5 things we learned from WPIAL Week 1: Smattering of fans an ‘eerie’ atmosphere

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Saturday, September 12, 2020 | 8:04 PM


WPIAL football looked familiar, but it certainly sounded quieter than ever.

There were no student-section chants when Upper St. Clair senior Jaden Keating scored twice Friday night because crowd sizes are severely limited by covid-19 constraints.

He wasn’t too bothered.

“My No. 1 supporter is my mom,” Keating said. “I can always hear her voice. That’s the only fan I need.”

She was among about 400 spectators allowed into the stadium for USC’s opener against Bethel Park.

In a mostly empty stadium, Keating said he could hear individual shouts from the crowd.

What was his mom’s message?

“It’s always encouraging,” Keating said. “It’s either ‘Jaden!’ or ‘Go Jaden!’ or ‘You better not miss that tackle!’ ”

Gov. Tom Wolf maintains a 250-person limit on outdoor gatherings and a 25-person limit indoors, but schools conformed to those restrictions in varying ways Friday.

USC considered the playing surface to be one gathering and counted the two sets of bleachers as separate gatherings, athletic director Kevin Deitrick said. Each had fewer than 250 individuals.

The school marked off seats to make sure spectators maintained six feet of social distance, and pep-band members had 10 feet. In a stadium with a capacity of nearly 6,400, Deitrick found room for fewer than 700 seats.

“We’re less than 10%,” Deitrick said.

Deitrick wants to let students return in large numbers but recognizes that’s not an option now.

“It’s good seeing the parents. They deserve that,” he said, “but I kind of feel bad for the students, that they don’t get to be there. Hopefully, when things lessen up a little bit, we’ll get them there as well. It was pretty quiet, wasn’t it? Kind of eerie.”

Bethel Park coach Brian DeLallo agreed.

“To come out here and not get booed by 1,000 students is the weirdest thing ever,” DeLallo said. “We ran out on the field, and there was nothing. There wasn’t cheering. There wasn’t booing. It was just weird.”

Moving up

Aliquippa, Avonworth and Laurel moved up in classification with larger schools this year, and all three started their seasons with a solid conference win.

Aliquippa defeated New Castle, 44-28, in Class 4A, and Avonworth defeated Quaker Valley, 35-0, in 3A.

But Laurel’s 14-7 victory at Neshannock in Class 2A might be the most noteworthy. Since Fred Mozzocio became Neshannock’s coach in 2013, the Lancers were 27-1 at home against conference opponents.

Counting stars

Just how talented is Gateway’s roster?

Derrick Davis is a four-star recruit with LSU and Clemson offers. Among his teammates is Patrick Body, a junior who received a Pitt offer this month. Both scored touchdowns in Friday’s 41-7 victory over Franklin Regional.

Yet, both were overshadowed by Chamor Price, another Gator with a list of Division I offers. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound wide receiver caught four touchdowns that covered 65, 27, 17 and 72 yards.

The senior lists 16 FBS offers including Power 5 schools Syracuse and Wake Forest.

Vikings will be back

Sto-Rox forfeited its season opener Friday because a number of players were academically ineligible under district rules, but the team plans to compete next week, said LaRoi Johnson, the school’s football coach and athletic director. The Vikings visit Avonworth in Week 2.

Carlynton was awarded Friday’s victory by forfeit. Games canceled this fall because of covid-19 will be declared “no contest” by the WPIAL, but not for other reasons.

Zero tolerance

How remarkable was Belle Vernon’s 20-0 victory Friday?

McKeesport has been responsible for many zeros on the scoreboard but rarely on its own side. The Tigers were shut out Friday for the first time in six seasons.

The last time the team went scoreless was Sept. 13, 2014 in a 28-0 loss to Penn-Trafford. Since then, McKeesport has shut out a dozen opponents including three last year.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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