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WPIAL has hearing with Monessen and WIlkinsburg ..... This Week In High School Sports show

Written by Mike White on .

The WPIAL board of directors had a hearing this afternoon with coaches and officials from Monessen and Wilkinsburg high schools to review what happened at a football game Saturday between the two. The game was stopped in the third quarter after an altercation on the field.

The hearing was closed to the media. After the hearing, WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said he couldn't reveal what actions will be taken by the league, if any, until he informs both schools tomorrow morning.

Monessen coach Joe Salvino, Wilkinsburg coach Mike Fulmore, plus school officials and security attended the hearing. Three officials who worked the game also attended. 

It's hard to say what might happen, if anything. The officials reportedly agreed to stop the game, with Monessen leading, 18-0. It's hard to say if anything will happen to any players. No players were ejected from the game.

Stay tuned tomorrow.

This Week In High School Sports

This is the best week of the season as far as big games. There are big games in every class Friday. Yours truly and Terry Shields preview the big games, give predictions and talk about some other subjects in our wildly popular "Just Askin" segment. It's all on This Week In High School Sports.




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Week 5 rewind: Avonworth's Chandler on record pace, Woodland Hills No. 1 in state

Written by Mike White on .

Notes, anecdotes and thoughts after Week 5 of the high school football season. Newest WPIAL and state rankings are at the end.

Zach Chandler missed most of the past two seasons with injuries. Boy, is he putting the hurt on other people now.

Chandler, a senior quarterback at Avonworth, is on a passing pace that has never been seen in the WPIAL. He now has a shot at breaking a WPIAL record held by an NFL quarterback.

Zach Chandler practiceChandler has thrown for 1,717 yards in five games (82 of 133). That's 343 yards a game and he's completed 62 percent of his passes. Chandler has a chance to break the record for WPIAL regular season passing yardage.

Seton-LaSalle's Bruce Gradkowski (a Steelers quarterback) set the record in 2000 when he threw for 2,754 yards (173 of 298). But Gradkowski did that in a 10-game regular season. Nowadays, WPIAL teams play only nine games.

But Chandler would seemingly still have a shot at the record. He needs 1,037 yards in four games, an average of 259 yards a game. It is reachable. And won't it be interesting to see how Chandler does in two weeks when Avonworth has a showdown with Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

Chandler, who is 6 feet 4, 235 pounds, actually is ahead of Gradkowski's pace of 2000. After five games 15 years ago, Gradkowski had thrown for 1,436 yards (96 of 181). But don't forget, Gradkowski had that one extra regular season game at the end. After six weeks, Gradkowski had thrown for 1,854 yards (121 of 212). (By the way, how about the throwback photo of Bruce in his Seton-LaSalle days. Stud, right?).

But Chandler already has made some history. He is the first WPIAL QB to ever throw for 400 yards or more in two games. He threw for 447 Friday against Fort Cherry and 405 earlier this year against Shenango. True, Chandler throws a number of short passes that turn into long gains and that helps his yardage totals. But what is impressive is his completion percentage, and he is not piling up these yards in blowouts. Avonworth beat Fort Cherry by only 28-6 and Shenango by only 28-20.

Game stopped

Saturday's Monessen at Wilkinsburg game was stopped in the third quarter after an altercation on the field between some players. Officials agreed to stop the game after consultation with both teams coaches. Monessen was leading at the time, 18-0.

WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said Sunday the league has no comment on the matter until it reviews a report from both schools and game officials. 

Leanne Spazak, superintendent of Monessen schools, issued a statement Sunday, saying district officials met and reviewed video of the incident. Lezak's statemnt said, "After a preliminary investigation, I am thankful that officials agreed to call the game. Clearly, our students and staff were put in an environment that lacked security, and the situation could have escalated to unknown levels if the game was to continue. I am confident the athletic director and coaches handled the situation as professionals, and exercised due diligence in regards to the safety of our players."

Fantastic Friday

In terms of big games, this Friday is undoubtedly the best of the regular season. There are showdowns in all classifications of the WPIAL.

There are five games between teams that are tied for first place in their conferences - Ringgold vs. Belle Vernon, Freeport vs. Highlands, South Fayette vs. Steel Valley, Clairton vs. Jeannette and Frazier vs. Beth-Center.

Plus, there are five more games involving teams that are in first place and another team only a game behind - Seneca Valley vs. Pine-Richland, Bethel Park vs. Mt. Lebanon, Hampton vs. Franklin Regional, Aliquippa vs. Beaver and Shenango vs. South Side Beaver.

St. Joe's loses; Woody High No. 1

There is a new No. 1 team in the Post-Gazette state rankings. Woodland Hills goes to No. 1 after St. Joseph's Prep of Philadelphia lost to Malvern Prep, 33-21. Malvern Prep is not a PIAA school. Malvern sophomore O'Shaan Allison ran for 149 yards on 29 carries.

Woodland Hills is 5-0. The Wolverines have a big non-conference game next week against West Allegheny. West Allegheny is the Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked team in WPIAL Class AAA.

The new rankings are at the end of this blog.

6A vote

Wednesday is a big day for high school football in Pennsylvania. That is when the PIAA board of directors meets in Harrisburg for one final vote on the 6A idea. If the proposal passes, there will be six classifications in Pennsylvania football starting next year.

Check this out

**** Pine-Richland defeated North Hills, 47-7, on Friday. Ouch. North Hills has been hurt by some key injuries and the Indians were really hurting after this one. That was the most points scored on North Hills since West View High School became North Hills in 1959.

**** I'm going looking for gold Friday. I will most likely be at the Ringgold-Belle Vernon game, which will be on Belle Vernon's new gold turf.

**** When Gateway dropped to Class AAA last season, some thought the Gators might be dominant. Nope. The Gators were 4-6 last season and are 3-2 this season.

**** Tom Nola is 7-8 in his two seasons with Gateway. His old team, Clairton, is 20-1 in the same time. I wonder what he thinks.

**** Just wondering if Tom Loughran really knew what he was getting into by taking the Fox Chapel job after he left South Park? He won more than 200 games at South Park, two WPIAL titles and two PIAA championships. The Foxes are 0-5 and Canon-McMillan just ended a 17-game losing streak by beating the Foxes. Now, Fox Chapel must play Shaler, a team that ended a 34-game losing streak two weeks ago. Will it be win No. 2 for Shaler?

**** Southmoreland hasn't made the playoffs since 1979 and the Scotties' chances were hurt with a loss to Derry Friday. Southmoreland, Derry and Burgettstown are all tied for fourth place in the Interstate Conference.


Here are the new Post-Gazette WPIAL and state rankings:

1. Woodland Hills 5-0
2. Penn-Trafford 5-0
3. Pine-Richland 5-0
4. North Allegheny 4-1
5. Central Catholic 4-1

1. West Allegheny 5-0
2. Ringgold 5-0
3. Hampton 5-0
4. Belle Vernon 5-0
5. Central Valley 4-1

1. Aliquippa 5-0
2. South Fayette 5-0
3. Beaver Falls 5-0
4. Washington 5-0
5. Steel Valley 5-0

1. Clairton 5-0
2. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 5-0
3. Avonworth 5-0
4. Jeannette 5-0
5. Shenango 4-1

1. Allderdice 3-2
2. Brashear 4-1
3. University Prep 3-2

1. Woodland Hills 5-0
2. Central Dauphin 5-0
3. Parkland 5-0
4. Downingtown East 5-0
5. Wilson 4-1
1. Imhotep Charter 5-0
2. Archbishop Wood 5-0
3. Bishop McDevitt 5-0
4. West Allegheny 5-0
5. Conneaut 5-0
1. Aliquippa 5-0
2. South Fayette 5-0
3. Wyomissing 5-0
4. Berks Catholic 5-0
5. Southern Columbia 5-0
1. Clairton 5-0
2. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 5-0
3. Sharpsville 5-0
4. Camp Hill 5-0
5. Bishop Guilfoyle 5-0



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Live Friday blog - West Allegheny wins, 47-14

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from tonight's Post-Gazette Game of the Week - Montour at West Allegheny. Also, look to the right for updates, notes and photos from other games, courtesy of @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter. If you have a score, tweet it with #wpial and tag @PGVarsityXtra.


Nice one-two punch. Terence Stephens 198 yards and Whitney White 103

Kenny White, younger brother of Whitney, goes 64 yards for touchdown on first play of possession. PAT by Stout.  Do I need to give any more updates? Stay tuned for final.

West Allegheny really has a nice one-two running punch in Terence Stephens and Whitney White.


The rout is on. Whitney White goes 16 yards for TD. PAT good. White has 88 yards this half. Still third quarter. White now has 103 yards.

8:37 Tyler Carswell has left game as Montour's QB. Mason Schrenker is now in at QB.

I get the feeling this one is over. Without Carswell, Montour doomed.


It's like Terence Stephens handed the baton to Whitney White. White carried six consecutive times to start the second half, gained 58 yards and scored on 7-yard run.


Tell me if you heard this before. Touchdown Terence Stephens. Stephens scores his fourth TD. This time he goes 75 yards for TD. 

Stephens finishes first half with 186 yards on 11 carries.

Montour has QB Tyler Carswell and RB Dave Haseleu back from injuries. Haseleu can't be 100 percent. Seven carries 10 yards. Carswell has looked good. Montour would really be in trouble without him. Completed 6 of 8 for 102 yards.

But Montour has only 21 yards rushing.

And Jurkovec throws a 60-yarder TD for Pine-Richland. 20-0 over North Hills.

Woodland Hills and USC scoreless after first quarter.

Pine-Richland QB Phil Jurkovec at it again. 64-yard TD pass. Another TD and Pine-Richland leads North Hills 13-0


West Allegheny seven play 68 yard drive. Third TD for Terence Stephens. 18 yard TD run. PAT good by Stout. 2:52 left in half.

7:46 Trent Vietmeier excellent baseball pitcher. Committed to LSU as a sophomore. still playing football.


Great catch. Third down play. Zach Herskovitz catches 31-yard TD pass from Tyler Carswell. And Carswell runs for two point conversion.


On fourth and 3, Terence Stephens takes snap in wildcat, runs around left end untouched for TD. Stout PAT.


West Allegheny threatening again. Third and four on the 7.

7:25 Montour goes three and out on second possession.

Big Class AA game. Washington scores first on Mount Pleasant. I say Wash High rolls.


Well that was fast. Takes 2 plays for West Allegheny to respond. 1 yard on first down for Terence Stephens. Times it by 70 on second carry. Stephens goes 70 yards for TD. Kolbe Stout PAT.


After Carswell's kickoff return, it takes Montour five plays to score. Dave Haseleu scores on 1-yard run. PAT missed. 

7:01 Tyler Carswell (QB) and David Haseleu (RB) are playing for Montour. And bam. Carswell makes presence felt on kickoff. 58-yard return to WA 34.

7:00 GAMETIME - Montour receive

6:40 I kind of like that Montour coach Lou Cerro still wears a dress shirt and tie for games. Doesn't make him a great coach or anything, but it's different. You have to wonder if the tie and shirt is tied all the way to Joe Paterno. Stay with me on this. Greg Gattuso played for Joe Paterno. Gattuso, now the coach at University of Albany, always wore a shirt and tie when he coached and Cerro was an assistant at Seton-LaSalle when Gattuso was the head coach there.

So, Cerro wears the shirt and tie. And so does second-year Seton-LaSalle coach Damon Rosol. Hey, he was an assistant under Cerro for a number of years at Montour. 

6:35 One thing that has been so key in Bob Palko's success as West Allegheny's coach has been his coaching staff. Tremendous assistants. He added another good one this year in Kim Niedbala. A former standout at Blackhawk and the point guard on a state championship basketball team, Niedbala coached a number of years on the Division II college level. Was also a candidate for Blackhawk job last year after Joe Hamilton retired.


A key to this game is injuries. Montour played last week without quarterback Tyler Carswell and the past two games without leading rusher David Haseleu. Montour coach Lou Cerro said earlier htis week that both were questionable. Both are dressed and running plays with the first-team offense.

I asked Cerro on the field before the game if both were playing. Ooops. West Allegheny coach Bob Palko was standing next to Cerro. Stupid me. No way I was getting an answer to that with the opposing coach right there. But looks like they will play.



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Pitt offers Jurkovec ..... Dozen predictions to go

Written by Mike White on .

Tonight's live blog will come from the Post-Gazette Game of the Week - Montour at West Allegheny. Follow along and look to the right of this blog for score updates and notes from other games, courtesy of @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter. If you have a score, photo or update, tweet it with #wpial and tag @PGVarsityXtra

Before we get to the "dozen predictions to go" segment, an interesting note on the local recruiting front:

Phil JurkovecPitt offered a scholarship to Pine-Richland quarterback Phil Jurkovec yesterday. Jurkovec said he spoke with Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi and Narduzzi offered.

It is significant because it always seems to create interest when Pitt offers a WPIAL quarterback. But it's also significant because Jurkovec is only a sophomore.Phil Jurkovec head shot

The scholarship offer, though, should come as no surprise. It will probably be the first of many.  By this time next year, Jurkovec might have many scholarships. He's that good.

First off, he has excellent size. He's in the 6-4 to 6-5 range. And he's a great athlete. Runs well. Good arm. Still will need to improve throwing as he gets older, but already throws it really well for a sophomore, and he should flourish in coach Eric Kasperowicz's system. He could be 6-6 and 200 pounds by the time he's a senior. That's great size for a quarterback who can run some.

So far this season, Jurkovec has completed 50 of 76 for 638 yards and rushed 38 times for 430 yards.

Jurkovec is the next two-sport star in the WPIAL. As a matter of fact, he might already be there. Jurkovec also is an excellent basketball player. He very likely will get Division I interest in basketball. He needs to improve his outside shot some, but is excellent 15 feet and in and extremely athletic. Throws down some nice dunks, too. Jurkovec made all-section last year as a freshman when he averaged 15 points a game.

There's more to Jurkovec to like than just the sports, though. In talking to him and others at Pine-Richland who know him well, he seems like an excellent young man.

But hey, from what I'm hearing, is little sister Jurkovec the real star of the family? I'm hearing she's a terrific volleyball player - and plays basketball, too.

Incidentally, Phil's older brother, Tom, also plays football for Pine-Richland.

Here is This Week In High School Sports show on Varsity Xtra:

Dozen Predictions To Go

Now, the weekly Varsity Blog segment. Fresh from the bakery with a "Dozen Predictions To Go" box. The lady behind the counter at Schorr's bakery had trouble finding 12 "top" games to put in the box. She had to scrape the bottom of some pans. Not like next week, when the schedule is loaded with top games.

The record last week was 9-3 (.750 pct.), which made the season record 35-13 (.729 pct). Here are this week's picks:


Miles SandersUpper St. Clair at Woodland Hills - The winningest coach in WPIAL history (Upper St. Clair's Jim Render) against No. 3 (Woodland Hills' George Novak). No word on the status of WH RB Miles Sanders (pictured), who was hurt last week. No matter. USC's losing streak is about to go to three. Winner: Woodland Hills.

Also, McKeesport over Hempfield.


Montour at West Allegheny - I will be at this game, the Post-Gazette Game of the Week. The pregame story for this contest is injuries. Montour quarterback (Tyler Carswell) and leading rusher (Dave Haseleu) did not play last week because of injuries. They are questionable. Without them, will this game turn into a blowout? Winner: West Allegheny.

Belle Vernon at West Mifflin - Belle Vernon better not be looking ahead to Ringgold. West Mifflin lost to Ringgold by only 14-7 last week. Don't be surprised if West Mifflin wins this. But ... Winner: Belle Vernon.

Franklin Regional at Armstrong - Armstrong is 0-2 on the road and 2-0 at home. But that trend is about to change. Winner: Franklin Regional.

Also, Gateway over Hollidaysburg.


Highlands at Deer Lakes - Deer Lakes is one of the feel-good stories of the season. The Lancers are 4-0 for the first time since the school opened in 1969. But 5-0 will take a tremendous effort. Key to the game will be whether Deer Lakes can play ball control with its running game. Winner: Highlands.

Steel Valley at Freeport - This is only a non-conference game, but it matches two 4-0 teams. Steel Valley had a huge win last week vs. Seton-LaSalle. The Century Conference showdown with South Fayette is next week. Will the Ironmen be a little flat for the game in between? Maybe. But still good enough. Key to the game is Steel Valley's pass rush and secondary. Winner: Steel Valley.

Washington at Mount Pleasant - This is the third game in Class AA that matches two 4-0 teams. Washington's speed and running game should be the difference. Winner: Washington.


Jeannette at Springdale - Springdale lost its first game last week against mighty Clairton. Jeannette gets Clairton next week. Will Springdale catch Jeannette looking ahead? I don't think so. Winner: Jeannette.

Also, Jefferson-Morgan over Bentworth and Bishop Canevin over Chartiers-Houston.


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Some top area players in new basketball event this weekend at Penn Hills

Written by Mike White on .

Donnie Johnson has been officiating basketball for 15 seasons. This weekend, he will turn high school basketball event organizer.

Johnson has put together the "Across County Showcase" at Penn Hills High School Saturday and Sunday. It is an event for high school players that will include some of the top boys and girls from the WPIAL and City League.

"I officiated some at an outdoor league in California [Pa.] this summer and thought there were some good players from those outlying areas that people don't know about," said Johnson. "So I decided to try and put together a 'cross county' basketball tournament and tried to reach out to at least one coach from several ares to get the best 12 players he can to come down and play a tournament."

Johnson ended up getting boys and girls teams representing seven different areas. The teams are Allegheny North, Allegheny South, Allegheny East, Mercer, Washington, Westmoreland and the City.

Plum's James Edwards, one of the WPIAL's top seniors who recently committed to Air Force, will play in the event along with Latrobe guard Sean Graytok and North Hills forward Ishmael Waldron, two other top seniors in the WPIAL. Some top non-seniors also will play.

Norwin's Alayna Gribble, a Pitt recruit, along with Penn Hills standouts Desiree Oliver and Jade Ely (Cleveland State recruit) are a few who will play on the girls side.

"I figured a lot of these kids beat on each other at these small leagues, so let's just see if we can get them all together and have some fun with a tournament," said Johnson.

Johnson will use both the old and new gyms at Penn Hills. The tournament, which is open to the public, begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. Each team will play two games Saturday. On Sunday, all teams will participate in a single-elimination tournament.

PBR showcase

Steve Brodzinski of the Pittsburgh Basketball Report is putting together an event for top players in the area next month. 

The Best of Pittsburgh Performance Camp will be Nov. 1 at Chatham University. The event will have 40 seniors, 40 juniors and 40 sophomores-freshmen. It is sort of a combine for players. Each group will work out and also play during a 2 1/2-hour period.

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