Print

Pitt names captains and other luncheon notes

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Pitt held its annual kickoff luncheon Friday at the Westin downtown, an event that's equal parts pep rally and higher-end function for players, coaches, their families, administrators, boosters and media schlubs like myself.

The biggest news to emerge from the soiree was the announcement of the Panthers' three captains for the 2016 season -- offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty, defensive end Ejuan Price and running back James Conner.

The players were chosen based on a vote from teammates who were allowed to name two players for the distinction, with the three earning what coach Pat Narduzzi estimated to be 70 percent of the votes.

“Captains are probably the most important part of the program,” Narduzzi said. “They’re going to speak to the team a lot, whether it’s after practice, on Friday night after dinner and meetings or Saturday morning before the game. Once all the coaches walk out, it’s those three. You can say I’m the head coach, coach [Josh] Conklin’s the defensive coordinator, coach [Matt] Canada’s the offensive coordinator and coach [Andre] Powell is the special teams coordinator, but this is their football team. They will be as good as they want to be and as good as those leaders are.”

While selected by their fellow teammates, Narduzzi said the players were, in part, chosen because of adversity they have overcome in their respective careers, including in their time at Pitt.

Conner underwent a well-documented fight with Hodgkin lymphoma before being declared cancer free in late May. In three seasons, from 2012-14, Price played in just six games due to chest and back injuries. All three had to experience the uncertainty that comes with a coaching change or, in Price’s case, multiple coaching changes.

“It’s a different feeling when you know your guys think of you as a leader collectively,” Price said. “That made me feel nice.”

The three selections certainly make sense. You have two talented and vocal senior leaders, each of whom plays on a different side of the ball, and the non-senior of the group just happened to beat cancer. I'd say that's a solid trio.

A few other notes from the afternoon...

** Pitt AD Scott Barnes spoke at the event, noting the school has 63,000 tickets out for the Panthers' season-opener against Villanova Sept. 3, most of which he expects to be used. Additionally, Barnes said student season tickets have exceeded 11,000.

** Chancellor Patrick Gallagher also spoke. He made reference to the Pitt-Penn State game on Sept. 10 as a marquee sporting event "hopefully for many more years to come".

** At Thursday's Pitt Fan Fest, Narduzzi said (or joked? The man's humor is as dry as his calves are huge) if he signed 1,000 autographs, 998 of them said 'Coach, you have to kill that team'. "And it wasn't Villanova," he added.

** In a nod to Gallagher, Narduzzi, while speaking to the crowd, said he had high expectations for the job he was taking when he started at Pitt. So far, those already-lofty hopes have been exceeded.

** Both in high school and in college at Rhode Island, Narduzzi was a team captain. From one of his seasons with that designation at URI, Narduzzi shared this story...

“In order to be a great leader, sometimes you have to do the tough things. You’re responsible for your teammates and you have to be accountable for yourself, as well as the football team. I don’t remember what year it was, but I was frustrated with the guys we had and tried to take care of it as a captain. I hope our captains don’t have to go through this, but one Friday afternoon, I went into the head coach and said ‘Coach, the guys are out on Thursday nights. It’s not important to them’. He appreciated it as a coach that I came in and said something to him. You never know what a head coach is going to do. Bob Griffin [Rhode Island’s coach], in a meeting, said ‘Hey, anybody who was out last night and having a good time, stand up’. About nine guys stood up. Most of them were starters. He said ‘Sit down’. Then he said ‘If you’re their backup, stand up’. They stood up. Those were the guys starting the next day.”

Pat Narc-duzzi. It rolls off the tongue.

** Conner wasn't there to speak about being named a captain -- only the team's seniors were present -- but Bisnowaty added another layer to the praise Conner has rightly received, saying he is an inspiration to the team, the city AND "this country".

** Building off the theme of adversity with the group of captains, Bisnowaty discussed the role leaders can play in helping people get past difficult situations.

“Growing up, it wasn’t the easiest of times," he said. "Luckily, I had a good support system like we talk about here at Pitt. I had it all the way through high school. I always had good people around me. Everyone has their daily struggles. I had some struggles that weren’t as easy as they could have been, but I’m grateful for where I am today.”

** As for Price? Were there any doubts when all those injuries threatened to possibly end his career?

“Any time you have a situation like that where you’re out three straight years and not playing football, some doubt is going to creep in there," he said. "Being around my guys and the type of bond we have – as friends, not even as teammates – that kept me going.”

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Friday Night Countdown: Predictions, where to go, other notes

Written by Mike White on .

High school football around Pennsylvania kicks off tonight. Not all teams are playing. In the WPIAL, there is about half of a normal schedule. All teams begin play next week. This is the first installment of "Friday Night Prelude," a weekly Varsity Blog entry with notes, predictions and other items:

Remember, for updates on scores of all WPIAL games, follow @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter. Post scores and photos with #wpial

Check This Out

When Charleroi plays at Monessen tonight, it will be the renewal of a rivalry that goes back to 1905. The two teams haven't played since 2007 and this game marks the 100th meeting between the Cougars and Greyhounds. These two were able to play because of a new rule in the PIAA that lets teams decide to play a game instead of a second scrimmage. Charleroi and Monessen decided to play each other. Starting next week, the WPIAL schedules games for all teams.

When the Charleroi-Monessen rivalry stopped after the 2007 game, they had met more times than any two schools in the WPIAL. Since then, Beaver and New Brighton have moved into the No. 1 spot for most meetings. Those two have played 102 times since 1903, but their series will be stopped this year because they are no longer in the same conference under the new six-classification system. Beaver is Class 3A and New Brighton 2A.

Third on the WPIAL list of most meetings is Beaver Falls and New Brighton. They have played 96 times since 1904. Although the two don't play in the same conference any more, Beaver Falls and New Brighton are scheduled for a non-conference matchup later this season.

Where to go

Looking for a game to see, try these ...

Central Valley at South Fayette, tonight - Post-Gazette Game of the Week. Interesting showdown between two teams that have never met.

Woodland Hills at Gateway, tonight - The Don Holl era begins at Gateway. Did you know Woody High does not have one starter back on offense and only two on defense?

Pine-Richland at St. Edward (Ohio), tomorrow - Turn in ESPN tomorrow at noon and you can catch this one live. 

Central Catholic vs. St. Johns (D.C.), tomorrow at North Allegheny - Noon kickoff in the Western Pennsylvania Football Classic at NA. Division I players galore on the field in this one.

Aliquippa at New Castle, tomorrow - One that drips with tradition. They haven't met since 1989 when Frank Marocco (pictured) and Lindy Lauro were the coaches. This game is the second of a doubleheader at New Castle's Taggart Stadium. Neshannock plays Farrell in the first game at 5 p.m. Nice event.

A dozen predictions

I just stopped at Schorr's bakery this morning. Besides getting the best doughnuts around, I picked up a dozen predictions. It will be a weekly fall tradition.

South Fayette over Central Valley - There won't be repeated undefeated regular seasons now that South Fayette is playing 4A, but there will be continued success for Joe Rossi's program. Central Valley is inexperienced, but Mark Lyons has a "program" rolling. There are always players at Central Valley. It's just that South Fayette has a little more experience back - and that counts.

This is the first Friday night road trip for me. I'm taking suggestions for quick bite to eat near South Fayette? Is "Bottle Shop" too far away to make sense?

Woodland Hills over Gateway - I know Woodland Hills has only two starters back. And this could be one of those George Novak teams that starts slow and improves greatly as the season goes on. But can we please remember, there are ALWAYS, ALWAYS good players at Woodland Hills.

North Allegheny over Olentangy (Ohio) - NA better be careful. Any team that can put an Ohio State recruit at QB can be dangerous. Brendon White is a Buckeye recruit at DB, but is playing QB this year.

Pine-Richland over St. Edward - It's road trip to Cleveland for the White mobile tomorrow morning. I don't feel strongly about this pick. St. Edward is the two-time defending state champ in the largest division in Ohio. I make the pick, based on St. Edward having only a couple starters returning. But I am having second thoughts. Pine-Richland QB Phil Jurkovec (pictured) will have to be the difference.

Aliquippa over New Castle - There is a huge part of me that believes New Castle will win. But it's six years in a row without a regular-season loss for Aliquippa. Until that defeat happens, how do you go against Quip?

Central Catholic over St. John's - St. John's is really good. So is Central Catholic. I'm thinking Central Catholic might win it with line play.

You can read more about the Central Catholic and Pine-Richland opponents in today's P-G. I find it remarkable in this day and age of fewer kids playing that St. Edward has 144 players, according to the coach.

The rest of the dozen - Mars over Hampton; Monessen over Charleroi; Connellsville over Uniontown; Peters Township over Chartiers Valley; Hempfield over Greensburg Salem; Penn-Trafford over Norwin.

For your interest

If you want more predictions on every game in the WPIAL and City League, he's baaaaack. The Fumbler had his first predictions column in today's Post-Gazette. As you know, I can't reveal The Fumbler's identity. You'd have to kill me. But it's NOT ME!!!!!

My notes column touches on a variety of subjects, including the Aliquippa-New Castle game, and how if anything nasty goes down ever, I'd want one certain Central Catholic lineman (pictured) next to me.

Check out Brian Batko's piece on Cornell football starting back up.

Joe Bendel's piece on life on Mars 

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

EpiPen

Written by Rob Rogers on .

The CEO of Mylan, maker of the EpiPen, is making $19 million dollars a year. You think with that kind of salary she'd be smart enough not to say the "system is to blame" for the 500% increase in the cost of the life-saving EpiPen. I suppose only the rich deserve life-saving medicine. 

20160826 EpiPen

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Clinton warns of radicalism as Trump rebukes racism claims

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Hillary Clinton in her most forceful terms yet hammered the point that Donald Trump unleashed the “radical fringe” within the Republican Party that has engulfed the GOP, including anti-Semites and white supremacists, using a blistering denunciation Thursday to dub the billionaire...

Read more http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2016/08/26/Clinton-warns-of-radicalism-as-Trump-rebukes-racism-claims/stories/201608260170

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Clinton warns of radicalism as Trump rebukes racism claims

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Hillary Clinton in her most forceful terms yet hammered the point that Donald Trump unleashed the “radical fringe” within the Republican Party that has engulfed the GOP, including anti-Semites and white supremacists, using a blistering denunciation Thursday to dub the billionaire...

Read more http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2016/08/26/Clinton-warns-of-radicalism-as-Trump-rebukes-racism-claims/stories/201608260170

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.