Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tribune-Democrat football rankings

Regardless of classification ...

1. Richland 5-0 (Class AA)
2. Ligonier Valley 5-0 (AA)
3. Penn Cambria 4-1 (AA)
4. Berlin 5-0 (A)
5. Somerset 4-1 (AAA)
6. Northern Cambria 4-1 (A)
7. Bishop McCort 3-2 (A)
8. Portage 4-1 (A)
9. Cambria Heights 3-2 (AA)
10. Windber 4-1 (A)

Midterm grades

Grade: D+
Things were looking bleak for the Bisons as they were steamrolled through the first four games, but the return of Luke Campbell – a standout player from a year ago – sparked Bedford in Friday's win over Westmont. Things are looking up for Bedford.
Berlin's Drew Glotfelty

Grade: A
The Mountaineers have passed two big tests with a Week 2 win at Portage and Friday night's win against preseason WestPAC favorite North Star. Berlin proved against North Star it can win without a monster game from Drew Glotfelty. The defense creates turnovers. Berlin is the team to beat in the WestPAC.

Bishop Carroll
Grade: D+
The Huskies entered the season with a new coach and low numbers, but they've been more competitive than expected. Friday night's blowout loss to Central Cambria hurts the midterm grade.

Bishop McCort
Grade: B-
The Crushers are probably the toughest 3-2 team around, but they aren't scoring enough points against the better teams in the LHAC. Still, Bishop McCort's defense is good enough to keep any game close, as evidenced by Friday's near miss against Richland.

Blacklick Valley
Grade: B+
The Vikings were considered a playoff contender entering the season. They're sure looking like one now. Behind Johnny Sheesley, Blacklick Valley is 4-1 thanks to an overtime victory Friday night against Conemaugh Township. The Vikings struggled at Windber, or this grade would be an A-minus.

Cambria Heights
Grade: C+
The Highlanders scored their first win over Forest Hills since 1983 on Friday night, a sign that things are continuing to improve at Cambria Heights. The one problem is the Highlanders have been a bit up-and-down.

Central Cambria
Grade: D+
After the opening month, some believed the Red Devils were the worst team in the LHAC, but Central Cambria responded with a thorough victory over crosstown rival Bishop Carroll. Red Devils coach Sam Shutty said his team is getting healthy. Who know? They might have a couple more wins in them.

Chestnut Ridge
Grade: C-
The closer Chestnut Ridge stays to home, the better it plays. A close loss to Bald Eagle Area showed the Lions have made in-season strides, but they've yet to beat a team with a victory. Mountain Ridge, their next opponent, is winless.

Conemaugh Township
Grade: C-
The Indians struggles to start the season, losing their first two games. They worked to even their record and held a double-digit lead at Blacklick Valley before losing in overtime. Quarterback Bruno Rosa is improving steadily.

Conemaugh Valley
Grade: D
Shane Corson had a breakout game against Ferndale, which took three weeks to complete, but the Blue Jays offense has struggled since. Conemaugh Valley has been shut out in its last two games – Berlin and Shade.

Grade: D-
The positive for Ferndale is it has scored 56 points the past three weeks. The bad news is all three games were losses, and the Yellow Jackets are still searching for an elusive victory.

Forest Hills
Grade: C-
Heard someone say this Friday night: "Who would have thought at this point in the season Forest Hills and Johnstown would have losing records?" Yet that's exactly what I heard. Forest Hills is young at several key positions and going through growing pains. Hard to believe the Rangers have only scored six points the past two games.

Greater Johnstown
Grade: C-
The Trojans show flashes, but have not been able to consistently sustain offensive success. Defensively, Johnstown has struggled. Against Richland and Somerset the past two weeks, Johnstown has given up 77 points. The schedule does get easier, though a game with Bishop McCort remains.

Ligonier Valley's Ryan Torrance
Ligonier Valley
Grade: A
Hard to find any fault with the Rams right now. It's also difficult finding a team that may challenge the area's most balanced group. Will Ligonier Valley be tested the rest of the regular season? Games remain against Penns Manor, Homer Center and Northern Cambria.

Grade: D+
The Red Raiders have scored points - 120 in five games, which is a substantial amount for a team with a 1-4 record. The defense, meanwhile, hasn't been able to stop teams from scoring.

North Star
Grade: C
Much is expected of the Cougars, and they may very well deliver during the postseason, but a 3-2 record with a tough game against Shade looming is cause for concern. North Star has talent, but it has scored a combined 29 points in losses to Portage and Berlin.

Northern Cambria
Grade: B+
Armed with a 56-player roster, Northern Cambria opened the season with a shocker by beating 2011 PIAA Class A semifinalist Penns Manor. The Colts followed with a loss to Homer Center, which seemed equally surprising at the time though HC is also 4-1. We'll find out more about NC this weekend against Berlin. Come to think about it, we'll find out more about Berlin, too.

Penn Cambria
Grade: B
The Panthers roughed up opponents through the season's first month unitl they ran into Bishop Guilfoyle Saturday night and fell to 4-1 in the LHAC. BG won the battle up front, something most teams haven't accomplished against Penn Cambria the past two seasons.

Grade: B+
Head coach Gary Gouse issued his Mustange a B-minus at the halfway point, but like many coaches, he's being a bit stingy. Portage boasts an impressive win at North Star and scored 35 points against Shade. The Mustangs defense has been stout.

Richland Nick Naglic
Grade: A
Richland's offense put up extraordinary numbers and displayed incredible balance through four weeks. Against Bishop McCort Friday night, the Rams proved they can grind out a physical victory too. At this point, Richland is the clear-cut favorite in the LHAC.

Grade: D+
The Rockets are undermanned, and their lack of depth was evident in successive losses to Blacklick Valley, Windber, Conemaugh Township and Portage. Luke Brancato remains one of the WestPAC's best players,

Grade: B
Winning records at Shade aren't common. but the Panthers are 3-2 at the halfway point and have games remaining against Marion Center, Meyersdale and Rockwood. Six wins is a strong possibility at this point given Shade's defense and the play-making abilities of Brock Medva.

Grade: B+
The Golden Eagles are probably wishing they could have a Saturday performance at Westmont back as it's their only blemish. Somerset is 4-1 following a win over Greater Johnstown, one of two wins this season over opponents they rarely beat. Bishop McCort is the other. Somerset is young and could be around for a couple years.

Grade: D-
No area team is struggling like United, which has scored seven points this season - and that came in a season--opening loss at Rockwood.

Westmont Hilltop
Grade: D+
Westmont is 1-4 and been compeitive in most games, save a season-opening loss at Forest Hills. The Hilltoppers beat Somerset, but followed with a loss to previously winless Bedford. There's reason for optimism but Westmont's next four games are against Bishop McCort, Richland, Bishop Guilfoyle and Penn Cambria.

Grade: B
The Ramblers rolled through their first four opponents, which included a pair of nice wins against Shade and Blacklick Valley. Against Class AA Ligonier valley at home, however, Windber's run defense struggled. That's something Berlin will likely notice.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Games of the Week

The exact science of schedule making may never be divulged, but one interesting oddity is good games seem to come in bunches.

Certain weeks it's a stretch to find a compelling, competitive game between a pair of decent, not even good, teams.

Other weeks, the schedule is loaded with intriguing matchups.

Week 5 is one of those weeks.

In the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, Forest Hills plays at Cambria Heights. The loser will sport a losing record. At Somerset, Greater Johnstown comes to town coming off a shutout loss to powerful Richland and the Golden Eagles are trying to prove their 3-0 start was no fluke, despite last week's loss to Westmont. In the WestPAC, surging Conemaugh Township plays at Blacklick Valley in a key game.

All three games are layered with conference and postseason implications.

Yet, none made the cut for Games of the Week.

And there were enough good games to add a fourth entry this week.

Penn Cambria (4-0) at Bishop Guilfoyle (3-1)
These two LHAC teams just might boast the best small-school defenses between the WPIAL and Harrisburg.
That was expected at Penn Cambria, where all-state caliber linebackers Mack Behe and Devin Lawhead have helped make the Panthers one intimidating group. Bishop Guilfoyle, however, is one of the surprises in a somewhat surprising LHAC season. And the Marauders are also getting it done defensively, as last week's shutout win at Forest Hills attests.
This game kicks off Saturday night, and, given the quality of defense, the impact penalties and turnovers will be amplified.

North Star (3-1) at Berlin (4-0)
The Cougars were the overwhelming preseason pick by WestPAC coaches to win the conference title. The Mountaineers finished second in the selection process.
North Star stumbled out of the gate as it lost to Portage at home. The Cougars have recovered nicely, which they should have considering their last three opponents have combined for one win. North Star has found ways to get Tony Strasiser the football. He's rushed for a team-high three touchdowns, passed for a team-high 263 yards and he's caught 14 passes for 142 yards despite facing constant double coverage.
Berlin relies on running back Drew Glotfelty and a small but aggressive front on both sides of the football. The Mountaineers have played a tougher schedule, and they won at Portage in Week 2.

Ligonier Valley (4-0) at Windber (4-0)
Normally, non-conference games are ignored at this stage of the season. Ligonier Valley at Windber is an exception.
The Rams are a Class AA school beating up teams in the Heritage Conference, which is made up of Class A programs. While enrollment numbers don't hurt Ligonier Valley, it's not the lone reason for success. (I've covered many games over the years when a strong Class A team manhandled a good Class AA team.) The Rams defense has allowed 15 points on the season.
That point total is likely to change against Windber, whose most impressive wins have come against Shade and Blacklick Valley. While Ligonier Valley tends to lean offensively on Ryan Torrance and with good reason, the Ramblers spread the wealth.

Bishop McCort (3-1) at Richland (4-0)
This rivalry is a strong one, particularly now that Richland has evolved into a strong program under the direction of Brandon Bailey.
The Crushers' defense will face their biggest challenge of the season as no team - not even Bishop Guilfoyle - has stopped Richland.
Of all the amazing stats compiled by the Rams, the most amazing one deals with the efficiency of quarterbacks Matt Shaffer and Nico Pecora. They've combined to complete 60 of 83 passes (72.3 percent) for 959 yards and 14 touchdowns. According to, Shaffer's QB rating is 146; Pecora's is 142.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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. LaSalle College HS (12) 4-0 1
2. Gateway (7) 4-0 2
3. North Allegheny (7) 4-0 3
4. Upper St. Clair (7) 4-0 4
5. Central Dauphin (P) (3) 3-1 5
6. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) 3-0 6
7. Easton (11) 4-0 7
8. North Penn (1) 2-2 10
9. McDowell (10) 2-2 9
10. Harrisburg (3) 3-1 NR
Teams to watch
Cumberland Valley (3) 3-1, Delaware Valley (2) 4-0, Downingtown East (1) 4-0, Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 4-0, Ridley (1) 4-0, Wilson (3) 3-1, Woodland Hills (7) 3-1.

1. Cathedral Prep (10) 4-0 1
2. Bishop McDevitt (3) 4-0 2
3. Archbishop Wood (P) (12) 3-1 3
4. Montour (7) 4-0 4
5. Central Valley (7) 3-1 5
6. West Allegheny (7) 4-0 7
7. x-Lancaster Catholic (3) 3-1 8
8. Pottsgrove (1) 4-0 9
9. Cardinal O’Hara (12) 3-1 10
10. Berwick (2) 3-1 6
Teams to watch
Clearfield (9) 4-0, Franklin Regional (7) 3-1, Mars (7) 4-0, Scranton Prep (2) 3-1, Thomas Jefferson (7) 4-0, West Chester Henderson (1) 4-0.

1. Aliquippa (7) 4-0 1
2. Jeannette (7) 4-0 2
3. Wyomissing (3) 4-0 3
4. Seton-La Salle (7) 4-0 4
5. Imhotep Charter (12) 4-0 8
6. South Fayette (7) 4-0 9
7. Pen Argyl (11) 4-0 7
8. Hickory (10) 3-1 NR
9. Wilmington (10) 3- 10
10. Grove City (10) 3-1 5
Teams to watch
Danville (4) 4-0, Penn Cambria (6) 4-0, Richland (6) 4-0, Trinity (3) 3-1, Washington (7) 4-0.

1. Clairton (P) (7) 4-0 1
2. Southern Columbia (4) 4-0 2
3. Rochester (7) 4-0 4
4. Sharpsville (10) 4-0 5
5. Old Forge (2) 4-0 7
6. Bishop Canevin (7) 4-0 6
7. Dunmore (2) 3-1 3
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 4-0 8
9. Port Allegany (9) 4-0 NR
10. Monessen (7) 3-1 9
Teams to watch
Avonworth (7) 3-1, Line Mountain (4) 3-1, Penns Manor (6) 3-1, Riverside (2) 3-1, West Middlesex (10) 3-1, Williams Valley (11) 4-0.

(P)-2011 PIAA champion. (x) 2011 Class AA champion. Number in parentheses is PIAA district.

Santa Fund Soccer Classic

The first Santa Fund Soccer Classic proved to be a success, so get ready for the second installment of the boys and girls all-star soccer games to benefit The Tribune-Democrat Santa Fund.

Over the last five years, the Santa Fund has distributed nearly $80,000 in toys to area children with the help of various volunteer groups. More than 2,500 Christmas gifts have gone to children in need.

This year's soccer classic, which features the best senior boys and girls players in the area, takes place Sunday, Nov. 18 at Johnstown High School. The girls game is set to start at 1:30 p.m. with the boys game to follow.

Area coaches are being asked to nominate their players for the game. Those nominations can be sent to or you can call sports editor Mike Kovak at 814-532-5085.

Monday, September 24, 2012

PFN football rankings

Class AAAA:
Rank - School - District - Record - Score - Last Weeks Ranking
1. North Allegheny (7) (4-0) Defeated Pine-Richland, 35-3 (1)
2. Easton Area (11) (4-0) Defeated Allentown Central Catholic, 35-10 (2)
3. LaSalle College (12) (4-0) Defeated Malvern Prep, 38-6 (3)
4. Gateway (7) (4-0) Defeated Altoona Area, 42-7 (4)  
5. Downingtown East (1) (4-0) Defeated Coatesville, 35-34 (5)
6. Upper St. Clair (7) (4-0) Defeated penn Hills, 27-0 (6)
7. Ridley (1) (4-0) Defeated Strath Haven, 32-14 (7)
8. St. Joseph's Prep (12) (3-0) Bye Did Not Play (8)
9. Central Dauphin (3) (3-1) Defeated Chambersburg, 52-27 (9)
10. Wilson (West Lawn) (3) (3-1) Defeated J.P. McCaskey, 57-12 (10)
Others to Watch:
Cedar Cliff (3) (4-0)
Central Bucks South (4-0)
Cumberland Valley (3) (3-1)
Delaware Valley (2) (4-0)
Garnet Valley (1) (4-0)
Harrisburg (3) (3-1)
Lower Dauphin (3) (4-0)
Penn Manor (3) (4-0)
Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) (4-0)
Scranton (2) (4-0)
Souderton (1) (3-1)
Spring-Ford (1) (4-0)

Class AAA:
Rank - School - District
1. Bishop McDevitt (3) (4-0) Defeated Mechanicsburg, 45-14 (1)
2. Cathedral Prep (10) (4-0) Defeated St. Francis (NY), 69-0 (2)
3. Archbishop Wood (12) (3-1) Defeated West Catholic, 27-6 (3)
4. Pottsgrove (1) (4-0) Defeated Boyertown, 56-6 (4)
5. Montour (7) (4-0) Defeated New Castle, 33-8 (6)
6. West Allegheny (7) (4-0) Defeated Hopewell, 28-10 (7)
7. Manheim Central (3) (3-1) Defeated Elizabethtown, 54-27 (8) 
8. Thomas Jefferson (7) (4-0) Defeated Trinity, 40-7 (9)
9. Valley View (2) (4-0) Defeated East Stroudsburg North, 48-13 (10)
10. Mars Area (7) (4-0) Defeated Highlands, 55-6 (OTW)
Others to Watch:
Berwick Area (2) (3-1)
Cardinal O'Hara (12) (3-1)
Central Valley (7) (3-1)
Clearfield (9) (4-0)
Franklin Regional (7) (3-1)
Garden Spot (3) (4-0)
Knoch (7) (4-0)
Lancaster Catholic (3) (3-1)
Scranton Prep (2) (3-1)
Selinsgrove (4) (4-0)
Slippery Rock (10) (4-0)
Warren (10) (4-0)
West Chester Henderson (1) (4-0)
West Mifflin (7) (4-0)
West York (3) (4-0)

Class AA:
Rank - School - District
1. Aliquippa (7) (4-0) Defeated New Brighton, 66-0 (1)
2. Wyomissing (3) (4-0) Defeated Blue Mountain, 35-0 (2)
3. Jeannette (7) (4-0) Defeated Brownsville, 60-7 (3)
4. Imhotep Charter (12) (4-0) Defeated Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 34-10 (5)
5. Pen Argyl (11) (4-0) Defeated Wilson Area, 35-22 (6)
6. South Fayette (7) (4-0) Defeated Burgettstown, 56-6  (7)
7. Washington (7) (4-0) Defeated Defeated Yough, 42-12 (8)
8. Richland (6) (4-0) Defeated Greater Johnstown, 42-0 (10)
9. Seton-La Salle (7) (4-0) Defeated Steel Valley, 34-7 (OTW)
10. Schuylkill Valley (3) (4-0) Defeated Kutztown, 55-7 (OTW)
Others to Watch:
Bald Eagle Area (6) (4-0)
Beaver Area (7) (4-0)
Berks Catholic (3) (4-0)
Bermudian Springs (3) (4-0)
Biglerville (3) (4-0)
Burrell (7) (4-0)
Central Columbia (4) (4-0)
Corry Area (10) (4-0)
Danville (4) (4-0)
Grove City (10) (3-1)
Hickory (10) (3-1) 
Ligonier Valley (6) (4-0)
Mount Pleasant (7) (4-0)
Penn Cambria (6) (4-0)
Trinity (3) (3-1)
Troy Area (4) (4-0)

Class A:
Rank - School - District
1. Clairton (7) (4-0) Defeated Monessen, 50-7 (1) (51 Straight Wins)
2. Southern Columbia (4) (4-0) Defeated South Williamsport, 42-21 (2)
3. Rochester Area (7) (4-0) Defeated South Side Beaver, 38-6  (4)
4. Sharpsville (10) (4-0) Defeated Kennedy Catholic, 55-13 (5)
5. Bellwood-Antis (6) (4-0) Defeated Juniata Valley, 47-34 (6)
6. Old Forge (2) (4-0) Defeated Dunmore, 21-0  (7)
7. Port Allegany (9) (4-0) Defeated Coudersport, 70-6 (8)
8. Williams Valley (11) (4-0) Defeated Line Mountain, 35-28 (9)
9. Dunmore (2) (3-1) Lost to Old Forge, 21-0 (3)
10. Bethlehem-Center (7) (4-0) Defeated Bentworth, 61-0 (OTW)

Others to Watch:
Avella (7) (4-0)
Berlin Brothersvalley (5) (4-0)
Bishop Canevin (7) (4-0)
Clarion Area (9) (4-0)
Cuurwensville (9) (4-0)
Elk County Catholic (9) (4-0)
Homer-Center (6) (4-0)
Lackawanna Trail (2) (4-0)
Muncy (4) (4-0)
Neshannock (7) (4-0)
Northern Bedford (5) (4-0)
Northgate (7) (4-0)
Penns Manor (6) (3-1)
Sto-Rox (7) (3-1)
West Middlesex (10) (3-1)
Windber Area (5) (4-0)


Bishop Carroll's girls' volleyball team celebrates after they defeated Bishop Guilfoyle 3-1 in girls' varsity volleyball last Thursday. Sarah Gomish had 30 kills and Nicole Woomer had 25 service points. Janelle Gueguen had 44 assists as Bishop Carroll improved to 5-1 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.
Photo submitted by Joseph Skura.

Friday night/Saturday afternoon thoughts from a Monday morning quarterback

Anyone else wondering if Richland is the area's best football team?

Count me among the mix after the Rams' impressive 42-0 win against Greater Johnstown.

Don't think there's any doubt that the Rams boast a dynamic offense, one that scores points in bunches, gets great blocking from an outstanding offensive line and moves the ball with equal effectiveness in the air and on the ground.

The numbers speak for themselves.

Quarterbacks Matt Shaffer and Nico Pecora are putting up efficient, eye-popping statistics - the type of stats seen in prolific offenses like the New Orleans Saints, West Virginia Mountaineers, etc. Tanner Solarczyk leads a better-than-you-think ground game. Kyle Flick seems to catch two to three touchdowns per game.

But Richland proved it can do things defensively against a Johnstown team which had to feel confident coming off a come-from-behind win over Westmont Hilltop.

We'll find out a lot about Richland in the coming weeks as the schedule stiffense. Games remain against Bishop McCort, Somerset, Penn Cambria and Bellwood-Antis in an intriguing non-conference matchup.

If things hold course, Richland and Penn Cambria should both sport 7-0 records when they meet.

* In Friday's newspaper, every member of The Tribune-Democrat picked Somerset to beat Westmont Hilltop Saturday afternoon, but much of the talk concerning the game centered on how the Hilltoppers appeared primed to pull off an upset.

Forget the variables like a Saturday afternoon game messing with preparation.

The reason why the Hilltoppers won is they were nowhere near as bad as their 0-3 record indicated.

* Can't imagine a better non-conference game this season than Ligonier Valley at Windber this Friday.

* I can imagine the winner of Friday's North Star at Berlin game going on to win the WestPAC.

* Ligonier Valley has allowed 15 points on the season. Repeat - 15 points. The Rams have posted three shutouts, but they have yet to face a team as good as Windber.

*Finally, a shout goes out to tiny Avella High School, a proud football tradition and former WPIAL small-school power whose recent struggles were so great the New York Times documented them.

Avella moved to 4-0 on the season with a victory over Jefferson-Morgan Friday night.

The Eagles haven't qualified for the WPIAL playoffs since 1976. Considering the number of teams that enter the WPIAL tournament, that's a staggering absence.

If Avella can post a 4-0 record, there's hope for every struggling program.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tribune-Democrat football rankings

Regardless of classification ...

1. Penn Cambria 4-0 (Class AA)
2. Richland 4-0 (AA)
3. Ligonier Valley 4-0 (AA)
4. Berlin 4-0 (A)
5. Somerset 3-1 (AAA)
6. Bishop McCort 3-1 (A)
7. Windber 4-0 (A)
8. Northern Cambria 3-1 (A)
9. North Star 3-1 (A)
10. Cambria Heights 2-2 (AA)

APB, Where are they now?

Growing up as a sports junkie in Somerset, there were two Golden Eagles athletes whom I looked up to.

One was Andy Rush, a multi-sport standout who was drafted in the second round of the 1988 MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox. Rush will be inducted into the Somerset County Oldtimers Baseball Hall of Fame on Oct. 13.

The other was Tim Emert, the subject of this week's All Points Bulletin.

Many of my first sports memories were of Hugh Green at Pitt, Curt Warner at Penn State, Franco Harris with the Steelers and Tim Emert at Somerset.

When it came to hard-nose football players in Somerset County during the 1980s, Emert - to borrow an overused phrase from Mike Tomlin - set the standard. If there was an on-field scrum, chances were Emert was involved.

As good as Emert was at football, he was probably a better basketball player.

From 1980-83, Emert scored 1,526 points - a school record at the time. Rush would go on to break Emert's mark. Emert then went on to play men's basketball at Pitt-Johnstown.

Anyone knowing of Emert's whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Club.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Games of the Week

Blacklick Valley (3-0) at Windber (3-0)
Blacklick Valley has run through Meyersdale, Rockwood and, in a non-conference game, Purchase Line.
Windber has rolled past Shade, Meyersdale and Rockwood.
Neither has played the most daunting schedule, but following tonight, one of these teams can claim a quality victory and establish itself as one of the teams to beat in the WestPAC.
Blacklick Valley's Johnny Sheesley is one of the area's premier players, and the rare player who is equally effective on both sides of the football. He's rushed for 530 yards and six touchdowns. Defensively, Sheesley has a knack for finding the football and already has two interceptions. His coverage skills could come in handy against a Windber offense that is adept at throwing the football.
The Vikings are far from a one-man show. Grant Reigel and Matty Worthington have made plays all season.
Windber's single-wing offense may not feature an every-down back this year, but the Ramblers have rambled through three opponents and displayed big--play ability.
There are a couple surprising stats for Winder: 1. Quarterback Dakota Gipe has attempted 41 passes, and 2. Windber's leading receiver (Matt Barkley) has more receiving yards (176) than the team's leading rusher has rushing yards (Trevor Neri, 173).

Bishop Guilfoyle (2-1) at Forest Hills (2-1)
The Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference has already seen its share of surprises. Count Bishop Guilfoyle's start among them.
Then again, Forest Hills coach Don Bailey was certain his Rangers would face a quality opponent in Week 4 in mid-August after seeing tape of a Bishop Guilfoyle scrimmage.
The Marauders own convincing wins over Bedford and Cambria Heights, which received more preseason consideration than BG. And they're doing it with defense. Cody Rossman average 10 tackle per game and the Marauders have forced five turnovers.
From a statistical standpoint, Forest Hills features one of the area's most balanced offenses and an emerging talent in sophomore quarterback Joe Donoughe, who has passed for 545 yards and completed 71.7 percent of his attempts.
The Rangers have passed for 601 yards and rushed for 587.

Greater Johnstown (2-1) at Richland (2-1)
The Trojans remain a work-in-progress, but one that took a step toward where they want to be with last week's come-from-behind victory over Westmont Hilltop.
Johnstown's offense isn't scoring much, but the emergence of quarterback Deion Moore adds a dynamic component. Moore is averaging 10.0 yards per carry. Dalvin Williams has been a menace defensively with his team-best 42 tackles.
Williams will likely be busy against a Richland offense that has scored at will all season.
The Rams have scored 135 points.
The quarterback tandem of Matt Shaffer and Nico Pecora have put up ridiculous statistics - 50 of 63, 789 yards 11 touchdowns. Tanner Solarczyk has 369 yards rushing and is averaging 10.2 yards per carry.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Scenes from the re-enactment

Unless you were under a rock or in a cave, chances are you read about how the Westmont Hilltop at Johnstown football game evolved into a re-enactment of the Johnstown-filmed movie "All the Right Moves."

It was easily the most talked about high school football game in the country last week, and it received nationwide coverage. The Tribune-Democrat was at the front of the media coverage. For the record, Ampipe avenged a 1983 loss to Walnut Heights with a 20-17 victory.

Here's some great photos from the game by staff photographer Todd Berkey, who still fits in the same Ampipe shirt he wore 29 years ago.

Johnstown quarterback Deion Moore leaves Westmont defenders grabbing at air on his way to the end zone.

Walnut Heights takes the field.

Legendary Aliquippa coach Don Yannessa did the ceremonial coin toss.

Ampipe takes  the field.

Westmont's Sam Curry finished with 37 carries and nearly 200 yards rushing.

Johnstown's Kareem Gibson dives for a touchdown.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Patriot-News PIAA football rankings

So when does Richland at least make the Class AA honorable mention? And, away from the area, Washington should be in the Class AA Top 10. Also find it interesting that the top three teams in Class AAA are private schools.

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. LaSalle College HS (12) 3-0 1
2. Gateway (7)3-0 2
3. North Allegheny (7)3-0 3
4. Upper St. Clair (7)3-0 4
5. Central Dauphin (P) (3)2-1 5
6. St. Joseph’s Prep (12)3-0 10
7. Easton (11)3-0 7
8. Downingtown East (1)3-0 8
9. McDowell (10)2-1 9
10. North Penn (1)1-2 6
Teams to watch: Cumberland Valley (3) 2-1, Harrisburg (3) 2-1, Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 3-0, Ridley (1) 3-0, Wilson (3) 2-1, Woodland Hills (7) 2-1.

1. Cathedral Prep (10)3-0 1
2. Bishop McDevitt (3)3-0 2
3. Archbishop Wood (P) (12)2-1 3
4. Montour (7)3-0 4
5. Central Valley (7)2-1 5
6. Berwick (2)3-0 8
7. West Allegheny (7)3-0 9
8. x-Lancaster Catholic (3)2-1 7
9. Pottsgrove (1)3-0 10
10. Cardinal O’Hara (12)1-2 6
Teams to watch: Clearfield (9) 3-0, Franklin Regional (7) 2-1, Mars (7) 3-0, Scranton Prep (2) 3-0, Thomas Jefferson (7) 3-0, West Chester Henderson (1) 3-0.


1. Aliquippa (7)3-0 1
2. Jeannette (7)3-0 2
3. Wyomissing (3)3-0 3
4. Seton-La Salle (7)3-0 6
5. Grove City (10)3-0 7
6. Mount Carmel (4)2-1 5
7. Pen Argyl (11)3-0 8
8. Imhotep Charter (12)3-0 10
9. South Fayette (7)3-0 9
10. Wilmington (10)2-1NR
Teams to watch: Hickory (10) 2-1, Lakeland (2) 2-1, North Schuylkill (11) 3-0, Penn Cambria (6) 3-0, Trinity (3) 2-1, Washington (7) 3-0.


1. Clairton (P) (7)3-01
2. Southern Columbia (4) 3-0 2
3. Dunmore (2)3-0 3
4. Rochester (7)3-0 4
5. Sharpsville (10) 3-0 5
6. Bishop Canevin (7) 3-0 6
7. Old Forge (2)3-0 7
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 3-0 8
9. Monessen (7)3-0 9
10. Line Mountain (4) 3-0 10
Teams to watch: Chartiers-Houston (7) 1-2, Mercyhurst Prep (10) 2-1, Penns Manor (6) 2-1, Port Allegany (9) 3-0, Riverside (2) 2-1, West Middlesex (10) 2-1.

(P)-2011 PIAA champion. (x) 2011 Class AA champion. Number in parentheses is PIAA district.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Friday night thoughts

It's a question raised on many occasions, and a fair one at that.

"Why isn't Somerset better at football?"

Somerset has some things going for it many other schools in the area do not. There's a larger population base. The nearest private school with a football team is 30 miles away. Other programs have tasted success, particularly the baseball team. Plus, Somerset plays a schedule filled mostly with smaller schools.

Yet, the Golden Eagles have produced only a couple winning seasons since the 1990s.

Kinda scary.

Turning around a program that has struggled for, well, basically decades, was the task given Bob Landis, who took over the head coaching position before the start of the 2011 season - one year after the Golden Eagles went 0-10.

Somerset took a big step toward establishing itself as a contender in the often-rugged Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference with Friday's 19-13 win over Bishop McCort. The Crushers are a Class A team, and it might sound weird that a Class AAA team took a major step beating a small-school team. Yet, the win marks Somerset's first victory over Bishop McCort.

Somerset's record in the series now stands at 1-23.

Yep, a major step.

At 3-0, Somerset sits atop the conference with Penn Cambria and Richland - a pair of teams who have looked impressive to date. The win total matches the Golden Eagles' output of the last two seasons combined.

Somerset is running the football and playing strong defense. The Golden Eagles with need a strong defense against an offense the caliber of Richland's.

* Even with Somerset's surge, still say the game of the year is Penn Cambria at Richland.

* Anyone else notice Windber has quietly pieced together a 3-0 record and are racking up some significant offensive statistics?

* Got to love all the national and regional attention the Walnut Heights at Ampipe, er, Westmont Hilltop at Johnstown game generated.

As neat as the pregame story lines were, the game produced something that could significantly impact the LHAC race as the Trojans offense showcased junior Deion Moore.

Moore rushed for 146 yards in Johnstown's 20-17 victory, and he displayed the type of shiftiness and athleticism that could make defenses look silly the rest of the season.

As much talk as the game generated before kickoff, and it's difficult imaging a high school game in the country that drew more headlines, Moore was the talk after the game.

Players, coaches recreate scene from "All the Right Moves"

How many newspaper offices can claim to be part of a famous movie?

I'm not sure of the answer to that and, to be honest, my old haunt the Observer-Reporter was featured in the pilot episode of the FX series "Justified," but there's only one newspaper building in "All the Right Moves."

It's The Tribune-Democrat.

And here's a video featuring members of the Greater Johnstown and Westmont Hilltop football team doing a recreation of the famous "You're not a god, you're just a typing teacher" scene.

Lea Thompson's video message to Johnstown

Actress Lea Thompson posted a video message to Johnstown before Friday's All the Right Moves re-enactment, which also happened to be a LHAC game between Greater Johnstown - in the role of Ampipe - and Westmont Hilltop, playing Walnut Heights.

For the record, after nearly 30 years, Ampipe earned revenge.

Tribune-Democrat football rankings

Regardless of classification ...

1. Penn Cambria 3-0 (Class AA)
2. Richland 3-0 (AA)
3. Somerset 3-0 (AAA)
4. Ligonier Valley 3-0 (AA)
5. Berlin 3-0 (A)
6. Bishop McCort 2-1 (A)
7. Forest Hills 2-1 (AA)
8. Greater Johnstown 2-1 (AAA)
9. Windber 3-0 (A)
10. Northern Cambria 2-1 (A)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Games of the Week

While the majority of football fans in the area (and some outside the area) concentrate on the Walnut Heights at Ampipe, err, Westmont Hilltop at Greater Johnstown game, The Varsity Club is looking at a few matchups with some serious potential to shape the postseason picture.

Bishop McCort (2-0) at Somerset (2-0)
It's been years since Somerset played in a premier matchup, yet that's exactly where the Golden Eagles are in Week 3.
Somerset is off to its best start since 2004, but there's two potential problems. In 2004, Somerset finished with a 3-6 record, and it has not beaten Bishop McCort in 20 tries.
Both teams have played well defensively. McCort has forced six turnovers in two games. Somerset has allowed just 14 points and posted a season-opening shutout versus Central Cambria.

Blairsville (2-0) at Ligonier Valley (2-0)
This game could end up being the Game of the Year in the Heritage Conference, though Penns Manor could play a decisive role in the standings despite an early loss to Northern Cambria.
Ligonier Valley has shredded its first two opponents. Running back Ryan Torrance has already scored six touchdowns in limited duty, while quarterback Scott Fennell is emerging as a dual-threat and a standout on defense.
Blairsville is a big-play offense. The Bobcats are averaging nearly seven yards per carry and 21 yards per completion. They should pose a challenge to a Rams defense that has yet to allow a point.

Portage (1-1) at Shade (1-1)
Both teams have a loss, but the Mustangs and Panthers are two of the top defensive teams in the WestPAC.
Portage must be stinging after a home loss to Berlin in a game where the Mountaineers moved the football a few yards at a time. Even with Berlin's impressive rushing performance, Portage has only allowed 30 points against the two teams expected to contend for a conference title in the Mountaineers and North Star.
Shade surprised some with its win at Conemaugh Township last week, but the Panthers are swarming on defense. Four of the area's top 13 tacklers are on the Panthers' defense.

APB, Where are they now?

Sadly, The Varsity Club's first All Points Bulletin issued for former Windber multi-sport standout Paul Romanchock – one of this blogger's favorite high school athletes – went unanswered.

Undaunted, The Varsity Club bounces back with another.

This week's All Points Bulletin is issued for former Bedford standout Josh Baker.

In 1997, Baker earned first team Associated Press Small School (AA-A) honors as an offensive lineman. A year earlier, Baker was a third team small school as an offensive lineman.

In the 1998 Ken Lantzy game, Baker earned MVP honors as a defensive lineman.

Baker was also an accomplished wrestler. As a senior, he placed second in Class AA in the heavyweight division at the PIAA championships.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Patriot-News rankings

Pa. Scholastic 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. LaSalle College HS (12) 2-0 2
2. Gateway (7) 2-0 3
3. North Allegheny (7) 2-0 4
4. Upper St. Clair (7) 2-0 5
5. Central Dauphin (P) (3) 1-1 1
6. North Penn (1) 1-1 6
7. Easton (11) 2-0 7
8. Downingtown East (1) 2-0 9
9. McDowell (10) 1-1 10
10. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) 2-0 NR
Teams to watch: Cumberland Valley (3) 2-0, Harrisburg (3) 1-1, Pittsburgh C.C. (7) 2-0, Ridley (1) 2-0, Wilson (3) 1-1, Woodland Hills (7) 1-1.

1. Cathedral Prep (10) 2-0 2
2. Bishop McDevitt (3) 2-0 4
3. Archbishop Wood (P) (12) 1-1 1
4. Montour (7) 2-0 6
5. Central Valley (7) 1-1 3
6. Cardinal O’Hara (12) 2-0 5
7. x-Lancaster Catholic (3) 2-0 7
8. Berwick (2) 2-0 8
9. West Allegheny (7) 2-0 9
10. Pottsgrove (1) 2-0 10
Teams to watch: Clearfield (9) 2-0, Franklin Regional (7) 1-1, Mars (7) 2-0, Scranton Prep (2) 2-0, Thomas Jefferson (7) 2-0, West Chester Henderson (1) 2-0.

1. Aliquippa (7) 2-0 1
2. Jeannette (7) 2-0 2
3. Wyomissing (3) 2-0 3
4. Hickory (10) 2-0 4
5. Mount Carmel (4) 2-0 5
6. Seton-La Salle (7) 2-0 6
7. Grove City (10) 2-0 7
8. Pen Argyl (11) 2-0 8
9. South Fayette (7) 2-0 9
10. Imhotep Charter (12) 2-0 10
Teams to watch: Lakeland (2) 1-1, North Schuylkill (11) 2-0, Penn Cambria (6) 2-0, Trinity (3) 1-1, Washington (7) 2-0, Wyoming Area (2) 1-1.

1. Clairton (P) (7) 2-0 1
2. Southern Columbia (4) 2-0 2
3. Dunmore (2) 2-0 3
4. Rochester (7) 2-0 4
5. Sharpsville (10) 2-0 5
6. Bishop Canevin (7) 2-0 6
7. Old Forge (2) 2-0 7
8. Bellwood-Antis (6) 2-0 8
9. Monessen (7) 2-0 9
10. Line Mountain (4) 2-0 10

Teams to watch: Brentwood (7) 1-1, Mercyhurst Prep (10) 1-1, Penns Manor (6) 1-1, Port Allegany (9) 2-0, Riverside (2) 1-1, West Middlesex (10) 1-1.

(P)-2011 PIAA champion. (x) 2011 Class AA champion. Number in parentheses is PIAA district.

Tribune-Democrat football rankings

Ranking the top 10 local teams, regardless of classification.

1. Penn Cambria (2-0, Class AA)
2. Richland (2-0, AA)
3. Bishop McCort (2-0, A)
4. Somerset (2-0, AAA)
5. Forest Hills (1-1, AA)
6. Berlin (2-0, A)
7. Ligonier Valley (2-0, AA)
8. Cambria Heights (1-1, AA)
9. Greater Johnstown (1-1, AAA)
10. Windber (2-0, A)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Friday night thoughts

Thought you needed to know ...

Like many Class A teams at the high school level, teams from the WestPAC appeared to be moving more toward spread or pass-first offenses. At least that topic was one being thrown around regularly during the conferences media day at Portage in early August.

About the only coach to disagree was Conemaugh Township's Sam Zambanini, who predicted the conference champion would be the one who could line up and play power football.

Folks, meet the Berlin Brothersvalley Mountaineers.

Berlin has been impressively strong in wins over Conemaugh Township and, most recently, at Portage. Given how the conference is shaping up, Zambanini's prediction sure looks correct.

Right now, Berlin looks like the team to beat in the WestPAC, a conference where as many as four or five teams could still end up finishing in the top spot as Blacklick Valley, North Star, Windber and Portage are also contenders.

How's this for a power football statistic?

Berlin ran 56 offensive plays against Portage - 52 were runs as Drew Glotfelty finished with 221 yards on 33 carries.

* Mark your calendars.

The Game of the Year is shaping up to be Richland at Penn Cambria on Oct. 19.

That said, Bishop McCort and Forest Hills will have plenty to say in the shaping of the LHAC standings. Heck, Somerset may have a say too.

* If there was a local fantasy football league based on local high school players, the first selection should be Ligonier Valley's Ryan Torrance.

Torrance scored touchdowns on four consecutive possession for the Rams Friday night against United.

The second pick should be Blacklick Valley's Johnny Sheesley.

* Will any team in the Heritage Conference challenge Ligonier Valley this season?

As the only Class AA team in the Heritage, LV holds an obvious advantage over the competition and Penns Manor's season-opening loss to Northern Cambria, which lost at Homer-Center last night, makes one wonder if the Rams are by far and away the class of the conference.

The question remains, can Ligonier Valley be tested enough to have it pay off in the postseason? It takes quality competition to produce a quality postseason product - in any sport.

*It's easy to get caught up in style points.

Forest Hills scored a bunch of those during a season-opening win against Westmont Hilltop. The Rangers ran well and passed effectively. Bishop McCort, on the other hand, took a while to get going against an undermanned Bishop Carroll team undergoing a major program face lift.

So, naturally, the Bishop McCort defense made most of the plays during the Crushers' 10-6 victory. McCort improved to 2-0 and set up an interesting game with Somerset, which is off to its first 2-0 start since 2004.

Forest Hills rolled up 332 total yards, but Bishop McCort forced four turnovers.

The game served as a reminder that, as Steelers coach and noted cliche machine Mike Tomlin says, style points don't matter.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Heights-Hilltop postponed

The Cambria Heights at Westmont football game scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday has been postponed because of weather. The LHAC contest will be played Monday at 4 p.m. at Westmont Middle School.

Camp Kovak, North Star (final stop)

Blogger's note: This is the final series of short stories on stops made by The Tribune-Democrat sports editor Mike Kovak during training camp. I know, I know. We're two weeks into the season already.

It was a rare dreary day in mid-August and the scene outside Kanter Middle School was a peaceful one, save for a raging bonfire burning at the far end of the practice field.

The fire could play tricks on the eyes, as it was only a few feet behind a parked vehicle, which gave the illusion that it was burning.

Upon speaking with North Star coach Stacy Schmitt, who has guided the Cougars to consecutive District 5A championships, and mentioning the fire, he quipped, "They'll look for any reason to burn something around here."

On paper, it looked like the North Star offense would burn through WestPAC defenses this season, which was a big reason why conference coaches overwhelmingly selected the Cougars as they team to beat this season. Coaches also considered North Star the favorite to repeat as district champions and return to the PIAA playoffs, where a possible game against perennial power Clairton could await.

Then something interesting happened last Friday.

Portage 13, North Star 10.

The Cougars get back on the field today at Ferndale - a team without a record following Week 1 because of an unusual game postponement against Conemaugh Valley. (In case you haven't heard, the Blue Jays and Yellow Jackets played two-and-a-half quarters last Saturday before the game was postponed by thunderstorms that never actually hit the stadium. The game will be resumed Tuesday, Sept. 18.)

And North Star will be without starting quarterback Brantley Rice, a standout pitcher on the baseball team. Rice was ejected from the Portage game and PIAA rules dictate he must miss the next game.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

State volleyball rankings

Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association
State Rankings
Sept. 4
Class AAA (District)
1. Hempfield (3)
2. Parkland (11)
3. Bishop Shanahan (1)
4. North Allegheny (7)
5. Pine Richland (7)
6. State College (6)
7. Seneca Valley (7)
8. Susquehannock (3)
9. Exeter (3).
10. Southern Lehigh (11)
Class AA
1. Allentown Central Catholic (11)
2. Hopewell (7)
3. Pope John Paul (1)
4. Berks Catholic (3)
5. Bethlehem Catholic (11)
6. Delone Catholic (3)
7. Freeport (7)
8. Fort LeBoeuf (10)
9. Landsdale Catholic (12)
10. Holy Redeemer (2)
Class A
1. Clarion (9)
2. Penns Manor (6)
3. Bishop Guilfoyle (6)
4. Sharpsville (10)
5. Greensburg Central Catholic (7)
6. Northern Cambria (6)
7. Avonworth (7)
8. Saegartown (10)
9. Marion Catholic (11)
10. Navitity BVN (11)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

PFN rankings

Class AAAA
Rank - School - District - Record - Score - Last Weeks Ranking1. Central Dauphin (3) (1-0) Defeated Manheim Township, 21-7, (1)
2. North Allegheny (7) (1-0) Defeated Mount Lebanon, 39-14 (2)
3. Wilson (West Lawn) (3) (1-0) Defeated Governor Mifflin, 21-0) (3)
4. Easton Area (11) (1-0) Defeated Pennsbury, 32-14 (4)
5. LaSalle College (12) (1-0) Defeated North Penn, 20-7 (6)
6. Gateway (7) (1-0) Defeated Greater Latrobe, 61-6 (7)
7. Downingtown East (1) (1-0) Defeated Monsignor Bonner/Prendergast, 42-18 (8)
8. Upper St. Clair (7) (1-0) Defeated Woodland Hill, 24-12 (9)
9. Ridley (1) (1-0) Defeated Glen Mills, 35-7 (10)
10. North Penn (1) (0-1) Lost to LaSalle College, 20-7 (5)

Others to Watch
Abington (1) (1-0)
Central Bucks West (1) (1-0)
Cumberland Valley (3) (1-0)
Delaware Valley (2) (1-0)
Garnet Valley (1) (1-0)
McDowell (10) (0-1)
Nazareth (11) (1-0)
Pennridge (1) (1-0)
Pittsburgh Central Catholic (7) (1-0)
Roman Catholic (12) (1-0)
Scranton (2) (1-0)
Seneca Valley (7) (1-0)
Souderton (1) (1-0)
St. Joseph's Prep (12) (1-0)
State College (6) (1-0)

Class AAA
Rank - School - District1. Archbishop Wood (12) (1-0) Defeated Bensalem, 44-7 (1-0)
2. Bishop McDevitt (3) (1-0) Defeated Harrisburg, 21-20 (2)
3. Central Valley (7) (1-0) Defeated New Castle, 14-0 (4)
4. Cathedral Prep (10) (1-0) Defeated Perry Traditional Academy, 56-6 (5)
5. Manheim Central (3) (1-0) Defeated Warwick, 41-13 (6)
6. Cardinal O'Hara (12) (1-0) Defeated Archbishop Ryan,13-7 (7)
7. Pottsgrove (1) (1-0) Defeated Norristown, 35-0 (8)
8. Berwick Area (2) (1-0) Defeated Crestwood, 48-21 (9)
9. West Allegheny (7) (1-0) Defeated Blackhawk, 31-27 (10)
10. Lancaster Catholic (3) (1-0) Defeated Dallastown, 41-33 (OTW)

Others to Watch

Blackhawk (7) (0-1)
Clearfield (9) (1-0)
Cocalico (3) (1-0)
Franklin Regional (7) (0-1)
Knoch (7) (1-0)
Lampeter-Strasburg (3) (0-1)
Mars Area (7) (1-0)
Montour (7) (1-0)
Pottsville (11) (1-0)
Scranton Prep (2) (1-0)
Shippensburg (3) (1-0)
Thomas Jefferson (7) (1-0)
Valley View (2) (1-0)
West Chester Henderson (1) (1-0)
West York (3) (1-0)

Class AA
Rank - School - District 1. Aliquippa (7) (1-0) Defeated Ambridge, 36-0 (1)
2. Wyomissing (3) (1-0) Defeated Schuylkill Haven, 37-0 (2)
3. Mount Carmel (4) (1-0) Defeated Shikellamy, 41-14 (3)
4. Jeannette (7) (1-0) Defeated Southmoreland, 48-6 (4)
5. Grove City (10) (1-0) Defeated Carrick, 40-0 (5)
6. Hickory (10) (1-0) Defeated Strong Vincent, 44-32 (6)
7. Imhotep Charter (12) (1-0) Defeated Strath Haven, 68-12, OTW
8. Pen Argyl (11) (1-0) Defeated Saucon Valley, 13-3 (7)
9. South Fayette (7) (1-0) Defeated McGuffey,42-6 (9)
10. Washington (7) (1-0) Defeated Greensburg Central Catholic, 28-7 (10)

Others to Watch

Beaver Falls (7) (1-0)
Bermudian Springs (3) (1-0)
Danville (4) (1-0)
Forest Hills (6) (1-0)
Karns City (9) (1-0)
Lewisburg (4) (1-0)
Montoursville (4) (1-0)
Northern Lehigh (11) (1-0)
Penn Cambria (6) (1-0)
Richland (6) (1-0)
Seton-La Salle (7) (1-0)
Trinity (3) (1-0)
West Catholic (12)
Wilmington (10) (1-0)
Yough (6) (1-0)

Class A
Rank - School - District1. Clairton (7) (1-0) Defeated Chartiers-Houston, 22-20 (1)
2. Southern Columbia (4) (1-0) Defeated Pius X, 61-0 (2)
3. Dunmore (2) (1-0) Defeated North Pocono, 39-0 (3)
4. Rochester Area (7) (1-0) Defeated Avonworth, 21-7 (4)
5. Sharpsville (10) (1-0) Defeated Moniteau, 35-0 (5)
6. Brentwood (7) (1-0) Defeated Serra Catholic, 48-0 (6)
7. Bellwood-Antis (6) (1-0) Defeated Tyrone Area, 22-15 (8)
8. Old Forge (2) (1-0) Defeated Lake-Lehman, 50-14 (9)
9. Port Allegany (9) (1-0) Defeated Johnsonburg, 54-0 (10)

10. Williams Valley (11) (1-0) Defeated Minersville, 47-0 (OTW)

Others to Watch
Bethlehem-Center (7) (1-0)
Bishop Canevin (7) (1-0)
Bishop Guilfotle (6) (1-0)
Clarion Area (9) (1-0)
Columbia (3) (1-0)
Delone Catholic (3) (0-1)
Elk County Catholic (9) (1-0)
Juniata Valley (6) (1-0)
Laurel (7) (1-0)
Line Mountain (4) (1-0)
Monessen (7) (1-0)
Northwest Area (2) (1-0)
Penns Manor (6) (0-1)
Sto-Rox (7) (1-0)
West Middlesex (10) (0-1)

Camp Kovak, Rockwood (fifth stop)

The left-hand turn at the intersection in New Centerville (pretty sure there's only one in town) began the short drive into Rockwood, a place this writer hasn't visited in at least 20 years ,though some hometown friends used to frequent the Rockwood Hotel.

Upon pulling into Rockwood High School, a long-forgotten visual exploded back into memory. The guess here is Rockwood is the only high school in the state with a scuplture of a rocket in front. It's impossible to miss and it hovers high above the football field.

I covered the Jefferson-Morgan Rockets for years. Never recalled seeing a rocket in front of the school, though I've never been fed better at a football game in my life. (If any J-M people read this, please inform me of prime rib night so I can adjust my schedule accordingly.)

Rockwood's football program has hardly taken off in recent years, but it would be difficult to find anyone willing to call the Rockets underachievers. The stadium is not exactly state-of-art. The numbers are frequenltly low. Yet, Rockwood usually finds itself in playoff contention and competing against teams with bigger numbers and more talent.

This past Saturday, Rockwood of the WestPAC got off to a roaring start as it defeated a rebuilding United of the Heritage Conference, 31-7, in a crossover game.

Before the season, Rockets head coach Jerry Kaizen could not say enough about senior running back/linebacker Luke Brancato.

Following Brancato's performance against, it's easy to understand why. Brancato had more than 100 yards rushing AND receiving. No doubt, he'll be the focal point of Blacklick Valley's defensive efforts during practice this week. Friday's game will be the first under the lights at Blacklick Valley, who used to play Saturday afternoons.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week in review, Week 1

Team of the Week
Northern Cambria
No team in The Tribune Democrat coverage area scored a bigger win than Northern Cambria, which rallied to beat Penns Manor, 28-20, Friday night in a Heritage Conference game.
Penns Manor qualified for the PIAA Class A semifinals a year ago and returned the majority of its top players, including Danny Ferens.
Northern Cambria scored the game's final two touchdowns – the first a 19-yard pass from Jeff Hogan to Dartagnan Suchar and the second a 4-yard Hogan run. Penns Manor beat Northern Cambria twice last season, including a 36-6 setback in the postseason.
The Colts dominated the fourth quarter as they ran 17 plays to five for Penns Manor, and they may have established themselves as the team to beat in the Heritage.

Following Portage's 13-10 win at North Star, considered the heavy favorite to win the WestPAC, Mustangs coach Gary Gouse said, "Their team is loaded with talent – 50 times more than ours. We came with heart, we came with desire and we won the football game on heart and desire."
He also said," Anybody that was betting, they weren't betting on us. Not one penny."
With a defense loaded with returning lettermen, Portage shut down the high-powered Cougars and Evan Price did a little bit of everything in the victory. 

Starting 11
Luke Brancato, Rockwood
Shawn Dell, Forest Hills
Joe Donoughe, Forest Hills
Scott Fennell, Ligonier Valley
Kyle Flick, Richland
Drew Glotfelty, Berlin
Jeff Hogan, Northern Cambria
Evan Price, Portage
Johnny Sheesley, Blacklick Valley
Tanner Stull, Somerset
Zaine Tomkowski, Bishop McCort

Say what?: Ferndale traveled to Conemaugh Valley Saturday for a game both WestPAC members desperately wanted to win. That long awaited victory will have to ... well, wait. The game was suspended with 7:35 left in the third quarter.
Conemaugh Valley, which had two wins a year ago, led, 40-18.
And, get this, the game won't be resumed until Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m. The game will be completed at Conemaugh Valley.
Here's the kicker, according to the article published in The Tribune-Democrat, the storm which forced the delay never actually hit Thomas Yewcic Stadium, home of the Blue Jays.

Friday night's not all right for fighting: Portage will be without defensive standout Caleb Kephart, who was ejected from the North Star game following a personal foul penalty in the third quarter, for its key home game Friday against Berlin. North Star quarterback Brantley Rice will not play Saturday at Ferndale after he was ejected following a brief skirmish.

Penn Cambria's Seth McClendon tries to break through the Greater Johnstown defense during Friday's game.
Oh, and by the way: Penn Cambria lived up to its preseason billing with a thorough 38-0 win over Greater Johnstown. The Panthers rushed for 321 yards on 44 attempts.

Tribune-Democrat football rankings

Ranking the local teams, regardless of classification.

1. Penn Cambria (1-0, Class AA)
2. Richland (1-0, AA)
3. Northern Cambria (1-0, A)
4. Somerset (1-0, AAA)
5. Berlin (1-0, A)
6. Portage (1-0, A)
7. Ligonier Valley (1-0, AA)
8. Bishop McCort (1-0, A)
9. Cambria Heights (0-1, AA)
10. Greater Johnstown (0-1, AAA)