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Vacation post - 09-01-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-Happy 28th birthday to former Penguins forward Harry Zolnierczyk (above). A free agent signing in 2013, Zolnierczyk's career with the Penguins amounted to 13 games and two goals in 2013-14. In 2014, he joined the Islanders as a free agent. He is currently a member of the AHL's San Diego Gulls.

-Happy 51st birthday to former North Stars/Canadiens/Lightning/Mighty Ducks/Capitals forward Brian Bellows. A three-time all-star who has 1,022 career points on his resume, Bellows' most famous - or more accurately, infamous - moment in the NHL was being the subject of a brutally vulgar heckling session at the hands of Penguins forward Kevin Stevens and Bryan Trottier during the 1991 Stanley Cup final. The video can be viewed through this link. Warning: It's not safe for work. Or any environment really.

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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Denali

Written by Rob Rogers on .

I love that Obama isn't ignoring climate change as a serious threat to the planet like most politicians. But then why the heck would he allow drilling in the Arctic off the Alaskan coast? It makes no sense. 

090115 Denali

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Shelton Gibson and Jovon Durante are starting receivers (as of now)

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Uncertainty comes with many different layers and to understand that, one doesn't have to look further than West Virginia's wide receiver situation.

In contrast to the quarterback position -- where we know Skyler Howard will be the starter, but don't know how he'll fare just yet -- the different receiver slots have been part of an ongoing shuffling act involving a cadre of players who could potentially be good, but largely haven't proven it yet. It's perhaps the biggest mystery of all surrounding the Mountaineers heading into the 2015 season.

Five days before his team's season-opener against Georgia Southern, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen provided some clarity on the situation...with a caveat.

After claiming that the X and Z wide receiver positions were still up for grabs in his weekly news conference last week, Holgorsen said in the Big 12 coaches conference call Monday that Shelton Gibson is the team's X wide receiver and freshman Jovon Durante is the starter at Z receiver after impressive showings in Saturday's mock game.

Those respective statuses are still fluid, though, as Holgorsen prefaced that announcement by saying “Whatever I’m about to say may change in the next week based on practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.”

Gibson's inclusion isn't all that surprising. Along with Jordan Thompson and Daikiel Shorts, he's one of the team's most experienced receivers and his top-end speed is something that's simply too valuable to keep off the field.

In a pretty open race, Durante's ascension to a starting role would have been surprising a few months ago, but the amount of unsolicited praise the freshman has received from West Virginia coaches is noteworthy. Holgorsen added to that during the conference call (though he was actually asked about Durante specifically).

"He does have outstanding speed, but route-running ability and hand-eye coordination," he said when asked about what stands out about Durante. "His ball skills are really good. He’s a guy we could use in the return game, as well, because his ball skills are so good. He’s fast.

"The whole thing with him is going to be if he can hold up. There’s going to be some wear and tear that’s going to happen over the course of a season and we’re going to see if he can be able to hold up. Some of that stuff is going to be unknown until the lights come on, but he’s made enough plays and knows what to do.”

The other major depth chart announcement came with the team's final undecided positional battle at right guard, where Michigan transfer Kyle Bosch has edged out junior Tony Matteo.

The Mountaineers' full, updated depth chart can be found here.

 

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

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Quick hits from Narduzzi's Youngstown State presser

Written by Sam Werner on .

Video courtesy of Pitt Athletics

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi wrapped up his press conference, which you can see above, previewing Youngstown State earlier today. You can see video from cornerback Lafayette Pitts and tight end J.P. Holtz below, and here are a few quick hits from Narduzzi...

- Narduzzi said Pitt has awarded scholarships to fullback George Aston and defensive lineman Mark Scarpinato. That puts the Panthers at 83 scholarships, assuming all former walk-ons have theirs renewed (which isn't clear at this point). They have two more to give, and Narduzzi said they're still open to handing those out over the next week or so.
He said Aston is a "tough" player, who's "going to play a lot of football for us this year."
For Scarpinato, Narduzzi said he wanted to make sure he earned it after coming back from a year away from football, and he's done just that.
"He looks like he's never been away from the game," Narduzzi said. "He came into camp in shape and he's just gone like that the entire time. We're going to get some great football out of Mark, and we're happy he's on this football team. He will definitely contribute."

- Narduzzi was highly complimentary of Brian O'Neill, who is listed as the starter at right tackle.
"He's going to be a tremendous tackle in the ACC conference and, in my opinion, if he keeps going like he is, at the next level," Narduzzi said. "I really believe that."
He didn't tip his hand, though, as to how the offensive line rotation will change if center Artie Rowell is able to play. As I mentioned earlier, there's a good chance that, if Rowell plays, Alex Officer could shift to right guard, moving Alex Bookser to right tackle and O'Neill off the field.
"You're going to see a little bit of everything," Narduzzi said. "We're going to rotate guys in and try and get some different looks."

- In terms of injuries, Narduzzi didn't reveal a whole lot. He said he "feels like" Rowell will be good to go, but didn't elaborate beyond that. For defensive tackle Darryl Render (who wasn't listed on the official two-deep), he said he got a full lift in yesterday. Narduzzi guaranteed that Render will dress and said there's a "good chance" he plays.

- Narduzzi said the four freshmen listed on the depth chart (Darrin Hall, Quadree Henderson, Tre Tipton and Jordan Whitehead) are the only ones that will see the field for sure this year, but added there are a couple of others who still have a chance. Dane Jackson is one, and JUCO transfer Allen Edwards is another.
"Would we like to hold him? Maybe," Narduzzi said of Edwards. "But I'd like to see what he has on game day. He might just turn it loose and be like the Hulk, but you never know. If I don't give him a shot, you don't know."

- The "Money" linebacker spot is still up in the air, and Narduzzi said it's possible that Bam Bradley and Mike Caprara will rotate on the first few drives against Youngstown State.

- Same thing at strong safety, where Pat Amara and Whitehead are listed as co-starters, but apparently Jevonte Pitts is still in the mix, as well.
"It's a three-way battle right now and Whitehead's really thrown a wrench in it and made it a battle," Narduzzi said. "They all do something a little bit different. They all bring something different to the table, so we're going to wait and find out."

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Aliquippa running back Bronaugh diagnosed with leukemia, will miss season

Written by Mike White on .

The Aliquippa football team was expected to have one of the best one-two running punches in the WPIAL this season. But the Quips have lost half of that punch.

DiMantae Bronaugh will not play after being diagnosed last Thursday with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to Anita Gordon, his aunt and guardian. Bronaugh began chemotherapy treatments Sunday in Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

"Obviously he is upset and disappointed that he can't play this year because he loves football," said Gordon. "He's looking forward to when he can get back on the field. It's going to be a journey. He'll have six months of treatment and then maintenance after that. But doctors said he should make a full recovery."

DiMontae BronaughSo just like that, a teenager looking forward to Friday night lights and a big senior season with a legendary football program, has his life turned upside down.

Bronaugh, a senior, and Kaezon Pugh were expected to be a potent backfield tandem for Aliquippa, which set a record last year by playing in a seventh consecutive WPIAL title game. A year ago, Pugh (pictured) rushed for 1,621 yards and Bronaugh 1,262.  Bronaugh averaged 9.3 yards a carry.

Bronaugh transferred from Hopewell to Aliquippa before his junior year. As a sophomore, he rushed for 868 yards at Hopewell.

Bronaugh will also have to miss school while going through treatments. His aunt said he will hopefully repeat his senior year next year. Bronaugh can also apply to the WPIAL for an extra year of athletic eligibility under the hardship case. The WPIAL does sometimes grant an extra year if a severe medical condition prevents a student from attending school.

Gordon said Bronaugh felt ill at practice Aug. 19 and had body cramps. He continued to have pain in his body for the next week and doctors put him through blood tests twice. Gordon said she took him to Children's Hospital this past Thursday.

"His white blood cells were abnormal. That's when they ran another test and came back with a diagnosis of leukemia," said Gordon.

But this tells you a little about Bronaugh's resolve: He plans to be on the sideline Friday night, cheering on the Quips when they open the season with a home game against Mohawk.

"He's going to be released from the hospital Friday," said Gordon. "Depending on how he feels, he wants to go to that game."

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