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December 14, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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Overtime win sparks memories for North Catholic assistant coach

Count Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic assistant Jim Fawcett among those most thrilled that the Trojans went for two in overtime.
The two-point conversion worked and North Catholic won 15-14 over Old Forge in the PIAA Class A championship Friday.
“I got chills,” Fawcett said.
Exactly 10 years ago, he was a senior on Pine-Richland’s team that lost the state championship to Manheim Central, 39-38, when a game-tying extra point was blocked in overtime. That moment, which left him lying face down in the snow at Hersheypark Stadium, was one he hasn’t forgotten.
“I was saying all game, if we go to overtime, we do not lose on an extra point,” Fawcett said. ”I learned my lesson. You do not lose championships kicking extra points.”
Fawcett, a center and defensive end for Pine-Richland, is a first-year assistant line coach at North Catholic.
– Chris Harlan

December 14, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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Steel Valley boys impressive in loss to No. 1 EF

The Steel Valley boys basketball team was not in our preseason rankings for Class AAA.
Hey, with so many teams, you can’t possibly see everyone, and preseason rankings are always a bit of a crapshoot: who’s coming back, who’s healthy, who’s grown, etc.
But after watching Steel Valley take top-ranked Elizabeth Forward to the wire, they are absolutely a team to keep an eye on in Class AAA.
One that should be ranked, too.
Warriors coach Gerald “Puddin” Grayson agreed.
“They are a tremendous team,” Grayson said after exhaling a few times following his team’s 69-64 overtime win. “I don’t know why they’re not ranked somewhere. Honest.
“A lot of people have missed the boat on them, and I knew that.”
My game story ( focuses on JaQuan Davidson gutting out a wrist injury early to score a game-high 22 points.
It just as easily could have talked about Brandon Donovan’s 3-point shooting (five of ‘em, all in the first half) for Steel Valley.
Or Ajan Smith’s inside touch and tenacity underneath; he had 11 rebounds, part of a 35-27 overall edge for the Ironmen.
Smith is a 6-foot-4 guard, and he’s joined in the backcourt by 6-1 senior Dorian Broadwater, 6-1 junior Donovan and 5-10 senior Derek
Smith and Broadwater are returning starters, Smith scoring 18.1 points per game last season.
The four-guard lineup can be deceiving, though, because Smith can play underneath, and 6-6 junior center Dominique Keyes (14 points, 11 rebounds) was a monster down low while defending Elizabeth Forward’s 6-10 center George Prota.
This loss, as Steel Valley coach Shawn McCallister said, was not one to get all that upset over.
Proved a lot of things for Steel Valley, all of them good.
“I told our kids that I don’t want their heads down,” McCallister said. “I want them to feel the loss. I want them to remember the loss. I want to move forward through the section and take it one game at a time. But the effort that they gave tonight they need to give throughout the year.”
— Jason Mackey

December 13, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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GCC football heading to Class A

The Diocese of Greensburg announced Friday that the school will follow rival Jeannette and play Class A football for the next two seasons.

This move was decided on Monday prior to the PIAA deadline for petitioning to stay up in classification, which GCC has done the past four seasons. Basketball however will play up in Class AA.

Football coach and athletic director Dan Mahoney said the move had to be made because of the declining enrollment.

It’s unsure what conference the WPIAL will place the Centurions.

GCC reported an enrollment of 114 male students in grades 9-11 to the PIAA in October.  The PIAA set the enrollment for Class A football at 185 students and less in grades 9-11, and it set the Class AA enrollment at 186-298 male students in those grades.

At the school’s request, GCC had played up a classification in the 2012 and 2013 football seasons, competing in Class AA with a male enrollment that was 15 students shy of the PIAA cutoff between Class A and Class AA, Mahoney said.

He said football was the only GCC sport that competed above its classification level last year.

Mahoney, who has coached at GCC since 1992, said the school has played where its enrollment numbers and classification have dictated in the past with the exception of the two most recent football seasons.

GCC will re-evaluate its classification level again in two years when the PIAA requests new enrollment numbers.

– Paul Schofield

December 10, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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Gateway football to move to Class AAA

Gateway football won’t ask to remain in Class AAAA.

Today was the decision deadline for PIAA teams that wanted to “play up” in classification for the new two-year cycle. Gateway, a current Quad-A program whose enrollment has fallen, will accept next season’s move to Class AAA football, said athletic director Randy Rovesti.

“It really wasn’t much of an issue,” he said. “I think some of the kids would have preferred staying Quad, but we looked at the (enrollment) numbers. There’s nothing that indicates we’ll be a Quad-A school in the future.”

Gateway reached the WPIAL championship game four times in the past decade. The Gators were 8-3 this season and lost to eventual champion Central Catholic, 27-21, in the quarterfinals.

A comprehensive list of enrollments and classifications for all sports teams was scheduled for release this week by the PIAA.

– Chris Harlan

December 8, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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Central Catholic’s semifinal win was ‘special’

Central Catholic’s semifinal win was special in more ways than one.

Led by punt returner Johnny Petrishen, a strong special-teams effort was instrumental in Saturday’s 45-0 victory over Lower Dauphin in the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs. A 68-yard touchdown by Petrishen stood out, but Central had solid field position all afternoon thanks to its punt-return and punt-rush. 

After forcing five first-half punts, Central Catholic started drives at Lower Dauphin’s 47-, 21-, 18- and 26-yard lines and another at Central’s 40-yard line. Four of the five short-field situations led to touchdowns.

They weren’t all set up by long returns; a second-quarter scenario saw Lower Dauphin punter Adam Domovitch fumble away the ball while hurrying to beat an oncoming rush. 

But Petrishen, a 6-foot-2 junior defensive back, returned three punts for 138 combined yards. His touchdown came with 5:36 in the third quarter when he followed his blockers along the right sideline.

“Coach (Ron) Fuchs, our special teams coach, designs it up,” Petrishen said. “We just have a wall (of blockers) and sometimes I don’t even have to make a move to make someone miss. I just run right up the sideline. That makes my job easy and makes me look good at the same time.”

Petrishen also returned a first-quarter punt 54 yards to the 21-yard line. But he likely covered the most turf minutes later on a daring 16-yarder that reversed direction twice. Despite sprinting side to side, he eventually reached Lower Dauphin’s 18-yard line.     

“It seemed like I was running forever,” Petrishen said with a laugh, “and my legs about died on me. I got heck when I got over to the sideline. Some people said I was doing a little bit too much out there. But it was a lot of fun.”

Senior kicker Mitchell MacZura added to a strong special-teams day by making a 28-yard field goal and six extra points. MacZura was more active than Lower Dauphin’s Joe Julius, one of the state’s best kickers. Julius booted the opening kickoff through the end zone for a touchback, but that was his only action.  


Central Catholic (15-0) will face Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s Prep (12-2), the District 12 champion, at 6 p.m. Saturday, in the Class AAAA state final at Hersheypark Stadium.

In Class AAA, District 12′s Archbishop Wood (12-2) plays District 3′s Bishop McDevitt (14-1) at 7 p.m., Friday. In Class AA, South Fayette (15-0) plays District 12′s Imhotep Charter (14-1) at noon, Saturday. In Class A, North Catholic (15-0) plays District 2′s Old Forge (14-1) at 1 p.m. Friday.

– Chris Harlan

December 6, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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PIAA postpones semifinal football games

Four PIAA semifinal football games scheduled for Friday have been postponed until Saturday afternoon because of the impending inclement weather forecast.
Locally, that means Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic will now play Clarion at noon at DuBois Area High School.
The other Class A game featuring Old Forge and Steelton-Highspire will now be played Saturday at 4 p.m. at Harmon Geist Stadium
in Hazelton.
In Class AAA, Archbishop Wood and Berwick will meet at 5 p.m. at Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.
Bishop McDevitt will square off with Erie Cathedral Prep at 5 p.m. at DuBois.
All tickets are $8 at the gate.
South Fayette’s 1 p.m. Class AA game against Hickory at Slippery Rock University was unchanged. Same for Central Catholic’s 1 p.m. Quad-A tilt with Lower Dauphin at Altoona High School.
—Jason Mackey

December 5, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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Midland Leopards returning to the court … sort of

The storied Midland Leopards will return to the basketball court, at least for one day.

Lincoln Park’s boys basketball team will wear 1960s-era replica Midland uniforms when facing Steelton-Highspire in the C.J. Betters Holiday Classic on Dec. 27, said athletic director and assistant coach Mike Bariski. The contest will rematch the 1965 state championship game won by Midland, 90-61. The tournament game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at the Community College of Beaver County.

“We are going to be the Midland-Lincoln Park Leopards,” Bariski said. “We copied the old warmups and jerseys. Obviously they’re going to be bigger, but they’re exact replicas.”

The 1965 Midland team starred the late Norm Van Lier and Simmie Hill, who died in July. Van Lier died in 2009. Surviving members of that 28-0 team, considered one of the best high school teams ever, will be invited back to be honored, Bariski said.

Midland, which closed its high school in 1987, also celebrated state titles in 1971, ’73, ’74 and ’76. Lincoln Park, a performing arts charter school, was built where Midland’s high school once stood.

–Chris Harlan

December 5, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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Hoops rankings galore

High school basketball season gets under way Friday night in Western Pennsylvania, and Thursday marks our final edition of previews for the eight WPIAL classifications in boys and girls hoops. Friday’s papers will have a look at the Pittsburgh City League and District 6 Heritage Conference.

Here’s a look at the rankings for each class, as well as the state rankings for boys basketball.

To check out previews for each classification, complete with players to watch and section breakdowns, visit


Class AAAA

1. Hampton (22-6)

2. New Castle (29-1)

3. Gateway (16-7)

4. Fox Chapel (17-7)

5. Hempfield (17-6)

6. Central Catholic (16-6)

7. Upper St. Clair (20-4)

8. North Allegheny (22-5)

9. Bethel Park (17-6)

10. Norwin (13-10)

Class AAA

1. Elizabeth Forward (12-11)

2. Chartiers Valley (24-5)

3. Indiana (17-7)

4. Central Valley (16-7)

5. Uniontown (17-4)

6. Thomas Jefferson (17-8)

7. Montour (25-5)

8. West Mifflin (16-6)

9. Mars (21-5)

10. Freeport (9-10)

Class AA

1. Beaver Falls (28-3)

2. Greensburg C.C. (23-3)

3. Seton-La Salle (21-3)

4. Jeannette (18-6)

5. Sto-Rox (14-9)

6. Quaker Valley (20-6)

7. Neshannock (17-6)

8. Serra (13-9)

9. Charleroi (14-7)

10. Washington (17-7)

Class A

1. Lincoln Park (22-7)

2. Vincentian (26-2)

3. OLSH (19-5)

4. North Catholic (16-7)

5. Monessen (10-14)

6. Clairton (17-8)

7. Carmichaels (17-5)

8. Sewickley Academy (8-13)

9. Wilkinsburg (13-10)

10. Imani Christian (11-7)


Class AAAA

1. North Allegheny (20-4)

2. Gateway (21-6)

3.  Fox Chapel (18-6)

4. Mt. Lebanon (24-4)

5. Plum (17-6)

6. Hempfield (19-4)

7. Shaler (11-12)

8. Chartiers Valley (22-8)

9. Baldwin (11-12)

10. Bethel Park (23-4)

Class AAA

1. Blackhawk (27-2)

2. South Park (28-2)

3. Elizabeth Forward (24-4)

4. Central Valley (18-6)

5. West Mifflin (10-13)

6. Hampton (18-7)

7. Mars (15-8)

8. Indiana (16-8)

9. Hopewell (22-5)

10. Greensburg Salem (16-7)

Class AA

1. Seton-La Salle (21-1)

2. Burrell (20-2)

3. McGuffey (19-2)

4. Beaver (16-4)

5. Greensburg C.C. (16-6)

6. OLSH (18-4)

7. Neshannock (11-11)

8. Bishop Canevin (18-4)

9. Carlynton (12-10)

10. Jeannette (15-6)

Class A

1. Vincentian (29-2)

2. Serra (24-4)

3. St. Joseph (11-13)

4. North Catholic (15-11)

5. Quigley (18-7)

6. Wichester Thurston (13-10)

7. Carmichaels (13-9)

8. Rochester (12-12)

9. Avella (13-9)

10. Cornell (12-11)




No.  School                                          Rec    Pvs

1.     Roman Catholic (12)                19-7    NR

2.     Chester (1)                                  28-4      2

3.     Lower Merion (1)                     30-3      1

4.     Hampton (7)                              22-6    NR

5.     New Castle (7)                           29-1      4

6.     Great Valley (1)                         28-4    NR

7.     Pennsbury (1)                            15-8   NR

8.     Harrisburg (3)                           28-3      3

9.     York (3)                                       27-4    10

10.  Fox Chapel (7)                            17-7   NR

Honorable mention: Coatesville (1) 24-8, Gateway (7) 16-7, Hempfield (7) 17-6, Martin Luther King (12) 24-5, McCaskey (3) 26-4, Parkland (11) 22-8, St. Joseph’s Prep (12) 24-6.



No.  School                                             Rec     Pvs

1.     Archbishop Carroll  (12)            23-7        4

2.     Neumann-Goretti (12)               23-6        3

3.     Imhotep Charter (12)                 28-5        1

4.     Allentown Central Cath (11)    24-4      10

5.     Berks Catholic (3)                        26-4        6

6.     Chartiers Valley (7)                     24-5        9

7.     Susquehanna Twp (3)                25-5      NR

8.     Bishop McDevitt (3)                    19-8      NR

9.     Abington Heights (2)                  27-3        8

10.   Elizabeth Forward (7)               12-11   NR

Honorable mention: Archbishop Wood (12) 14-10, Bethlehem Catholic (11) 13-12, Central Valley (7) 16-7, Girard (10) 21-6, Indiana (7) 17-7, Montour (7) 25-5, Uniontown (7) 17-4.



No.  School                                                 Rec    Pvs

1.     Constitution (12)                            18-10      9

2.     Beaver Falls (7)                                28-3        1

3.     Greensburg Central Cath (7)        23-3     10

4.     Trinity (3)                                           21-8       4

5.     Loyalsock (4)                                     26-4       5

6.     Seton-La Salle (7)                             21-3    NR

7.     Lewisburg (4)                                   23-5        8

8.     Jeannette (7)                                     18-6    NR

9.     West Middlesex (10)                       25-4       3

10.   Quaker Valley (7)                            20-6     NR

Honorable mention: Bishop McCort (6) 19-9, Fairview (10) 13-9, Holy Cross (2) 27-6, Mercyhurst Prep (10) 18-9, Neshannock (7) 17-6, Sto-Rox (7) 14-9, Wellsboro (4) 23-3.



No.  School                                                   Rec    Pvs

1.     Math, Civics & Sciences (12)           26-3       2

2.     Lincoln Park (7)                                  22-7       5

3.     Bishop Carroll (6)                               23-6       6

4.     Vincentian (7)                                      26-2       7

5.     Pius X (11)                                            21-4     NR

6.     Johnsonburg (9)                                  30-3       4

7.     St. John Neumann (4)                         24-3    NR

8.     Elk County Catholic (9)                     19-7     NR

9 .    Lebanon Catholic (3)                          18-8    NR

10.   New Hope Academy (3)                    18-6     NR

Honorable mention: Church Farm (1) 23-7, Cochranton (10) 15-8, Kennedy Catholic (10) 17-7, Mahanoy Area (11) 22-6, Marian Catholic (11) 18-6, Monessen (7) 10-14, North Catholic (7) 16-7, Our Lady of Sacred Heart (7) 19-5, Ridgway (9) 23-6, Shade (5) 26-2.

December 1, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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PIAA releases semifinal sites

Three teams from the WPIAL have advanced to the PIAA football semifinals. North Catholic will play Friday night, while South Fayette and Central Catholic each play Saturday. The schedule is below.

PIAA Tournament
Class AAAA
Saturday’s schedule
St. Joe’s Prep (11-2) vs. Neshaminy (13-1) at Northeast High School, Philadelphia, 1 p.m.; Central Catholic (14-0) vs. Lower Dauphin (13-1) at Altoona High School, 1 p.m.

Class AAA
Friday’s schedule
Archbishop Wood (11-2) vs. Berwick (14-0) at Allentown, 7 p.m.; Bishop McDevitt (13-1) vs. Erie Cathedral Prep (13-0) at Clearfield, 7 p.m.

Class AA
Saturday’s schedule
Berks Catholic (14-0) vs. Imhotep (13-1) at Governor Mifflin, 3 p.m.; Hickory (12-1) vs. South Fayette (14-0) at Slippery Rock University, 1 p.m.

Class A
Friday’s schedule
Old Forge (13-1) vs. Steelton-Highspire (12-1) at Hazleton, 7 p.m.; Clarion (14-0) vs. North Catholic (14-0) at DuBois, 7 p.m.

November 25, 2013
by Bill Hartlep

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PIAA announces enrollment cutoff figures

Later this week, the PIAA is expected to announce what classification each school district in the state will be slotted in based on the enrollment of current students in grades 9-11 for the next two-year cycle.

The organization mailed the individual school districts of their standing Friday. Some schools received their information Monday.

Below are the final numbers that will be used for each sport:

Boys sports

Baseball: Class A (1-146), AA (147-257), AAA (258-450), AAAA (451 and above).

Boys basketball: Class A (1-125), AA (126-234), AAA (235-411), AAAA (412 and above).

Boys cross country: Class A (1-207), AA (208-399), AAA (400 and above).

Football: Class A (1-174), AA (175-299), AAA (300-492), AAAA (493 and above).

Boys golf: Class AA (1-297), AAA (298 and above).

Boys soccer: Class A (1-213), AA (214-401), AAA (402 and above)

Boys swimming: Class AA (1-409), AAA (410 and above).

Boys tennis: Class AA (1-377), AAA (378 and above).

Boys track and field: Class AA (1-277), AAA (278 and above).

Boys volleyball: Class AA (1-467), AAA (468 and above).

Wrestling: Class AA (1-336), AAA (337 and above).

Girls sports

Girls basketball: Class A (1-125), AA (126-229), AAA (230-403), AAAA (404 and above).

Girls cross country: Class A (1-195), AA (196-384), AAA (385 and above).

Field hockey: Class AA (1-393), AAA (394 and above).

Girls golf: Class AA (1-302), AAA (303 and above).

Girls soccer: Class A (1-213), AA (214-393) and AAA (394 and above).

Softball: Class A (1-146), AA (147-246), AAA (247-444), AAAA (445 and above).

Girls swimming: Class AA (1-392), AAA (393 and above).

Girls tennis: Class AA (1-356), AAA (357 and above).

Girls track and field: Class AA (1-265), AAA (266 and above).

Girls volleyball: Class A (1-173), AA (174-376), AAA (377 and above).


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