Sitting in a White-Out at NexTier Stadium (formerly and nostagically known as Raider Stadium) during Seneca Valley’s action-packed, 38-33 victory Thursday night against Erie McDowell brought to mind these observations:
Why did Pitt allow Seneca Valley quarterback C.J. Brown to commit to Maryland? Pitt could use a mobile, athletic quarterback to run the kind of wide-open offense that wins in college football these days, and Brown, 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, has the arm and the legs to develop into a good one. He accounted for 740 yards in two games, breaking school records for passing yards both times (301 and 304). OK, it’s just two non-conference games, and he will meet the North Allegheny and North Hills defenses on successive Fridays later this season (Sept. 26 and Oct. 3). But it’s a good start for the most athletic quarterback ever to play at Seneca Valley.
Why didn’t Penn State turn to Brown more aggressively after losing Terrelle Pryor to Ohio State? PSU defensive coordinator Tom Bradley spent time at Seneca Valley last winter, but at some point the connection was lost.
On the other hand, nothing wrong with Maryland. Brown could flourish there.
Brown made several big plays, taking control of the game and taking McDowell by the throat. He was a magician at times while avoiding the pass rush, but he had lots of help. Brown’s fourth-and-10 pass to wide receiver Matt Plautz for 13 yards with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter kept the football away from McDowell’s big-play offense. Big-time play by two players who have the look of big-timers.
Plautz, 6-5, 210, totaled 10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown. He holds the school record for receptions (51 last season), and is being recruited by several MAC schools. Also, running back Tyler Mack was a workhorse (24 carries for 167 and a score). At 5-11, 195, Mack reminds some people of former Seneca Valley running back Dan Tropf, who carried the load in 1997, the last time the Raiders advanced to the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals. Mack had help, too. The line blocked better than some observers expected.
Before this season, the school record for passing yards in a game was 237, set by Denny Britt against Perry — in 1966!
By the way, in the event you want to know the origin of NexTier Stadium … NexTier is a fourth-generation Butler County bank that bought the naming rights to Raider Stadium in a 10-year, $50,000 deal in 2006. Athletic director Greg Caprara engineered the deal, the first of its kind in the WPIAL. What price tradition? Apparently, it’s $5,000 a year for 10 years. Sigh …
Elsewhere in Week 2 on Friday:
It was almost unfair the way Woodland Hills and McKeesport dominated AAAA opponents Friday night. Woodland Hills built a 56-0 lead before halftime against Connellsville by scoring in four different ways (runs from scrimmage by four players, two touchdown passes by quarterback John Yezovich, an 81-yard punt return by Lafayette Pitts and a blocked punt return by Charles Williams). Final score: 56-0. It could have been much worse, but Woodland Hills coach George Novak is too nice of a guy. Who didn’t know that?
Meanwhile, McKeesport led, 42-0 at halftime and beat Plum, 55-0, after recovering fumbles in the first two minutes and converting them into touchdowns. McKeesport’s flexbone option offense gained 464 yards rushing on 43 attempts, and eight different ball carriers had at least 30.
No one in the WPIAL had a better Friday than Derry Area’s Dominic Hoffman and his teammates. Hoffman scored three touchdowns, including a 68-yard punt return, to help Derry defeat West Mifflin (1-1) in a Class AAA non-conference game. What’s so special? It was Derry’s first victory since 2005, a span of 25 games.
Here is something you don’t see every week: South Allegheny’s Dylan Cogdan kicked three field goals in a 9-6 victory against Waynesburg in an Interstate Conference game. Cogdan’s longest field goal (37 yards) broke a 6-6 tie in the fourth quarter.
Nothing like mixing politics with football. The Latrobe High School Young Democrats and Young Republicans clubs set up a voter registration stand for fans at the Fox Chapel/Latrobe game on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Latrobe honored the only WPIAL football champion in school history before the game. Latrobe won the title in 1968.
Apollo-Ridge had a ceremony of a different sort Friday when the school retired the jerseys of former players Josh Henry and Michael Girdano, who were killed during U.S. military service. No. 65 Henry was killed four years ago after an attack on his convoy in Iraq. Girdano died Aug. 1 in Afghanistan when a homemade bomb exploded near him. Neither man had reached his 24th birthday. Their jerseys will hang on a wall at Apollo-Ridge High School.
Coming up …
Week 3 offers a variety of big games. The best is Beaver Falls at Aliquippa on Thursday night in a battle of Class AA powerhouses in the Midwestern Conference. The next night, four of the best AAAA teams play each other in the South Hills — North Allegheny at Upper St. Clair and North Hills at Bethel Park. Pine-Richland is at Highlands in a game that always was one of the best in the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference. Now, Pine-Richland is a winless AAAA team after losing to Montour and Upper St. Clair, and undefeated Highlands is challenging No. 1 Thomas Jefferson for AAA honors.