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Pitt might be it for Brashear's Coleman

Written by Mike White on .

Brashear defensive back Therran Coleman will announce his college decision tonight - and Pitt looks to be in good shape to be the winner

At least that's what some sources say. Coleman will announce his decision on KDKA TV. He said Pitt, West Therran ColemanVirginia, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and Arizona State are his finalists, but it's looking like a Pitt-West Virginia race with Wisconsin thrown in. Although you can't predict a teenager's decision with 100 percent certainty, sources believe Pitt to be the favorite, although Coleman has played it "close to the vest," not giving any indication to his choice. It wouldn't be totally shocking if Coleman chose West Virginia, either.

Coleman would be the second City League senior to choose a Division I school. Allderdice QB-WR Tim Jackson has already made a verbal commitment to Toledo.

James Jackson, a WR-DB at Allderdice, has some Division I offers. James Jackson and Tim Jackson are twins.

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Countdown to Friday Night Lights - rankings, Fab 5 players, preview for AAA and AA

Written by Mike White on .

One in a series previewing the four classes of WPIAL football and also the City League.

The Class AAAA preview ran earlier this week. Today, we've got a double dose of previews - Class AAA and AA.

WPIAL CLASS AAA

By The Numbers

Top returning statistical leaders from last season (regular-season stats only):

RUSHING

Chacar Berry, Ringgold - 1,245 yards on 125 carries 

SCORING

Chacar Berry, Ringgold - 22 touchdowns, two points on a conversion, 134 points

PASSING

Jacob Zilinskas, Indiana - 100 of 181 for 1,494 yards

RECEIVING

Dylan Stapleton, Indiana - 31 catches for 427 yards

FAB 5 

Chacar Berry, Ringgold - Put up big statistics last season in helping the Rams reach the WPIAL semifinals.

Aidan Howard, Gateway - 6-4 receiver who has committed to the University of Virginia.

Braden Pahanish, Thomas Jefferson, LB - First-team all-conference pick last season. Three-year starter for the perennial power Jaguars.

Terence Stephens, West Allegheny, RB-DB (pictured) - Rushed for 912 yards last season. Some Mid-American Conference schools interested. Bowling Green has offered.

Jacob Zilinskas, Indiana - Son of coach Mark Zilinskas. Jacob and Dylan Stapleton could make for a terrific pass-catch combination this season.

Top 10 rankings

1. Central Valley - It is extremely hard to pick a No. 1 team in Class AAA in the preseason. There doesn't seem to be an overwhelming favorite. Central Valley doesn't have a great playmaker any more like Robert Foster or Jordan Whitehead. But the Warriors are the defending champs.

2. West Allegheny - Stephens will be one of the Indians' leaders, but this is one of Bob Palko's biggest teams on the lines. 

3. Thomas Jefferson - This is shaping up as a TJ team that could go far (what else is new?)

4. Franklin Regional - The Panthers have big, experienced linemen and also one of the Greater Allegheny Conference's top QBs in Santino Birty.

5. Montour - If the Spartans' QB (Randall Labrie) didn't sustain a torn ACL, the Spartans might be the team to beat in the Parkway. An excellent opening-night game is Montour at Central Valley.

6. Ringgold - The Rams could be Berry, Berry good. Get it? Chacar Berry is back (I'll be here all week, tip your waitresses). Another good opening-night game is Thomas Jefferson at Ringgold. And don't sleep on West Mifflin in this Big 10 Conference. 

7. Hampton - The Talbots won the Greater Allegheny last year and are good enough to win it again. Matt Rech returns at RB along with some solid linemen.

8. New Castle - Skill-position players make the Hurricanes a team to watch.

9. Gateway - Will Tom Nola's second season at the helm be better than the first (4-6 record)?

10. Mars - Don't be surprised if the Planets end up fighting for the Greater Allegheny Conference crown. John Castello is one of the best TEs in Class AAA.

WPIAL CLASS AA

By The Numbers

 

Top returning statistical leaders from last season (regular-season stats only):

RUSHING

DeWayne Murray, Steel Valley - 102 carries for 1,255 yards

SCORING

Duane Brown, Apollo-Ridge - 28 TDs, 4 points on conversions, 172 total points

RECEIVING

Dylan Hochbein, Freeport - 54 catches for 873 yards

Fab 5

Paris Ford, Seton-LaSalle, WR-DB - Rated one of the top juniors in the state and one of the top junior defensive backs in the country. Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and numerous others have already offered.

Hunter Hayes, South Fayette - Rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season for WPIAL and PIAA champion Lions.

Donovan Jeter, Beaver Falls, TE-DE (pictured) - Another junior with a number of major-college offers, including Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State. Also a talented basketball player, but future is in football.

Kaezon Pugh, Aliquippa, RB-DB - Four-year varsity player. A force on both offense and defense. Pitt, West Virginia and Maryland are three schools he likes.

Logan Thimons, Freeport, TE-DL - Freeport's leading tackler past two seasons. Committed to West Virginia before last season.

Top 10 rankings

1. Aliquippa - The Quips might not be quite as strong early in the season as they were the past few years. But it's hard to bet against this team at least going to the title game. They've made it seven years in a row.

2. South Fayette - The Lions have a 32-game winning streak. They can't be as strong as the past few years, can they? Hey, Brett Brumbaugh's not at QB any more. But Hunter Hayes is still there along with some other talented players. It's possible this could be South Fayette's last run in Class AA. A growing district, South Fayette could be Class AAA next cycle.

3. Beaver Falls - These Tigers are big, experienced and good. But can they beat the Quips? 

4. Seton-LaSalle - The Rebels are more than just Paris Ford. Look for a possible deep playoff run.

Mike Bosnic5. Washington - Coach Mike Bosnic (pictured) has done a terrific job in building this program back up into a consistent winner.

6. Highlands - The Rams were Allegheny Conference champs last year. Another title is in the cards.

7. Beaver - Darius Wise could easily be in that Fab 5 list.

8. Mount Pleasant - Some key players graduated, but the Vikings are Washington's top challenger in the Interstate.

9. Apollo-Ridge - Tre Tipton is gone, but "downtown" Duane Brown is back. That means wins.

10. Steel Valley - DeWayne Murray rushed for almost 3,000 yards as a freshman and sophomore and is another one that could easily be in the Fab 5. 

 

 

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High school notes: Wilkinsburg drops sports, Westinghouse and the WPIAL, Jeter injury update

Written by Mike White on .

Some items that fell off my laptop

The knee injury of Beaver Falls lineman Donovan Jeter is not serious and his coach says he is "day to day."

Jeter is a junior defensive lineman who already has a number of major-college scholarship offers. Jeter sustained the injury in practice last week and did not participate in a scrimmage Saturday against Mars.

Beaver Falls coach Ryan Matsook said this weekend that the extent of Jeter's injury would be known early this week. Matsook said today that Jeter is fine. Jeter tweeted "Thank god my meniscus isn't torn. Be back at 100% in 7-10 days."

Wilkinsburg drops sports

Wilkinsburg is a small school and has had low participation in sports in past years. So this should come as no real surprise: The school informed the WPIAL that it is dropping its varsity baseball and girls volleyball.

The Wilkinsburg School District also decided to drop its three middle school sports - football, boys basketball and girls basketball.

"For a few years now, we've had some issues with participation," said Mike Fulmore, Wilkinsburg's athletic director and also the football coach. "The school board just felt it wasn't financially responsible to allocate that money for sports with such few children."

Wilkinsburg has had some small rosters in football in recent years. Fulmore said he now has 18 to 20 players and there is no danger of football folding at the moment.

"We had a few more decide to join us when school started," said Fulmore. "We think we can be competitive. We always think we can be a competitive team. They've been competitive here in the past with less. One of the things that was disappointing last year is we kind of accepted [low-participation] numbers as an excuse. The expectation is no matter how many we have, we have to compete."

Westinghouse and the WPIAL

It looks like Westinghouse High School will again try to join the WPIAL for football only.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education will vote Wednesday night on whether to allow Westinghouse to request a move to the WPIAL for football. Westinghouse is a City League school.

Westinghouse made the same request to the WPIAL two years ago. But the WPIAL turned down the request because it would have made an odd number of teams in the league, which creates scheduling problems.

Even if the board permits Westinghouse to apply for WPIAL membership in football, WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said the league wouldn't decide whether to accept Westinghouse until December, at the earliest.

"If we get a formal request from Westinghouse, we would have to wait until the PIAA finalizes classifications for schools in December and until we see how many teams in the WPIAL will request a schedule," said O'Malley. "We know Hollidaysburg is leaving in football. But there is a possibility that Geibel might come back and we don't know what will go on with a few other schools, like Wilkinsburg."

 

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Countdown to Friday night lights: Quad-A preview

Written by Mike White on .

One in a series previewing each classification of WPIAL football and the City League.

WPIAL CLASS AAAA

By The Numbers

Top returning statistical leaders from last season. Statistics are from regular season only:

RUSHING

Khaleke Hudson head shotKhaleke Hudson, McKeesport (pictured) - 134 attempts for 1,455 yards.

PASSING

Daniel Walters, Hempfield - 144 of 192 for 1,371 yards

RECEIVING

Nick Altavilla, Baldwin - 45 receptions for 726 yards

SCORING

Khaleke Hudson, McKeesport - 24 touchdowns for 144 points.

FAB 5

Jake Buccigrossi, North Hills, OL-DL - Already committed to play OL at West Virginia.

Damar Hamlin, Central Catholic, WR-DB - Heavily recruited DB.

Khaleke Hudson, McKeesport RB-DB - Two-way standout likes Pitt, Penn State, WVU.

Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills, RB-DB - Highly-rated RB already committed to Penn State.

Tim Vecchio, Penn-Trafford, WR-DB - Not a big-time recruit, but Veccio (pictured) just a standout high school player committed to Robert Morris.

Top 10

1. Central Catholic - Loaded with talent and college recruits. Might be preseason No. 1 Class AAAA team in the state.

2. Woodland Hills - Best RB combo in Class AAAA with Miles Sanders and Jo-El Shaw

3. Penn-Trafford - Quietly coach John Ruane is building a top-notch program.

4. North Allegheny - Don't overlook Tigers. Should have a strong running game.

5. Pine-Richland - Not as good as last year, but still formidable. Phil Jurkovec is sophomore QB who will be key.

6. McKeesport - The flexbone offense will drive the Tigers and will still drive some opponents nuts.

7. Upper St. Clair - Very big on lines. Quarterback play will be key.

8. Mt. Lebanon - 10 starters back on offense, including QB Eddie Jenkins and Villanova recruit Paul Grattan (OL).

9. Bethel Park - Some linemen return and also QB Levi Metheny, a four-year starter.

10. North Hills - QB is a question mark, but Indians feature Jake Buccigrossi, a WVU offensive line recruit.

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WPIAL football TV guide: No Thursday games, WPNT joins the field

Written by Mike White on .

Wondering about the "big picture" in WPIAL football this season? Here it is:

No Thursday night games, one more station will start televising games live and there will continue to be a game "On Demand."

What does that all mean? Well, here goes:

**** There has not been an official release on this yet, but Root Sports will not televise games on Thursday nights this season, like the station has in many past years. It really makes sense. With some Pirates games on Thursdays in September, and then some Penguins preseason games in the next month, Root can't do a consistent Thursday night schedule.

As stated, Root still hasn't released anything, but I'm hearing Root will start televising games on Friday nights in October when the Pirates season is over. There will be no advanced scheduling. It will be done by "flex scheduling," meaning Root will pick the best game a week or two ahead of time. Look for more info from Root in the future.

Those telecasts will continue through the playoffs and Root once again will televise the WPIAL championships Nov. 28. No word yet on the order of those games, but Root will once again run into the problem of a Penguin game that night. That means one or two of the games most likely will be on tape delay.

**** The new player to the WPIAL football TV market is WPNT (MyTV Channel 22). The station will televise a game live every Friday from around the WPIAL as part of its "Friday Night Rivals" series, even though some of the games certainly aren't rivals. No matter. It's just a title. The games give WPIAL fans a chance to see a few more games live from their TV rooms.

The first game for WPNT is Friday, Sept. 4 - Penn Hills at Upper St. Clair. That just may be the top game of the WPIAL that night.

Other games that will be televised are North Allegheny at Pine-Richland (Sept. 11), Baldwin at Mt. Lebanon (Sept. 18), Quaker Valley at Aliquippa (Sept. 25), Summit Academy at Shady Side Academy (Oct. 2), Woodland Hills at Canon-McMillan (Oct. 9), Seneca Valley at Central Catholic (Oct. 16), Moon at West Allegheny (Oct. 23) and Franklin Regional at Gateway (Oct. 30).

**** Lastly, Xfinity will once again have its "Game of the Week" package that can be seen "On Demand" starting the following day. Xfinity has yet to release a schedule of games this year.

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