By Mike White | Saturday, Sept. 5, 1:15 a.m.
News, notes and observations from the first Friday of high school football. Also, just a reminder. I'll have a live blog from the Rally in the Valley games this afternoon at Wheeling, W.Va.
One thing about North Hills coach Jack McCurry. He is consistent with his decision-making.
McCurry will certainly be questioned by North Hills fans after the Indians lost to Mt. Lebanon, 17-16, last night. North Hills scored with five seconds left to come within a point. Rather than kick the extra point and play for overtime, McCurry elected to have his team go for two points and the win. But a run was stopped.
McCurry has made the same decision numerous times over the years. Heck, he won a state championship in 1993 by going for two. That year, in the title contest against Central Bucks West, Eric Kasperowicz hit Chris Feola for a touchdown late in the game to bring North Hills within a point. Kasperowicz ran for the two-point conversion to give North Hills the win. By the way, the touchdown was set up by a long pass from Kasperowicz to then freshman LaVar Arrington.
Just last year, McCurry went for two in double overtime against Pine-Richland. North Hills was successful and won. McCurry's other famous decision to go for two came in 1986 when North Hills and Gateway played in the WPIAL championship game at Three Rivers. North Hills scored with a few seconds left in the game to make it 7-6. North Hills was ranked No. 1 in the country at the time by USA Today. McCurry wanted to be national champions and went for two. But a pass was intercepted.
That 1986 game, though, was different than nowadays. In '86, there was no overtime. If a game ended tied, it was over. Now, there is overtime.
* We didn't have Rushel Shell's statistics for our first edition, so some of you might not have this in your newspaper this morning. In case you don't, here it is: Hopewell's Rushel Shell, who had more than 1,500 yards rushing as a freshman, rushed for 257 yards on 13 carries in a victory against Knoch. So much for that sophomore jinx.
Hopewell's Rushel Shell - he's at it again.
* Biggest upset I can remember in a while on opening night was Laurel's 15-8 victory against Clairton. Clairton was the Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked Class A team in the WPIAL and PIAA. Laurel finished 3-6 last season.
Yes, it was an upset, but maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised. Remember, Laurel moved down to Class A only last year. Before then, the Spartans played in Class AA and made the playoffs four years in a row 2004-07.
* How about the Avella Eagles, who broke a 27-game losing streak with a 44-28 victory against Geibel. Avella is the team that had trouble getting players last year. Now, the Eagles score 44 points. To put that in perspective, consider Avella scored 62 points all of last season.
* Guess David Miller is recovered from that knee injury. Miller, a Greensburg Central Catholic senior, sustained an injured knee late last season. But he started the season with a bang, rushing for 234 yards in Greensburg Central's opener.
* Observations from the Gateway at Penn Hills game: Penn Hills lineman Aaron Donald looked good, with a sack and a few other good plays. A Pitt recruit, Donald looks just as quick as last year. ... Gateway's Brendon Felder, the transfer from Massachusetts, needs to hold onto the ball better. He fumbled a few times and did not have a carry in the second half. ... Penn Hills has some talented receivers in Brandon Ifill, Cullen Christian and Chris Washington, but with sophomore quarterback Chaz Whittaker, you have to wonder how much Penn Hills will be able to get them the ball. ... Gateway has a few more non-seniors who are Division I college prospects. Where does the speed and size keep coming from? ... Gateway could be a pretty good team by late in the regular season.
* B.J. Stevens, a Gateway player last year and a Fabulous 33 pick, was supposed to attend Miami, Ohio, where his brother plays. But due to academic problems, Stevens ended up at California, Pa.
* Sophomore Andrew Erenberg, a transfer from Central Catholic, rushed for 136 yards for Peters Township.