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High School Spotlight

December 13, 2010

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.

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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).”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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