By Mike White | Monday, Nov. 30
A few items before they are sent to the recycle bin.
Representatives from the U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be in the Pittsburgh area this week to announce the selection of three WPIAL players to the prestigious event.
Canon-McMillan linebacker Mike Hull, Sto-Rox quarterback Paul Jones and Penn Hills defensive back Cullen Christian have all been selected to play in the all-star game Saturday, Jan. 9 in San Antonio. The game attracts the top players in the country and will be televised live by NBC.
Hull and Jones are Penn State recruits while Christian made a verbal commitment to Michigan only a week ago. The WPIAL always seems to have a few players in the game. Only two years ago, Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor and Aliquippa's Jonathan Baldwin played in the game.
Question of the week
Our Varsity Xtra question of the week deals with the coach of the year. Let's hear your opinion. To vote on who should be coach of the year in the WPIAL, click here. The choices are the eight coaches who were in the WPIAL championships.
If you have someone else to nominate or would like to make a comment on the eight, go to the "comments" section on this blog. I know who I would pick, but I'm not ready to tell yet. Let's just say he won a championship.
WPIAL championship thoughts
* The Hopewell-West Allegheny game was one of the best championships I've seen in a while - because of Rushel Shell and West Allegheny's Mike Caputo. It will be a long time before you see two running backs have games like that in the championship game. The contest certainly lived up to its pregame billing.
West Allegheny's Mike Caputo vs. Hopewell
* Isn't Gateway hard to figure out? It's the second year in a row the Gators' offense goes silent in the championship game. Last year, the Gators scored only six against Bethel Park. It's not that shocking that Gateway lost to Woodland Hills, but to get shut out? Look back at the title game, and look how McKeesport made an early exit from the WPIAL playoffs. I'm beginning to wonder how bad that Foothills Conference was this year because Gateway and McKeesport beat up on everybody in that conference.
* Now you know why we at the Post-Gazette had Greensburg Central Catholic ranked No. 1 in the state at the beginning of the season. The Centurions pretty much brushed aside Aliquippa.
* What do you think of Rochester's Gene Matsook going for the two-point conversion late in the game against Clairton in the Class A final? It failed and Rochester lost, 14-13. You have to remember that a penalty put the ball at the 1 1/2. I don't fault Matsook for going for the win. But Rochester had trouble running up the middle or off tackle all day. Then again, Rochester's bread and butter for many years has been a strong, straight-ahead running game. I might have liked to see quarterback Jasson Adamson on some kind of rollout with a run-pass option.
West Allegheny unquestionably has the toughest first-round game of any of the four WPIAL champions. West Allegheny will play Erie Cathedral Prep. The Ramblers are always a strong team and used to compete in Class AAAA and Mike Mischler is back as Erie Prep's coach. He won a state championship in Class AAAA in 2000 with a 41-35 overtime victory against Central Bucks West. Mischler left for a few years, but came back when Don Holl left to become Seneca Valley's coach.
For the second consecutive week, West Allegheny will have to deal with a strong offensive player (last week it was Rushel Shell). Cathedral Prep quarterback Shyquawn Pulliam has rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards. Then again, Erie Prep has to deal with Caputo.
I'm no grass expert, but it certainly looked like some of the grounds crew at Heinz Field was getting ready to resod some of the field after Friday's championship games. About midnight, these two tractors were on the field and had already taken up some of the field.