Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top five moments of 2011

1. Matt Venanzi's last-second goal
A Neil Harrison throw-in with 10 seconds remaining bounced in front of the Pittsburgh central Catholic goal. Somehow, the ball squirted to All-State midfielder and Pitt recruit Matt Venanzi.
One touch later, upstart Peters Township tied top-seed PCC, 1-1, with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation.
Following the goal, Venanzi raced toward the corner flag, looked into the sky as he raised his arms to hip level and was mobbed by teammates.
Peters Township went on to win the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals in a shootout. Naturally, Venanzi scored in that as well. Peters Township, which lost its final three games of the regular season, reached the WPIAL championship game once again with the win and qualified for the state tournament.
"We weren't as good as last year, but we still had some good players," Venanzi said. "We had a lot of new players but the team knew we could be good. I think it was people outside the program who didn't expect us to get this far."

2. Veronica Latsko fights off Pennridge
While the moment can't top Venanzi's for sheer drama, Peters Township sophomore Veronica Latsko scored a goal in the 2011 PIAA Class AAA championship match that illustrates why she's considered one of the top players around.
A pair of Pennridge defenders tugged and pulled at Latsko for nearly 25 yards and just as the All-State striker looked ready to hit the turf at Hersheypark Stadium, she managed to put a shot early in the first half on net for the game's lone goal.
Peters Township won its second consecutive PIAA Class AAA championship with a 1-0 victory.
"I don't know how she stayed on her feet for that long," Peters Township coach Pat Vereb said. "It was an amazing effort."

3. Briggs has grand time for C-H softball
Chartiers-Houston took a 20-0 record and a 24-game win streak into the WPIAL Class A championship game against section rival Fort Cherry, the bracket's 15th seed.
An ideas that the Rangers would pull off an upset and beat the 2010 state champs were quickly quelled in the second inning when sophomore rightfielder Kayla Briggs smacked a Nicolette McHugh pitch toward centerfield and over the wall at California University's Lilly Field.
"I didn't really think it was gone. I was just trying to get one run in," Briggs said.
Briggs finished the championship game with five RBI, or just another average day for a two-time All-State selection who batted over .600 during her sophomore season.

4. Monessen extracts revenge
Rarely do teams admit a victory is sweeter because of the opponent. That wasn't the case for the Monessen boys basketball team following the 2011 WPIAL Class AA title game.
The balanced Greyhounds beat top-seed Greensburg Central Catholic with surprising ease, burying three-pointers, playing air-tight defense and even throwing down an alley-oop.
"I would say it is. They get sweeter the older you get," Moneseen coach Joe Salvino said. "But that's a school that's allowed to get anybody. And here we are at Monessen, a small Class A school playing up and winning a championship. I'm proud of these kids."
Beating the Centurions was particularly pleasing that year given the strange circumstances involving the transfers of Terrence and Josh Stepoli. The brothers started at Monessen, went to GCC separately, went back to Monessen and, well, you get the idea.
And during Monessen's postseason run, which ended in the state semifinals with a loss to GCC, the legendary Salvino picked up his 500th career victory.

5. Peters Township's lumber company
On one magical night during the WPIAL Class AAAA baseball playoffs, Peters Township put together what might be the best hitting performance the district postseason has seen.
During a 17-1 win over Latrobe, Peters Township's bash brothers bashed a grand slam, home runs, triples and doubles.
By the time the game ended because of the 15-run mercy rule, Peters Township – led by Justin Bianco, Brady Sheetz, Austin Hancock and Andrew Erenberg – smacked 10 extra base hits. None were cheap.
"We have a lot of guys that can hit the ball. We go up there looking to do our job," said rightfielder Justin Bianco.
The hitting performance continually drew "oohs" and "aahs" from spectators and even prompted a couple college coaches in attendance to say they've never witnessed a better hitting performance.
No doubt the playoff-issued baseballs were glad to see the Indians leave Washington & Jefferson's baseball field that night.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Indoor football game to benefit Dryer family

The Pittsburgh Sabres, a founding member of the Western Pennsylvania Indoor Football League and a recent addition to the Gridiron Developmental Football League, offers an outlet for those seeking to play competitive football and an opportunity to be noticed by franchises such as the Pittsburgh Power.

One of the Sabres' co-owners and team captain is Adam Henderson, a Trinity High School graduate who played a key role in organizing the Hillers roster for the highly successful Trinity-Washington Alumni Football USA game which took place last July.

Henderson's team recently played a game to benefit Lower Burrell police officer Derek Kotecki, an 18-year veteran of the Lower Burrell police force who was shot and killed Oct. 12 trying to arrest a fugitive.

"We had just got done playing that game when I woke up Monday (Dec. 19) and heard about the gutless tragedy Sunday night," Henderson said.

East Washington police officer John Dryer, also a veterinarian, was fatally shot during a traffic stop along Interstate 70.

Henderson, who shares ownership of the Sabres with Josh Myers, immediately began putting together a second memorial game.

"The idea hit me right away," Henderson said. "We received a lot of positive feedback. We created an invitation on Facebook and invited about 4,100 people."

The Pittsburgh Sabres will play defending WPIFL champion AK Valley Hurricanes tonight at Southpointe Fieldhouse, which is located just off Interstate 79. Kickoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. Admission is $5 and all proceeds benefit Dryer's family. Memorial T-shirts can also be purchased at the game.

At least three members of the Pittsburgh Steelers - Pro Bowl receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Keenan Lewis and special teams ace Arnez Battle - are scheduled to appear. Henderson is hoping a few more Steelers show up since Dryer's son, Benjamin, is a die-hard Steelers fan.

Benjamin Dryer will join Henderson on the field for the coin toss and serve as an honorary captain. Members of the Sabres will sign a game ball for Dryer, who has autism, and Henderson plans on having the Steelers in attendance sign a game ball for officer's son as well.

"I saw Ben at the funeral and, of course, he's crying. When I talked to him, I let him know some Steelers were coming to the game," Henderson said. "His face lit up and he started talking about the Steelers."

For more information, visit the WPIFL website or the Pittsburgh Sabres page.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Penn State lands first recruit since Sandusky scandal

From ESPN. com …

Click here.

List of reportable offenses under Act 24

All current employees of a public or private schools, intermediate unit or area vocation-technical school in Pennsylvania were required to complete an arrest/conviction report and certification form under Act 24 of 2011. The deadline to submit the form was Dec. 27.

The list of reportable offenses
1. An offense under one or more of the following provision of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes:
  • relating to criminal homicide
  • relating to aggravated assault
  • relating to stalking
  • relating to kidnapping
  • relating to unlawful restraint
  • relating to luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure
  • relating to rape
  • relating to statutory sexual assault
  • relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
  • relating to sexual assault
  • relating to institutional sexual assault
  • relating to aggravated indecent assault
  • relating to indecent assault
  • relating to indecent exposure
  • relating to sexual intercourse with animal
  • relating to incest
  • relating to concealing death of child
  • relating to endangering welfare of children
  • relating to dealing in infant children
  • relating to prostitution and related offenses
  • relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances
  • relating to corruption of minors
  • relating to sexual abuse of children
  • relating to unlawful contact with minor
  • relating to solicitation of minors to traffic drugs
  • relating to sexual exploitation of children
2. An offense designated as a felony under the act of April 14, 1972 known as "The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act."

3. An offense similar in nature to those crimes listed in clauses (1) and (2) under the laws or former laws of:

  • the United States; or
  • one of its territories or possessions; or
  • another state; or
  • the District of Columbia; or
  • the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; or
  • a foreign nation; or
  • under a former law of this Commonwealth.

Twitter Thursday

Things are taking a one-week deviation from the norm for Twitter Thursday. One tweet was so bad, so off in a misguided attempt to be humorous, it will be crowned "Worst Tweet of the Week", which will replace the "Tweet of the Week" for this week.

You can follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak.

On to the tweets …

Joe Hough, Avella boys basketball coach
Dec. 24
"Merry Christmas from avella boys basketball team!"

Bill Beckner, Valley New Dispatch sports writer
Dec. 25
"Barkley looks great. Like he lost half a Shaq. #celticschat"

Hiller Hooligans, Trinity student section
Dec. 28
"Just a friendly reminder instead of yelling while the other team is shooting free throws tonight we tell them to Eat my boogers"

Gannon Walls-Mitchell, Bentworth basketball
Dec. 29
"Wish I was home to watch @stephenasmith and @RealSkipBayless on first take more often"

Xavier Severns, Trinity football
Dec. 29
"Just got my mom's name tattooed on my chest, not done with it gonna add on to it :)"

Worst Tweet of the Week
Joe Tuscano, O-R assistant sports editor and wrestling beat writer
@JosephGTuscano (a recommended follow if you enjoy watching Good Morning America, his main subject material on social media)
Dec.  27
"If #dantetaylor and #khembirch are McDonald's All-Americans, I want to see Arby's team."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spridik no longer Bentworth volleyball coach

Greg Spridik is the most successful high school girls volleyball coach in Washington County history.

Besides producing a string of victories and All-State players, Spridik is the only coach from the area to take his team to the PIAA playoffs on multiple occasions.

Success wasn't enough for Spridik to return to the Bearcats in 2012.

He was fired last Friday during a meeting with administrations. It was an action that members of the Bentworth School District Board of Education did not know.

The reason? According to Spridik, he was told he was in violation of Act 24 of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Spridik was arrested in a foreign country 31 years ago. Until Act 24 was established, he previously passed all clearances needed to coach high school athletics and officiate PIAA basketball games.

Spridik believes the real reason behind his removal stems from his public displeasure over a motion at Bentworth to remove middle school athletics.

It's one interesting story, and one that will likely take a few turns before reaching a conclusion.

Read more about it in Thursday's Observer-Reporter.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Observer-Reporter WPIAL girls basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Gateway 4-0
2. Oakland Catholic 6-0
3. Mt. Lebanon 4-1
4. Pine-Richland 4-2
5. North Allegheny 5-2

Class AAA
1. Hopewell 6-0
2. Blackhawk 6-0
3. South Park 4-1
4. Elizabeth Forward 7-0
5. Chartiers Valley 3-1

Class AA
1. Seton-La Salle 5-0
2. Greensburg Central Catholic 5-0
3. Avonworth 5-1
4. Ford City 6-0
5. Bishop Canevin 3-2

Class A
1. North Catholic 4-2
2. Fort Cherry 6-0
3. Vincentian Academy 6-0
4. Riverview 5-1
5. Monessen 5-2

Observer-Reporter WPIAL boys basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Chartiers Valley 8-0
2. North Allegheny 5-1
3. Shaler 5-1
4. Bethel Park 6-0
5. Upper St. Clair 6-1

Class AAA
1. New Castle 6-0
2. Montour 1-0
3. Keystone Oaks 5-0
4. Greensburg-Salem 4-2
5. Hampton 5-2

Class AA
1. Monessen 6-0
2. Sto-Rox 5-0
3. Beaver Falls 5-1
4. Jeannette 5-0
5. Shenango 6-1

Class A
1. Lincoln Park 5-1
2. North Catholic 4-0
3. Clairton 0-0
4. Cornell 5-1
5. OLSH 7-0

Friday, December 23, 2011

Twitter Holiday Weekend

No worries, tweeps. These tweets aren't from various locals wishing everyone a Happy Holiday or from people trying to put the Paul Chryst (new Pitt football coach) in Christmas.

Follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak.

Chad Voytik, highly regarded Pitt quarterback recruit from Tennessee
Dec. 22
"So excited about the hire. Should be getting a call from him soon. This process has been such a blessing and lesson for me. #Godisgood"

Josh Koscheck, Waynesburg High grad and UFC fighter
Dec. 16
"I may never be the best!!! But I will die trying!!!!!! #nevergivingup bc hard work...pays oooooOFF!!!! #posi Enjoy ya weekend!"

Nico Law, Ringgold football
Dec. 21
"My bro made all state got big shoes to fill but i can do it #4 leggoo!!! #proudofhim !!"

Matt Venanzi, Peters Township soccer
Dec. 22
"Congratulations to @andrew_erenberg on being all state! Finally getting the recognition he deserves! @TheMikeKovak #Fordham #bound"

Souf Oaklin fo' Life, comedic look at life in South Oakland
Dec. 19
"Report: Sally Wiggin sabotages generator, makes quick break for wine country before kickoff. #Steelers #MNF"

Seth Petras, Canon-McMillan basketball
Dec. 22
"Socks: Check, Pants: Check, Shoes: Check, Bulletproof Vest: Check"

Tweet of the Week
Fake Todd Graham
Dec. 22
"A fortune teller just told Penni that in two years I will be sneaking out of Phoenix to take my dream job at Ringgold High School."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wisconsin commit Orndoff plays wating game

Scott Orndoff came away so impressed with the University of Wisconsin after attending a football camp in Madison, Wisc. that when Badgers head coach Bret Bielema offered a scholarship, Orndoff committed almost immediately.

Right now, Orndoff – a Waynesburg resident and a junior at Seton-La Salle High School – is digesting the news that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is the new football coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

It was a move aided, in part, by Langeloth native and Burgettstown High School graduate Barry Alvarez, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and Wisconsin's athletic director.

"From what I can tell, no one at Wisconsin has any problems with Pitt," Orndoff said Thursday evening, minutes after finding out he was selected to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class AA All-State football team. "It's a big win for Pitt."

Orndoff had minimal contact with Chryst during his recruiting process, but the 6-5 tight end recruit maintains weekly contact with Joe Rudolph, the Badgers' tight end coach/recruiting coordinator.

According to Orndoff, Rudolph planned on calling him Thursday night. Rudolph was born in Charleroi and played high school football at Belle Vernon.

Various reports say Rudolph and Bob Bostad – Wisconsin's run-game coordinator and offensive line coach – could make the move to Pitt with Chryst, who will remain with the Badgers through their Rose Bowl appearance against Oregon. Other reports indicate Rudolph could succeed Chryst as offensive coordinator.

Rudolph's landing spot will play a significant role in whether remains with Wisconsin.

"There will be a lot going into that if Coach Rudolph leaves," Orndoff said. "Even before all this happened, I kept my options open. If he would leave, I'll take another trip up there and take time to think about my decision."

Challingsworth, Ellis make PIAA Class AA All-State team

Also on this list is Waynesburg resident Scott Orndoff, a Wisconsin recruit who plays at Seton-La Salle.

The 2011 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State football team. With players’ school, height, weight and class.
Steve Franco, Tyrone, 6-3, 190, Sr.
Blake Rankin, Bloomsburg, 6-4, 195, Sr.
Roman Clay, Lancaster Catholic, 5-11, 205, Jr.
DeShawn Coleman, Hickory, 6-1, 175, Jr.
Dylan Evans, Pen Argyl, 6-3, 190, Sr.
David Williams, West Philadelphia Catholic, 6-1, 188, Jr.
Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette, 6-2, 170, Jr.
Shakur Nesmith, Imhotep Charter,  6-4, 185, Sr.
Nick Patton, Tyrone, 6-2, 150, Sr.
Scott Orndorff, Seton-La Salle, 6-5, 240, Sr.
J.J. Beggan, Seton-La Salle, 6-4, 280, Sr.
Matt Bell, Hickory, 6-3, 280, Sr.
Adam DePietro, Lancaster Catholic,  6-6, 300, Sr.
Jonathan Green, North Schuylkill, 6-3, 295, Sr.
Christian Skrepenak, GAR Memorial, 6-9, 350, Jr.
Michael Mooney,  Malvern Prep, 6-5, 260, Sr.
Kyle Armagost, Moniteau, 6-1, 195, Sr.
Darrell Crawford,  GAR Memorial, 5-9, 165, Sr.
No selection.
Eric Ellis, Washington, 6-1, 225, Sr.
Eric Joraskie, Mount Carmel, 6-4, 265, Jr.
Shakir Soto, GAR Memorial, 6-3, 230, Jr.
Malcolm White, Wyomissing, 6-0, 265, Sr.
Connor Maloney,  Malvern Prep, 6-4, 270, Sr.
Alex Anzalone, Wyomissing, 6-3, 205, Jr.
Mack Behe, Penn Cambria, 6-2, 175, Jr.
Tristin Freeman, West Philadelphia Catholic, 6-0, 215, Sr.
Cody Shustack, Mount Carmel, 5-10, 200, Sr.
Brandon Smith, Lewisburg, 6-1, 200, Jr.
Demetrious Cox, Jeannette, 6-1, 190, Sr.
Alex Filarsky, Lakeland, 6-1, 170, Sr.
Reggie Mitchell, Shady Side Academy,  5-9, 155, Sr.
Shailek Powell, GAR Memorial, 6-0, 180, Sr.
Zack Ripic, Towanda, 5-11, 185, Sr.
Charles Sweigert,  Lancaster Catholic,  6-0, 185, Sr.
Steve Franco, Tyrone
John Franco, Tyrone

Peters Township's Erenberg makes Class AAAA All-State team

The 2011 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State football team. With players’ school, height, weight and class.
Daniel Harding, Nazareth, 6-4, 205, Sr.
Mack Leftwich, North Allegheny, 5-11, 190, Jr.
Dan Brown, Central Bucks South, 5-10, 180, Sr.
Jack Haffner, State College, 5-10, 205, Sr.
Luke Hagy, Mount Lebanon, 6-1, 198, Sr.
Damion Jones-Moore, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 5-7, 180, Sr.
Adam Bridgeforth, Nazareth, 6-0, 180, Sr.
Diante Cherry, J.P. McCaskey, 5-9, 175, Jr.
Anthony Nixon, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 6-2, 205, Sr.
Adam Breneman, Cedar Cliff, 6-5, 230, Jr.
Patrick Kugler, North Allegheny, 6-4, 270, Jr.
Chris Muller, Boyertown, 6-6, 300, Sr.
Ian Park, Upper St. Clair, 6-4, 290, Sr.
Zach Wilk, Central Dauphin, 6-5, 275, Sr.
Dakota Conwell, Upper St. Clair, 6-1, 210, Sr.
Eugene Lewis, Wyoming Valley West, 6-3, 200, Sr.
Matt Loughnane, Penn-Trafford, 5-10, 150, Jr.
Cody Conway, Gateway, 6-4, 210, Sr.
Kyle Friend, Cumberland Valley, 6-1, 280, Sr.
Arthur Goldberg, Mount Lebanon, 6-4, 280, Sr.
Evan Schwan, Central Dauphin, 6-6, 225, Sr.
Rob Dvoracek, Parkland, 6-2, 220, Sr.
Tyrone “T.J.” Neal, McKeesport, 6-1, 225, Sr.
Hakeem Oliver, Gateway, 5-10, 200, Sr.
Sean Burke, La Salle College HS, 5-10, 185, Jr.
Ralph Reeves, Lansdale North Penn, 6-0, 230, Sr.
Brendan Coniker, North Allegheny, 6-1, 170, Jr.
Andrew Erenberg, Peters Twp., 5-10, 200, Sr.
Anthony Orlando, Liberty, 5-10, 170, Sr.
Will Parks, Germantown, 6-1, 175, Sr.
Jaylen Coleman, University Prep, 6-0, 230, Sr.
Greg Garmon, McDowell, 6-2, 200, Sr.
Zayd Issah, Central Dauphin, 6-4, 210, Jr.
Zayd Issah, Central Dauphin
Daniel Harding, Nazareth
Glen McNamee, Central Dauphin

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ringgold's Law among several top college recruits on Class AAA all-state team

The 2011 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State football team, with players’ school, height, weight and class.
Dillon Buechel, Montour, 6-4, 175, Sr.
Brendan Nosovitch, Allentown Central Catholic, 6-3, 205, Sr.
Alec Werner, Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt, 6-0, 195, Jr.
Preston Bare, Palmyra, 6-0, 200, Sr.
Julian Durden, Montour, 5-9, 175, Sr.
Brandon Peoples, Archbishop Wood, 5-10, 180, Sr.
Rushel Shell, Hopewell, 5-11, 215, Sr.
Kevin Gulyas, Allentown Central Catholic, 6-1, 185, Sr.
Brian Lemelle, Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt, 5-11, 175, Jr.
Devin Wilson, Montour, 6-4, 175, Jr.
Colin Thompson, Archbishop Wood, 6-6, 255, Sr.
Brandon Arcidiacono, Archbishop Wood, 6-6, 255, Sr.
Jason Emerich, Blue Mountain, 6-4, 275, Sr.
Tad McNeely, Allentown Central Catholic, 6-4, 275, Sr.
Madison O’Connor, Pottsgrove, 6-6, 330, Sr.
Frank Taylor, Archbishop Wood, 6-4, 295, Sr.
Robert Foster, Central Valley, 6-2, 185, Jr.
Wesley Phipps, Grove City, 5-9, 180, Sr.
Jon Chereson, Cathedral Prep, 5-10, 153, Jr.
D.J. Fink, Central Valley, 6-0, 220, Sr.
Mike Galatini, Valley View, 6-3, 255, Sr.
Averee Robinson, Susquehanna Twp., 6-1, 275, Sr.
Noah Spence, Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt, 6-4, 245, Sr.
Bryton Barr, Mechanicsburg, 6-0, 225, Sr.
Brock Dean, Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt, 6-1, 220, Sr.
Jon Hicks, Palmyra, 6-3, 235, Sr.
Nyeem Wartman, Valley View, 6-3, 230, Sr.
Alkwan Williams, Greater Johnstown, 6-1, 218, Sr.
Levonte Ford, Erie East, 6-1, 245, Sr.
Corey Lauer, Franklin Regional, 5-11, 160, Sr.
Desmon Peoples, Archbishop Wood, 5-8, 170, Sr.
Delton Williams, Cathedral Prep, 6-2, 190, Jr.
Percy Law, Ringgold, 5-8, 160, Sr.
Nate Smith, Archbishop Wood, 6-1, 190, Sr.
Rushel Shell, Hopewell
Lou Cerro, Montour

PIAA Class A All-State football team

The 2011 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State football team. With players’ school, height, weight and class.

Matt Bodamer, Port Allegany, 6-1, 175, Jr.
Mike Gaval, Mahanoy Area, 6-0, 165, Sr.
A.J. Long, Pius X, 6-0, 18, Sr.
Tyler Boyd, Clairton, 6-1, 170, Jr.
Colin Bryan, Windber, 6-0, 188, Sr.
Alex Holland, Curwensville, 6-0, 180, Sr.
De’Andre Moon, Rochester, 6-0, 215, Sr.
Mike Burke, Columbia, 6-2, 200, Sr.
Tyce Miller, Port Allegany, 5-10, 160, Jr.
Boise Ross, Pius X, 6-0, 175, Jr.
Ian O’Shea, Bellwood-Antis, 6-0, 180, Jr.
Alex Karlovich, Line Mountain, 6-1, 300, Sr.
Todd Munchak, Curwensville,, 5-11, 295, Sr.
Zach Rugg, Bishop McCort, 6-5, 269, Sr.
Carvan Thompson, Clairton, 5-10, 215, Sr.
Michael Weber, Mercyhurst Prep, , 6-3, 310, Sr.
Danny Ferens, Penns Manor, 6-0, 190, Jr.
David Argust, Old Forge, 6-0, 178, Sr.
Philip Esposito, Brockway, 6-0, 175, Jr.
Jacob Craig, Berlin-Brothers Valley, 6-2, 220, Sr.
Eric Hirschfield, , Bishop Canevin, 6-0, 182, Sr.
Quinton Hixson, Northern Bedford, 6-3, 295, Sr.
Tom Schetroma, Southern Columbia, 6-0, 260, Sr.
Eric Walker, Clairton, 6-3, 245, Sr.
T.J. Armstrong, Clarion, 6-2, 215, Jr.
Mike Dunn, Bishop Canevin, 6-1, 225, Jr.
Bryan Flory, Columbia, 5-10, 175, Jr.
Luke Patten, West Middlesex, 5-10, 180, Jr.
Deaysean Rippy, Sto-Rox, 6-2, 205, Sr.
Marzett Geter, Sto-Rox, 5-9, 180, Sr.
Brody Pollock, Union (Rimersburg), 5-11, 180, Sr.
Trenton Coles, Clairton, 6-3, 180, Sr.
Cole Weachock, Minersville, 5-10, 170, Sr.
Matt Moore, Southern Columbia, 6-2, 200, Sr.
Tyler Boyd, Clairton
Bill Packer, Penns Manor

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Final state football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, Dec. 20, 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)-2010 PIAA champion.

1. Central Dauphin (3) 15-1 2
2. North Allegheny (P) (7) 14-1 3
3. North Penn (1) 13-3 1
4. LaSalle College HS (12) 12-2 4
5. Upper St. Clair (7) 11-2 5
6. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 11-1 6
7. Gateway (7) 9-3 7
8. Nazareth (11) 12-2 8
9. Wilson (3) 12-2 9
10. Council Rock South (1) 12-2 10
Honorable mention
Central York (3) 10-3, Cumberland Valley (3) 11-2, Easton (11) 11-2, Garnet Valley (1) 11-2, Penn-Trafford (7) 10-1, State College (6) 8-5.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Archbishop Wood (12) 14-1 1
2. Bishop McDevitt (3) 13-3 2
3. Montour (7) 12-3 3
4. Grove City (10) 11-1 4
5. Central Valley (7) 11-1 5
6. Knoch (7) 12-1 6
7. Cathedral Prep (10) 9-3 7
8. Franklin Regional (7) 11-1 8
9. Allentown C.C. (P) (11) 9-6 9
10. Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 12-2 10
Honorable mention
Dallas (2) 10-2, Hopewell (7) 7-4, Pottsgrove (1) 11-3, Valley View (2) 11-2, West Mifflin (7) 9-2, West York (3) 10-3.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Lancaster Catholic (3) 16-0 1
2. Tyrone (6) 14-2 2
3. Aliquippa (7) 14-1 3
4. West Catholic (P) (12) 10-4 4
5. Jeannette (7) 12-1 5
6. Mount Carmel (4) 12-2 6
7. Pen Argyl (11) 13-1 7
8. Seton-LaSalle (7) 11-1 8
9. Hickory (10) 11-2 9
10. Lewisburg (4) 9-3 10
Honorable mention
Greensburg C.C. (7) 10-2, Moniteau (9) 12-1, Northern Lehigh (11) 10-2, North Schuylkill (11) 10-1, Wilkes-Barre GAR (2) 11-2, Wyomissing (3) 11-1.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Clairton (P) (7) 16-0 1
2. Southern Columbia (4) 14-2 2
3. Sto-Rox (7) 12-1 3
4. Rochester (7) 10-2 4
5. Sharpsville (10) 13-1 5
6. Pius X (11) 12-2 6
7. Penns Manor (6) 12-2 7
8. Bishop Canevin (7) 11-1 8
9. Port Allegany (9) 11-2 9
10. Line Mountain (4) 10-2 10
Honorable mention
Avonworth (7) 9-2, Bellwood-Antis (6) 10-2, Dunmore (2) 10-1, North Star (5) 10-2, Old Forge (2) 10-3, West Middlesex (10) 7-5.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Girls basketball, week in review

Team of the Week
Undefeated Bentworth asserted itself as the prohibitive favorite in Section 4-AA with a win against Washington last week. The Bearcats went 2-0 and are 5-0 overall, but it was a 60-37 win at Wash High Gym – the WPIAL's most historic gymnasium – which should provide confidence.
It signified Bentworth's first win over Washington in section play ... ever. The Prexies have won 13 of the past 14 section titles. Only Beth-Center (in 2009-2010) kept it from being 14 straight.
Bentworth is receiving contributions from several players, but its a pair of All-State volleyballers – Jessica Dorazio and Darcy Bostich – leading the offense.

Peters Township
First-year head coach Chris Lebakken has the Indians off to a solid start. Peters Township takes a 4-1 record into Thursday's non-conference game against North Allegheny with the lone loss to a good Central Valley team.
The Indians are playing well on the interior with Bri Deer and Sarah Grippi. They helped PT beat Beaver and Baldwin, both on the road, last week.

Starting five
Bri Deer, Peters Township
Jessica Dorazio, Bentworth
Carolena Gasbarro, Fort Cherry
Chelsea Szakal, Monessen
Sammie Weiss, McGuffey
First reserve
Anna Cree, Carmichaels

Game of the Week
Monessen 80, Imani Christian 3
Far from competitive, this opening-round game of Monessen's Tipoff Tournament was interesting for one reason – had Imani Christian not make a half-court buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter, Monessen's defense would have registered a shutout.
Can only imagine what it's like witnessing a game similar to this.
(Blogger's note: A running joke - and not a really funny one - in the office has me predicting scores of 98-3 in many sports when a blowout is expected. To date, this game has come the closest to 98-3 locally.)

Boys basketball, week in review

Team of the Week
Ranked No. 1 in Class AA by the Observer-Reporter, Monessen went 4-0 last week with wins over two Class AAAA programs and a pair of private schools.
The Greyhounds continue to get balanced scoring from the like of Jaisen Irwin, Jalen Madison, Chavas Rawlins and company while Alonzo Payne and Earl Pinkney do a lot of good work on the glass.
Could be a good one Jan. 3 when Monessen hosts Wilkinsburg.

The Bearcats posted three wins last week and, at 4-0, are one of five Class A teams without a loss. Bentworth has won three games against Class AA competition.

Starting five
Tony Bristol, Charleroi
Christian Koroly, Trinity
Gabe Pritz, Peters Township
Eric Schoedel, Bentworth
Joe Yamber, Avella
First reserve
Jaisen Irwin, Monessen

Game of the week
Trinity 63, Ringgold 62
Chartiers-Houston came close to beating Washington for possibly the first time Saturday evening before the Prexies won in overtime, but the double-overtime Section 5-AAA opener between Trinity and Ringgold trumps that.
Senior Nick Greaves dominated the first half as Ringgold controlled play. The Rams dominance continued into the third quarter as freshman John Maldonado asserted himself.
Things change in the fourth as Trinity, not far removed from an overtime game at Canon-McMillan, went on a 13-2 run to force overtime.
Well-played game from a loaded section.

Bits and pieces
* South Fayette can make a major move in Class AAA this week with a pair of key games. The Lions host Trinity Tuesday and top-ranked New Castle Friday.
* West Greene snapped a 32-game losing streak with a win over Hundred, W.Va. last week. The Pioneers haven't beaten a WPIAL opponent since 2008.
* It hasn't been pretty for Wash High, which needed a jump shot from Deven Sulitz to force overtime at Chartiers-Houston, but the Prexies are 4-2 overall and 1-0 in section play.

WPIAL girls basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Gateway 1-0
2. Oakland Catholic 3-0
3. North Allegheny 4-1
4. Mt. Lebanon 3-1
5. Butler 3-1

Class AAA
1. Hopewell 4-0
2. Blackhawk 4-0
3. Central Valley 3-0
4. South Fayette 4-0
5. New Castle 3-1

Class AA
1. Seton-La Salle 3-0
2. Greensburg C.C. 4-0
3. Avonworth 3-1
4. Ford City 4-0
5. Bishop Canevin 1-2

Class A
1. North Catholic 3-1
2. Fort Cherry 4-0
3. Vincentian Academy 3-0
4. Monessen 4-0
5. Quigley Catholic 2-1

WPIAL boys basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Chartiers Valley 6-0
2. Gateway 2-1
3. Upper St. Clair 5-0
4. North Allegheny 4-1
5. Shaler 3-1

Class AAA
1. New Castle 4-0
2. Montour 0-0
3. Keystone Oaks 4-0
4. Greensburg-Salem 3-2
5. South Fayette 3-1

Class AA
1. Monessen 5-0
2. Sto-Rox 5-0
3. Beaver Falls 4-1
4. Jeannette 4-0
5. Greensburg C.C. 2-2

Class A
1. Lincoln Park 3-1
2. North Catholic 3-0
3. Clairton 0-0
4. Cornell 4-1
5. Serra Catholic 3-1

Friday, December 16, 2011

PIAA to keep 16-week football season

In a decision that can be described as head-scratching, the PIAA Board of Control did not approve a vote to shorten the football season from 16 weeks to 15 at today's meeting, held before the start of the state football championship game.

There was considerable momentum toward returning to a 15-week season considering Pennsylvania is one of the few state which play high school football this late into the school year. The others are in warmer climates.

The motion needed 21 "yes" votes to pass. It was turned down - 16 yes, 10 no, 1 abstention.

According to Rod Frisco of, several districts balked when it learned it would lose PIAA qualifiers.


A 16-week season is far too long at the high school level, not to mention that the season ends one weekend before Christmas is also laughable. With increased attention to concussions and other injuries, this vote shows that several members are more concerned with sending a quantity of qualifiers to the state playoffs than the safety of players.

High school students suspended for Tebowing

Thanks to the won-loss record of Tim Tebow as a starting quarterback with the Denver Broncos, Tebowing - a tribute to the former Heisman Trophy winner - is currently a popular form of expression.

Before Tebow, Tebowing was usually referred to as kneeling and praying.

At a high school in New York, a group of students were recently suspended for Tebowing.

For video and a story, click here.

Not sure what to make of it. A suspension seems harsh, yet the student interviewed by ESPN who claims the students who Tebowed did so because of the quarterback's role-model qualities comes across as a little disingenuous.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Twitter Thursday

Been so busy reading tweets from Pitt football players like Brandon Lindsey, Devin Street and Cam Saddler plus national journalists like Sports by Brooks and Pat Forde since Todd Graham bolted Pitt for the "greener pastures" of Arizona State, that I nearly forgot it was ...

Twitter Thursday

You can follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak. ... Also want to give a quick plug to the twitter feed of the Peters Township student section @PTHS_RowdyRed. Think it's a great idea and if any other schools have similar feeds follow me and I'll follow back.

Troy Elich
Burgettstown personality,Blue Devils scorekeeper extraordinaire, member of The Vogues, shameless self-promoter
Dec. 10
"I'm on tv again tonight. Pbs at 3 am."

Corey Hunsberger
Trinity basketball
Dec. 11
"@esonger5 thanks for the awesome fan section every game. Pretty sure I heard you especially every time down the court."

Luke Brumbaugh
Seton-La Salle quarterback
Dec. 14
"The one day I have to take the bus my whole life and I miss it #great"

Dakota Norton
Peters Township basketball
Dec. 13
"3-0 baby! Big win!"

Josh Wise
Washington basketball
Dec. 13
"Fell apart today HOPEFULLY we can comeback if not in a hole lot of #trouble smh I don't even know what to say..."

David Kuhn
Peters Township boys golf coach, avid supporter of Pitt athletics
Dec. 14
"Brandon Lindsey said it best, "Coach Graham said he read the Bible everyday, I guess he skipped the page that said Thou shall not lie" #H2P"

Ed Dalton
Trinity football coach
Dec. 14
"Look for Rushel Shell to be a Buckeye"

Joe Graziani
Canon-McMillan football, member of Canon Crazies
Dec. 12
"@TheMikeKovak you have officially made @DwiLLzZ11 aka David Miller famous. #in5wetrust #millerhighlife"

Tweet of the Week
Jaylin Kelly
Washington basketball
Dec. 13
"Done letting my team down starting thursday i'm going too hard"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Graham leaves Pitt for Arizona State

In case you haven't heard, Todd Graham has left the University of Pittsburgh football team for Arizona State following one season with the Panthers. Graham did not driectly tell players of his resignation, and they've taken to Twitter to voice displeasure.

Pitt is 6-6 and waiting to play SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl, held in Bimingham, Ala. Jan. 7.

Granted, this subject matter doesn't mesh with the theme of The Varsity Letters but a copy of Graham's resignation text message has been obtained. It was sent to Blair Philbrick, Assistant Athletic Director, Football Operations.

"Please text this to players please:
I have resigned my position at Pitt in the best interest of my family to pursue the head coaching position at Arizona State. Coaching there has always been a dream of ours & we have family there. The timing of the circumstances have prohibited me from telling you this directly. I am now on my way to Tempe to continue those discussions. God Bless Coach Graham"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Girls basketball weekend in review

Team of the Week
South Fayette
Like the boys basketball team, South Fayette moved up to Class AAA last season after a couple strong seasons in Class AA. The Lions' season ended in the WPIAL playoffs with a loss to West Mifflin.
South Fayette won the Moon Tournament last year, knocking off a strong Bishop Canevin team in the finals. The Lions returned to Moon once again and beat a pair of Class AAAA teams - Moon and Hempfield to repeat.

The Hillers struggled through the 2010-11 season and the offseason had some drama when a few parents criticized coach Jackie Kotchman during a school board meeting. Kotchman stayed, and Trinity enjoyed some success in its opening weekend by winning its tipoff tournament.
Balanced scoring led to a win over Wash High, then Morgan Kurtz nearly outscored Latrobe by herself in the championship.

Starting five
Ashley Balzer, Chartiers-Houston
Beka Bellhy, Fort Cherry
Jessica Dorazio, Bentworth
Erika Ford, South Fayette
Morgan Kurtz, Trinity
First reserve
Chianti Sivek, Ringgold

Game of the week
Waynesburg 33, California 31
Waynesburg's program has struggled for years, but a pair of last-second finishes at the Jefferson-Morgan Tournament likely provided some optimism.
A night after losing to J-M on a layup by Ashley Faddis with six seconds remaining, the Raiders scored a last-second win over California. Hannah Gibbons made a three-pointer with two seconds left to give Waynesburg the win.
Gibbons also blocked six shots.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Boys basketball weekend in review

Team of the Week
Peters Township
Very difficult not taking Monessen here since the Greyhounds routed Class AAA power Blackhawk (more on that in a few), but Peters Township played more than one game and the Indians, who missed the postseason last year, got a pair of wins over quality opponents.
PT opened its season with wins over West Mifflin and Allderdice to win the Peters Township Tipoff Tournament.
Last year, the Indians shot a lot of three-pointers - a whole lot. PT got things done defensively in its first two games, as teams averaged 46 points against them.

The Greyhounds opened defense of their WPIAL Class AA championship impressively with a 68-50 win Saturday over Blackhawk.
There's plenty to like about Monessen, which plays up in classification. The Greyhounds are deep. Their eighth man would start for most teams. They also take on, and usually beat, all comers. Said it here before and I'll say it again ... the teams that regularly play difficult non-section schedules are the ones making deep playoff runs. Few face tougher schedules than Monessen.

Starting five
Brett Haney, Canon-McMillan
Corey Hunsberger, Trinity
Jalen Madison, Monessen
Dakota Norton, Peters Township
Kyle Rose, McGuffey
First reserve
Eric Ellis, Washington

Game of the Week
Canon-McMillan 53, Trinity 52 (OT)
Sunday's championship game of the EQT Energy Classic had a playoff feel. Part of it had to do with two rivals playing for a trophy, but a lot of it had to do with the competitive basketball staged.
Canon-McMillan, behind a barrage of three-pointers in the second quarter, cruised to a 13-point lead and put the rowdy Canon Crazies in a tizzy during the process. Trinity, a team that gave indication it will be a factor in the Section 5-AAA postseason picture, battled back and tied the game with 33 seconds left.
The Big Macs defense made two big stands - one at the end of regulation and the second at the end of overtime when David Williams, nicknamed Miller for reasons he does not know, stole the basketball and subsequently made the game-winning free throw.
Those Canon Crazies nearly cost their Big Macs a technical at the end when they stormed the court with 1.7 seconds remaining and came in contact (hugging) players.

Facts and figures
* Fort Cherry boys basketball coach D.J. Gambridge had to achieve some sort of milestone this weekend at the FC Tipoff Tournament. His first game as a head coach came against California's Phil Pergola, who won the 1995 PIAA Class AAAA championship with Ringgold. His second game was against South Fayette's Rich Bonnaure, coach of the 2010 Class AA state champs.
* Washington coach Mark Gaither was so displeased with his team during Sunday's third-place game against Waynesburg at the EQT Classic that he called a timeout to chew out his players. Gaither wasn't done when the timeout expired, so he called another.
* While McGuffey got off to a solid start by winning its tipoff tournament, it's possible no area team garnered more respect this weekend than Waynesburg.
The Raiders opened play in the EQT Classic by beating West Greene (no surprise), then followed with a decent showing against Canon-McMillan and then taking Wash High to the final seconds. Waynesburg had a chance to beat the Prexies in the closing seconds.
The Raiders drew considerable applause from the crowd at Canon-McMillan High School when its all-tournament players Ty Negley and Hogan Barnhart were presented trophies and when head coach Dave Sarra accepted an award for competitive spirit. Following the championship game, CM coach Rick Bell said part of  his pregame talk focused on Waynesburg's effort against Washington.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Garry likes Bowling Green, Challingsworth hearing from BCS programs

Tanner Garry's quest to play Division I college football may become reality.

Garry, who put together a record-setting senior season and a varsity career as a Rangers quarterback, heard from a variety of colleges, from Division I to II, and as recently as a couple weeks ago thought he'd get an invitation to walk on at Pitt.

The Panthers struggles at the quarterback position are well-documented.

"I was hearing from Pitt every week for a while," Garry said, "but they haven't talked to me in a couple weeks so, I guess I'm somewhat on the outs with them."

Garry spoke with Bowling Green offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero Thursday night via telephone and believes his chances of joining the Falcons for the 2012-13 school year are much improved.

"Right now, I'd say it's about 90 percent. I had my first real conversation with (Ruggiero) and I came away feeling pretty good," Garry said.

Garry will visit Bowling Green Jan. 20 and, if things go well, he plans on walking on the football team.

Originally, Garry hoped to land a late scholarship offer from Bowling Green after one recently opened up, but Ruggiero told Garry the Falcons planned on giving that scholarship to their punter.

"What they're telling me is if I go there next year and prove I'm a capable player that they'll give me a scholarship for my sophomore year," Garry said.

Garry passed for 2,171 yards and 23 touchdowns in 11 games for Fort Cherry. He also rushed for 702 with 12 touchdowns.

* If recent activity is any indication, South Fayette junior Zach Challingsworth will be one of the more sought-after football players in the WPIAL next year.

Challingsworth has no official offers but is hearing from several Division I programs, and Division I-AA Villanova.

Maryland coach Greg Gattuso – a former Pitt assistant – recently visited South Fayette to talk to Lions head coach Joe Rossi about Challingsworth, a talented 6-2 receiver. Toledo and Villanova are close to offering.

Challingsworth has also heard from Pitt and Ohio State recently, and he's intrigued at the possibility of being recruited by new Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer.

"It is exciting to know they're interested, and it would be pretty neat playing for a coach like that and seeing what he did at Florida," Challingsworth said. "There's a lot of schools interested. We'll see what happens. Things won't really pick up until March."

Challingsworth, a starter on the basketball team, had more than 700 yards receiving on 48 catches, 250 yards rushing and scored 10 touchdowns. He also intercepted five passes for South Fayette.

Garry and Challingsworth were both selected to the Observer-Reporter Elite 11.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Twitter Thursday

We're back at it ... bringing the best Twitter has to offer. We'll skip all the funny Girls Gone Wild tweets from those of us (including myself @TheMikeKovak) that saw the tour bus parked on Main Street in Washington last Saturday night.

Marques Parks, former South Fayette football standout
@marques_j_parks, Nov, 29
"I will never forget the day @TheMikeKovak called me to tell I was the O-R Defensive Player of The Year! 8 years ago...WOW!"

Pat Zedreck, Clarion U point guard/former South Fayette standout
@PZedreck, Dec. 6
"@TheMikeKovak @C_Brums14 is scared of small bugs, has bad ankles and loves LMFAO's 'Party Rock Anthe' #brumbaughfacts"

Veronica Latsko, Peters Township soccer/member of national player pool for her age group
@V_Latsko12, Dec. 6
"Going to russia!! #soexcited"

Jacob Pato, Trinity football
@jayypay21, Dec. 7
"I kinda wanna sing "my band" by d12 for the talent show this year. I need 3 others rappers to be in it"

Casey Guernsey, Chartiers-Houston volleyball
@caseguerns, Dec. 7
"Sorry Anderson cooper, you do not compare to Brian Williams #silverfox #wannabe"

Graham Lescallette, Burgettstown football
@BigSauce_85, Dec. 8
"I just unfollowed 50 Cent, I hope I don't get shot. #Iprobablywill"

Zach Barnhart, Trinity football
@_ZachBarnhart, Dec. 6
"I want that corner from lsu to win the #heisman just because he is defense"

Ben DuCarme, Canon-McMillan golf
@benducarms, Dec. 4
"One of these days the bengals will stop coming to play at Heinz Field"

Mike Beveridge, Ringgold football/basketball
@MikeBeveridge44, Dec. 7
"S/o @TheRealQuad_Law @C3_OVO @That_Dude_68 elite 11"

Josh Wise, Washington football/basketball/track
@jlwise_whs11, Dec. 7
"Tip off tournament Friday got ball hard like I'm #harrisonbarnes #allday23"

Dustin Fuller, Washington soccer/track
@fullerd10, Dec. 7
"Floor seats for the Virginia tech game and Rhode Island #sick"

Tweet of the Week
Nick Riotto, Trinity baseball and a recent recipient of a recruiting letter from Missouri football. Riotto is committed to Penn State for baseball.
"The #JimmyV speech always is great no matter how many times you watch it"

EQT hype machine rolls into Canon-McMillan

Television commercials. Radio spots. Electronic billboards ... in Allegheny County.

It's all for a tournament starting Friday at Canon-McMillan High School. And get this ... it has nothing to do with wrestling.

Western Pennsylvania's wrestling hotbed is host to this year's EQT Energy Classic, a boys basketball tipoff tournament that pits a handful of area teams against a couple from Eastern Kentucky. The tournament, which runs from Friday through Sunday and features radio coverage of every game, has its own website. You can even like it on facebook.

Billed as the "Backyard Bluegrass Battle", the EQT Classic brings defending champion Pikesville (Ky.) and Allen Central to Western Pennsylvania. Canon-Mac, Trinity, Wash High, Waynesburg, Burgettstown and West Greene will represent the Washington-Greene region.

(For the record, I'll predict a Canon-McMillan vs. Washington final Sunday at 6 p.m.)

That game could be preceded by an Elvis impersonator.

The sponsor has made a major investment in the tournament, which will return to Kentucky next year. It will be interesting to see how this area responds.

Boys basketball enrollment numbers

The next two-year cycle (2012-13, 2013-14) is approaching and Bob Gregg of WJPA radio had compiled enrollment numbers for boys basketball.

The following is a list of local teams. If you're wondering where your school falls and it's not on the list, just ask. (Bold indicates a move in classification.)

Class AAAA
Canon-McMillan 600
Peters Township 583
Trinity 448

Class AAA
Ringgold 417
South Fayette 294
McGuffey 288
Waynesburg 265

Class AA
Charleroi 216
Washington 212
Burgettstown 194
Bentworth 166
Beth-Center 164
Chartiers-Houston 162
Fort Cherry 155
West Greene 138
California 136
Jefferson-Morgan 134

Class A
Carmichaels 124
Monessen 99 (Monessen plays up in classification)
Avella 89
Mapletown 68

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Celebration costs team championship

Imagine, back in 2001, that Washington High School running back J.R. Ward raised his arm in triumph as he ran behind Dan Mozes to score what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the PIAA Class AA championship game.

Not that Ward did, celebration displays were never a trademark of Prexies teams of that era.

But say Ward got flagged for the display and Pen Argyl won the state title.

Something like it happened recently in Massachusetts.

It's an interesting story.

Ringgold's Law Player of Year, Elite 11 and All-District Team

Ringgold senior Quad Law juked defenders on his way to being the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year. For more, click here.

Law is the first player from Ringgold to be POY, and it marks the third consecutive year a quarterback was honored. Former South Fayette quarterback Christian Brumbaugh, now at William & Mary College, was POY in 2009 and 2010.

The Elite 11 was also released. It wasn't easy finalizing the list. For the Elite 11 and the All-District Team, please visit the O-R website:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The All-Area starting lineup

QB – Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry
RB – Andrew Erenberg, Peters Township
Nick Zupper, Waynesburg
Shai McKenzie, Washington
WR – Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette
DeShan Brown, Beth-Center
Ryan Babirad, Fort Cherry
OL – Clayton Evans, Peters Township
Alex Paulina, Canon-McMillan
Trenton Bosworth, Waynesburg
Greg Kumer, Fort Cherry
Greg Lippert, Peters Township
Sean Lacinski, South Fayette
MP – Percy "Quad" Law, Ringgold

DL – Eric Ellis, Washington
Joe Phillips, Washington
Xavier Severns, Trinity
Mike Beveridge, Ringgold
LB – Corey Garry, Fort Cherry
Sal Faieta, Beth-Center
Jaylin Kelly, Washington
Garrett Vulcano, Chartiers-Houston

DB – Alfon Cook, Ringgold
Corey Hunsberger, Trinity
Danny Lis, Chartiers-Houston
Chavas Rawlins, Monessen

Special teams
K/P – Skyler Fransko, Ringgold
KR/PR – Demetrius Louis, Ringgold

Player of the Year worthy

Brief bios on players who were considered for the Observer-Reporter Football Player of the Year, which will be published Wednesday.

Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette
Challingsworth has received interest from West Virginia, Penn State, Toledo, Maryland, Pitt and Villanova. Maryland was the most recent to visit South Fayette and talk with Lions head coach Joe Rossi about the dynamic Challingsworth, a first-team Century Conference receiver and punter. Challingsworth caught 48 passes for 740 yards, rushed for 520, passed for 60 and scored nine touchdowns to go with five interceptions.

Eric Ellis, Washington
Ellis made the Century Conference second team as an offensive lineman, but it's on defense where the senior made his biggest impact. Among Ellis' 55 tackles were a single-season school record 18 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. Ellis forced turnovers - five fumbles, one interception - and recovered six fumbles. He even blocked two punts and two kicks.

Andrew Erenberg, Peters Township
One of the area's better baseball players, Erenberg enjoyed his best football season as a senior. Erenberg turned down a scholarship offer from Kent State (the first local running back since Wash High's Travis Thomas to be recruited by D1 schools at the position) to commit to Fordham. Erenberg, also a starting safety, rushed for 1,343 yards and scored 18 touchdowns and he rushed for 3,500 yards during his three years with the Indians.

Sal Faieta, Beth-Center
A four-year starter at linebacker, Faieta made significant strides as a quarterback during his senior season. Colleges like Youngstown State like Faieta at linebacker, and he finished with 85 tackles. His efficiency as a quarterback was noticeable. Faieta passed for 1,315 yards and averaged 16.6 yards per completion. He passed for 18 touchdowns and rushed for 10.

Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry
The Offensive MVP of the Black Hills Conference, Garry put together a record-setting season at Fort Cherry. He completed 110 passes for 2,171 yards and 23 touchdowns. As the season progressed, Garry became fort Cherry's top option in the run game and he gained 702 yards with 12 rushing touchdowns. Garry also started at linebacker and safety, and had a knack for making a big play in key games.

Percy "Quad" Law, Ringgold
Dynamic, shifty and fast, Law turned negative plays into highlight-reel material. As the quarterback in Ringgold's version of the spread offense, Law rushed for 1,341 yards and 14 touchdowns despite missing parts of two games due to injury. Before his leg injury, Law was averaging nearly 15 yards per carry. He also passed for 637 yards and made key plays with his arm in both of Ringgold's biggest wins – at Greensburg-Salem and versus Highlands in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Football player of the year

What do UFC fighter Josh Koscheck, Chicago White Sox minor league first baseman Jim Gallagher and Penn State linebacker Mike Yancich have in common?

Before the trio went on to bigger and better things, all three were honored as Observer-Reporter Football Player of The Year.

Koscheck was the Offensive Player of the Year in 1996, his senior year at Waynesburg. More than one person I know involved in high school sports now or at some point say that Koscheck was the best hard-nosed running back they've seen from this area.

Gallagher, who fielded several Division I football offers, was the Offensive Player of the Year in 2003 as he guided Peters Township to a playoff win. Gallagher was also the area's top baseball player at the time, and he turned down football offers to play baseball at Duke. Eventually, he was a seventh-round draft choice of the Chicago White Sox and plays for the Class AAA Durham Bulls. I still believe that Gallagher is the best athlete from Washington County that I've covered at the high school level.

Yancich played linebacker at Trinity as a sophomore and junior. He was there as a senior, too, but he finally got a chance to become the Hillers' tailback in 2007 and did not disappoint. That year, Yancich was the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year.

In Wednesday's edition, the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year will be recognized, as will the Elite 11 and All-District Team.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Turns out Merckle's not the first

With Division I track programs recruiting Fort Cherry senior Jessie Merckle, it led to a natural topic of coversation.
Had a school known for producing NFL coaches, 4,000-yard running backs and the Garry coaching family ever produced a Division I female athlete.
Following inner-office discussion, and a few conversations with people in the Fort Cherry community - the answer seemed to be "no."
So, when Merckle (shown in this photo with FC track coach Ben Maxin during a national competition) made a commitment to throw the javelin for Wake Forest University recently, I felt comfortable reporting that she was the first female from Fort Cherry to receive an athletic scholarship.
Not so fast.
In 1979, Janet Marquis played softball for Fort Cherry, where she pitched nine no-hitters, and accepted an athletic scholarship to pitch at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. That's the same Indiana State that Larry Bird led to the NCAA men's basketball championship game.
Marquis pitched at Indiana State for four years before becoming a softball coach at Eastern Illinois University.
Indiana State produced a first for another local school and female athlete. Former Canon-McMillan softball standout Tiffany Wasniewski played four years with the Sycamores and was a team captain. She was the first female in Big Macs sports history to accept a Division I athletic scholarship.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

State football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg for the week of Tuesday, Nov. 29, 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)-2010 PIAA champion.

Team Rec Pvs
1. North Allegheny (P) (7) 13-0 1
2. LaSalle College HS (12) 11-1 3
3. North Penn (1) 11-2 4
4. Upper St. Clair (7) 11-2 2
5. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 11-1 5
6. Gateway (7) 9-3 6
7. Council Rock South (1) 12-1 7
8. Nazareth (11) 12-1 8
9. Central Dauphin (3) 12-1 9
10. Wilson (3) 12-1 NR
Honorable mention
Central York (3) 10-3, Cumberland Valley (3) 11-2, Easton (11) 11-2, Garnet Valley (1) 11-2, Penn-Trafford (7) 10-1, State College (6) 8-4.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Archbishop Wood (12) 11-1 1
2. Grove City (10) 11-0 2
3. Bishop McDevitt (3) 11-2 3
4. Montour (7) 11-2 4
5. Central Valley (7) 11-1 6
6. Knoch (7) 12-1 7
7. Cathedral Prep (10) 9-3 5
8. Franklin Regional (7) 11-1 8
9. Allentown C.C. (P) (11) 8-5 NR
10. Lampeter-Strasburg (3) 12-1 10
Honorable mention
Dallas (2) 10-2, Hopewell (7) 7-4, Pottsgrove (1) 11-2, Valley View (2) 11-2, West Mifflin (7) 9-2, West York (3) 10-3.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Aliquippa (7) 13-0 1
2. Lancaster Catholic (3) 13-0 2
3. West Catholic (P) (12) 9-3 3
4. Jeannette (7) 12-1 4
5. Mount Carmel (4) 12-1 5
6. Pen Argyl (11) 13-0 7
7. Seton-LaSalle (7) 11-1 6
8. Hickory (10) 11-1 10
9. Tyrone (6) 12-1 NR
10. Lewisburg (4) 9-3 8
Honorable mention: Greensburg C.C. (7) 10-2, Moniteau (9) 12-0, Northern Lehigh (11) 10-2, North Schuylkill (11) 10-1, Wilkes-Barre GAR (2) 11-2, Wyomissing (3) 11-1.

Team Rec Pvs
1. Clairton (P) (7) 13-0 1
2. Southern Columbia (4) 12-1 2
3. Sto-Rox (7) 12-1 3
4. Rochester (7) 10-2 4
5. Pius X (11) 12-1 6
6. Bishop Canevin (7) 11-1 5
7. Sharpsville (10) 12-0 7
8. Penns Manor (6) 11-1 10
9. Line Mountain (4) 10-2 9
10. Port Allegany (9) 11-1 NR
Honorable mention: Avonworth (7) 9-2, Bellwood-Antis (6) 10-2, Dunmore (2) 10-1, North Star (5) 10-1, Old Forge (2) 10-3, West Middlesex (10) 7-5.