Monessen's Gillespie makes impact ....... State rankings

Written by Mike White on .

I was going to predict before the season that Monessen running back Clintell Gillespie was going to lead the WPIAL in scoring after five weeks - but I forgot.

Monessen GreyhoundSeriously, though, doesn't Gillespie have to be one of the biggest surprises of WPIAL football so far? He is one Greyhound on the move. He leads the league in scoring at 108 points (16 TDs and 12 points on extra points) and also has rushed for 574 yards on 52 attempts for the 4-1 Greyhounds. He was one of the reasons Monessen defeated Clairton two weeks ago and broke the Bears' 66-game winning streak.

Gillespie is an impressive 6-foot, 224-pound senior. He showed some promise last year, but nothing like this. He already has scored more touchdowns in five games this season than he did in 11 last year. In 2012, he scored 14 touchdowns and ran for 642 yards on 89 carries.

Gillespie is a bigger part of the offense this year now that QB Chavas Rawlins has graduated.

Just wondering

There are 95 boys soccer teams playing games today. Most of them are night games. Sure, players will take their games seriously and play hard. But I'm just wondering: How many players might rather be in front of a television somewhere - watching the Pirates game?

Speaking of the Pirates and high school sports, I don't ever remember a football season where on Friday nights the Pirates score was announced so many times at high school stadiums.

 State rankings

The Pennsylvania Football News state rankings are out.

Here are the Post-Gazette state rankings.

1. Coatesville 5-0
2. Upper St. Clair 5-0
3. Central Catholic 5-0
4. St. Joseph’s Prep 3-1
5. Neshaminy 5-0

1. Bishop McDevitt 5-0
2. Archbishop Wood 5-0
3. Thomas Jefferson 5-0
4. Erie Cathedral Prep 5-0
5. West Allegheny 5-0

1. Aliquippa 5-0
2. Imhotep Charter 5-0
3. Beaver Falls 5-0
4. Richland 5-0
5. Catasauqua 5-0

1. Southern Columbia 5-0
2. Dunmore 5-0
3. Sto-Rox 5-0
4. North Catholic 5-0
5. Steelton-Highspire 5-0


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Player of the half year is ....... Watch "domino effect" at North Hills

Written by Mike White on .

I'm Just Sayin' ...

With nine games in the regular season, the halfway point of WPIAL football came at halftime of this past Friday's games. So naturally, we need to come up with a "Player Of The Half Year."

And the award goes to ... 

Aliquippa's Dravon Henry

Dravon HenrySure, there are other worthy candidates. West Mifflin's Jimmy Wheeler is one. Also Gateway's Montae Nicholson, Thomas Jefferson's Chase Winovich and even University Prep's Ron Brown. But I'll go with Henry - for what he's done on offense AND defense. It's no wonder he has many Division I scholarship offers, and no wonder Alabama is now seriously interested in him.

No, Aliquippa hasn't faced much competition this year but that's not Henry's fault. He has carried only 26 times because the Quips have another talented running back in Terry Swanson - and also because Aliquippa is usually blowing teams out at halftime and coach Mike Zmijanac doesn't run up the score.

But still, Henry has rushed for 493 yards (almost 100 yards a game). And get this: His yards-per-carry average is 18.9 yards. Plus, he has been a standout on defense. Colleges are recruiting him to play defensive back. He has scored touchdowns four different ways.

Ask me at the end of the season and I might give you a different Player of the Year. But for now, it's Big Play Dray.

What next at North Hills?

Maybe it's just me, but it seems the enthusiasm and creativity of student sections has gone way up at some schools around the WPIAL . Student sections have a theme for games. Students dress up. They have creative signs and "big head" signs. Actually, it's great to see.

It's hard to not notice what North Hills' student section is doing. Honestly, as a district resident and graduate of North Hills many moons ago, I'd say school spirit was at an all-time low the past couple years. Now it's off the charts. Heck, the Twitter page of @WPIAL_Insider even tried to rank student sections in the WPIAL and named North Hills No. 1. 

In the first home game, a student dressed as Moses parted the "Red Sea" student section. It even got the North Hills student section notice on WTAE-TV. Then those North Hills students outdid that routine with last week's "Operation Domino." Check it out below. The students even had T-shirts made with domino dots on the front. You have to liked the homecoming queen starting the whole thing. I guess someone was a pushover for Jess Porter.

So what does North Hills come up with for the next home game? It's hard to top "Operation Domino." By the way, that North Hills student section now calls itself "The Tribe."

Game of the Week at Avonworth

I don't know if I ever typed this before. This week's Post-Gazette Game of the Week is at Avonworth.

Yes, the P-G has decided to feature North Catholic at Avonworth as the Game of the Week - and rightly so. Both teams are 5-0. So it's off to Antelope country this week.

Other thoughts

***** Has there been a more impressive team defensively than Upper St. Clair? The Panthers gave up 10 points in the season opener to Upper St. Clair and haven't been scored on since.

***** Woodland Hills is only 3-2, but moved back into the Post-Gazette top five rankings this week in WPIAL Class AAAA. Here's our thinking: Seneca Valley was No. 5 before it got blasted by Central Catholic. So it's really hard to keep Seneca Valley at No. 5. You might think North Allegheny should go to No. 5 behind Upper St. Clair, Central Catholic, Gateway and McKeesport. But you can't rank North Allegheny ahead of Seneca Valley. Seneca Valley has the same record as North Allegheny and beat North Allegheny.

So if not North Allegheny or Seneca Valley, who should be No. 5? Hey, Woodland Hills was No. 1 at the start of the year before losing to Upper St. Clair and McKeesport. Those are two good losses. We know Woodland Hills has plenty of talent and the Wolverines did have a good win at Bethel Park. Plus, George Novak's teams have a history of improving as the year goes. 

***** We picked a Player Of The Half Year, what about Coach Of The Half Year? I'm going to get crazy and pick Avella's Ryan Cecchini. Avella is 5-0. Yes, the Eagles started 5-0 last year and didn't make the playoffs. But I say they get in this year. 

Avella EagleTwo consecutive 5-0 starts at Avella? Are you serious? This program was horrible a few years ago and almost folded because of a lack of players. It wasn't all that long ago that the Eagles drafted a cheerleader for the team because it was running out of players.

I've never seen Cecchini coach and I have no idea what kind of schemes Avella uses on offense and defense. But two consecutive 5-0 starts for a program that was almost dead deserves a shoutout. The Eagles are soaring.

Avella, by the way, hasn't been to the playoffs since 1976.



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Lights Out: The night that was in Friday Night Football, 9/27/13

Written by Nick Veronica on .

[Full Friday night scoreboard + Updated WPIAL standings]

Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams needed 424 yards and five passing touchdowns Friday to tie the WPIAL's all-time records in each category.

Maybe next week.

Williams led a 58-0 rout of Northgate, but only had to throw for 168 yards and three touchdowns to do so.

Williams can tie the records with 256 yards and two scores next week when Sto-Rox hosts Union.

Both records are held by Christian Brumbaugh, who threw for 7,162 yards and 88 touchdowns at South Fayette.

Back at Square One

After having its nation-best winning streak snapped at 66 games last week, Clairton came back with a 36-28 win over Fort Cherry (ranked No. 4 Class A) in a game that wasn't very big on defense. As our Criag Meyer tweeted, "That game was hideous." More on his feed @CraigMeyerPG

Avella extends 'streak'

Avella, which took ownership of the WPIAL's longest winning streak after Clairton's loss (five games), beat Geibel Catholic 54-12 Friday to extend the mini streak to six.

Central Catholic flexes Class AAAA muscles

No. 2 Class AAAA school Central Catholic was dominant in a 42-0 victory over No. 5 Seneca Valley. The Vikings' J.J. Cosentino completed only three of his six passes but all went for touchdowns. Brad Everett (@BREAL412) has more on that game. 

West A wins Class AAA showcase

West Allegheny, ranked No. 2 in Class AAA, held off No. 3 Central Valley, 13-7. Central Valley, playing without coach Mark Lyons, who served the first half of his two-game suspension, was held to 51 yards offense and two first downs. More on Mike White's live blog

Brown's record chances take a blow

Univeristy Prep quarterback Ron Brown was facing an uphill battle to beat Bruce Gradkowski's regular-season passing record of 2,754 yards, since Gradkowski's Seton-La Salle team had nine regular season games in 2000 and Brown only had eight.

But Brown lost another opportunity this week, as University Prep had to cancel its games against Canada Prep because the Canadian team had players beyond 12th grade on its roster. Playing against players above 12th grade is forbidden by PIAA and WPIAL rules.

With four games down and three to go, Brown has 1,686 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. But, at an average of 421.5 yards, per game Brown is still on pace for 2,950.5 yards.

Other Friday night stories

  • Gateway, ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA, was at risk of being upset by Hempfield but scored a touchdown with 39 seconds left to come back for a 22-16 win.
  • South Fayette made a statement, beating Seton-La Salle 45-3. Both teams were 4-0 in Class AA.
  • Woodland Hills beat Mt. Lebanon 49-10, finally giving the Preseason No. 1 a winning record, improving to 3-2.
  • West Mifflin stud running back Jimmy Wheeler's stat line from a 42-28 win over Ringgold: 46 carries, 366 yards, six touchdowns.
  • Thomas Jefferson quarterback Chase Winovich ran twice in a 49-0 win over Albert Gallatin, going 55 and 75 yards for touchdowns.
  • Our stat crew pointed out that 32 of Friday's 60 games had at least 50 total points between both teams, and 20 had 60 points or more.

Odds & Ends

  • High score: North Catholic 60, West Shamokin 27. Four teams had 58.
  • Shutouts: 7
  • Overtime games: none reported.

Rankings report

How teams new to the rankings fared

Mars (AAA) beat Greensburg Salem 38-13.
Avonworth (A) beat Apollo-Ridge 35-27.
Perry (City) lost to Bishop Hartley (Ohio) 62-7.

How teams that feel out of the rankings responded

Highlands (AAA) beat Indiana 21-14.
Clairton (A) beat No. 4 Fort Cherry 36-28.
Brashear (City) beat Erie Strong Vincent 41-38 (Thursday).

Full results from ranked teams

Class AAAA (records entering Week Five)

No. 1 Upper St. Clair (4-0) beat Baldwin 44-0.
No. 2 Central Catholic (4-0) beat No. 5 Seneca Valley 42-0.
No. 3 Gateway (4-0) beat Hempfield 22-16.
No. 4 McKeesport (4-0) beat Altoona 34-7.
No. 5 Seneca Valley lost at No. 3 Central Catholic 42-0.

Class AAA

No. 1 Thomas Jefferson (4-0) beat Albert Gallatin 49-0.
No. 2 West Allegheny (4-0) beat No. 3 Central Valley 13-7.
No. 3 Central Valley (4-0) lost at No. 2 West Allegheny 13-7.
No. 4 West Mifflin (4-0) beat Ringgold 42-28.
No. 5 Mars (3-1) beat Greensburg Salem 38-13.

Class AA

No. 1 Aliquippa (4-0) beat Mohawk 56-8.
No. 2 Beaver Falls (4-0) beat Keystone Oaks 54-15.
No. 3 Washington (4-0) beat Jeanette 48-14 (Thursday).
No. 4 South Fayette (4-0) beat Seton-La Salle 45-3.
No. 5 Shady Side Academy (4-0) plays Freeport Saturday.

Class A

No. 1 Sto-Rox (4-0) beat Northgate 58-0.
No. 2 North Catholic beat West Shamokin 60-27.
No. 3 Neshannock (3-1) beat South Side Beaver 50-12.
No. 4 Fort Cherry lost at home to Clairton 36-28.
No. 5 Avonworth (4-0) beat Apollo-Ridge 35-27.


No. 1 University Prep (4-0) didn't play.
No. 2 Allderdice (2-2) plays Linsly School (W.Va.) Saturday.
No. 3 Perry (2-2) lost at Bishop Hartley (Ohio) 62-7.

Saturday games

Class AAAA

Fox Chapel at Shaler, 1:30 p.m.

Class AA

Ford City at Summit Academy, 12:30 p.m.
South Allegheny at Burgettstown, 1:30 p.m.
Freeport at Shady Side Academy, 2:30 p.m.


Kiski School at Mercersburg Academy, 2 p.m.
Allderdice at Linsly School (W.Va.), 3:30 p.m.


Follow Post-Gazette sports reporter Nick Veronica on Twitter @NickVeronica.


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Live blog - West Allegheny beats Central Valley

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from the Post-Gazette Game of the Week - Central Valley at West Allegheny. For score updates, look to the right column and our Twitter @PGVarsityXtra. If you have a score or update, tweet with #WPIAL or send to @PGVarsityXtra



West Allegheny held Central Valley to 51 yards offense and two first downs. Winning TD came on double pass from Andrew Koester to Tory Delmonico who threw to Robert Threet 32 yards . TD


Check this out. Central Valley didn't have a first down in first half but still is tied. West A is ruling on defense. But only scored once. West A. has eight first downs.


West Allegheny's Tory Delmonico intercepts pass at CV 27. Next play a 27-yard TD run by Chayse Dillon. Kick good. 7-7

7:31 - Central Valley ran only three plays in first quarter and holds seven point lead. CV defense just stopped WA on fourth down at CV 27. Preston Johnson had sack of Andrew Koester on fourth down.


Central Valley jumps on top - 60 yard INT return by Ryan Roberson. Picked off Andrew Koester. Kick good. 7-0 with four minutes left in first quarter.

Unbelievable how many different players take snaps in wildcat for WA.

West A now driving. 


This is Central Valley's first game without head coach Mark Lyons, who was suspended by the school for two games. Principal Shawn McCreary, an assistant coach, will be the interim coach although it really will be a group effort by all of Central Valley's coaches.

I'm anxious to see both of these teams for the first time this year. West Allegheny's run game is awfully impressive but I have a feeling junior QB Andrew Koester might have an impact on this game. The same with Central Valley QB Nathan Climo.

Below, the 6-foot-4 Koester is surrounded by teammates in pregame.

Andrew Koester

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Team uses jersey to pay tribute to shooting victims ... Week 5 predictions

Written by Mike White on .

Before we get to predictions for Week 5, a few notes:

The football team at Newtown High School (Conn.) usually wears blue and gold jerseys. But for its first home game last week, Newtown wore green and white jerseys as a tribute to the shooting victims last year at Sandy Hook elementary school.

Sandy Hook is located in Newtown, Conn., and last December 26 people were killed in a shooting at the school. Sandy Hook's school colors are green and white, so Newtown wore green and white jerseys last week with Sandy Hook written on the front. In between the words was a memorial ribbon with "26" on it.

On the back of the jersey was written "Stay Strong" instead of the player's name.

It was a classy tribute.

Newtown then went out and defeated Bethel, Conn., 22-14.

Clairton and the rankings

Clairton's 66-game winning streak ended last week and the Bears dropped out of the top five in the Post-Gazette state rankings. But opinions on the Bears differ in two other state rankings.

The Pennsylvania Football News only dropped Clairton to No. 3 in the state. The rankings have Clairton No. 4.

To me, it's hard to understand how Clairton can stay in the top five. This is a totally new year and a totally new team. The past four or five years shouldn't matter now. It's hard to figure how Clairton could still be ranked ahead of Fort Cherry and even Monessen.

Consider: Fort Cherry is undefeated and won at Monessen, 49-33. Then Monessen turned around and beat Clairton, 42-24. Monessen and Clairton have 3-1 records. So if you just look at this year, how can Clairton be ranked ahead of Fort Cherry and Monessen, and also North Catholic?

Now Clairton might deserve to go back in the top five in the state if it wins at Fort Cherry tomorrow night. That's a real possibility. But until that happens, the order of those three teams should be Fort Cherry, Monessen and Clairton.

Check out the stats

Remember, if you want to look at statistical leaders for the entire WPIAL and City League, or leaders for individual teams, check out our statistics site. Or go to 

Varsity Xtra video

Here is this week's wildly popular Varsity Xtra This Week in High School Sports show with yours truly and Terry Shields.


This is a good week for undefeated showdowns. Four games match undefeated teams. Here are the predictions:

Last week: 14-1 (.933 pct.)

Season: 53-13 (.803 pct.)


Seneca Valley at Central Catholic - This game is at Highmark Stadium on the South Side. You'll have a great view of the city from the stadium. Seneca Valley will have to look at a loss when this one is done. Central Catholic's lines and defense will be the difference. Winner: Central Catholic.

Other top games - Gateway over Hempfield; North Hills over Penn Hills; Bethel Park over Peters Township.


Central Valley at West Allegheny - This is the P-G Game of the Week. This will be Central Valley's first game without coach Mark Lyons, who was suspended by the school for two weeks. This has the makings of a terrific game because both teams are strong and have crushed every opponent so far. It's hard to figure what might be the difference in the game. I'll say it will be West Allegheny's running game. Winner: West Allegheny.

Other top games - West Mifflin over Ringgold; Knoch over Hampton.


Washington at Jeannette - This game is tonight and can be seen live on Root Sports television. This is Washington's second game without star RB Shai McKenzie (torn ACL). The Little Prexies did pretty well last week against Yough. Washington's run defense will be the key to the game. Winner: Washington.

Seton-LaSalle at South Fayette - This is another battle of undefeated teams. Both teams have strong passing attacks. But the difference might be what team runs the ball successfully. Winner: South Fayette.

Other top games - Steel Valley over Quaker Valley (although I wish I knew if injured Steel Valley RB D'Andre Pickens is playing); Mount Pleasant over Yough; Kittanning over Burrell.


Clairton at Fort Cherry - Clairton hasn't lost two games in a row in the same season since 2005. Will it happen this year? I say no. The Bears should bounce back, even though I'm not totally convinced of that. Winner: Clairton.

Other top games - Rochester over Western Beaver; Laurel over Union; North Catholic over West Shamokin.


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