Thursday, December 20, 2012

Heralded high school hoops recruit picks Duke

Photo courtesy Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) – Jabari Parker still had just about everyone guessing. Then, he pulled out that blue T-shirt with a white “D,” and, finally, it became clear.
The prized prospect from Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy, one of the most highly touted recruits in years, is headed to Duke to play for Mike Krzyzewski. Parker made the announcement in front of a national TV audience Thursday, in his high school gym, surely delighting Blue Devils fans.
A 6-foot-8 forward with the ability to nail jumpers from just about any spot when he’s not throwing down vicious dunks, Parker can’t sign his letter of intent until April 17. But he made his intentions clear with one highly anticipated oral commitment.
Michigan State, Florida, Stanford and Brigham Young also made his top five and caps from each school lined a table next to the podium. But he said it really came down to three schools, with the Gators and Spartans right there with the Blue Devils.
In the end, he chose to play for Krzyzewski for at least a year before making what many believe will ultimately be a jump to the NBA.
“Duke is always going to be a team in the tournament,” he said. “You can’t go wrong at the program and most importantly, the long-term investment. I feel like if I go there, I can get a good degree. I can also stay close to home where it’s easily accessible to my parents, my family. It’s not too far away. Coach K, that’s one of the best coaches ever, and I wanted to be able to experience the things that he has next year.”
Parker said he might play two or three seasons in college. Either way, he vowed to get a degree. He also said he didn’t decide on a school until about 1 p.m. Central, and he apparently kept his parents in the dark until just before he made his announcement.
His mom Lola said Jabari whispered his decision to her and her husband, Sonny, as they were walking into the gym. A few minutes later, he pulled out that Duke T-shirt, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd packing the bleachers behind the podium.
Parker committed to join a program next season will lose two key frontcourt players – seniors Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly – from a team that earlier this week rose to No. 1 for the first time since February 2011.
Parker figures to fit right in on a talented group of players that will include Quinn Cook, who’s expected to be in his second year as the starting point guard, and returns pure shooter Andre Dawkins, who’s expected back after redshirting this season.
Turning down the other programs, particularly Michigan State, wasn’t easy, particularly after coach Tom Izzo’s final pitch Wednesday.
Simeon coach Robert Smith was so impressed he said, “If he was recruiting me yesterday, I would have committed.”
Parker didn’t. He saw a potential for controversy with him and the Spartans’ Branden Dawson playing the same position. Instead, he’s headed to Duke even though he said that was his “worst” on-campus visit.
“I didn’t do what I wanted to do – that’s be a kid,” he said. “But I know being at college, it’s all business. That’s what they wanted to do, to show me. I know I didn’t have a good time, but they just wanted to tell me, prepare for me and give me a little bit of a taste of how it’s going to be in college.”
Lola Parker said she was more interested in Krzyzewski the person than the Krzyzewski the coaching icon. She mentioned his character, his discipline and his final home visit on Tuesday.
“The first time Coach K came in, he stood up and showed Jabari where his foot should be on an offensive or a defensive play,” she said. “He showed Jabari where his arms should be. This guy doesn’t sit down. We kind of laughed about it, and it was the same thing Tuesday. I moved my coffee table to the side to make sure he had room right there to get up.”
Given Jabari Parker’s skills, it’s easy to see why just about every major program was interested in him.
Parker just might be the greatest prospect to come out of Simeon, and that’s saying something considering Derrick Rose played there. All he did was go on to become the MVP with the hometown Bulls.
As for Parker, his credentials to this point sure are impressive.
He received the Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year award after leading Simeon to its third straight state championship while averaging 19.5 points and 8.9 rebounds as a junior.
His father played six seasons with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA after starring at Chicago’s Farragut Career Academy.
“He has a gift and he has what’s called ‘It’,” Sonny Parker said.
Religion also plays a big role in Jabari’s life. He is a devout Mormon, just like his mom, and he has talked about going on a mission. He’s not sure if he will do that, but he did make one thing clear:
He plans to get his degree.
Now that he’s made his college choice and assuming he doesn’t have a change of heart, Jabari can focus on leading Simeon to another state title and getting his conditioning back after being slowed by a broken right foot.
The injury over the summer caused him to push back some recruiting trips and delay his decision rather than commit during the early signing period last month. He’s also missed a game this week because he’s trying to work his way back from the injury, an obstacle for a player rarely stopped on the court, but this moment was years in the making.
Lola Parker recalled in an interview at the family’s house earlier this year that she could see it when Jabari, the youngest of seven children, was in the second grade going against the fourth and fifth-graders in a league run by Sonny, who established a foundation to help inner-city youth in Chicago after he retired.
Scholarship offers started rolling in when Jabari was in the sixth grade, and now, it’s not uncommon for him to get mobbed by fans at games, even though they’re often not from Simeon.
Usually, he’ll accommodate them, but sometimes, he needs an escape.
He finds one in religion. That means rising several days a week at 5 a.m. for Bible study and heading from the family’s brick bungalow on the city’s South Side to worship a few miles away, near the University of Chicago.
The day of the interview at the house earlier this year, there was a reminder on Jabari’s door to “put the Lord first” along with several sheets of 8-by-10 white paper. One listed the Ten Commandments, the other personal rules such as “don’t be quick to judge” and “Think positive things.”
For now, big things are happening for Parker. He’s headed to a storied program. And then?
“His potential, the sky’s the limit,” Sonny Parker said.

Pa. Sportswriters All-State team

The 2012 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State football team. With players’ school, height, weight and class.

Richland's Tanner Solarczyk was one of four running backs selected to the Pa. Sportswriters Class AA All-State team.
Mack Leftwich, North Allegheny - 5-11, 190 sr.
Bryan Schor, Delaware Valley - 6-1, 215 sr.
Thomas Woodson, Gateway - 6-2, 225 sr.
Mike Class, Pennridge - 5-11, 185 jr.
James Conner, McDowell - 6-2, 230 jr.
Robert Martin, Harrisburg - 6-0, 190 jr.
Will Fuller, Roman Catholic - 6-1, 175 sr.
Gregg Garrity, North Allegheny - 5-10, 145 sr.
Chris Jones, Coatesville - 5-11, 165 sr.
Zach Lyon, North Allegheny - 6-0, 190 sr.
Scott Augustine, McDowell - 6-1, 195 jr.
Dan Herbster, Garnet Valley - 6-3, 275 sr.
Patrick Kugler, North Allegheny - 6-5, 280 sr.
Mike McGlinchey, William Penn Charter - 6-8, 275 sr.
Tom Spiteri, La Salle College - 6-2, 285 sr.
Mike Unger, Parkland - 6-2, 250 sr.
Sean Coleman, La Salle College - 5-9, 170 sr.
Drew Scales, Central Dauphin - 5-8, 175 sr.
Von Walker, Central Mountain - 6-0, 195 sr.
Joe Julius, Lower Dauphin - 5-11, 200 jr.

Curtis Cothran, Council Rock North - 6-5, 245 sr.
Jeremy Gonzales, North Allegheny - 6-1, 220 sr.
Junior Joseph, Wilson-West Lawn - 6-3, 235 sr.
Jawan Turner, Woodland Hills - 6-1, 245 sr.
Alex Beasley, Woodland Hills - 6-0, 230 jr.
Hodari Christian, McKeesport - 6-0, 215 sr.
Dakota Everett, Pleasant Valley - 6-4, 225 sr.
Zayd Issah, Central Dauphin - 6-4, 220 sr.
Dominic Moyer, Wilson-West Lawn - 5-10, 210 sr.
Brendan Coniker, North Allegheny - 6-0, 180 sr.
Montae Nicholson, Gateway - 6-2, 200 jr.
John Reid, St. Joseph’s Prep - 5-10, 175 so.
Jimmy Brooks, Wilson-West Lawn - 5-8, 160 sr.
Karlon Quiller, Scranton - 6-0, 180 sr.

Mack Leftwich, North Allegheny
Matt Ortega, Coatesville

Joe Carroll, Thomas Jefferson - 6-2, 180 sr.
Damion Terry, Erie Cathedral Prep - 6-4, 210 sr.
Alec Werner, Bishop McDevitt - 6-1, 200 sr.
Roman Clay, Lancaster Catholic - 5-11, 215 sr.
Alex Cooley, Eastern York - 5-7, 180 sr.
Colin McDermott, Allentown Central Catholic - 5-11, 185 sr.
Robert Foster, Central Valley - 6-2, 185 sr.
Brian Lemelle, Bishop McDevitt - 5-11, 175 sr.
Zach Smith, West York - 6-1, 171 sr.
Taylor Geib, Manheim Central - 6-2, 210 jr.
Matt Barone, Montour - 6-3, 285 sr.
Jordan Diven, West Allegheny - 6-1, 230 sr.
Zach Duffy, Muhlenberg - 6-5, 315 sr.
Dorian Johnson, Belle Vernon - 6-6, 280 sr.
Brody Kern, West York - 6-2, 275 sr.
Fran Walsh, Archbishop Wood - 6-1, 245 sr.
Derrick Fulmore, West Mifflin - 6-0, 190 sr.
Devin Wilson, Montour - 6-4, 180 sr.
John Chereson, Erie Cathedral Prep - 5-10, 170 sr.

Jeff Gulyas, Allentown Central Catholic - 6-3, 210 sr.
Steve Marrazzo Jr., Bishop McDevitt - 6-1, 210 jr.
Erik Swanson, Erie Cathedral Prep - 6-2, 230 sr.
Quinn Thompson, General McLane - 6-5, 230 sr.
Matt Galambos, Haverford School - 6-2, 225 sr.
Carter Henderson, Franklin Regional - 6-0, 215 sr.
Jerry Langan, Abington Heights - 5-11, 200 sr.
Jake Plonski, Erie Cathedral Prep - 6-2, 220 sr.
Dalvin Williams, Greater Johnstown - 6-2, 200 sr.

Darnell Holland, Bishop McDevitt - 5-11, 185 sr.
Austin Jerman, Warren Area - 6-2, 180 sr.
Jermaine Norris, Mastery Charter North - 5-11, 180 jr.
Andrew Guckin, Archbishop Wood - 5-11, 200 sr.
Delton Williams, Erie Cathedral Prep - 6-2, 210 sr.

Damion Terry, Erie Cathedral Prep
Mike Mischler, Erie Cathedral Prep

Brett Brumbaugh, South Fayette - 6-3, 180 So.
Nick O’Brien, Wyoming Area - 5-10, 180 Sr.
DeShawn Coleman, Hickory - 6-0, 175 Sr.
Shai McKenzie, Washington - 6-0, 215 Jr.
Tanner Solarczyk, Richland - 6-0, 197 Jr.
David Williams, Imhotep Charter - 6-1, 200 Sr.
Lucas Benton, Wilkes-Barre GAR - 5-9, 170 Sr.
Zack Bogoly, Wilson Area - 6-2, 200 Sr.
Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette - 6-2, 185 Sr.
Scott Orndorff, Seton-La Salle - 6-5, 240 Sr.
Josh Dininy, Richland - 6-4, 273 Sr.
Jaleel Fields, Aliquippa - 6-2, 275 Jr.
Jaryd Jones-Smith, West Catholic - 6-7, 290 Sr.
Kyle Santorine, Lewisburg - 6-2, 295 Sr.
Ben Wertz, Wyomissing - 6-3, 260 Sr.
Patrick Duvgineaud, Jim Thorpe - 5-11, 170 Sr.
Terry Swanson, Aliquippa - 5-9, 182 Jr.
Jonah Bowman, Wyomissing - 6-0, 190 Sr.

Scott Beltz, Penn-Argyl - 6-3, 210 Sr.
Eric Joraskie, Mount Carmel - 6-4, 265 Sr.
Jeriko Reyes, Wyomissing - 6-1, 215 Sr.
Shakir Soto, Wilkes-Barre GAR - 6-4, 255 Sr.
Stuart Urch, Ligonier Valley - 6-1, 219 Sr.
Alex Anzalone, Wyomissing - 6-3, 225 Sr.
Mack Behe, Penn Cambria - 6-2, 190 Sr.
Cole Bush, Burrell - 6-2, 220 Jr.
Eric Haney, Danville - 6-0, 192 Jr.
Jaylin Kelly, Washington - 6-2, 235 Sr.
Brandon Smith, Lewisburg - 6-2, 215 Sr.
Elijah Cottrill, Beaver Falls - 6-2, 170 So.
Dravon Henry, Aliquippa - 6-0, 182 Jr.
Cale Rice, Danville - 5-6, 172 Sr.
Paryss Marshall, Catasauqua - 6-1, 180 Jr.

Alex Anzalone, Wyomissing
Bob Wolfrum, Wyomissing

Matt Bodamer, Port Allegany - 6-1, 180 Sr.
Chavas Rawlins, Monessen - 6-3, 188 Sr.
Lenny Williams, Sto-Rox - 6-0, 190 Jr.
Blake Bowman, Tri-Valley - 5-9, 170 Sr.
Daiqwon Buckley, Dunmore - 5-11, 215 Jr.
Casey Gray, Bellwood-Antis - 6-0, 170 Jr.
Nick Conway, Port Allegany - 6-2, 170 Sr.
John Klingerman, Bloomsburg - 5-9, 185 Sr.
Terrish Webb, Clairton - 6-1, 175 Sr.
Erik Smeltz, Line Mountain - 6-2, 200 Sr.
Ryan Cherwinski, Southern Columbia - 6-0, 260 Sr.
Devonte Harvey, Clairton - 5-10, 195 Sr.
James McHale, Dunmore - 6-7, 285 Jr.
Austin Mital, Moshannon Valley - 6-3, 270 Sr.
Spencer Smeal, Curwensville - 6-2, 240 Sr.
Tyler Boyd, Clairton - 6-2, 175 Sr.
Danny Ferens, Penns Manor - 6-1, 190 Sr.
Philip Esposito, Brockway - 6-0, 180 Sr.

Mike Boland, Dunmore - 6-5, 265 Sr.
Keith Shawley, Bellwood-Antis - 5-11, 225 Sr.
Nick Ceschini, Bishop Guilfoyle - 6-4, 220 Sr.
Robert Boatright, Clairton - 5-10, 170 Sr.
T.J. Armstrong, Clarion - 6-2, 205 Sr.
Alex Atkins, Northern Cambria - 6-2, 235 Sr.
Austin Noel, Delone Catholic - 6-1, 210 Sr.
Cody Pavlick, Southern Columbia - 6-1, 200 Jr.
Shane Schuback, Old Forge - 6-0, 200 Jr.
Garrett Vulcano, Chartiers-Houston - 6-1, 190 Sr.
Dywan Blanding, Steel-High - 5-9, 180 Sr.
Titus Howard, Clairton - 6-2, 160 Sr.
Doug Twigg, Glendale - 5-9, 166 Sr.
Owen Daniel, Williams Valley - 6-1, 180 Sr.
Brian Tomasetti, Old Forge - 6-1, 175 Sr.

Tyler Boyd, Clairton
Jack Henzes, Dunmore

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Friday Night Lights coach resigns

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) – Gary Gaines, the 63-year-old high school coach at the center of the “Friday Night Lights” book and film, has left the Odessa Permian sideline for the last time.
Gaines said he resigned from the West Texas football program he helped make famous. He said he doubts he’ll coach again but wasn’t sure what’s next for him.
“We’re going to give it to someone else and, hopefully, they can make more out of it than we did,” Gaines said. “We came here to make some deep playoff runs and we weren’t able to do that. That’s what (Permian fans) expect, and I expect as well.”
He leaves with a 69-28-1 record in eight years as Permian’s head coach, including a 23-21 mark in his last four years. In all, he coached Permian from 1986-89 and 2009-12, and was an assistant there for three years in the early 1980s.  
His second stint in Odessa included a lone playoff victory and no district championships.
Gaines led the program to a state 5A championship in 1989. The Panthers were undefeated that season, just a year after H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger spent a year in town researching his best-seller, which chronicled how high school football binds an oil patch community.
Todd Veseley, athletic director of the Ector school district, said it would be a “daunting” task to replace Gaines. He declined to say whether he asked Gaines to step down following the Panthers’ disappointing 5-6 season.
“Any time anyone the quality of coach Gaines leaves, it leaves a vacuum,” he said.
Gaines would not say directly whether he was asked to resign.
“It was just one of those things,” he said. “I understand when programs don’t improve sometimes the head coach has to bear that responsibility.”
Made into a movie in 2004, Bissinger’s book was a hit everywhere but Odessa. Locals felt Bissinger betrayed their hospitality by writing about the sociological woes surrounding the team and town, including allegations of racism and a win-at-all-costs mentality. An NBC television series with the same name was less about football than the community depicted.
After leading the Panthers to the state title more than 20 years ago, Gaines left Permian to become linebackers coach at Texas Tech. He left coaching in 2005 after five years at Abilene Christian to return to Odessa as the school district’s athletic director. Two years later, he moved north to take a similar post in Lubbock.
The once-vaunted Panthers have won six state titles but none since 1991.
Before Gaines’ return in 2009, the Permian program enjoyed something of a revival, making it to three regional finals the previous four seasons while compiling a 38-11 record under Darren Allman, a former Permian player and Gaines protege who left in 2009 to take the coaching job at Austin Westlake.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Final Patriot-News football rankings

The final 2012 Pennsylvania high school football rankings from the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by record and position in last week’s rankings. NR means not ranked.
1. North Allegheny (7) 16-0 1
2. Coatesville (1)13-3 2
3. Woodland Hills (7)10-3 5
4. LaSalle College (12)12-2 3
5. Wilson (3)13-2 4
6. St. Joseph’s Prep (12)10-1 6
7. Harrisburg (3)11-3 7
8. Upper St. Clair (7)10-2 9
9. Parkland (11)11-3 8
10. Spring-Ford (1)12-2 10
Honorable mention
x-Central Dauphin (3) 10-3, Delaware Valley (2) 11-2, Gateway (7) 9-2, McDowell (10) 7-6, Ridley (1) 11-1, Scranton (2) 11-1.

1. Cathedral Prep (10)15-0 1
2. x-Archbishop Wood (12)12-3 2
3. West Allegheny (7)12-2 3
4. Bishop McDevitt (3)14-1 4
5. Thomas Jefferson (7)11-1 5
6. Allentown C.C. (11)9-6 6
7. West York (3)13-1 7
8. West Mifflin (7)11-2 8
9. Montour (7)9-2 9
10. Interboro (1)11-3 10
Honorable mention
Abington Heights (2) 10-3, Berwick (2) 10-2, xx-Lancaster Catholic (3) 9-4, Mars (7) 9-2, Pottsgrove (1) 11-1, West Chester Henderson (1) 9-3.

1. Wyomissing (3)16-0 2
2. Aliquippa (7)15-1 1
3. Imhotep Charter (12)14-1 3
4. Richland (6)14-1 4
5. Washington (7)12-1 5
6. South Fayette (7)11-1 6
7. Hickory (10)11-2 7
8. Pen Argyl (11)11-3 8
9. Wyoming Area (2)10-3 9
10. Catasauqua (11)12-1 10
Honorable mention
Bermudian Springs (3) 12-1, Danville (4) 11-3, Grove City (10) 9-2, Jeannette (7) 10-2, Wilmington (10) 9-3.

1. x-Clairton (7)16-0 1
2. Dunmore (2)14-2 2
3. Sto-Rox (7)11-2 3
4. Bellwood-Antis (6)13-2 4
5. Southern Columbia (4)12-1 5
6. Port Allegany (9)13-1 6
7. Old Forge (2)11-1 7
8. Sharpsville (10)11-2 8
9. Delone Catholic (3)9-4 9
10. Bristol (1)9-2 10
Honorable mention
Monessen (7) 9-2, Neshannock (7) 10-2, North Catholic (7) 9-3, Rochester (7) 9-2, West Middlesex (10) 10-3, Williams Valley (11) 12-1.
x-2011 PIAA champion. xx-2011 Class AA champion. Number in parentheses is PIAA district.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve things on 12/12/12

Twelve things that crossed my mind on Dec. 12, 2012, which is the last day to have identical digits (12/12/12) until Jan. 1, 2101 (01/01/01).

1. Richland football earned a lot of respect with the way it played in the PIAA Class AA tournament, and coach Brandon Bailey showed why a growing number of people think he's one of the best around. Check out this quote from Aliquippa's Malik Shegog in a recent edition of the Tribune-Review, "Hats off to (Richland‘s) coach; they played hard, and he had them ready."

2. Sixteen 3-pointers in an awful lot to make in a game at any point during the season. Somerset hit 16 of them at Bishop Carroll in a boys game on Monday.

3. Central Cambria's Max Kirsch and Richland's Brady Moran both had opportunities to play Division I golf. It's a pretty neat story that the duo opted to become teammates next year at IUP, and a big get for the Crimson Hawks. Kirsch and Moran played their best in the big tournaments.

4. Winston Redman resigned as football coach at Conemaugh Valley. Like any coach, Redman had his detractor but, from this perspective, he did a solid job this season. CV has a lot of building to do. The linemen are small and so are the numbers.

5. Ferndale is also looking for a football coach to replace Tony Penna Sr. Rebuilding Ferndale is a bigger task than turning Conemaugh Valley into a winner. The Yellow Jackets' struggles brings me back to one of my favorite arguments. ... It's time for more mergers.

6. It will be interesting to see how many area players land on the Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State football team. Here's a few guys I believe are worthy: Dalvin Williams (Johnstown), Stuart Urch (Ligonier Valley), Tanner Solarczyk, Josh Dininny, Derek Crawford, Luke Shertzer and Elijah Metzger (Richland), Drew Glotfelty (Berlin), Brock Medva (Shade), Tony Strasiser, Levi Albright (North Star) and Johnny Sheesley (Blacklick Valley).

7. With a majority of skill players returning, Richland should be primed for another strong year in 2013, but replacing all those seniors up front will be difficult. Don't be surprised if Forest Hills is right there with the Rams atop the LHAC standings next year.

8. All signs point toward Don Bailey returning for another season at Forest Hills. Could all signs be pointing to another "Bailey Bowl" for the District 6 Class AA title in 2013?

9. Greater Johnstown and Somerset fielded underclassmen-heavy teams this fall and should be much improved in 2013. Teams from the WestPAC, however, were senior-oriented. Should be interesting to see which programs do the best job replacing departing talent like Strasiser, Glotfelty and Sheesley.

10. Wondering how many other opening will happen in football? Counting Conemaugh Valley and Ferndale, the guess here is five.

11. Love it when teams beef up the schedule in hopes of bettering postseason performance. The Ligonier Valley girls basketball team, which moved up to Class AAA this year, is a good example. The Rams compete in the Heritage Conference, which includes some Class A schools. That won't help LV in the postseason, but playing at the Greensburg Salem Tournament gives it a better idea of what it will take to advance in a larger classification.

12. Did the players from Johnstown and Westmont get to keep the Ampipe/Walnut Heights jerseys their wore earlier this season?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Richland's keys to victory

Richland's Luke Shertzer is a two-way starter at receiver and defensive back.
A look at what Richland needs to do to beat Aliquippa tonight:

Play big, heavy and physical
Chatted with a coach that went up against Aliquippa during this postseason, and he believes the only way to compete against the Quips is to have three or four linemen who weigh 280 to 300 pounds and aren't shy about contact.
Richland only has one player – Josh Dinniny – close to that range, but there are experienced, talented players along the front line for the Rams.
They'll need to play at their best against an Aliquippa team whose physical nature is undermined by its superior athleticism. The Quips are so tough along the defensive front that it frees up their highly athletic linebackers and defensive backs.

Establish the pass
Richland boasts a balanced offense, but Aliquippa boasts Division I prospects in the defensive secondary. The Quips are as physical at defensive back as their are along the front. Generally, they look to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. Basically, they don't let receivers run the intended routes.
Given Richland's offensive prowess, the Rams will need to get something going in the passing game early to keep the Quips from stacking the box in an effort to stop Tanner Solarczyk and Matt Shaffer from running the football.
Bubble screens? Screen passes? Trick plays? Why not?

Score first and second
An early touchdown would be a confidence booster, and it might rattle an Aliquippa team that has only trailed once – by a 6-0 score to Ellwood City – all season.
Against Hickory in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals, Richland scored early and often.
Can that happen against Aliquippa? Maybe, especially if Richland can take advantage of any potential Aliquippa penalties or turnovers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Westmont's Ramirez, North Star's Swihura on PSCA all-state boys soccer team

High School Boys
PSCA All-State Team
Dominic Ramirez, Sr., Westmont Hilltop
Casey Albino, Sr., Lakeland
David Aurand, Sr., Selinsgrove
Oscar Ayala-Rivas, Jr., Reading
Adam Bainbridge, Sr., Wilson
David Bricker, Jr., Trinity
Zach Broujos, Sr., Pitsburgh Central Catholic
Brett Campbell, Sr., Haverford School
Nick Cichon, Sr., Ringgold
Nate Delgado, Jr., Conestoga Valley
Wyatt Dungan, Sr., Cocalico
Kevin Elwell, Sr., Abington Heights
Christian Henry, Sr., Delaware Valley
Aaron Kulig, Sr., Boyertown
Rushawn Lamond, So., Pottsgrove
TJ Leiter, Sr., Williams Valley
Connor Maloney, Sr., Bishop McDevitt
Justin Okun, Sr., James M. Coughlin
Michael Pcholinsky, Sr., South Park
Cody Schmoulder, Jr., Liberty
Christopher Sosa, Sr., York Catholic
Sam Stein, Sr., Friends Central
Ryan Vilelle, Sr., Seneca Valley
Tristan Wright, So., Bloomsburg
Austin Swihura, Jr., North Star
Julian Antal, Sr., Council Rock-South
Brent Batory, Sr., Dallastown
Andrew Bishop, Sr., Emmaus
Liam Boger, Sr., Warren
Austin Bower, Sr., Warrior Run
Jack Dusing, Sr., La Salle College
Chris Edkins, Sr., Lake Lehman
Jordon Ellison, Sr., Stroudsburg
Bryan Fegley, Sr., Wilson
Sean Gallagher, Sr., Bethel Park
Joey Hansen, Jr., Father Judge
Colin Harrison, Sr., Williams Valley
Nick Hutchinson, Sr., Parkland
Troye Kiernan, Jr., Upper St. Clair
Zack Kimelheim, Sr., George School
Ben Kunkel, Sr., Red Land
Tyler McCarthy, Sr., Pine-Richland
Shawn Morrison, Sr., Central York
Steven Munn, Jr., Sewickley Academy
Colin O’Neill, Sr., Holy Ghost Prep
Dante Piccolo, Sr., Quaker Valley
Nick Rohleder, Sr., Bayard Rustin
Tanner Russel, Sr., Northern Bedford
Daniel Saba, Sr., Dallas
Brian Schafer, Sr., Upper Dublin
Colton Snyder, Sr., Northeast Bradford
George Stock, Sr., Phil Mont Christian
Joseph Schmitz, Sr., Gettysburg
Patrick Sullivan, Sr., Pine-Richland
Alec Taisania, Sr., Moravian Academy
Brandon Walbert, So., South Park
Pat Berneski, Jr., Central Bucks-South
Wes Burdette, Sr., Upper St. Clair
Nathan Dearth, Sr., Montour
Andrew Gonzalez, Sr., Conestoga
Zach Graziani, Jr., West Allegheny
Spencer Reinford, Sr., East Juniata
Jon Dietrick, Sr., Shamokin
Brandon Hoover, Sr., Pequea Valley
Jonathan Phillips, Sr., Bangor
John Prentice, Sr., Philipsburg-Osceola

Monday, December 3, 2012

The 700-point club

Aliquippa entered exclusive company with its 51-15 victory over Karns City in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals last week.

The win gave the Quips 709 points on the season. They became just the sixth team in Pennsylvania high school football history to reach the 700-point plateau.

Aliquippa's run-oriented offense is led by Dravon Henry (1,439 yards) and Terry Swanson (1,234 yards). The Quips have rushed for more than 4,000 yards.

According to head coach Mike Zmijanac, a hard-hitting, physical defense deserves all the credit.

"The key for us is defensively," Zmijanac said. "We've played extremely well on that side of the ball and given our offense opportunities to score. We're not fancy offensively and we're not fancy on defense. The kids are just executing."

Richland, which sports the same 14-0 record as Aliquippa, gets its shot to slow down the Quips' high-powered run game, which churned out more than 500 yards in the WPIAL championship game against a previously unbeaten Wash High.

Members of the 700-point club
1. Jeannette (2007) 860 points in 16 games
2. West Catholic (2008) 775 points in 16 games
3. Southern Columbia (2006) 755 in 16 games
4. Clairton (2010) 746 points in 16 games
5. Aliquippa (2012) 709 points in 14 games
6. Serra Catholic (2007) 702 points in 16 games

Forest Hills' Gallaher, Somerset's Lenzi on PSCA Girls All-State team

AJ Baroffio, Sr., Bethel Park
Alicia Binn, Jr., Saucon Valley
Bria Bittiger, So., Stroudsburg
Carley Bogan, Sr., Upper St.  Clair
Maci Bower, So., Millwill
Frannie Crouse, Jr., Greensburg Central Catholic
Kayla Cunningham, Sr., Whitehall
Ashley Dunbar, Sr., Dallas
Morgan Glassford, Sr., Strath Haven
Antonia Grese, Sr., Moon
Alexis Junker, Jr., Fairfield
Sarah Kaiser, Sr., Mercyhurst Prep
Shyanne Kimbrough, Jr., West York
Mikala Kin, Sr., York Suburban
Lauren Kovalchuk, Sr., Belle Vernon
Taylor Landis, Sr., Warrior Run
Veronica Latsko, Jr., Peters Township
Kathleen Lawver, Sr., Cocalico
Liana Leja, Sr., South Fayette
Kelsie Maloney, Sr., Bishop McDevitt
Ivy Nulton, Sr., Coughlin
Lauren Pietrowski, Sr., Governor Mifflin
Julianna Provini, Jr., Owen J. Roberts
Hannah Racis, So., Conrad Weiser
Madyson Riegel, Jr., Blue Mountain
Olivia Roberson., Sr., Peters Township
Megan Schafer, Jr., Neshaminy
Sarah Segan, So., Northwestern Lehigh
Rachel Shive, Sr., Faith Christian Acadey
Lana Spitler, Sr., Montoursville
Bryn Wassel, Sr., Lansdale Catholic
Bryce Watts, So., Red Land
Marisa Weaver, Sr., Boiling Springs
Morgan Williams, Sr., Seneca Valley
Jennifer Wittick, Sr., Downingtown West
Natalie Zelensky, Sr., Mechanicsburg

Casey Gallaher, Sr., Forest Hills
Siobhan Bross, Sr., Danville
Kristin Buchanan, Sr., Bellefonte
Bianca Chairge, Sr., Scranton Prep
Bailey Corbin, Jr., Lampeter-Strasburg
Haleigh Echard, Jr., Cedar Crest
Malea Fabean, Jr., Greensburg Central Catholic
Emily Gingrich, Sr., Governor Mifflin
Andrea Gunderson, Sr., West Chester Rustin
Kaylee Harner, Sr., Red Land
Ally Kasun, Sr., Hempfield
Kayla Kelley, Jr., Halifax
Elise Krause, Sr., Cumberland Valley
Emily Morgan, Sr., Owen J. Roberts
Shea Neal, Sr., Christopher Dock
Bethany Perri, Sr., Mars
Lauren Pezzica, Sr., Conestoga Valley
Jackie Pierson, Sr., Archbishop Wood
Camille Roberts, Sr., Parkland
Kailee Rottet, Sr., Tamaqua
Carly Seneca, Sr., Gateway
Marissa Sheva, So., Pennridge
Brittany Simmons, Sr., Cocalico
Maddie Swarr, Sr., Conestoga
Creslyn Van Dyck, Jr., Harrisburg Christian
Tess Wei, Sr., Friends Central

Megan Lenzi, Sr., Somerset
Emma Blair, Sr., Governor Mifflin
Kylie Borick, Sr., Forest City Regional
Isabelle Clauss, Jr., Abington Heights
Michelle DeGerolamo, Sr., Hickory
Alexa Fabbri, So., Villa Joseph Marie
Rachel Kester, Sr., Northwestern Lehigh
Kelly Sheptock, Sr., Berwick

Natasha Brigham, Sr., Harbor Creek
Madison Hileman, Sr., Fleetwood
Gabby Reichart, Sr., New Oxford
Alesha Seifert, Jr., Wilson Area

Friday, November 30, 2012

Top basketball player choosing college over Mormon mission

CHICAGO (AP)  – Top high school basketball recruit Jabari Parker says he will attend college and not go on a Mormon mission after he graduates.
Parker, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, previously mentioned the possibility of doing mission work after graduation from Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy. During an appearance Friday on ESPN Radio, Parker said he will be going to college next year.
Although he hasn’t announced a choice, Parker has visited Duke, Michigan State, Florida and BYU. He says he also will visit Stanford.
A 6-foot-8 forward, Parker is one of the most prized recruits to come along in recent years. He led Simeon to its third straight state championship while averaging 19.5 points and 8.9 rebounds as a junior.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

WestPAC not so whack

When it comes to respect, the WestPAC gets precious little during football season.

Yet, when the 2012 PIAA Class A brackets were released two of the 16 teams remaining hailed from the WestPAC – North Star and Berlin. It's a solid achievement for a conference looked upon as a weak sisters by its neighbors in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference and the Heritage Conference.

The LHAC produced three state qualifiers in Richland, Forest Hills (Class AA) and Bishop McCort (Class A).

As for the Heritage Conference, there were no PIAA-playoff qualifiers.

"The top of the conference is strong," North Star coach Stacy Schmitt said. "The top teams from the WestPAC can compete. There's four or five teams in our conference that can compete in just about any conference."
Berlin's Drew Glotfelty scores as North Star's Levi Albright attempts to tackle him during the District 5 Class A championship game at Somerset.

Berlin coach Doug Paul echoed those sentiments.

"The WestPAC is very competitive," Paul said. "People talk about the size of our schools and the demographics that make up the teams, but any given year, three or four of our schools could compete in any Class A conference in the state."

Paul added more clarification to the statement.

"I'm not saying any of our teams would go undefeated, but there's three or four teams that year-in, year-out would compete for the playoffs."

Count North Star and Berlin among those programs.

And count Berlin (11-10 as the next team to face mighty Clairton (13-0), which set a PIAA record for consecutive wins with 60 in winning last week's WPIAL championship over Sto-Rox. The Bears have won five consecutive WPIAL titles and the last three state championships.

Kickoff is Friday at 7 p.m. at Somerset High School. Clairton shut out North Star, 52-0, two years ago on a memorably snow-filled night in Somerset.

When asked about Clairton minutes after Berlin won its first District 5 championship since 2004, Paul said, "I watched the (WPIAL) game on television earlier (Friday). They don't have a weakness. They have athletes everywhere."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Patriot-News football rankings

CLASS AAAA -- Record -- Previous rank
1. North Allegheny (7) -- 13-0 -- 1
2. LaSalle College (12) -- 11-1 -- 2
3. Harrisburg (3) -- 11-2 -- 3
4. Parkland (11) -- 11-2 -- 5
5. Woodland Hills (7) -- 10-3 -- 4
6. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) -- 10-1 -- 6
7. Wilson (3) -- 12-1 -- 8
8. Coatesville (1) -- 11-2 -- NR
9. Spring-Ford (1) -- 12-1 -- NR
10. Upper St. Clair (7) -- 10-2 -- 7
Honorable mention
 Central Dauphin* (3) 10-3, Delaware Valley (2) 11-2, Gateway (7) 9-2, McDowell (10) 7-5, Ridley (1) 11-1, Scranton (2) 11-1.

CLASS AAA -- Record -- Previous rank
1. Cathedral Prep (10) -- 12-0 -- 1
2. Bishop McDevitt (3) -- 13-0 -- 2
3. Archbishop Wood* (12) -- 10-2 -- 3
4. West Allegheny (7) -- 12-1 -- 4
5. Thomas Jefferson (7) -- 11-1 -- 7
6. West York (3) -- 13-0 -- NR
7. West Mifflin (7) -- 11-2 -- 5
8. Allentown C.C. (11) -- 8-5 -- NR
9. Montour (7) -- 9-1 -- 9
10. Interboro (1) -- 11-2 -- NR
Honorable mention
 Abington Heights (2) 10-3, Berwick (2) 10-2, x-Lancaster Catholic (3) 9-4, Mars (7) 9-2, Pottsgrove (1) 11-1, Selinsgrove (4) 10-3.

CLASS AA -- Record -- Previous rank
1. Aliquippa (7) -- 13-0 -- 1
2. Imhotep Charter (12) -- 13-0 -- 2
3. Wyomissing (3) -- 13-0 -- 3
4. Hickory (10) -- 11-1 -- 5
5. Washington (7) -- 12-1 -- 4
6. Richland (6) -- 13-0 -- 7
7. Pen Argyl (11) -- 11-2 -- 8
8. South Fayette (7) -- 11-1 -- 6
9. Wyoming Area (2) -- 10-3 -- 10
10. Catasauqua (11) -- 12-1 -- NR
Honorable mention
Bermudian Springs (3) 12-1, Danville (4) 11-2, Grove City (10) 9-2, Jeannette (7) 10-2, Wilmington (10) 9-3.

CLASS A -- Record -- Previous rank
1. Clairton* (7) -- 13-0 -- 1
2. Dunmore (2) -- 12-1 -- 3
3. Sharpsville (10) -- 11-1 -- 5
4. Sto-Rox (7) -- 11-2 -- 4
5. Bellwood-Antis (6) -- 12-1 -- 6
6. Southern Columbia (4) -- 12-1 -- 2
7. Old Forge (2) -- 11-1 -- 7
8. Port Allegany (9) -- 12-0 -- 10
9. Bristol (1) -- 9-1 -- NR
10. Delone Catholic (3) -- 9-3 -- NR
Honorable mention
 Monessen (7) 9-2, Neshannock (7) 10-2, North Catholic (7) 9-3, Rochester (7) 9-2, West Middlesex (10) 10-3, Williams Valley (11) 12-1.

Richland's Mihalik signs with West Liberty

Richland High School senior Nicki Mihalik signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball at Division II West Liberty University. Mihalik pitched the Rams to Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championships as a freshman and junior. She has 372 strikeouts and a 33-8 career record. She was also an all-conference selection in soccer as a senior.

Richland's Nicki Mihalik signs her National Letter of Intent to play softball at West Liberty. Standing from left to right are Jim Peracchino, travel coach; Carl Teeter, travel coach; Stephen Mihalik, father; Lisa Parana, mother; Ed Haberkorn, Richland softball coach; Rick Bicko, travel coach.

Monday, November 26, 2012

PA Football News rankings

Class AAAA:
Rank - School - District - Record - Score - Last Weeks Ranking
1. North Allegheny (7) (13-0) Defeated Woodland Hills, 21-14 (1)
2. LaSalle College (12) (11-1) Did Not Play (2)
3. Wilson (West Lawn) (3) (12-1) Defeated Governor Mifflin, 21-14 (3)
4. Harrisburg (3) (11-2) Defeated Central Dauphin, 27-21 (5)

5. Parkland (11) (11-2) Defeated Delaware Valley, 49-41 (8)
6. McDowell (10) (7-5) Defeated State College, 42-0 (HM)
7. Coatesville (1) (11-2) Defeated Neshaminy, 63-28 (HM)
8. Spring-Ford (1) (12-2) Defeated Pennridge, 35-24 (HM)
9. St. Joseph's Prep (12) (9-1) Season Complete (6)
10. Pennridge (1) (11-2) Lost to Spring-Ford, 35-24 (4)

Honorable Mention:
Central Bucks South (10-2)
Central Dauphin (3) (10-3)
Delaware Valley (2) (11-2)
Downingtown East (1) (10-1)
Governor Mifflin (3) (10-3)
Neshaminy (1) (9-4)
Ridley (1) (11-1)
Scranton (2) (11-1)
Upper St. Clair (7) (10-2)

Class AAA:
Rank - School - District

1. Bishop McDevitt (3) (13-0) Defeated Lancaster Catholic, 27-7 (1)
2. Cathedral Prep (10) (12-0) Defeated General McLane, 48-14 2)
3. Archbishop Wood (12) (10-2) Did Not Play (3)

4. West York (3) (13-0) Defeated Susquehanna Township, 31-7 (4)
5. West Allegheny (7) (12-1) Defeated West Mifflin, 34-8 (5)
6. Selinsgrove (4) (9-3) Defeated University Prep, 41-14 (10)
7. Interboro (1)(11-2) Defeated West Chester Henderson, 14-12 (HM_
8. Allentown Central Catholic (11) (8-5) Defeated Abington Heights, 23-0 (HM)
9. Thomas Jefferson (7) (11-1) Season Complete (HM)
10. Pottsgrove (1) (11-1) Season Complete (HM)
Honorable Mention:
Abington Heights (2) (10-3)
Berwick Area (2) (10-2) 
Central Valley (7) (9-2)
Clearfield (9) (11-1)
Garden Spot (3) (10-1)
General McLane (10) (9-3)
Susquehanna Township (3) (10-3)
West Mifflin (7) (11-2)

Class AA:
Rank - School - District

1. Aliquippa (7) (13-0) Defeated Washington, 34-7 (1)
2. Wyomissing (3) (13-0) Defeated Bermudian Springs (2)
3. Imhotep Charter (12) (13-0) Defeated Boy's Latin, 58-8 (3)
4. Richland (6) (13-0) Defeated Forest Hills, 27-0 (5)
5. Hickory (10) (11-1) Defeated Wilmington, 39-7 (7)
6. Pen Argyl (11) (10-2) Defeated Wyoming Area, 21-7 (8)
7. Danville (4) (11-2) Defeated Mount Carmel, 28-21 (10)
8. Karns City (9) (10-3) Defeated Chestnut Ridge, 35-29 (HM)
9. South Fayette (7) (11-1) Season Complete (9)
10. Washington (7) (12-1) Lost to Aliquippa, 34-7 (4) (Blogger's note: Washington beat South Fayette in the WPIAL playoffs but fell behind SF in this week's rankings.)

Honorable Mention:
Bermudian Springs (3) (12-1)
Catasauqua (11) (12-1)
Forest Hills (6) (9-4)
Jeannette (7) (10-2)
Wilmington (10) (9-3)
Wyoming Area (2) (10-3)

Class A:
Rank - School - District

1. Clairton (7) (13-0) Defeated Sto-Rox, 58-21 (1) (60 Straight Wins - Breaks the state Record)
2. Dunmore (2) (12-1) Defeated Southern Columbia, 35-29 (5)
3. Port Allegany (9) (13-0) Defeated Clarion Area, 47-8 (3)
4. Bellwood-Antis (6) (12-1) Defeated Bishop McCort, 54-3 (7)
5. Sharpsville (10) (11-1) Defeated West Middlesex, 28-0 (8)
6. Southern Columbia (4) (12-1) Lost to Dunmore, 35-29 (2)
7. Bristol (1) (9-1) Defeated Williams Valley, 20-0 (HM)
8. Berlin Brothersvalley (5) (11-1) Defeated North Star, 14-6 (HM)

9. Delone Catholic (3) (9-3) Defeated Steelton-Highspire, 28-13 (HM)
10. Old Forge (2) (11-1) Season Complete (9)
Honorable Mention:
Clarion Area (9) (12-1)
Monessen (7) (9-2)

Neshannock (7) (10-2)
North Star (5) (10-3)
Sto-Rox (7) (11-1)
Tri-Valley (11) (10-2)
West Middlesex (10) (10-3)
Williams Valley (11) (12-1)


Every team has preseason goals and expectations. The Richland High School football team is no different.

The Rams, however, aren't afraid to raise the bar.

They're not afraid to let it be known, either.

Before a down was played this season, Richland adopted a Twitter hashtag used by coach Brandon Bailey, players and fans alike.

Many tweets concluded with "#win13."

For those not in the know, Twitter is a booming method of social media. It's used by movie stars, rock stars, pro athletes and, on a more local level, high school student-athletes and coaches. Twitter is an effective and quick way to communicate with an entire team and beyond.

Richland football actively uses Twitter as a communication vehicle. The Rams also entered the season with the heavy expectation of winning its first 13 games, which would lead to the program's first district championship.

Hence, the hashtag "#win13."

A couple weeks ago, senior receiver/defensive back Luke Shertzer explained the hashtag.

"It's something we talked about before the season, and it feels great knowing we're close to achieving it," Shertzer said. "All summer long, we talked about winning the (Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference) and the district. Winning 13 games meant we would do both."

Well, Richland achieved its goal Friday night when it shut out Forest Hills, 27-0, in the District 6 Class AA championship at Mansion Park in Altoona.

It prompted a change in hashtags.

Shertzer, who goes by @GeistownsFinest on Twitter said following the win, "Wouldn't trade this team for the world, thank you for making my senior year memorable "

Matt Shaffer (@mshaffe12) "Words just can't describe this... "

Tanner Solarczyk (@Tsolarczyk) "Best feeling ever "

Mario Rizzo (@mariorizzo1411) "Hats off to FH, great game D6 champs!!!! Greatest feeling. Lets keep rolling and "

Of course, for the Rams to win 16, it means they'll be crowned PIAA champions at the end of the year. First, Richland (13-0) must get past District 10 champion Hickory in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Slippery Rock University.

Who knows, by next week, maybe Richland will be tweeting "#won14."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Forest Hills/Richland aka "The Bailey Bowl" capsule

Forest Hills (9-3) vs. Richland (12-0)

What: District 6 Class AA championship.

When: 7 p.m., today.

Where: Mansion Park, Altoona.

District titles:
Forest Hills, 9 – 1985 (Class AAA), 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2010 (Class AA). Richland, none.

Forest Hills scores: Westmont Hilltop (W, 44-0), Bishop McCort (L, 10-6), Bishop Carroll (W, 27-0), Bishop Guilfoyle (L, 14-0), Cambria Heights (L, 24-6), Central Cambria (W, 28-14), Penn Cambria (W, 20-18), Somerset (W, 17-7), Greater Johnstown (W, 29-24), Philipsburg-Osceola (W, 43-0), Central (W, 21-7), Ligonier Valley (W, 26-12).

Richland scores: Cambria Heights (W, 38-20), Bishop Guilfoyle (W, 35-12), Bedford (W, 62-14), Greater Johnstown (W, 42-0), Bishop McCort (W, 17-10), Somerset (W, 47-0), Westmont Hilltop (W,
51-23), Penn Cambria (W, 30-12), Central Cambria (W, 35-0), Bellwood-Antis (W, 14-7), Penn Cambria (W, 28-0), Tyrone (W, 43-22).

Forest Hills coach Don Bailey
Seasons as head coach: 39.
Career record: 333-91-8.
District titles: 9.
This season: 9-3.
Highlight: Led Rangers to 1994 PIAA Class AA state championship game, a 20-14 double-overtime loss to Mount Carmel.

Richland coach Brandon Bailey
Seasons as head coach: 11.
Career record: 62-55.
District titles: 0.
This season: 12-0.
Highlight: Led Rams to first playoff berth in 20 seasons in 2008 and advanced to the district championship game two straight years.

Bailey vs. Bailey
Forest Hills is 9-1 against Richland since the father-son coaching duel began in 2002. ... The total includes Rangers playoff wins in 2008 and 2009. Richland won the 2011 season opener in Sidman. ... The teams did not meet during the 2012 regular season.

Patriot-News football rankings

Pennsylvania high school football rankings from the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, with school’s district in parentheses, followed by record and position in last week’s rankings. NR means not ranked.

1. North Allegheny (7) 12-0 1
2. LaSalle College (12) 11-1 2
3. Harrisburg (3) 10-2 3
4. Woodland Hills (7) 10-2 5
5. Parkland (11) 10-2 9
6. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) 9-1 6
7. Upper St. Clair (7) 10-2 4
8. Wilson (3) 11-1 NR
9. Central Dauphin (P)) 10-2 NR
10. Gateway (7) 9-2 10
Teams to watch
Coatesville (1) 10-2, Delaware Valley (2) 11-1, Ridley (1) 11-1, Scranton (2) 11-1, Seneca Valley (7) 10-2, Spring-Ford (1) 11-1.

1. Cathedral Prep (10) 11-0 1
2. Bishop McDevitt (3) 12-0 2
3. Archbishop Wood (P) 10-2 3
4. West Allegheny (7) 11-1 4
5. West Mifflin (7) 11-1 8
6. Susquehanna Twp. (3) 10-2 10
7. Thomas Jefferson (7) 11-1 5
8. Abington Heights (2) 10-2 NR
9. Montour (7) 9-1 9
10. West Chester Henderson (1) 9-3 NR
Teams to watch
Berwick (2) 10-2, x-Lancaster Catholic (3) 9-3, Mars (7) 9-2, Pottsgrove (1) 11-1, West York (3) 12-0.

1. Aliquippa (7) 12-0 1
2. Imhotep Charter (12) 12-0 2
3. Wyomissing (3) 12-0 4
4. Washington (7) 12-0 5
5. Hickory (10) 10-1 6
6. South Fayette (7) 11-1 3
7. Richland (6) 12-0 10
8. Pen Argyl (11) 10-2 NR
9. Wilmington (10) 9-2 NR
10. Wyoming Area (2) 10-2 NR
Teams to watch
Bermudian Springs (3) 12-0, Catasauqua (11) 11-1, Forest Hills (6) 9-3, Grove City (10) 9-2, Jeannette (7) 10-2.

1. Clairton (P)) 12-0 1
2. Southern Columbia (4) 12-0 2
3. Dunmore (2) 11-1 4
4. Sto-Rox (7) 11-1 5
5. Sharpsville (10) 10-1 6
6. Bellwood-Antis (6) 11-1 8
7. Old Forge (2) 11-1 3
8. Williams Valley (11) 12-0 9
9. Bishop McCort (6) 9-3 NR
10. Port Allegany (9) 11-0 NR
Teams to watch
Monessen (7) 9-2, Neshannock (7) 10-2, North Catholic (7) 9-3, Rochester (7) 9-2, Steelton-Highspire (3) 9-3, West Middlesex (10) 10-2.
(P)-2011 PIAA champion. (x) 2011 Class AA champion. Number in parentheses is PIAA district.

Bishop McCort/Bellwood-Antis capsule

Bishop McCort (9-3) vs. Bellwood (11-1)

What: District 6 Class A championship.

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Mansion Park, Altoona.

District titles: Bishop McCort, 5 – 2001, 2006, 2007 (Class AA), 2008, 2009 (Class A). Bellwood-Antis, 5 – 1988 (Class AA), 1997, 2004, 2006, 2007 (Class A).

Bishop McCort scores: Bishop Carroll (W, 38-18), Forest Hills (W, 10-6), Somerset (L, 19-14), Bedford (W, 38-14), Richland (L, 17-10), Westmont Hilltop (W, 35-0), Greater Johnstown (W, 28-18), Cambria Heights (L, 21-19), Bishop Guilfoyle (W, 37-0), Central Cambria (W, 38-13), Penns Manor (W, 32-29), Northern Cambria (W, 45-6).

Bellwood-Antis scores: Tyrone (W, 22-15), Moshannon Valley (W, 35-14), West Branch (W, 54-20), Juniata Valley (W, 47-34), Mt. Union (W, 21-0), Everett (W, 41-14), Southern Huntingdon (W,
39-3), Northern Bedford (W, 20-0), Glendale (W, 41-13), Richland (L, 14-7), Glendale (W, 40-14), Bishop Guilfoyle (W, 19-6).

North Star/Berlin capsule

North Star (10-2) vs. Berlin (10-1)

What: District 5 Class A championship.

When: 7 p.m., today.

Where: Somerset High School.

District titles: North Star, 4 – 2008 (Class AA), 2007, 2010, 2011 (Class A).
Berlin Brothersvalley, 4 – 1986, 1987, 1990, 2004 (Class A).

North Star scores: Portage (L, 13-10), Ferndale (W, 30-0), Conemaugh Valley (W, 42-7), Saltsburg (W, 40-7), Berlin Brothersvalley (L, 28-19), Shade (W, 3-0), Meyersdale (W, 32-7), Rockwood (W, 42-0), Blacklick Valley (W, 36-24), Conemaugh Township (W, 14-12), Shade (W, 21-0), Northern Bedford (W, 21-20).

Berlin scores: Conemaugh Township (W, 41-6), Portage (W, 20-7), Ferndale (W, 55-8), Conemaugh Valley (W, 27-0), North Star (W, 28-19), Northern Cambria (W, 21-19), Shade (W, 40-7), Meyersdale (W, 28-27), Rockwood (W, 49-12), Windber (L, 28-20), Windber (W, 40-20).

Berlin received a first-round bye in the District 5 playoffs.

Chestnut Ridge/Karns City capsule

Chestnut Ridge (6-5) vs. Karns City (9-3)

What: PIAA Class AA first-round game.

When: 7 p.m., today.

Where: Memorial Stadium, Clarion University

District titles: Chestnut Ridge, 2 – 2010, 2012 (Class AA). Karns City, 9 – 1993, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 (Class AA).

Chestnut Ridge scores: Central (L, 51-20), Carrick (W, 35-12), Berks Catholic (L, 47-0), Bald Eagle Area (L, 28-26), Philipsburg-Osceola (W, 34-7), Mountain Ridge (W, 34-6), Kutztown (W, 60-14), Fort Hill, Md. (L, 32-28), Allegany, Md. (L, 42-8), Bedford (W, 33-7), Everett (W, 22-21).

Karns City scores: St. Marys (W, 38-25), Clarion Area (L, 34-12), Moniteau (W, 20-7), Union (L, 28-18), Franklin (W, 30-22), Keystone (W, 34-7), Punxsutawney (W, 17-14), Oil City (L, 33-21), Brookville (W, 45-20), Marion Center (W, 34-20), St. Marys (W, 34-14), Kane (W, 33-27).

Winner draws either Aliquippa or Washington in quarterfinals.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

North Star's two-back system proves effective

Between Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, it's been said that the Pittsburgh Steelers have an embarrassment of riches at the running back position. Some have gone as far as saying the trio gives Pittsburgh the most depth at the position in the NFL.

While not many have said that North Star boasts the best backfield depth in District 5. The statement may be true.

The Cougars, who are in the District 5 Class A championship game for the fourth time in five years, can counter any defense with a runner suited to help North Star win a football game.

And North Star (10-2) has won seven straight games, including three by shutout, heading into Friday night's championship game against Berlin (10-1) at Somerset. The game also serves as a first-round game in the PIAA Class A playoffs with the winner drawing the WPIAL champion, either Clairton or Sto-Rox, Nov. 30.

"For us, everything starts with the line play more so than anything else," North Star coach Stacy Schmitt said. "If we're having a hard time moving people, Thomas Miller is the better back to move people with. Shawn Costas has blinding speed."

Miller, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound junior, rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore. This year, he's carried the football 142 times for 709 yards and six touchdowns. Two of those scores, 26 of his carries and a season-high 132 yards came in last week's thrilling 21-20 win at Northern Bedford in double overtime.

Costas (5-5. 145) has rushed for a team-high 714 yards and 6.0 yards per carry. His best game came at Blacklick Valley when he rushed 19 times for 176 yards.

The nature of a particular game determines who will be effective and which back we'll go with," Schmitt said. "It's not a case of which back is better because they're both very good."

No matter the back, North Star will need to run the football against a determined Berlin team coming off a semifinal performance against Windber where the Mountaineers rushed for 463 yards and five touchdowns.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tribune-Democrat football rankings

Regardless of classification ...

1. Richland 12-0 (Class AA)
Noteworthy: Richland remains area's most consistently excellent team. Rams make District 6-AA title game for second straight year. This year, it's being dubbed the Bailey Bowl as Brandon Bailey's Richland Rams play father Don Bailey's Forest Hills Rangers.

2. Forest Hills 9-3 (AA)
Noteworthy: Rangers have been one of Class AA's best teams since Week 6. Father/son coaching matchups happen occasionally, but one has to wonder if it's ever actually happened in a PIAA playoff game.

3. Bishop McCort 9-3 (A)
Noteworthy: It's late November, so that must mean it's time for the annual playoff matchup between Class A powers Bishop McCort and Bellwood-Antis. The winner could be set for a long postseason run.

4. Berlin 10-1 (A)
Noteworthy: Not sure why, but it seems like Mountaineers coach Doug Paul doesn't get enough credit. He's not afraid to alter schemes, play calls or signals or even move players to different positions if he believes it gives Berlin a chance.

5. North Star 10-2 (A)
Noteworthy: The District 5 Class A championship will be contested Friday night. That must mean North Star is still playing. The Cougars are in the title game ... again, and their defense is playing at en elite level.

6. Chestnut Ridge 6-5 (AA)
Noteworthy: Chestnut Ridge won its first playoff game two weeks ago against Everett. The Lions had a week off now travel to Clarion University to play District 9's Karns City. Ridge played a difficult, nomadic schedule. Now, the ever-improving Lions will find out if it pays off.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

PA Football News rankings

Class AAAA:
Rank - School - District - Record - Score - Last Weeks Ranking

1. North Allegheny (7) (12-0) Defeated Seneca Valley, 47-17 (1)
2. LaSalle College (12) (10-1) Defeated Frandford, 37-20 (2)
3. Wilson (West Lawn) (3) (11-1) Defeated Central York, 35-10 (4)
4. Pennridge (1) (11-1) Defeated Pennsbury, 28-27 (5)
5. Harrisburg (3) (10-2) Defeated Cumberland Valley, 47-28 (10)
6. St. Joseph's Prep (12) (9-1) Season Complete (6)
7. Woodland Hills (7) (10-2) Defeated Upper St. Clair, 42-20 (HM)
8. Parkland (11) (10-2) Defeated Pleasant Valley, 37-0 (HM)
9. Central Dauphin (3) (10-2) Defeated Manheim Township, 38-30 (HM)
10. Neshaminy (1) (9-3) Defeated Central Bucks South, 14-7 (HM)
Honorable Mention:
Central Bucks South (10-2)
Coatesville (1) (10-2)
Delaware Valley (2) (11-1)
Downingtown East (1) (10-1)
Governor Mifflin (3) (10-2)
McDowell (10) (6-5)
Ridley (1) (11-1)
Scranton (2) (11-1)
Spring-Ford (1) (11-1)
Upper St. Clair (7) (10-2)

Class AAA:
Rank - School - District

1. Bishop McDevitt (3) (12-0) Defeated Conrad Weiser, 42-21 (1)
2. Cathedral Prep (10) (11-0) Defeated Warren Area,  54-12 (2)
3. Archbishop Wood (12) (10-2) Defeated Edward Bok Vo-Tech, 49-28 (5)
4. West York (3) (12-0) Defeated Spring Grove, 42-27 (7)
5. West Allegheny (7) (11-1) Defeated Thomas Jefferson, 24-7 (8)
6. West Mifflin (7) (11-1) Defeated Central Valley, 36-35 (OT) (9)
7. Susquehanna Township (3) (10-2) Defeated Manheim Central, 27-17
8. Abington Heights (2) (10-2) Defeated Berwick Area, 44-35 (HM)
9. General McLane (10) (9-2) Defeated Slippery Rock, 46-42 (HM)
10. Selinsgrove (4) (9-3) Defeated Milton Area, 31-0 (HM)
Honorable Mention:
Berwick Area (2) (10-2) 
Central Valley (7) (9-2)
Clearfield (9) (11-1)
Garden Spot (3) (10-1)
Interboro (1)(10-2)
Lancaster Catholic (3) (9-3)
Pottsgrove (1) (11-1)
Thomas Jefferson (7) (11-1)
West Chester Henderson (1) (9-3)

Class AA:
Rank - School - District

1. Aliquippa (7) (12-0) Defeated Jeannette, 56-0 (1)
2. Wyomissing (3) (12-0) Defeated Schuylkill Valley, 42-14  (2)
3. Imhotep Charter (12) (12-0) Defeated West Catholic, 40-8 (3)
4. Washington (7) (12-0) Defeated South Fayette, 26-14  (5)
5. Richland (6) (12-0) Defeated Tyrone Area, 43-22 (7)
6. Bermudian Springs (3) (12-0) Defeated Biglerville, 34-14 (8)
7. Hickory (10) (9-1) Defeated Grove City, 35-13 (10)
8. Pen Argyl (11) (10-2) Defeated Catasauqua, 26-20 (HM)
9. South Fayette (7) (11-1) Lost to Washington, 26-14 (4)
10. Danville (4) (11-2) Defeated Athens, 14-13
Honorable Mention:
Catasauqua (11) (11-1)
Forest Hills (6) (9-3)
Jeannette (7) (10-2)
Karns City (9) (9-3)
Mount Carmel Area (4) (8-4)
Wilmington (10) (9-2)
Wyoming Area (2) (10-2)

Class A:
Rank - School - District

1. Clairton (7) (12-0) Defeated Neshannock, 37-3 (1) (59 Straight Wins - Ties the state Record)
2. Southern Columbia (4) (12-0) Defeated South Williamsport, 47-12 (2)
3. Port Allegany (9) (12-0) Defeated Elk County Catholic, 48-7 (4)
4. Williams Valley (11) (12-0) Defeated Tri-Valley, 48-0 (5)
5. Dunmore (2) (11-1) Defeated Old Forge, 7-6 (6)
6. Sto-Rox (7) (11-1) Defeated Pittsburgh North Catholic, 34-20 (8)
7. Bellwood-Antis (6) (11-1) Defeated Bishop Guilfoyle, 19-6 (9)
8. Sharpsville (10) (10-1) Defeated Lakeview, 41-34 (10)
9. Old Forge (2) (11-1) Lost to Dunmore, 7-6 (3)
10. West Middlesex (10) (10-2) Defeated Farrell, 42-0 (HM)  Honorable Mention:
Berlin Brothersvalley (5) (10-1)
Bishop McCort (6) (9-3)
Bristol (1) (8-1)
Clarion Area (9) (12-0)
Delone Catholic (3) (8-3)
Monessen (7) (9-2)
Neshannock (7) (10-2)
North Star (5) (10-2)
Steelton-Highspire (3) (8-3)
Tri-Valley (11) (10-2)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mixed feelings on bye week for Berlin, Windber

Windber received a first-round bye in the 2011 District 5 Class A playoffs. For the Ramblers, it was a chance to earn a well-deserved rest.

"We gave the kids the whole week off," Windber coach Matt Grohal said. "We lifted two or three times and watched film but we didn't go out on the practice field until we knew we were playing Northern Bedford."

As the second-seed in this year's District 5 postseason, Berlin (9-1) received a first-round bye. The Mountaineers handled things differently than the Ramblers did a year ago.

Of course, Berlin was coming off a loss at Windber to conclude the regular season last week.

"We had four days of practice and we gave the kids Friday off," Berlin coach Doug Paul said. "Most of the team went out to Windber to watch them play Tussey Mountain. This week, it's back to a normal five days of practice."

This week is far from normal, however, as Windber (9-2) travels to Berlin for a District 5 Class A semifinal Saturday night at Snyder of Berlin Sports Complex.

Will the bye week help Berlin? Time will tell, but both coaches have mixed feelings on the bye week.

"Some kids are banged up this time of year and it gives them a little more time to heal," Paul said. "At the same time, when you're heading into the playoffs, you want to keep playing. Two years ago, I didn't like having the bye. It mixed up the routine."

Will not having the bye hurt Windber? The Ramblers bring a four-game win streak into Berlin, but they're also banged up. Devon Tomlinson, a key running back and the team leader with seven interceptions, suffered a broken ankle against Tussey Mountain. Leading rusher Dustin Blough is dealing with injury, as is starting quarterback Dakote Gipe.

Grohal expects Gipe, who is dealing with an elbow injury, to play.

"To be honest, I don't like the bye. At this time of year, you just want to keep playing," Grohal said. "Of course, in hindsight, we would have taken the bye week this year given what happened (against Tussey Mountain)."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Backyard football helps Richland become elite

Being undefeated at this late stage of the season, which is something that sets the Richland High School football team apart from all others, requires a combination of things.

First, there needs to be talent. Check. The Rams boast talent in bunches and at all positions.

Players need to be coachable. Check. Richland's players often talk about following the game plan in order to be successful.

Sometimes a team needs to catch a few breaks, or at least make their own. That happened in the regular season finale as Richland won a tough game at Bellwood Antis.

Often, intangibles come in to play.

And there's at least one offseason intangible Richland (11-0), which hosts Tyrone (8-3) Friday night in the District 6 Class AA semifinals, attributes its in-season success to.

"Our kids love to play football," Richland coach Brandon Bailey said. "Come up to Richland any time of the year, and you'll see those kids back there playing touch football. They love putting their helmets on because they realize there's only so many opportunities to play on Friday."

Richland truly believes those impromptu flag football sessions are a reason why the Rams are still playing and favored to win the program's first District 6 championship.

"I would say we're probably up there almost every day of the week during the summer," said senior receiver/defensive back Luke Shertzer. "It makes us close. When you have fun together, it brings you closer as a team."

There's no denying Richland's cohesion on offense. The Rams average more than 400 yards per game while players like Shertzer, quarterback Matt Shaffer, running back Tanner Solarczyk and receiver Kyle Flick are putting together the type of seasons that merit all-state consideration as the wins pile up.

It's a bond that's been forming for some time.

"When we were in seventh grade, that was the first year that Richland made the playoffs. We saw that and knew if we keep working hard, we could do the things the previous groups did," said Derek Crawford, who starts at center and defensive tackle. "Now it's up to us to win the District 6 championship."

A District 6 title and a spot in the state tournament, where Richland could run into perennial powers like Grove City, Aliquippa, South Fayette or Washington at some point if the Rams continue to win, would cement a legacy for the senior.

It would also raise the bar for returning players.

"The kids really want to be remembered down the road as one of the best Richland teams ever," Bailey said. "They've been setting goals that have never happened at Richland before. They're the first team to win 11 games, now they're going for 12. They're the first to go undefeated in the regular season since 1971. They're the first to win a Laurel Highlands championship."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bishop McCort's playoff journey takes flight

Bishop McCort has moved the football more successfully through the air than on the ground during the 2012 season, but the Crushers aren't following all the trends infiltrating passing games at the high school level.

The Crushers' offense isn't a spread. They don't always line up in shotgun formation. It's certainly far from dink and dunk.

To the contrary, Bishop McCort is not shy about taking chances downfield. Those gambles paid off with a 32-29 victory last Friday at Penns Manor in the quarterfinals of the District 6 Class A playoffs.

Old-time fans of the Oakland Raiders would have come away impressed by the performance of Bishop McCort senior quarterback Zaine Tomkowski, who completed 8 of 13 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns.

That's an average of 26.4 yards per completion. Move over Daryle Lamonica and Ken Stabler.

"Zaine has a really good arm and he throws well on the run," Bishop McCort coach Kevin Sheridan said following the victory over the third-seeded Colts that gave the Crushers (8-3) a home game Saturday night against Northern Cambria (8-3) in the semifinals.

But, in an interesting twist, Bishop McCort set up its highly effective passing game by running the football with a moderate degree of success against Penns Manor.

The Crushers ran 37 times for 120 yards. It was just enough to open things up in the passing game.

"We knew going into the game when we watched these guys (Penns Manor) on film, their defense is so strong, we simply can't win just by throwing the football," Sheridan added.

On McCort's opening drive, senior Dustin Belsky went at the Penns Manor defense on a succession of run plays and it set up the game's first touchdown.

Tomkowski's first pass attempt was a classic dropback, complete with a double arm pump fake to freeze the defense, and it allowed receiver Jordan Spangler to get behind the defense. Spangler made a nice catch on the high-arching 29-yard touchdown.

"We wanted to establish the run game," Tomkowski explained. "Once we did that, we wanted to go over the top, especially when they put eight, nine guys in the box."

Tomkowski later connected on a 67-yard touchdown pass to Spangler, who had three catches for 111 yards and had the game-saving interception with a minute remaining. Ryan Siwy added an 18-yard touchdown reception. Tomkowski's 211 passing yards were his most since a Week 4 win over Bedford.

"I get very greedy out there," Tomkowski said. "I always want to go over the top for it all."

His play against Penns Manor helped the Bishop McCort defense overcome another amazing performance from Comets quarterback Danny Ferens, who battled a virus to rush for a season-high 264 yards in his final high school football game.

"I would say Danny Ferens is unlike anyone we've seen in a while," Sheridan said. "The last kid we ran into who could run like that was Antwuan Reed."

Tomkowski may not run like Ferens, but he sure can throw the football.

For the season, Tomkowski has completed 99 of 183 passes for 1,511 yards and 12 touchdowns against five interceptions. Impressive numbers made more so considering that Bishop McCort, unlike many Class A teams still playing, doesn't get to play a schedule full of inferior competition.

Spangler has 49 catches for 710 yards and eight touchdowns. Luke DiFrancesco is also a big-play threat. He has 25 catches for 513 yards and four scores.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tribune-Democrat football rankings

Regardless of classification ...

1. Richland 11-0 (Class AA)
2. Ligonier Valley 10-1 (AA)
3. Forest Hills 8-3 (AA)
4. Bishop McCort 8-3 (A)
5. Northern Cambria 8-3 (A)
6. Berlin 9-1 (A)
7. Windber 9-2 (A)
8. North Star 9-2 (A)
9. Chestnut Ridge 6-5 (AA)

Santa Fund Soccer Rosters

All-star soccer and charity join forces Sunday as Greater Johnstown School District hosts the second Santa Fund Soccer Classic, which features the area's top seniors and benefits The Tribune-Democrat Santa Fund.

The games take place Sunday beginning with the girls game at 1:30 p.m. The boys game will follow.

North Boys
Coach - Ron Spinelli, Bishop McCort
Tyler Ofman, John Nau (United); Michael Pyo, Matt Deskevich (Bishop Carroll); Sean Ingram, Adam Wood (Bishop McCort); Tyler Gary, Dominic Williams, Zachary Wingard (Cambria County Christian); Tristin Irwin, Dylan Mauer (Cambria Heights); Tyler Varner (Greater Johnstown); Bobby Colvin, Curtis Colvin, Ismail Ahmad (Richland); Dan Durham, Dominic Ramirez (Westmont).
South Boys
Coach - Brett Hoffman, Windber
Zach Barbus, Samuel Felix, Steven Stroup (Bedford); James Bassette, Nick Felton, Andrew Gowarty (Conemaugh Township); Tanner Bloom, Gavin Will (Johnstown Christian); Bradley Lemmon, Alex Myers, Jonathan Waltermire (Rockwood); Jacob Hanley, Garrett Walerysiak (Windber); Ian Hicks, Zach Ferchalk (Somerset).

North Girls
Coach - Donna Gallaher, Forest Hills
Olivie Kirsch (Bishop Carroll); Laura Seitz, Cecilia Stasko (Bishop McCort); Kady Bills, Kiera Bills, Alyssa Wills (Cambria Heights); Larissa Hunt, Allie Thompson (Central Cambria); Casey Gallaher, Briana Kostan (Forest Hills); Maren Meyer, Sierra Steele (Greater Johnstown); Nicki Mihalik, Lauren Miller, Sabrina Wingard (Richland); Maddie Helsel, Melissa Walko (Westmont).
South Girls
Coach - Fred Galiote, Conemaugh Township
Players - Carrie Baker, Hannah Grimes (Bedford); Jorden Eutsey, Marah Riley (Berlin); Allyson Lonas, Chloe Reese (Conemaugh Township); Lindsey Najjar, Taylor Euen (Johnstown Christian); Maddy Grimm, Katie DeMayo (Ligonier Valley); Aleigha Deal, Janelle Long (Meyersdale); Chasity Dupont, Ashley St. Clair (North Star); Chelsea Beener, Sarah Foy (Rockwood); Hope Griffith, Megan Lenzi, Bri Trent (Somerset); Jaycey Hunter (Windber).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

PA Football News rankings

Class AAAA:
Rank - School - District - Record - Score - Last Weeks Ranking

1. North Allegheny (7) (11-0) Defeated Bethel Park, 42-14 (1)
2. LaSalle College (12) (10-1) Defeated St. Joseph's Prep, 28-27 (5)
3. Ridley (1) (11-0) Defeated Downingtown West, 20-17 (4)
4. Wilson (West Lawn) (3) (10-1) Defeated Dallastown, 48-0  (7)
5. Pennridge (1) (10-1) Defeated Abington, 35-14 (8)
6. St. Joseph's Prep (12) (9-1) Lost to LaSalle College, 28-27 (2)
7. Upper St. Clair (7) (10-1) Defeated Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 39-0 (9)
8. Scranton (2) (11-0) Defeated East Stroudsburg South, 42-20 (10)
9. Central Bucks South (10-1) Defeated Haverford Township, 38-14 (HM)
10. Harrisburg (3) (9-2) Defeated Mechanicsburg, 53-22 (HM)
 Honorable Mention:
Central Dauphin (3) (9-2)
Coatesville (1) (9-2)
Delaware Valley (2) (10-1)
Downingtown East (1) (10-1)
DuBois Area (9) (8-1)
Frankford (12) (8-2)
Gateway (7) (9-2)
Parkland (11) (9-2)
Penn Manor (3) (10-1)
Seneca Valley (7) (11-1)
Spring-Ford (1) (10-1)
Woodland Hills (7) (9-2)

Class AAA:
Rank - School - District

1. Bishop McDevitt (3) (11-0) Defeated Lampeter-Strasburg, 40-13 (1)
2. Cathedral Prep (10) (10-0) Did Not Play (2)
3. Pottsgrove (1) (11-0) Defeated Strath Haven, 32-14 (3)
4. Thomas Jefferson (7) (11-0) Defeated Franklin Regional, 24-21 (4)
5. Archbishop Wood (12) (9-2) Defeated Monsignor Bonner/Prendergast, 38-16 (5)
6. Berwick Area (2) (10-1) Defeated Dallas Area, 28-7 (6)
7. West York (3) (11-0) Defeated Northeastern, 49-20 (7)
8. West Allegheny (7) (10-1) Defeated Montour, 14-2 (8)
9. West Mifflin (7) (10-1) Defeated Mars Area, 28-13 (HM)
10. Academy Park (1) (10-1) Defeated Upper Moreland, 35-23 (HM)
Honorable Mention:
Abington Heights (2) (9-2)
Central Valley (7) (9-2)
Clearfield (9) (11-0)
Cocalico (3) (10-1)
Conrad Weiser (3) (9-2)
Garden Spot (3) (10-1)
Lancaster Catholic (3) (8-3)
Manheim Central (3) (9-2)
Mars Area (7) (9-2)
Montour (7) (9-2)
Selinsgrove (4) (8-3)
Slippery Rock (10) (9-1)
Susquehanna Township (3) (9-2)

Class AA:
Rank - School - District

1. Aliquippa (7) (11-0) Defeated Mount Pleasant, 43-6 (1)
2. Wyomissing (3) (11-0) Defeated Littlestown, 48-13 (2)
3. Imhotep Charter (12) (11-0) Defeated Prep Charter, 32-7 (3)
4. South Fayette (7) (11-0) Defeated Beaver Falls, 35-21 (4)
5. Washington (7) (11-0) Defeated Seton-La Salle, 33-17 (5)
6. Jeannette (7) (10-1) Defeated Beaver Area, 47-15 (6)
7. Richland (6) (11-0) Defeated Penn Cambria, 28-0 (7)
8. Bermudian Springs (3) (11-0) Defeated Susquenita, 42-7 (8)
9. Catasauqua (11) (11-0) Defeated Northern Lehigh, 42-15 (9)
10. Hickory (10) (9-1) Defeated Northwestern, 48-22 (HM)
Honorable Mention:
Danville (4) (9-2)
Forest Hills (6) (8-3)
Grove City (10) (9-1)
Karns City (9) (8-3)
Lakeland (2) (8-3)
Ligonier Valley (6) (10-1)
Montoursville (4) (8-3)
Pen Argyl (11) (9-2)
Tyrone Area (6) (8-3)
West Catholic (12) (7-3)
Wilmington (10) (8-2)
Wyoming Area (2) (9-2)

Class A:
Rank - School - District

1. Clairton (7) (11-0) Defeated Brentwood, 39-0 (1) (58 Straight Wins)
2. Southern Columbia (4) (11-0) Defeated Line Mountain, 28-21 (2)
3. Old Forge (2) (11-0) Defeated Riverside, 42-7 (3)
4. Port Allegany (9) (10-0) Did Not Play (4)
5. Williams Valley (11) (11-0) Defeated Shenandoah Valley, 42-28 (5)
6. Dunmore (2) (10-1) Defeated Lackawanna Trail, 32-12 (6)
7. Tri-Valley (11) (10-1) Defeated Marian Catholic, 28-13 (7)
8. Sto-Rox (7) (10-1) Defeated Union Area, 33-8 (8)
9. Bellwood-Antis (6) (10-1) Defeated Glendale, 40-14 (9)
10. Sharpsville (10) (9-1) Defeated Cochranton, 42-6 (10)
Honorable Mention:
Berlin Brothersvalley (5) (9-1)
Bristol (1) (7-1)
Clarion Area (9) (11-0)
Delone Catholic (3) (7-3)
Millersburg (3) (7-3)
Monessen (7) (9-2)
Neshannock (7) (10-1)
North Star (5) (9-2)
Northern Bedford (5) (9-1)
Pittsburgh North Catholic (7) (9-2)
South Williamsport (4) (10-1)
West Middlesex (10) (9-2)
Windber Area (5) (9-2)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Games of the week, first-round edition

The first-round of the playoffs in districts 5 and 6 are loaded with intriguing matchups - Bishop McCort at Penns Manor (where I'll be on Saturday), Forest Hills at Central (Martinsburg) and Cambria Heights at Tyrone among them.

There's also three games where local teams are paired up.

Shade (6-4) at North Star (8-2)
In Week 6, these WestPAC neighbors met and the Cougars escaped Boswell with a 3-0 victory. Brantley Rice scored the game's only points on a field goal to cap North Star's opening drive.
"Games like that a real rare, especially in high school," North Star coach Stacy Schmitt said. "We had a lot of missed opportunities and they did too. The conditions were not the best. We expect them to be better (Saturday)."
The narrow victory ignited a five-game win streak for the Cougars, who have won the past two District 5 Class A titles.
Shade is making its first postseason appearance since 1989, but the Panthers aren't just happy to be involved. They believe they can compete with a district power like North Star.
"Beating a team like that takes us to the next level," said Mike Pribish, who co-coaches Shade with Don Fyfe. "Not only being in the playoffs, but getting a win in the playoffs. That's what we want. Portage, North Star, Windber, Berlin, that's the next level in our league. That's where we want to be."

Northern Cambria (7-3) at Portage (9-1)
The Colts can beat any team, as evidenced by impressive victories over Penns Manor (Week 1) and Cambria Heights (Week 10) during the regular season. They've also been competitive against a pair of 9-1 teams in Berlin and Ligonier Valley.
Few teams enter the postseason on a bigger roll than Portage.
The Mustangs are on an eight-game win streak, and they earned a share of the WestPAC title with Berlin and Windber. Portage averages 8.1 yards per carry.

Penn Cambria (6-4) at Richland (10-0)
The Panthers have responded to a four-game win streak and the abrupt resignation of Ernie Fetzer with a pair of victories over Westmont Hilltop and Somerset to secure the eighth spot in the District 6 Class AA standings.
Penn Cambria played at Richland in Week 8 and left with a 30-12 loss.
The Rams are the only undefeated team in the coverage area and all of District 6. For that matter, Richland is one of nine unbeaten teams in Class AA in the state. Only two teams (Bishop McCort, Bellwood Antis) stayed within 10 points of the Rams.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Shope, Donoughe key Forest Hills' win streak

When Forest Hills needed a starting quarterback to replace sophomore Joe Donoughe, the Rangers turned to senior Jared Shope.

A senior, Shope had started since his sophomore season, and that year the Rangers reached the PIAA Class AA semifinals where it ran into high-powered South Fayette. As a sophomore, he started at defensive back. As a junior, he became a two-way starter - defensive back and receiver.

Shope (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) might not have been the obvious choice, but he played well in Donoughe's absence. He's back at receiver now, and returned to his normal role of Donoughe's favorite target.

And Forest Hills hasn't looked back.

The Rangers (7-3) have won five consecutive games, including gritty wins over Penn Cambria, Somerset and Greater Johnstown. They play a District 6 Class AA first-round game at Central (Martinsburg) on Saturday.

There's no doubting Shope will play a key role for Forest Hills.

"Really, he's not been full speed all season," said legendary Forest Hills coach Don Bailey, who has 331 career victories in 39 years with the Rangers. "He's been dealing with a knee injury and the kids see how he's played through it, and they respect that. He's been an effective leader."

So has Donoughe, who missed two games and still has 1,175 yards, rushed for 363 yards and accounted for 13 touchdowns.

Donoughe engineered an improbable last-minute drive to force overtime in an eventual victory over Penn Cambria. He passed for 168 yards, rushed for 119 and accounted for three touchdowns in a win against Greater Johnstown.

"He's improved each week," Bailey said. "Every week, he's seeing things better. He's finding the open receiver. He's running the ball when he needs to and throwing when he needs to. Of course, it helps that he has a couple good receivers to throw to in Jared Shope and Doltyn Sneeden."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cambria Heights not fighting history against Tyrone

When it comes to postseason success, there aren't many, if any, programs in District 6 with a better resume than Tyrone.

The Golden Eagles played for the PIAA Class AA football championship last year and won it all in 1999. They're regulars to the postseason picture.

Cambria Heights, meanwhile, is the polar opposite of Tyrone.

When it comes to the playoffs, the Highlanders have, well, they're the No. 5 seed in this year's District 6 Class AA bracket. They're playing at Tyrone on Saturday.

Both teams sport the same 7-3 records, but only one team can advance to the semifinals.

"I've said this numerous times: We don't feel like we're fighting history," Cambria Heights coach Jarrod Lewis said.

What Camrbia Heights is battling is Tyrone team with a standout runner in junior James Oliver, who has 1,669 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns (27 total).

Being able to stop Oliver is more important to Camrbia Heights' chances of advancing to the semifinals than postseason history and tradition. Another thing that should help the Highlanders is the return of senior Ben Myers, who's been out since breaking a thumb against Forest Hills on Sept. 28.

"Every team is so different," Lewis said. "I don't think there's a huge benefit to what Tyrone has done in the past against our history. It's going to be a football game. The past doesn't matter."