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Aliquippa football deals with two players being charged with homicide

Written by Mike White on .

 

Is it cruel irony? After all, a 550-page book about the town of Aliquippa, steel industry and the Quips football program was released today – the same day as coach Mike Zmijanac and the Quips were hit with the news that two players have been charged with criminal homicide.

The book, written by Sports Illustrated wirter S.L. Price, is titled “Playing Through The Whistle – Steel, Football and an American Town.

But last night, Aliquippa players Ron Foster and Deontae Jones, both seniors and both 17, were booked and charged as adults in the fatal shooting Sept. 29 of Cade Booher in the 1100 block of Wade St. in Aliquippa. Both Deontae Joneswere arraigned this morning and bail was denied. The two are charged with homicide, robbery and conspiracy in connection with Booher’s death. (Jones is pictured, No. 21, trying to make a tackle against Beaver Falls earlier this season)

Meanwhile, Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier told the Post-Gazette’s Jonathan Silver that a third defendant and suspected triggerman, Lawrence “Pooh Rat” Reddick Jr., remains at large. The DA’s office said the three defendants conspired to rob Cade of marijuana and money. Reddick is not an Aliquippa player.

Aliquippa should be eagerly looking forward to Friday night’s big game against Clairton. It is a long-awaited game, one that most likely will be a sellout at Clairton. Instead, Zmijanac is answering questions about players in a murder investigation. I’ve always called Aliquippa one of the best places because of some of the people there, their work ethic and the town’s love of sports. But I’ve also said it’s one of the worst. This day is an example of both sides.

It’s a sad story for an Aliquippa program that has the best winning percentage of any WPIAL team over the past 32 years. Zmijanac, one of the best coaches in WPIAL history and also the school’s athletic director, said the news of Foster and Jones was “distressing.”

“First of all, I want to say my heart goes out to the families of all these kids, both the ones who got hurt and the ones who have been arrested,” said Zmijanac. “Quite obviously, these were young men doing the wrong thing. You hear so much about these things going on, but when it hits close to you, it makes it even worse.”

Both Foster and Jones are first-year players at Aliquippa. Foster transferred to Aliquippa in the spring and Jones transferred from Ambridge in August. Foster was seeing considerable playing time and started last Friday’s game against South Park.

Due to the players being new, Zmijanac (pictured) said he didn’t know either one extensively.

“They seemed like typical kids for us, but who knows what’s going on when they’re not around the football program,” said Zmijanac. “It’s distressing because they’re supposed to be just kid. It’s not supposed to be a grown-up world for them yet. Unfortunately, these are the ordeals of our society right now.”

This is yet another horrible day in what has been a trying few months for the Aliquippa program. In August, the Quips learned talented running back DiMantae Bronaugh won’t be able to play this season because of the return of leukemia. In July, an Aliquippa player died. In late spring, former Aliquippa QB Sjavante Gilliam, a Marine veteran with a Purple Heart, was shot and killed in Aliquippa.

“It’s been difficult, just as a human story,” said Zmijanac.

Aliquippa has a long-awaited game Friday against Clairton. The game likely will be a sellout.

“We preach all the time to our players about just be a kid while you still have a chance,” said Zmijanac. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to deal with this. It’s bad news because these are people you known. We’ll move on to the best of our ability.”

 

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Penn Hills' Oliver commits to Temple

Written by Mike White on .

Desiree Oliver got her first college scholarship offer when she was in eighth grade. But she waited four years to make her decision.

Oliver, a talented 5-foot-7 senior guard on the Penn Hills High School basketball team, made a verbal commitment Friday to Temple.

Duquesne was the first to offer Oliver a scholarship when she was an eighth-grader. But Oliver made her final decision among Temple, LSU and George Washington. She visited all three schools recently.

Temple recruited Oliver as a “combo guard,” one who can play point or shooting guard. She is ranked the No. 94 player in the country by ESPN’s HoopGurlz.com. Oliver was a member of the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 a year ago after averaging 18.8 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals a game. She shot 44 percent from 3-point range and enters her senior season with 1,177 career points.

Oliver is one of two top 100 players in the country this season. The other is Sam Breen, a 6-2 senior forward at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic. Breen has already made a verbal commitment to Dayton.

Both Oliver and Breen will sign a letter of intent during the NCAA’s week-long early signing period in November.

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Friday Night Countdown: Week 5 predictions

Written by Mike White on .

The Post-Gazette Game of the Week is Pine-Richland vs. Central Catholic at Highmark Stadium. Follow @mwhiteburgh on Twitter for updates. Follow @BrianBatko for updates on Beaver vs. Central Valley. Can CV slow down Darius Wise? Follow @PGVarsityXtra for updates and notes on all games.

A large crowd is expected for the Pine-Richland vs. Central Catholic game at Highmark Stadium. That place is a great setting, but it's not the biggest place for big games. 

Two years ago, the Pine vs. Central game at Highmark was sold out by the middle of the week. But this one was not sold out as of last night. So if you are going, it looks like there should be tickets tonight. But that doesn't guarantee it won't be sold out at some point tonight.

Dozen predictions to go

Fresh from Schorr's Bakery in West View is a fresh batch of a dozen predictions. Was 10-2 last week, which brought the season record to 42-18 (.700 pct.). Here the picks on this weekend's top games:

Central Catholic over Pine-Richland - Phil Jurkovec had a down week throwing the ball last week. I say he bounces back. I keep saying Central Catholic's lines might be the difference, but QB Troy Fischer was big in last year's game. Who do I have the feeling he might be again?

Beaver over Central Valley - A typical Mark Lyons team, meaning Central Valley seems to be getting better as the season goes on. But now the Warriors must deal with that Wise guy. No way Darius Wise gets close to 500 yards in this game. This isn't KO's defense. But Beaver gets another win. 

New Castle over Mars - The big key in this game is can Mars stop New Castle's big plays? Mars also would like to control the football with its running game.

Rochester over Northgate - Really a tough game to pick. I like both teams. I can't give a good reason for my pick other than I just threw a nickel in the air and it came up ... Rochester.

Other games - Thomas Jefferson over Ringgold; North Allegheny over Mt. Lebanon; Bethel Park over Hempfield; West Allegheny over Kiski Area; Neshannock over Laurel; Jeannette over Bishop Canevin; Seton-LaSalle over Apollo-Ridge; Freeport over Burrell.

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Former Steeler Aaron Smith to coach hoops at NA ..... more football rankings

Written by Mike White on .

You can see former Steeler Aaron Smith on the bench at North Allegheny boys basketball games this year.

Smith, who played 13 years for the Steelers, will be part of the staff of new North Allegheny coach Keith Noltz, who was hired in June. Noltz replaced Dave DeGregorio, who resigned in April. DeGregorio is now an assistant at Hampton.

Smith will be a volunteer assistant coach at North Allegheny. He already has been attending workouts with North Allegheny's team. Smith was a talented basketball at Sierra High School in Colorado. (Smith is pictured after sacking Peyton Manning). He went on to play football at the University of Northern Colorado.

"He was a good basketball player and he's a good basketball coach, too," said Bob Bozzuto, North Allegheny's athletic director. "We're very fortunate to have him. He's a quality guy."

Smith also is a volunteer assistant coach with the Marshall Middle School football team. Marshall is part of the North Allegheny district.

It will be an interesting basketball season for North Allegheny. The Tigers certainly have some talent and Noltz has an impressive resume, including more than a decade as an assistant coach at Division I colleges. His head coaching experience on the high school level was most recently at Canton McKinley from 2011-14. In 2012, he guided the Bulldogs to the elite 8 of the Ohio state tournament in Division I, the largest classification in Ohio.

More state rankings

The Post-Gazette releases its state football rankings every Sunday. But if you want to see another opinion, here are the state rankings by Pennlive.com (Harrisburg Patriot News):

CLASS 6A

1. St. Joseph’s Prep (12) - 4-0 - 1
2. Pittsburgh C.C. (7) - 4-1 - 2
3. Pine-Richland (7) - 4-1 - 3
4. North Penn (1) - 5-0 - 4
5. Neshaminy (1) - 5-0 - 5
6. Central Dauphin (3) - 4-0 - 6
7. State College (6) - 4-0 - 7
8. McDowell (10) - 4-1 - 8
9. Cumberland Valley (3) - 9
10. Emmaus (11) - 5-0 - 10
Teams to watch: Central Bucks South (1) 5-0, Parkland (11) 4-1, Perkiomen Valley (1) 5-0, Spring-Ford (1) 4-1, Wilson (3) 3-1.

 

CLASS 5A

1. Upper St. Clair (7) - 4-0 - 1
2. Penn-Trafford (7) - 5-0 - 2
3. Archbishop Wood (12) - 1-2 - 3
4. Manheim Central (3) - 4-0 - 4
5. Academy Park (1) - 5-0 - 5
6. Woodland Hills (7) - 4-1 - 6
7. Upper Dublin (1) - 4-0 - 7
8. West Allegheny (7) - 4-0 - 9
9. McKeesport (7) - 3-1 - 10

10. Cedar Cliff (3) - 4-0 -- NR
Teams to watch: Armstrong (7) 4-1, Bishop Shanahan (1) 5-0, Great Valley (1) 4-1, Grove City (10) 4-0, Whitehall (11) 3-2.

CLASS 4A

1. Imhotep Charter (12) - 4-0 - 1
2. Cathedral Prep (10) - 5-0 - 2
3. Thomas Jefferson (7) - 4-0 - 3
4. South Fayette (7) - 5-0 - 4
5. Belle Vernon (7) - 4-0 - 5
6. Berks Catholic (3) - 4-0 - 6
7. Greater Johnstown (6) - 5-0 - 7
8. Bethlehem Catholic (11) - 4-1 - 8
9. North Pocono (2) - 5-0 - NR
10. New Castle (7) - 4-1 - NR
Teams to watch: Cardinal O’Hara (12) 5-0, Clearfield (9) 4-1, Interboro (1) 4-1, West Mifflin (7) 5-0, Wyoming Area (2) 4-1.

 

CLASS 3A

1. Hickory (10) - 5-0 - 1
2. Beaver Area (7) - 4-0 - 2
3. Notre Dame-Green Pond (11) - 5-0 - 3
4. Aliquippa (7) - 4-1 - 4
5. Central Valley (7) - 4-1 - 5
6. Beaver Falls (7) 3-1 - 6
7. Montoursville (4) - 5-0 - 7
8. Karns City (9) - 4-1 - 8
9. Central Martinsburg (6) - 4-1 - 9
10. Danville (4) - 4-1 - 10
Teams to watch: Keystone Oaks (7) 3-1, Loyalsock Twp. (4) 4-1, Middletown (3) 4-0, New Hope-Solebury (1) 4-0, Scranton Prep (2) 4-1.

 

CLASS 2A

1. Steel Valley (7) - 4-0 - 1
2. Dunmore (2) - 5-0 - 2
3. Southern Columbia (4) - 5-0 - 3
4. Ligonier Valley (6) -  5-0 - 4
5. Berlin Brothersvalley (5) - 5-0 - 5
6. Schuylkill Haven (11) - 5-0 - 6
7. Wilmington (10) - 5-0 - 7
8. Washington (7) - 4-0 - 8
9. Neshannock (7) - 4-1 - 9
10. South Williamsport (4) - 4-1 - 10
Teams to watch: Kane (9) 5-0, Lakeland (2) 4-1, North Penn-Mansfield (4) 4-1, Sharpsville (10) 4-1, Wellsboro (4) 5-0.

 

CLASS 1A

1. Clairton (7 - 4-0 - 1
2. Bishop Guilfoyle (6) - 5-0 - 2
3. Jeannette (7) - 5-0 - 3
4. Rochester (7) - 4-0 - 4
5. Conemaugh Twp. (5) - 5-0 - 5
6. Northgate (7) - 4-0 - 10
7. Portage (6) - 4-1 - NR
8. Williams Valley (11) - 4-1 - NR
9. Bishop Canevin (7) - 3-1 - NR
10. Tri-Valley (11) - 4-1 - NR
Teams to watch: Cochranton (10) 5-0, Curwensville (9) 4-1, Elk County Catholic (9), 5-0, Homer-Center (6) 5-0, Old Forge (2) 3-2.

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Two WPIAL girls basketball players ranked in top 100 in country

Written by Mike White on .

Two girls basketball players from the WPIAL are ranked among the top 100 players in the country. One already has made a college decision and the other is getting close to a decision.

Sam Breen, a 6-foot-2 forward at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, is ranked the No. 67 player in the country in ESPN's HoopGurlz rankings. Breen already has made a verbal commitment to the University of Dayton.

Desiree Oliver, a 5-7 guard at Penn Hills, is ranked the No. 94 player in the country by HoopGurlz. Oliver plans on making a verbal commitment to a college in the next week or so. She has narrowed her choices to Temple, George Washington and LSU.

Desiree OliverOliver has visited all three schools. She went to LSU recently for a weekend.

"It was different from the other two schools I was considering," said Oliver. "It was more of a campus and college town."

On her visit, Oliver (pictured to left) attended an LSU football game.

"The atmosphere was crazy," she said.

George Washington is recruiting Oliver as a point guard while Temple and LSU believe she could be a combo guard.

Both Breen and Oliver were Fabulous 5 selections after last season. Breen helped North Catholic win a state championship in Class A. She averaged a double-double at 26 points and 10 rebounds. She also averaged 3 assists, 3 steals and shot 55 percent from the field. Breen heads into her senior season with 1,782 career points. She has a good chance to become only the 41st girl in WPIAL history to score 2,000 career points.

Oliver, meanwhile, averaged 18.8 points a game last season in helping the Indians reach the WPIAL AAAA semifinals. She did a little of everything, averaging 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals a game. She shot 44 percent from 3-point range.

Oliver will enter her senior season with 1,177 career points.

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