Football fans’ eyes and ears will turn toward Hopewell’s Tony Dorsett Stadium on Friday when two of the top running backs in the WPIAL clash in a high-stakes game that probably will decide the Class AAA Parkway Conference.
Hopewell sophomore Rushel Shell, who has led his team to a 6-0 record by rushing for 1,143 yards and 19 touchdowns, meets West Allegheny and its dominant junior running back Mike Caputo (992 and 12).
West Allegheny (5-1) leads the conference with a 4-0 record after pounding conference rival Blackhawk, 40-0, on Friday. Hopewell remained 3-0 after terrorizing Class AA Riverside, 49-7. In those games, Shell and Caputo combined for 408 yards and nine touchdowns.
The surprise: Caputo entered the night No. 2 to Shell in yards rushing and exited No. 4. South Park’s Shayne Dotson hit 1,029, with 267 yards in a victory against Quaker Valley, 16-6. Meanwhile, Beaver Falls’ Cody Cook gained 178 against Beaver to reach 1,020.
PINK-OUT AT MT. LEBANON
A tiny seed of an idea has turned into a widespread effort that promises to make the final day of the football regular season an eye-catching memory at many schools.
It started when Mt. Lebanon senior cheerleader Ellese Meyer approached athletic director John Grogran about a way to honor her mother Terry, who died from breast cancer in June.
They decided to hold a pink-out at the Upper St. Clair game Oct. 30 to raise awareness of the disease. Pink stickers were ordered for players from both teams to wear on their helmets. Also, coaches will wear pink ribbons. As they walk through the gate, fans will be handed ribbons and they will be encouraged to wear pink t-shirts and wave pink towels. You might even find some pink cookies in the concession stand.
Cheerleaders from both schools will collect donations for the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Foundation that was co-founded by Terry Meyer.
In a cooperative mood, the tennis and soccer teams have been using pink balls.
Grogan liked what was developing, but his vision was even broader.
“I said, `Wouldn’t it be neat to take it to the next level and challenge the rest of the WPIAL to join us?’ ” he said.
When he wrote to his colleagues around Western Pennsylvania, he said he was “blown away” by the response. To date, 24 other schools will hold a pink-out at their final games.
Among the participants are: Indiana, Chartiers Valley, Latrobe, Franklin Regional, Elizabeth Forward, Ambridge, Blackhawk, Baldwin, Hampton, Seton-La Salle, Keystone Oaks, West Allegheny, Montour, Moon, Monessen, California, South Side Beaver, Western Beaver, Bethel Park, Quaker Valley, Cornell, Bishop Canevin, Hopewell and the Winchester Thurston field hockey team.
Any other schools wishing to hold their own pink-outs can telephone Grogan (412-344-2008) for stickers.
RUNNING IN THE RAIN
Shady Side Academy coach Dave Havern played quarterback at Pitt, so he knows a little about offensive football.
But he didn’t need an advanced degree to know what was best for his team in the rain Thursday night against Ford City.
He just ordered quarterback Reggie Mitchell to shove the football in Brian Nickel’s gut 34 times, and 180 yards and three touchdowns later, Shady Side Academy had a big 24-7 victory in the Class AA Allegheny Conference.
For the season, Nickel has a total of 866 yards and nine touchdowns in six games (five victories).
Here is perhaps the most amazing statistic in WPIAL soccer:
Through 13 games, the Moon girls, with goalkeeper Mara Hricik, allowed only one goal, and that was in a 4-1 victory at Montour. Meanwhile, Moon led Section 7-AAA with a 9-0 record and was 12-0-1.
The only game Moon didn’t win was a scoreless tie with Padua Franciscan (Ohio) High School, which had a record of (and, yeah, I looked it up) 4-6-3 after 13 games and won only one game after playing the Tigers.
Sometimes, there is just no explaining what happens in high school athletics.