The "Going Camping" tour made stops Tuesday at Upper St. Clair, Woodland Hills and North Hills football practices. Here are some news and notes that turned up in a number of different sports.
***** Before we get to any Woodland Hills football talk, first some basketball news. Woodland Hills basketball coach Mike Decker resigned earlier this summer to take a job as the girls basketball coach and a teacher at Perry High School in Ohio.
One of the reasons Decker made the move was to be closer to his wife's family in Ohio. But it's a loss for Woodland Hills. In only two years, Decker did a terrific job of turning around Woodland Hills' program. The Wolverines won a section title this past season for the first time since 2000.
George Novak, Woodland Hills' athletic director and football coach, said candidates for Decker's job will be interviewed soon.
***** Monroe Weekley was a star football player at Aliquippa more than a decade ago and was known to everyone as "Mo Mo." Well, now his life is more like "No No." A Beaver County jury convicted Weekley of third-degree murder Monday.
It's just another sad chapter in the story of someone who never took advantage of his athletic ability and someone who made a lot of bad choices during his life. Weekley was a star linebacker on the 2000 Aliquippa WPIAL championship football team, and had numerous scholarship offers. He also was part of a WPIAL championship basketball team. He signed to play football at Pitt, but was booted off the team after a year. He then went to Kansas, but was eventually kicked off that team.
Now the murder conviction.
It seems everyone has "Mo Mo" stories. Some are funny. Some are horrible. I remember when he popped an Avonworth player in the face with a punch during warmups before a WPIAL basketball playoff game. Sad.
I also remember the time Weekley set a record for the longest punt in a state championship game. Too bad it was in a basketball game. Aliquippa lost to Trinity in the 2001 PIAA Class AA final. When the final buzzer went off, Weekley grabbed the ball and punted it into the stands. I swear the thing went 30-40 rows up.
***** If Woodland Hills players ever need motivation, they can get it walking to the locker room at the Wolvarena every day. All over the wall near the locker room are pictures of former Woodland Hills players, including a number of them who made it to the NFL, like Jason Taylor, Steve Breaston and Ryan Mundy.
***** I don't know if Woodland Hills realizes what kind of coach it still has in George Novak. School hasn't started yet and practice yesterday was at 3 p.m. Novak had to leave the Wolvarena at 1:30 to make his rounds, picking up players who had no ride to practice. It's a regular routine for Novak and his passenger van.
"There are probably six or seven I have to get today," Novak said.
I don't know how many coaches would do that, but it's part of what makes Novak so valuable to Woodland Hills. But picking up players is no big deal to him. He has been doing it for years.
"Some of them have no way of getting here," Novak said, matter-of-factly.
***** Woodland Hills used to go away to a secluded site for a week of preseason camp. Last year, the team had preseason camp at the Wolvarena and players went home every night.
This year for the first time, Woodland Hills had preseason camp at the Wolvarena - and players had to stay over night at the stadium for a week. It must have been quite a scene. Many players slept on cots underneath a giant rented tent near one end zone. Others slept in small tents set up around the Wolvarena. Some coaches slept in offices. Some other coaches slept in an RV donated for the week.
Some workers at the Wolvarena and Woodland Hills coaches joked that it was like the kids were in jail. Once they arrived, the gates and fences around the Wolvarena were locked and players were not allowed to leave until the week was over.
***** Maybe the best game on the first night of the season has Woodland Hills at Upper St. Clair. And it's a conference game. Both are expected to be among the better teams in Class AAAA.
***** WPIAL Class AAAA football was realigned this year, and only three conferences are in Class AAAA instead of four. Essentially, the Big East Conference dissolved. Some of those Big East teams are now in what was the Great Southern Conference, against the likes of Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon. So there is a name change in that conference. It will be, fittingly, the Southeastern Conference.
***** The Upper St. Clair volleyball team has a new player this season - Taylor Haley. She is the daughter of new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Todd Haley is an Upper St. Clair graduate, but he did not play football at the school.
***** Upper St. Clair football coach Jim Render says the nephew of CBS sportscaster Jim Natz is on the Upper St. Clair freshman team. Render says he has been told Jim Nantz might attend an Upper St. Clair game early in the season because he will be here for a Steelers game that weekend.
***** A little bit of basketball recruiting news. North Catholic senior guard Lauren Wolosik made a verbal commitment to Central Connecticut State, an NCAA Division I school. It's a good level for Wolosik. I was very impressed with her game last year on North Catholic's run to the PIAA Class A final. She is a point guard with talent, and excellent leadership ability. On top of that, she has a toughness about her that can't be taught.
Wolosik was a Post-Gazette all-WPIAL Class A selection last season.
Central Connecticut State will have three WPIAL players on its team this season, all from Mt. Lebanon. Jaclyn Babe, her sister, Jessica, and Lauren Arbogast all started the majority of the team's games last year. Jaclyn, who started her career at Duquesne University before transferring, led the team in scoring at 15.9 points.