WPIAL football playoff pairings

Written by Mike White on .

The top seeds for the WPIAL football playoffs are Pine-Richland (Class AAAA), Central Valley (AAA), South Fayette (AA) and Cardinal Wuerl Catholic (A).
The WPIAL announced the seedings and playoff pairings tonight at a meeting at the DoubleTree Hotell in Green Tree. The playoffs begin Friday and all first-round games are played at the home site of the higher-seeded team. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played at neutral fields and all four championship games will be at Heinz Field Nov. 21.
Below are the first-round pairings (the top eight seeds in each class are in parentheses next to the teams):
CLASS AAAA – Connellsville at Pine-Richland (1); Fox Chapel at Penn-Trafford (2); Norwin at Central Catholic (3); Plum at Penn Hills (4); Mt. Lebanon at McKeesport (5); North Hills at Woodland Hills (6); Upper St. Clair at North Allegheny (7); Bethel Park at Altoona (8).
CLASS AAA – Laurel Highlands at Central Valley (1); Moon at Thomas Jefferson (2); Knoch at West Allegheny (3); New Castle at Hampton (4); Gateway at Ringgold (5); Belle Vernon at Franklin Regional (6); Mars at Montour (7); West Mifflin at Indiana (8).
CLASS AA – Waynesburg at South Fayette (1); Kittanning at Aliquippa (2); Steel Valley at Washington (3); New Brighton at Highlands (4); McGuffey at Seton-LaSalle (5); Beaver Falls at Apollo-Ridge (6); Shady Side Academy at Mount Pleasant (7); South Park at Beaver (8).
CLASS A – Avella at North Catholic (1); Chartiers-Houston at Clairton (2); Greensburg Central Catholic at Neshannock (3); Riverside at Beth-Center (4); Mapletown at Avonworth (5); Brentwood at Jeannette (6); Springdale at Shenango (7); South Side Beaver at Frazier (8).

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Unstoppable Julianne Moore

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


juliannemooremagcoverpicJulianne Moore talks about joining “The Hunger Games” franchise, mourning her friend Philip Seymour Hoffman and her increasing fondness for happy endings in the November issue of More magazine. It hits newsstands Tuesday. 
Alec Baldwin, who co-stars in “Still Alice” in which Moore plays a linguistics professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s, calls her unstoppable. 
“A lot of people work when they’re young and then their lives evolve. Some of them drop off or only work now and then. Then there are women like Julie: They get married, have a family and do remarkable work year after year. It’s hard for men to do that, but it’s even harder for women. She’s unstoppable that way.”
"Still Alice" has vaulted Moore to the top of the list for best actress Oscar contenders. (It has no Pittsburgh date yet). 
Moore, meanwhile, talks about how her children ages 16 and 12 influenced her decision to play President Alma Coin in “The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay — Part 1” and “Part 2”: “For a child moving into adolescence, the big question is, Do I have free will? Can I determine my own future?” she says.
“[At that age] you’re still with your parents. But you’re asking yourself, who am I? Most of the films I make are not for kids. My son was in line for the midnight show when ‘The Hunger Games’ first came out. They both loved the books. For them, my being in ‘Mockingjay’ was fairly meaningful.”
When asked about Hoffman — the two worked on “Magnolia,” “Boogie Nights” and “The Big Lebowski” — her face became flushed with emotion. “What is there to say? It was a terrible, ridiculous, untimely loss. It’s difficult,” she told the magazine, “because I’m not sure how his family wants to deal with all this. It’s not my place. But I can talk about him as a colleague: He was an extraordinary talent and a lovely human being.”
As for how being older has changed her views on Hollywood and the choices she makes: “I used to think, Life’s really challenging. Things are tough, so they should be tough in a book, in a movie. They should be sad.” But the older she gets, the more she likes happy endings. 
insidemoorepicblog“When you’re starting out in this business, you feel like you’re not in charge, that you’re still looking to the world for a kind of validation. But as you get older, you realize that direction comes from yourself, from your own desires and responsibilities. You choose your work. You choose your life. That’s where your power comes from—and that’s a great feeling.”
As for what she would do more of if she could start over:  “Skiing. I’m terrified of skiing and I can’t get over the hump.”
She also weighs in on Moore’s take on her five most memorable on-screen characters:
Amber Waves, “Boogie Nights” (1997). “She has a lot of sexual power, but she’s powerless economically, so ultimately she doesn’t have a lot of choice.”
Maude Lebowski, “The Big Lebowski”  (1998). “Her power comes from her social hierarchy: She’s wealthy and a member of the 1 percent.”
Jules, “The Kids Are All Right” (2010). “She has a lot of authority within her family, but now that her kids are growing up, she feels like she’s losing her position.”
Sarah Palin, “Game Change” (2012). “She came into the election with the kind of charisma that people don’t often see in politics. But ultimately she was at the behest of the Republican Party.”
Alma Coin, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” (2014). “She is about political power— how you wield it and what you are trying to gain.”
Photo:  Mark Abrahams/More Magazine.


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Maatta to undergo surgery to remove tumor - 10-27-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins are faced with another serious health scare.

Defenseman Olli Maatta will undergo surgery next week remove a tumor from his neck which potentially could be a low-grade thyroid cancer. According to Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, the team's physician, Maatta has "about an 85 percent chance that it's cancer."

Despite the tumor, Maatta is scheduled to participate in all three of the Penguins' game this week. Rebounding from offseason shoulder surgery, Maatta has appeared in all seven of the team's game this season and has five points (one goal, four assists).

Recovery is expected to take approximately four weeks. He is not expected to undergo any chemotherapy or radiation treatment. According to Vyras, there will be a recovery time period of seven to 10 days to allow the wound to heal. After that healing, Maatta will be permitted to resume workouts. The tumor was found during a simple examination during preseason physicals by Dr. Eric Anish, a physician who assists Vyas.

Maatta described his reaction to the news in a very matter-of-fact fashion.

"I don’t think …. You know what, I didn’t feel any different," Maatta said. "I felt the same as I did before I found out. And I don’t’ think right now I feel any different than I did a year ago or anything. I feel healthy and I feel fine. The only thing that’s different, now I know I maybe have cancer. You know what, it’s tough news but I don’t think it really has affected me much."

"As I said before, anything hasn’t really changed. I haven’t really been that worried. I’ve been talking to [the doctor] a lot, the trainers trying to find out everything I can about the cancer. You know what, I know I’m going to be fine. I haven’t really been that worried about because I know we have a great medical staff here and they’re going to take care of me."

General manager Jim Rutherford lauded Maatta for how he has handled the condition.

"I will say that this news came out about three weeks ago when Olli was first made aware of it and watching the young man continue his life and play the way he’s played is absolutely amazing," Rutherford. "It’s amazing that he could still concentrate and continue on. He’s kept this to himself. I know a couple of his teammates knew about it. I can’t say enough about Olli about how he’s handled this news."

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was described as "ready" to return from a knee injury which has sidelined him since the preseason.

EN Says: The first time I met Maatta was on a boat.

In the days leading to the 2012 NHL Draft here in Pittsburgh, the NHL arranged a variety of media events around the city, one of which included having many of the top prospects in the draft talk to members of the media on one of the Gateway Clipper Fleet's boats. It was a nice, quiet event but it was simply a scorching day in late June. Just about everyone was struggling with the sun as the event was held on the top deck of the boat.

Maatta stood out to me during that event because he was sweating profusely. As a fair-skinned kid from Finland, he probably didn't have to often deal with temperatures approaching 100 degrees in his home country or in London, Ont., the city where he played junior hockey.

I also remember his hair. He had one of the worst haircuts I had ever seen in person on a human being. It looked like a spiky mullet with too much gel that was styled with a claw hammer:

To myself, I wondered if this sweaty Finn with a butchered head of hair was ever going to make it in the NHL.

I've never been more wrong with a first impression of someone in my life.

In the season-plus Maatta has played at the NHL level, it's become quite apparent to anyone who has talked to him that he is as composed of an individual as there is in the NHL. Nothing seems to rattle him.

I've had conversations with him about everything from the grind of an 82-game season, his mandatory conscription to the Finnish military, the penalty kill as well as the appeal of reindeer meat, a delicacy in Finland, and his tone and demeanor has always been the same. You could ask him to rake leaves or defuse a nuclear warhead and you would get a calm, quiet response each time.

When Maatta had his nine-game "tryout" last season where the Penguins had the choice of sending him back to London or keeping him on the NHL roster, teammate Jussi Jokinen, a fellow Finn who served as a "big brother" to Maatta, joked, "I think I’ve been maybe more nervous than him if he’s going to stay or not."

Part of that is maturity. Teammates have raved about his discipline when it comes to his diet and sleeping. How often can one describe the sleeping and eating habits of an average 20-year-old male in a positive sense?

Make the NHL at 19? Meh.

Avoid a forecheck from Milan Lucic? Yawn.

Help Finland win a bronze medal in the Olympics. Whatever.

Suit up for regular season games only five months after shoulder surgery. Sure.

Play games with a potentially cancerous tumor? Okay.

The composure Maatta showed in today's news conference was remarkable but at the same time, it wasn't surprising. He's just a chill guy.

And his hair is much better these days.

A very, very secondary concern with this is what it means for the lineup. If such a thing can be said, the timing of this works out well as Bortuzzo is on the verge of returning to the lineup. A recall from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton such as Scott Harrington or Taylor Chorney may have to be made in the mean time. And while Maatta's $894,167 salary cap hit on his entry-level deal is a drop in the bucket as far as the salary cap is concerned, it appears the Penguins could place him on long-term injured reserve to get some salary cap relief if necessary.

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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My 2014 AP ballot: Week 9

Written by Sam Werner on .

Each week, I'll go through my AP Top 25 ballot and give a few thoughts on how I voted and how it compares to the overall poll results.

Another week, another team knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten. This week, it was Ole Miss losing in Death Valley to LSU, whose defense suddenly looks like it's starting to put it all together. Here's a link to the full poll, and here's my ballot, with some thoughts...

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Florida State
  3. Auburn
  4. Ole Miss
  5. Alabama
  6. Notre Dame
  7. TCU
  8. Oregon
  9. Michigan State
  10. Georgia
  11. Baylor
  12. Arizona
  13. Kansas State
  14. Arizona State
  15. LSU
  16. Utah
  17. Ohio State
  18. Oklahoma
  19. West Virginia
  20. Nebraska
  21. East Carolina
  22. Marshall
  23. Clemson
  24. UCLA
  25. Duke

- Ole Miss loses, but only falls to No. 4. They still have a very impressive win over Alabama, and losing at Death Valley is hardly a bad loss. It also solidifies how impressive it was that Mississippi State won there earlier in the year. I know Ole Miss dropped behind Alabama in the overall poll, but I think those two teams are just about even right now in terms of overall resume, and I'll give Ole Miss a slight edge since they won head-to-head.

- I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks hopefully sorting out some of the mess in the middle of the poll. Much like last week, there's a glut of one-loss teams from 3-14. I think there's a pretty clear hierarchy towards the top, but it also wouldn't surprise me to see a team like Arizona State make a push as the season goes on.

- LSU is back in the poll at No. 15. I'm not totally sold on the Tigers' offense, but if their defense plays the way it did Saturday night, they can hang with anyone.

- When I was watching East Carolina struggle with Connecticut Thursday night, I thought this would be the week that Marshall passed them in the polls. But then the Thundering Herd came out and needed all four quarters to beat Florida Atlantic. I still think Marshall will move past ECU at some point, but the Herd need to be more impressive in their wins if they want that to happen.

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New docs end investigations into conduct of McCaffery

The retirement of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery – it's official now – has prompted a couple of official actions to tidy up all the stuff that's happened with the court and the email scandal in recent weeks.

First, there's an order from the court itself, vacating its order from last week that suspended Justice McCaffery and...

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