About TV games, VX video and players to watch

Written by Mike White on .

Items that fell off my laptop

Pine-Richland opens the season Saturday live on ESPN against St. Edward (Ohio). But what about local TV games this season?

Root Sports has been doing games live - either Fridays or Thursdays - for a number of years. There is no official word yet from Root, but I'm hearing Root plans to do games live on Fridays again - but not until the end of the Pirates season. That might be just in time for that highly-anticipated Aliquippa-Clairton game Oct. 7. Stay tuned for official word.

Root still plans to do the four WPIAL championship games that will be played at Heinz Field Nov. 18. Because of the new six classifications, two title games will also be played at Robert Morris either Nov. 25 or 26. No word on whether Root will do those games.

Not all of the WPIAL finals Nov. 18 will be live once again because the Penguins play a 7 p.m. game that night. The order of the WPIAL games that day has yet to be determined.

In other big picture news, Comcast will once again do the Xfinity Game of the Week. Starting Sept. 3, the cable station will show a game "On Demand," starting the day after the Friday game. The games can be found on the "Get Local" and "Sports" folders on legacy "On Demand," or on "Xfinity Services" and "Get Local" menus on X1 platforms. Chris Shovlin and Ellis Cannon will once again be the announcers.

Here is the schedule of games (they will be available "On Demand" the following day):

Sept. 2 - Chartiers Valley at Hampton.

Sept. 9 - Indiana at Montour

Sept. 16 - Yough at Hopewell

Sept. 23 - Beaver at Keystone Oaks

Sept. 30 - Penn-Trafford at Gateway

Oct. 7 - West Allegheny at Upper St. Clair

Oct. 14 - Washington at Chartiers-Houston

Oct. 21 - Aliquippa at Central Valley

Oct. 28 - Thomas Jefferson at West Mifflin

Debut of "This Week In High School Sports"

It's back. The wildly popular "This Week In High School Sports Show" on the Post-Gazette's web site. You want predictions and inside info? You miss Just Askin? Well, we're back, but with a new face. This team has turned to a youth movement. Venerable Terry Shields took all of his bad humor and Notre Dame favoritism to his retirement home. Brian Batko, new writer at the P-G, steps into Terry's big shoes. Actually, Terry had very small feet so Brian steps into small shoes. Brian hails from Shaler and answers to the nickname of "Yuri."

Here is the first show, ripe with talk, predictions of Central Catholic and Pine-Richland big games, and even some talk of Michael Phelps in high school football. Huh? Just check it out.

Ones to watch?

**** There is a former Wilkinsburg player worth keeping an eye on, at least according to Charleroi coach Donnie Militzer. Dremar Everette is a 6-5, 255-pound senior who transferred from Wilkinsburg to Charleroi last year. He can play receiver, but projects as a DLineman. He certainly has nice size, and watching a few highlights of him, he certainly has that "P" word - potential.

**** There's a big one in the City League. Rahim Moore is a 6-4, 320-pound FRESHMAN!!!! at University Prep that coach Lou Berry says is worth tracking.

**** And Keep an eye on Ron Stevenson, a 6-5, 200-pound junior receiver at Montour. He already has a scholarship offer from Temple. Stevenson has good bloodlines. His father, Ron Sr., was a stud basketball player at Langley High School in the City League in the early 1980s. I remember he was extremely athletic. He jumped so well he kissed the sky. Signed with Duquesne U.

Ron Sr. was a Post-Gazette Fab 5 pick in 1983. Averaged 17 and 7 as a senior for City League champion. Langley had some great teams under Pat Carmack in the early 1980s. They included a future NFL player in Bobby Howard. Langley doesn't even exist any more, but the memories do. Below is the Fab 5 team of 1983. Stevenson is pictured in the middle. The other four are Center's Marlon Ferguson, Shady Side Academy's Dean Kartsonas, McKeesport's Bill Leonard and Sto-Rox's Mark Beavers.

Ron Stevenson Fab 5




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Pitt football practice report: Aug. 24

Written by Jenn Menendez on .

Good morning. Pitt is in the middle of practice No. 18 of fall camp today. Coach Pat Narduzzi spoke briefly with the media and said things got a little heated earlier this week at practice, but overall things are still going well.

Some highlights:

**Joe Walton spoke to Pitt at practice today. Walton, who was an All-American tight end for Pitt in the 1950s, is a former NFL and Robert Morris coach.

**Narduzzi said he brought the band in on Tuesday in order to let his players experience the game day atmosphere.

**Narduzzi made some references to injuries or as he called it “too many guys laying on the ground” right now. He said they “escaped good” from practice yesterday, which I took to mean there was  nothing he deemed major to report there.  

**Narduzzi was asked several questions about the battle at the star linebacker position. He said Elijah Zeise is making strides and both he and Oluwaseum Idowu will see playing time coming up. Zeise is a converted receiver and Idowu is a converted safety. The duo spoke to the media this afternoon, so read below for their comments on the ongoing battle.

Narduzzi opening statement:

“Practice 18 today. Had a good one yesterday. Got a little tense out there, guys are flying around. We’ve got to practice more maturely I think, overall the take from yesterday’s practice is there’s too many guys laying on the ground. We’re trying to stay up and keep people healthy. Escaped good, but we’re playing on the edge right now. They have the pursuit in mind, but we’ve got to have the smart pursuit in mind as well. Happy where we are going into day 18. Got a little bit more game preparation stuff in. Working on some opening day stuff and we’ll continue to progress.”

Q: Was part of that bringing the band in?

“We tried to bring the band in last year but they were grinding up in Bradford, Pa. I just think the band is such a major part of what we do. It’s a thing we go to after the game. We sing the fight song. Just to get our players engaged with their players. That what they are. They’re players too. Let them know that we’re together with them and it’s a team”.

Q: You’ve done a lot of Villanova work then?

“We’ve done a little bit.”

Q: You said things got a little heated, how do you teach them to walk that line between being fired up and staying mature as you call it?

“It’s hard. It’s hard to do it because everybody is competing out there. We try to eliminate cheap shots. There’s maybe one or two of those. It’s usually that young freshman who doesn’t know how to control his emotions and he gets out there in the heat of the moment. We try to coach that up. We remind them after practice. We’ve just got to be smart. We can’t lose a guy to something that’s not what we teach. It’s hard. I think it’s real hard. I understand. I’ve been there.

Q: Have there been any classic training camp brawls?

“No. Actually, it’s been pretty good. Our guys, we’ve got great chemistry. I think our kids know how to act. Matter of fact we talked about it the first day. I said ‘Who’s going to be the guy on offense, who’s going to be the guy on defense?’ They pointed to the guy and it didn’t happen until practice six and it was really, really small. And I think we’ve only had really one of those  all camp.

Q: Don’t want to mention any names?

“Nah. Doesn’t matter. It’s good players that are intense guys that you know on game day are going to show up…but they let their tempers get to them.”

Q: What does (offensive lineman) Adam Bisnowaty bring to this locker room?

“Bis is obviously an eagle for us. He is unique. He’s a fun guy, tells it like it is. Really I think the guys look up to him.  He’s a guy who is a leader of this football team..

Q: What are the main impressions you have seen this spring and summer from (linebacker) Elijah Zeise (who converted from receiver)?

“Elijah has made improvements…I think Elijah made his major improvements in the spring and now you’re seeing littler improvements. Not as big as you’d like to see him, you want to see it go even more. I know it’s hard. He’s a receiver a year ago at this point. He’s been there for six months maybe. Again, he’s making strides. He’s going to play for us and continue to make him a better player.”

Q: Do you feel like he’s grasping the playbook well enough?

“Yeah, I think he is. We threw  a lot at him. I think he’s going to even be better when we start to get in a game plan of hey this is what we’re doing. Right now the game plan is that big. It’s going to get down to that big. We’ll start to narrow down what we want to do against these guys. We try to install everything. Every scenario. Every situation in fall camp so when they hear it during the season whether it’s Week 1 or Week 8 they’ve heard it before, it’s not the first time. ‘Like what is that? I’ve never heard of it before.’ They’ve heard of everything and we’ll continue to rep it throughout camp.”

Q: Would it have made it different for him if you had moved him over right after the season?

 Not really, because I think you need reps. We had talked about it. You say after the season, in bowl camp, bowl practice he was at linebacker. Wasn’t full-time, maybe mentally he didn’t know. But you need the reps. We saw what he could do in bowl season. I may have told you before but he lined up there. We said let’s try it. He looked at me like I was crazy and then he proceeded to make the next three or four tackles in a row. He was in on every tackle and he doesn’t even know what he’s doing. He can play football. He can play the game.

Q: How does he and Seun (Oluwaseum Idowu) kind of differ at that star (linebacker) position?

“You know I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference there. Seun moved from safety, Elijah moved from receiver. They’re both very athletic. They both can run and they can both make plays in space. That’s what we ask that position to do. So they both have the ability to do it, and we’re going to see how they also react on game day. They’re both going to get opportunities to show what they have.”

Q: Are you going to reward any guys with scholarships the next few days?

“Might. Maybe. I don’t know. We have to look at that. Never even thought about it.”


Linebacker Elijah Zeise and Oluwaseun Idowu both spoke to the media today about the battle at the Star outside linebacker spot, which is one of the intriguing position battles in fall camp. The pair both went to North Allegheny together and are transitioning to linebacker from different positions, Zeise from receiver and Idowu from safety. Here are some thoughts. 

Elijah Zeise:

Q: On the competition at linebacker and earning playing time:

“You just have to stay focused. There are spots up for grabs and I have to try to get everything done. I’m giving it my best try.”

Q: On his transition to linebacker:

“In the spring it was definitely an easier transition than I thought it would be. Now that we’re in camp and there’s a lot more stuff to learn, it kind of stumped me a little bit. There are times when I’ve been feeling frustrated, but there’s a lot of great players in that room and I just continue to learn from them and take their example to help with the transition.”

Q: On the complexity of the Pitt defense:

“It definitely gets pretty hard because with offense it’s pretty black and white. You know what route to run and all that. On defense, it’s a lot of reacting to everything and keying all your reads on every play. It’s a lot more involved than an offensive playbook.”

Oluwaseun Idowu

Q: On coming to Pitt as a walk-on and now competing for a starting spot:

“It’s a process and something to work through. Every day is a grind, but it makes me want it that much more coming from that position. I try to work hard every day and just get better and that’s where I’m at now.”

Q: On playing linebacker with fellow North Allegheny alum Elijah Zeise:

“It’s cool because we went to the same high school and graduated in the same class. He played offense and was an offensive guy, so I never thought I would be on the same side of the ball as him. When I heard about the move it was kind of crazy, but I thought it was cool. It’s just like playing next to your brother; we help each other out. Being from the same high school we share that bond and we lived together our freshman year, so coming into this it’s easy to help each other get better and better each day. It’s nice to have him next to me.”

Q: On how camp has been going for the defense:

“It’s going well. They [the offense] scheme against us and we scheme against them and try to beat each other. We compete every day, and it’s nice to get better and see different things from the offense and finding weaknesses in the defense to fix.”

Q: On what playing safety has also taught him that helps at linebacker:

“When you’re lining up and seeing the formation you have an idea of what the call might be, so you already know what you’re looking at. It’s like looking top down, but a little further back. You pretty much already know the calls, so that’s more knowledge to add to that position.”

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Pitt football practice report Aug. 23

Written by Jenn Menendez on .

Good morning. Coach Pat Narduzzi thinks double sessions are overrated, and talked this morning about getting quality practices in rather than a high quantity of them. The team was scheduled for a two-a-day on Monday, but Narduzzi gave them the afternoon off. 

Here are some highlights from his quick meeting with media:

**He expects anywhere from four to six freshmen to crack the lineup, but speaks about why this would be from a place of need. In a perfect world Narduzzi would love to redshirt every single freshman every year.

**There may be clarity on the offensive line, but they will keep rotating seven or eight players into the five starting spots so more players are prepared to take on that role should their number be called. 

**Narduzzi called Dorian Johnson a "super, super kid" who leads by example a day after he was named an All-American by ESPN.


Head coach Pat Narduzzi:

Q: Did you give them the night off?

“We gave them the afternoon off. Kind of told them we want quality over quantity. It’s not how many practices you get in, it’s how good the practices are. I think doubles are overrated to begin with. The NCAA as a whole has started to move away from a lot of doubles. I think it just beats up your kids. I think back even when I was in school. What were we doing? Shoot in high school we had triples. I’d rather the quality practices as opposed to the quantity. I think it keeps our guys fresh and lets them know that we care about them.”

Q: On what constitutes a quality practice?

“There’s a lot of focus. There’s attention to the little things. You can go out there and the offense can make  a play, but if the defense doesn’t respond? Or isn’t in position to make a play? You want the offense to be in position to make a play. We want them to catch the ball. Offense is execution. Defense is reaction to what they’re doing. But you’ve got to be in position to make a play. If guys are slopping around, or things are wide open defensively that’s not a very quality practice. You’re just wasting time. You’re out there just going through the motions. We’re looking for that focus. It’s hard for these kids to sit out here for two hours a day. They’re here in this building form 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 at night. It’s a long day for them. But there’s a lot of focus and attention we have to get.”

Q: On seeming positive, optimistic about this team?

“You know. (chuckles) Like coaches, you’re never satisfied. I feel good about this football team we have. I think they’re tight knit right now. I think there’s great chemistry. Does that equal wins? I don’t know. But I’m happy right now with where we are as a football team, not individuals. I’m happy about that, but that doesn’t equal wins either.”

Q: Does that stem from having, seniors, experience in key roles?

“Seniors are involved. There’s 20 of them. They also have to be mature about what they do and how they do it.”

Q: What about (defensive lineman) Ejuan Price? How’s he been as a vocal leader?

“Ejuan has been explosive. More explosive than he’s been in the past. He’s playing with a lot more confidence. A year ago, he hadn’t made a play. He’s confident, he’s explosive in what he’s doing. He causes havoc in the backfield every day in practice. It’s hard to get him out of the game. Even Saturday in the scrimmage, it’s like about 15 plays. OK, let’s get him out, we don’t need to see anymore. Let’s make sure we’re smart and see what those other guys have. But he’s the guy who didn’t want to come out of the game. He’ll limp around after a play then two plays later you’ll see him run a 4.5 down the sideline. So, he’s a guy that’s having a lot of fun playing this game and understands how he can affect the game.”

Q: How important is it to redshirt guys when you’re building a program?

“Every freshman wants to play, but I do think its important to redshirt those freshmen. If we could redshirt every guy, I’d love to do it. But if they’re ready to play we’re going to play ‘em. We’re not going to save them for that fifth year. Because they may be gone too. The landscape of college football and the NFL, is if you have a great year after your third year you take the money which I’m all for as long as you’re a fourth rounder. In an ideal world if you could redshirt every one of ‘em I think it’s better…I say to them, ‘Do you think you’ll be better next year at this time?’ and every one of them will say ‘Yes.’ ‘Then why wouldn’t you wait until next year, don’t be disappointed that you’re not playing.’ We’ve got a freshmen class that I think is outstanding. Are they all ready right now, no? There’s a lot of mental stuff that goes on.

Q: You played four freshmen last year, do you anticipate that number being higher?

“You know I’d say four to six. You might not know that until the third game. I don’t know if everybody is ready. There will be some will be ready Sept. 3 and some will be ready Sept. 24 or whatever it is. We’re just going to cram them to be ready to go and we’ll find out. There could be four to six, I think, I don’t know. Could be three?

Q: Is it a bonus to have some (freshmen) who are ready to contribute?

“I mean it’s a bonus, I guess. You could look at it as a bonus or a negative. Like I told them, it’s not the best players really playing, it’s where there’s weakness that some of those guys might be playing. So wherever freshmen are playing. You tell me? Is it because they’re that good, or maybe there’s a weakness there and they’ve got to play. I think an 18-year-old is better than a 23-year old. I think that’s a fact. It depends on your depth. Who’s making plays?”

Q: On whether or not the offensive line is somewhere you’d like to have some clarity by week 1?

“Not really. We’ve taught those guys they’ve got to play with each other.  Those I think it's great. It’s nice to say those guys are used to playing, they’re the guys. But what happens when one guy goes down? That’s reality. It didn’t happen until a bowl game last year, but reality is that doesn’t happen in a lot of places so our guys, I think, can mix together and play a lot of guys in different spots is a positive. You don’t want to be dealing with that third game of the year, this guy you’ve never seen run with the one’s. ‘Who’s this guy? He doesn’t even talk to us, make a call, doesn’t communicate. Now we’ve got to teach him.’ They’re used to knowing, oh he’s in. I remember him back Day 4, or whatever it was. That’s a good situation, not a bad.

Q: On offensive lineman Dorian Johnson getting preseason accolades and being named preseason All-American by ESPN? What does he bring to the line and locker room?

“You know he’s a super kid, a super, super kid. He’s a quiet guy. He’s not a guy that’s a vocal leader, but he’s a guy that leads by example. He won’t miss a practice. He doesn’t want to miss a thing. He’s a leader by example. Again, he’s got a lot of class. He’ll anchor that offensive line.”

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Pitt football practice report: Aug. 22

Written by Jenn Menendez on .

Good morning. Pitt has another two-a-day today at the South Side facility. Here are some comments from head coach Pat Narduzzi prior to the start of the first. We’ll start with some highlights from the five-minute interview.

**Not much clarity at the backup quarterback position, according to Narduzzi this morning. He said everyone flashed some good and bad in Saturday’s scrimmage. Everyone except Nathan Peterman that is, who he said looked "sound."

**Narduzzi was very vague when asked some specific questions about starters on offense and defense. That includes when asked how RB James Conner looked in a live scrimmage. He said “He lined up and got a few carries and looked really good doing it” but did not expand much other than to say his conditioning doesn’t appear to be in question at all.

**Pitt is not ranked, but did receive 15 votes in the AP Top-25 poll released on Sunday

Pat Narduzzi opening statement

What a beautiful day. It was like 61 when I drove in this morning. I’m out of the dorm rooms, which is a good thing. I got a good night’s sleep at home. We gave them yesterday (Sunday) off.

“We had a tremendous scrimmage, I thought, on Saturday at Heinz Field. We got 130 plays in. Winners and losers don’t really matter. I was happy as a head coach that day because of the things our offense did and the things our defense did. Sometimes the head coach messes up the score too. It was a great scrimmage, very physical. Great attention to detail. Saw some guys that we want to see to make plays at Heinz Field on game day. Really excited about that. Kickers did an unbelievable job. Special teams were solid. Overall just a productive day to the point where we got fresh yesterday, got a great 85-mintue lift in and recovery session for our kids. Today we’ve got a two-a-day scheduled. We’ll see how this first one goes. We’re looking for quality not quantity.”

Q: You might give them tonight off?

“Maybe, maybe. I think we’ve got a pretty mature football team right now that’s focused. I like where we are. I like the attitude we took in the scrimmage. It was physical. It was the best scrimmage we’ve had here as a staff, in my opinion, just because it was crisp clean, and came out pretty good.”

Q: Any clarity at backup quarterback?

“Everybody did some good things from (starter) Nathan (Peterman) all the way down to (Thomas) MacVittie and Bo Schneider. I think we’ve still got two more weeks for clarity. There was good and bad out of everybody. Except no bad out of Nathan. He was really, really sound. We’re still searching.”

Q: How’d your freshmen defensive tackles look?

“You know they looked pretty good. Good question. (Amir) Watts continues to impress. (Kesyshon) Camp showed some really nice things. Those freshmen get in a different atmosphere, they’re used to coming out here every day, out here every day. Walk out the door to go at a different surface, sometimes the freshmen are the ones who get exposed. But those two guys stepped their game up at Heinz Field and (Rasheed) Wheeler did a nice job as well. I thought they did a nice job. They need to.”

Q: Defensively, how do all the young freshmen compare to groups through the years?

“They’re about as good as what we’ve had. We’ve had some young D-tackles through the years. If you come in and you can help us a freshman. That’s pretty good. They go up atop of that list.”

Q:Who was the first guy out there at Star? Getting any clarity there?

“We continue to rotate guys out there. It’ll be a continual evaluation at that spot too.”

Q: Starting to make depth chart decisions?

“There was a lot of depth chart decisions made, but again there’s still another week of camp to go. We’ll have a rehearsal scrimmage on Friday. We’ll try to make depth chart changes every day we’re in pads. You’ve got to out there with an attitude that I’m getting better today and I’m going to beat  somebody out, or you don’t. I like when our kids have to see that up and down. Oh, I was there yesterday, and today I’m not. What happened? That’ll continue that week.”

Q: You mentioned Jester Weah by name after Saturday’s scrimmage, can you tell us about the catch?

“Just early in the game he had just a nice over the shoulder catch that he needs to make and he did. He had a couple more, some tougher catches that he can make as well. He just continues to get better and he can be a big time receiver.”

Q: Where is his confidence level?

“I think it’s as high as its ever been. If I compare to where it was last year, it’s up there.”

Q: A game or situation last year when the line could have used a break?

“You know, there was never a point like that. Maybe say, second half of the season I don’t know. Were we as crisp as we needed to? There wasn’t a game. I mean, you look at the nine minute drive against Georgia Tech. That wasn’t a time when you said they needed a break, I wish we could’ve gotten them off the field. They went 4th down, 4th down again and got it and kicked the game winner. So that would be a time…but there was never a point. The point maybe you get to is in the bowl game where Officer is out and all of a sudden a guy is coming out for the first time who doesn’t have that game experience as you’d like him to.”

Q: At the outset Saturday was (Alex) Officer at center and (Alex) Bookser at guard with the one’s?

“I don’t remember.”

Q: Did you come out of the scrimmage healthy?

 “A couple bumps and bruises, but nothing major so I feel really good about that.”

Q: You mentioned James Conner on Saturday, how did the reps shake out at the running back position?

“Um. I don’t remember. He lined up and got a few carries and looked really good doing it. I talked prior to camp starting that we weren’t going to wear him out. Before the scrimmage I said Hey James, I want you to get in there. I don’t want to keep you in there all day. I said, ‘Don’t make me, make us. Let’s get in there, let’s be sharp. Let’s know what we’re doing and let’s get you out of there.’ Let’s get to Sept. 3.”

Q: Is he back to where he was before the injury?

“We’ll see. We’ll see Sept. 3. You let me know afterwards. I’ll ask you guys.”

Q: His conditioning?

“When we took him out we conditioned him right afterwards just to wear him out. His condition is good, I think.” 

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Pitt football practice report: Aug. 20

Written by Jenn Menendez on .

Good afternoon. Pitt football scrimmaged today at Heinz Field, the team’s second scrimmage of fall camp. It was closed to the media, but here are some comments from Coach Pat Narduzzi, courtesy of the athletic department.

**The defense won 55-52

**RB James Conner had roughly 15-20 reps, according to Narduzzi, and WR Jester Weah had an impressive reception.

**The next day of media availability is Monday.  

Head coach Pat Narduzzi

"It was really competitive. It was a tale of two halves. I thought the offense did a good job moving the ball down the field. We were able to get a lot of quarterbacks work today. We wanted to come out to Heinz Field and find out who our backup QB was. I'll have to go back and watch the tape, but I think we will be able to find out what we have there. I was happy with some of the things the quarterbacks did. I think we are a step closer to finding out who that top backup is. James Conner had some good runs. We tried not to wear him out—he might have had 15 or 20 reps.   made a really nice catch. 

"Defensively we played a much better second half than first half. They really came alive at the break. It is a game of emotions. You have to be ready to bring it, and then bring it back again. I like how we finished defensively. It came down to a two-minute situation at the end of the scrimmage. I didn't know if the defense had a chance to win it at the end, but they came back to edge the offense on the final drive of the game by three points. 

"In the kicking game,   and [freshman walk-on]   didn't miss a field goal today. We gave them 12 opportunities before the main scrimmage started where we worked third downs and then lined up for field goals. Both of them looked good and we now have a backup toBlewittinKessman. The punting game really looked good. Ryan Winslow came out and smacked a couple. They were big-time punts. "We got in a lot of good work today but, as always, we will want to clean up a lot of things on both sides of the ball as well." 

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