Comments from Clairton coach Wayne Wade about game officials

Written by Mike White on .

The day after the PIAA Class 1A championship Friday and the talk here in Hershey isn't much about the game. It's about the talk of Clairton coach Wayne Wade after the game.

Wade criticized game officials after Clairton lost to Bishop Guilfoyle, 17-0. He didn't do it with just one comment. He blasted officials a number of times to a number of reporters. He criticized the officials for the past three seasons. When asked some questions about the game, Wade kept getting back to the officials. He claimed their calls took momentum away from his team, but he also claimed Clairton has been getting the short end of officials calls for three years.

For the game, Bishop Guilfoyle was penalized four times and Clairton three times.

It was almost as if Wade wanted to take the state championship stage to make a point, saying he wanted his comments made public.

What were his comments? Well, here they are:

"If any of you want to come and watch film with me, [Bishop Guilfoyle] holds every game. Every single game. Yet not one holding call on them."

"The calls didn’t go our way. They never seem to go our way."

"I don’t want to keep harping on it, but the reason I'm saying it is because we go through this all year."

"[Bishop Guilfoyle] is a great team. I don’t’ want to take anything away from them because I'm complaining about the officials. But they are a Catholic school and they have a 50-some man roster. For us, it’s difficult. For us, it's a huge accomplishment for us to be here. With 28 guys suited up, we're going against this team that gets to go and get all the players they want and have a 55-60 man roster.

"I thought my guys gave everything they had."

"If you look at the laundry laid on the field, most of the time it was against us – and it happens to us all the time. Then in the fourth quarter it’s against the other team to try and even it out. I’ve been saying this the last three years. It happens to us even when we win and it needs to stop.”

“I’m going to keep saying this because I’m not in the NFL. I’m not in college. I can’t be fined. So I’m going to keep saying it every chance I get.”

When told the PIAA could penalize Wade for his comments, Wade said, “Tell them to penalize me. What is the penalty? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.”

"It's terrible and I'm tired of going through this. Two great football teams and they get all the calls."



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The scoop on state football championships involving WPIAL teams

Written by Mike White on .

Central Catholic, Beaver Falls, Steel Valley and Clairton are the four WPIAL teams that will play in the state championships this weekend at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey. All games will be televised live by PCN. Here is a breakdown of the games:


Central Catholic (14-1) vs. St. Joseph's Prep (13-0), Saturday at 8 p.m.

Coaches: Central Catholic's Terry Totten (137-20 in his 12th season); St. Joseph's Gabe Infante (63-21 in seventh year).

Championship history: Central Catholic has won four titles and is making its seventh championship appearance. St. Joseph's has won two championships (2013 and 2014) and is making its third appearance in the final.

Statistically speaking: Central Catholic's J.J. Younger has rushed for 1,694 yards on 141 carries and has more than 1,000 yards in the past six games. QB Troy Fisher (pictured) has rushed for 582 yards on 77 attempts and fullback David Green 362 on 33 attempts. ... Fisher has completed 78 of 135 for 1,754 yards. ... For St. Joseph's, University of Georgia recruit D'Andre Swift has rushed for 1,403 yards on 122 attempts, despite missing most of six games with an ankle injury. Marquez McCray has completed 137 of 238 for 1,993 yards. The scoop: Many have been anticipating this final all year. St. Joseph's is ranked No. 13 in the country by USA Today. North Penn had St. Joe's on the ropes last week, but Swift came alive in the second half and the Hawks won by 35-25. ... Both teams are big on the lines and both rely heavily on the run. St. Joe's might go how Swift goes. ... But whoever can make a few big pass plays might be the winner.  ... Run support from Central Catholic's DBs should also be a factor along with CC defensive line play against the run.

History lesson: Two years ago, Swift ran for 226 yards on 23 carries when St. Joe's beat Pine-Richland in the 4A state title game.


Beaver Falls (12-1) vs. Middletown (14-0), Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Coaches: Beaver Falls' Ryan Matsook (100-26 in 11th season). Middletown's Brett Myers (31-14 in fourth season).

Championship history: Neither team has ever played in a PIAA title game.

Statistically speaking: Middletown's Chase Snavely is only 5-10, 150 pounds, but has been big, completing 98 of 151 for 2,112 yards. Middletown has a good one-two punch in the backfield with Brady Fox (1,427 yards on 174 attempts) and Jaelen Thompson (1,595 on 199). Receiver Tyreer Mills has 27 catches for 716 yards. ... Beaver Falls has four runners with more than 600 yards - Malik Shepherd (1,016 on 105 attempts), Derrell Carter (859 on 86), Neshaud Akins (793 on 126) and Torian Leak (602 on 96). Austin French has completed 55 of 106 for 956 yards.

The scoop: Shepherd (pictured) will be a key. Many times, he lines up at QB and takes direct snaps in the wildcat formation. ... Both teams rely on a running game, but more so with Beaver Falls. Snavely gives Middletown a little more versatility on offense. ... Middletown averages 249 yards a game rushing, but Beaver Falls has size on the defensive front and some excellent middle linebackers who might shut down the run.

History lesson: Before this season, the last time Beaver Falls won a WPIAL title was 1984. Athletic director Jim Carbone was on that team.


Steel Valley (14-0) vs. Southern Columbia (15-0), Saturday at 11 a.m.

Coaches: Steel Valley's Rod Steele (50-25 in seventh season). Southern Columbia's Jim Roth (396-62-2 in 33rd year).

Championship history: This is Steel Valley's first championship appearance. Southern Columbia is making its 15th title-game appearance. The first 13 came in Class A and last year the Tigers beat Aliquippa in Class 2A. Southern Columbia has won seven championships, including five in a row from 2002-06.

Statistically speaking: Steel Valley's DeWayne Murray has scored 46 TDs this season, has rushed for 2008 yards and is averaging 13 yards a carry. He has over 6,000 yards for his career. QB Ryan Harper has completed 97 of 155 for 1,977 yards. WR-DB Paris Ford (pictured) has 20 TDs and has five interception returns for TDs. ... Southern Columbia's strong running game is led by freshman Gaige Garcia, who has 1,938 yards on 162 carries (12.0 average). Hunter Thomas has 1,467 yards on 124 attempts (11.9 average). Nic Fetterman has rushed 121 times for 667 yards. QB Stone Hollenbach has completed 100 of 162 for 2,022 yards. Cal Haladay has 141 tackles, 13 for loss.

The scoop: Is there a game with more differing traditions? ... Steel Valley has been one of the most dominant teams from the WPIAL - ever. The Ironmen have invoked the mercy rule in every game this season and the first-team defense has allowed only two touchdowns. But it's hard to believe there will be a blowout in this game. I'd say Steel Valley is still the favorite, but Southern Columbia usually does fine - no matter the opponent. Southern Columbia lost to a strong Clairton team by only 35-19 in 2011. ... Southern Columbia usually has a team that doesn't beat itself with turnovers. Steel Valley feasts on turnovers. Watch for Ford. I have a feeling he will impact this game somehow in a big way. 

History lesson: Although you need two hands to count Southern Columbia's championship appearances, the Tigers went through a stretch of losing in the 1A title game six times in seven years.


Clairton (14-0) vs. Bishop Guilfoyle (14-0), Friday at 1 p.m.

Coaches: Clairton's Wayne Wade (42-2 in third year). Bishop Guilfoyle's Justin Wheeler (65-14 in his sixth season).

Championship history: Clairton is trying for its fifth title. The Bears lost in the championship in 2008 and 2015. The 2015 loss was to Bishop Guilfoyle. The Marauders are the two-time defending state champs and have a 46-game winning streak.

Statistically speaking: Clairton's Lamont Wade has rushed for 2,298 yards on 163 attempts, good for a surreal 14.1 yards-per-carry average. He has 7,005 yards for his career. QB Noah Hamlin has rushes for 712 yards on 59 attempts. Tre'sean Howard (pictured) has carried 52 times for 557 yards. Wade, Hamlin and Howard all average better than 10 yards a carry. ... Bishop Guilfoyle's Andrew Irwin has rushed for 1,565 yards on 171 attempts. QB Josh Trybus has completed 78 of 125 for 1,435 yards.

The scoop: Wade has said all year he is on a mission to get a state title because he doesn't have one in his four years with the Bears. You hate to be so basic, but this game could come down to simply whether Guilfoyle can control Wade, or if he makes a couple big plays. ... Clairton's defense has been superb all season. The Bears' ability to control Guilfoyle's running game will have a huge bearing on the game. ... Watch for Howard. A big play by him here or there has greatly impacted some games.

History lesson: Twenty-seven years ago, Clairton lost in the 1A semifinals to Keystone, 15-14. Wayne Wade was a QB-DB for that Clairton team. He is now the Bears' coach. Keystone scored with 2:52 remaining and then were successful with a fake extra-point kick for the two-point conversion.

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Preseason hoops talk: Top teams .... Dandy Dozen players .... another McConnell on scene

Written by Mike White on .

It's the week of the state semifinals for football, but high school basketball in Pennsylvania gets underway next Friday, so let's talk a little high school hoops:

Another McConnell

T.J. McConnell is in the NBA. His brother, Matty, plays for Robert Morris. Their father, Tim, is the highly-successful Chartiers Valley boys coach.

Now comes another McConnell on the WPIAL scene.

Megan McConnell is the younger sister of T.J. and Matty and the youngest of Tim and Shelly McConnell's three children. Megan is only a freshman, but she is slated to start for the Chartiers Valley girls team.

Megan McConnell is a 5-foot-5 ninth grader who will play shooting guard. Chartiers Valley has one of the top teams in WPIAL 5A. In fact, the Colts are ranked No. 1 by the Post-Gazette heading into the season. They have some talented, experienced players, including Mackenzie Wagner. It will be interesting to see how Megan McConnell develops. I've never seen her play, but I'm going to take a wild guess and say she's probably pretty fair.

Best teams

We will have a basketball preview as part of our Varsity Xtra section in Friday's paper. But here's an early line on the top WPIAL teams in each class. These may be different than our Post-Gazette rankings that come out Friday.

6A - 1. Pine-Richland. 2. Penn Hills. 3. Latrobe. 

5A - 1. Highlands. 2. Hampton. 3. Chartiers Valley

4A - 1. Beaver Falls. 2. New Castle. 3. Quaker Valley

3A - 1. Lincoln Park. 2. Steel Valley. 3. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic

2A - 1. Bishop Canevin. 2. Sewickley Academy. 3. OLSH

1A - 1. Monessen. 2. Clairton. 3. Vincentian

City League - 1. Obama. 2. Westinghouse. 3. Allderdice.

Top players 

Here is a preseason Dandy Dozen for the WPIAL and City League (listed alphabetically). It was pretty easy getting the top seven or eight. But for the last four or five spots, there are maybe 7-8 players you could also pick.


Is there anyone in Western Pa., with deeper shooting range? I think not. He can make 3's well past the volleyball line in games. Second-leading scorer in WPIAL last season at 25.8 a game. Has signed with Holy Cross.


One of the most heavily recruited players who has come through the WPIAL in the past decade. Only a junior, Carmody (pictured) already has scholarship offers from numerous major colleges, including Pitt, Duquesne, Penn State, Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville, Ohio State and Michigan, among others. Extremely athletic and can play point guard or shooting guard. Averaged 19 points a game last season as a sophomore.


Made Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 last year after averaging 21 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks for WPIAL AAA champion. After high school, might go the junior-college route. Has 1,241 career points.


Cummings signed with Bowling Green, turning down some other Division I offers. He is an excellent shooter, but also athletic. He has a chance to reach 2,000 career points this season. He has 1,521. Cummings (pictured) is the main reason many feel Lincoln Park is the team to beat in 3A this season. Cummings made the Post-Gazette Fab 5 a year ago.


The kid with a sweet stroke. One of the best shooters around, Ionadi (pictured) averaged 22.3 points a game last season. Made a truckload of 3-pointers. One of the reasons some are picking Hampton as the No. 1 5A team entering the season.


Kromka is one of the top juniors in the WPIAL. He averaged a double-double last year. He could use a little more muscle, but with him in the lineup, Gateway has a presence on the inside.


Helped team win WPIAL 4A title last season. Petcash (pictured) averaged 20.6 points a game. A good shooter, but also scores off the dribble. Has few Division I offers. His younger brother, Dan, a sophomore, also might join Andrew in starting lineup this year for P-R. 


Penn Hills turned things around last season, making it to the WPIAL semifinals. Schifino played a pivotal role in the success, averaging 13 points. A good shooter.


Lives in Moon, but attended Cushing Academy in Massachusetts the past three years before deciding to go to Moon for his final year. Versatile player who was once offered scholarship to Pitt when Jamie Dixon was coach. This fall, he said his final list of colleges included Boston College, Temple, Princeton, Yale, Pennsylvania and Brown.


Made Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 last year. Helped North Hills make the WPIAL title game for the first time in school history. Averaged 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals a game. A player who scores in various ways, Smith (pictured) has 1,100 career points. A few Division I colleges have expressed interest. He and Luke Chutko are three-year starters in the backcourt for North Hills.


Southmoreland has what is most likely its first future Division I college player. Stone already has a few scholarship offers, including one from Duquesne. Others are showing interest. Stone is thin and needs more muscle. But he has size and also skills that allow him to play some on the perimeter. He averaged 21.3 points a game last season.


Wilkerson will be the leader of the Colts this year as they are again pegged as one of the top teams in their classification (5A). Wilkerson is a nice, all-around player who can shoot it but also score some off the dribble. Averaged 16.2 points a game last season.

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Complete playoff picture around the state ....... Sites set for WPIAL teams in PIAA playoffs

Written by Mike White on .

Wondering at all what's going on in high school football outside the WPIAL? Check out below for the complete picture.

But first, while there are still two WPIAL championships to be played Saturday, three WPIAL teams will play in the PIAA playoffs this weekend.

The sites, dates and times for all games are now set for this weekend. In Class 6A, WPIAL champ Central Catholic plays Williamsport Saturday, 1 p.m. at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona. Two WPIAL teams will play on Black Friday. Thomas Jefferson meets Erie Cathedral Prep in the 4A quarterfinals Friday, 7 p.m. at Baldwin. West Allegheny takes on Meadville in the 5A quarterfinals Friday, 7 p.m. at North Allegheny.

Beaver Falls has the week off. It does not play until Dec. 2-3.

But here is the complete rundown of what teams are still left around the state, their records and the matchups. This courtesy of Kenny "The Horse" at the P-G.



Saturday — Steel Valley (12-0) vs. Neshannock (12-1) at Robert Morris University, 6 p.m.



Saturday — Clairton (12-0) vs. Jeannette (12-1) at Robert Morris University, Noon.



Western Region

Saturday — Central Catholic (12-1) vs. Williamsport (12-1) at Mansion Park Stadium, Altoona, 1 p.m.; West Lawn Wilson (11-1) vs. Cumberland Valley (9-3) at Hersheypark Stadium, 6 p.m.

Eastern Region

Friday — Garnet Valley (11-2) at North Penn (13-0), 7 p.m.

Saturday — Parkland (10-2) vs. St. Joseph's Prep (11-0) at Philadelphia Northeast Supersite, 1 p.m.



Western Region

Friday — Meadville (11-2) vs. West Allegheny (12-0) at North Allegheny, 7 p.m.; Manheim Central (11-1) vs. Harrisburg (9-3) at Hersheypark Stadium, 7 p.m.

Eastern Region

Friday — Academy Park (12-1) at Springfield-Delco (12-1), 7 p.m.; Archbishop Wood (9-2) vs. Whitehall (9-4) at Northampton, 7 p.m.



Western Region

Friday — Erie Cathedral Prep (11-0) vs. Thomas Jefferson (12-0) at Baldwin, 7 p.m.; Shippensburg (11-1) vs. Berks Catholic (10-1) at Hersheypark Stadium, 1 p.m.

Eastern Region

Friday — North Pocono (10-3) vs. Imhotep Charter (11-0) at Northern Lehigh, 7 p.m.

Saturday — Johnstown (12-1) vs. Bethlehem Catholic (10-3) at Chambersburg, 1 p.m.



Western Region

Friday — Martinsburg Central (11-1) vs. Karns City (10-2) at DuBois, 7 p.m.

Bye — Beaver Falls (11-1).

Eastern Region

Friday — Scranton Prep (12-1) vs. Middletown (12-0) at Bethlehem, 7 p.m.

Saturday — Delaware Valley Charter (8-4) vs. Notre Dame-Green Pond (11-2) at Bethlehem, 1 p.m.



Western Region

Saturday — Kane (13-0) vs. Wilmington (11-1) at Slippery Rock University, 1 p.m.

Eastern Region

Friday — Dunmore (13-0) vs. Ligonier Valley (13-0) at Bald Eagle Area, 7 p.m.

Saturday — Schuylkill Haven (12-1) vs. Southern Columbia (13-0) at Shamokin, 1 p.m.



Western Region

Friday — Ridgway-Johnsonburg (12-0) vs. Farrell (9-3) at Slippery Rock University, 7 p.m.

Eastern Region

Friday — Steelton-Highspire (5-7) vs. Williams Valley (12-1) at Shamokin, 7 p.m.; Homer-Center (11-1) vs. Bishop Guilfoyle (12-0) at Mansion Park Stadium, Altoona, 7 p.m.

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WPIAL championship rewind: After making history, Palko on verge of another milestone

Written by Mike White on .

Notes, quotes, highlights and thoughts on Friday's four WPIAL championship games:

Palko now going for 200

There is an "L" in Bob Palko's last name. That's about the only time you associate an "L" with him.

Maybe we should just go ahead and call him Bob Pawko. Because this guy is all about the "W's."

No one in the history of WPIAL football has won more championships than Palko. He won No. 8 Friday. But he is one win away from another impressive milestone.

Palko has 199 career wins. He has a chance for No. 200 when West Allegheny plays in the PIAA quarterfinals Friday against Meadville. The game is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. at North Allegheny.

Palko became West Allegheny's coach in 1995. His record is 199-66, an impressive .750 winning percentage. (Palko is pictured in yesterday's championship).

I'd go ahead and call him one of the best coaches in WPIAL history - in any sport. The culture he has created, the program he has built, at a public school is impressive. He doesn't always have the best players, either. But man, does Palko and his staff know how to build strong teams. His staff is excellent and they somehow get kids to buy in to everything and work extremely hard in the offseason.

I've covered West Allegheny's program since Palko became coach. Now I know there were some questionable calls in that title game Friday and the McKeesport faithful are not happy. But that doesn't take away what Palko has done at West Allegheny. The culture of that program doesn't exist in many places - anywhere. Even outside the WPIAL. I don't know if people around here fully realize what Palko has done at a school that never had much success until he took over. And it's his alma mater.

Check out highlights from that great West Allegheny-McKeesport 5A final:

Champions list

Here is the list of coaches with the most WPIAL titles:

8 – Bob Palko, West Allegheny

7 – Phil Bridenbaugh, New Castle 

6 – Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson

6 – Chuck Klausing, Braddock

6 – George Novak, five at Woodland Hills and one at Steel Valley

6 – Art Walker, five at Mt. Lebanon and one at Shady Side Academy

6 – Tom Nola, Clairton

6 – Mike Zmijanac, Aliquippa

He said it

Here is McKeesport coach Matt Miller on Palko's decision to go for the two-point conversion and the win in overtime.

"It didn't surprise me," said Miller. "They were getting pretty decent chunks of yards and I think we were moving the ball pretty good, so it makes sense.

"The whole game comes down to one play at the end. I was just coming off after the timeout [before the two-point conversion] and was like, 'God, this is, like, over if we don't stop it.' It felt like we were just going to keep exchanging blows for a while. And all of a sudden, it was like you just collapse. Like your heart sunk."

The magic of 248

How coincidental that Quinton Hill rushed for 248 yards for Thomas Jefferson in Friday's 4A final, tying for the Orlando Torresthird-most yards in a game at Heinz Field or Three Rivers Stadium. He tied former Thomas Jefferson RB Orlando Torres, who ran for 248 in 2007.

Torres ([pictured to the left in the 2007 title game against Montour) was certainly a talented runner, but I might remember him most for his nickname. I still remember Torres telling me after a game, "They call me the 'Streakin Puerto Rican."

Good one.

Hill is the all-time leading rusher at Thomas Jefferson and now has more than 4,300 yards.

Now Thomas Jefferson moves on to the PIAA quarterfinals. Best game in the quarterfinals in any class might be Thomas Jefferson against Erie Cathedral Prep Friday. Tentatively set for Baldwin.

Beaver Falls not a surprise

Some were surprised at Beaver Falls' victory against Aliquippa. But really, it should surprise no one.

I think we forget that this was supposed to be possibly Beaver Falls' year. Coach Ryan Matsook had a truckload of starters back from last season. This team had talent, size and speed. Many thought the Tigers were the No. 1 team in 3A before the season. But then came that bad loss to Aliquippa in the first game.

Shoutout to Matsook for keeping things together and not letting the ship sink after the Aliquippa game. 

This was not a great Aliquippa team. Even coach Mike Zmijanac said before the title game that Beaver Falls was probably better. Doesn't matter. Beating Aliquippa is huge for Beaver Falls.

More thoughts and notes

**** Zmijanac will retire soon from Aliquippa, but it won't be now. He has a handful of starters back on both sides of the ball. I say possibly after next season he hangs it up.

**** Of all the WPIAL champions, it's hard to say who has the best chance to win a state championship. Maybe Beaver Falls? But the Tigers will likely have to play a strong Hickory team in the semifinals. Hickory is ranked No. 1 in the state by the Post-Gazette.

**** Beaver Falls is off next week. I don't know if Matsook and his staff think that is a good or bad thing.

**** The Class 2A and 1A semifinals are tonight. A few sources have told me Clairton QB Noah Hamlin might not play because of an injury. That's just what I'm hearing. That would be a gigantic loss for Clairton against Northgate.

**** Did you know Bishop Guilfoyle (Altoona) now has a 44-game winning streak? Guilfoyle plays in Class 1A, but the team will play through the eastern side of the bracket. The WPIAL champ would not meet Guilfoyle until the state final.

**** Attendance at Heinz Friday was around 17,5000, according to WPIAL. Not bad. The WPIAL would love to have 20,000 every year.

**** Central Catholic's 42-7 victory against Seneca Valley was the biggest blowout in a title game in the largest class since Woodland Hills beat Central Catholic, 41-6, in 2001.

Check out highlights and comments from Beaver Falls' victory against Aliquippa:


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