By Mike White | Tuesday, Aug. 25, 1:25 p.m.
News, notes and anecdotes from preseason practices.
Aliquippa is the defending WPIAL Class AA champion and is expected to be one of the top teams again this season. But the Quips are without one of their top players.
Quarterback Rasheem Jones is out indefinitely for undisclosed reasons. Jones practiced only a few days last week and was not in uniform for the Quips' scrimmage Saturday. Aliquippa's coaches aren't giving a reason for Jones' absence. However, Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said Jones will be back with the team this season, "but we just don't know when."
All of the great minds on our Post-Gazette scholastic sports staff were thinking of ranking Aliquippa No. 1 in Class AA - and one of the reasons was Jones. A senior, Jones has been his starter since his sophomore season. Last year, he completed 68 of 122 for 1,129 yards. As a sophomore, he was 98 of 168 for 1,524 yards.
But with Jones' uncertain status, don't look for the Quips to be at the top of the rankings at the start of the season. My thinking is No. 1 should go to either Greensburg Central Catholic or Beaver Falls. By the way, our preseason rankings will come out in Friday's first Varsity Xtra section of the year. It will preview the season in the WPIAL and City League.
The retired life
For the first time since the mid 1960s, Don Yannessa isn't coaching at a preseason training camp. Yannessa retired as Ambridge's coach after last season, but also coached at Aliquippa and Baldwin and won more than 200 games.
"I kind of like this," Yannessa said of the retired life. "Instead of getting up at 6:30 for practice, I get up at maybe 9. Instead of going to practice, I maybe cut the grass."
Yannessa and wife, Elaine, live in Aliquippa.
"I don't mind being a little bit lazy for once," Yannessa said with a laugh.
Yannessa is a colorful man and always had some great comments about anything from football - to life. When asked if he misses coaching football, he said, "Not really. I try not to allow myself to even think about it. The last couple of nights, I was dtreaming of football, things like calling plays. Like it's the fourth quarter, we're losing and I have to call a play. Then I wake up and say, 'Will you think about something else?'"
WPIAL football will miss Yannessa - and his colorful personality. But hey, it's not like he's gone. In fact, he plans on going to the Ambridge-Center scrimmage Friday, and the Ambridge-Aliquippa opener Saturday, Sept. 5.
Check this out
Max Creighan, a senior and North Hills' leading receiver last season, is out with a broken hand. ... "Schween," our longtime high school sports statistican here at the Post-Gazette, pointed this out last night. Belle Vernon's roster has a 6-foot-4, 270-pound FRESHMAN! Who knows if Dorian Johnson can play at all, but that's ridiculously big for a ninth-grader. ... Indiana will formally dedicate its new field prior to the season opener (Sept. 4) against Plum. It will be named Andy Kuzneski Field, in memory of the 1958 Indiana graduate who went on to play at Pitt.