Skip navigation

NEED HELP?|

Hershey, Pa., As the sun was beginning to set on Hersheypark stadium during the pregame drills it appeared that the AAAA state championship game between the WPIAL’s North Allegheny Tigers and the District 12 champ LaSalle Explorers was going to be a battle of the Tigers ground and pound attack and the Explorers skill players. The Tigers took home gold on a 21-0 victory over the returning state champs from Philadelphia Catholic League.

 

Art Walker’s Tigers came into the game at 15-1 and without its star smash mouth RB Alex Papson who is recovering from a broken collarbone. Papson was the perfect complement to North Allegheny’s offensive line, a big, athletic bunch that has worn down defensive lines and plays very hard drive football for four quarters of every game.

 

Drew Gordon’s Explorers at 14-1 were at full strength after a thrilling 38-35 Eastern Pa win the week before over District 1 power North Penn. LaSalle has played a season of near flawless mistake free football relying on the playmaking of star Villanova bound RB Jamal Abdur-Rahman.

 

On LaSalle’s first possession the Tigers Kevin Cope recovered a Tim Wade fumble after Wade took a pass from quarterback Matt Magarity out of the backfield on LaSalle’s 40 yard line. North Allegheny went right to work on what have been their bread and butter all season, ground and pound football. They generated a methodical nine play drive with a steady diet of Papson’s understudy, Matt Steinback running primarily off tackle for 36 of their yards on the drive. Quarterback Michael Buchert took it in for a four yard touchdown and a North Allegheny 7-0 lead.

 

Near the end of the second quarter LaSalle went on an improbable 16 play drive that took up almost eight minutes. Begrudgingly, North Allegheny’s defense was bending but not breaking. Stalled on the Tiger 10 yard line LaSalle lined up to attempt a Ryan Winslow 25 yard field goal attempt. LaSalle was then called for a false start and after a timeout coach Gordon decided to roll the dice and go for the touchdown on the 15 yard line. Magarity’s pass intended for Rahman in the endzone was underthrown and intercepted by Seth Marx.

 

Still up by only 7-0, the Tigers had the ball at the end of the second quarter and ran one of two successful trick plays that proved the Explorers undoing. With the ball on the LaSalle 27 with under a minute left, Buchert ran a keeper around the right side and lateraled to Steinback who ran behind him going the other direction. The misdirection play caught LaSalle completely off guard and the touchdown run produced a gratifying 14-0 halftime lead.

 

If the first half trick play hurt LaSalle, the one that Walker called in the third quarter all by sealed LaSalle’s fate. On their second possession after intermission, wide receiver Brendan Coniker took a handoff for a reverse then threw downfield to a wide open Dan Slivka for a 30 yard gain and the ball on the Explorer one. Buchert took it in from there and a 21-0 lead which was the final score.

 

Trick plays aside; the defense of North Allegheny was the real story. Led by Coniker, Purdue recruit Robert Kugler and Justin Haser, the Tiger defense closed in effectively on every Rahman run limiting the Explorer star to 50 yards on 17 carries.

 

At game’s end the North Allegheny team huddled around their injured star Papson in a nice tribute to the player who has brought them to this point. In return, Papson can certainly be proud of the way his team played.

355 Views 0 Comments Permalink

HERSHEY, Pa. – High atop Section 26 of the visitors side of seating at HersheyPark Stadium, a group of South Fayette youth could be seen running back and forth across empty rows of bleachers during the second half of Saturday’s PIAA AA state championship game.

It was eerily similar to what was going on down on the gridiron below. West Catholic’s lethal rushing attack was moving forward full throttle and there was little South Fayette’s defense could do about it.

 

West Catholic (13-2) blew through the South Fayette (15-1) defense for 407 rushing yards and more than 500 yards of total offense to claim the Philadelphia Catholic League’s second PIAA football championship in a convincing 50-14 victory in the PIAA AA state championship game played at HersheyPark Stadium.

The victory was one to savor for West Catholic, which two years ago experienced the biggest of heartbreaks in a double overtime loss to Wilmington Area. Victory #520 in WC school history brought the school its long-awaited golden football to place in the trophy case. In the fourth quarter, ahead by 30 with victory all but a formality, the contingent of Burr fans started chanting, “Par-ty! Par-ty! Par-ty!”

Asked if the word “atonement” was appropriate to use this day, Burrs’ head coach Brian Fluck simply said, “Yes.”

 

“It’s tremendous,” Fluck said of the state football title. “This (win) is for all the West alumni; for the 2008 team; for all the people that back us. This victory shows that West Catholic is one of the best football teams in the state of Pennsylvania.”

 

Few would argue with Fluck that West is one of the best after Saturday’s performance. The Burrs, or should we say, the “Blurrs” (for their impressive team speed) brought to Hershey a pro-I rushing offense that averaged 270 yards per game and had gouged out totals of 298, 486 and 347 yards in the last three weeks. With three backs with more than 740 yards and an offensive line that averaged 256 pounds per man, the Burrs ran, ran, ran, and to cross things up, ran some more.

 

“They physically beat us up a little bit,” said South Fayette head coach Joe Rossi.

 

After falling down 7-0 to the Lions on a Christian Brumbaugh 8-yard pass to Zach Challingsworth, the Burrs went to work. They ground out two first downs before Anthony Reid ended the drive with an intercepted pass, but South Fayette could muster zero points from the gift given by its defense.

 

Then, enter David Williams, a sophomore for West Catholic with plenty of speed to burn. On his first carry of the game, he went 81 yards to the house to break WC’s goose egg with 1:59 left in the opening stanza. On his second carry, he rambled 17 yards, moving the Burrs from the shadow of their own end zone to the 25 yard line. The very next play, Reid hooked up with senior Jaelen Strong-Rankin on a 75-yard touchdown pass with 8:45 left in the first half, and West Catholic never looked back or trailed again. Reid extended the Burrs’ lead to 20-7 with a 7-yard run on a bootleg play.

 

West Catholic capped its second quarter scoring binge with two more touchdowns – a 16-yard run by senior Brandon Hollomon and a 25-yard pass from Reid to Strong-Rankin with just :05 left in the half. The Burrs led, 36-14, posting an impressive 30 points, 234 yards of offense and eight first downs in the period to put the game out of reach.

 

The 25-yard touchdown pass right before halftime might have been the deciding dagger to South Fayette’s hopes of a PIAA title.

 

“We wanted to put the final nail in the coffin there,” Fluck said. “The kids came out and played with a tremendous amount of confidence and swagger today.”

 

West only attempted one pass in the second half – it was intercepted by South Fayette senior Ben Meredith – pounding it out between the front five of Dom DiGalbo, Todd-Jamal Waters, Mike Makor, Rodney Linder and Eric Wyant for 198 more yards of terra firma and two more touchdowns – a 4-yard run by Williams and a 26-yard run by Josh Mathis – to put the mercy rule and a running clock in effect with 10:27 left in the two team’s 2010 seasons.

 

“The last couple of weeks we’d been playing really well up front,” Fluck said. “Our guys played well up front today.”

 

Brumbaugh’s career at South Fayette ended shortly after that final West score. Harrassed and pressured all day by the Burrs’ relentless defense, the Lions’ record-setting field general was lifted with 9:14 left in the game for what Rossi called “safety concerns,” noting, “He took some pretty good shots and we wanted to protect him.”

 

Brumbaugh, who will continue his football career at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, completed 11-of-26 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, both to Zach Challingsworth (5 rec., 73 yards, 2 TD).

 

South Fayette, which had averaged more than 240 yards passing per game, was held 130 yards below its average. The Lions’ offense, which averaged 42 points per game and had rolled up more than 530 yards in the PIAA semifinals against Forest Hills, was limited to just 138 yards this day and nine first downs. SF’s ground game was bottled up well – yielding a scant 22 yards on 19 carries – and paced by Trevor Fiorentini’s 41 yards on nine rushes.

 

“Trevor tried to do a nice job for us on the ground (but they’d pretty much taken that away and made us one-dimensional),” Rossi said.

 

South Fayette’s final 2010 breakdown, “Family,” was broken between sobs and tears and the sting of defeat. Moments before, the entire green and white contingent, an estimated 2,000 in number, gave their Lions a standing ovation as the team accepted the silver football trophy signifying state runners-up. As public address announcer Bob Schellenberg said, “You have made the McDonald community very proud,” the SF crowd rose to a standing ovation once more.

 

“There’s pain right now,” Rossi admitted. “But this has been a journey they’ll remember. It’s been a special year and they’re a special group of guys. I hate to see them go.”

 

West Catholic, meanwhile, was paced by Williams’ 181 yards and two touchdowns on 14 attempts. Hollomon added 104 yards on 14 attempts, Mathis 61 yards on eight carries and Reid 30 yards on six attempts. The Burrs finished with 531 yards of offense and 23 first downs. Reid finished 3-of-6 passing for 124 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.

 

The theme, however, was atonement.

 

And this day, for West Catholic, atonement was almost sweeter than Hershey’s chocolate.

363 Views 0 Comments Permalink

 

Late Touchdown earns Central Catholic a Title

 

Written by: Dean Beers on Saturday, December 18th, 2010

By Dean Beers, D11Football.com

 

Hershey -  Brendan Nosovitch and his team have had big plays all throughout the playoffs. The Vikings needed a big one being behind 27-21 with less than 3 minutes to go in the game.

 

They got one. A 70-yard pass from Nosovitch to senior tight end Jack Sandherr (5 catches, 128 yards) took the Vikings (16-0) from their own 12-yard line to the Bishop McDevitt 18 –yard line.

 

One play later, Viking junior quarterback Nosovitch went up the middle 18 yards for the go ahead score, for a lead they would never relinquish. The Vikings would earn their 3rd PIAA State Title with a 28-27 win over the Crusaders of Bishop McDevitt. The Vikings also won PIAA State Titles in 1993 and 1998.

 

The Crusaders took the first lead of the game on their first possession. They drove 65 yards on 7 plays, capping the drive off when McDevitt senior quarterback Matt Johnson threw a 28 -yard touchdown pass to Brian Lamelle (4 catches, 82 yards). An extra point  gave the team a 7-0 lead.

 

Central Catholic would answer right back.  Nosovitch completed passes of 8, 16 and 31 yards on the drive, but ended the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven all.

 

After both teams exchanged punts, the Crusaders had half the field to work with.

 

Crusader (13-3) senior running back Jameel Poteat (19 rushes, 71 yards) scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 22-yard touchdown run. An extra point gave the Crusaders a 14-7 lead.

 

It wasn’t until midway through the second quarter when the Vikings’ scored again. The Vikings’ defense had pinned the Crusaders back at their own eight-yard line, when they forced a McDevitt punt which only went 17 yards.

 

On second down and 11, Nosovitch fumbled the ball but Nathan Roberts recovered the ball for the Viking on the 25 yard line. On the next play, Nosovitch scored on a 25-yard touchdown run. The game was tied at 14 going into halftime.

 

Central Catholic’s first possession of the second half gave them the lead. The Vikings drove 73 yards on 6 plays, with the big play coming on a Nosovitch to Kevin McKellick (3 catches, 45 yards) 29 – yard pass to the Crusaders 35 yard line. Four plays later, Nosovitch threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Kevin Gulyas (7 catches, 61 yards). The Vikings lead 21-14.

 

After a series of exchanged punts, Crusader Miles Williams intercepted a Nosovitch pass and returned it to midfield. It took McDevitt six plays to score on a Matt Johnson 9nine–yard run. The game was tied at 21.

 

After a Central Catholic turnover on downs, McDevitt drove 57 yards to retake the lead. Poteat did most of the work on this drive, rushing for 25 yards including a three-yard touchdown run. The kick failed, and the Crusaders led 27-21 with seven minutes to go in the game.

 

Nosovitch finished the game passing 16 for 27 and a touchdown, with 236 yards. He also rushed for 47 yards and 3 touchdowns. We believe he is also the first quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.

 

Johnson, a Bowling Green recruit, completed 18 passes in 34 attempts, with 235 yards. He also rushed for 5 yards and a touchdown.

221 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Hershey, Pa., Spotting the Riverside Vikings a 24-0 lead in the first 14 minutes, the Clairton Bears went on  a scoring spree and held on for a 36-30 win and back to back class A State titles at Hershey stadium.

 

The Vikings got on the board on their third possession in one play when Senior running back Nick Rossi ran aroundthe right end for a 64 yard touchdown. Quarterback Corey Talerico then hit Kyle Walsh with the two point conversion and a 8- 0 lead.

 

After a quick three and out for the Bears, the Vikings scored again, this time in three plays with a 60 yard touchdown pass from Talerico to Walsh. Rossi ran for the two point conversion and a 16-0 lead.

 

Riverside went to paydirt again with a seven play drive ending with a 23 yard touchdown pass from Talerico to Tommy Armillay.  Paul Lassiter took it in for the two point conversion and a 24-0 lead.

 

The turning point in the game came on the Bears next possession. They generated a six minute, 10 play, 65 yard drive and the big play came on a third down conversion from the Vikings 36 with Tyler Boyd running for 30 yards to the Vikings six. Senior Bishop Neal made a crushing block on a Viking defender on the play. The block appeared to give the Bears momentum. Two plays later Quarterback Desimon Green scored from the two. Boyd ran in for the two point conversion and the score was 24-8.

 

Before the half ended Clairton put two more scores on the board, a 37 yard touchdown pass from Green to Boyd and a nifty 21 yard TD from Junior backup QB Capri Thompson to Joshua Page.

 

Clairton then took their first lead in the third quarter with an 82 yarder from green to Boyd, and continued the scoring with a more sustained drive ending with a Trenton Coles two yard run.

 

In the 4th Quarter, the Vikings rallied with a Talerico to Michael Killino 35 yard touchdown.

 

After holding the Bears and getting the ball back with a minute left and a chance to tie the game, Talerico’s pass was intercepted and the Bears were finally able to relax and hoist gold and the state title.

 

Riverside played a valiant game in defeat. The 30 points scored by Riverside were almost as much as Clairton (30) gave up all year prior to this game.

258 Views 0 Comments Permalink

It may be official. In fact, it is official. The supply of superlatives to describe what the Clairton Bears’ defense (including both first string and reserves) has accomplished these last trio of years is running lower than the supply of ice in the Arctic. They’ve put up some pretty remarkable numbers, given up practically nothing in terms of points, and have probably started to beg the question, “How long can/will this dominance continue?”

 

It’s an answer nobody really knows the answer to. But as Clairton’s defense continues to etch itself among the nastiest and most dominant in WPIAL history, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

 

Clairton makes its third consecutive PIAA championship game appearance and will face District 2 champion Taylor-Riverside for all the marbles in Class A Friday afternoon at HersheyPark Stadium, with kickoff slated for 2 p.m. The Bears face a Riverside team that has allowed 34 points in five playoff games, with three shutouts.

 

Clairton won the WPIAL’s 30th PIAA championship last year, defeating District 6 champion Bishop McCort, 15-3. The Bears are one of two 2009 PIAA champions that have reached Hershey to defend their title – LaSalle College, in AAAA is the other. A total of 21 teams have reached the PIAA finals after winning a state title the previous year, and such teams are 14-7 overall.

 

In making its third consecutive state finals appearance, Clairton joins a list of PIAA affiliates with such a distinction that include Berwick (1994-’97), Southern Columbia (1994-’96; 1998-’06), Central Bucks West (1997-’00), Mount Carmel Area (1998-’00), Strath Haven (1999-’02), West Allegheny (1999-’01) and Rochester (2000-’02).

 

Those are some impressive names of programs, each with their own unique histories and traditions and stories. And Clairton is no exception – winners of 580 football games, eight WPIAL championships and an all-time playoff record of 48-24 (.667), the Bears have certainly proven to be a traditional state powerhouse. And prior to the state championship playoff format, final rankings were determined based on a formula known as the “Saylor Rankings,” compiled from 1914 to 1987 by former Penn State professor Dr. Roger Saylor. Between 1927 to 1959, Clairton finished ranked in Dr. Saylor’s poll 12 times, including a #1 finish in 1942. The Bears went 10-0 that season.

 

Clairton’s present run is nothing short of remarkable. Since 2003, the Bears have posted an overall record of 93-15 (.861). They’ve played in five WPIAL championship games since 2004, winning four titles. Prior to 2008, Clairton hadn’t made much of a splash in the PIAA playoffs, only reaching the semifinals twice and losing both times (in 1989 to Keystone and 2006 to West Middlesex). But now, no one can keep the Bears from Hershey.

 

Defense has played a major role in Clairton’s run to three consecutive state finals appearances. Since 2008, Clairton has only allowed four opponents (Farrell ’08, Steel-High ’08, Laurel ’09, Rochster ’09) to score double-digit points in a game. The last time Clairton allowed a team to score more than 20 points against it – 2008 – in the state finals against Steel-High. At that time, Barack Obama only bore the title “President-elect.” The Farrell and Steel-High games were the first time Clairton had allowed consecutive opponents to score 20 points against it since 2005, when the Bears began the campaign allowing five consecutive opponents (Washington, Rochester, Duquense, Serra Catholic and Riverview) to score between 20 to 34 points. Clairton went 1-4 in that stretch.

 

Since the start of the 2008 season, Clairton has posted 26 shutouts and held 43 of 47 opponents to eight points or less. The Bears’ record in that span – a whopping 45-2 (.957)!

 

If you thought last year’s edition of the Clairton defense was ridiculously good – that unit (including first string and reserves) allowed a scant 61 points in 16 games, just 3.8 points per game. This year, the defense (including first string and reserves) has yielded even less – just 36 points (2.4 points per game). Only five teams have managed to score a single touchdown, and Farrell holds the distinction of scoring the most points on the orange and black’s brick wall unit – with a measley eight points.

 

Keying the Bears’ defensive efforts are Desimon Green (who has amassed more than 70 sacks the last three years), Marquis Norris (6’5, 325 pounds of man), Devante Gardlock, Carvan Thompson, Erik Walker, Devante Dockery, Brandon Small, Josh Page (team leader in INTs), Trenton Coles (a PIAA track champion), Dion Ellis and Tyler Boyd.

 

Offensively, Green leads the reins of the Bears’ offense, having thrown for 1,729 yards and 28 touchdowns while running for 642 yards and 13 more touchdowns. Backs Karvonn “Mud Puppy” Coles and Boyd have combined for more than 1,200 rushing yards between them and 18 rushing touchdowns. Page (997 yards, 17 TD), Trenton Coles (349 yards, 7 TD) and Bishop Neal (134 yards, 5 TD) are the primary receivers in the Bears’ aerial assault.

 

The Bears’ offensive unit is fronted by an athletic line that includes Thompson (6’1, 225), William Ingram (5’9, 225), Keith Craven (6’1, 208), Norris and Walker (6’2, 205). Neal (6’1, 195) is the tight end.

 

Clairton’s 2010 team has scored 710 points (47.3 points per game) – the second highest total ever in the WPIAL and fourth-highest total in state history. Clairton became the first PIAA affiliate with three consecutive season of 600+ points scored, posting a 612-point output in 2008 and 634 points last year. The Bears also rang up points in bunches in 2007 (506), 2006 (480) and 2004 (478).

 

Can Clairton make it two PIAA titles in a row? Find out Friday afternoon.

 

Josh Yohe, sportswriter for the McKeesport Daily News (a part of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review family of newspapers) helped contribute information appearing in this preview.

530 Views 0 Comments Permalink

What seemed to happen with constant regularity once is now something to be treasured. From 1988 until 1997, it seemed that District 2 was a regular participant in PIAA championship games, making 13 appearances in that span and winning 10 titles.

 

But suddenly, those District 2 appearances in the PIAA finals dried up and practically vanished. Berwick’s regular PIAA AAA title game appearances were replaced by teams from Districts 1, 3, and 11. AA gave way to Districts 4 and 11. Class A became the “Southern Columbia Invitiational” (sounds almost like a catchy name for a golf tournament).

 

Now, for just the second time since 1997, and first time since 2007, a District 2 school has the chance to bring a long-awaited golden football back to northeastern Pennsylvania.

 

The order for the Vikings, though, is tall. Riverside will be opposed by Clairton (15-0) in the PIAA A state final at HersheyPark Stadium, with kickoff slated for 2 p.m. The Vikings must try to dent a Clairton defense that has pitched 10 shutouts and allowed only 36 points all season.

 

The order was tall for the last District 2 team to reach the PIAA finals – Dunmore – in 2007. The Bucks were charged with containing Pennsylvania’s most proficient scoring team ever, the Jeannette Jayhawks, who were keyed by Terrelle Pryor and Jordan Hall, both of whom had scored more than 30 touchdowns and both of whom are currently playing football at Ohio State. Dunmore couldn’t slow Jeannette, and lost via the mercy rule, 49-21.

 

Riverside is making its first PIAA finals appearance since 1997, when the Vikings reached the Class A title game against Sharpsville in a game played at Altoona’s Mansion Park Stadium. The Vikings’ current head coach, Harry Armstrong, was the quarterback of that Riverside team that fell to the Blue Devils, 10-7, and gave Mercer County its third consecutive PIAA championship victory in the state’s smallest classification. Back in the day, Armstrong was a career 4,200-yard passer and tailback Jeremy Ransom wound up finishing his career as a 4,000-yard rusher.

 

This latest edition of the Riverside Vikings doesn’t boast a career 4,000-yard rusher or passer. But it does boast a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in seniors Corey Talerico (1,068 yards) and Akron commit Nick Rossi (1,139 yards).

 

Teams with a duo of 1,000-yard rushers are not all that uncommon in the PIAA finals. From PIAA finalists from 2001 to 2009, there were 15 known teams with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. Eight of those 15 teams won PIAA titles, and, impressively, from 2003 to 2008, at least one of the four PIAA champions from that given time frame had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. The streak snapped last year when Manheim Central lost to Selinsgrove, 10-7.

 

This edition of the Riverside Vikings also boasts a pretty proficient quarterback. Talerico was already mentioned for his threat as a runner and his four-figure total of rushing yardage along with 16 touchdowns. Through the air, Talerico has posted an impressive 1,929 yards and 27 touchdowns against nine interceptions, completing 124-of-199 passes.

 

Talerico is, believe it or not, the 11th 1,000/1,000 quarterback to play in a PIAA championship game since 1996. Later Friday, Allentown Central Catholic QB Brendan Nosovitch will be the 12th. But for such quarterbacks, results don’t tilt one way or the other. They are split down the middle. In those 10 instances, 1,000/1,000 QBs that reach the PIAA finals are just 5-5 overall, with just two wins since 2006.

 

Beyond the duo of Rossi and Talerico, who have 38 rushing touchdowns between them, Paul Lassiter (92 rush, 601 yards, 6 TD) and Hakeem Lincoln (42, 362, 4) also get the job done on the ground. The aerial assault features a trio of primary targets – Skylar Lavage (51 rec., 881 yards, 12 TD), Tommy Armillay (31 rec., 499 yards, 8 TD) and Rossi (22 rec., 325 yards, 4 TD).

 

Riverside’s scored a total of 551 points (86th in state history) – an average of 36.7 points per game – which ranks third in school history. The ’97 team amassed 555 points (80th in the state) and the 2008 team scored a school-record 613 points (29th in the state). Coach Armstrong has a connection with all three 500-point scoring Riverside teams – coaching two and playing on one.

 

Riverside gained a lot of attention and notoriety in its first two PIAA playoff games, against Southern Columbia and Schuylkill Haven. The Vikings outscored both the Tigers and Hurricanes by a combined score of 77-0 and severly limited the primary weapon of choice for both teams – the ground game. Then, along came District 6 champion Bishop Carroll, who rang up over 200 rushing yards between feature back Ryan Woo and quarterback Josh Barzdo. Riverside’s defense (including first string and reserves) has posted four shutouts this season and limited seven opponents to seven points or less. In five playoff games, the Viking defense has allowed a grand total of 34 points.

 

Can Riverside overcome the great odds stacked against it and score District 2′s first PIAA championship since Berwick won in 1997? Find out Friday afternoon.

421 Views 0 Comments Permalink

For the second consecutive year, a football team led by a record-setting quarterback has found its way to the PIAA AA championship game. Last year, it was Kyle Smith (now at Central Michigan) and his more than 8,500 career passing yards and 118 touchdowns gracing Hershey’s turf as the Lancaster Catholic Crusaders put the finishing touches on a 21-14 victory over Greensburg Central Catholic. Oddly enough, Smith’s passing didn’t play a very large role in the game, which was played in snowy conditions.

 

Fast forward by one year, and the new record setter is a William & Mary commit from the WPIAL named Christian Brumbaugh. And Brumbaugh headlines a South Fayette football team that will invade Chocolatetown with a pretty proficient offense that has scored a boatload of points the last two weeks.

 

South Fayette will journey to Chocolatetown to face talented Philadelphia Catholic League champion West Catholic (12-2) for the PIAA AA championship Saturday afternoon at HersheyPark Stadium. Kickoff is slated for noon. South Fayette will be pitted against a West Catholic defense (including first string and reserves) that allows an average of 9.8 points per game.

 

Some around the state might be wondering, “Just who is South Fayette?” Sure, the Lions aren’t quite a household name or an established football power in the AA landscape like an Aliquippa or a Wilmington or a Lancaster Catholic, but the green and white might be one of the hottest AA football programs in the state at present. Consider: In the Lions’ last 26 games, they are 25-1 overall. The lone loss came to Aliquippa in the 2009 WPIAL AA quarterfinals, 47-34, after the Quips rallied with a 32-point fourth quarter for the win. Heck, prior to 2009, the Lions hadn’t won a football playoff game (WPIAL or otherwise) since it moved up to the AA classficiation.

 

Now, here’s a little more about that, “Who is South Fayette?” question. The Lions’ latest WPIAL football championship, won a little more than two weeks ago, is the third such title in school history. But the school’s first two WPIAL titles came very long ago, in 1936 and 1964. The Lions also lost a WPIAL title game in 1967 and reached the WPIAL A semifinals in 1999. South Fayette has a McDonald, Pa., mailing address and serves the municipality of South Fayette Township in southwestern Allegheny County. The varsity boys’ basketball team won the 2010 AA state championship over Philadelphia Strawberry Mansion. It gets done in the classroom, too, at South Fayette, as in 2009 the district’s eighth grade ranked 6th of 141 western PA middle schools for a three-year compilation of scores from PSSA tests, according to The Pittsburgh Business Times.

 

South Fayette’s football team has been pretty good at passing tests, too. In the last two weeks, the Lions have taken down District 9′s most prolific scoring team ever (Brockway) and a six-time state semifinalist that averaged over 220 yards rushing per game (Forest Hills). Before it played Aliquippa at Heinz Field, the Lions soundly defeated Beaver Falls in the WPIAL AA semifinals, holding a 48-7 lead at one point in the game. It wasn’t like Beaver Falls was a slouch, either. The Tigers, 43-7 overall since 2007, were making their fourth straight WPIAL semifinals appearance.

 

South Fayette, which plays in the WPIAL’s Century Conference, isn’t the first representative from this conference to reach the PIAA finals. Seton-LaSalle reached the 2002 state title game against Mount Carmel Area, falling, 18-13. South Park rallied in the 2005 AA finals against upstart Wilson Boro for a 28-17 victory. South Park also won the 1997 state title over South Williamsport.

 

Head coach Joe Rossi owns a career won-loss record of 61-33, and formerly led Riverview High School before arriving at South Fayette. Rossi has enjoyed the spoils of coaching a Lions’ squad that, over the last two football seasons, has scored 1,004 points (an average of 38.6 points per game) and defeated opponents by an average margin of over 19.5 points per game.

 

South Fayette has been especially dynamic this season, scoring 631 points (42.1 points per game). That’s the fifth-best single season scoring output ever in the WPIAL and 17th-best in state history. Only Aliquippa has held South Fayette below 30 points in the playoffs this season. The Lions have hung 40+ points on nine of its 15 opponents this season and topped the 50-point plateau on four such occasions.

 

The aforementioned Brumbaugh has made life a lot easier for Rossi. A senior, Brumbaugh has put up jaw dropping passing numbers, not just this season, but also in his career. The William & Mary commit has completed 227-of-342 passes for 3,620 yards and 50 touchdowns (tying Kyle Smith’s state record for TD passes in a season). The 3,620 yards rank as the third-highest output of individual passing yards in a season, trailing only former Mechanicsburg quarterback Zach Frazer (3,674 yards, 2004) and Brockway’s Derek Buganza (3,824 yards, 2009). The former WPIAL record for passing yards was owned by Seton-LaSalle’s Bill Stull (3,310 yards, 2004).

 

Here’s an interesting stat: as a sophomore, Brumbaugh threw for 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns (he missed some time with an injury that year). As a junior, he threw for 2,184 yards and 29 touchdowns. Now, with his current season stat line, it means that #7 has improved his season stat line each of the last two seasons by at least 1,000 yards and 20 TD.

 

For his career, Brumbaugh has thrown for 7,056 yards and 86 touchdowns. The 86 touchdown passes rank him 7th in state history and the 7,056 yards are 11th-best. Completing this prolific aerial assault are a corps of quality wide receivers in Tyler Challingsworth (71 rec., 1,044 yards, 9 TD), Jeff Davis (48 rec., 705 yards, 10 TD), Josh Patterson (37 rec., 598 yards, 13 TD), and Zach Challingsworth (36 rec., 789 yards, 10 TD). Leading the way on the ground is Davis, a senior who has 197 rushes for 1,535 yards and 14 TD. Fullback Trevor Fiorentini is seldom used, but he packs a punch, having scored 11 rushing touchdowns on a little more than 40 attempts.

 

Paving the way for the Lions’ offense is a line that averages exactly 243 pounds per man, led by Nick Faraci (6’2, 285), Tyler Chabali (6’0, 240), Keith Hitlan (6’1, 195), Nick Guyan (5’11, 210) and Sean Lacinski (6’0, 285). Nolan Spicer, a 265-pounder who played on both the SF offensive and defensive lines, has been injured for much of the season. Spicer made significant contributions on both sides of the ball for the Lions in 2009 and was one of the top returning sack artists on the Lions’ defense.

 

Tight ends Eric Myers and Tanner Courtad are both utilized as blockers and receivers, and both are also productive in their linebacker spots on defense. Junior Tyler Yee serves as the kicker.

 

Can South Fayette’s football team, like its basketball team, upend another traditional Philadelphia power to claim its first PIAA championship? Find out Saturday afternoon.

583 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Heartbreak. That could best describe West Catholic’s first experience in the PIAA finals two years ago. The Burrs had it all – a record-setting scoring machine, a trio of 1,000-yard rushers, a quarterback heading to Penn State, a sizeable offensive line, and plenty of speed to burn.

 

But in the end, District 10 champ Wilmington walked away with a 35-34 victory in double overtime. The Burrs’ juggernaut, which set the single-season Philadelphia Catholic League scoring record (775 points) and the school record for wins in a season (14), hed been denied its ultimate goal: bringing the PCL its first PIAA football championship.

 

Two years later, West Catholic has a chance to atone for that painful 2008 experience.

 

The Burrs will face WPIAL champion South Fayette (15-0) for the PIAA AA state championship Saturday afternoon at HersheyPark Stadium. Kickoff is slated for noon. West Catholic will have to contain a South Fayette offense that has scored 40+ points in nine of its 15 games.

 

The trophy cases at West Catholic are loaded with football hardware. The Burrs have won 519 football games in their history, and marked their 500th all-time victory during the 2009 season. Add to those more than 500 victories a total of 16 Philadelphia Catholic League football championships, three consecutive District 12 AA championships and three consecutive trips to the PIAA AA Eastern Finals. Owners of a 79-17 overall record (.822) since the start of the 2004 season, the Burrs have won a minimum of 11 games each of the last four years. In that span, from 2007-’10, West Catholic has gone 49-8 (.859).

 

If West Catholic were to claim the golden football Saturday, it could count itself among a group of 10 PIAA affiliates that won a state title on its second attempt after losing in its first appearance. The 10 schools with such a distinction are Aliquippa, Wilmington Area, Farrell, Rochester, Washington, Tyrone, Downingtown (unified), Wilson Area, Jeannette and Clairton.

 

Offensively, WC employs mostly a pro-I offense, and they execute the system well, averaging more than 369 yards of offense and 35.5 points per game. The bulk of West Catholic’s damage has been done on the ground – the Burrs average exactly 270 rushing yards per game, and, the last three games, the Burrs have posted rushing outputs of 298, 486 and 347 yards. The ground game (and the offense, in general) is keyed by an offensive line that averages 256 pounds per man – Dom DiGalbo (6’3, 255), Mike Makor (6’3, 305), T-J Waters (6’3, 215), Rodney Linder (6’0, 275) and Eric Wyant (6’3, 230).

 

In fact, according to Ed “Huck” Palmer, West Catholic’s rushing offense has been so good, it has had at least one back with more than 1,000 yards rushing each of the last 11 years. This year, Brandon Hollomon is that back – posting 1,444 yards on just 127 carries. Hollomon has run for 100+ yards seven times this season, including each of the Burrs’ last four games. Hollomon has scored 17 touchdowns, but he’s not the only threat to tote the rock. Senior Joshua Mathis adds 923 yards and 11 touchdowns on 135 carries and sophomore David Williams has 742 yards and 15 touchdowns on just 86 attempts.

 

The West Catholic aerial assault is keyed by senior Anthony Reid, who came to WC after Northeast Catholic closed its doors and ceased operations at the end of the 2009-10 school year. Reid has thrown for 1,307 yards and 13 touchdowns, and his favorite targets are Jaelen Strong-Rankin (29 rec., 661 yards, 8 TD) and Quran Kent (27 rec., 489 yards, 4 TD). TE Jim Lynch has also been a target for passes, as has Hollomon.

 

Defensively, Palmer noted West Catholic has shifted to a 3-4 defensive formation. DiGalbo, Kris Padgett and Lynch, along with Eric Rutherford and Devante Ford, all contribute on the defensive line. Lynch has posted 26 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks and Padgett has 45 tackles (15 TFL) and 4.5 sacks. Kevin Burns (97 tackles, 15 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries) and Waters (69 tackles, 8 TFL) key the linebackers, and Hollomon and Dave Sherman (26 combined passes defensed) lead the defensive backfield.

 

Between its first string and reserves on defense, West Catholic has allowed an average of 9.8 points per game, holding eight opponents to eight points or less, with one shutout.

 

Will West Catholic finally be able to hoist that long-awaited golden football trophy in Chocolatetown? Find out Saturday afternoon.

 

Ed “Huck” Palmer, team statistician for the West Catholic football program, contributed some of the information appearing in this preview.

452 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Harrisburg has waited for this moment for quite some time. The city watched as the Steelton-Highspire football community celebrated consecutive PIAA championships in 2007 and 2008. It watched as Lancaster-Lebanon League representatives Manheim Central and Lancaster Catholic reached the state finals last year, finishing 1-1. It came oh so very close to celebration and revelry in 2007 when the Harrisburg Cougars gave it their all in the Western Finals against eventual champion Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 14-6.

 

But now, for the first time since 1995, Harrisburg has one of its teams playing for a PIAA championship.

 

The Bishop McDevitt Crusaders will line up opposite against District 11 and Lehigh Valley Conference champion Allentown Central Catholic (15-0) Friday night in the PIAA AAA state championship game from HersheyPark Stadium, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. McDevitt has won 11 consecutive games and will be tasked with corralling an ACC spread offense that has dropped a whopping 158 points on Abington Heights, Clearfield Area and Archbishop Wood – teams with a combined 2010 record of 38-3.

 

Bishop McDevitt’s only foray into the PIAA championship stage proved a successful one – the Crusaders blanked WPIAL champion Burrell 29-0 in the 1995 AA state final, played at Altoona’s Mansion Park Stadium. That edition of the Crusaders finished a perfect 15-0 and scored 472 points.

 

The ’95 edition of the Crusaders began a three-year run of consecutive District 3 AA championships, but forays into the playoffs from 1996-2005 always ended in disappointment. In 1996, it was Mount Carmel Area who eliminated McDevitt in the Eastern Final. In 1997, it was a stunning loss to District 11 champion Northwestern Lehigh. In 2004, Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s machine of a football team mowed down the Crusaders in the AAAA Western Final. A year later at the same juncture, McDevitt fell to McKeesport, 14-13. So no wonder head coach Jeff Weachter (career 112-41 record) and athletic director Tommy Mealy were talking about the proverbial monkey being removed from McDevitt’s back following a come-from-behind 24-21 victory over Erie Cathedral Prep last Friday night at DuBois’ E.J. Mansell Stadium.

 

The appearance in the AAA state final makes McDevitt just the sixth PIAA affiliate to play a state championship game in two different classfications, joining Dunmore (1989 – A; 2007 – AA); Seton-LaSalle (1990 – AAA; 2002 – AA); Bethlehem Catholic (1988 – AA; 1990 – AAA); Aliquippa (1988 – AAA; 1991, 2000, 2003 – AA); and South Williamsport (1993 – A; 1997 – AA). McDevitt joins Bethlehem Catholic as the only other PIAA affiliate to play a PIAA semifinal game in three different classifications. Both schools played in AA, AAA, and AAAA state semis.

 

Bishop McDevitt is looking to bring home District 3′s second PIAA AAA crown, but D3 schools are just 1-3 all-time in AAA state title games. No Mid Penn AAA school has ever played in a AAA state final – the four games have come courtesy of Lancaster-Lebanon League reps Conestoga Valley and Manheim Central.

 

These Crusaders, owners of an 85-17 record (.833) since the start of the 2004 season, certainly have some offensive fire power. Senior quarterback Matt Johnson, who committed to Bowling Green prior to the start of the season, has posted yet another outstanding season. Johnson has completed 183-of-279 passes for 2,742 yards with 25 touchdowns against only four interceptions. It’s Johnson’s third straight 2,000-yard, 20-TD passing season, which is nothing to sneeze at. #11 has thrown for 7,726 career yards (including a 214-yard effort against Erie Cathedral Prep) and 84 touchdowns. Johnson ranks 6th in the state in career passing yards and 9th in touchdown passes.

 

Johnson’s backfield mate, senior running back Jameel Poteat, is also putting together a solid season. Poteat, a Pitt commit, has run for 1,653 yards and 29 touchdowns on 292 carries, including a 29-carry, 110-yard effort against Erie Cathedral Prep. It’s Poteat’s second consecutive season with more than 1,650 rush yards and 25+ rushing touchdowns and third 1,000-yard rushing season in a row. For his career, Poteat has run for 4,761 yards and scored 74 rushing touchdowns.

 

But offensively, McDevitt is more than just Johnson and Poteat, though they certainly generate lots of headlines and publicity. Bishop McDevitt’s offensive line is every bit of the word huge, averaging an impressive 280.4 pounds per man. Seniors Justin Garlic (6’5, 295) and Tony Harris (6’3, 330) and juniors Kyree Ross (6’0, 253), DeAndre Lawson (6’0, 244) and Pat Narus (6’5, 280) have helped pave the way for the Crusaders to average 349.4 yards of offense and 35.4 points per game. But make note: Ross was injured during the second half of the Cathedral Prep game and did not return, which shifted Lawson to center and brought in Tom Scully (6’2, 212) to fill Lawson’s spot. If Ross cannot go Friday night, McDevitt’s OL average per man drops to 272.2.

 

Wide receivers Brian Lemelle (66 rec., 1,140 yds., 10 TD) and Shaun Seif (44, 639, 6) are the primary targets, but are by no means the only threats to catch passes. Seniors Poteat, Sean Barowski and Matt Boland have combined for 46 receptions, 527 yards and five additional touchdowns.

 

Defensively, McDevitt is paced by junior blue-chipper Noah Spence (team-leading 21 sacks). Spence not only has an impressive sack total, but he also leads the team in tackles, and is being courted by many major Division-1 football programs. To date, Spence has received verbal offers from more than one dozen programs, including Illinois, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Tennessee and Southern Cal. Barowski, Brock Dean, Darnell Holland and Allen Hollman have all made significant contributions on the defensive side of the ball for McDevitt.

 

On special teams, sophomore Connor Maloney has converted 63 PATs and nine field goals, accounting for 90 of the Crusaders’ points scored this season.

 

McDevitt’s season scoring output of 534 points ranks in a tie for 111th in the state (with the 1996 Mount Carmel Area Red Tornadoes; 2004 Manheim Central Barons; and 2009 Farrell Steelers). That mark trails the school record of 563 points, established just last season. Impressive season scoring totals are par for the course with the Crusaders, who have topped the 450-point plateau in 2008 (490), 1996 (486), 1985 (478), 2007 (474) and the aforementioned 1995 team.

 

Does Bishop McDevitt have what it takes to slow down Allentown Central Catholic and bring District 3 its eighth PIAA title? Find out Friday night.

 

Rob Pugliese, Bishop McDevitt football insider & color commentator for PASportsRadio.com, helped contribute information appearing in this preview.

470 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Isn’t it fun sometimes to turn on a football video game, say maybe NCAA ’10, and play an entire season with a juggernaut football team just to see what stats and numbers you can pile up? But the difference is, that’s a video game. The only thing gained are maybe some bragging rights (if you beat some friends with the team) and a story to tell that few will likely believe.

 

Allentown Central Catholic, however, has been putting up ridiculous, almost video-game-esque numbers week after week after week. Just a suggestion, but maybe the Vikings should change the name of their offense from the “spread” to the “grand slam,” because they are always capable of hitting the proverbial home run on the gridiron from anywhere at any time.

 

The Vikings will face District 3 champion Bishop McDevitt (13-2) Friday evening at HersheyPark Stadium for the PIAA AAA state championship, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. ACC is facing a McDevitt team that overcame an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat speedy and lightning-quick District 10 champion Erie Cathedral Prep in the Western Finals.

 

In the last two seasons, Allentown Central Catholic has reasserted itself among the elite AAA programs in the state of Pennsylvania, posting a 27-2 overall record and winning consecutive District 11 championships, the eighth and ninth District crowns in school history. In a way, it’s almost funny to think of having to include the word “reasserting” when discussing ACC as a state power. During the 1990s, the Vikings were among the elites in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, along with Berwick, Strath Haven and Manheim Central (Each AAA Eastern Final from 1992 to 2001 featured matchups of two of those four programs).

 

During the ’90s, ACC won District 11 championships in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998, appeared in the 1993, 1996 and 1998 Eastern Finals and won a pair of PIAA titles (1993 and 1998). That all occurred under current Parkland head coach Jim Morgans, who has won more than 200 games in his career. Central Catholic defeated Blackhawk 40-0 in 1993 and Moon Township 10-0 in 1998 – becoming the only PIAA affiliate team to win each of its state championship game appearances via shutout. Only one other PIAA affiliate has multiple shutouts in state championship games – the Rochester Rams of the WPIAL, with two.

 

If Central Catholic wins Friday, it will join Thomas Jefferson as the only other PIAA affiliate to post a 3-0 record in state championship games.

 

ACC owns two of District 11′s three AAA state titles – the other belongs to Bethlehem Catholic, who won the 1990 crown with a 43-7 pounding of Seton-LaSalle. Overall, District 11 is 3-2 in AAA state title games – with Pottsville claiming consecutive losses in 2005 and 2006. In PIAA title games overall, District 11 is 10-8 (.555), last winning in 2008 when Bethlehem Liberty defeated Bethel Park, 28-21, in overtime.

 

Back in the ’90s, ACC plowed and powered through opponents with the Delaware Wing-T. Now, the Vikings flash and dash their way by you with one of the most potent spread offenses to ever emerge from the Lehigh Valley.

 

Central Catholic has scored a Lehigh Valley-record 635 points through 15 games, topping the previous standard set in 2006 by the PIAA AAAA runner-up Bethlehem Liberty Hurricanes (618). ACC’s 2010 season scoring output ranks 14th in state history and only trails the 2008 Schuylkill Haven Hurricanes (670 points) in District 11 history. ACC is averaging 42.3 points per game and has only been held below 30 points in one game this season (Whitehall, Week 6, held the Vikings to 21 points). The only other opponent with any success in limiting the scoring damage done to it was Downingtown East, who yielded 30 points to ACC in a Week 1 loss (30-21). The green and yellow have scored 40+ points in eight games and 50+ points in five.

 

And the keys to ACC’s engine, the straw to ACC’s drink, ACC’s engineer to the out-of-control freight train that averages 436.8 yards of offense per game, is junior quarterback Brendan Nosovitch. Physically, Nosovitch stands in at 6’3 and weighs 195 pounds. But he’s put up statistics, both this season and in his career, that make him about the size of football’s equivalent of a Ruthian giant.

 

It’s a pick-your-poison type of scenario for opposing defenses. Nosovitch has completed 170-of-290 passes for 2,876 yards and 42 touchdowns and added 191 rushing attempts for 1,600 yards and 22 additional touchdowns. In his career, Nosovitch has thrown for more than 5,200 yards and run for more than 2,760. His 66 career passing touchdowns rank him in a tie for 18th in state history with former LaSalle College quarterback John Harrison (2004-’07). As a sophomore, Nosovitch threw for 2,078 yards, ran for 1,163 and totaled 41 touchdowns combined rushing and passing, leading ACC to the AAA quarterfinals before bowing to Selinsgrove, 31-10.

 

Nosovitch is already attracting interest from major Division-1 football programs, according to Rivals.com, from programs like UCONN, Duke, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Stanford and UCLA. Penn State is rumored to have verbally offered Nosovitch a scholarship.

 

Nosovitch is joined in the backfield by a sophomore named Colin McDermott, who has run for 1,648 yards and 16 touchdowns on 228 carries. McDermott was a non-factor against Archbishop Wood, but has been a nice compliment to Nosovitch in the spread attack who has, rather quietly, amassed his yardage. McDermott is on pace to run for more than 4,900 yards in his career.

 

When Nosovitch airs the ball out, he has a number of quality targets to throw to, namely junior Kevin Gulyas (71 rec., 1,220 yards, 18 TD), Jack Sandherr (27, 426, 5), Jalen Snyder-Scipio (23, 393, 6), Shane McNeely (20, 309, 6) and Noah Robb (14, 241, 3). McNeely sustained a leg injury in the Eastern Final against Archbishop Wood and did not return to the game.

 

Defensively, ACC is led by Teddy Airoldi (57 tackles, 4 sacks), G.B. Harkins (52 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries), Jared Pitts (21 tackles, 5 sacks), Snyder-Scipio (18 tackles, 5 INT) and Robb (41 tackles, 2 sacks). The Vikings have given up some points this season (ACC allows an average of 14.8 points per game between first string and reserves combined), but are more than compensated when the ball changes hands back to the offense.

 

Can Allentown Central Catholic cement itself in the discussion as one of the greatest Lehigh Valley football teams with a PIAA championship to go along with all its other impressive stats? Find out Friday night.

478 Views 0 Comments Permalink

It only took six years, but North Allegheny head coach Art Walker is back on the PIAA’s biggest stage – the AAAA state championship game. Take a jog down memory lane, if you will, to the 2003 and 2004 PIAA finals when Walker guided Pittsburgh Central Catholic to Chocolatetown. His 2004 Central Catholic team claimed the state championship with a crushing victory over Neshaminy and became the first PIAA affiliate school to win 16 games in a season. After that ’04 season, Walker moved on to North Allegheny.

 

The only change in Walker’s move was trading the Viking horn helmet logo for a gold Tiger paw. Success soon followed, in the form of consecutive berths in the WPIAL AAAA semifinals in 2006 and 2007 – the latter team went 11-0 before falling to Gateway in a game played at Woodland Hills’ Wolvarena. After last weekend’s victory over Cumberland Valley, Walker’s career won-loss record now stands at 115-31.

 

Now, North Allegheny is playing for its first PIAA championship since 1990. The Tigers will tussle with Philadelphia Catholic League champion LaSalle College High School (13-1) Saturday evening at HersheyPark Stadium for all the marbles in the state’s largest classification. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. NA is facing an opponent in LaSalle that outscored its opposition 385-75 during an 11-week stretch of the 2010 season.

 

When North Allegheny last played for a PIAA championship, the PIAA finals were in their third year of existence. Only state semifinal and state title games were played at that time. And a gallon of gas in 1990, was, well, affordable. The Tigers wound up defeating District 1 representative and traditional Delaware County powerhouse Ridley, 21-14, in Hershey after sending District 10 rep. Erie Cathedral Prep home the week prior, 35-17.

 

35-17. Doesn’t that score sound familiar? It’s the same exact score posted in the Tigers’ victory over Cumberland Valley in the Western Finals last weekend.

 

And of the bulk of the WPIAL’s state title game representatives have come from geographic areas other than the northern suburbs (or points further north) than central, southern or eastern Allegheny County. The only “northern” AAAA representatives from the WPIAL to reach the PIAA finals are the 1990 NA Tigers, the 1993 North Hills Indians and the 1998 New Castle Red Hurricane.

 

There’s also another figure to keep in mind…WPIAL AAAA representatives in the PIAA finals have won four of the last five title games in which they’ve played. The lone exception was 2008, when Bethel Park fell to Bethlehem Liberty, 28-21, in overtime.

 

From a history standpoint, however, North Allegheny has a couple of factors working against it. This is the first time the WPIAL has faced the Philadelphia Catholic League in a AAAA playoff game. And, in PIAA AAAA title games in which the WPIAL is NOT the defending champion (excluding the inaugural 1988 title games), WPIAL schools are just 2-5 overall, with the two wins coming in 1993 and 2004.

 

A couple of weeks ago, NA sustained what appeared on the surface to be a major blow when its featured tailback Alex Papson was lost for the remainder of the season with a dislocated collarbone. Papson ran for more than 1,000 yards in his sophomore and junior seasons and had 2,482 yards and 32 touchdowns up until his season-ending injury. Papson finished his NA career with 4,831 rushing yards and 61 touchdowns. Suddenly, without #42, NA’s offense had ground to a halt against Woodland Hills, managing just 39 rushing yards and one first down for the remainder of the game. But since that night on the sandy turf of Heinz, some key reserves have stepped up to help spark the Tigers’ ground attack which averages more than 274 yards per game.

 

Vinnie Congedo, Alex DiCiantis (pronounced Dee-shaun-tis) and Matt Steinbeck have filled the void left by Papson. Congedo has run for 178 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks, including a season-best 142 yards against State College Area in the PIAA quarterfinals. DiCiantis has scored four rushing touchdowns the last two weeks and has 32 carries for 169 yards in that same span. And Steinbeck, NA’s #2 back behind Papson all season, returned from an ankle injury to run for 161 yards against Cumberland Valley. Congedo, DiCiantis and Steinebeck have combined for 147 rushes for 964 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Quarterback Mike Buchert adds 310 rushing yards and four scores on the ground on 99 carries, including 50 yards against CV last week.

 

North Allegheny’s rushing offense has, the last two weeks, run for 627 yards (280 yards vs. State College; 347 yards vs. Cumberland Valley). The Tigers’ offensive line, anchored by Justin Haser (6’5, 245), Zach Harvey (6’2, 220), Pete Thistle (6’1, 220), Vince Czerniewski (6’1, 280), Pat Kugler (6’4, 270) and senior tight end Rob Kugler (6’4, 245) have bullied and battered the opposition. The Tigers’ OL has also provided pass protection for Buchert when he does throw, accounting for 1,008 yards and 11 TD on the year. Senior WR Dan Slivka (31 rec., 722 yards, 7 TD) is the featured passing target.

 

Defensively speaking, North Allegheny has really proven stout the last few weeks, and really, all season long. In terms of rushing defense, the Tigers have held their last three opponents (Woodland Hills, State College, Cumberland Valley) to a grand total of 121 rushing yards and just two rushing touchdowns. WH finished with 94 yards on the ground on 32 carries – led mostly by its Pitt-bound senior back Lafayette Pitts, who only ran for 49 yards on 18 totes in the WPIAL title game. State High only mustered 23 rushing yards and Cumberland Valley was held to four yards rushing on 17 team carries. Only six of North Allegheny’s 15 opponents have scored in double-digits against either the first-string defense or reserves. North Allegheny has allowed an average of 8.4 points per game and posted three shutouts.

 

The NA defense is paced by LBs Kevin Cope (149 tackles – 97 solo – 6.5 sacks), Seth Marx (87 tackles – 56 solo – 2 sacks) and Lucas Hook (73 tackles – 53 solo – 2 sacks); DLs Rob Kugler (59 tackles, 6 sacks), Haser (56 tackles, 8.5 sacks), Czerniewski (53 tackles, 8 sacks) and Nate Nachazel (34 tackles, team-best 9 sacks); and DBs Brandon Coniker (37 tackles, 4 INT) and Steinbeck (37 tackles, 3 INT).

 

North Allegheny’s kicker, senior Alex Greenblatt, has successfully converted 55 PATs and 10 field goals. He’s scored 85 total points. As a team as a whole, North Allegheny has scored 485 points (32.3 points per game), which is unofficially the 45th-best season scoring output in WPIAL history.

 

Will North Allegheny bring a PIAA championship back to Wexford? Find out Saturday evening.

463 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Championship teams don’t rebuild. They reload. Many apologies from this writer for beginning with an old and tired sports cliche, but for this edition of the LaSalle College High School Explorers, it is a fairly appropriate statement.

 

After the Explorers claimed the Philadelphia Catholic League’s first ever PIAA football championship with an impressive 24-7 victory over State College last December, graduation reared its ugly head. Gone was career 5,000-yard passer Drew Loughery. Gone were WRs Sam Feleccia and Connor Hoffman, as well as tight end Steve Jones. Gone were offensive linemen Steve Szostak, Matt DiGiacomo and Dylan Gavin; LBs Ryan Saraceni and Anthony Cognetti; DB Vinny Migliarese and Shane Brady.

 

The more things seem to change, though, the more they stay the same. Because the Explorers simply plugged up the vacancies with a new batch of capable and talented players with some key pieces returning from their PIAA title team, they are back on the AAAA championship game stage, in position to claim a second consecutive golden football.

 

LaSalle College will meet WPIAL champion North Allegheny (14-1) in the PIAA AAAA state championship game Saturday evening at HersheyPark Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. The Explorers enter the game on a 12-game winning streak, while North Allegheny has limited its two PIAA inter-district playoff opponents to a combined 28 yards rushing.

 

The Explorers cracked the national rankings prior to their Eastern Final game with North Penn, checking in at #22 in the nation by the USA-Today’s Super-25 high school football poll. LaSalle finished the 2009 season ranked #24 in the nation in the USA-Today poll. Playing for PIAA titles helps draw national attention – but so does winning 36 of your last 41 games and three consecutive Philadelphia Catholic League AAAA championships.

 

Overall, LaSalle has won 12 Philadelphia Catholic League football championships, its first coming in 1955. The Explorers have won 460 games as a member of the PCL since it began playing football in the league in 1920. But there were two brief stints in which LaSalle did not compete in the PCL (1921-’22; 1928-’33). The 2010 season included, LaSalle has posted 11 seasons of 10+ victories, and their 14 wins in 2009 tied the school record for victories in a season, established with the PCL championship team of 1998, which went 14-0. LaSalle has posted three undefeated and untied football seasons in its history – 1955, 1957 and 1998.

 

And since the PCL became affiliated with the PIAA in football, beginning in 2008, the league has posted a pretty impressive PIAA playoff resume. Between LaSalle, AAA power Archbishop Wood and AA power West Catholic, the PCL has won 16 PIAA inter-district playoff games against only 5 losses. That works out to a winning percentage of .761. The three schools have played in a combined eight PIAA Eastern Final games in the last three years, winning five.

 

LaSalle has some history on its side entering this matchup. Prior to 2010, among all four classifications, there were 21 instances in PIAA title games where a team reached the state finals in defense of a state championship victory the previous season. In those 21 instances, the defending champion won 14 times and lost the other seven. The two most recent successful defenses of PIAA titles occurred in 2008 – Thomas Jefferson won the AAA state title and Steelton-Highspire claimed the crown in Class A. You have to go back a little ways to find the last two unsuccessful defenses of PIAA titles. Rochester surrendured its state title crown to Southern Columbia in 2002 and Manheim Central did the same against Thomas Jefferson in 2004.

 

The Explorers have been dominant on the defensive side of the ball. Don’t be fooled by the 35 points and more than 300 yards of offense North Penn put up on the Explorers in the Eastern Finals into thinking LaSalle’s defense is second-rate. It is not. The only other team to score more than 20 points in a game against the Explorer defensive unit was New Jersey football power Bergen Catholic, who put up 22 points in a Week 2 victory over LaSalle. In its 14 games this season, the LaSalle defense (both first string and reserves) has allowed a total of 10.4 points per game, with four shutouts. In an 11-game stretch, beginning with West Catholic and ending with Easton Area, the Explorers’ defense (including reserves) yielded a grand total of 75 points (6.8 points per game).

 

Key contributors to the Explorers’ defensive unit include DLs Ryan Geiger and Joe Naji, LBs Connor Daly and Tim Wade, DBs Jamal Adbur-Rahman and Sean Coleman and S Kevin Forster.

 

Offensively, LaSalle has many varied and talented weapons. The Explorers are more of a running-oriented offense this year than last, but it’s the ground attack that helped them claim PIAA gold last season. Starting up front with the offensive line keyed by Geiger (6’1, 260), Naji (6’2, 225), Cameron Cappo (6’2, 215), Daniel Ezzo (6’5, 235) and Sean Toner (6’1, 225), LaSalle has churned out more than 3,100 yards and 43 rushing touchdowns as a team and averages 224 yards per game on the ground.

 

Three main players front the Explorers rushing attack – Abdur-Rahman, Wade and Forster. Abdur-Rahman, who is bound for Villanova, leads the trio with 1,705 yards and 24 touchdowns. For his career, Adbur-Rahman has recorded 3,911 rushing yards, leaving him just 89 yards shy of becoming the 4th PCL back (and first LaSalle back) with 4,000+ career rushing yards. Abdur-Rahman has also scored touchdowns receiving, on a kickoff return and an interception return this season. Wade, only a junior who also plays linebacker on defense, has run for 439 yards and scored six total touchdowns.

 

Forster can be utilized in numerous ways for LaSalle on offense. When junior field general Matt Magarity missed some games with injury, Forster took over the reins of the Explorer offense and ran a near-flawless spread-option attack. He’s run for 390 yards, thrown for 302 more, and reeled in 15 passes for 181 yards, accounting for 10 total touchdowns. Forster also leads the Explorers in interceptions, with six.

 

Magarity has connected on 80-of-145 passes for 1,149 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, and receivers Coleman (team-best 481 yards) and Colin Buckley (244 yards) are potential targets, as are Abdur-Rahman (287 yards) and Mike Piscopo (133 yards).

 

On special teams, sophomore kicker Ryan Winslow has proven a steady and accurate booter, converting 49 PATs and four field goals, scoring 61 total points (13 percent of LaSalle’s season scoring output).

 

The Explorers have scored 467 points this season, an average of 33.3 points per game. The 467 points is unofficially the ninth-best single season scoring output in District 12/Philadelphia Catholic League history, and betters LaSalle’s 2009 season scoring output of 456 points in 15 games.

 

Can LaSalle make it two state titles for the PCL in a row? Find out Saturday evening.

 

EasternPAFootball.com’s Armand “The Godfather” Vanore helped contribute some of the information appearing in this preview.

554 Views 0 Comments Permalink

GREENSBURG, Pa. – South Fayette senior field general Christian Brumbaugh was less than enthused with the start to the PIAA AA Western Final.

His fourth pass attempt of the game had been intercepted by Forest Hills’ James McCombie and returned 59 yards for a touchdown. Worse yet was the fact the turnover thwarted a possession that had gained 37 yards and a pair of first downs.

 

But at this stage of the postseason, it’s all about how you respond.

 

“(Sure) I was a little upset at first,” Brumbaugh said. “But you’ve got to bounce back. I think we bounced back well.”

 

And by turning things around drastically, South Fayette bounced Forest Hills’ hopes of reaching the PIAA finals for the first time in 16 years.

 

Brumbaugh had another banner day, throwing for 365 yards and six touchdowns as South Fayette (15-0) rolled up 528 yards of offense and 25 first downs in a merciless 49-12 pounding of Forest Hills (13-2) in the PIAA AA Western Final played Saturday afternoon at Hempfield Area High School in Greensburg.

 

With the victory, the Lions will travel to Hershey next weekend to battle Philadelphia Catholic League AA powerhouse West Catholic (12-2), a 21-7 winner over previously unbeaten Lewisburg in the PIAA AA Eastern Final. West Catholic has won no fewer than 11 games in each of the last four seasons.

 

With his latest postseason passing effort, Brumbaugh only further cemented himself as one of western Pennsylvania’s greatest passing quarterbacks. He established the new WPIAL record for career passing yardage (formerly 6,741 yards) in the first quarter with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Josh Patterson. He surpassed the WPIAL’s single season passing record (formerly 3,310 yards) on his next completion – a 21-yard pass to Patterson. His final touchdown pass of the day – an 8-yard rope to, who else, Patterson, tied him with former Lancaster Catholic QB Kyle Smith for the state’s single-season record for touchdown passes (50).

 

Brumbaugh’s stat line, for both his season and career, is insane. In a good way. For the season, he’s completed 227-of-342 passes for 3,620 yards and 50 touchdowns. For his career, he’s thrown for 7,056 yards and 86 tochdowns.

 

“He’s everything you’d dream of in a quarterback,” said South Fayette head coach Joe Rossi. “He did make a commitment to William & Mary the other day. I don’t know why guys like Pitt and Penn State (hadn’t recruited him). I guess that’s why I’m a high school football coach.”

 

“When you play a 16-week season, that makes it possible for those things to happen,” Brumbaugh said when told he’d tied the single season TD pass record. “But there’s 11 guys on the football field and it starts up front with the front five.”

 

Speaking of the Lions’ offensive line, they blew open holes in Forest Hills’ defense big enough to fit some Mack trucks through.

 

“Our O-line just keeps getting better and better,” said senior running back Jeff Davis.

 

Davis benefitted greatly in the first quarter from the line play. By the time the first quarter was over, he’d run for 121 yards on just eight carries, including a 51-yard scoring run with 2:49 left in the opening quarter to push South Fayette’s advantage to 14-6. The Lions’ scored two more touchdowns before Forest Hills had a scoring answer of its own on Brumbaugh passes of 23 and 13 yards to Tyler Challingsworth.

 

An Anthony Unger 6-yard run would slice the Lions’ advantage to 28-12 with 6:14 left in the first half, but even then, the Rangers were never in the ball game.

 

In the first quarter alone, South Fayette outgained the Rangers 265 to 12 in total offense and had 12 first downs to the Rangers’ 0. By halftime, South Fayette had 336 yards of offense to Forest Hills’ 105.

 

After gaining a 35-12 halftime lead, South Fayette added two more second half scores – Brumbaugh passes of 16 yards to Zach Challingsworth and 8 yards to Patterson – to invoke the mercy rule and a running clock with 7:51 left in the game.

 

Six different South Fayette receivers – the Challingsworths, Tyler and Zach, Patterson, Davis, Tanner Courtad and Eric Myers – helped Brumbaugh account for 22 completions in 31 attempts. Tyler Challingsworth caught 7 passes for 133 yards and two scores; Patterson five for 85 yards and three scores; Davis four for 76 yards; Zach Challingsworth three for 32 yards and one score; Myers two for 17 yards; and Courtad one for 24.

 

Davis added 144 rushing yards on 13 carries and backup QB John Lerda’s only rushing attempt went for 24 yards. South Fayette finished with 163 rushing yards on the day.

 

Forest Hills was paced by Nick Dudukovich’s 55 yards on 11 carries. Unger added four rushes for 29 yards and Jeff Meier ran for 17 yards on six totes. Junior quarterback Justin Gdula, who had thrown 27 touchdown passes entering the game, finished 6-of-14 for 76 yards with an interception and a fumble lost. Forest Hills had just 167 yards of offense for the game and eight first downs.

303 Views 0 Comments Permalink

DuBOIS, Pa. – Amid the postgame celebration, Bishop McDevitt senior quarterback Matt Johnson was running around the melee with a Santa hat in his hand. The red hats with the poofy white ball on the end are quite a common sight this time of year, as Christmas is not too far away.

 

Moments earlier, Johnson played “Santa Claus” and helped deliver the McDevitt Crusaders a Christmas gift that will be talked about on Market Street and in the blue and gold football community for years and years to come.

 

Johnson threw for 214 yards and a touchdown and also executed a beautiful 28-yard rugby-style faked punt run to lead Bishop McDevitt (13-2) on an improbable 21-point second half rally to defeat Erie Cathedral Prep (9-5) 24-21 in the PIAA AAA Western Final from E.J. Mansell Stadium in DuBois.

 

With the victory, McDevitt will play Allentown Central Catholic (15-0), a 49-27 victor over Philadelphia Catholic League representative Archbishop Wood. The Crusaders will be charged with containing an ACC team that has scored 158 points in the last three weeks.

 

“We’re going to Hershey, coach!” Johnson yelled, embracing Crusaders’ boss Jeff Weachter.

 

Had one only happened upon Mansell Stadium at the end, they probably wouldn’t have had any inkling the Crusaders were on the verge of being run off the field in the first half by a speedy and lightning-quick Cathedral Prep football team.

 

The District 10 champion Ramblers used three big offensive plays – a 25-yard Damion Terry run and two scoring passes from Terry to junior speed demon Anthony Jordan (4 rec., 121 yards) covering 50 and 37 yards, to build a 21-3 halftime lead.

 

“I think we’ve been catching people off-guard all season (with our speed),” said Prep head coach Mike Mischler.

 

The Crusaders, despite having troubles with the Ramblers’ speed, weren’t being statistically dominated like most 21-3 scores indicate. The Crusaders had only been outgained 185-159 in total offensive yardage. But it was the little things that dug McDevitt into so deep of a hole.

 

The gold domers finished the first half with three turnovers on downs in Cathedral Prep territory (including a 4th-and-goal from the 3 which ended with Jameel Poteat gaining only two yards), an interception, four penalties for 25 yards, a dropped touchdown pass in the end zone and two fumbles (none lost). If the first half was a Shakespearean play, it was nothing short of a comedy of errors for the Crusaders.

 

“We made it so hard on ourselves,” Weachter said. “We killed ourselves. They weren’t stopping us. We were stopping us.”

 

That became evidenced on the first two possessions of the game. McDevitt, who opted to receive the opening kick, had consecutive turnovers on downs. Cathedral Prep, meanwhile, scored consecutive touchdowns. All McDevitt had to show for its first half effort was a 30-yard field goal from sophomore Connor Maloney.

 

But everything that went wrong for the Crusaders in the first half suddenly flipped sidelines. Cathedral Prep, which was flagged only once in the first half for five yards, was flagged six times, including twice for intentional grounding – for 45 costly yards. The Ramblers turned the ball over twice and finished with only 3 net rushing yards in the second half and three first downs.

 

McDevitt’s Miles Williams got the rally started when he intercepted Terry (8-of-20, 177 yards, 2 TD, INT) and returned the pick 42 yards to the house down the Cathedral Prep side of the field to slice the deficit to just 21-10.

 

Then, after forcing a Rambler punt, the Crusaders gained possession at the Prep 47. Seven plays later, faced with a critical 4th-and-13 from the Prep 24, Johnson fired a bullet of a pass to Shaun Seif for a 24-yard scoring strike. Suddenly, Prep was on its heels, reeling a bit as McDevitt was now within four, to 21-17.

 

After forcing a turnover on downs with 8:21 left in regulation, Johnson and the Crusaders went to work from their own 33 yard line. Johnson, who began the drive 12-of-22, suddenly came to life. #11 connected with 6’4 senior Matt Boland on gains of 11 and 16 yards (the latter moved the ball to the Prep 31), with Seif on an 11-yard strike. The dagger came after the 16-yarder to Boland. Johnson hit Brian Lemelle on a 29-yard rainbow to the Cathedral Prep 2, and Poteat (29 rush, 110 yards) charged into the end zone with 6:03 left to complete the comeback.

 

Johnson then saved his best play for when McDevitt needed it most. Faced with a 4th-and-10 and punting scenario with just over 4 minutes left in the game, Johnson flawlessly executed a 28-yard run of a rugby-style faked punt. The big gainer helped the Crusaders drain two and a half minutes of game clock.

 

“I saw an overshift to the right,” Johnson said. “I was hoping they didn’t blitz to the left.”

 

After a 25-yard pass on its last drive of the 2010 season, Terry threw four consecutive incompletions. Two Johnson knees sealed the win and the celebration.

 

“Everybody said we couldn’t get it done against western Pennsylvania teams,” Johnson said. “(Well, guess what?) We’re 2-0 against western PA teams this year.”

 

Johnson finished the night with 16 completions in 29 attempts and ran 12 times for minus-2 yards. McDevitt finished with 323 yards of offense and 15 first downs. Defensively, Noah Spence added his 21st sack of the season and was a dominant force the entire second half of the game.

 

Prep was paced by Terry’s passing night and Jordan’s receiving. Terry added 25 yards rushing on 16 carries. Markel Keys ran for 35 yards on five totes. As a unit as a whole, Prep finished with 248 yards of offense and 11 first downs.

 

“(In the first half) they were on fire and found out they could play with these guys,” Mischler said of his team. “We just let things slip away (in the second half).”

213 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Play till the clock is zeros. That’s what good teams do. Bishop Carroll is a little better than good.  A furious 4th quarter comeback just wasn’t enough as Riverside posted a 34-20 victory over the Huskies. The comeback began with 10:12 left in the 4th quarter and Riverside holding a commanding 28-6 lead. Following a 32 yard pass to Curt Panick from Huskies qb Josh Barzdo and a personal foul penalty against the Vikings on the play, Barzdo first ran 21 yards then took the ball from 1 yard out for 6. Ryan Woo completed the two point conversion that made the score 28-14. On the ensuing kickoff Bishop Carroll attempted to capture the momentum but Kyle Walsh took the onside kick 43 yards to the Carroll 7. Two plays later Viking qb Corey Talerico scored  on a long run to the left making the score 34-14 with just 8 minutes left.

 

The Huskies still wouldnt give up. A 36 yard catch by Josh Shall and a 25 yard td scamper from Ryan Woo capped the scoring. The game started with a bang and the Huskies drawing first blood. On second and nine from the 25, Barzdo faked left then turned around the right end with no defenders in sight and went 75 yards for the first score of the game. The pat failed and Bishop Carroll led 6-0 just two plays into the game. Disaster almost struck twice for Riverside as Talerico attempted a shovel pass athe the Viking 48 only to throw it right into the hands of Huskie lineman Josh Beck, who returned the interception to the Viking 15. Riversides defense held tough and Carrolls drive ended with and interception in the endzone by Talerico.

 

The Vikings methodically drove the length of the field on the legs of Nick Rossi and Talerico. On third and one, Talerico went around the right side and scampered 36 yards to tie the score. The pat failed but a momentum switch had occurred. Riverside then controlled the rest of the half. Following the next Huskie possession, which ended with a punt to the Viking 21, Talerico hit Skylar Lavage and the big tight end did the rest, breaking and avoiding tackles on his way to an 82 yard td reception. The pat failed making it 12-6 in favor of Riverside.  With 3:28 left in the half, Lacavage again received the ball from Talerico and ran 54 yards to paydirt. The 2 pointer was converted and the Vikings went into the locker room with a 20-6 lead.

Riverside took the second half kickoff and drove 56 yards. Rossi capped the drive with a bruising 6 yard run. The two point conversion was good giving the Vikings a 28-6 lead.

 

Riverside will play Clairton , a 48-8 winner over Farrell, at Hersheypark Stadium on Friday at 2:00 for the class A state title.

184 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Bethlehem, Pa., Allentown Central Catholic Junior Quarterback Brendan Nosovitch was a human highlight reel for the Vikings in their AAA eastern final 49-27 conquest over District 12 power Archbishop Wood last night at Frank Banko field.

 

Nosovitch was the complete package and was too much offensively for Wood from the outset. Pinned on their own five yard line on their first series Nosovitch (out of the shotgun) ran up the middle for 25 yards on their first play while they had four receivers flanked to the left. On the very next play Nosovitch hit star junior receiver Kevin Gulyas in stride for a 70 yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

 

Later in the first quarter Allentown Central stud defensive lineman Shane McNeely was carried off the field with a leg injury and Wood immediately took advantage when junior running back Brandon Peoples ran for a 48 yard touchdown. Wood then scored again on their next possession after partially blocking an ACC punt and from Central’s 30 yard line they only needed three plays and junior quarterback Joey Monaghan hit junior TE Colin Thompson for an eight yard touchdown and a Wood 14-7 lead.

 

Not to be outdone by Wood’s quick success Nosovitch and company came right back in six plays ending with a beautiful pass down the right sideline to junior Jalen Snyder-Scipio and a 54 yard touchdown. Wood, trying to avoid a momentum shift then immediately went on a five minute, 11 play, 80 yard drive that ended with a Monaghan 10 yard touchdown run and a Wood 21-14 lead.

 

Right before the half Central tied the game seven plays later at 21 with a seven play drive (Nosovitch had a run of 38) and ended when the QB hit Scipio with a seven yard touchdown pass.

 

The momentum became a one team show in the second half both offensively and defensively for Central. The defensive charge led by Jarred Pitts, Noah Robb, Jack Sandherr, Colin McDermott and Connor O’Donnell began to bear down on the Wood running game and they kept Peoples in check after he ran for 150 yards in the first half. Offensively on their second drive Nosivitch then led Central on a seven play drive ending when he pounded the ball in from the one and a 28-21 lead.

 

The floodgates then opened when the Gatorade player of the year threw two more 64 yard touchdown passes (his third to Scipio and to Noah Robb).

 

Nosovitch ended his day with just under 200 yards rushing and over 400 yards passing. It was one of the greatest one man performances seen in these parts for some time and the type of game that can give defensive coaches nightmares.

 

The Vikings (15-0) now will represent the east in their state final against western representative Bishop McDevitt after their win over Erie Cathedral Prep. Archbishop Wood finishes their season 13-1 and dearly missed their star running back Desmon Peoples (Brandon’s cousin) who has been out since their PCL final win over Cardinal O’Hara a month ago. Wood also lost defensive star Sam McCain (injured ankle) in the first half.

203 Views 0 Comments Permalink

HERSHEY – West Catholic (12-2) scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter including a Brandon Hollomon 65-yard touchdown run to ice the game. The Burrs overcame six penalties in the first half in a 21-7 win over Lewisburg (14-1) Saturday afternoon at Hersheypark Stadium.

 

West Catholic head coach Brian Fluck talked about Hollomon’s touchdown run, “He’s a big time player. He always steps up for us. That play they were pitching everyone inside and we felt we could get to the corner. We thought if he got to the corner he could break one and he did.”

 

Two years ago West Catholic lost to Wilmington Area 35-34 in the state finals. With their win today they can erase that memory. Fluck talked about the loss in 08,  “I told the kids before the game I remember that game and have thought about that game for two years every day. Now we have a chance to get that back.”

 

David Williams scored the only touchdown in the first half. He went in for a two-yard score with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter. The Burrs led 7-0.

 

Hollomon talked about the first half, “We wanted to come in today and try and play mistake free. Our coach said to us at halftime to cut down the penalties and finish off the drives.”

 

West Catholic had 65 penalty yards in the first half and they held Lewisburg to 23 offensive yards.

 

Lewisburg’s defense held West Catholic’s high power offense through three quarters. Head Coach Todd Tilford said, “Our defense gave us chances and our chances couldn’t get going. They have so much speed coming off the end.”

 

Lewisburg hung around going into the fourth quarter until West Catholic put together an 11-play, 84-yard drive.  Williams had runs of 11 and 29 yards and Jaleel Reed scored on a one-yard touchdown run to give his team a 14-0 lead with 8:53 remaining in the game.

 

The Green Dragons managed one first down and punted the ball right back to West Catholic. But they finally got the break they needed. The Burrs center snapped the ball right over Reed’s head and Merle Moscarello scooped up the ball and went in for the score cutting West Catholic’s lead in half with 4:53 left in the game.

 

If the Green Dragons had momentum it lasted only one drive. The Burrs were faced with a third down and ten on their 35 when Hollomon took the pitch and went down the sidelines for a 65-yard score with 3:51 remaining in the game. The extra point made it 21-7 Burrs.

 

Hollomon talked about the drive, “It was a toss play and I was thinking first down and wanted to run out the clock. I got a good block by Jaelen Strong-Rankin and just turned on the jets.”

 

With one last drive Lewisburg’s quarterback Camden Cassels 4th down pass sailed out of bounds and the Burrs took over on downs at the Green Dragons 29.

 

The Burrs Joshua Mathis converted a big fourth down play and they ran out the clock to preserve the win.

 

West Catholic will face South Fayette at 12:00 pm next Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. They won 49-12 over Forest Hills.

 

Hollomon said, “This means a lot to us. But we have unfinished business and we still have one more to go to redeem ourselves. We did this for the 08 team and everyone who supports us.”

 

Lewisburg’s Nate Brown finished the day rushing for 28 yards.

 

Head Coach Tilford talked about his team, “They played their hearts out as always. Can’t expect anything less than that and I can’t say anything less than that.”

132 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Plymouth Meeting, Pa., Joe Nagi’s tip of a Corey Ernst screen pass and Ryan Geiger’s interception with under two minutes remaining on the LaSalle Explorers 43 yard line, stunted a potential game winning drive by District 1champ North Penn giving the District 12 champs a thrilling victory, the AAAA eastern championship and a date next week in Hershey vs. North Allegheny for the state title.

 

This game featured seven lead changes and offensive explosions, both passing and running by some great skill players that made this game, one for the ages.

 

The Knights took eight plays in their first possession and scored on a Dominic Taggart one yard touchdown run. The North Penn offensive line appeared to have some control up front. LaSalle answered immediately with their own seven play drive including two Explorer quarterback Matt Magarity completions for 62 yards and was culminated with a Jamal Abdur-Rahman two yard TD burst and a tie at seven. Two plays later Ernst hit TE Ralph Reeves for a 55 yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead for North Penn.

 

As the second quarter started the defending state champs then went on a long, extended drive eclipsing almost five minutes and some nifty running and passing by Magarity (4-6, 42 yards in the drive) and ending with a Magarity to Tim Wade two yard touchdown pass and a tie at 14. North Penn’s Brandon Mercer then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and LaSalle recovered at the Knight 24. The Explorers could only get to the seven yard line and had to settle for a Ryan Winslow 24 yard field goal and a LaSalle 17-14 lead.

 

The Knights then buckled down and executed a 10 play, 82 yard drive with Taggart doing the majority of the running and he took it in again from the one and now a Knight 21-17 lead that they took into the locker room at halftime.

 

LaSalle came into the game dominating in about every second half of games they have played, but North Penn has had their success in this area as well. LaSalle retook the lead in only two plays and Rahman scored from the two. North Penn immediately answered yet again on their next drive. They pounded Taggart behind their huge line, anchored by center T.J. Smink. Six runs from Taggart mixed in with a Ernst to Reeves 37 yard completion got the ball down to the seven yard line. Taggart then scored his third TD of the afternoon on the next play and another lead change.

 

Down 35-31 with just over four minutes to play, LaSalle did what they have done all season in tight games; go with the big gun, Rahman. The Villanova recruit compiled 33 yards in their final possession. Then Magarity hit sophomore standout receiver Sean Coleman with a great pitch and catch and a 25 yard touchdown putting the Explorers up 38-35.

 

In the Knights final possession they executed a critical fourth down conversion on a30 yard pass completion from Ernst to a wide open Gerard Wendowski. With a little over a minute remaining and the ball on the LaSalle 43, Nagi and Geiger performed their magic on North Penn’s next play.

 

LaSalle coach Drew Gordon was awed by the Knights effort.”Was this a great game or what? This is what championship high school football should be all about. This team took us out of our game constantly. I am so proud of our guys for finding a way to win this game” Gordon was equally impressed with Magarity who finished the day 10 of 19 passing for 182 yards. “We haven’t given Matt a lot of chances to throw this year and he really came through today when we needed it. He handled the pressure well”

 

Rahman ran for 140 yards on 21 carries, three touchdowns and played an outstanding game in the defensive backfield as well as kick and punt returns. Coleman, who excels as a star lacrosse player made some big time grabs in traffic. For North Penn, (with feature back Ted Needhammer playing very little due to an ankle issue), Taggart carried the load scoring four touchdowns and running for 140 yards.

207 Views 0 Comments Permalink

ALLENTOWN CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL STANDOUT NAMED

 

GATORADE® PENNSYLVANIA FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

 

CHICAGO (December 2, 2010) — In its third decade of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Brendan Nosovitch of Allentown Central Catholic High School as its 2010-11 Gatorade Pennsylvania Football Player of the Year.  Nosovitch is the first Gatorade Pennsylvania Football Player of the Year to be chosen from Allentown Central Catholic High School.

 

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Nosovitch as Pennsylvania’s best high school football player.  Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award announced in December, Nosovitch joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Wes Welker (1999-00, Heritage Hall HS, Okla.), Terrell Suggs (1999-00, Hamilton HS, Ariz.), Anquan Boldin (1998-99, Pahokee HS, Fla.) and Jerome Bettis (1989-90, Mackenzie HS, Mich.).

 

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior quarterback led the Vikings to a 13-0 record entering in the Class AAA state quarterfinals against Clearfield High, scheduled for Dec. 3. At the time of his selection, Nosovitch had completed 148-of-252 attempts for 2,307 yards and 35 touchdowns. A returning Class AAA Second Team All-State selection as named by The Associated Press, he had also rushed for 1,283 yards and 18 touchdowns on 201 carries. As a sophomore in 2009, Nosovitch threw for 2,085 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 1,007 yards and 19 touchdowns. He is the first quarterback in state history to eclipse 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons.

 

Nosovitch has maintained a 3.23 GPA in the classroom. A member of his school’s student council, he has volunteered on behalf of the Best Friends Forever special needs mentoring program in addition to donating his time as a youth football and basketball instructor.

 

“He’s a dual-threat quarterback, so he’s real dangerous when he improvises,” said Tony Trisciani, head coach of rival Whitehall High. “When he gets out of the pocket, he makes things happen. He runs like a running back; he doesn’t run like a quarterback. He’s a talented quarterback as well. He’s got a strong arm. He’s got a lot of weapons, and he’s able to make the decisions that are necessary in their style of offense. He’s got a lot of command when he’s out there.”

 

Nosovitch will begin his senior year of high school next fall.

 

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by ESPN RISE and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

 

Nosovitch joins recent Gatorade Pennsylvania Football Players of the Year Kyle Smith (2009-10, Lancaster Catholic), Zach Barket (2008-09, Schuylkill Haven Area) and Brendan Beal (2007-08, Liberty) among the state’s list of former award winners.

 

To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners, and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com.

551 Views 0 Comments Permalink

ALTOONA, Pa. – From Mansion Park Stadium’s pressbox, one can hear the whistles from passing freight trains on the Main Line, one of the busiest freight rail lines in Pennsylvania.

 

The Holy Name defense ran into a freight train of a different sort – the Bishop Carroll ground game. And it was a freight train without brakes.

 

Bishop Carroll (11-2) pounded and pounded and pounded the Holy Name (11-2) defense for 392 rushing yards and put the game away with a 6:36 scoring drive in the fourth quarter for a 34-21 victory in a PIAA Class A Eastern Quarterfinal game from frigid Mansion Park Stadium.

 

With the victory, the Huskies advance to their fifth PIAA Class A semifinal in school history (first Eastern semifinal appearance) opposite District 2 champion Riverside, a 41-0 victor over District 11 champion Schuylkill Haven. Riverside last played in a PIAA semifinal in 1997.

 

If Bishop Carroll was a freight train this night, then Husky senior tailback Ryan Woo was the fuel. Entering the contest with 1,775 rushing yards, Woo was already having a very solid season for the blue and white. And his performance against the Blue Jays only piled onto that succesful season.

 

Woo finished with 244 yards on 28 carries and scored two touchdowns on runs of 44 and 47 yards. The 44-yard run in the second quarter broke a 7-7 tie and the 47-yarder pushed the Huskies’ lead to 26-14 as time expired in the third quarter. Woo now has 2,019 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns this year.

 

Credit for Woo’s effort, though, started up front with linemen Tyler Strong, Andrew Stiles, Matt Dillon, Nicholas Maruca and Vinnie Tranquillo. Tranquillo, the lone senior, is the biggest of the bunch at 225 pounds. But the quintet opened up hole after hole after hole, not only for Woo, but also for David Kephart, Josh Chumrik and Josh Barzdo all game long.

 

“They did a super job,” Bishop Carroll coach Craig Sponsky said of his offensive line. “They executed the scheme we wanted to do tonight. They make a lot of room for us.”

 

That space created was evidenced by Carroll’s ground attack, which broke 11 running plays of 10 yards or more. The Huskies only had to attempt three passes this night, and they completed two for 18 yards.

 

“They were very physical up front,” Holy Name head coach Rick Keeley said of the Huskies. “My hat’s off to their offensive and defensive lines. We were able to execute our offense at times, but sometimes their defense was just better. And for that, you have to give them credit.”

 

Holy Name, though, came out like gangbusters to open the contest. Senior feature back Freddy Caruso broke a 70-yard run to the Carroll 1 yard line on the Blue Jays’ first play from scrimmage, then crashed into the end zone on the very next play. Just 32 seconds into the game, Holy Name led, 7-0.

 

Defensively, too, Holy Name appeared to be up to the task. In Carroll’s first 11 plays, the Huskies only ran for 33 yards. Holy Name helped the Huskies by committing three offsides penalties and a five-yard facemask foul, but Carroll’s first two possessions ended with a punt and a lost fumble, recovered by Caruso.

 

But that all changed in the second quarter. Carroll marched 40 yards on six plays, capped by a Kephart 2-yard scoring run to knot the scoreboard at 7s with 8:57 left in the half. Woo’s big run pushed the Huskies into the lead 4:47 of game clock later, and Carroll never trailed again.

 

A Barzdo 10-yard scoring run with 7:56 left in the third quarter capped a string of 20 unanswered points for the Huskies, pushing the lead to 20-7. But Holy Name struck back when Brian Eliff (11-of-15, 81 yards, TD) hooked up with Pietro Gaspari for a 15-yard scoring pass, slicing the Huskies’ lead to just 20-14.

 

After Woo’s 47-yard scoring run, Caruso capped Holy Name’s scoring with a 41-yard run down the home sideline. That score, with 10:40 left in the game, moved the Jays to within five points, at 26-21. But they got no closer.

 

The Huskies answered the Holy Name touchdown with an impressive 12-play, 70-yard, 6:36 march, capped by Barzdo’s second scoring run of the night – a 1-yard plunge with 3:54 left in the game.

 

Holy Name had two more possessions, but turned the ball over on downs each time. Two Husky knees ended the game.

 

Caruso finished with 179 yards rushing on 15 carries. Fullback Jeremy Figura added 50 yards on 10 carries. Holy Name finished with 289 yards of offense (208 rushing) and 14 first downs.

 

Bishop Carroll, beyond Woo’s effort on the ground, was also paced by Chumrik (9 rushes, 71 yards), Barzdo (13 rushes, 36 yards, 2 TD) and Kephart (9 rushes, 38 yards). As a team, the Huskies posted 392 rushing yards on 59 carries and amassed 23 first downs.

 

Even in defeat, Keeley said the only thing he would change were the final numbers on the scoreboard.

 

“I wouldn’t change anything about this season,” Keeley said. “These young men gave everything they had, and that’s all you can ask of your team. They brought a lot of pride to the Holy Name football program.”

336 Views 0 Comments Permalink

When Running Back Desmond Peoples was injured for Archbishop Wood, another Peoples had to step in at the position.

 

Enter Cousin Brandon Peoples.

 

After 130 yard effort two weeks ago against Dobbins Tech in the District 12 Championship Game, Peoples torched Strath Haven for 222 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns in a 24-14 victory over the Panthers in the PIAA AAA Eastern Semi-Final at Coatesville’s Multi-Purpose Stadium Friday Night.

 

Peoples opened the scoring with 7:25 to play in the first quarter as he scored on a one yard run that capped a 59 yard 10 play drive. Peoples had a run of 33 yards in the drive and Wood converted both a third down and a fourth down play in the drive. Nick Visco added the extra point as Wood took a 7-0 lead. Visco would add a 26 yard field goal with 23 seconds to play in the first quarter as Wood took a 10-0 lead.

 

Strath Haven’s Brent Collins then returned the kickoff 65 yards to the Viking 23 yard line. Thurman Fortune (21 carries 93 yards) needed just two plays from there as he scampered 21 yards on the first play of the second quarter to cut the Viking lead to 10-7.

 

Wood then increased the lead 17-7 when quarterback Joe Monaghan sneaked in from the one yard line on Wood’s next possession.

 

The second story of the night was the Wood defense.

 

Wood held the vaunted Strath Haven Wing-T running attack to 138 yards rushing and 253 total yards for the game. Every time Thurman tried to get going, there was always a Wood defender there to greet him.

 

On their first possession of the third quarter, Wood seemed poised to score another touchdown and put the game away. But the Panthers showed a little defense of their own and stopped Peoples on third down and was stopped on fourth down from inside the one yard line as he was met head on by Chaz Fisher.

 

Strath Haven, the Central League and District One champions took the ball on the half-yard line and drove it 99 yards as Collins went in from the five with 6:15 left in the third quarter. The big play in the drive was an 87 yard shovel pass from James Griffin to Alex Hisey that set the Panthers up first and goal on the Viking five yard line. Collins then needed just one play to once again cut the lead to three points, this time 17-14. Hisey kicked both extra points and also had a nice one-handed interception for the Panthers, who finish their season at 12-2.

 

Win the win Wood, who remained undefeated at 13-0 now faces District 11 Champion 14-0  Allentown Central Catholic, a 55-20 winner over District Nine champion Clearfield  next week in a “Battle of the Vikings” for a berth in the PIAA Class AAA Football Championship game on the 17th of December.

438 Views 0 Comments Permalink

NEWTOWN – North Penn’s (13-1) big first half led to a 42-6 win over Neshaminy (12-2) Friday night in the PIAA Class AAAA District One championship game at Council Rock North.

 

On Neshaminy’s first drive, they were faced with a fourth-and-one from North Penn’s 46-yard line. The Redskins went for it and the Knights defense came up with a big stop. The next play Craig Needhammer went 54-yards for the score and the Knights never looked back.

 

The Knights made it 14-0 when Corey Ernst hit Ralph Reeves for a 12-yard touchdown pass. They added one more score right before the first half ended. Dominic Taggart’s one-yard score put them up 21-0.

 

The Knights got three more rushing touchdowns in the second half. Brandon Mercer scored on runs of 49 and 5. James Fielder added a one-yard run.

 

With the backups in for North Penn, Neshaminy’s Cole Creighton got their only score in the fourth quarter on a three-yard touchdown run.

 

With the win North Penn waits for the winner of the Easton Area vs. LaSalle game.

279 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Riverside has outscored their playoff opponents by an average of 33.3 to 3.5 after their, 41-0, victory over Schuylkill Haven tonight. The District II champs outgained the ‘Canes, 448-130, in total yards. Harry Armstrong’s Viking group (13-1) now advances to the Eastern Finals to battle Bishop Carroll after their, 34-21, win over Holy Name.

 

Riverside’s quarterback Corey Talerico continued to impress as he ran for 176 yards on 7 carries and threw for another 162 stripes while contributing four total touchdowns (3 rushing/1 passing). Talerico even caused a fumble late in the first quarter as he forced Schuylkill Haven’s wideout Matt Naftzinger to lose control of the ball as LaQuan Jackson picked up the pigskin and rumbled all the way down to the goal line setting up the Vikings second score. Future Akron Zip Nick Rossi plunged in from a yard out to make the score, 14-0, Riverside.

 

Talerico completed a 70-yard dart to Skyler Lavage to increase the Viking lead to 28-0 at the half. In the second half, Riverside scored twice more on long gainers. First, a Rossi 50-yard scamper and then Talerico raced 75-yards to close out the scoring and a Riverside win, 41-0.

 

With Riverside looking forward to their game against the Huskies next week in the Final Four, on the other half of the state, the defending champ Clairton (14-0) faces Farrell (13-1) in the Western Finals. Clairton has won twenty-nine consecutive games. The Bears eliminated Farrell the past two seasons in the state tournament. The Steelers are led by senior standout Kevin Brodie (who has scored 30 touchdowns) and Syracuse’s recuit Robert Trudo, a massive lineman.

357 Views 0 Comments Permalink

HERSHEY, Pa. – To fully appreciate the feeling of winning a championship, you have to go through some seasons in the doldrums.

 

That was Cumberland Valley head coach Tim Rimpfel’s feeling after his Eagles claimed their 10th District 3 AAAA football championship and 12th District crown overall.

 

The 35-7 mercy-rule victory Saturday night in HersheyPark Stadium gave Cumberland Valley (12-2) its third consecutive 12-win season and moved the Eagles into the PIAA AAAA Western Finals for the second consecutive year. CV will face North Allegheny (13-1), who defeated State College 21-6 Friday night in a AAAA western quarterfinal game at Pine-Richland High School.

 

For Red Lion (10-4), it was the second loss to the Eagles this season. Those two defeats came by a margin of 80-13.

 

“We didn’t come in here just to be here,” said Red Lion head coach Patrick Conrad. “We came here to win a football game. But we didn’t block and tackle well in the first half.”

 

Those lapses, coupled with CV’s focus and determination, quickly turned the game into a rout.

 

Within its first 12 offensive plays, the Eagles had amassed 118 yards of offense, seven first downs and a 14-0 lead. Jeremy DiPietro broke the goose eggs just 1:13 into the game with a 35-yard run, set up by two first down runs by Jeremy Salmon and Dan Flynn, respectively. CV’s initial drive ate up 63 yards on just four plays.

 

CV’s second possession was met with slightly more resistance, but the end result was still the same, as Rutgers’ commit Kevin Snyder scored from 15 yards out.

 

One of the few Red Lion highlights came on CV’s next possession. After the Eagles drove from their own 25 to inside the Red Lion 10, the Lions’ Jeremy Knaub recovered a Snyder fumble at the black and gold’s three yard line. But five plays later, after Red Lion had chalked up its first first down of the game, CV got the ball back via a fumble recovery.

 

And the Eagles wasted no time. Senior field general Eric Sawyer hooked up with Flynn on a 20-yard touchdown pass on the very next play, and CV was up three scores on its York-Adams League counterparts.

 

“It’s what we call slobberknocker football,” Rimpfel said. Of its 30 offensive plays in the first half, Cumberland Valley ran the ball 28 times. Five different Eagles registered carries in the 220-yard, 13-first down onslaught.

 

Red Lion began mounting its best drive of the first half with 3:45 left in the second from its own 13. Junior quarterback Tanner Klinefelter hit four passes on the drive of 22, 9, 10 and 9 yards, and the Lions strung together four first downs to get to the Cumberland Valley 16 with less than 30 seconds left. But Red Lion coughed up its chance.

 

DiPietro scooped up a Klinefelter fumble, which was forced by Flynn, and raced 84 yards down the home sideline for a 28-0 CV lead.

 

Flynn invoked the mercy rule with a 3-yard scoring run with 1:40 left in the third quarter and Red Lion broke its shutout when Knaub scored from a yard out with 4:42 left in the game. Knaub’s score capped an 80-yard march for the Lions over seven plays.

 

DiPietro finished with 96 yards rushing on 11 carries, with Flynn adding 53 yards on 11 totees and Snyder chipping in with 46 yards on nine carries. Sawyer completed 4-of-6 passes for 51 yards. CV finished with 240 yards of offense and 17 first downs.

 

Red Lion was paced by Klinefelter’s passing effort (16-of-21, 181 yards) and the rushing efforts of Mike Gray (11 rush, 32 yards) and Knaub (8 rush, 19 yards). Red Lion finished with 204 yards of offense and had only 23 rushing yards on 28 carries (sacks included). The Lions had 11 first downs.

 

Conrad said the 10-win season is something positive to build off of.

 

“It’s a good foundation for our program,” he said.

302 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Philadelphia, Pa., In a battle of two of the best defensive teams in the state the LaSalle Explorers outlasted the Easton Red Rovers 19-7 in a AAAA state quarterfinal game yesterday at Northeast High’s Charles Martin stadium.

 

LaSalle got on the board first on their first possession driving down to the Rover 15 before settling for a Ryan Winslow 32 yard Field goal and a 3-0 lead.

 

In the second quarter Easton generated a 15 play eight minute drive that ended with  Senior Quarterback Justin Pacchioli’s eight yard touchdown pass to Tyler Holjis to give Easton the lead. In the drive Pacchioli connected on four passes plus two runs for 14 yards. His scrambling ability (especially on the touchdown) gave the Explorers fits in the early going. Easton’s stingy defense caused a LaSalle three and out on their last offensive possession of the half and an Easton 7-3 lead.

 

LaSalle finally got things going on their first second half possession with a nine play drive that culminated with a Junior Quarterback Matt Magarity’s one yard touchdown plunge and a lead they would not relinquish. On the drive, Villanova bound Jamal Abdur-Rahman totaled 54 of the yards receiving and running. It also appeared that the Explorer offensive line was finally getting on track with their drive blocking.

 

In the fourth quarter another Winslow field goal (this one from 32) gave LaSalle a 13-7 lead. With the ball on their 34 yard line with 2:23 remaining a Pacchioli pass was intercepted by Rahman who brought it back for a 37 yard touchdown and the final nail in the coffin.

 

For as great as LaSalle’s victory was, nothing can be taken away from the effort that Easton gave on this day. “We knew Easton had one of the best defenses around” said LaSalle coach Drew Gordon. “They took us out of our game in the first half. You’re not going to win many games when you run 17 offensive plays in a half.”  Gordon was equally impressed with Pacchioli. “Our guys were right there to get him while he was in the pocket but he kept eluding our pressure. The touchdown pass he threw (to Holjis) while under pressure was huge”.

 

Asked what he told his team in the locker room while behind at halftime Gordon quipped “they needed to pick up the intensity, plain and simple. We were not wrapping up on our tackling and they were taking us out of our game”.  As for Rahman, “he makes big plays at big times. He’s done that for us all year”.

 

LaSalle (the District 12 champ) improves to 12-1 and has a date looming next week with District 1 champ North Penn and for the right to play in the state championship the following week at Hershey.  Easton (the District 11 champion) finished their season at 13-3.

206 Views 0 Comments Permalink

HERSHEY, Pa. – The formula for success on the gridiron in Pennsylvania’s cold December weather is rather simple.

First, hit a couple big, momentum-turning plays. Second, play some solid defense. Third, and most importantly, limit the mistakes.

Lewisburg followed that formula to a tee.

 

The Green Dragons (14-0) scored the first 28 points of the game and forced four Shamrock (12-2) turnovers in a 31-21 victory in a PIAA AA quarterfinal Saturday afternoon at HersheyPark Stadium. With the victory, Lewisburg will face West Catholic, a 55-14 winner over Northern Lehigh, next Saturday afternoon for the PIAA AA Eastern Final at HersheyPark Stadium at 1 p.m.

 

While West Catholic poses the stiffest test Lewisburg will have faced to date, head coach Todd Tilford likes what his team has accomplished thus far in 2010.

 

“I think the sky is the limit with these kids,” Tilford said.

 

And for the first 26:14 of the game, the Green Dragons were sky-high.

 

After battling the Shamrocks through a scoreless first quarter, Lewisburg’s Camden Cassels hit Robert Gaines on a 21-yard pass on 4th-and-5 to the Trinity 1, and Nate Brown scored on the next play to break the goose eggs.

 

Then, the Green Dragons reached in their bag of tricks to push the margin to 14-0. Cassels hit Ryan Lopes on a pass in the flat, and Lopes lateralled the ball to a trailing Nickolas Kifolo, and Kifolo took it the remaining 58 yards on a hook-and-lateral play.

 

But the biggest play, in terms of breaking Trinity’s backs, came toward the end of the first half.

 

Trinity had driven deep into Green Dragon territory and had strung four first downs together and converted a 4th-and-9 with a 10-yard pass to the Lewisburg 21. But two plays after the fourth-down conversion, Patrick Dill was intercepted by Gaines, who returned the pick 99 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.

 

“Robbie’s been clutch for us all year,” Tilford said. “He’s not a speedster, though. Maybe he was aided by the wind.”

 

The 14-point swing was critical, said Trinity head coach Bill Ragni Jr.

 

“We got a little beleagered and a little down,” Ragni said. “We needed to get something going, and that didn’t happen until the third quarter.”

 

The Shamrocks didn’t get things revved up until Lewisburg pushed the margin to 28-0 on a Merle Moscarello 66-yard scoring run.

 

Adam Geiger scored two short touchdown runs to bring the margin to 28-14 and Dill capped the game scoring with a 28-yard pass to sophomore Danny Jackson.

 

Ragni was impressed with Lewisburg’s team speed.

 

“We were warned that they were faster than they looked on film,” Ragni said. “And they tackled well today. We didn’t tackle well today.

 

“We played very hard in the second half,” Ragni continued. “For these guys to come as far as they have with the new (offensive) system, you can look for some big things from these guys in the future.”

 

Moscarello finished with a game-high 127 yards on 16 totes, and Brown added 48 yards on 16 carries. Cassels completed 5-of-10 passes for 128 yards. Lewisburg amassed 283 yards of offense and 11 first downs

 

Geiger finished with 52 yards on 14 carries. Dill threw for 249 yards and completed 18-of-33 passes, but threw three interceptions. Trinity finished with 363 yards of offense and 19 first downs, but also committed eight penalties for 72 yards.

241 Views 0 Comments Permalink