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A dozen predictions to go for Week 3

Written by Mike White on .

Program note: Tonight's Live Blog will come from Penn Hills at Central Valley. Look to the right of this blog for score updates from other games. Follow @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter for score updates. You can tweet scores or photos to @PGVarsityXtra.

For now, it's time for "a dozen predictions to go:"

(Last week: 8-4. Season: 16-8, .750 pct.)

CLASS AAAA

Penn-Trafford at McKeesport - The winner establishes itself as the team to beat in the Foothills Conference. Key to the game is Penn-Trafford's defense and how it handles McKeesport running back Khaleke Hudson. Winner: Penn-Trafford.

North Allegheny vs. Central Catholic at Highmark Stadium - After seeing North Allegheny twice, the Tigers are good. But not great. They certainly don't appear to be in Central Catholic's class. Will Central give up a score? Winner: Central Catholic.

CLASS AAA

Penn Hills at Central Valley - This is a non-conference game that we will classify as AAA because Central Valley is the home team and in Class AAA. Will this be a high-scoring affair? Penn Hills' rushing attack is impressive, and Central Valley scored 67 points last week. Winner: Penn Hills.

Hampton at Gateway - Could Gateway go 0-3 for the first time since 2001? The Gators lack of experienced players has been evident in the first two games while Hampton has easily won its first two games. Gateway's offensive battery needs charged. Winner: Hampton.

Franklin Regional at Mars - Before the season, these were thought to be the two best teams in the Greater Allegheny Conference, but things changed after losses in Week 1. Is Hampton now the team to beat? The winner of this game can still have conference championship on their mind. Mars rebounded nicely last week from the season-ending injury to Josh Schultheis, and the Planets should take one more step forward. Winner: Mars.

Knoch at Ringgold - This is an interesting non-conference game. Throw out Ringgold's season-opening loss to Thomas Jefferson because it looks like no one will touch TJ in the Big Nine Conference until the regular-season finale against West Mifflin. Knoch started the season with two impressive wins. Winner: Ringgold.

WPIAL CLASS AA

Beaver at Beaver Falls - The winner establishes itself as the top challenger to Aliquippa in the Midwestern Conference. Winner: Beaver Falls.

Kittanning at Apollo-Ridge - The storyline in this contest is two Pitt recruits going against each other - Apollo-Ridge's Tre Tipton and Kittanning's Nick Bowers. But Kittanning QB Braydon Toy likely could be the difference. Winner: Kittanning.

WPIAL CLASS A

Neshannock at Riverside - After moving down from Class AA, Riverside could make waves in the Big Seven with a victory against Neshannock. A Riverside win shouldn't be considered an upset, but ... Winner: Neshannock.

Brentwood at Avonworth - This game was originally scheduled for Brentwood, but was moved because of construction at Brentwood's stadium. The change of site changes the favorite in this game. Winner: Avonworth.

Clairton at Greensburg Central Catholic - Don't look for Clairton to reach its average of 79 points a game. But look for Clairton to roll again. Winner: Clairton.

CITY LEAGUE

University Prep vs. Brashear - University Prep squeaked by Westinghouse in the City League opener last week. This one might be close also. Winner: University Prep.

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Gateway faces 0-3 start ..... Dukes after Texas standout

Written by Mike White on .

The Gateway football team is staring an 0-3 start in the face. It has been a while since the Gators were in such rough waters.

Gateway is 0-2 and plays host to Hampton Friday. Hampton is 2-0. A Gateway loss means the Gators will be 0-3 for the first time since 2001. That year, Gateway started 0-5 and finished the season 2-8.

Hampton is 2-0 and has been led by quarterback Nick Grabowski. Gateway's defense has been OK. The Gators have allowed 31 points so far. But the offense has struggled. The Gators have one offensive touchdown in two games.

On to other notes ...

Oh come, oh come Emmanuel

Duquesne basketball coach Jim Ferry is not staying just in the eastern part of the country to recruit players. His recruiting tentacles now reach Texas.

The Lone Star State is where Emmanuel Nzekwesi plays. He is a 6-foot-7, 215-pound power forward at Byron Nelson High School. The school is located in what has to be one of the best names ever for an area. Byron Nelson is in Trophy Club, Texas.

Anyway, Duquesne, Weber State and Tulsa seem to be Nzekwesi's top choices. It would be a very nice get if the Dukes land Nzekwesi. He is rated among the top 25 players in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is a 3-star recruit on Rivals.com.

Nzekwesi would be another piece of the foundation Ferry is trying to build at Duquesne. The Dukes have a number of players back from last year's team. Stay tuned for Nzekwesi's decision in the future.

And while on the subject of Duquesne, how about Derrick Colter, the Duquesne guard? ESPN.com has a wonderful story today by Dana O'Neil on Colter's quiet battle with cancer.  Now that Colter's inspirationals story is out, you can bet he will be become a fan favorite in this city. How do you not root hard for this kid?

Brentwood-Avonworth switch

Brentwood was supposed to have its first home game this Friday against Avonworth, but the game has been switched to Avonworth because of construction at Brentwood's stadium.

The game is one of the biggest in Class A this weekend. Both teams are 2-0.

Irvin's son shines

Former NFL star receiver Michael Irvin is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His son is in the state record books of Texas.

Michael Irvin, a junior at Prestonwood Christian in Plano, Texas, tied a Texas record with 22 catches for 229 yards in his team's 69-36 loss to IMG Academy of Florida.

The younger Irvin is 6 feet 2, 200 pounds and guess who has offered him a scholarship? Miami, the same school where his father played.

Varsity Xtra video

Terry Shields and yours truly talk about the 86-0 Clairton-Wilkinsburg game and give our predictions on this week's top games on Varsity Xtra's "This Week In High School Sports.

State rankings

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

Here are the Post-Gazette state rankings:

CLASS AAAA

1. Central Catholic 2-0

2. Woodland Hills 2-0

3. St. Joseph's 1-1

4. Pennsbury 2-0

5. Parkland 2-0

CLASS AAA

1. Archbishop Wood 2-0

2. Bishop McDevitt 2-0

3. West Allegheny 2-0

4. Erie Cathedral Prep 2-0

5. Thomas Jefferson 2-0

CLASS AA

1. South Fayette 2-0

2. Aliquippa 2-0

3. Southern Columbia 2-0

4. West Catholic 1-1

5. Seton-LaSalle 2-0

CLASS A

1. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 2-0

2. Clairton 2-0

3. Wellsboro 2-0

4. Jeannette 2-0

5. Sharpsville 2-0

 

 

 

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Just sayin' about Jones to WVU, Norwin's start and a few other subjects

Written by Mike White on .

I'm just sayin'

**** In the days of seventh- and eighth-graders being offered athletic scholarships, nothing in college recruiting should come as a surprise any longer. That's why Jeremiah Jones' verbal commitment to West Virginia shouldn't be surprising.

Jones is a junior quarterback at Woodland Hills who visited West Virgina this weekend and was offered a scholarship. This isn't to say Jones doesn't have talent or potential. But the offer might have been a little surprising, considering he has started only a few games in his high school career. He started two games this season and a couple last year as the backup to Harry Randall. He was 14 of 20 for 250 yards last season.

But West Virginia apparently saw something it liked. Jones informed Woodland Hills coach George Novak of his decision just this afternoon. 

"He told me he was going down to West Virginia for a game," said Novak. "They offered him. Sunday I guess he talked to his parents, called West Virginia back and accepted."

Some stories about Jones have said he can be a defensive back. But he doesn't play defense for Woodland Hills.

"He has potential [as a quarterback]," said Novak.

Novak said West Virginia was the first to offer Jones, who is the brother of former Penn State and Robert Morris quarterback Paul Jones.

**** Before the season started, I was going to predict that after two weeks, Norwin would be 2-0 and would be one of only three teams in the entire WPIAL that have not given up a point. But I forgot.

Sure, Norwin hasn't played top teams (only Latrobe and Hempfield), but Norwin 2-0 without giving up a point? Who Norwinwould've "thunk" it. In recent seasons, this team was more likek Norloss. The Knights won four total games in the past three seasons.

Now, Norwin is in company with Central Catholic and Clairton. Those are the only three WPIAL teams that have not allowed a point in two games.

Meanwhile, Brownsville and Shaler are the only two teams that haven't scored a point.

**** After only two weeks, I get this feeling about Class AAAA: There is Central Catholic and Woodland Hills, and then everyone else. I think Central Catholic has proven itself to be the best team. You hate to go just by comparative scores, but this early in the season, why not? Central Catholic beat Bethel Park, 41-0, while Woodland Hills beat Bethel Park by 33-31.

By the way, Woodland Hills lost six fumbles to Bethel Park.

"I think that's a school record," said Novak.

**** Gateway is 0-2 under first-year coach Tom Nola. Gateway hasn't started the season with two losses to WPIAL teams since 2006 when the Gators lost to Central Catholic and McKeesport. In 2010, Gateway also lost its first two Brett Brumbaughgames, but one was to Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt.

**** Why do I get the feeling that South Fayette coach Joe Rossi isn't showing his hand in the first few weeks of the season? QB Brett Brumbaugh (pictured) has thrown for "only" 320 yards in two games and has attempted only 32 passes. He threw for a WPIAL record 3,895 yards last season in 16 games (243 yards a game).

South Fayette hasn't had much competition in the first two weeks. Will the Lions get a little bit of a taste this week from South Park?

**** While on the subject of quarterbacks, Pine-Richland's Ben DiNucci is very good. I saw him for the first time in a game against North Allegheny. He already has committed to Penn and I think DiNucci might be a steal for the Ivy League level.

He is a little on the thin side, but muscle and weight can come in college. And yes, he throws a decent amount of short passes that add to his yardage totals. But he also throws over the middle, intermediate passes and has a strong enough arm to sometimes air it out. If he is behind Brumbaugh, he is not behind by much.

**** It says here that the Parkway Conference of Class AAA isn't close to what it used to be in terms of top competition. The conference used to be tough from top to bottom. West Allegheny and Central Valley are certainly top teams and the best in the conference. But Montour isn't what it has been in recent years and a few other teams are down in terms of talent.

Speaking of down, what has happened to Blackhawk? The Cougars lost, 67-0, to Central Valley. I'd be shocked if that isn't the most points given up by Blackhawk in school history.

**** The best game of the week just might be Saturday when Penn-Trafford plays at McKeesport. I'm anxious to see this Khaleke Hudson, running back for McKeesport. He ran for 196 yards all of last season, but has 582 in two games. Get this: He is averaging 15.7 yards a carry and has nine touchdowns that have averaged 40.2 yards.

Hudson is a junior and Pitt and Penn State already have offered him scholarships as a defensive back. But if he keeps this up, colleges might consider him as a running back.

**** The best game Friday night might be a non-conference clash with Penn Hills at Central Valley. It will be Root Sports game of the week. The game will be shown after the Pirates game on Root Friday night.

**** Now that Thomas Jefferson thrashed its first two opponents, the Jaguars probably won't be tested again until the final game of the season against West Mifflin. It seems West Mifflin is about the only one who can challenge TJ in the Big Nine. In other words, the Big Nine is more like the Big One.

 **** Seneca Valley's offense certainly misses injuried quarterback T.J. Holl (knee). But what happened to Seneca Valley's defense? That 41-12 loss to Fox Chapel Friday is a head scratcher.

 

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Live Friday night blog - Pine-Richland wins in OT

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from Pine-Richland at North Allegheny. For score updates around the WPIAL, look to the right and follow the Twitter account @PGVarsityXtra. Tweet score updates with #WPIAL or send scores and photos to @PGVarsityXtra.

OVERTIME: FINAL PINE-RICHLAND 28, NORTH ALLEGHENY 24

Game winning touchdown pass on third and goal from 25. Ben DiNucci to Mike Merhaut. Pretty pass. One of biggest in P-R history

10:36 P-R QB DiNucci sacked on second down by Layne Skundrich. Third down and goal at the 25.

10:30 North Allegheny gets ball first in OT. Pine-Richland good job on defense. Seth Mancuso kicks 28 yard field goal. Now P-R ball.

END OF REGULATION: PINE-RICHLAND 21, NORTH ALLEGHENY 21

Seth Mancuso 49-yard field goal on final play of game little short. We go to OT.

10:21 DiNucci sacked. Fumbles. NA recovers by Skundrich at P-R 38. One first down. On third down, Clemens sacked. 5 seconds left in game. NA ball on P-R 32.

10:17 Seth Mancuso tries 30-yard FGOal. Hits right upright. Pine-Richland takes over on 20. 36-yard pass from DiNucci to Everett on first down. Time out 53 seconds left. P-R third and 10 at NA 44.

10:11 Third-and-9 for North Allegheny. Timeout with 1:38 left and NA on P-R 12.

10:09 NA now on P-R 13.

10:06 29-yard run by Clemens. Tigers now at P-R 35.

10:04 NA's Riley Trueman breaks up 4th down pass. NA takes over at 25 with five minutes left.

9:57 Here comes Pine-Richland driving.

NORTH ALLEGHENY 21, PINE-RICHLAND 21

North Allegheny goes 80 yards in 14 plays to tie it. Clay Byerly 6-yard TD run. Two third down conversions and one fourth down in drive. 8:56 to go in game.

I'd say McKeesport rebounded. After trailing Altoona, Tigers now lead 33-17.

END OF THIRD QUARTER: PINE-RICHLAND 21, NORTH ALLEGHENY 14

But North Allegheny driving. Tigers have moved to P-R 31, first and 10 when play resumes. QB Jeff Clemens using that 6-2 body to pick up some nice rushing yards.

Fox Chapel defeats Seneca Valley, 41-12.

PINE-RICHLAND 21, NORTH ALLEGHENY 14

Connor Slomka scores on 1-yard TD run to cap nice 13-play, 86-yard drive.

9:30 On fourth and 5, DiNucci steps up into pocket to avoid rush and hits Luke Everett on 19-yard pass to the NA 5.

9:27 Pine-Richland on move. NA's Clay Byerly just save a TD by knocking down a pass.

Interesting game: West Mifflin leading Gateway, 15-11, in non-conference game.

9:21 North Allegheny punts and P-R takes over at its own 14.

9:17 Second half under way.

Just got this. Clairton leads Wilkinsburg 86-0.

I think I'm the only one who keeps these things. But it's the most points scored in WPIAL game since at least 1952. Since then, previous most was 85.

Well, Seneca Valley apparently misses T.J. Holl. Fox Chapel is leading the Raiders, 24-0. That is a surprise. But never mind Holl. Where is Seneca's defense?

Meanwhile, Mars, without Josh Schultheis is rolling over Yough, 48-0.

HALFTIME: NORTH ALLEGHENY 14, PINE-RICHLAND 14

Ben DiNucci is 15 of 20 for 164 yards for Pine-Richland. He slowed down after a sizzling first quarter. NA got some pressure on him. 

Pine-Richland has 195 yards offense to 114 for North Allegheny. Both teams ran 29 plays. Jeff Clemens for NA is 4 of 10 for 42 yards and also rushed for 23 yards. Connor Slomka has 28 yards on seven carries for P-R.

NORTH ALLEGHENY 14, PINE-RICHLAND 14

North Allegheny goes on 17-play, 77-yard drive. Capped by Jeff Clemens 4-yard TD run. Pine-Richland hurt itself with defensvie penalties. Twice, P-R made stops on third down to apparently force NA into fourth-and-long. But P-R hit with an interference penalty and then holding.

Ridiculous: Clairton leading Wilkinsburg, 72-0 at halftime. YES I SAID 72-0

8:33  NA mounting a drive. At P-R 38.

How bout this: California and Avella supposed to play. Ooops where are the zebras? They didn't show. Game ppd to tomorrow.

South Park leading Quaker Valley 42-6. wow. Never mind missing QB Dane Jackson. Quaker Valley is missing a defense.

8:19 NA's Sell fumbles punt, P-R recovers now has ball at own 39.

8:15 NA quick kicks on fourth down and Jeff Clemens kick pins P-R at own 1.

Surprise: Bethel Park leading No. 1-ranked Woodland Hills 12-7.

Thomas Jefferson has come back to take lead on Belle Vernon 10-6.

Peters Township and Upper St. Clair scoreless after first.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: PINE-RICHLAND 14, NORTH ALLEGHENY 7

8:08 Pine-Richland finally stopped. Turns ball over on downs at NA 32. 2:12 left in first quarter.

PINE-RICHLAND 14, NORTH ALLEGHENY 7

That 14-point lead didn't last long. NA Clay Byerly returned kickoff 90 yards for TD.

PINE-RICHLAND 14, NORTH ALLEGHENY 0

Wow. These Rams are definitely proving something. Five plays 53 yards. TD Connor Slomka 6 yd. TD run. DiNucci 9 of 10 so far.

How bout' this: Belle Vernon beating Thomas Jefferson 6-3.

7:53 NA gets two first downs and punts. P-R takes over at own 43 after short punt.

7:50 I question whether North Allegheny will have much of a running game this year.

7:48 First play deep pass for NA. Paul Blendinger behind secondary but dropped.

PINE-RICHLAND 7, NORTH ALLEGHENY 

Wow. Impressive drive. 77 yards in nine plays capped by Ben DiNucci TD pass of 28 yards to D'ondre Gaston in right corner of end zone. DiNucci 5 of 6 in drive. Five different receivers. 10:04 left first quarter.

7:38 Boy does Pine-Richland play fast offensively. DiNucci starts 2-2. One first down for P-R and then NA jumps offside to give P-R another first down. 

7:37 Game time here. Little bit of late start. TV. 

End of first quarter and North Hills and Plum are scoreless.

Surprise so far. Altoona leading McKeesport, 10-0. Coach John Franco thought his team would be improved this year. Looks like he might be right.

Mars bouncing back big after Josh Schultheis injury, leads Yough, 21-0.

Big Class AAA game, Knoch leads Greensburg Salem, 6-0.

Tre Tipton a touchdown and Apollo-Ridge leads Valley, 14-0. Tipton the X factor in that game.

 


PREGAME

I know Pine-Richland is good and could very easily win this game. But for the Rams to make believers out of people, they need to beat a top-notch team like North Allegheny. So Newman Stadium's turf will be a proving ground.

This isn't a great North Allegheny team. But after seeing the Tigers last week, they look like their defense is still above average. The question is can the offense do enough?

Will NA try to put some pressure on standout P-R quarterback Ben DiNucci?
Rob King

Root is in the house

Check out "Kinger" bothering everyone in the press box. Rob King and Craig Wolfley doing the game on Root Sports TV tonight with Paul Alexander on the sideline. Chris Schneider halftime show.

And here doing the game for MSA Sports is Lanny Frattare and Bob "The Workhorse" Orkwis.

In the Rams' box

And look who is in the press box for Pine-Richland? Only two years ago, Brock Baranowski was playing for Pine-Richland. Now he is helping coach a little.

Brock BaranowskiBaranowski was a tough, excellent player who was invited to walk on at Penn State last year. He went to Penn State last summer and worked out with the team. But a foot injury from high school still bothered him.

He eventually went to another doctor in Chicago and was told he probably can't ever play again. Sad, because he really wanted to do something as a walk-on. Now, he is back in Pittsburgh, starting another chapter of his life.

 One last thing. The Army just showed up. Ooops, it's just the North Allegheny band. What is higher number? Casey Hampton's weight or the members of NA band? I've seen it before but the size of this band is always amazing.

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Dozen predictions to go .... Pine-Richland has something to prove

Written by Mike White on .

It's the end of the week, so it's time for ...

A dozen predictions to go

Here are picks for 12 top games around the district this week:

Last week's record: 8-4

CLASS AAAA

Pine-Richland at North Allegheny - North Allegheny could have - and maybe should have - lost last week to Seneca Valley, but didn't. Pine-Richland has a truckload of starters back from last year and certainly plenty of potential. Beating North Allegheny would definitely prove the Rams are one of the top five teams in Class AAAA. But until they prove it ... Winner: North Allegheny.

This is certainly not a good week for top games in Class AAAA. It's hard to find meetings between two 1-0 teams. Heck, you have to look at non-conference games. So here goes: North Hills over Plum and Mt. Lebanon over Moon.

CLASS AAA

Thomas Jefferson at Belle Vernon - Ringgold was supposed to be a possible challenger to Thomas Jefferson in Austin Kempthe Big Nine this year, but TJ drilled the Rams in Week 1. Now comes a Belle Vernon team that also could challenge for the top of the conference. This one won't be as lopsided as last week, but it will still be Jaguars on top. Austin Kemp (pictured) and Thomas Jefferson's running game will be the difference. Winner: Thomas Jefferson.

Knoch at Greensburg Salem - Greensburg Salem didn't give up an offensive touchdown last week. But Knoch's offense is pretty good. With Mars and Franklin Regional losing last week, Knoch just might be the team to beat in the Greater Allegheny after this week. Winner: Knoch.

Indiana at Hampton - Indiana had a big win last week, but it was against a Mars team without star RB Josh Schultheis for much of the game. Hampton scored 55 points last week, but c'mon it was Albert Gallatin. So I'm still not sure about either of these teams. The coin is in the air, and the winner is ... Winner: Indiana.

Gateway at West Mifflin - It's a non-conference game. Could Gateway really be 0-2? Yes. Winner: West Mifflin.

CLASS AA 

Valley at Apollo-Ridge - Valley held Burrell scoreless last week. Will Charles Fitzgerald Tipton (ooops, I mean Tre Tipton) lead Apollo-Ridge to a big win after moving up from Class A this season? Winner: Valley.

Also, New Brighton over Ellwood City.

CLASS A

Brentwood at Fort Cherry - Brentwood struggled to beat upstart Vincentian last week while Fort Cherry squeezed by OLSH. This one will be close also. Winner: Brentwood.

Also, Frazier over Jefferson-Morgan, and Greensburg Central Catholic over Beth-Center.

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