Print

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."

 

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

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:


PIAA CLASS 6A

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.

PIAA CLASS 3A

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.

PIAA CLASS 2A

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.

PIAA CLASS 1A

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.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Conner's dedication; ranking Pitt's potential opponents

Written by Brian Batko on .

From one former WPIAL 1,000-yard rusher to another, Pitt star James Conner took the spotlight on him Saturday night and shined it on DiMantae Bronaugh, instead.

Conner wasn’t in action, but made his presence felt at the ACC championship in Orlando, Fla., nonetheless — and Bronaugh's presence, too.

While being honored with the conference’s Brian Piccolo Award for its most courageous player, an accolade that was announced Thursday, Conner took the opportunity to speak of late Aliquippa player DiMantae Bronaugh, who died Tuesday after his own battle with leukemia. Conner, who of course beat cancer to return to the field this season and rush for more than 1,000 yards, said receiving the award was bittersweet after learning of Bronaugh’s death Tuesday.

 

“I always say you play for somebody who can’t,” Conner said in an article on FoxSports.com. “And I’ll definitely be playing for him this bowl game and probably for the rest of my career.”

Also in the article written by Sam Gardner, Conner expands on the relationship he had with Bronaugh, who ran for more than 1,000 yards as a junior at Aliquippa in 2014. His running mate that year was Quips star Kaezon Pugh, now a freshman linebacker at Pitt. 

I included the Conner-Bronaugh story from Saturday night on our college football page in Sunday morning's Post-Gazette, page C-4, if you'd like to check it out.

BOWL ANNOUNCEMENT COMING SOON

That's pretty much where we are right now. We'll find out sometime Sunday where Pitt is headed later this month and who the Panthers will face. A quick roundup of bowl projections from various sites, in one handy place:

Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel - Stanford, Sun Bowl
ESPN's Mark Schlabach - Utah, Sun
ESPN's Brett McMurphy - Utah, Sun
SBNation - Stanford, Sun
CBS Sports - Northwestern, Pinstripe Bowl
Yahoo - Stanford, Sun
Sporting News - Northwestern, Pinstripe
Sports Illustrated - Northwestern, Pinstripe
247Sports - Stanford, Sun
Athlon Sports - West Virginia, Russell Athletic Bowl

So, that's four guesses for Stanford, three for Northwestern, two for Utah and one brave soul predicting a Backyard Brawl Bowl (FWIW, Mandel was dead-on about Pitt to the Military Bowl last year before the final weekend). Now, I'd never claim Pitt "deserves better" than any opponent, but just for fun, here's one man's ranking of who would be most fun (bowl location/prestige, aside).

1. West Virginia — For obvious reasons. Even if you hate WVU with a passion, this would make for a great bowl atmosphere.

2. Stanford — Christian McCaffrey alone would make this an intriguing matchup, even if the name on his jersey said "Idaho" but it doesn't. With all its tradition and big-name stature, Stanford would make for a high-profile bowl game. "McCaffery. Conner. It's the Sun Bowl on Whatever Channel The Sun Bowl's On."

3. Northwestern — James Conner and Justin Jackson would be another solid matchup of top RBs. Not to mention, the P-G's Ron Cook went to Northwestern, so this would almost be like a rivalry game.

4. Utah — If only because I figure Pitt fans wouldn't want flashbacks to that 2005 Fiesta Bowl when the Utes creamed the Panthers 35-7. Or that 2010 season opener when a Tino Sunseri overtime interception ruined a good thing before the No. 15 Panthers could even get rolling. Basically, things just never seem to go well for Pitt against Utah.

5. Navy — OK, so none of the bowl projection gurus put their chips on the Midshipmen, who are a mortal lock to the Armed Forces Bowl to play a Big 12 team, but I'm just going to assume no one — from coaches and players who'd have to prepare for the triple-option to the fans who'd have to watch them try to stop it — from Pitt wants to see this team in a bowl for the second year in a row.

Brian Batko: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @BrianBatko.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

A Pitt football would-you-rather

Written by Brian Batko on .

For my first real post, not the self-indulgent one from Wednesday, here on Red Shirt Diaries (the name of this blog that’s been around for a while, but I like it, so no reason to change it -- I think I’ve been told Paul Zeise came up with it), I have an either-or to consider.

It has nothing to do with bowl games or James Conner or anything to do with this season at all, and it’s a hypothetical that falls between worst-case and best-case scenarios (I know, right, who wants to traffic in realistic gray areas such as that?)

Many Pitt football followers have been on #zairewatch since Tuesday, when it was reported that Notre Dame quarterback and former Pitt recruiting target Malik Zaire will be an immediately eligible graduate transfer. Not only that, but Pitt was listed as one of four schools immediately in the mix for his services.

Then again, plenty of those same Pitt football followers have been on #wadewatch for long, long time -- that, of course, being Clairton star senior Lamont Wade, the blue-chip cornerback recruit who does whatever he wants against WPIAL competition.

Nam Y. Huh/Associated PressHaley Nelson/Post-Gazette  

So I ask you this, a simple question that could potentially have a complex answer: If Pitt can only end up with one of those two players next year, Malik Zaire or Lamont Wade, who should be the preferred choice?

I know, I know, the obvious retort here is like that one taco commercial:

Porque no los dos?

Obviously, most any team would want both, and that may well go down for Pitt. But this is my hypothetical, and I say if that can’t happen, who’s the pick?

Personally, I’d lean toward Wade -- for both production and perception. The secondary has undeniably been the weakest part of Pitt’s team this season, and Wade could start at corner from Day 1. And from what I’ve seen of him a few times in person, he could even do some Jordan Whitehead-type stuff on offense, too. And from a perception standpoint, getting Wade would mean beating out Penn State in a high-stakes recruiting battle. That would be a nice look for Pitt, as would getting the top player in the WPIAL in the 2017 class from a Pitt pipeline like Clairton (not to mention you get him for at least three years).

But Zaire, well, he plays what most consider to be the most important position on the field and has already had some fine moments in his college career before being injured early last season (then falling behind/getting Wally Pipp’d by DeShone Kizer). And wouldn’t it be nice to replace Nate Peterman with a guy who could keep this offense great again? Pitt’s dynamic attack under Matt Canada has been the talk of the town lately, and one would assume Zaire an upgrade over potential starting QBs next season Thomas MacVittie (current redshirting freshman) and Bo Schneider (currently redshirting UCF transfer).

The Zaire story has already been a bit of a “saga” as he was initially restricted from leaving Notre Dame for any team the Irish play next season, but now apparently has no restrictions. So surely, there will be plenty of coaches vying for him, but his one-time Pitt connections can’t be ignored. He considered the Panthers strongly when Paul Chryst was in town, and also considered Wisconsin when Canada was offensive coordinator there in 2012.

Wade is set to announce Saturday, Dec. 17th, and many believe it will be Pitt or Penn State.

It’s entirely possible Pitt gets both; it’s entirely possible Pitt gets neither. Just some food for thought. I’ll put a poll up on my Twitter @BrianBatko if anyone wants to vote on this.

Most fascinating of all is that Miami Heat Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade has a son named Zaire Wade, who I presume would become a huge Pitt football fan if this all goes down.

Brian Batko: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

On to the Pitt beat, I guess, right?

Written by Brian Batko on .

The headline of the most recent entry on this blog before this one read: “Pitt heading to Clemson with "upset" on the mind”.

And, also, me.

While some of you may know me, remember me or at least recognize my name from covering Pitt athletics in the student media or, much more recently, at Panther-Lair, I’m also not naive enough to assume you do, so a quick bit about who I am and where I’ve come from.

OK, so I wasn’t packed away with cargo on the team plane to Greenville a few weeks ago or anything. But I was there in Death Valley that day that turned to night by the end of it. “It” of course being 43-42, when Pitt stunned No. 2/3 Clemson on its senior day.

I was always supposed to go to Clemson. I drew that exciting assignment way back in the summer when we needed someone to fill in. But between then and now, our Pitt football reporter Jenn Menendez left the paper, and somewhat coincidentally, this job officially came open not long before my trip to Clemson.

So when Chris Blewitt’s kick went through the uprights, I couldn’t help but think maybe that was some sort of sign that I should return to my roots, in a sense, and pursue this beat (incidentally, here’s that game story if you want to read it). Obviously, I did, and I’ll truly miss my previous role covering Duquesne basketball, district college football and especially high school sports in the WPIAL/City League -- no qualifier there, I just will.

My time following Pitt football closely started somewhere between 13-9 and Mardy Gilyard (don’t need to tell you what those mean). I worked at the Pitt News, WPTS student radio and spent a lot of time trying to build Panther Sports Network when I was a student at Pitt from 2009-2013. Then I did some freelance work for Panther-Lair while working at the Post-Gazette on the sports copy desk. Early this year, I moved into a reporting role at the P-G writing about high school football, basketball, baseball, as well as Duquesne sports and the smaller colleges in the area.

Now I’m here, and I plan to cover my alma mater fairly, not fawningly. I’ve never been passionate about Pitt football, but for the past few years, I’ve been passionate about knowing as much as I can about Pitt football, then passing that on to whoever wants to read it. I’m not here to pump up the program, nor push some perceived anti-Pitt agenda that doesn’t actually exist and never has.

That’s enough about me and how I got on. I’m still juggling some of my other responsibilities for the time being, and our lead basketball writer Craig Meyer isn’t going anywhere, so you might still see some football stuff from him in the interim, and eventually a little basketball stuff from me. But I’ll be at whatever bowl game Pitt ends up in (no, I don’t know which one it’ll be) and hopefully doing some more posts on here soon and we’ll go from there.

Thanks to everyone who’s recently followed me on Twitter (pfft, can’t believe you weren’t there already over the last ~five years) and I’ll see you around.

Brian Batko: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @BrianBatko.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.