Spotlight on: Jeannette
Hometown: Jeannette, Pennsylvania
Group: PA Class AA
By Andre Coles
Any doubts concerning a fall from grace by Jeannette this year were fully erased this past weekend as the Jayhawks (State PR: 91.00, Rank: 4) continued their dominance with a convincing 45-0 win against South Allegheny (State PR: 55.00, Rank: 72). The Jayhawks have cruised through the first third of their 2008 slate, posting an impressive 129 points on the scoreboard.
All the while, the Pennsylvania power has seen a new star emerge from the pack in Ohio State commit Jordan Hall. With the speedster lining up in the backfield and making opponents miss left and right, the Jayhawks look to be well on their way to their third straight WPIAL AA championship game.
Many prognosticators and football fans alike falsely accused the ‘07 Jayhawks of being a one-man team with standout Terrelle Pryor making national headlines and racking up state records left and right. Indeed, the current Buckeye was the nation’s top recruit last season and is the only player in PIAA history to pass and run for over 4,000 yards in a career.
But despite the void left in his absence this year, the Jayhawks have remained on top in Pennsylvania AA football thanks to a well-rounded team filled with playmakers and a coaching staff that plays to players’ strengths.
The Jayhawks, led by third year head coach Ray Reitz, are 57-3 since the ‘03 season, and are an astounding 38-4 since ‘05 when Reitz took over the program. Reitz also boasts an impressive .904 winning percentage and is one of only eight coaches in the state to have an undefeated season.
And while the ‘07 Jayhawks set a state record with 860 points scored, it has been evident that this year’s squad has had no problems putting points on the board despite a shift in focus as team.
Said Reitz in a recent interview with EasternPAFootball.com, “We returned most of our offensive line from last year, and our defense might be quicker than last year’s group.”
Reitz couldn’t be more on target. The Jayhawk defense has yet to even surrender a touchdown this season in three blowout victories.
It has become increasingly clear that Jeannette may be currently one of the best small school teams in the nation, let alone Pennsylvania. But it’s also evident that this is one program that is built on more than its star players -- as evidenced by the team’s overall success this decade.
The ‘08 squad is poised to make this year just as memorable as the last few in Jeannette. Said Reitz to EasternPAFootball.com, “We have the potential to be a very good team.”
If the first three games are any indication, Reitz has hit the nail right on the head.
Next Up: Friday, September 19 @ Waynesburg Central(State PR: 27.00, Rank 114)