About USC's rough start ..... State rankings

Written by Mike White on .

Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render has never handled losing well. So don't look for him to be skipping around and whistling these days

It has been a while since Render's team has had such a rough start.

Upper St. Clair is 1-3. With a game looming Friday against 4-0 Woodland Hills, Upper St. Clair is staring 1-4 in the face.

It has been 14 years since Upper St. Clair started 1-3. In 1998, the Panthers started 1-4. But maybe Upper St. Clair Jim Rendercan look to that '98 season for motivation. After the 1-4 start, Upper St. Clair won four in a row and made the WPIAL playoffs before losing in the first round to New Castle.

Render has more wins than any coach in WPIAL history. Sure, he has his detractors but is there anyone around the WPIAL who does it better? But no matter the coach or the school in the WPIAL, there are going to be these down years, every once in a while, right? And really should we be all that surprised by the 1-3 start? Upper St. Clair had one starter back from last season and the Panthers' schedule has been awfully tough. The losses have all been on the road to Penn Hills, Bethel Park and North Allegheny.

But after Woodland Hills, Upper St. Clair's final four games are all winnable against Baldwin, Canon-McMillan, Montour and Mt. Lebanon. I think they win at least three.

It will be interesting to see how much Upper St. Clair improves in the second half of the season.

Varsity Xtra video

Here is Varsity Xtra's version of This Week In High School Sports with yours truly and Terry Shields. We talk about some big games, including game of the week North Hills vs. Pine-Richland.

State rankings

The Pennsylvania Football News state rankings are out for this week.

Here are the Post-Gazette state rankings:


1. Central Catholic 4-0

2. Woodland Hills 4-0

3. St. Joseph's Prep 1-2

4. Pennsbury 4-0

5. Parkland 4-0


1. Archbishop Wood 4-0

2. Bishop McDevitt 4-0

3. West Allegheny 4-0

4. Erie Cathedral Prep 4-0

5. Thomas Jefferson 4-0


1. South Fayette 4-0

2. Aliquippa 4-0

3. Southern Columbia 4-0

4. Berks Catholic 4-0

5. Seton-LaSalle 4-0


1. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 4-0

2. Clairton 4-0

3. Wellsboro 4-0

4. Jeannette 4-0

5. Sharpsville 4-0 


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Rowan opens recruiting. ..... Harrell commits to IPFW

Written by Mike White on .

Some news on the WPIAL basketball recruiting front today. Well, sort of the WPIAL.

Maverick Rowan has backed out of his commitment to Pitt and opened up his recruiting. This news was confirmed by his father, Ron, tonight. Rowan used to be a WPIAL player. He played his freshman and sophomore years at Lincoln Park of the WPIAL and accepted a scholarship to Pitt last summer, before his sophomore year.

But Rowan transferred to Cardinal Gibbons in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last month. Rowan is a 6-foot-7 guard who is ranked among the top 50 juniors in the country and his decision to open his recruiting is no surprise. It has been expected for a while. Rowan's entire family is moving to Florida.

Other Division I colleges were showing interest in Rowan before he opened his recruiting and were in touch with either Maverick or his father.

This is what happens sometimes with early offers and when a kid commits before his sophomore year. How big of a loss is it? Sure, Pitt wanted Rowan, and it is a loss. He is a shooter with lots of potential and Pitt can always use shooters. But there is plenty of time to get another guard. Pitt must hope it hangs on to Mustapha Herron, another guard in the junior class. 

It just makes you wonder why Rowan committed so early in the first place? Where will he go now? It's anyone's guess. I know Ohio State and a number of others were interested.

Harrell to IPFW

Hempfield standout guard Kason Harrell has committed to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. It is a Division I school known otherwise as IPFW.

IPFW is the only school Harrell has visited. Harrell said it was the only Division I school that still had a scholarship on the table for him.

Harrell is a 6-2 shooting guard who was a member of the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 last year.

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Live Friday night blog - Brown scores seven TDs, Apollo-Ridge beats Shady Side, 46-20

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from tonight's Apollo-Ridge at Shady Side Academy game. For score updates, look to the right of this blog for @PGVarsityXtra's Twitter account. You can "tweet" score updates or photos to @PGVarsityXtra with #WPIAL.


Shady Side Academy gets 4-yard TD run from Hackaday.


Bright spot for Shady Side. Tyler Hackaday, a freshman, comes off bench and scores 2 yard TD. Has 38 yards on nine carries.


Have you heard this before? Duane Brown another TD. Seventh touchdown of the night. It's 46-7. Mercy rule.


And Brown scores his sixth TD. This one on defense. Picks up fumble and returns it 29 yards. Vincent Austin made the hit on QB forcing fumble.


Duane Brown scores his fifth TD. This one a 13-yard run on first drive of second half.

Photo courtesy of the fine Matt Freed of Post-Gazette. Apollo-Ridge's Duane Brown falls into the end zone for a score.

Duane Brown A-Ridge

8:14 Barring total collapse, Apollo-Ridge will be in Class AA playoffs. Vikings moved up to Class AA this year. If A-Ridge was still in Class A, Vikings would definitely be challenger to make it to Heinz.

Now it's 54-6 Clairton in second quarter. Will Jeannette even challenge Clairton in the regular season? Maybe not.

8:08 Tre Tipton has been good, if not spectacular. Love his ability to cut. Athletically, he's on a different level than everyone else in this game, which should come as no surprise. Still averaging 8 yards a carry.

Will be very interesting to see what position he ends up at Pitt. Was recruited as a receiver. He does look like a playmaker.

Big Class AA game. Highlands leads Kittanning, 14-6, at half.

Is Clairton going to get 70 again? Really? Leading Springdale, 40-6, in second quarter.

Woodland Hills leads Baldwin, 7-0, after first.

Big Quad-A game, Penn Hills leads Mt. Lebanon, 10-0. Penn Hills bouncing back after loss to Central Valley. If Penn Hills doesn't put the ball on the ground, Indians are pretty decent.


Halftime stats: Duane Brown 165 yards on eight carries for A-R. Tre Tipton 63 yards on 8 carries. Tipton is 1 of 4 throwing and Brown 0 for 1. A-R has 271 yards rushing.

Jackson Fitzgerald workhorse for Shady Side. Carried 19 times for 48 yards.

7:49 Little better job defensively by Shady Side. Finally gets a stop. Forces A-R to punt. Less than two minutes left in half.


Shady Side gets on the board. 57-yard drive in nine plays. Jackson Fitzgerald caps with 4-yd TD run. 26-7

Here we go again. Clairton leading Springdale, 32-0.

Seton-LaSalle leading Steel Valley, 7-0, in second.


Fourth TD for Brown. This one for 31 yards.


Duane Brown 1-yard TD run.


Duane Brown scores 1-yard TD run after 54-yard game by him. And Apollo-Ridge recovers short kickoff.

7:12 Shady Side yet to get a first down after three possessions.


Duane Brown moves to running back and goes 64 yards for TD

7:04 Both teams go three and out.

7:02 And same official goes down when A-R has the ball. Tough night for him. A-R with ball on 35.

7:00 Shady Side Academy receive. Start at 36. And A-R Tre Tipton makes his first hit on second play. And it's on an official. Accidentally levels an official.


And now I can make a first-time statement in 30 plus years of covering WPIAL football. Here goes: "I am covering Apollo-Ridge."

Hey, the Vikings are 3-0 and Shady Side Academy is 3-0. But when talking about Apollo-Ridge, what is grabbing everyone's attention is senior Tre Tipton, a Pitt recruit and Mr. Everything for Apollo-Ridge. He had been a receiver but now is playing mostly at quarterback. He still sees time at receiver, though.

From what I hear Shady Side Academy is a little banged up with injuries.

And now, the serene Shady Side Academy campus

Shady Side setting

Pink-out night

It's "pink-out night" at Shady Side for breast cancer awareness. Love the sign.

Shady Side sign

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A dozen predictions to go for Week 4

Written by Mike White on .

Program note: Tonight's live blog will come from Apollo-Ridge at Shady Side Academy. We'll see if the "Tre Tipton Show" has another terrific night. For score updates and notes, follow @PGVarsityXtra's Twitter account to the right of this blog. We appreciate any score updates if you could tweet them to @PGVarsityXtra and use #WPIAL. And tweet us any photos of student sections, cheerleading squads, etc.

Also, follow me @mwhiteburgh for updates on tonight's game. Follow @BREAL412 for updates from Seton-LaSalle at Steel Valley, and @CraigMeyerPG for updates from Mt. Lebanon at Penn Hills.

And just got back from Schorr's bakery in West View and got these dozen predictions to go. Last week: 8-4 for the third consecutive week. Season: 24-12.


Mt. Lebanon at Penn Hills - Mt. Lebanon's offense has been awfully impressive, but I get the feeling that Penn Hills might bounce back after last week's loss at Central Valley. If Penn Hills doesn't put the ball on the ground ... Winner: Penn Hills.

Seneca Valley at North Hills - I know Seneca Valley has been hit hard by some key injuries. But it's still hard to believe they are 0-3. Although North Hills hasn't defeated anyone of significance, Pat Carey has the Indians at 3-0. Key to the game is Seneca Valley's run defense, but North Hills QB Jake Bruder might be the "X" factor in this game. This one should be close. Winner: North Hills.


Ringgold at West Mifflin - Ringgold has two decent wins after the shellacking by Thomas Jefferson in the season opener. But can the Rams win a big one on the road? Winner: West Mifflin.

Knoch at Gateway - Until Gateway wins one, it's hard to pick the Gators. Knoch's offense will be the difference. Winner: Knoch.

Indiana at Franklin Regional - This could be a big game in determining positioning in the Greater Allegheny. Watch Franklin Regional the second half of the season. Winner: Franklin Regional.

Mars at Greensburg Salem - Mars certainly isn't the same team without injured running back Josh Schultheis. But still good enough to win on the road in this one. Winner: Mars.


Seton-LaSalle at Steel Valley - This is our P-G Game of the Week. A correction from earlier in the week. We looked at some incorrect stats on Steel Valley RB DeWayne Murray. He is not over 2,000 yards yet. But close. He is 9 yards short. How well Seton-LaSalle's run defense does will determine the outcome of this one. Winner: Seton-LaSalle.

Apollo-Ridge at Shady Side Academy - Tre Tipton is becoming one of the big storylines of the season. Don't forget his quarterback mate Duane Brown. The Vikings should go to 4-0 against a 3-0, but banged up Shady Side Academy team. Winner: Apollo-Ridge.

Highlands at Kittanning - Kittanning gave up 44 points last week to Apollo-Ridge, but Highlands doesn't have anyone like Tre Tipton. However, Highlands does have Elijah Jackson. Will Kittanning's defense rise to the occasion? Winner: Highlands.


Brentwood at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic - It's hard to find a Class A game this week with two top teams. CWNC is No. 1-ranked in Class A. Brentwood is 2-1, but about to become 2-2. Winner: North Catholic.


University Prep vs. Perry - Perry must slow down University Prep's offense to have a chance. Winner: University Prep.

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Clairton's surreal statistics ..... Montour baseball player Vietmeier rates

Written by Mike White on .

Items that fell off my laptop

Clairton's scoring has grabbed the attention of many in the WPIAL this year as the Bears have won their first three games by scores of 70-0, 86-0 and 74-0.

Never mind whether you believe the Bears are "running up" the score. We're not here to debate that. But if you think their scores are hard to believe, wait until you see some of Clairton's yardage statistics.

First off, get this: Clairton has gained 1,536 yards in three games. Its three opponents have gained 79. That's an average of 512-26.

Now for some of the individual statistics. Suffice it to say, Clairton is pretty good at big plays:

** Ramone Clifford has carried the ball five times and is averaging 28 yards a carry (140 yards).

** Harrison Dreher is averaging 32 yards on three receptions, and 16 yards on 23 rushing attempts.

Aaron Mathews** Aaron Mathews (pictured) has carried the ball four times and is averaging 19.5 yards a carry (he also has 10 catches for 166 yards). 

** Jamie Hines has seven catches and is averaging 22 yards per reception.

** Lamont Wade has carried the ball 13 times and is averaging 15.5 yards per attempt.

** Quarterback Ryan Williams has completed 29 of 44 passes for 615 yards, an average of 21.2 yards per completion.

Montour's Vietmeier rated among best

Montour's Trent Vietmeier is one of the top sophomore baseball players in the country. Says who? Perfect Game scouting organization.

Perfect Game recently released its national rankings for the class of 2017 and Vietmeier is ranked No. 27. Perfect Game, located in Georgia, puts on tournaments and showcases across the country. 

Vietmeier participated in four Perfect Game events this year, including the WWBA 15-and-under national championship, where Vietmeier's fastball was clocked at 91 m.p.h.

Vietmeier plays three sports at Montour. He is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound tight end on the football team and was a freshman on the Montour varsity last season. That's good size for a baseball player. He is certainly a player to watch for in the future.

Kiski Area gets grant for field from Steelers, NFL

Kiski Area has received a $200,000 grant for a synthetic field at the high school. The grant is from the Steelers through the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). It is part of $2.5 million in refurbishment awards allocated this year. The new surface at Kiski Area will replace a worn natural turf field.

Kiski Area's football team, though, will continue to play at Davis Field away from the school campus. Davis Field has natural grass.

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