Dozen predictions to go for Week 9 - Quips get edge over Beaver Falls

Written by Mike White on .

Tonight's live blog will come from the showdown of undefeated teams - Aliquippa vs. Beaver Falls. It is the Post-Gazette Game of the Week. Follow along and also check to the right of the blog for scores and updates of other games on the Twitter account of @PGVarsityXtra. If you have a score, note or update, tweet with #WPIAL and tag @PGVarsity.

For now, just sat down at the kitchen table with a box of a dozen predictions to go from the bakery. Have to make sure of the count this week. Nitwit me had trouble counting a dozen last week. There was only 10 in the box. Sorry.

The good news was that the record last week was 10-0. That brings the season total to 75-19 (.797 pct.).

Here we go for this week:


Mt. Lebanon at Upper St. Clair - Mt. Lebanon secures second place with a win. There could be a three-way tie for second if USC wins. Mt. Lebanon proved something in its 21-17 loss to Woodland Hills last week. Winner: Mt. Lebanon. 

Kiski Area at McKeesport - Kudos to Kiski Area for quite the turnaround. The Cavaliers were winless a year ago. Now, they are 5-3. But they aren't the second-place team in the Foothills Conference. That's what goes to the winner of this game. Winner: McKeesport.


Central Valley at West Allegheny - Central Valley has won seven in a row since a season-opening loss to Montour. But West Allegheny is on a different level than the rest of the teams in the Parkway. Winner: West Allegheny.

Hampton at Mars - After winning its first five, Hampton has lost two of three. Injuries have taken its toll on the Talbots. Meanwhile, Mars is playing well and has momentum. The momentum will continue. Winner: Mars.

Thomas Jefferson at West Mifflin - This game always seems to have something on the line. It has been a conference title in many other years. This year, it's third place in the Big Ten. Winner: Thomas Jefferson.

Ambridge at Chartiers Valley - Playoff spots are on the line. This game is hard to pick because of the unknown status of Chartiers Valley QB Jake Collins. He did not play last week and Chartiers Valley coach Niel Loebig said he can't comment on Collins' situation. So who knows? Winner: Ambridge.


Aliquippa at Beaver Falls - This is one of the best games of the season. Loved Beaver Falls lineman Donovan Jeter's comment earlier this week that neither team likes the other and that's just the way they were raised. Hey, that's not bulletin board material. That's just a kid being honest. Aliquippa hasn't lost a regular season game since 2009 to Beaver Falls. It's hard to go against a streak, but Beaver Falls has the ability to play right with the Quips. Both of these teams have playmakers. It might very well come down to who makes more big plays. Winner: Aliquippa.

Burrell at Deer Lakes - Deer Lakes has been to the playoffs just once in school history. Make that twice after tonight. Winner: Deer Lakes.

Seton-LaSalle at Keystone Oaks - The two schools across the street from each other are on top of each in the Century Conference. Both have 5-2 conference records. Seton-LaSalle is a sleeper team for the Class AA playoffs. Winner: Seton-LaSalle.


Jeannette at Greensburg Central Catholic - The winner gets second place in the Eastern Conference and a home game in the first round. I took Jeannette on This Week In High School Sports video earlier this week. I'm wondering about my pick, but I will stay with it. Winner: Jeannette.

Bentworth at Beth-Center - A shoutout to Bentworth for a fine season. It has been a while since the Bearcats have been to the postseason. The winner gets second place in the Tri-County South. Bentworth isn't THAT good yet. Winner: Beth-Center.

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic at Shenango - This is only a non-conference matchup, but one of the best games of the night. Both are ranked in the Class A top five. Winner: Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

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WPIAL changes gears, gives Allderdice boys soccer home game

Written by Mike White on .

The WPIAL has done an about face, and now the Allderdice boys soccer team gets a home game.

The WPIAL has decided to change the site of tonight's Class AAA first-round playoff game. Instead of Allderdice playing at Peters Township, the game will be played at Allderdice's home field, Cupples Stadium on the South Side.

Hey, maybe this Varsity Blog had an effect.

The WPIAL released soccer playoff brackets last Wednesday. This blog pointed out on Thursday that it just didn't seem right and looked bad that the WPIAL didn't give Allderdice a home game. Allderdice is a City League school that plays in the WPIAL in soccer as an associate member. Of all the first-round games in the Class AAA boys and girls playoffs, Allderdice was the only higher seeded team that was not playing at home. And the game wasn't even at a neutral site. It was AT Peters Township.

There were neutral site games in other classes. But still, not one higher seeded team had to play an away game - except Allderdice. Peters Township is the No. 11 seed and Allderdice, a section champion, No. 6.

It was a head scratcher. And maybe this was coincidence but what made the situation look even worse was that the head of the WPIAL soccer steering committee is Joe Maize, a former Peters Township athletic director and current baseball coach at Peters Township.

Allderdice principal Melissa Friez commented that the game made it seem like the WPIAL had something personal against the City League and Allderdice. WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said the league meant no slight toward Allderdice. And he also said the game site would not be changed.

But on Friday, O'Malley talked with Friez and changed his stance, agreeing to put the game at Cupples Stadium instead of Peters Township.

Good move, WPIAL. Allderdice playing AT Peters Township wasn't right. A situation had been corrected.

"I feel it's justified," Friez said of the site switch. "I wouldn't have fought as hard as I did if we didn't believe it was the right thing to do.

"We appreciate the reconsideration and appreciate the opportunity to play on our field and focus on the home game. Now roll 'Dice."


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Week 8 rewind: Successful or not, Pine-Richland should have tried for two

Written by Mike White on .

Notes, thoughts, anecdotes from the eighth week of the high school football season. The latest Post-Gazette WPIAL and state rankings are at the end of the blog.

For Pine-Richland and Central Catholic, it's all about tiebreaker points. And the point is, Pine-Richland should've gone for two points.

Now, Pine-Richland will likely have to settle for second place in the Northern Eight while Central Catholic will likely finish first instead of third.

This all has to do with Friday night's Central Catholic at Pine-Richland game. A terrific contest. Pine-Richland scored with a little more than two minutes left to make it 28-27. Pine-Richland kicked the extra point to tie and then lost, 35-28, when Central Catholic scored late and kicked the extra point.

Now let me set up why I believe Pine-Richland would've been better off trying for the two-point conversion:

Pine-Richland is done with conference games. Central Catholic plays Butler this week and North Allegheny plays North Hills. If Central and NA win, there will be a three-way tie for first in the Northern Eight. Head-to-head doesn't break the tie and neither does the WPIAL's Gardner Points system. What will break the tie is the WPIAL tiebreaker points system, and that's where Pine-Richland loses out.

In the WPIAL tiebreaker points system, points are earned and lost by scores in conference games. A maximum of 10 points can be earned in a win and minus 10 in a loss. In other words, if a team wins a game, 21-7, it earns 10 points. If it is defeated, 28-21, it loses seven.

Heading into this past Friday's games, Pine-Richland had 57 tiebreaker points, North Allegheny 37 and Central Catholic 33. Now it is Pine-Richland 50, Central Catholic 40 and North Allegheny 37. Pine-Richland doesn't have a conference game this week, so the Rams' point total will remain at 50. If North Allegheny beats North Hills by 10 or more, the most NA can have is 47. It is highly likely Central Catholic will beat Butler by 10 or more, so Central Catholic would have 50.

Pine-Richland and Central Catholic would tie in tiebreaker points. But whenever possible, the system always reverts back to head-to-head to break ties. Because Central Catholic beat Pine-Richland, Central Catholic gets first. That leaves Pine-Richland and NA. Because Pine beat NA, then Pine gets second and NA third.

I'm not sure if coaches realized those point totals heading into this Friday's game. And maybe it's hard to ask a coach to think so far ahead with points when he has 25 seconds to decide a play call. But I have to admit that immediately after Pine scored to make it 28-27, I thought they should go for two because I knew the points situation.

Here goes why Pine should've gone for two:

* If the Rams convert, they are ahead, 29-28. Maybe they win, which would clinch first. But even if Central goes down and scores, Central Catholic might kick the extra point and win, 35-29. In that case, Pine-Richland would have 51 tiebreaker points and could not be caught, no matter what Central Catholic does against Butler. Then, by virtue of beating Central Catholic earlier this year, North Allegheny would be second and Central third.

* If Pine-Richland went for two and didn't convert, Central Catholic probably would have taken over and simply tried to get a first down - and not a score - to run out the clock. If Pine-Richland lost, 28-27, Pine would still finish first by virtue of more tiebreaker points.

Bottom line is this: If Pine-Richland would've lost by six or less, it would win the conference's No. 1 seed. Central Catholic would've fallen to third. 

Does it mean much? Well, it will mean a slightly higher seed in the WPIAL playoffs for Central.

Wise for 1,000

It has been mentioned this year that Pine-Richland sophomore sensation Phil Jurkovec has a good chance to become only the third quarterback in WPIAL history to run and pass for 1,000 yards in the regular season.

But there's another quarterback likely to accomplish the feat.

Beaver's Darius Wise (pictured) needs only 56 yards passing to reach 1,000. He already has 1,000 rushing.

Penn-Trafford ranks

Penn-Trafford has moved into the Post-Gazette state rankings at No. 5 in Class AAAA. This is the Warriors' first appearance in the P-G top five. Central Dauphin, near Harrisburg, was No. 2 but dropped out after a 24-21 loss to Cumberland Valley.

In the WPIAL rankings, Central Catholic is now No. 3 in AAAA, Pine-Richland 4 and North Allegheny 5.


1. Woodland Hills 8-0
2. Penn-Trafford 8-0
3. Central Catholic 7-1
4. Pine-Richland 7-1
5. North Allegheny 7-1

1. West Allegheny 7-1
2. Belle Vernon 8-0
3. Central Valley 7-1
4. Franklin Regional 7-1
5. Ringgold 7-1

1. Aliquippa 8-0
2. South Fayette 8-0
3. Beaver Falls 8-0
4. Washington 8-0
5. Steel Valley 7-1

1. Clairton 8-0
2. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 8-0
3. Jeannette 7-1
4. Shenango 7-1
5. Frazier 8-0

1. Allderdice 4-4
2. Brashear 5-3
3. University Prep 5-3


1. Woodland Hills 8-0
2. Downingtown East 8-0
3. Upper Dublin 8-0
4. West Lawn Wilson 7-1
5. Penn-Trafford 8-0

1. Imhotep Charter 8-0
2. Archbishop Wood 8-0
3. West Allegheny 7-1
4. Conneaut 8-0
5. Bethlehem Catholic 7-1

1. Aliquippa 8-0
2. South Fayette 8-0
3. Wyomissing 8-0
4. Berks Catholic 8-0
5. Southern Columbia 8-0

1. Clairton 8-0
2. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 8-0
3. Sharpsville 8-0
4. Camp Hill 8-0
5. Guilfoyle 8-0 


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Live Friday blog - Central Catholic beats Pine-Richland, 35-28

Written by Mike White on .

Live blog from the Post-Gazette Game of the Week - Central Catholic at Pine-Richland. For score updates and notes from other games, check to the right of this blog at @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter. If you have a score or update, tweet it with #wpial and tag @PGVarsityXtra.


Game report with highlights, interviews, analysis and other news from around WPIAL.

Central wins it on a 16-yard QB sneak by Troy Fisher for a TD


This is stuff legends are made of. Phil Jurkovec long run and then spins out of a sack and runs 6 yards for TD. PAT good by Gill.

10:15 Pine-Richland takes over at Central 32 with 3:43 left after 17 yard punt.

10:11 Ronnie Jones 90 yard punt return to P-R 5. Block in back by Central. It's coming back. First at 20.

10:08 Pine-Richland takes over at its own 47. Game is living up to billing.


Fourth down play. 11 yard TD pass Jurkovec to Jordan Crawford. 


Pine-Richland has used quick kicks often the past few years with its QB. This one backfired. Phil Jurkovec's quick kick was blocked by Central Catholic's David Adams. Central recovered at the Pine 32. Four plays later, Damar Hamlin, noted as a top DB, caught an 18-yard TD pass from Fisher.


Central driving at Pine-Richland 18.

9:38 Pine doesn't do much with turnover and then quick kick by Phil Jurkovec is blocked by David Adams. Central takes over at P-R 32.

9:35 Pass intercepted by Jimmy Graf. Pine takes over at 19.


Now things are interesting. 47 yards in 5 plays for Pine-Richland. Jurkovec hits Brandon Humphrey for 25 yard TD pass.

9:23 Two possessions, two punts so far in second half.


First-half stats: Ronnie Jones 75 yards on 12 attempts. Troy Fisher 4 of 9 for 112 yards.

For Pine-Richland, Jurkovec is 16 of 25 for 141 yards and has rushed eight times for 40 yards.

Jurkovec's favorite target has been his brother. Tom Jurkovec has six catches for 95 yards.

Half ends on Phil Jurkovec 25-yard run.


Pine-Richland gets a break and takes advantage. Central Catholic fumbles the ball away and Colin Shaffer recovers at the Central 11. Then on fourth-and-2, Jurkovec runs option, pitches to Jim Graf, who runs for touchdown.

8:34 Right  now Central Catholic dominating.


Who said Central Catholic does not have a passing game? Troy Fisher throws a beauty. 73 yards to Jake McKee. Rocchi PAT and Central takes a 21-0 lead. Maybe that Pine--Richland defense was indeed suspect.

8:24 Pine-Richland turns it over on downs. Third down pass incomplete. Critical series coming up for Pine. Run defense must step up.

8:22 Pine-Richland faces a fourth and 8 at the Central Catholic 27. Jurkovec hasn't had much room to run and that Central Catholic secondary, filled with Division I guys, is doing an admirable job.


Central Catholic needs only five plays to go 58 yards. Has to be one of the "biggest" tight ends around. Rashad Wheeler, 6-2, 280, a Pitt recruit, catches 12-yard TD pass from Troy Fisher.

8:11 Central Catholic has a Football Jones. Ron Jones 35 yards to Pine 15.

8:10 By the way packed house here.


8:05 Pine goes three and out. Not much running room for Jurkovec tonight. Central takes over at its 31.


Vinny where have you been? First carry for Vinny Emanuele takes it 24 yards for TD. PAT good by Rocchi. Vikings lead with 3:32.

7:58 Timeout with Central on the move. Vikings picked up their first two first downs of night. 22-yard pass from Fisher to Garner puts ball at P-R 24. First complete pass of night for Central.

7:48 Central goes three and out again. Pine-Richland takes over at own 47. Central has seemed to go to the run more the past few games. So far, 0 for 2 passing.

7:45 Mistake by Jurkovec. Throws into double coverage. Pass intercepted at 10-yard line by Gunnar Frerotte. Only second INT of the year for Jurkovec. Pine-Richland had driven to the Central 25.

7:42 Central goes three and out. Pine-Richland takes over at own 31 and already picks up first down.

Gateway in trouble. Trailing Armstrong 10-0.

7:32 Late start cause of TV.  

7:31 Late start. Teams not even on field yet. 

Meanwhile, are you kidding me. I just tweeted this. Never been at a refreshment stand that had Vanilla Wafer cookies. Had to get them.

Now Rob King and Chris Schneider are mooching them. Telling ya, Vanilla Wafers would be a hit at a lot of refreshment stands.

Interesting. Plum and Penn-Trafford tied, 7-7, after the first.

Important Class AA game. Apolo-Ridge and Deer Lakes tied, 7-7, after first.

7:10 Game is live on Root Sports TV. Rob King and Chris Schneider handling play-by-play and color commentary. What doesn't Rob King know about? Pirates, Pens, Pitt, ... high school. Impressive. He goes deep, just like his drives in golf.

Robby Incmikoski sideline reporter. He's usually in dugout at Pirate games. But talking to him last week, he really likes the high school stuff. Nice to hear.

And then there is Schneider, obviously the best football player of the three, right?? Ha ha. Played at Penn-Trafford and Pitt, but doesn't look as rough as he used to. Maybe getting soft with age.

Might make you think you are at a college when you look at Pine-Richland press box.

Pine-Rich press box


A lot of talk coming in about Pine-Richland sophomore QB Phil Jurkovec. But Central Catholic has a pretty good sophomore also in Troy Fisher who is 6-4, 200. He's not quite Jurkovec, but pretty good himself.

While Phil Jurkovec has thrust himself into the spotlight in his first season as a starter, let's not forget about his older brother. Geez, all you hear about is Phil. And rightly so. But what about big bro? Tom Jurkovec is a starting H-Back for the Rams and also starts at linebacker. A senior.

There is so much talk about Central Catholic's defense being able to control Jurkovec. I think key to the game is Pine-Richland's defense against Central's running game.

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A dozen predictions to go for Week 8 ..... Central gets nod over Pine

Written by Mike White on .

Tonight's live blog will come from the Post-Gazette Game of the Week - Central Catholic at Pine-Richland. For score updates, notes and photos from other games, look to the right of this blog at @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter. If you have a score or note, tweet with #wpial and tag @PGVarsityXtra.

Only two more weeks left in the regular season, and Week 8 brings two gigantic Class AAAA games - Central Catholic at Pine-Richland, and Mt. Lebanon at Woodland Hills.

I just got out of the bakery and they had "Dozen Predictions To Go" ready for me in a nice white box with white string on it. 

The record last week was 10-2, which put the season mark at 65-19 (.773 percentage). Here is a look at this week's top games:

Central Catholic at Pine-Richland - There was an overflow crowd at Pine-Richland when the Rams hosted North Allegheny earlier this year. This will probably be the same. The most obvious key in this game is Central Catholic's defense against Pine-Richland stud sophomore QB Phil Jurkovec. Central Catholic has all those Division I players on defense, but can they control Jurkovec? But I really think they key to this game is Pine-Richland's run defense. Plus, Central needs to complete a few big passes. If Central Catholic runs the ball well, Central will win. Winner: Central Catholic.

Mt. Lebanon at Woodland Hills - Kudos to coach Mike Melnyk for getting Mt. Lebanon to an undefeated record so far. But I still have some questions about Mt. Lebanon's defense. Winner: Woodland Hills.

Armstrong at Gateway - The two teams are tied for fifth place in the Greater Allegheny Conference with 3-3 records. Remember, five teams from the conference go to the playoffs. Armstrong has Zane Dudek, the No. 2 rusher in the WPIAL. Can Gateway control him? Winner: Armstrong.

Mars at Hollidaysburg - Another big one in the Greater Allegheny. Another big win for Mars. Winner: Mars.

Seton-LaSalle at South Fayette - It seems like Seton-LaSalle has been forgotten after the loss to South Fayette. Remember, Seton-LaSalle has only one loss. Seton is good, but South Fayette is still on a different level. Winner: South Fayette


West Mifflin over Trinity; Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic over Bishop Canevin; Apollo-Ridge over Deer Lakes; Aliquippa over Mount Pleasant; Jeannette over Bentworth.

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