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Pine-Richland, West Allegheny, South Fayette, Clairton win WPIAL titles

Written by Mike White on .

Class AAA final

In what turned out to be a terrific game, Central Valley won the Class AAA championship with a 35-28 victory against West Allegheny.

It was certainly the best game of the day. Central Valley jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, but West Allegheny eventually tied it in the third quarter.

There were great swings of momentum in the second half. Central Valley went ahead on a 55-yard TD reception. It was one of the greatest plays you will see in a WPIAL title game. Whitehead broke five tackles on the play.

Whitehead finished with six receptions for 179 yards and also had 107 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Class AA final

Brett Brumbaugh added another record to his collection.

Brumbaugh, South Fayette's stud senior quarterback, threw for 352 yards to lead the Lions to a 31-22 victory against Aliquippa. It was the second consecutive year that South Fayette beat Aliquippa in the title game.

The 352 yards was the most ever in a title game at Heinz Field or Three Rivers Stadium. Brumbaugh already is the all-time leading passer in the WPIAL and now has over 10,500 career  yards. I would be surprised if he does not break the state record of 10,948.

South Fayette's receivers also were excellent and were key to the win.

Class AAAA final

Pine-Richland has more than just a top offense.

Pine-Richland put up a terrific defensive effort and it was one of the main reasons the Rams won the WPIAL Class AAAA championship with a 21-13 victory against Central Catholic at Heinz Field.

Pine-Richland held Central Catholic to seven points until a touchdown pass on the last play of the game. 

Pine-Richland's offense, one of the most prolific in recent WPIAL history, took a while to get going. The game was scoreless at halftime.

Pine-Richland quarterback Ben DiNucci (pictured) completed 16 of 29 passes for 174 yards. But check this out: DiNucci also scored on a pass reception. Pine-Richland ran a reverse pass and D'Ondre Gastion hit DiNucci with a 12-yard touchdown pass.

But it needs to be pointed out that Pine-Richland was a big benefactor of a confusing call that really hurt Central Catholic. Late in the third quarter, Pine-Richland was leading, 7-0, when Earnest Williams took a pitch and fumbled. Romello Broughton recovered for Central Catholic. But after a short conference, game officials took away the fumble recovery. They ruled there was an inadvertent whistle and the play was dead.

It was a call that certainly didn't make a lot of sense and it hurt Central Catholic severely. DiNucci scored on the next play.

In the interview room after the game, it seemed Central Catholic coach Terry Totten tried to be politically correct. But he said he never heard a whistle and also said, "I've never been part of something like that."

Central Catholic scored on its next possession.

The loss overshadowed a fine performance by Central Catholic running back-defensive back Johnny Petrishen. Taking direct snaps in the wildcat formation, he rushed for 170 yards - although it take him 34 carries to get the yardage.

Class A championship

Clairton is a WPIAL champ again.

Clairton won its sixth WPIAL Class A title in seven years with a 46-14 victory against Avonworth at Heinz Field.

It would have taken a monumental effort for Avonworth to beat Clairton. And Avonworth took a 7-6 lead in the first quarter. But it was all Clairton after that.

It was all about the "W's" for Clairton - Wade and Williams. Sophomore Lamont wade ran for 128 yards on 16 carries, caught three passes for 37 yards and get this: He intercepted four passes on defense.

Meanwhile, Clairton quarterback Ryan Williams completed 16 of 24 passes for 301 yards and five touchdowns.

Clairton outgained Avonworth, 455-262. The 46 points was by far the most scored on Avonworth this year. 

Clairton will play in the PIAA playoffs next weekend against the winner of tomorrow's Berlin Brothersvalley-Meyersdale game.

 

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Highly-touted Jenkins only an honorable mention all-conference pick

Written by Mike White on .

Some items that fell off my laptop

The Class AAAA football all-conference teams were released recently, and an intriguing selection was Baldwin High School's Sterling Jenkins.

Jenkins is a senior offensive lineman who played in the Southeastern Conference against Upper St. Clair and Woodland Hills, among others. Jenkins wasn't a first-team all-conference pick. He wasn't second-team. He was an honorable mention selection. The all-conference teams are picked by the coaches in the conference. Jenkins didn't make first-team all-conference last year, either.

Sterling JenkinsJenkins, however, is ranked among the top 20 offensive tackles in the country by some scouting services (Jenkins is pictured towering above teammates at a practice). He was offered scholarships by many major colleges before making a verbal commitment to Penn State in the spring. His situation shows how so much of college football recruiting and scouting service player rankings are based on size, potential and how players might perform at a camp or combine. And not on how a player performs on the field in pads for his team.

The futures of offensive linemen are extremely hard to predict and it's understandable why colleges recruited Jenkins. He is 6 feet 8, 300 pounds and looks like an NFL offensive lineman. But he has admitted he still has a long way to go as a player. It will be interesting to see if he ever gets there.

Other football notes

**** The Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 comes out Thanksgiving Day. In talking to coaches, one player who was unheralded this season, but very good was Altoona defensive end Kevin Givens. One coach said he was the best defensive end he saw in the past few years. Pitt fans should be happy. Givens is a Pitt recruit.

**** Checking some WPIAL history, this will be Aliquippa's 20th WPIAL championship appearance in the past 35 seasons. Simply unbelievable.

**** Two of the WPIAL championship games are rematches from last year - West Allegheny vs. Central Valley and South Fayette vs. Aliquippa. In the history of the WPIAL, there have only been 11 championship rematches.

 

Pennsylvania schedule

The WPIAL finals are Friday. Here is the schedule for the rest of the state and the PIAA playoffs, courtesy of Kenny "The Horse" at the Post-Gazette. All four WPIAL champions will play in the PIAA playoffs next week.

PIAA CLASS AAAA PLAYOFFS
Western Region
Friday — District 3 Semifinals: Central Dauphin East (10-2) at West Lawn Wilson (12-0), 7 p.m.; Central Dauphin (10-2) at Governor Mifflin (11-1), 7 p.m.
Saturday — First Round: State College (5-6) vs. McDowell (8-4) at Clarion University, 1 p.m.
Eastern Region
Friday — Districts 2-4-11 Regional Championship: Parkland (10-2) at Easton (12-0), 7 p.m.; District 1 Semifinals: Downingtown East (9-3) at Coatesville (12-0), 7 p.m.; Upper Dublin (11-1) at Pennsbury (11-1), 7 p.m.
Saturday — District 12 Championship: Benjamin Franklin (10-0) vs. St. Joseph's Prep (7-3) at Philadelphia Northeast, 11:30 a.m.

PIAA CLASS AAA PLAYOFFS
Western Region
Friday — District 3 Semifinals: Daniel Boone (8-4) at Cocalico (9-3), 7 p.m.
Saturday — District 3 Semifinals: Red Land (9-3) at Bishop McDevitt (12-0), 1 p.m.
Bye — Conneaut (11-1).
Eastern Region
Friday — District 1 Championship: Springfield-Delco (12-0) vs. Great Valley (11-1) at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 7 p.m.; First Round: Somerset (11-1) vs. Selinsgrove (9-2) at Richland H.S., Johnstown, 7 p.m.; First Round: Bethlehem Catholic (11-1) vs. Crestwood (12-0) at J. Birney Crum Stadium, Allentown, 7 p.m.
Saturday — District 12 Championship: Imhotep Charter (10-1) vs. Archbishop Wood (10-1) at Philadelphia Northeast, 3:30 p.m.

PIAA CLASS AA PLAYOFFS
Western Region
Friday — Districts 5-8-9 Regional Championship: Karns City (10-1) at Chestnut Ridge (10-2), 7 p.m.
Saturday — District 6 Championship: Mount Union (12-0) vs. Tyrone (11-1) at Mansion Park Stadium, Altoona, 7 p.m.; District 10 Championship: Greenville (11-1) vs. Hickory (9-2) at Slippery Rock University, 1 p.m.
Eastern Region
Friday — First Round: Dunmore (11-1) vs. Northwestern Lehigh (11-1) at Valley View, 7 p.m.
Saturday — District 4 Championship: Loyalsock (9-3) at Montoursville (8-4), 7 p.m.; District 3 Championship: Berks Catholic (12-0) vs. Wyomissing (11-1) at Hersheypark Stadium, 6 p.m.; First Round: Neumann-Goretti (8-4) vs. Springfield-Montco (6-6) at South Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

PIAA CLASS A PLAYOFFS
Western Region
Friday — District 10 Championship: Sharpsville (9-3) vs. West Middlesex (10-2) at Slippery Rock University, 7 p.m.; District 9 Championship: Brockway (9-2) vs. Kane (11-1) at Clarion University, 7 p.m.
Saturday — District 5 Championship: Berlin Brothersvalley (11-1) vs. Meyersdale (9-2) at Somerset, 7 p.m.
Eastern Region
Friday — District 6 Championship: Bishop Guilfoyle (12-0) vs. Portage (11-1) at Mansion Park Stadium, Altoona, 7 p.m.; First Round: Pius X (10-2) vs. Delco Christian (9-2) at Nazareth, 7 p.m.; First Round: South Williamsport (11-1) vs. Old Forge (12-0) at Loyalsock, 7 p.m.
Saturday — District 3 Championship: Camp Hill (9-2) vs. York Catholic (8-3) at Hersheypark Stadium, noon.

 

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WPIAL football semifinal rewind ..... about DiNucci, Zmijanac, Petrishen and others

Written by Mike White on .

Notes, anecdotes and thoughts after the WPIAL football semifinals. Below the notes, see highlights from a few semifinal games.

It was well-documented how good Ben DiNucci was during the regular season. But he has been even better in the playoffs. 

DiNucci, Pine-Richland's terrific senior quarterback, led the WPIAL in passing yardage during the regular season and was the first quarterback in 35 years to lead the WPIAL in passing and also complete better than 70 percent of his passes. DiNucci completed 72 percent in nine games.

But get this: DiNucci is completing 78 percent of his passes in three playoff games. Through the Class AAAA semifinals, DiNucci has completed 49 of 63 for 841 yards. 

Pine-Richland plays Central Catholic in the Class AAAA final Friday at Heinz Field.

***** This will be Pine-Richland's fifth WPIAL championship appearance. The Rams also made it in 2002 and 2003. But the school also made it to the WPIAL finals in 1969 and '70 when the school was simply called Richland. The school became Pine-Richland in 1993. Richland won the WPIAL Class AA titles in 1969 and '70 under coach Gene Sullivan.

***** It didn't get a lot of play but Aliquippa's Mike Zmijanac got his 200th win Friday. Considering that he has been a coach since only 1997, it is an amazing feat. I know Aliquippa always has good players, but the school is still small and it's not exactly in a thriving town. What Zmijanac (pictured) has done truly is remarkable, no matter what happens in the WPIAL Class AA final. His record is 200-30 (.869 winning pct.).

Zmijanac's record the past six seasons? Try 76-6 (.927 pct.).

***** It seems many in the WPIAL football world are still in shock at West Allegheny's 41-7 victory against Thomas Jefferson in the AAA semifinals. It's certainly not shocking that West Allegheny won. But the way, the Indians won. It's hard to remember a Bill Cherpak-coached team being clobbered so badly. But it happens. That snowball starts going downhill and suddenly it's an avalanche and there is no way to stop it.

Despite the semifinal loss, you still have to marvel at what Cherpak has done at TJ. In 20 seasons, he is 213-39.

***** You look at Thomas Jefferson's loss, and look at the way Ringgold was beaten by Central Valley (41-13) and you really have to wonder about that Big Nine Conference. Thomas Jefferson and Ringgold were the top two teams from the conference. Or maybe it's just the strength of the top of the Parkway Conference showing. Central Valley and West Allegheny were the top teams in the Parkway.

Johnny Petrishen***** If you didn't know before Friday, you should know now: Central Catholic's Johnny Petrishen (pictured) is undoubtedly one of the best all-around players in the WPIAL. He is a standout defensive back and supreme kick returner. Then Central Catholic decided to give him the ball often in the wildcat formation Friday against Penn-Trafford. All Petrishen did was rush for 211 yards on 17 carries.

Petrishen wears the blue and gold of Central, but Pitt fans should only help he is still in blue and gold next season. Petrishen likely will choose between Pitt and Virginia.

***** Dan Marshall is West Allegheny's offensive coordinator. But this will also be his first season as West Allegheny's boys basketball coach. The official start of basketball practice in Pennsylvania is Monday. You can bet Marshall will be at basketball practice at some point Monday. You can also bet he won't be home much this week.

***** I know Neshannock didn't make it to the finals, but it says here that Neshannock's Fred Mozzocio should strongly be considered for WPIAL coach of the year. The Lancers almost knocked off Clairton. And what Mozzocio has done at Neshannock in three seasons as coach is truly remarkable. That program was horrible when he took it over. The past three years, the Lancers have made the semifinals.

***** Neshannock scored a TD with a little more than a minute left against Clairton to pull within a point. Mozzocio elected to kick the extra point and Clairton won in overtime. Whatdya think? Should he have gone for two at that point?

***** An upset just outside the WPIAL Friday. Erie Cathedral Prep lost to Conneaut in the District 10 Class AAA final. You can bet Central Valley and West Allegheny liked that score. Erie Prep has defeated West Allegheny the past two seasons in the PIAA quarterfinals.

Highlights

Here are some highlights from Friday's WPIAL semifinals. 

Clairton vs. Neshannock

Pine-Richland vs. McKeesport

Aliquippa vs. Washington 

 

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Live Friday WPIAL semifinal blog - West Allegheny beats Thomas Jefferson, 41-7

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from WPIAL Class AAA semifinal between Thomas Jefferson and West Allegheny. For score updates and notes from other semifinals look to the right of this blog for @PGVarsityXtra's Twitter account. If you have a score update, note of photo, tweet with #wpial.


FINAL: WEST ALLEGHENY 41, THOMAS JEFFERSON 7

More later

How about this one: Neshannock is now beating Clairton, 28-26. Wait. Clairton comes right back and takes 34-28 lead.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: WEST ALLEGHENY 41, THOMAS JEFFERSON 7

Neshannock giving Clairton a game. 26-22 Clairton ahead.

Central Catholic offense clicking tonight. Now leading Penn-Trafford, 35-20

WEST ALLEGHENY 41, THOMAS JEFFERSON 7

Thomas Jefferson gets on scoreboard. Jacob Stein returns second-half kickoff 96 yards for TD. Mercy rule still in effect.

Halftime: WEST ALLEGHENY 41, THOMAS JEFFERSON 0

Mercy rule in second half.

WEST ALLEGHENY 41, THOMAS JEFFERSON 0

Never have seen this from a TJ team. Jaguars can't tackle. Four TDs in past five plays for West A. 25-yard TD run by Terrence Stephens. If this stays, it will be mercy rule in second half. 

8:22 West Allegheny has scored touchdowns on three of its past four plays. Wow.

WEST ALLEGHENY 34, THOMAS JEFFERSON 0

Can TJ stop the avalanche? Whitney White 65-yard touchdown run. 5:54 left in half.

McKeesport gets on board. Now trails Pine-Richland, 14-7.

Washington trailing Aliquippa by only 16-12. TD by Spina for Wash  High

WEST ALLEGHENY 27, THOMAS JEFFERSON 0

This is jaw-dropping. Two plays 57 yards and Chayse Dillon scores on 55-yard run. With what's happening here, it makes you wonder what the competition was like in that Big Nine?

8:04 TJ goes three and out again. TJ has only one first down early in second quarter. Thomas Jefferson has virtually no passing game. It will be extremely difficult for Jaguars to come back. You don't see any long drives coming and they can't stop West A. Punt return jump started West A.

WEST ALLEGHENY 20, THOMAS JEFFERSON 0

Six-play, 50-yard drive and Chayse Dillon caps with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Central Valley putting it to Ringgold, 14-0. Not a surprise there.

7:54 Great fourth-down stand by WA defense at midfield. TJ coach Bill Cherpak went for it on fourth and 2. WA now driving.

South Fayette 7, Seton-LaSalle 0

WEST ALLEGHENY 13, THOMAS JEFFERSON 0 

First play after kickoff TJ fumbles and Whitney White recovers. West Allegheny goes 39 yards in five plays. TD run of 5 yards by Terence Stephens. Opsatnik kick. 13-0

Pine-Richland scores first possession. DiNucci 7 of 7

WEST ALLEGHENY 6, THOMAS JEFFERSON 0

Big play on special teams!! Great punt return by Tyler Amedure takes punt and goes 65 yards for TD. Broke three tackles. Looked to be stopped at midfield, broke loose and went down the sideline. PAT failed, though. 

Avonworth jumps to 7-0 lead on North Catholic. Hughley TD.

7:36 Three and out for West A.

7:31 West Allegheny receives. No Andrew Koester at QB. West Allegheny in wildcat.

7:26 Game time in a few minutes. Certainly not good crowd again. Attendance has been down all throughout the playoffs. You can't blame weather that much. Heck, it has been cold a number of years for the semifinals and attendance wasn't like this. I can't give you a reason.

PREGAME

Another cold, cold night. Regular season was filled with great Friday nights, but the weather for the playoffs has been bad and it has greatly affected attendance. Wonder what the crowd will be like here at Bethel Park? Half hour before the game and there might be 100 people here.

Will be interesting to see how much West Allegheny uses the wildcat formation. The Indians used it a lot last week. Most of the year they had been going out of a pro site.

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WPIAL semifinal predictions ..... TV games

Written by Mike White on .

Varsity Blog program note: Tonight's live semifinal blog will come from the West Allegheny vs. Thomas Jefferson game. For score updates and notes from other games, follow the @PGVarsityXtra Twitter account to the right of this blog. If you have a score update, note or photo, "tweet" it with #wpial.

Before we get to the WPIAL semifinal predictions, one note about TV games tonight. Root Sports will televise the Thomas Jefferson vs. West Allegheny game, to be shown on delay, following tonight's Penguins game.

Xfinity Comcast television is doing the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth game, which can be seen "On Demand" starting tomorrow night.

Now, for the semifinal predictions, plus one PIAA game involving City League champion Brashear. 

WPIAL CLASS AAAA

Pine-Richland vs. McKeesport - I don't think there is any doubt that Pine-Richland's offense with quarterback Ben DiNucci (pictured) and his strong offensive line will move and score points. The biggest question is whether McKeesport's flexbone offense is good enough to keep pace with the Rams? I say no. Winner: Pine-Richland.

Central Catholic vs. Penn-Trafford - Penn-Trafford's offense is much more balanced than Central Catholic. But will that matter? I really like Penn-Trafford and this game is awfully interesting. Line play will be the key. I took Central Catholic at the start of the playoffs. Winner: Central Catholic.

WPIAL CLASS AAA

Thomas Jefferson vs. West Allegheny - A classic matchup between perennial powers. Do you think there has ever been a game with 11 WPIAL titles between the two coaches (Bob Palko with seven and Bill Cherpak with four)? Well, actually yes. West Allegheny played Woodland Hills this year and there were 13 between Palko and George Novak. It will be interesting to see if West Allegheny uses the wildcat offense tonight, like it did often last week. Run defense will be key for both teams. Winner: West Allegheny.

Central Valley vs. Ringgold - It has been 27 years since Ringgold has been in the semifinals. Standout running back Chacar Berry was slowed by a bad ankle last week. The Rams need him at full strength. But even so ... Winner: Central Valley.

WPIAL CLASS AA

Washington vs. Aliquippa - Aliquippa would be the favorite even if Washington was at full strength. But some injuries to key players could spell trouble to Washington. Winner: Aliquippa (fixed error from earlier this afternoon).

South Fayette vs. Seton-LaSalle - Seton-LaSalle's best player, Danzel McKinley-Lewis (pictured) did not play the first time the teams met. No doubt he will make a difference. But will he make THAT much of a difference? South Fayette won the first time, 41-14. Winner: South Fayette.

WPIAL CLASS A

Clairton vs. Neshannock - There is no question that Neshannock will give Clairton its best game of the season. But it's hard to see Neshannock giving Clairton its first loss of the season. Winner: Clairton (fixed error from this afternoon).

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth - When CWNC beat Avonworth, 28-0, earlier this season, the game was scoreless at halftime. This one might be close the whole way, but the same team will come out on top. Winner: Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

PIAA CLASS AAAA

Erie McDowell vs. Brashear - City League champion Brashear goes on the road to play McDowell in Erie Saturday afternoon. Brashear has had a week off since winning the City League championship. Terrific job by coach Rick Murphy in getting his team to peak at the right time and knock off No. 1 Allderdice. This isn't a great McDowell team, but still a level above Brashear. Winner: McDowell. 

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