Steel Valley's Murray already over 2,000 ..... Don't forget the PAT

Written by Mike White on .

Notes, anecdotes and thoughts after the third week of the high school football season.

At this pace, Steel Valley's DeWayne Murray will one day end up as one of the leading rushers in WPIAL history.

Murray is only a sophomore, but he surpassed 2,000 career yards rushing in a victory against Sto-Rox Friday. A 5-foot-10, 180-pound halfback, Murray has 2,091 yards on 175 carries in only 12 games.

It's hard to predict where Murray will end up on the WPIAL all-time list. Many factors are involved. But barring injury, you would think he might end up high on the list. He is averaging 161 yards a game so far. If Steel Valley would never make the playoffs in Murray's career, and Murray would continue at that average, he would still end up with close to 6,000 yards in his career.

Hopewell's Rushel Shell and Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo are the only two WPIAL running backs to have more than 7,000 career rushing yards.

Murray has rushed for 503 yards on 36 attempts this season after running for 1,488 on 139 carries last season. His career yards-per-carry average opens some eyes. It's 11.9.

Forgetting the PAT

I don't know if the officials are to blame, or Apollo-Ridge's coaches who might have been caught up in the euphoria of Friday's 44-41 overtime victory against Kittanning. But whoever, there should have been an extra-point attempt by Apollo-Ridge after its winning touchdown.

Kittanning scored first in overtime to go ahead, 41-38. Apollo-Ridge then scored a touchdown to get the win, but didn't try a conversion. That was a mistake. Why? Because it might matter in WPIAL tiebreaker points down the road. Sure, chances are remote that one point might matter, but you never know. The tiebreaker points are sometimes used to break ties for playoff spots. Tiebreaker points are based on point differential - up to 10 for a win.

If you don't believe Apollo-Ridge should have tried an extra point, consider it was the same scenario a week earlier in the Pine-Richland vs. North Allegheny game. North Allegheny got a field goal first in overtime. Pine-Richland then got a touchdown to win and the Pine-Richland team rushed the field in jubilation. But officials cleared the field, and Pine-Richland kicked an extra point for a 28-24 win.

Oh, deer

Great picture from pregame warmups Friday at Tuscaloosa Academy in Alabama. A deer ended up on the field and Tuscaloosa Academy posted a photo on its Twitter account @taknightsfan. Wonder who Tuscaloosa was playing? Deer Lakes? (Sorry, I couldn't resist).

The Ruane effect

Wanna know who has been one of the best coaches in the WPIAL the past few years? Besides Palko, Rossi, Novak, Totten and those guys? John Ruane of Penn-Trafford.

Quietly, Ruane has done a masterful job of building a program at Penn-Trafford. His team is 3-0 and has to be considered one of the best in Class AAAA of the WPIAL. Ruane is in his fifth year and since 2011, he is 28-8.

Seeing Penn-Trafford beat McKeesport, 28-0, on Saturday, you couldn't help but be impressed by Ruane's team. His team is disciplined, plays tough and the Warriors have good offensive schemes.

John RuaneAlso, some of Penn-Trafford's best players are juniors, so this isn't a flash-in-the-pan program.

Ruane (pictured) used to be an assistant at Gateway and teaches there. His name has come up when the Gateway job has opened the past few years. But Ruane likes where he is. Good for Penn-Trafford. Besides, with what has gone on at Gateway the past few years in terms of controversies and coaches leaving, who could blame Ruane for not wanting to go there. He's got things going right at Penn-Trafford.

Tipton Mr. Everything

If you wanted to pick a WPIAL player of the year based on three weeks, you could certainly make a case for Apollo-Ridge's Tre Tipton.

Pitt fans have to love the potential Tipton is flashing this season (he already has committed to Pitt). Tipton was recruited as a receiver but he is seeing plenty of time at quarterback this season. He rushed for 304 yards against Kittanning Friday. He also completed 4 of 12 passes for 83 yards.

And how about the one-two punch of Tipton and Duane Brown? Is there anything like it in the WPIAL? Brown also plays quarterback. Against Kittanning, he rushed for 193 yards on 22 carries and completed 1 of 4 passes for 22 yards.

Now get this: Brown and Tipton accounted for 602 yards rushing and passing.

Who is No. 5 in Class AAAA?

 It seems pretty easy to rank the top four teams in Class AAAA. Central Catholic, Woodland Hills, Pine-Richland and Penn-Trafford, in no particular order, seem to have established themselves as the top four teams. But who is No. 5?

Maybe Mt. Lebanon, a 3-0 team that has turned themselves around a sub-par 2013 season? But the Blue Devils really haven't played anyone yet.

Maybe North Hills, another 3-0 team that hasn't faced a formidable team yet, although one of the wins was a 17-14 victory against a much-improved Plum team (Coach Matt Morgan is doing some good things in his second season at Plum). I get the feeling North Hills is better than average, but it's still hard to tell. We will know more after the next two games against Seneca Valley and Pine-Richland. Like Ruane, second-year North Hills coach Pat Carey seems to be quietly doing an excellent job after taking over for Jack McCurry. In fact, Ruane compared his program and type of players to those of North Hills. Good comparison.

Or should the No. 5 team be Penn Hills, a 2-1 team that lost to a very good Central Valley team Friday?

Or should we not forget about North Allegheny (1-2 with losses to Central Catholic and Pine-Richland)?

Or should we take a serious look at Norwin (3-0)? It's nice what the Knights have done, but I seriously doubt whether they are a top five team. At least not yet.

The Post-Gazette rankings come out tomorrow. 

Check this out

Clairton beat Greensburg Central Catholic, 74-0, and the Bears' scoring average DROPPED to 77.3 points.


Check out some Post-Gazette highlights from some top games this past Friday, with comments from coaches and players.

Penn Hills at Central Valley

North Allegheny vs. Central Catholic

Neshannock at Riverside


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Despite violence against women, No Good Deed does well at box office

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

“No Good Deed,” which has brutal violence against women at a time when the spotlight is focused on that issue due to the NFL, was No. 1 at the box office with an estimated $24.5 million. 
Idris Elba plays an escaped prisoner, with a history of violence against women, who shows up on the doorstep of an Atlanta family and charms and then terrorizes the members. His popularity, combined with that of Taraji P. Henson and the thriller element, helped to power the movie past the family friendly sequel to “Dolphin Tale.”
Here are the early estimates according to Rentrak: 
1. “No Good Deed” — $24,500,000.
2. “Dolphin Tale 2” — $16,550,000.
3. “Guardians of the Galaxy” — $8,041,000, bringing its North Amercian gross to $305,926,000.
4. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” — $4,800,000, for $181,041,491 since release. 
5. “Let’s Be Cops” — $4,300,000, or $72,972,448 to date. 
6. “The Drop” — $4,200,000, in limited release. 
7. “If I Stay” — $4,050,000, for $44,937,290 so far. 
8. “The November Man” — $2,750,000, for $22,495,377. 
9. “The Giver” — $2,626,000, nudging its gross to $41,329,400.
10. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” — $2,461,000, for $49,409,000.

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Disney World to give visitors more Anna, Elsa, Frozen

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

The world has yet to tire of “Frozen” — it may never — and Disney World is planning a “Frozen” attraction at Epcot Center. 
Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, announced on Friday that the entertainment giant is starting construction on a new “Frozen” attraction at the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. No opening date was given.
It will replace Maelstrom and, Staggs said, “take our guests to Arendelle and immerse them in many of their favorite moments and music from the film. The pavilion will also include a royal greeting location where Anna and Elsa can meet our guests.”
In addition, the characters will have a bigger presence at the Magic Kingdom Park this holiday season, Staggs said.
Elsa will transform Cinderella’s Castle into an ice palace nightly starting in early November and Mickey’s “Once Upon a Christmastime Parade” will feature Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf. 

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Dispatches from Italy: The Best Lunch Ever

Written by Doug Oster on .

buratti Protrait

Even though I saw two amazing gardens today, the religious experience I had at lunch was so powerful, I’m compelled to write about it.

It began the day before as I sat on a bench in the shadow of an ancient villa with Anna Maria Massimi who is guiding a tour in concert with ours.

As I explained my love of Italian cheeses and meats to her, she smiled and offered to take me to her old friend Eros Buratti’s shop in Verbania which specializes in both.

The next day while riding a cable car up to see the Alpinia Botanic Garden near Lake Maggiore she thought it might be nice to invite a few people along from my bus and hers. There was only room for about 15, so I asked for volunteers.

Seven lucky people joined me on the short walk to Eros' meat and cheese shop. Walking through the front door was like entering another world. Giant prosciutto hams hung in the doorway leading to a counter jammed with customers, and it was loud, really loud. Eros yelled orders and went back and forth with his loyal customers making sure they were happy. As I walked past him, he smiled said something in Italian and handed me a slice of meat. I shared it with two friends as we walked to the back and as I took my first bite of the salty treat, it melted in my mouth.

It was such a relief to have Anna Maria with us as Eros greeted her saying, "the most beautiful woman in Italy, where have you been." Anna Maria hadn’t been able to visit the shop in close to a year. It felt special to be included, and everyone was thrilled at what was going on around us.

Above the counter were more cured meats and an unbelievable amount of cheeses in the case. I'd never heard of most of them and Eros' mother helped move the customers along.

It was sensory overload, small tables squeezed into every corner, waiters and waitresses hurriedly walked past trying to keep up with the demand for food. I would say it's like the Strip District on steroids. We sat communally at a long table and the place was hopping, and as we looked around each table was filled with familiar and unfamiliar dishes.

To tide us over, Anna Maria brought a large dried sausage, cutting board and knife. Joseph DiLuccia of Bangor, Pa. was charged with cutting the meat. Since he lived in Italy until he was 14, he was the obvious choice. As he thinly sliced the dried meat, we started eating the fresh bread. There were homemade breadsticks, thin, cracker like pieces and fresh hard crusted white bread.

The two different olive oils were deep green and exploded with flavor, one had a kick, too. A drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar worked as a perfect foil and the guests soaked up the concoction with the different breads. When our eyes met across the table, it was obvious, this would be a magic lunch, and that's before we were served most of Eros' specialties.

Just about the time the sausage was going around the table, two bottles of wine were served, one white and one red. They were the best I had tasted in Italy yet.

What we had in front of us would have been enough. The sausage had a soft, fatty texture and finished with a hint of hot pepper, the breads each offered a different texture and flavor, the oil was heavenly and the balsamic tied everything together.

I couldn't believe it as one of Eros' employees carried a long wooden board filled with nearly 10 different types of cured meats through a slew of customers and set it down in front of us. It was filled with a local specialty called speck along with prosciutto, venison and other things including something which looked like bacon and tasted like heaven.

Then he returned with a board just as long filled with cheese. There was runny gorgonzola, a hard variety, baked ricotta, a goat cheese filled with pistachios and more. The aroma of cheese and meats was divine and the feast began.

Combining these mysterious ingredients with better known ones, adding bread and great olive oil was a culinary treat which will live with me forever. Each bite offered a different flavor and texture, we all ate until we couldn't eat any more. Both boards were pillaged, but there was still food on both somehow.

Italians expect the best, whether it's in gardens, art and certainly when it comes to food. Today I was lucky enough to experience the greatest lunch I've ever had and as I walked back to the bus I saw one of my fellow diners. Spontaneously we hugged, because we both knew, it was the best meal we'd ever had, and might ever have.



buratti The shop

This is a shot of Eros' shop, look at the huge hams hanging in the doorway.

buratti bread

This was the selection of bread we had for the lunch.

buratti cheese plate

One of the employees brings out this amazing cheese board.

buratti lots of chees

This is the selection of cheeses at the shop.

buratti lots of sausage

This are some of the dried meats available.

buratti meat plate
This our selection of meats for lunch.

buratti Sausage cutter

Joseph DiLuccia of Bangor, Pa. was charged with cutting the meat.

(Top image: Anna Maria Massimi  and Eros Buratti at his cheese and meat shop. Doug Oster photos/Post-Gazette)


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Empty Netter Assists - 09-14-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-A goal by forward prospect Jean-Sebastien Dea with 18 seconds remaining in regulation gave the Penguins a 4-3 win against the Senators in a rookie tournament game in London, Ont.


-Penguins forward prospect Patrick McGrath fought Senators forward prospects Darren Kramer:

-Forward prospect Anton Zlobin has a knack for scoring goals when they matter most.

-Former Penguins forward Troy Loney has found success in owning the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms.


-Happy 64th birthday to former Penguins forward and captain Orest Kindrachuk. Acquired in the 1978 offseason along with Tom Bladon and Ross Lonsberry in a trade which sent a first-round pick to the Flyers, Kindrachuk spent three seasons with the Penguins and served as the team's captain during that entire span. In 1978-79, Kindrachuk appeared in 79 games, led the team with 42 assists and scored 60 points, second-most on the team. In that spring's playoffs, Kindrachuk appeared in seven games and led the team with five points. He played in 52 games in 1979-80 and contributed 46 points. His final season in Pittsburgh was 1980-81. A back injury limited him to 13 games and 12 points. In the 1981 offseason, he joined the Capitals as a free agent. In 144 games with the Penguins, Kindrachuk scored 118 points, 71st-most in franchise history.


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