Alle-Kiski Valley notebook: Burrell-Valley game weeks in the making

Saturday, February 3, 2018 | 7:00 PM

Burrell and Valley announced their intention to continue the “Battle of the Bypass” rival as a Week Zero game shortly after the WPIAL released its football schedules for the next two seasons on Tuesday.

As it turns out, the rivals put the plans in motion weeks before.

When it became apparent Valley’s enrollment numbers would cause the Vikings to drop from Class 3A to 2A and thus become separated from Burrell, the schools’ athletic directors — Burrell’s Drake D’Angelo and Valley’s Muzzy Colosimo — began discussions to schedule a Week Zero game in case the WPIAL didn’t put the two together for a nonconference game during the regular season.

Once the schedules came out without a nonconference game, they firmed up the plans, eschewing a second scrimmage in order to keep their rivalry game alive. Burrell will host the 2018 game, and Valley will return the favor in 2019.

“It had to happen,” D’Angelo said. “Our communities are so close, and the kids know each other so well. The parents know each other. You have to have that game.”

Valley owns a 24-14 edge in the overall series — contested every year since 1980 — including wins in the past five contests.

More schedule highlights

?? The WPIAL revived the Freeport/Knoch series, as the Butler County rivals will meet for a Week 9 nonconference game at Knoch. The teams last played Aug. 26, 2005, a 14-7 Knoch victory.

• Kiski Area has an argument about which Class 5A team has the most difficult nonconference schedule. The Cavaliers face back-to-back road games against perennial WPIAL powers Woodland Hills and McKeesport in Weeks 6 and 7.

• Leechburg’s schedule begins with a Week 1 home game against defending PIAA Class A champion Jeannette. The Blue Devils will travel to Alle-Kiski Valley rival Springdale in Week 9.

• Despite no longer playing in the same conference as Keystone Oaks and Seton LaSalle, Deer Lakes will not avoid a trip through the Liberty Tunnel this season; the Lancers play a nonconference game at Keystone Oaks in Week 7.

• Burrell will square off with Elizabeth Forward, coached by former Bucs star Mike Collodi, in Week 2 at Elizabeth Forward.

• Fox Chapel has the opportunity to take advantage of a favorable early schedule: Four of the Foxes’ first five games are at home.

• Apollo-Ridge, on the other hand, plays its first two and last two games on the road, with four at Owens Field stuffed in between.

• Highlands’ schedule opens and closes with nonconference games, as the Golden Rams travel to Keystone Oaks in Week 1 and host Latrobe in Week 9.

Nick of time

Nick Gizzo went months without offers to play football in college, but they’re pouring in now with Signing Day approaching.

The Fox Chapel senior quarterback picked up a trio of offers in one day last week, from Division II Clarion and Wheeling Jesuit and Division III Malone, adding them to earlier offers from Lawrence Tech and Walsh.

Wednesday is the opening day of college football’s second signing period.

Gizzo, the 2017 Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year, Gizzo rushed for 1,278 yards and 19 touchdowns and passed for 896 and five scores last season.

Fast track

A trio of Burrell cross country and track and field stars will stick together in college, as seniors Naomi Hanna, Taylor Johnson and Faith Remich all signed last week to compete at Washington and Jefferson.

The three athletes were part of Burrell’s WPIAL Class AA championship team in 2017. Hanna finished sixth in shot put at the WPIAL Class AA individual championships. Johnson was part of Burrell’s gold medal 400-meter relay and also is a star gymnast, winning the WPIAL vault title last season. Remich owns Burrell’s school record in the 1,600 meters and also in cross country.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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