iPreps

#iPreps, #TribHS

November 18, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Highway to Heinz: Quips on record run

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PTR-FTAB14-Aliquippa02-082414

Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac watches Kaezon Pugh in practice

Even after Aliquippa lost the first backfield to feature a pair of 4,000-yard rushers in Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson to graduation, Mike Zmijanac told his Quips that he thought they could return to the WPIAL Class AA championship game.

“I thought we had a chance,” Zmijanac said. “I told them in the spring that a lot of people thought we were going to suck after those guys left, but that I thought we were going to fool them. The places that have a program, they’re never bad. … It’s the program.”

Aliquippa is a program on a record run. The Quips are in the WPIAL final for the seventh consecutive year, an unprecedented stretch that includes three Class AA championships, which is something that has come to be expected at Aliquippa.

“It’s great. I think it’s fantastic,” Zmijanac said. “It’s what you should be doing with young people, setting expectations for success.”

That run also includes three WPIAL finals losses, which aren’t recognized on the rooftop of the field house at Carl A. Aschman Stadium, aka The Pit.

“That’s a fact. It’s not motivation. It’s a fact. That’s the way it is,” Zmijanac said. “We’re not going to put runners-up on the roof.”

Zmijanac makes it clear that nobody downgrades the Quips teams for not winning a championship, but that the goal is clear. And even though he never misses a chance to take a jab at an opponent, poking fun at South Fayette’s decided size advantage (293 boys in grades 9-11 to Aliquippa’s 138), the Aliquippa coach is impressed with the Lions’ 28-game winning streak, which includes a 34-28 victory over the Quips last year.

“They’re really good, defending state champs and haven’t come close to losing,” Zmijanac said. “That’s what championship games are for. It should be a great football game.”

#TribHS PAGE

HS page

Where record-setting quarterback Brett Brumbaugh gets the Lion’s share of attention at South Fayette, Bill West takes a look at Aliquippa QB Darrien Fields, who will beready when his number is called.

TribHS highlight reel: WPIAL again rules Lincoln Park guard ineligible until Jan. 21, by Chris Harlan.

HITTING THE LINKS

Southmoreland's Austin Griffiths

Southmoreland’s Austin Griffiths

Southmoreland wrestler Griffiths ruled ineligible by the PIAA, by Jason Black.

#TribHS roundup: Deer Lakes’ Rupprecht scores 10 goals in win

Frazier girls basketball coach Ken Poling

New Frazier girls basketball coach Ken Poling

Frazier grad Poling set to coach school’s girls basketball team, by Jason Black.

McKeesport football team left it all on the field this season, by Dave Mackall.

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November 17, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

#TribHS weekend recap: Avonworth takes Highway to Heinz

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A banner was hung July 7 outside a house on Mt. Nebo Road with “Highway to Heinz Brandon No. 45″ painted in red letters. It has served as a daily reminder for Duke Johncour, who lives 300 yards away and passes the house on his way to Avonworth, that the Antelopes were destined for a drive to the WPIAL Class A championship.

The Brandon who wears No. 45 for Avonworth is Brandon Wasko, a senior captain whose play at fullback and middle linebacker fulfilled the ‘Lopes hopes.

The house belongs to Wasko’s maternal grandmother, Ruth Hogg, and her blind faith paid off when Wasko made three pivotal plays in what George Guido calls Avonworth’s signature drive in a 28-21 victory over defending PIAA champion Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Friday night in the WPIAL semifinals signature drive that lifted the Antelopes (11-1) to a date with Clairton (12-0) at Heinz Field.

“Seeing that poster, that piece of cloth, it just motivates you,” Wasko said. “Seeing that sign every day, knowing that we had the opportunity last year and didn’t seize it and knowing that this is my last shot, I had to make something out of it. That meant the world to me.”

What meant the world to Johncour was not just the plays that Wasko made but the one he didn’t. Johncour preaches a focus on family to his Avonworth team, that it’s not about the individual. So, after a handful of heartbreaking losses to North Catholic and in the playoffs, Wasko made a play that not only clinched the victory but left quite an impression on his coach.

With 49 seconds remaining, Wasko intercepted an Adam Sharlow pass.

“The whole field was in front of him,” Johncour said, “but he took two steps and took a knee. He knew the stakes. All he had to do was beat the quarterback and one or two linemen downfield. He said, ‘All I could think about was Heinz.’ We preach that it’s not about you. That was a representation. He could have had a pick-six if he wanted it, but he also could have fumbled and they could have picked it up and scored.”

Instead, Wasko proved his grandmother’s banner prophetic and turned Avonworth’s long road to Heinz Field — the ‘Lopes haven’t played for a WPIAL title since 1959 — into a short trip on Friday.

#TribHS PAGE

HS page (2)

#TribHS highlight reel:
Practices for winter sports start today

HITTING THE LINKS

Peters Township boys soccer

Peters Township earns PIAA Class AAA title, by Bill West.

Canon-McMillan girls soccer

Central Bucks West goalkeeper Grace Bendon makes a save over Canon-McMillan’s Allison Thomas

Central Bucks West defeats Canon-McMillan in overtime to claim PIAA Class AAA girls soccer crown, by Bill West.

Brashear's Jerimiah Burkes

Brashear’s Jerimiah Burkes

Brashear bows out of state playoffs, by John Dudley.

Blairsville's Deion Robinson

Blairsville’s Deion Robinson loses the ball as he is hit by Portage’s Michael Bryja

Portage rallies from 18-point deficit to beat Blairsville, by Paul Schofield.

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November 15, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

#TribHS football: WPIAL semifinals recap

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Gorman page

Gorman: ‘Chain gang’ links Central’s defense

Looks like someone viewed the following as bulletin-board material…

WPIAL SEMIFINALS

CLASS AAAA

GTR cover

Unlikely offensive star lifts Central Catholic past Penn-Trafford, by Paul Schofield.

Pine-Richland, Slomka dismantle McKeesport in semifinals, by Dave Mackall.

November 14, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

#TribHS football: WPIAL semifinals LIVE blog

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Welcome to the WPIAL playoffs semifinal edition of the iPreps LIVE blog, where we will provide commentary, WPIAL football playoff game updates and the running Twitter feed from the #TribHS sports staff on your right.

To get ready for pre-game, listen to the podcast of today’s The Kevin Gorman Show on TribLIVE Radio, featuring guests John Fedko of WPXI Skylights previewing Friday’s top games, the Trib’s Chris Harlan to discuss the rise of Neshannock football and the West Allegheny-Thomas Jefferson WPIAL Class AAA semifinal game and interviews with Central Catholic coach Terry Totten and Vikings linebacker Bryan Glover and defensive lineman Richie Ryan:

Looks like a great game between Ohio Valley rivals Avonworth and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

A pair of Parkway Conference teams (Central Valley and West Allegheny) are beating two Big 9 members, 76-0, at the half.

From #TribHS editor Bill Hartlep: What does Bill Cherpak tell TJ at halftime? My answer: I have never coached a team getting mercy ruled at halftime. If you have any pride, play this second half like it’s your last game. … The Jaguars’ Jacob Stein returns the opening kick of the second half for a TD.

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Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak and West Allegheny’s Bob Palko at the coin toss

ARE YOU READY?

WPIAL playoff game updates from #TribHS reporters:

CLASS AAAA

Penn-Trafford vs. Central Catholic
From Paul Schofield and Nathan Smith at Norwin Knights Stadium: Doesn’t look like running back Grant Foster or cornerback Joe Tindal are dressed for Central Catholic. … Vinny Emanuele scores on 3-yard run and Central Catholic is up 7-0 over Penn-Trafford early. … Brian Totten scores on 10-yard run, and Central Catholic goes up 14-0 over Penn-Trafford with 3:46 left in the first quarter. … Joe Peduzzi scores on a 27-yard catch and run from Brett Laffoon. Penn-Trafford cuts the Central Catholic lead to 14-7. … Penn-Trafford recovers onside kick. Jonah Lisbon hits Timmy Vecchio on 50-yard scoring pass. We’re tied up 14-14. … And Penn-Trafford gets another onside kick! The Warriors going all out. … Devin Austin with a 1-yard TD run. Missed extra point makes it Penn-Trafford 20, Central Catholic 14 with 6:18 left in second quarter. … Central moves Johnny Petrishen to QB and a 43-yard run sets up Damar Hamlin’s 24-yard TD run to give Central Catholic a 21-20 lead over Penn-Trafford with 5:21 left until halftime. … Central pulls some trickery, with a flea flicker that ends with Gunnar Frerotte tossing a 56-yard TD pass to Petrishen. … Mike Navarro hits Hamlin for a 29-yard scoring pass to give Central a 35-20 lead with 42.5 left in half. … Petrishen runs it in from 53 yards out. Central Catholic leads Penn-Trafford 42-20 in the 3rd quarter. … Penn-Trafford with some trickery and quarterback Brett Laffoon catches a 9-yard halfback option pass from Austin for a TD. Warriors still trail Central Catholic 42-27. … Mitchell MacZura hits a 36-yard field goal, and Pittsburgh Central Catholic leads, 45-27. … Central Catholic scores with 1:57 left on a 6-yard run by Navarro for a 52-34 lead. FINAL SCORE: Central Catholic 52, Penn-Trafford 34.

McK-PR at NA

McKeesport vs. Pine-Richland
From Dave Mackall at North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium: Connor Slomka scores on a 1-yard run to cap a 71-yard drive for Pine-Richland that saw QB Ben DiNucci go 8 for 8 for 58 yards on the opening drive. … Pine-Richland recovered a fumble with McKeesport driving in PR territory. DiNucci promptly complete 40 yard pass to D’ondre Gastion and Slomka scores his second TD on a 5-yard run for a 14-0 lead at 4:58 of the first quarter. … Tymar Sutton scores on an 85-yard run, with a kick by Caleb Schork, as McKeesport cuts it to 14-7 with nine seconds left in the first. … DiNucci has completed 11 of 13 passes for 127 yards. … Luke Everett scores on a 13-yard pass from DiNucci — his 34th this season — and Pine-Richland leads, 21-7, at 5:10 of the second quarter. … At the half at North Allegheny, top-seeded Pine-Richland leads McKeesport, 21-7, in the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals. DiNucci is 18 of 21 for 187 and a touchdown. Five different receivers have caught passes for Pine-Richland, led by Michael Merhaut, with eight, and Everett, with 6. McKeesport missed a great chance to pull within a touchdown at the break, when Pine-Richland’s Brendan Burnham intercepted a pass by Sutton on fourth down in the end zone after the Tigers had marched to the Pine-Richland 6. Sutton, in at quarterback for McKeesport in place of TyWann Smith, has gained 143 yards on 11 carries out of the Tigers’ option offense. Sutton relieved Smith last week and led McKeesport to a 20-5 victory over Plum in the quarterfinals. Smith, who injured his shoulder against Plum and missed the entire second half, has seen action tonight at wide receiver and at cornerback. … Slomka with 69-yard TD run to put Pine-Richland up 28-7 over McKeesport. It’s the third TD for Slomka, who has rushed for 113 yards. … Slomka extends his school record at Pine-Richland for touchdowns in a season with 31 on a 9-yard run for a 35-7 lead with 5:01 left in the third. … Slomka scores his fifth TD, on a 12-yard run, as the Rams take a 42-7 lead. Slomka finishes with 21 carries for 179 yards and five TDs, while DiNucci goes 22 of 26 for 272 yards, with one TD pass, and Mike Merhaut has 104 yards on 11 carries. Sutton leads McKeesport with 21 carries for 141 yards. FINAL SCORE: Pine-Richland 42, McKeesport 7.

CLASS AAA

Thomas Jefferson vs. West Allegheny
From Chris Harlan at Bethel Park Stadium: West Allegheny’s Tyler Amedure broke one tackle and bounced off another for a 65-yard punt return to lead 6-0 with 6:11 left in the first. The extra point kick failed. … After the touchdown, TJ’s Austin Kemp fumbles on first down. Five plays later, West Allegheny reaches the end zone again. Terence Stephens runs five yards to take a 13-0 lead. … Down 13-0, Thomas Jefferson turned aggressive but Kemp was stopped short on fourth-and-2 at midfield. … Chayse Dillon adds a 2-yard TD run 26 seconds into the second quarter for a 20-0 lead. … Dillon sprints 55 yards for another touchdown and a 27-0 lead at 8:22 of the second quarter. … Whitney White’s 65-yard TD run gives West Allegheny a 34-0 lead. … Stephens runs 25 yards for another touchdown and West Allegheny leads, 41-0, with 3:27 left in the first half. … Which begs the question: When was the last time TJ was mercy ruled? … West Allegheny’s last three touchdown drives lasted two plays, one play and one play. … West Allegheny scored four touchdowns in a five-play span. That’s about as dominant as you get. … How does TJ respond? Jacob Stein returns opening kickoff of second half 96 yards for touchdown. FINAL SCORE: West Allegheny 41, Thomas Jefferson 7.

Central Valley vs. Ringgold
From Les Harvath at Chartiers Valley HS Stadium: CV recovers opening squib kickoff, and Jordan Whitehead scores on a 6-yard run, with a David Schmidt kick to cap a five-play, 30-yard drive for a 7-0 lead. … CV’s Preston Johnson 2 run, with a Brandon Jugan kick, for a 14-0 lead. … Johnson’s blocked punt sets up Whitehead’s 18-yard TD run for a 21-0 lead. … Chase Miladin scores on a 6-yard pass from John George to make it 28-0. … Whitehead’s interception gives the Warriors possession and they go 87 yards on seven plays, capped by George’s 6-yard TD run for a 35-0 lead over Ringgold. … Backup QB Chris Callaghan scores on a 4-yard run to make it 42-0. … George Martin with 3-yard TD run for Ringgold. Central Valley 41, Ringgold 13 with 3:14 left in game. FINAL SCORE: Central Valley 41, Ringgold 13.

CLASS AA

South Fayette vs. Seton-La Salle
From Ray Judy at Peters Township Stadium: Hunter Hayes scores from 12 yards out to give South Fayette a 7-0 lead over Seton-La Salle with 8:12 left in 1st quarter. … Brett Brumbaugh with a 6-yard TD pass to Ryan Schmider gives South Fayette a 14-0 lead with 4:28 left in 1st quarter. … Tyler Perone’s 39-yard TD pass to Danzel McKinley-Lewis puts Seton-La Salle within 7. South Fayette leads, 14-7, with 7:32 left in 1st half. … Hayes runs for 15-yard touchdown. South Fayette leading Seton LaSalle, 21-7. … South Fayette’s Jack Relihan intercepts a Perone pass and returns it 40 yards for a TD to give the Lions a 28-7 lead with 4:19 left in 1st half. … Seton-La Salle’s Ricky Mellick scores on a 1-yard TD run to close South Fayette’s lead to 28-13. Rebels recover ensuing onside kick. … Brumbaugh finds Dan Trimbur for a 6-yard TD pass to give South Fayette a 35-13 lead with 6:40 left in 4th quarter. … Perone connects with Mellick on an 18-yard TD pass to cut South Fayette’s lead to 35-21 with 5:37 to go. FINAL SCORE: South Fayette 35, Seton-La Salle 21.

Aliquippa vs. Washington
From Brian Duermeyer at West Allegheny’s Joe P. DiMichela Stadium: Quips take early 8-0 lead, as Kaezon Pugh scores on a 1-yard run, followed by a Stephon McGinnis two-point conversion. … After a 70-yard run by Pugh to the Wash High 5, DiMontae Bronaugh loses his second fumble. … Snap sails over Wash High QB Jonathan Spina’s head, but he picks it up and finds DeQuay Isbell for a 60-yard TD pass to cut it to 8-6. … Pugh answers with a 40-yard run to the Washington 2, followed by a Darrien Fields 2-yard scoring run and a two-point toss to Bobby Cashaw for a 16-6 Quips lead. … Isbell hauls in a 40-yard pass from Spina to give Little Prexies good field position. They had a third-and-goal at the 1 when the first quarter ended. (Isbell has two catches for 109 yards). … Spina scores on a 1-yard run, but the conversion fails. Quips lead, 16-12. … Quips are their own worst enemy at this point, with two turnovers, four penalties and allowing a broken play to go for a touchdown. … Kurt Adkins’ 67-yard run and Malik Wells’ conversion gives Wash High a 20-16 lead. … After scoring on three consecutive drives, Wells picks off Fields to give the Little Prexies possesion at midfield. Third turnover for the Quips. … Aliquippa gets a big turnover on a Sheldon Jeter interception. … Pugh scores on a 9-yard run, but Quips’ conversion fails so they cling to a 22-20 lead with 2:51 left in the half. … With Washington’s backfield already ravaged by injury, Adkins goes down and hobbles off. … Anthony Barton scores on a 6-yard run but the kick fails, and Quips lead, 28-20, with 4:38 left in the third. … Spina answers with a 36-yard run to set up a first-and-goal at the 1. Wash High, however, is stopped on first, second and third downs. On fourth-and-goal at the 1, Malik Wells scores to cut it to 28-26, but Wash High draws a dead-ball personal foul penalty and the two-point conversion to tie will come from the 18. … The conversion pass fails, and Quips hold a 28-26 edge with 1:55 left in third. … Pugh has rushed for 221 yards on 17 carries. Ambridge transfer Stephon McGinnis has a 16-yard catch on third-and-16 to give the Quips a first down at the Wash High 12 at the end of the third. … Pugh scores his third TD, on a 12-yard run, and then scores the two-point conversion for a 36-26 lead. … Quips’ defense comes up with back-to-back sacks, then a Darnell Gardner interception. Pugh scores his fourth TD on a 12-yard run for a 42-26 lead. … Quips take victory formation. Pugh has 24 carries for 285 yards and four TDs. … FINAL SCORE: Aliquippa 44, Washington 26.

CLASS A

Clairton vs. Neshannock
From Mark Kaboly at Canon-McMillan Stadium: Lamont Wade scores on a 55-yard run to give Bears a 6-0 lead with 9:30 left in the first quarter. … QB Frank Antuono’s 60-yard run sets up an Eli Owens 3-yard TD run to give Neshannock a 7-6 lead. … Jimmy Medure scores on a 23-yard catch on 4th gives Neshannock a 14-6 lead with 311 left in first. … Wade answers with a 65-yard run on ensuing play, but two-point conversion attempt failed. Neshannock leads, 14-12. Wade has six carries for 120 yards, two TDs. … Harrison Dreher scores on a 1-yard run on fourth down, and Aaron Matthews’ two-point run gives Clairton a 20-14 lead with 9:07 left in the first half. … Wade scores on a 17-yard run to cap an 11-play, 84-yard drive and give Clairton a 26-14 lead with 2:41 until halftime. … Eli Owens 11 run set up by Medure’s 57-yard catch and run. Clairton leads, 26-21, with 2:08 left. … Clairton fumbles ensuing kickoff, but gets an interception on the next play. … Antuono 1 run on fourth down and Neshannock reclaims lead, 28-26, with 4:52 left in third. … Clairton answers. Wade follows a 45-yard kick return with an 11-yard run, then scores on a 28-yard run to give Bears the lead over Neshannock, 34-28. .. After three quarters, Wade has 18 carries for 213 yards and 3 TDs. … Wade scores on a 15-yard run, then adds a successful two-pt conversion run to give Bears a 42-28 lead with 9:19 left. Wade now has 24 carries for 260 yards, five TDs. … Seth Dueitt scores on a 5-yard pass from Antuono to cut it to 42-35 with 6:26 left. … And Neshannock recovers the onsides kick. Neshannock has the ball on the 9-yard line with 1:50 left. Clairton leads, 42-35. … Antuono scores on a 1-yard run to tie it at 42-42 with 1:17 left! … It goes to overtime, and Wade (who else?) scores on a 10-yard run for a 48-42 Clairton victory. Wade finishes with 24 carries for 270 and five TDs, while Neshannock’s Owens runs for 104 yards and two TDs on 22 carries and Antuono adds 108 yards and two TDs on 22 carries. FINAL SCORE: Clairton 48, Neshannock 42 (OT).

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth
From George Guido at Mars Athletic Complex: North Catholic fumbles on the second play. Avonworth’s Kurt Niklaus recovered and the ‘Lopes take over at the 32. … ‘Lopes take a 7-0 lead on a 20-yard run by Jamal Hughley three plays later. … A 20-yard TD run by P.J. Fulmore puts Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic up 14-7 on Avonworth. … Fulmore has 16 carries for 82 yards and has passed three players on the WPIAL career rushing list in first half, including Wash High’s Brian Davis, who last played in 1984. … Avonworth ties it up 14-14 with North Catholic on a 50-yard TD run by Hughley. … Adam Sharlow finds Darian Mercurio for a 79-yard TD pass. North Catholic 21, Avonworth 14 in the third quarter. … Avonworth ties it at 21-21 on a 2-yard TD pass from Josh Drwal to John Gould. … A 2-yard TD run by Brandon Wasko caps a 17-play, 93-yard drive and gives Avonworth the lead, 28-21, against top-seeded North Catholic with 2:59 remaining in the game. … Avonworth fumbles. North Catholic regains possession with 1:27 left in game. … Wasko with an interception to seal it, and the defending PIAA champions go down. FINAL SCORE: Avonworth 28, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 21.

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November 14, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Time is now for Neshannock

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Neshannock might be the biggest underdog of the WPIAL semifinals, given that it has to play Class A perennial power Clairton, but coach Fred Mozzocio believes his Lancers have a chance because they are focused on WIN: What’s Important Now.

Two years ago, I wrote about Neshannock’s magical season that saw the Lancers record their first-ever WPIAL playoff victory, over Jefferson-Morgan, then beat Monessen in the quarterfinals before losing to Clairton, 37-7, in the semifinals.

Among the sophomores who saw playing time for that Lancers team were running back Eli Owens, tight end-linebacker Jimmy Medure (who has an offer to play at the U.S. Air Force Academy), receivers Seth Dueitt, Rocco Fazio, Tyler Perry and Jeff Sanflippo and linemen Zach Barnes and Adam Wawrzynski.

“It’s a fearless group. A lot of the young men playing in this game played in that game as sophomores, so they’re accustomed to their style of football and the atmosphere of playoff football now,” said Mozzocio, who was impressed by former Bears coach Tom Nola’s post-game gesture. “It was nice of Coach Nola, as soon as it ended, he came into our locker room and expressed his respect for our kids and the effort they put into the game. It was something that was appreciated by not only myself but our staff and our kids.”

Neshannock reached the semifinals again last season, when it lost to eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion North Catholic, but there was uncertainty at the start of this season because of the graduation of quarterback and three-sport star Ernie Burkes. That’s when a sophomore stepped forward and claimed the starting job. Mozzocio says Frank Antuono, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, is probably the most powerful quarterback in the state. He started five games at defensive tackle as a freshman, starts at inside linebacker this fall and bench-presses 350 pounds and squats 500. He also has passed for more than 1,000 yards.

“We lost an awful lot of good football players to graduation,” Mozzocio said. “There was a lot of concern at certain positions, a lot of doubt by some of our fans as to what was going to take place. Our first two scrimmages, we were scratching our heads. That’s the most glaring, because it’s the quarterback position. Without a quarterback, any team is going to struggle. We’ve been very fortunate that Frank Antuono has come into that role. He’s done a phenomenal job.”

Now, for the third straight season, Neshannock is within one game of making it to the WPIAL final for the first time. Mozzocio promises that the Lancers won’t be intimidated by their opponent.

“For 48 minutes, we give it everything we have. We lay it all on the line. Hey, sometimes it might not be enough. If not, we’ll be the first to go across the field and shake their hands. We respect everybody but we don’t fear anybody,” Mozzocio said. “Even for the teams that have been there in the past, to get that opportunity that special moment to run onto Heinz Field and represent your school district and community and have your fans there watching you, the honor and prestige of that is just unfathomable.”

Just not as unfathomable as it used to be.

#TribHS PAGE

HS page (1)

Greensburg Central Catholic sets sights on PIAA volleyball gold, by Bill West.

HITTING THE LINKS

Trib Cup page

Previewing the PIAA soccer championships, by Bill West.

#TribCup: Freedom enjoys unprecedented success as underdog, by Brian Graham.

Blairsville RB Deion Robinson

McKeesport defense

Plum quarterback Wil Fuhrer (11) is brought down in the backfield by McKeesport’s Joseph Krimm (left), Justice Smith (center), and Jahsai Allen (right)

McKeesport defense to be tested by Pine-Richland in WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals, by Dave Mackall.

Speaking of defense, Central Catholic junior cornerback Damar Hamlin received another big offer…

November 13, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

#TribHS football: WPIAL semifinals preview

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McKinley-Lewis column page

Gorman: After missing first South Fayette game, McKinley-Lewis could be Seton-La Salle’s missing piece in WPIAL semifinal rematch.

#TribHS football notebook: School-day WPIAL finals offers challenges for administrators, by Chris Harlan.

WPIAL SEMIFINALS PREVIEW CAPSULES

CLASS AAAA

WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal preview page

Penn-Trafford vs. Central Catholic at Norwin, by Paul Schofield.

McKeesport vs. Pine-Richland at North Allegheny, by Dave Mackall.

CLASS AAA

WPIAL Class AAA semifinal preview page

Central Valley vs. Ringgold at Chartiers Valley

West Allegheny vs. Thomas Jefferson at Bethel Park, by Chris Harlan.

CLASS AA

WPIAL Class AA semifinal preview page

South Fayette vs. Seton-La Salle at Peters Township

Aliquippa vs. Washington at West Allegheny, by Bill West.

CLASS A

WPIAL Class A semifinal preview page

Clairton vs. Neshannock at Canon-McMillan

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth, by Bill West.

MORE PLAYOFF FOOTBALL

Karns City football team seeks District 9 three-peat vs. St. Mary’s, by Matt Grubba.

HITTING THE LINKS

Holl resigns as Seneca Valley football coach, by Kevin Gorman.

South Fayette's Brett Brumbaugh

South Fayette QB Brett Brumbaugh

Choosing Duquesne about home, family for South Fayette’s Brumbaugh, by Gary Horvath.

Kiski Area athletic facilities

Installation of artificial turf on a field behind Kiski Area High School should be completed by Thanksgiving.

Kiski Area’s work on athletic facilities progressing, by Doug Gulasy.

Baldwin's Doug Altavilla

Baldwin QB Doug Altavilla

Baldwin’s Altavilla finishes career with almost 5,000 career passing yards, by Ray Fisher.

Hempfield

Hempfield turns eye to future, by Alex Oltmanns.

Plum RB Nick Coxon

Plum RB Nick Coxon

Plum football coach proud of effort in turnaround season, by Michael Love.

Franklin Regional's DJ Riga

Franklin Regional’s DJ Riga

Franklin Regional’s run stopped short of semifinals, by Michael Love.

Greensburg Salem football works through growing pains, by Andrew John.

Southmoreland's Tommy Pisula

Southmoreland’s Tommy Pisula

Southmoreland football team’s season falls short of goals, expectations, by Mark King.

Shady Side Academy's Louis Berry IV

Shady Side Academy’s Louis Berry IV

Shady Side Academy coach Havern reflects on season, by Marty Stewart.

Jeannette's Julian Batts

Jeannette’s Julian Batts

Jeannette football campaign comes to bittersweet end, by Dave Moio.

OFF THE GRID

Freeport's Bria Otwell 2

Freeport's Bria Otwell 1

Freeport’s Bria Otwell

Freeport swimmer Otwell chooses Towson, by Doug Gulasy.

Baldwin's Mackenzie Voelker

Baldwin’s Mackenzie Voelker

Volleyball is a therapeutic endeavor for Baldwin’s Voelker, by Ed Phillipps.

Baldwin’s resolve proves victorious in PIAA quarterfinals, by Ray Fisher.

Thomas Jefferson's Madison Moran

Thomas Jefferson’s Madison Moran

Moran a motivational force as ‘team player’ for Thomas Jefferson, by Ed Phillipps.

Norwin's Laura Buchanan

Norwin’s Laura Buchanan

Norwin volleyball proud of season despite early playoff exit, by Alex Oltmanns.

North Allegheny's Steve Binnig

North Allegheny’s Steve Binnig

North Allegheny boys soccer defies predictions with win in playoffs, by Shawn Annarelli.

Shady Side Academy's Eric Zang

Shady Side Academy’s Eric Zang (left)

Shady Side Academy boys soccer team enjoys ‘fantastic’ season, by Marty Stewart.

Shady Side Academy’s Morlacci earns reputation as strong goalie, by Marty Stewart.

Shady Side Academy's Elizabeth Harper

Shady Side Academy’s Elizabeth Harper

Shady Side Academy girls soccer falls at states, by Marty Stewart.

Quaker Valley soccer

‘Wolf pack’ says goodbye to Quaker Valley soccer, by Gary Horvath.

Baldwin hockey coach Craig Albert

Baldwin hockey coach Craig Albert

Baldwin hockey coach attempting to create family atmosphere, by Ed Phillipps.

TJ hockey coach Bill Crousey

TJ hockey coach Bill Crousey discusses strategy with his team

Crousey considered a ‘player’s coach’ in Thomas Jefferson hockey program, by Ed Phillipps.

Quaker Valley hockey staying afloat amidst injuries, by Gary Horvath.

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November 13, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Scenes from Signing Day

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Wednesday marked the first day that seniors could sign national letters of intent with the college of their choice. Here’s a look at how WPIAL athletes celebrated the occasion with their signatures and smiles.

A new journey begins today. Life is full of ups and downs, moments like this make it all worth it. Officially a Pitt Panther!! </p>
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Seton-La Salle’s Cassidy Walsh signs with Pitt women’s basketball

NA's Kayla Churman

North Allegheny swimmer Kayla Churman signs with Kentucky

November 12, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Military on the mind

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Pine-Richland's Connor Slomka

Pine-Richland RB-LB Connor Slomka

Sometimes, the obvious angle sheds new light on a story.

On Veterans Day, I wondered what was going through the mind of an Army football recruit. So I contacted Pine-Richland’s Connor Slomka to ask. Little did I know how much Veterans Day was a special day in Slomka’s home.

As I wrote when he was a sophomore, Slomka had options.

Not only to give up a lacrosse scholarship to Ohio State to play football at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but Slomka stopped playing a sport in which he was a coveted recruit.

“I knew that I wanted to play football,” Slomka said. “There’s not a lot of money in lacrosse, so it’s not like I had a full ride. It was my junior year, in the third or fourth quarter, and me and my family were talking about it. The week of the lacrosse season, my leg was bothering me. We decided I should just focus on football.

“I knew all along that I wanted to play football. It’s not been about what I was best at playing. Ohio State is a much better lacrosse school than Army is a football school. I just knew all along that I wanted to play football in college. Obviously, there’s a lot of perks but it’s far tougher to play college football there than anywhere else but you get much more out of it.”

#TribHS PAGE

TribHS page 11-12

Greensburg Central Catholic soccer team gets past Freedom, by Ed Phillipps.

While Blackhawk appears ready to hire Josh Bears as its new boys hoops coach, Jason Black writes that former Cougars coach Andy Hedrick is trying to get Connellsville basketball up to speed.

HITTING THE LINKS

Sewickley Academy's Matt Tietelbaum

Sewickley Academy’s Matt Teitelbaum (left) battles Winchester Thurston’s Scott Steiner for a header

Defending state champion Sewickley Academy returns to PIAA boys soccer finals, by Bill West.

GCC's Rachel Moore returns a serve

Greensburg Central Catholic’s Rachel Moore returns a serve against Clarion

#TribHS roundup: Shutout leads Peters Township boys soccer team into PIAA final

Shaler's Brianna Schwartz

Shaler’s Brianna Schwartz

Shaler’s Schwartz, the PIAA Class AAA cross country champion and top female distance runner in WPIAL history, commits to Colorado, by Chris Harlan.

In other recruiting news:

Colleges are coveting Central Catholic junior cornerback Damar Hamlin

November 11, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

Set for signing day

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Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro

Burrell’s Sydney Bordonaro

#TribHS notebook: Burrell’s Bordonaro set to sign with Pepperdine, by Bill Beckner Jr.

#TribHS PAGE

TribHS page

HITTING THE LINKS

South Fayette's Nick McKee

South Fayette’s Nick McKee

South Fayette, other area soccer teams add to their schools’ state-level success, by Bill West.

Mallory O'Brien 1

Mallory O'Brien 2

Baldwin junior setter Mallory O’Brien

Gorman: A new story for O’Briens, where Baldwin junior setter follows family tradition of playing for championships.

McKeesport's Neenie Campbell Memorial Gymnasium

McKeesport’s Neenie Campbell Memorial Gymnasium

Renovations rejuvenate venerable McKeesport gymnasium, by Dave Mackall.

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November 10, 2014
by Kevin Gorman

#TribHS weekend recap: WPIAL announces semifinal sites

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After some odd choices for quarterfinal sites, the WPIAL got it right in the semifinals.

The sites seem to be closer to the higher seeds, which makes sense. They have earned it, as the eight Nos. 1 and 2 seeds are all undefeated. This is a playoff bracket with few surprises, with the only exception being that all four No. 5 seeds advanced:

In Class AAAA, No. 1 Pine-Richland (11-0) plays No. 5 McKeesport (10-1) at North Allegheny and No. 2 Penn-Trafford (11-0) plays No. 3 Central Catholic (10-1) at Norwin. A week earlier, you had games like Central and Woodland Hills playing at North Allegheny.

In Class AAA, No. 1 Central Valley (11-0) plays No. 5 Ringgold (10-1) at Chartiers Valley and No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (11-0) plays No. 3 West Allegheny (10-1) at Bethel Park. A week earlier, you had Central Valley-Indiana at Butler, Hampton-Ringgold at West Allegheny and West Allegheny-Franklin Regional at North Hills.

In Class AA, No. 1 South Fayette (11-0) plays No. 5 Seton-La Salle (10-1) at Peters Township and No. 2 Aliquippa (11-0) plays No. 3 Washington (11-0) at West Allegheny. A week earlier, you had Aliquippa-Mt. Pleasant at Canon-McMillan and Washington play Apollo-Ridge at Latrobe.

In Class A, No. 1 Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (11-0) plays No. 5 Avonworth (10-1) at Mars and No. 2 Clairton (11-0) plays No. 3 Neshannock (11-0) at Canon-McMillan. A week earlier, you had North Catholic-South Side Beaver at Geneva’s Reeves Field and Neshannock-Jeannette at Deer Lakes.

The WPIAL championship games will be played Friday, Nov. 21 at Heinz Field. The WPIAL has yet to announce the order, but when ROOT Sports has to televise a Penguins game it generally has requested that the Quad A game be played second, after the Class A final, so that both can be shown live. That would leave the Class AA and AAA games to be played third and fourth and shown on tape delay.

HITTING THE LINKS

Slippery Rock HS football

Slippery Rock coach Brendan Hathaway

Slippery Rock High School rolls to another unbeaten season, by Joe Sager.

Peters Township soccer

Peters Township striker Mario Mastrangelo (right) celebrates a goal with teammate Jon Sion

Mastrangelo scores twice to propel Peters Township past Central Catholic in state quarterfinals, by Ed Phillipps.

GCC girls soccer

Greensburg Central Catholic striker Bailey Cartwright (2) makes a play on the ball in front of Shady Side Academy’s Allyson Eismont

Two-time champ GCC blanks Shady Side Academy to reach state semifinals, by Ed Phillipps.

#TribHS roundup: Sewickley Academy edges Vincentian to reach state semifinals

TJ volleyball

Kelly savors TJ’s breakthrough season, by Dave Mackall.

Highlands wrestling appears healthy after board vote; will compete as an independent, by Doug Gulasy.

Plum's Kelsey DiClaudio

Plum’s Kelsey DiClaudio

Plum’s DiClaudio refuses to let her disability hold her back, by Dave Schrecengost.

Armstrong's Christian Miller

Armstrong’s Christian Miller

Winning ways continue for Armstrong hockey, by Matt Grubba.

Oliver: Monessen’s Salvino pushing for success with tough schedule

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