iPreps

#iPreps, #TribHS

December 15, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

#TribHS weekend recap: Records tumble in PIAA title games

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South Fayette’s Hunter Hayes

#TribHS notebook: Records tumble during PIAA title games

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Clairton’s Lamont Wade and Bears coach Wayne Wade

Close loss in title game cannot diminish Clairton’s ‘great’ season, by Dave Mackall.

RECRUITING

Central Catholic linebacker Bryan Glover commits to a MAC school:

December 14, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

#TribHS football: South Fayette first to win back-to-back PIAA Class AA titles, Pine-Richland rallies but loses in Quad-A final

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South Fayette’s Scott Rzepecki, Matt O’Rourke and Ryan Schmider celebrate with the PIAA trophy

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South Fayette coach Joe Rossi receives a Gatorade shower from Noah Plack

Hayes boosts South Fayette to second straight PIAA Class AA title, by Chris Harlan.

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South Fayette’s Hunter Hayes takes the handoff from Brett Brumbaugh

Gorman: Hayes’ play on 95-yard scoring run was just perfect

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Pine-Richland seniors accept the PIAA Class AAAA runner-up trophy

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The Rams, who rallied from a 21-point deficit, react to their loss to St. Joseph’s Prep

After fourth-quarter rally, Pine-Richland falls short in PIAA Class AAAA final, by Chris Harlan.

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Pine-Richland QB Ben DiNucci passed for a PIAA finals-record 383 yards and became the first player in state history to pass for 4,000 yards in a single season.

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December 13, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

#TribHS football: Clairton, Central Valley lose in PIAA championships

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Clairton’s Lamont Wade

Gorman column

Gorman: Clairton star Lamont Wade shows class amid chaos

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Clairton quarterback Ryan Williams reacts to the loss

Class A game

Clairton falls short against Bishop Guilfoyle in PIAA Class A title game, by Dave Mackall.

A great game was marred by an ugly incident at the end, when a scuffle escalated and Clairton senior lineman Vance Gibson (54) ran onto the field and threw his helmet at a Bishop Guilfoyle opponent. Clairton could face disciplinary action for players leaving the sideline and throwing helmets.

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Clairton’s Vance Gibson throws his helmet at a Bishop Guilfoyle player

The Clairton City School District released a statement on its Facebook page:

clairton statement

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Central Valley captains carry the jersey of Dominick “Andy” Treemarchi, who died Sunday

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Archbishop Wood runs past Central Valley in PIAA Class AAA title game, by Chris Harlan.

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Central Valley star Jordan Whitehead

Despite possible coaching change, Central Valley star sticking with Pitt, won’t enroll early, by Kevin Gorman.

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December 12, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Pine-Richland’s big-play man

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D'ondre Gastion

Pine-Richland receiver D’ondre Gastion

TribHS page 2

Pine-Richland has no shortage of playmakers, but Rams coach Eric Kasperowicz sees game plans designed to stop one player in particular.

D’ondre Gastion has that kind of game-breaking ability.

“That’s important because he almost takes two of their guys every time,” Kasperowicz said. “If I look out there and see single coverage, we’re going to take a shot down the field with D’ondre — and I have all the faith in the world that he’ll come down with it.”

The Rams are throwing it to Gastion less than last season, when he had 63 catches for 731 yards and six touchdowns, but he’s actually more productive.

Mike Merhaut, approaching 100 receptions, is the top target, but Gastion keeps defenses honest. He has 57 receptions for 1,105 yards and 13 touchdowns entering Saturday’s PIAA Class AAAA final against defending champ St. Joseph’s Prep.

“We’re 15-0 right now, and I would never complain,” Gastion said. “I’m not jealous or a need-the-ball dude. We’re all just happy as a team that we’re accomplishing what we’re doing. It makes everything worthwhile. It really hasn’t hit me that we’re in the state championship.”

Gastion continues to come up big. In the WPIAL final, he threw a touchdown pass to Ben DiNucci. In the PIAA semifinal, his 8-yard scoring catch sparked a 21-point fourth quarter.

Kasperowicz loves Gastion’s ability to go deep and how he adds levity to the locker room.

“He keeps things light, always has a smile on his face,” Kasperowicz said. “He’s the ultimate team player. It’s not about him or statistics. It’s about the team. But he has big-play capabilities.”

And Gastion has an attitude of gratitude to match.

#TribHS PAGE

TribHS page 1

Pine-Richland has new look for defending champ St. Joe’s Prep, by Chris Harlan.

HITTING THE LINKS

Belle Vernon's Kaitlyn Slagus

Belle Vernon’s Kaitlyn Slagus

Belle Vernon girls shut down Ringgold, by Jeff Oliver.

Ford City hangs tough but can’t conquer Mars, by Matt Grubba.

Burrell's Nick Kotecki

Burrell’s Nick Kotecki

Burrell boys basketball team bumps up physical play, by Bill Beckner Jr.

GCC's Romano Sebastiani

Greensburg Central Catholic’s Romano Sebastiani

WPIAL runner-up Greensburg Central Catholic boys have ‘gaps to fill,’ by Andrew John.

Pair of losses help Greensburg Salem gain experience, by Alex Oltmanns.

#TribHS roundup: Quaker Valley girls win at the buzzer

#TribHS notebook: Knoch forward makes speedy recovery, by Bill Beckner Jr.

Valley News Dispatch roundup: Leechburg girls top Springdale in section opener

TribCup: West Allegheny girls off to fast start under veteran coach

Connellsville boys, Mt. Pleasant girls swim to wins, by Jason Black.

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December 11, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Central Valley’s life after death

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Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead scores winning TD

Central Valley’s Jordan Whitehead

Central Valley was supposed to spend this week celebrating its first PIAA championship berth. Instead, the Warriors mourned the death of a teammate.

Tragedy struck the school district when senior lineman Dominick “Andy” Treemarchi went into respiratory distress early Sunday and died late that night.

In a span of 48 hours, the Warriors went from the thrill of clinching their first trip to the PIAA Class AAA championship game in Hershey to the shock of suddenly losing a 17-year-old student who was a classmate, teammate and friend.

After attending the viewing Tuesday night and burial Wednesday morning for Treemarchi, Central Valley players and coaches finally can concentrate on football — a day before the Warriors play defending champion Archbishop Wood.

“Some way we’re going to try to get some normalcy as we get closer to the game,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. “You never want anybody to go through this. Unfortunately in today’s society, things like this do occur. But we’ll get through it.”

Central Valley did the right things in the 48 hours after Treemarchi’s death. The school opened its auditorium to the community, brought in grief counselors and allowed Lyons to leave his middle-school classroom to tend to his team.

At the urging of Treemarchi’s family, the Warriors elected to play football Friday instead of petitioning for a postponement.

Playing might be the best way to honor a fallen teammate and provide a necessary outlet for the rollercoaster of emotions the team experienced this week.

But this wasn’t the optimum way for the Warriors to prepare for the biggest game of their lives, and you have to wonder how they will handle any more adversity.

“We’ve got a close group of guys,” Lyons said. “Obviously, if you’re playing football this long you’ve got good leadership. …

“We’ve got to find a way to make sure our guys grieve properly but also enjoy this process of playing in the state championship game. It’s something they worked hard for.”

We often think of sports, of winning and losing, as a matter of life and death. Central Valley now knows the difference.

#TribHS PAGE

TribHS page

Central Valley prepares for ‘big’ test against Archbishop Wood o-line, by Chris Harlan.

#TribHS notebook: Trio of WPIAL runners set for national meet

HITTING THE LINKS

South Fayette's Jake Thomas

South Fayette senior guard Jake Thomas

South Fayette athletes joining forces on basketball court, by Gary Horvath.

Ford City ends rivalry with Kittanning by securing 3OT victory, by Matt Grubba.

Monessen knocks off Jeannette for first win

Daily News roundup: Norwin buzzer beater downs Franklin Regional

Burrell's Alex Moses

Burrell’s Alex Moses

Young Burrell wrestling team starts with big win, by Doug Gulasy.

Mt. Pleasant's Al Miscovich

Mt. Pleasant’s Al Miscovich

Mt. Pleasant wrestlers win tie with Scotties, by Jason Black.

Belle Vernon overpowers Connellsville, by Jeff Oliver.

#TribHS roundup: Canon-McMillan tops Trinity

Quaker Valley's Beau Tomczak

Quaker Valley’s Beau Tomczak

Youth providing Quaker Valley with answers, by Gary Horvath.

Plum’s Stonebreaker busy on ice, by Dave Schrecengost.

Armstrong loses, Freedom wins in hockey doubleheader, by Matt Grubba.

Fox Chapel’s Friedland a team leader, by Marty Stewart.

Dudzinski, Minuth hope to lead USC swimming to WPIAL title, by Karen Kadilak.

Gymnastics coach Gazda guiding trio of high school teams, by Karen Kadilak.

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December 10, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Farewell, Ty Moore: A wrestling legend (and my cousin)

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Wrestling lost a legend with the death of Ty Moore.

I lost a cousin.

Ty, a four-time PIAA champion from North Allegheny, was one of the greatest high school wrestlers ever. And not just in the WPIAL or even the state.

In 2005, Intermat Wrestling named Ty one of the best high school wrestlers of the past 20 years. Ty is a member of the WPIAL Hall of Fame, inducted in 2009 as a member of North Allegheny’s national championship team and a year later for his individual accomplishments: Setting a then-WPIAL record with 146 wins and only one loss at North Allegheny and a PIAA record for most career pins with 113, including 34 in 1990.

For me, however, Ty was the kid who always won the egg toss contest at the family picnic. Long before Ty became a household name in wrestling circles, he was just a fun-loving kid with a wicked smile who I saw every summer at the Moore family reunion. His father, Jack Moore, and my mother, Mary Catherine (Moore) Gorman, were first cousins. That made Ty my third cousin, twice removed. But, really, who was counting?

Cousins are cousins, and he was family.

Ty and his younger brother Teague Moore could toss eggs to each other from 20 yards away, cupping their hands to catch them without a crack. We were always amazed at the agility of these tiny, muscle-bound kids. We knew they were wrestlers. And good ones, too, because Ty would sometimes miss the picnic while traveling to faraway places like Turkey for an international tournament. But I had no idea how dominant Ty was until his freshman year at North Allegheny, when I saw his name atop the 98-pound rankings.

“Hey, that’s funny,” I told my mother. “He has the same name as my cousin.”

Imagine my astonishment when she replied, “That is your cousin.”

That was always a source of pride in my family, as well as in my profession. The mere mention of being related to Ty and Tigger Moore brought smiles to our faces and instant credibility to a conversation, even though I haven’t watched much high school wrestling, let alone cover the sport, and my knowledge of it is fairly basic. After an absolutely dominant high school career, Ty surprised many by spurning some of the nation’s top programs to attend North Carolina, where his 80-31-2 record, including 26 pins, was viewed as disappointing.

Even so, he was always respected by his opponents…

…as well as the wrestler who broke his record for most victories:

In the fall of 1996, I spent some time with Ty while he was living with his sister in Dallas and I was an intern at the Dallas Morning News. He confided that he was going through a bit of an identity crisis now that his wrestling career was over. After a lifetime of being Ty Moore, Wrestler, he was just another college graduate looking for a job. Imagine that feeling, of worrying that you might have reached your peak in your teenage years and what it must be like to try to recapture that euphoria of being the best at what you do.

But Ty took great pride in the success of Teague, who won three WPIAL titles, a state title at North Allegheny, an NCAA title at Oklahoma State, finished third in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials and now is the head coach at American University. Ty and Ray Brinzer , his former teammate and good friend, founded the Angry Fish Wrestling Club, which produced a handful of NCAA champions.

The sign of a great coach:

I was stunned to learn of Ty’s sudden death. My first thoughts turned to his mother, Pat, always quick with a smile and so proud of her kids (you can see both while holding his trophy in the highlight video); and to Tigger, who shared the sad news on social media, calling Ty “a mentor to many” and “my idol.”

Ty Moore, my cousin first and a wrestling legend second, is gone from us far too soon.

#TribHS PAGE

PTSHS 1210[1]

South Fayette aims to become first AA team to win consecutive PIAA titles, by Bill West.

Gorman: South Fayette has ‘No Fly’ Zone

Cal Area opens Teets’ job after two seasons, by Jeff Oliver.

OFF THE GRID

Kiski Area's Justin Evans attempts to block Plum's

Kiski Area’s Justice Evans (4) attempts to block a shot by Plum’s Adam Mahr (20)

Plum avenges playoff loss with win over Kiski Area, by Bill Beckner Jr.

#TribHS roundup: Lafko scores 37, as Hampton ends New Castle’s winning streak

California and Carmichaels

California’s Tray Matthews (10) goes airborne for a layup past Carmichael’s Jacob Kinsell (30)

California shuts down Carmichaels

Valley News Dispatch roundup: Freeport beats Apollo-Ridge in non-section upset

Daily Courier roundup: Southmoreland boys improve to 3-0

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December 9, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Tragedy strikes Central Valley

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It took less than three days for undefeated Central Valley to go from the euphoria of winning a ticket to the PIAA Class AAA championship game Friday at Hersheypark Stadium to reeling from the death of a team member, Dominick “Andy” Treemarchi, by Matthew Santoni.

Central Valley players took to Twitter to express their grief…

December 6, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

PIAA semifinals recap

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Pine-Richland's Mike Merhaut catches game-winning touchdown against Wilson

Pine-Richland’s Mike Merhaut catches the game-winning touchdown against West Lawn Wilson

Strong fourth quarter carries Pine-Richland into PIAA championship game, by Chris Harlan.

South Fayette's Brett Beltz sacks Hickory QB Luke Brennan

South Fayette’s Brett Beltz sacks Hickory quarterback Luke Brennan

Defense shines as South Fayette returns to PIAA championship game, by Bill West.

South Fayette QB Brett Brumbaugh

South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh

My column on how South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh’s brains help set state record
as all-time leading passer.

HS football page

Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead scores winning TD

Central Valley’s Jordan Whitehead scores the winning touchdown against Bishop McDevitt

Central Valley tops Bishop McDevitt, advances to PIAA Class AAA title game, by Chris Harlan.

Clairton's Donald Alexanders sacks Sharpsville's Luke Henwood

Clairton’s Donald Alexander sacks Sharpsville’s Luke Henwood

Clairton marches past Sharpsville, into PIAA championship, by Dave Mackall.

Gorman column

My column on how Canon-McMillan’s inspirational Luke Blanock stood #LukeStrong in his return to playing basketball by making his first career varsity start on the one-year anniversary of his cancer diagnosis.

Not only did Canon-McMillan rally around Blanock…

… but so did the Big Macs’ opponents

ON THE HARDWOOD

HS hoops page (1)

Hempfield boys basketball team subdues Greensburg Salem, by Paul Schofield.

Connellsville's Duston Wiggins looks to pass past Laurel Highlands' Tyler Eadie

Connellsville’s Duston Wiggins looks to pass past Laurel Highlands’ Tyler Eadie

Laurel Highlands edges Connellsville to spoil Hedrick’s debut, by Jason Black.

St. Joseph's Noah Ferguson breaks through Freeport's Kevin Lynch and Kris Keppel

St. Joseph’s Noah Ferguson breaks through Freeport’s Kevin Lynch and Kris Keppel

Freeport uses balanced scoring to rout St. Joseph, by George Guido.

Ringgold’s Schmidt, a WVU recruit, grabs 30 rebounds

#TribHS roundup: Vincentian wins battle of No. 1s

Daily News roundup: Sporio’s triple double leads EF girls to win

Leader Times roundup: Burrell tops Kittanning

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December 5, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

PIAA semifinal podcast

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There won’t be an iPreps LIVE blog tonight, given that there are only two PIAA football playoff games involving WPIAL schools, but you can listen to a pre-game podcast of The Kevin Gorman Show on TribLIVE Radio. Special guests include South Fayette QB Brett Brumbaugh and Lions coach Joe Rossi, the Trib’s Chris Harlan and Pine-Richland QB Ben DiNucci, who was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania player of the year.

Both Brumbaugh and DiNucci have a chance Saturday to break state records set by Port Allegany’s Matt Bodamer from 2009-12. Brumbaugh needs 105 yards to become the state’s all-time leading passer, while DiNucci is 239 yards shy of breaking the state’s single-season passing yards mark. Listen here for their interviews:

For PIAA football playoff updates, follow the Trib high school sports staff @TribHSInsider and Chris Harlan @CHarlan_Trib.

Check iPreps tonight for Part I of the PIAA semifinal recap — South Fayette and Pine-Richland both play Saturday afternoon — and a roundup from the opening night of WPIAL basketball, including my column on a player making a comeback on a special anniversary.

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December 5, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Merhaut makes most of senior season

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Pine-Richland's Mike Merhaut

Pine-Richland’s Mike Merhaut

Pine-Richland now boasts not only the Gatorade player of the year in quarterback Ben DiNucci, who can break the state’s single-season passing record Saturday, but a player that Rams coach Eric Kasperowicz calls one of the best all-around players in the WPIAL.

Yes, Mike Merhaut is Ram tough — and has had that kind of season.

The Pine-Richland senior leads the WPIAL in receiving, and also stars on defense at free safety and on special teams as a kick and punt returner. Merhaut has scored 17 touchdowns, including three on returns, and has scored once in every game but the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal blowout of McKeesport.

“Getting into the end zone is one of the most exciting things,” Merhaut said, “and it’s happened almost every game.”

That Merhaut has been one of the most dangerous players in the WPIAL isn’t a total surprise, at least not to him. Kasperowicz calls him the pound-for-pound strongest player on the team, noting that Merhaut squats 420 and power cleans 290 and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds. A West Virginia assistant sent Merhaut a text message on the bus ride to Altoona last week, offering him the opportunity to be a preferred walk-on for the Mountaineers.

“I knew I had it in me. I didn’t know it would happen my senior year, but I’m definitely not shocked,” Merhaut said. “I put in the work, so I’ve worked for it.”

And the Rams are only one game away from a trip to Hershey, something that hasn’t happened since 2003, when Pirates second baseman Neil Walker was the star receiver/safety for the Rams.

“I got a chance to talk with him,” Merhaut said. “It was really inspiring because he came from Pine-Richland and he’s such a success. We talked about when his team went to states. The main reason they got there was working as a team.”

#TribHS PAGE

HS page (5)

Pace-setting by center part of Pine-Richland’s run to PIAA semifinals, by Bill West.

LIKE BEN: Pine-Richland senior quarterback Ben DiNucci (6-3, 190) on Thursday was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year, becoming the seventh WPIAL player to earn the honor. He has thrown for 3,713 yards and 38 touchdowns on 225-of-316 passing (71 percent).
2014: Ben DiNucci, Pine-Richland
2005: Justin King, Gateway
2002: Steve Breaston, Woodland Hills
1997: LaVar Arrington, North Hills
1992: Cliff Stroud, Highlands
1989: Sean Gilbert, Aliquippa
1988: Curtis Bray, Gateway

Hazlett named football coach at Vincentian Academy

Trib Cup: North Allegheny, Central Valley, Shady Side Academy, Sewickley Academy lead fall sports standings.

HOOPS PREVIEWS

HS hoops page (2)

City League basketball preview: Defending league champion Allderdice boys have talent, size to again compete for title, by Alex Oltmanns.

Hempfield's Lexi Irwin

Hempfield’s Lexi Irwin

WPIAL runner-up Hempfield taking aim at first-place finish, by Karen Kadilak.

Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro

Burrell’s Sydney Bordonaro

Versatile backcourt players spearhead changing of guard in A-K Valley, by Bill Beckner Jr.

Valley's Caleb Davis

Valley’s Caleb Davis

Returning entire starting lineup, Valley boys have higher expectations, by Bill Beckner Jr.

Valley's Kaylyn Iacopino

Valley’s Kaylyn Iacopino

Numbers up for Valley girls basketball, by Bill Beckner Jr.

Blairsville's Chelsey Koren

Blairsville’s Chelsey Koren

Heritage Conference preview: Blairsville girls seek third straight Heritage title, by Paul Schofield.

ON THE MAT

HS wrestling page

Wrestling preview: Defending PIAA champ Pletcher hopes to carry Latrobe, by Paul Schofield.

Franklin Regional's Spencer Lee

Franklin Regional’s Spencer Lee

Defending champs Franklin Regional seek to repeat, by Michael Love.

Penn-Trafford's Devin Austin

Penn-Trafford’s Devin Austin

Penn-Trafford wrestlers ready to get started, by Nathan Smith.

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