Bracketology: Friday losses might cost teams No. 1 seeds

Written by Mike White on .

Friday was the final night of WPIAL section play, and two games might have seriously altered the seedings in Class AAAA and Class A.

Hempfield lost to Latrobe in Class AAAA while Vincentian lost to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in Class A. Both Hempfield and Vincentian entered the game ranked No. 1 in their respective classes by the Post-Gazette. The WPIAL announces playoff pairings and seedings Tuesday night. The losses could cost Hempfield and Vincentian No. 1 seeds.

I probably would have made Hempfield the No. 1 seed before the loss to Latrobe. Now, I think the WPIAL drops Hempfield down to the No. 4 seed. Hempfield is a good team, but certainly not great. Hempfield is 19-2 and actually tied Latrobe for the Section 1 title.

The team now in line for the No. 1 seed is North Allegheny. The Tigers are 18-2. But wait. North Allegheny still has to play North Hills tonight in the final Section 3 game. Remember, North Hills beat North Allegheny the first time around. If North Allegheny wins, I say the Tigers get the No. 1 seed - and here's why: North Allegheny owns a victory against Mt. Lebanon, which tied Chartiers Valley for the Section 4 title.

So if North Allegheny wins tonight, I say the top four seeds are North Allegheny, Chartiers Valley, Mt. Lebanon and Hempfield. If the WPIAL wants to break up Chartiers Valley and Mt. Lebanon, the league could put Hempfield No. 3 and Mt. Lebanon No. 4. Now who goes to the fifth seed? Should it be Plum or McKeesport, who tied for the Section 2 title? But what about Pine-Richland, the second-place team in Section 3 that owns victories against North Allegheny and Mt. Lebanon? Also, what do you do with Latrobe? If they tied Hempfield for the section title, shouldn't Latrobe be seeded near Hempfield? Also, remember that Hempfield beat both Plum and McKeesport. But Latrobe lost to Plum.

There is no doubt Class AAAA will be the toughest for the WPIAL to seed. In Class A, a major question is who gets the No. 1 seed, Vincentian or Sewickely Academy? Vincentian is 14-8, but seven of the Royals' losses are to teams in higher classifications, including AAA and AAAA teams. The Royals played a tremendous schedule and shouldn't get penalized for playing tough teams. Sewickley Academy's non-section schedule wasn't even close to Vincentian's. But Sewickley Academy made it through the season undefeated and beat all Class A teams it faced. That should count for something. But the thing is, Sewickley Academy didn't play a Class A team as good as Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

I say the No. 1 seed goes to Sewickely Academy.

Tomorrow, I will give you more seeds and predicted first-round pairings. But for today, here are the predicted top four seeds in each class:

QUAD-A - 1. North Allegheny. 2. Chartiers Valley. 3. Mt. Lebanon. 4. Hempfield. This is based on North Allegheny beating North Hills tonight. If North Hills wins, it should be: 1. Chartiers Valley. 2. North Allegheny. 3. Mt. Lebanon. 4. Hempfield.

CLASS AAA - 1. Mars. 2. Beaver Falls. 3. Indiana. 4. West Mifflin.

CLASS AA - 1. Aliquippa. 2. Lincoln Park. 3. Seton-LaSalle. 4. Greensburg Central Catholic.

CLASS A - 1. Sewickley Academy. 2. Vincentian. 3. Monessen. 4. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

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Duquesne women offer scholarship to seventh-grader

Written by Mike White on .

The Duquesne University women's basketball team already has one Blackhawk High School player in its recruiting class. Chassidy Omogrosso is a Blackhawk senior, one of the WPIAL's top players and signed with Duquesne in November.

Now Duquesne is after another player from the Blackhawk school district. But this one is in seventh grade.

And she's only 12 years old and stands 5 feet 1.

Yes, Duquesne has offered a scholarship to a seventh-grader. Mackenzie Amalia is two years away from high school, but Duquesne coach Dan Burt recently offered her a scholarship. Think of it. A girl has her first scholarship offer before she becomes a teenager.

This is not a joke, or publicity stunt. Actually, it's not all that unusual for the Duquesne women. In the spring of 2013, Burt offered a scholarship to Desiree Oliver of Penn Hills. She was in eighth grade at the time.

Amalia, a point guard, obviously is a talented player. She attended the Duquesne women's camp last summer and Burt liked her there. Amalia and her family were invited to attend a Duquesne game recently. Burt met with Amalia and her family after the game and offered the scholarship.

You may be scratching your head at Duquesne's move, especially when you consider Amalia is 5-1. What if she doesn't grow much more?

Is the whole thing crazy? Maybe. But this is the way of the recruiting world nowadays. College coaches in various sports recruit kids earlier and earlier, for better or worse. I'm waiting for the first Tee-ball player to be offered. It can't be far off, right?

There are no NCAA rules pertaining to when a college can offer a scholarship to an athlete. There have been numerous stories in the past few years of a college offering a scholarship to kids who weren't in high school yet. A few years ago, when Lane Kiffin was the football coach at Southern California, he offered a scholarship to David Sills, a talented seventh-grade quarterback from Delaware.

As for Amalia, she has not accepted the scholarship offer from Duquesne. Her older sister, Madison, is a talented sophomore player on the Blackhawk girls team, the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA champion. The Amalias father is Bob Amalia, highly successful baseball coach at Blackhawk. Bob Amalia is a former basketball assistant coach at Blackhawk under John Miller and is in his first season as a Blackhawk girls assistant.

The Amalias are trying to downplay Duquesne's offer.

"We're humbled, but we're not making a big deal out of it," said Bob Amalia. 

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WPIAL basketball playoff picture

Written by Mike White on .

This is the final weekend of section play in WPIAL basketball, and only a few playoff spots are open in both boys and girls.

Here is how the playoffs work: The top four teams in each section qualify. If there is a tie for fourth, head-to-head competition breaks the tie. If teams tied for fourth and split two section games, they both qualify.

If there is a three-way tie for fourth, head-to-head competition again breaks the tie. Head-to-head competition also breaks a three-way tie for third.

Teams that have already clinched playoff spots are fighting for seeds. This could change, but right now I have Hempfield, Mars, Aliquippa and Vincentian as the No. 1 seeds for their respective classes.

The WPIAL will announce playoff pairings and seeds Tuesday night. The playoffs will start next Friday.

Here are the teams that have clinched playoff spots, and also scenarios for teams still alive.


CLASS AAAA - (Section 1) Hempfield, Latrobe, Norwin, Penn-Trafford (pictured is Hempfield star guard Kason Harrell). (2) Plum, McKeesport, Fox Chapel, Gateway.Kason Harrell (3) North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, North Hills. The winner of Seneca Valley vs. Butler also qualifies. (4) Mt. Lebanon, Chartiers Valley, Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair.

CLASS AAA – (1) Mars, Hampton, Knoch, Highlands. (2) Beaver Falls, New Castle, Ambridge, Central Valley. (3) Indiana, Southmoreland, Greensburg Salem, West Shamokin. (4) West Mifflin, Uniontown, Steel Valley, Laurel Highlands. (5) South Fayette, South Park, Montour, West Allegheny. Also, Trinity can make it, but only if it beats McGuffey, and West Allegheny loses to Montour.

CLASS AA – (1) Lincoln Park, Laurel, Neshannock, Riverside. (2) Greensburg Central Catholic, Apollo-Ridge, Shady Side Academy, Ford City. (3) Seton-LaSalle, Bishop Canevin, Washington, Chartiers-Houston. Also, Burgettstown can qualify, but only if it beats Washington and Chartiers-Houston loses to Fort Cherry. (4) Charleroi, Brownsville, Waynesburg, Frazier. (5) Aliquippa, Quaker Valley, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Avonworth.

CLASS A – (1) Sewickley Academy, Cornell, Union, Eden Christian. (2) Vincentian, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Riverview. Also, If St. Joseph’s beats Leechburg, St. Joseph's qualifies. If Leechburg wins and Riverview beats Springdale, then both St. Joe’s and Leechburg qualify. If Leechburg wins, and Springdale beats Riverview, then just Leechburg qualifies. Springdale can’t make it at all. (3) Monessen, California, Geibel, Jefferson-Morgan. (4) Jeannette, Clairton, Winchester Thurston, Imani Christian, Serra.


CLASS AAAA – (Section 1) Penn-Trafford, Norwin, Hempfield, Latrobe. (2) Penn Hills, McKeesport, Gateway, Plum. (3) North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Shaler, Seneca Valley. Also, Butler can qualify if it beats Seneca Valley tomorrow. (4) Bethel Park, Baldwin, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair.

Chassidy OmogrossoCLASS AAA – (1) Mars, Hampton, Ford City. Also, If Deer Lakes beats Highlands tonight, Deer Lakes qualfies. If Highlands wins tonight, Highlands qualifies. Kittanning is still alive also. (2) Blackhawk, Ambridge, Beaver. (pictured is Blackhawk star guard Chassidy Omogrosso). Also, Hopewell and Ellwood City are alive for the other spot. If they both win or both lose tonight, they both go because they split in head-to-head. If one wins and the other loses, the winner goes. (3) Indiana, Mount Pleasant, Greensburg Salem, Derry. (4) Elizabeth Forward, Belle Vernon, South Park, Ringgold. Thomas Jefferson can qualify but only if it wins tonight and Ringgold loses to South Park. (5) Chartiers Valley, McGuffey, South Fayette, Trinity.

CLASS AA – (1) Neshannock, Mohawk, Riverside, Shenango. (2) Burrell, Greensburg Central Catholic, Shady Side Academy, West Shamokin. Also, if Apollo-Ridge beats West Shamokin, then Apollo-Ridge also qualifies. (3) Seton-LaSalle, Bishop Canevin, Chartiers-Houston, Brentwood. (4) Frazier, Washington, Beth-Center, Charleroi. (5) Carlynton, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Freedom, Avonworth. Also, South Side Beaver is still alive, but can make it only if it beats Freedom, and Avonworth loses to Northgate.

CLASS A – (1) Quigley, Aliquippa, Cornell, Sewickley Academy. (2) Vincentian, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Riverview. Also, the winner of Leechburg vs. St. Joseph's tonight will most likely qualify, provided Vincentian beats Leechburg Friday, and St. Joseph beats Springdale Saturday. 3) California, Jefferson-Morgan, Geibel, Fort Cherry. (4) Serra, Imani Christian, Winchester Thurston, Ellis School.

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Signing day blog -- Notes, lists, etc.

Written by Mike White on .

Today is the first day high school seniors can sign a letter-of-intent with a college. Here are recruiting notes, with updates throughout the day.

5:33 Slippery Rock University recruits from the WPIAL: Mike Merhaut, Pine-Richland (WR and P-G Fabulous 22 pick), Trevor Salopek, Mount Pleasant (WR), Cody Allen, Penn Hills (DE), Preston Johnson, Central Valley (LB), Adam Ottaviano, Seton-LaSalle (LB).

4:30 West Virginia had its best recruiting class under Dana Holgorsen. Rated No. 25 by Rivals.

4:15 Lot of question today about DE Byron Cowart, ESPN's No. 1 player in country. He announced for Auburn this morning. But never sent in his letter of intent to Auburn until late this afternoon. Mystery over.

4:05 Penn State's class is ranked No. 15 in the country right now. Lot of happiness in Happy Valley. Four PSU recruits are from the WPIAL. 

Two flipped from Pitt - Kittanning TE Nick Bowers and Altoona DE-LB Kevin Givens.

3:55 Pitt's recruiting class has six WPIAL players, including Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead. Rated the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania, Whitehead (pictured) is the prize in this year's class.

Don't judge Pat Narduzzi as a recruiter based on this year's class. It's more of an indication of Paul Chryst as a recruiter. It's certainly not a stellar class. Ranked in the 40s to 50s nationally. Chryst's class last year was ranked in the 40s. Two years ago 35 by

Pitt's team was very young last season, but if it is to get over these .500 seasons, recruiting must get better. One of the problems, though, is that the WPIAL talent pool is shrinking.

A total of 21 players from the WPIAL were expected to sign today with Division I-A colleges. That is extremely low. And of those 21, five were headed to the service academies.

Two years ago, only 18 players went to I-A colleges.

3:35 Riley Redman signs with Duquesne. A good running back who was not eligible to play this season at Central Catholic because he was over the age limit. 

A very nice class for Duquesne. Signed three Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 seniors. That's as many as Pitt and Penn State signed. Don't know if that says there wasn't a ton of talent in WPIAL this year, or Duquesne got some very good players.

11:32 UCLA putting together a top class. Up to No. 13 in rankings.

11:10 - Ringgold QB Nico Law ended up signing with Gannon. His brother plays there. Nico got some interest from Pitt late and visited Pitt this past weekend. But no offer. Signed with Gannon.

10:48 - Beaver Falls sophomore lineman Donovan Jeter tweeted that Penn State has offered. That makes offers from Pitt and Penn State. Also a good basketball player, but football looks to be his future.

Already at least 7 or 8 WPIAL sophomores with Division I offers.

10:47 - Here is a list of WPIAL players who are headed to Division I-AA colleges. If we are missing anyone, let us know. Will develop throughout the day.


ALBANY - Eli Mencer, Altoona (RB).

COLGATE – T.J. Holl, Seneca Valley (QB-LB).

DARTMOUTH – Zach Sammartino, North Hills (OL).

DELAWARE – Arrington Gibson, Aliquippa (OL-DL).

DUQUESNE – Zack Blystone, Washington (OL); Brett Brumbaugh, South Fayette (QB); Chayse Dillon, West Allegheny (RB-LB); P.J. Fulmore, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (RB-DB); D'Ondre Gastion, Pine-Richland (WR-DB); Ricky Mellick, Seton-LaSalle (WR-DB); Riley Redman, Central Catholic (RB); Gabe Spurlock, Mars (OL-DL).

HARVARD - Richie Ryan, Central Catholic.

INDIANA STATE – Trey Blandford, Penn-Trafford (DE); Raymone Clifford, Clairton (LB); John Horner, Gateway (DB).

JAMES MADISON – Cory Owen, Peters Township (QB); Riley Stapleton, Indiana (WR).

LEHIGH – Jake Scott, Peters Township (LB).

MASSACHUSETTS - Marshall Robinson, Mars (DL).

ROBERT MORRIS – Andrew Romanchak, Freeport (QB); Mike Roper, Chartiers Valley (TE); Malik Wells, Washington (RB).

ST. FRANCIS, PA. – Ben Bruni, Mt. Lebanon (LB); Andrew Koester, West Allegheny (QB); Sean Orsini, West Allegheny (LB); DeShaun Roberts, Lackawanna Community College, Brashear High School (WR-DB).

WILLIAM & MARY - Chris Conlan, Quaker Valley (WR).

YOUNGSTOWN STATE – Armand Dellovade, West Allegheny (LB); Cole McKenry, North Allegheny (OL); Mike Nash, Woodland Hills (DB); Christian Randell-Posey, Penn Hills (LB).


10:05 UCLA making a push for top 10 recruiting class. A few big pick ups.

10:02 Big get for Auburn. DE Byron Cowart, ranked the No. 1 recruit in the country by, announced for Auburn.

10:00 Just saw Pitt's recruiting class ranked 10th in the ACC by ESPN. 

Certainly do not judge Pat Narduzzi's recruiting ability on this class. But no doubt, Narduzzi has to recrui better than Paul Chryst if the Panthers are to be more than 6-6 teams.

8:18 - The six WPIAL players who were committed to Pitt have all signed. They are Jordan Whitehead, Tony Pilato, Ben DiNucci, Dane Jackson, Alex Paulina and Tre Tipton.

First, the local list of recruits. As far as Division I-A talent goes, it was not a very good year in the WPIAL.

Heading into today, only 22 players from the WPIAL were expected to sign with I-A colleges, and that includes five to Army and Navy. Here are the 21:

PITT – Ben DiNucci, Pine-Richland (QB, 6-3, 192); Dane Jackson, Quaker Valley (QB-DB, 6-1, 180, Sr.); Alex Paulina, Canon-McMillan (OL-DL, 6-3, 280); Tony Pilato, Hempfield (OT-DL, 6-7, 290); Tre Tipton, Apollo-Ridge (WR-DL, 6-1, 175); Jordan Whitehead, Central Valley (RB-DB, 6-0, 195).

PENN STATE – Nick Bowers, Kittanning (WR-TE-LB, 6-4, 250); Kevin Givens, Altoona (FB-LB, 6-3, 230); Sterling Jenkins, Baldwin (OT-DT, 6-8, 301); Johnny Petrishen, Central Catholic (DB, 6-2, 195).

ARMY – Eric McAllister, Central Catholic (OL, 6-1, 275); Connor Slomka, Pine-Richland (RB-LB, 6-1, 210).

CENTRAL FLORIDA – Tyler Hudanick, Seneca Valley (OL, 6-5, 295).

EASTERN MICHIGAN - Bryan Glover, Central Catholic (LB, 6-2, 205).

KENT STATE - Mike Marinelli, Hampton (OL, 6-4, 280).

MARYLAND – Brett Zanotto, Franklin Regional (RB-LB, 6-1, 215).

NAVY – Mike Pifer, Penn-Trafford (C, 6-4, 215); Aleksei Yaramus, Moon (QB, 6-2, 210); Niko Yaramus (OL-DL, 6-3, 285).

OLD DOMINION – Devin Hannan, Belle Vernon (OL, 6-4, 270).

TOLEDO – Art Thompkins, Woodland Hills (RB, 5-10, 170); Danzel McKinley-Lewis, Seton-LaSalle (WR-DB, 6-0, 180).


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Central Catholic's Petrishen chooses Penn State

Written by Mike White on .

Central Catholic defensive back Johnny Petrishen today "tweeted" a photo of himself holding a Penn State jersey, with Penn State coach James Franklin and assistant Terry Smith at his side.

Next football season, Petrishen will wear a Penn State jersey for real.

Johnny PetrishenPetrishen, one of the top defensive backs in the state, announced on his Twitter account that he had made a verbal commitment to Penn State.

Petrishen had narrowed his choices to Pitt, Penn State and Virginia. He visited Penn State last weekend and Pitt two weekends ago. 

Petrishen is yet another top Pennsylvania landed by Penn State. It is not considered a great year for talent in the state, but Penn State gobbled up most of the top talent. The Nittany Lions have 10 high school recruits from the state. ranks six players in Pennsylvania as 4-star prospects. Penn State landed four of them.

Petrishen is rated as a 3-star prospect. He was an outstanding all-around player for Central Catholic, making all-state and the Post-Gazette Fabulous 22. Known as a talented defensive back, he also played running back/quarterback for the final two games and rushed for 381 yards in those two games, often taking direct snaps in the wildcat formation.

Maybe Petrishen will also return kicks for Penn State. He was one of the best kick returners in the WPIAL in decades. As a junior and senior, Petrishen returned seven punts for touchdowns and one kickoff. As a senior he returned four punts for touchdowns and also intercepted four passes.


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