player from the Observer-Reporter coverage area has made more plays than Fort Cherry senior Tanner Garry.

And there's been plenty of competition.

Garry has been the best football player on the field in Fort Cherry victories at Chartiers-Houston and at Beth-Center. The latter made Fort Cherry the third-place team in the Black Hills Conference, which represented itself well in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs. The latter came in the first round.

Need big-time completions? Garry has thrown for 400 yards the past two games, and three touchdowns (all against Beth-Center).

Looking for a quarterback who can break the big run? Garry has rushed for more than 330 yards and five touchdowns against a pair of defenses that stuffed the run for most of the season.

He's even intercepted a couple passes.

Thanks, in part, to Garry's play, Fort Cherry (7-3) finds itself in the quarterfinals against Bishop Canevin (10-0), which rallied for a 10-point deficit in the second half to beat Chartiers-Houston.

Fort Cherry suddenly looks like a team capable of making a postseason run. Garry is playing the best football of his career, the Rangers run defense is punishing, as is the offensive line. And Garry has catapulted himself into the Player of the Year picture.

* There's little doubt that Aliquippa deserves the No. 1 ranking in WPIAL Class AA and the top seed in the playoffs.

After Beaver and Beaver Falls made an early exit from the playoffs, anyone else wondering if the Quips didn't face much competition during the regular season?

* Zach Challingsworth may be one of the more under-appreciated players in Class AA.

The South Fayette junior caught a pair of touchdowns in the Lions' first-round win at Beaver Falls and helped a defensive effort that forced five turnovers, which helped the 11th seed advance.

He's a consistent presence, and has been since the beginning of his sophomore season.

* If you're South Fayette head coach Joe Rossi, what do you do if senior quarterback John Lerda is healthy enough to play against Seton-La Salle in the quarterfinals?

Lerda was a 1,000-yard passer before missing the last two games. His replacement, freshman Brett Brumbaugh, is 2-0. He's completed 27 of 36 passes in those games, though Beaver Falls did force him into four interceptions.

* Washington senior Eric Ellis is having the type of season that lands a player on the all-state team.

Ellis, a defensive end, has a single-season Prexies record 18 sacks . He had 3 1/2 against Mt. Pleasant. Ellis has also been in on a handful of turnovers, recovering fumbles throughout the season and even an interception against the Vikings.

* Unless you're Clairton or Aliquippa or Pittsburgh Central Catholic, winning in the postseason can be difficult.

It's particularly tough when you're a program without a postseason win since 1999.

But Ringgold broke a seven-game postseason skid with a 14-10 win against Highlands at Joe Montana Stadium. Highlands deserves credit for the defensive job it did against Ringgold's run game, but Quad Law made a couple big plays passing to help the Rams advance.

Learning how to win in the postseason is a big step.


Joey Niklas said...

People been questioning how bad the TCS has been for years but I want to ask this question; is the Eastern Conference down this year.

Avonworth struggled w/ California for a half and also needed OT to beat Beth Center. Bishop Canevin needed a strong 2nd half coupled w/ Char Houston mistakes to beat Char Houston. Heck Springdale gave up 30 to a really beat up Monessen team. Then Rochester beat up Northgate(which was expected though)

Dare I say that FC is not only going to beat Bishop Canevin, but it won't even be close. 28-7,35-14 seems about right for my prediction this Friday at Char Houston HS.

1 Clairton vs 4 Rochester; 2 Sto Rox vs 11 Fort Cherry.

JAK said...

I watched the BC/FC game. I came away very impressed with their L.O.S. play. Tanner Gary looked great, but he also had all day to throw the ball. Their Line didn't get enough recognition for that performance, as well as, #34 Garry lead blocking. It is going to take a very good team to beat them.

mike_kovak said...

Agreed JAK ... There were times when Garry was able to stand behind the line for a second and pick a hole.

A few of those were designed delays, a few he could just wait and see where to run.

If the FC line continues to block like that, it's going to be difficult to beat them.

Anonymous said...

you guys are insane. Clariton and Sto Rox beat FC by AT LEAST three TD's...Get Real!

Anonymous said...

anon- sto rox barely beat a crap Frazier team by 3 tds. They got out gained too by Frazier. If FC smacks Canevin like they should, that sto rox game will be epic. Let's not forget sto rox's choking habits in the playoffs.

JAK said...

Hey anonymous moron. I said it would take a great team to beat them, I didn't say they were unbeatable. Why can't we give someone a little credit without a knucklehead like yourself getting his panties all bunched up?

R. Keith Taylor said...

Jak. People tend to take things out of context. Way too many cynics on this blog.