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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Sto-Rox QB Williams nears two WPIAL records

Written by Mike White on .

Items that fell off my laptopLenny Williams

Within two weeks, Sto-Rox Lenny Williams will probably be atop the WPIAL record books - in two different categories.

Williams, a senior at Sto-Rox, heads into Friday's game with 6,738 career passing yards. The WPIAL record is 7,162, held by South Fayette's Christian Brumbaugh.

But Williams also is close to Brumbaugh's WPIAL record of 88 touchdown passes. Williams has 83.

These statistics were confirmed with Sto-Rox statistician Ken Hohman. Williams should become Sto-Rox's all-time leading passer this week. Adam DiMichele holds the school record with 6,741 yards.

Will Nola return?

Tom Nola has thought about retiring as Clairton's coach the past few seasons. One of the main reasons he came back was "The Streak." He thought how could he leave when Clairton had the long winning streak?

Now that the streak is over after losing to Monessen last week, what does Nola do at the end of the year? I have no inside info, but if I was a betting man, I'd say ol' Tom hangs up the whistle after this season.

University Prep game off

University Prep was supposed to play Canada Prep this Saturday at Cupples Stadium on the South Side. The game is now off.

Canada Prep has players beyond 12th grade on its team. The PIAA and WPIAL forbids its teams to play schools that use post graduates. Canada Prep did not complete a contract or sign paperwork saying it would not use post graduates. So the game was called off.

Too bad for University Prep quarterback Ron Brown. That's one less game for him in his quest for WPIAL-City League regular-season records. University Prep now has only seven regular-season games. Brown has more than 1,300 passing yards and 23 TD passes in four games.

McKenzie to graduate early?

It looks like the recruitment of star Washington running back Shai McKenzie won't be one of those dragged-out stories until signing day in February.

McKenzie is recovering from surgery last Friday for a torn ACL. He will not play the rest of the season. But Shai McKenzieMcKenzie said on his Twitter account that he plans to graduate early, meaning he will make a verbal commitment probably in the next few months, and be on a college campus for the spring semester in January.

"Planning to graduate early but I have to commit first" is what McKenzie said on his Twitter account.

McKenzie's final five schools are Pitt, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. He got rid of Arkansas and replaced the Razorbacks with North Carolina.

This and that

***** "Dandy" Andy Barry will be inducted into the Westminster College Hall of Fame in ceremonies Nov. 3. Barry. Westminster class of 1997, played football at North Allegheny High School and and is still fifth in career solo tackles at Westminster. Barry is a longtime assistant at West Allegheny. I wonder if he might celebrate at Westminster?

***** During the New Brighton at Aliquippa game Friday, this from Aliquippa's "Mole," the PA announcer, "And another penalty on Aliquippa - of course."

***** Where's Herb? A week ago I did a blog item on the 2007 Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 and how the five players went on to big things. It was DeJuan Blair, D.J. Kennedy, Terrelle Pryor, Jon Baldwin and Herb Pope. I knew what four of the five were doing nowadays. The only one I didn't know was Pope. Well, I got an email from "Joe Joe" that showed Pope last played this past season in a pro league in Ukraine.

***** I don't think I've seen yet this year a team raise four fingers at the start of the fourth quarter and start yelling "fourrrrrrrr." Good. It's stupid.


Here are the Post-Gazette state rankings for this week:

CLASS AAAA - 1. Coatesville 4-0. 2. Upper St. Clair 4-0. 3. Central Catholic 4-0. 4. Easton 4-0. 5. Neshaminy 4-0.

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

CLASS AA - 1. Aliquippa 4-0. 2. Imhotep Charter 3-0. 3. Beaver Falls 4-0. 4. Richland 4-0. 5. Catasaqua 4-0. 

CLASS A - 1. Southern Columbia 4-0. 2. Dunmore 4-0. 3. Sto-Rox 4-0. 4. North Catholic 4-0.5. Steelton-Highspire 4-0.

And the Pennsylvania Football News rankings.

What a catch

Nick Zappone, Greensburg Central Catholic's stat man, sent this video of Tyler Balla's fabulous catch in last Friday's game. It is pretty special. Check it out.




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Lights Out: The night that was in Friday Night Football, 9/20/13

Written by Nick Veronica on .

[Full Friday night scoreboard + Updated WPIAL standings]

The streak is over. And it ended right where it started.

The Clairton Bears' nation-best 66-game win streak was ended Friday with a 42-24 home loss to Monessen, 1,471 days after it began with a 46-0 home win against – you guessed it – Monessen.

The streak started on Sept. 11, 2009, the week after a 15-8 loss at Laurel. It ended tied for the nation's 10th-longest winning streak ever and included four PIAA Class A championships.

Monessen senior running back Clintell Gillaspie scored four touchdowns. 

"Bear down!" Gillaspie tweeted after the game, a line echoed by teammates in an Instagram video posted by Monessen quarterback Noah Rullo.

Clairton hadn't given up 42 points in a game since the 2003 WPIAL semifinals, in a 42-20 loss to Sto-Rox. Clairton's last home loss was Oct. 21, 2005 against Apollo-Ridge.

Other Friday night storylines

  • Class AAAA No. 1 Upper St. Clair beat Penn Hills 35-0 for its third consecutive shutout. USC totaled 315 rushing yards while holding Penn Hills to 41. Check out @CriagMeyerPG's Twitter feed for more on that game.
  • New Brighton, which entered Week Four averaging the most points in the WPIAL (158 total, 52.66 average), was shut out by Aliquippa, 43-0. Read Mike White's live blog for more on that game.
  • Washington, in its first full game without running back Shai McKenzie, beat Yough 35-13.
  • Steel Valley, playing without running back D'Andre Pickens, lost to Seton-La Salle 28-7.
  • Central Catholic, which had only three allowed three points in its first three games, beat Fox Chapel 49-10.
  • In a meeting of unbeaten Class A teams, Avonworth crushed upstart West Shamokin, 48-0.
  • Beaver Falls held off a charge from Beaver Area, winning 30-24.

Odds & ends

  • High scores: Beth-Center beat Bentworth 80-0; South Fayette beat Burggettstown 74-7.
  • Shutouts: 17.
  • OT games: Avella 27, Jefferson-Morgan 26. Baldwin 20, Mt. Lebanon 19.

Rankings report

How teams new to the Post-Gazette rankings fared

  • Seneca Valley (AAAA) beat Connellsville 36-0.
  • Highlands (AAA) lost at home to Mars 39-0. Read Brad Everett (@BREAL412)'s Twitter feed for more on that game.
  • Shady Side Academy (AA) beat Burrell 49-14.
  • Fort Cherry (A) beat Brentwood 35-14.
  • Allderdice (City) beat Westinghouse 39-18.

How teams that fell out of rankings responded

  • North Allegheny (AAAA) beat Pine-Richland 29-28. Pine-Richland's last-second field goal fell short.
  • Franklin Regional (AAA) beat Greensburg Salem 42-20.
  • Steel Valley (AA) lost at Seton-La Salle 28-7.
  • Monessen (A) beat at No. 1 Clairton 42-24.
  • Perry (City) beat Carrick 23-6.

Full results of ranked teams

Class AAAA (records entering Week Four)

No. 1 Upper St. Clair (3-0) beat Penn Hills 35-0.
No. 2 Central Catholic (3-0) beat Fox Chapel 49-10.
No. 3 Gateway (3-0) beat Altoona 21-0.
No. 4 McKeesport (3-0) beat Penn-Trafford 34-14.
No. 5 Seneca Valley (3-0) beat Connellsville 36-0.

Class AAA

No. 1 Thomas Jefferson (3-0) beat Trinity 44-7.
No. 2 West Allegheny (3-0) beat Hopewell 55-0.
No. 3 Central Valley (3-0) beat Blackhawk 41-0.
No. 4 West Mifflin (3-0) beat Albert Gallatin 56-12.
No. 5 Highlands (3-0) lost at home to Mars 39-0.

Class AA

No. 1 Aliquippa (3-0) beat New Brighton 43-0.
No. 2 Beaver Falls (3-0) beat Beaver Area 30-24.
No. 3 Washington (3-0) beat Yough 35-13.
No. 4 South Fayette (3-0) beat Burggettstown 74-7.
No. 5 Shady Side Academy (3-0) beat Burrell 49-14.

Class A

No. 1 Clairton (2-0) lost at home to Monessen 42-24.
No. 2 Sto-Rox (3-0) beat Our Lady of Sacred Heart 54-3.
No. 3 North Catholic (3-0) beat Riverview 56-7.
No. 4 Neshannock (2-1) beat Shenango 35-14.
No. 5 Fort Cherry (3-0) beat Brentwood 35-14.

City League

No. 1 University Prep (3-0) beat No. 2 Brashear 51-6 (Thursday).
No. 2 Brashear (1-2) lost to No.1 University Prep 51-6 (Thursday).
No. 3 Allderdice beat Westinghouse 39-18.

Saturday games

Class A

  • Union at Western Beaver, 12:30 p.m.
  • Northgate at Wilkinsburg, 1 p.m.
  • Mapletown at Geibel Catholic, 1 p.m.
  • Kiski School at Baltimore Boys Latin (Md.), 1 p.m.


New Castle 32, Montour 13

Aliquippa 43, New Brighton 0

Upper St. Clair 35, Penn Hills 0

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


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Live Friday night blog - Aliquippa wins 43-0

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from the New Brighton-Aliquippa game. Look to the right for score updates from @PGVarsityXtra Twitter account. If you have a score or note from a game, tweet @PGVarsityXtra with #wpial


Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac never runs it up. Credit him for that. Quips take knees late in game.


Fernando Glenn 2-yard TD run. 29 seconds left in third.

8:53 - As someone who makes a living on deadlines, I love this mercy rule.

8:45 - Clock running second half. I'll try to keep you updated on Clairton game, too.

Check this out: Monessen 14, Clairton 0


On final play of first half, Patrick Anderson catches 30-yard TD pass from Darrien Fields. Kick good. 


8:12 - New Brighton QB Gabe Greco done for the night. Hasn't returned since a left leg injury.

8:08 He might not have a lot of yards but I like how NB's Scott Florence runs. Hard runner.

Wow. Beaver now leading Beaver Falls 20-6

8:04 - Comments from Aliquippa workers in this press box are priceless.


Terry Swanson 43 TD run. Kick good 30-0

8:00 - INT by Quips Patrick Anderson stops NB drive at 14. Aliquippa now driving again. 3 minutes to go in half.

7:57 - PA announcer Mole just said to the crowd. "Unsportsmanlike penalty. Of course, on Aliquippa."


7:52 - Dravon Henry doing his best Darrelle Revis impression. Has now scored three different ways. 

West Allegheny 28, Hopewell 0

Beaver leading Beaver Falls 17-6


7:47 - Call it a blowout yet? 60-yard TD run by Dravon Henry and get this: Quips kick XPt. 23-0 Quips.

7:45 Punt block by Jesse Sabol puts NB at the Aliquippa 15. But offense goes nowhere and then missed 37 FG. 

Upset in making? Beaver leads Beaver Falls 10-6


7:34 - Payton Fath takes over at QB for New Brighton.

7:30 - Oh-oh. Hate to say it but New Brighton might be done. QB Gabe Greco hurt. Carried off field. Left leg injury.

7:28 - New Brighton turns ball over on downs. Not good news for New Brighton. QB Gabe Greco on ground hurt. 

7:25 - New Brighton moving some. Like the schemes they run out of this spread.


7:18 - Can't make mistakes against Quips. Gabe Greco went to pass, threw to the left sideline, but Dravon Henry showed a little of why many major colleges want him. Great reaction. Jumped the pass. Intercepted and returned 59 yards for a touchdown. 4:44 left in first quarter. Patrick Anderson catches two-point pass and Quips lead, 16-0.

7:14 - New Brighton penalized illegal substitution on first play. No-huddle offense for New Brighton. Lions pick up first down. 


Quips move 68 yards in 10 plays. All runs except two plays including the TD - a 14-yard pass from Darrien Fields to Dravon Henry. Terry Swanson runs for two point conversion.

7:08  Quips moving on first possession. TO New Brighton 32.


*** And the horse, "War Eagle," just went to center of the field, ridden by chief Mark Swan, who threw a flaming spear into the ground. Tradition.

*** Aliquippa defensive coordinator Peep Short this year is on the field for games. Dang. Quips coaches booth is right next to media in press box. Usually some entertainment from Short during game.

*** In the pressbox, and I didn't know that the famous "Mole" is back as the PA announcer. One of a kind this Mole. Aliquippa legend. Heck, last I knew he was living in Bermuda.

*** Saw Aliquippa defensive coordinator Peep Short. Carrying his "staff" around with him. Assistant Sherman McBride still calling him "the black Moses."

*** Great scene by Mole in the pressbox. New Brighton stat keeper came to Mole because he wanted to put names in computer for stats.

"Do you have the name of your field-goal kicker?" he asked Mole.

Mole burst into laughter. He threw his hands up. "That's the best one I've ever heard. You want our field-goal kicker."

Aliquippa, you see, hasn't been too successful developing kickers over the years - and that's being kind. Then again, the Quips haven't needed kickers.

*** Both teams come into this game with 3-0 records. If I had to say, I'd say Aliquippa as a 14-point favorite. New Brighton will need a big night from quarterback Gabe Greco. Can't afford many mistakes, either.

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Friday night predictions

Written by Mike White on .

I'm off to Aliquippa and will have tonight's live blog from the New Brighton-Aliquippa game. Call up the blog and check out our live score updates from other games, which can be seen on the right-hand column next to the blog. Check out @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter for updates. If you have a score or update, tweet @PGVarsityXtra with #wpial.

Before we get to the predictions ...

Some rain and a possible thunderstorm are being forecast for tonight. If there is lightning, games are delayed. Here's to hoping that the thunder and lightning stay away.

And this weekend at some point, I'll give a shoutout and weigh in on the Twitter account of Hopewell's receivers @HVWRprobs, It seems they just want some passes.

Now for the predictions. Last week: 12-6. Season: 39-12. For tonight's top games ...


Upper St. Clair at Penn Hills - It's the Post-Gazette Game of the Week. Penn Hills' new offense has been impressive. QB Billy Kisner and RB Isaiah Jones have racked big rushing yardage totals. But I like the way USC defends the run. I actually think the biggest key to this game might be how Penn Hills does against Upper St. Clair's run. Winner: Upper St. Clair

Elsewhere in Class AAAA - McKeesport over Penn-Trafford; North Allegheny over Pine-Richland.


Josh SchultheisMars at Highlands - Highlands was awfully impressive in shutting out Franklin Regional last week. Mars' only loss was to Franklin Regional in the opener. Naturally, you'd think I would pick Highlands. Not so fast. I think Mars has improved since then. Josh Schultheis (pictured) has two consecutive 200-yard games and how well Mars blocks for him could be the key. Winner: Mars.

Elsewhere in Class AAA - New Castle over Montour; Elizabeth Forward over Belle Vernon.


New Brighton at Aliquippa - I have to get a gyro from Gyro Joe before the game. It's tradition. Then it's the game in The Pit. New Brighton (3-0) is off to one of its best starts in a while and the Lions have a potent passing game with QB Gabe Greco, son of coach Joe Greco. But the Quips have so many good athletes in the secondary and that will be the difference. Also, can New Brighton's defense stop Aliquippa? Winner: Aliquippa.

Elsewhere in Class AA - Shady Side Academy over Burrell; Seton-LaSalle over Steel Valley (star RB D'Andre Pickens won't play for Steel Valley); Washington over Yough; Beaver Falls over Beaver.


Avonworth at West Shamokin - It seems strange to type West Shamokin into the big game section. Only one year ago the Wolves broke a 46-game losing streak. Now they are 3-0. But Avonworth is my sleeper team in Class A. Winner: Avonworth

Elsewhere in Class A - Fort Cherry over Brentwood; Clairton over Monessen.


Allderdice vs. Westinghouse - I'm starting to hear good things about these Jackson twins for Allderdice - James and Tim. They just might have to be the Action Jacksons from now on. Winner: Allderdice.


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