5 takeaways from Week 1 of high school football action
Saturday, August 31, 2019 | 9:07 PM
Carlynton accomplished something Friday the program hadn’t done in 14 years.
The Cougars reached 2-0.
Not since 2005 had Carlynton started the season with consecutive wins, a small achievement for some but a big confidence boost for first-year coach Rich Piccinini’s team.
“There’s a buzz around the school and the community,” Piccinini said. “It’s only 2-0, but I’ve heard a lot of feedback today from alumni. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but it’s really exciting.”
Carlynton already has matched its wins total from last season, but so too have Apollo-Ridge and Moon. All three are 2-0 after finishing 2-8 a year ago.
In all, 29 WPIAL teams celebrated a 2-0 start this week.
For Moon, it’s the team’s first 2-0 start since 2013. Apollo-Ridge started 2-0 just two seasons ago.
“It just helps with the confidence and kids buying into what we’re doing,” third-year Moon coach Ryan Linn said. “It helps them to keep believing that we can be competitive and win football games. It’s a huge boost.”
Moon reached 2-0 by defeating Mars, 36-14. That’s a turnaround from last season when Moon lost to the Planets, 23-13. In Week Zero, Moon defeated Montour, 14-10.
“You could just see the excitement on their faces,” Linn said. “It makes life easier on Saturday. Everybody feels better, they’re starting to believe in each other and everybody’s having a good time.”
Carlynton reached 2-0 with a 42-8 victory over conference opponent Fort Cherry on Friday. In Week Zero, the Cougars defeated Bishop Canevin, 35-12.
The Cougars have endured a string of losing seasons including a winless campaign two years ago. Piccinini remembers Carlynton’s better days as a former offensive coordinator there in the early 2000s.
“I think a few eyebrows might have been raised (when I took the job),” Piccinini said. “I saw the potential. They’re good kids, they just needed restructured. … We want to get to the point where we expect to win.”
2. Rebounding from 0-2
On the other side, there are 33 WPIAL teams at 0-2. Maybe the most surprising name on that list is Clairton, which hadn’t started a season with consecutive losses since 2005.
“I know there are a lot of people out there saying, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said. “They just don’t understand what we have right now and what we’re working with. Once we get to full (strength), we’ll be fine.”
The Bears voluntarily scheduled Aliquippa and McGuffey, a decision Wade said he doesn’t regret.
“Not at all,” he said. “I think it will help us in the long run. We’re not wanting to lose two games, but these games don’t really mean anything for us. They have no bearing on the playoffs and all that stuff.”
3. Running wild in Week 1
If Week Zero belonged to the quarterbacks, Week 1 was for the running backs. Six WPIAL rushers topped 200 yards including Derry’s Justin Huss, who rushed for 261 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries.
Blackhawk’s Marques Watson-Trent had 242 yards, Baldwin’s Angelo Priore had 236, Washington’s Zahmere Robinson had 233, Mapletown’s Landan Stevenson had 208 and Mt. Pleasant’s Jake Johnson had 203. Five other rushers had at least 150.
The most surprising name on the list might be Robinson. He was a 1,100-yard receiver last season, but Washington needed him in the backfield Friday. He had 16 carries and scored three times in Washington’s 42-14 victory over Charleroi.
4. New favorites in Big Seven
The Class A Big Seven playoff race already has a different look than last year.
The top two teams last season — WPIAL finalists Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Rochester — lost their conference openers. Both also were shut out. OLSH lost to Sto-Rox, 34-0. Rochester lost to Laurel, 42-0.
5. Change at the top
There’s a new No. 1 team in WPIAL Class 5A and A.
Preseason favorite Gateway fell from the top spot in the Trib rankings after Friday night’s loss to Big East rival Penn-Trafford. Class 5A was arguably the WPIAL’s deepest classification last season and seems to be once again this year.
The Warriors are the new No. 1.
In Class A, undefeated Jeannette moves to the top.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .