No one at Hopewell can solve a complicated physics problem better or quicker than football coach Dave Vestal, who teaches the subject at the high school.
So how you do figure this? His formula for winning football is ridiculously simple: Hand off to the running backs as often as possible. And then when you think you have handed off enough, do it some more.
It worked well Thursday night at Hopewell’s Tony Dorsett Stadium in an important 26-13 Class AAA Parkway Conference victory against Montour. Running backs Rushel Shell, a freshman who was 14-years-old at the beginning of this football season, and Pat Matty combined for 54 carries for 300 yards.
Overall, the run/pass ratio for Hopewell was 63/9.
Shell did the bulk of the damage against a good Montour defense, getting 219 yards on 35 carries. It was the second week in a row Shell surpassed 200 — he had 208 last week against West Allegheny — and he has a shot at 1,000 before the playoffs. In eight games, he has 846.
With an efficient offense and a smart coach such as Vestal, Hopewell (6-2, 3-2) will be a dangerous team when the playoffs open Oct. 31.
The Vikings have won three in a row and it probably will be four at this time next week.
What’s amazing is that Hopewell may not be the best team in the Parkway. Blackhawk (7-1, 4-1) would be undefeated, if not for a 21-13 loss to West Allegheny two weeks ago
How smart is Vestal?
He majored in physics and aeronautics and minored in math at Miami (Ohio) where he was a walkon football player who didn’t play the sport at Boardman (Ohio) High School. He played the trumpet, instead. He also has his pilot’s license and is member of Mensa, the society for geniuses.
He also knows a little bit about football and how to build good teams. He won a state championship at Hopewell in only his second year as a head varsity coach in 2002.
Buffalo Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny, the second-greatest player in Hopewell history, had a lot to do with that, but Vestal more than paid him back.
In 2002, he hand-delivered Posluszny’s videos to Notre Dame’s coaches. (Posluszny ended up at Penn State, but younger brother Dave is at Notre Dame.)
“Paul always had a strong interest in Notre Dame,” Vestal said. “After seeing Penn State, though, I don’t know if he would have chosen Notre Dame. But it is funny his little brother is (ended) up there.”
Reversal of the same fortune
Who could have guessed that Seneca Valley, which had given up 56, 52 and 33 points the past three weeks, would allow Pine-Richland only 17 — and still lose?
But that’s what happened Friday night at NexTier Stadium. The Raiders took a 14-10 lead on Evan Hetzel’s 90-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, but they lost, 17-14, on Pine-Richland quarterback Eric Kordenbrock’s second touchdown pass to T.J. Kuban.
What’s even more surprising is that Kordenbrock only completed four other passes among his 19 attempts and Seneca Valley, which had the most productive offense in Class AAAA (other than No.1 Gateway), scored only one touchdown from scrimmage.
Even though Seneca Valley’s athletically gifted quarterback C.J. Brown, a Maryland recruit, completed less than half of his passes (13 of 28), he surpassed 2,000 yards for the season (2,003) and remains the WPIAL quarterback with the best chance to succeed in college. Remember you read it here: Many schools will regret not paying more attention to him after his junior season.
And the winners are …
While Brown is running away with the passing title, Beaver’s Jake Nardone is winning a tight battle with East Allegheny’s Monte Ashby for the rushing championship. Nardone has 1,428 yards to Ashby’s 1,323 after Ashby managed only (probably a poor word choice) 159 in a 46-7 victory against Brownsville. Nardone had 237 and six touchdowns in a 41-28 victory against Mohawk. He also has scored 22 touchdowns, which is good, but not even close to the leader. Greensburg Central Catholic’s David Miller has 30.
The experts say defense wins football games, but few played it well in Western Pennsylvania on Friday night.
Of the 57 games in the WPIAL and City League, 36 winning teams scored 34 or more points.