CTK 2010 – WPIAL A BIG SEVEN Conference Preview

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Two of the four playoff teams from the WPIAL Class A Big Seven Conference in 2009 are no longer in the conference, with Monaca ending their program and Laurel moving up to the Class AA Midwestern Conference.

The conference will be wide open for playoff spots, but one thing remains the same, Rochester is always a favorite to head to the playoffs and Heinz Field.

Here is a preview of all the teams and predicted order of finish:

CORNELL RAIDERS:

The Raiders finished 2-7 in the Class AA Century Conference in 2009. Cornell has not made the playoffs in a long time, in fact, they have the longest streak of any team in this conference, since 2001. Dan Knause returns as the Raiders head coach, his fourth season on the job, the drop down to Class A, may be favorable to the Raiders.

The Raiders bring back 15 returning starters from last year’s team, seven on offense. Senior QB Jake Almasy returns, he also has his favorite targer in junior B.J. Lipke, who transferred to Lincoln Park, but will play football at Cornell. Senior Ronny Bourne takes over in the backfield for the Raiders. Also look out for senior Malik King, he will play a variety of roles for the Raiders in the backfield. King missed most of last season with a broken collarbone.

Paul Branigan also returns to the line, he missed all but two games with a broken ankle in 2009. Junior Shawn Owens will start both ways, tight end on offense and at outside linebacker.

Cornell hosts Quaker Valley on September 3rd, the Raiders host Western Beaver on September 17th for the conference opener.

NESHANNOCK LANCERS:

Neshannock looks to greatly improve last season’s 2-7 record as the Lancers lost three straight games to end the season. The Lancers have not made the playoffs since 2004, in Class AA’s Tri-County North.

The Lancers will have to replace junior quarterback John Sansone, he elected not to play football this season, after missing time with concussion issues last season. Sansone racked up over 11 hundred yards of total offense last season. Michael Sanflippo will take over at quarterback this season.

A pair of seniors, the speedy Asa Davies and Eric Welker will be in the backfield. Nick Graziani will be Sanflippo’s main target, Graziani has good hands and will be counted on as a deep threat. Junior Bryan Scheidamantle gets the nod at tight end.

Greg Brzoza is getting D-1 looks, he will again anchor the offensive line for Neshannock, he was a first team all-conference selection last season. Neshannock will have a good line backing core, with Scheidamantle(a three-year starter), Welker and junior Brandon Torsello, who seems to have a nose for the football. Davies also figures in on the defensive side of the ball.

The Lancers open play at home vs. West Shamokin on September 3rd, they travel to Sto-Rox for the conference opener on September 17th.

ROCHESTER RAMS:

The Rams ran the table in the conference in 2009, and all the way to the WPIAL title game, where they fell to Clairton for their only loss of the season. Rochester is expected to be a prohibited favorite to win the conference again in 2010, and will be highly ranked in the pre-season Top 10.

Rochester will again be led by one of the best quarterbacks in the class, Jason Adamson, he threw for over 14 hundred yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior. Senior Devon Glass and junior D’Andre Moon take over in the backfield for the Rams, both saw extensive playing time last season.

The Rams return one of their horses up front in Jesse Battaglia, a first team all-conference tackle as a junior. Sophomore Todd Weischebel will start up front, he and Battaglia will be forces on defense for Rochester.

Rochester opens the season with two tough tests, but both at home. September 3 the Rams host Serra Catholic, September 10th

Fort Cherry comes to Rochester. The Rams hit the road for the conference opener on September 17th at Union on the MSA Sports Network.

SHENANGO WILDCATS:

Shenango got off to a good start in 2009, but struggled late, falling to 3-4 in the conference and 5-4 overall, just missing the playoffs.

Running back Anthony Kosciuszko is back for his senior season, Koz was named to the second team all-conference last season on both sides of the ball. However, he suffered a hand injury in warmup before the first scrimmage and is out four to six weeks.

Tight end Eric Moscipan returns, he was named second team all conference in 2009.Senior Aaron Grymes will get the first look at quarterback, but don’t be surprised if freshman Ty Greer isn’t playing by the end of the season. Senior Scott McBride is also backat wide reciever after an injury plagued 2009.

Grymes received all-conference recognition for his play in the secondary. Moscipan and McBride will be at linebacker.

The Cats’ hit the road for the first two games of the season, at Avella on September 3rd and Char-Houston on September 10th. Shenango opens conference play on September 18th hosting South Side at Glenn “Pop” Johnston Stadium on the MSA Sports Network.

SOUTH SIDE BEAVER RAMS:

The Rams finished 6-4 overall last season, claiming the fourth playoff spot in the conference. South Side has made the playoffs three years in a row and seven of the last eight. The Rams have 50 players out for the season, but return only seven starters from last season. Head coach Jim Winner starts his second season in Hookstown.

Luke Shaffer will see the bulk of the carries again for the Rams, he was first team all-conference at running back in 2009 with 10 touchdowns and 806 yards rushing. Junior quarterback Ryan Scialabba also returns, he only averaged 90 yards per game passing, but is a running threat as well.

Jesse Orison is a player to watch on the defensive line for the Rams. Justin Martz also returns at center, he will also start at defensive end for South Side. Shaffer and Scialabba both return to the secondary.

The Rams will travel to Burgettstown on September 3rd to open the season, they host Brentwood for the second straight season under the portable lights at the Richard Ashcroft Complex on September 10th. The conference opener is September 18th at Shenango.

STO-ROX VIKINGS:

Sto-Rox finished 8-3 overall, playing in the Class AA Century Conference. The Vikings advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to Beaver Falls 35-22. Ron Butschle returns to coach at Sto-Rox, he led the Vikings for 14 seasons including a trip to Heinz Field in 2003.

Gone from Sto-Rox are quarterback Paul Jones to Penn State and wide receiver Andrew Carswell to Pitt. But the Rox returns 11 starters, six on offense and five on defense. Junior Jordan Latimer takes over the Viking offense, he has been taking lessons from another great Sto-Rox QB, Adam DiMichele, who is the WPIAL’s all time passing leader. Latimer made three starts last season, subbing for Jones. He threw for 649 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions.

Deysean Rippey was an all-conference linebacker in the Century last season. He is among the best players in the area, also starting at wide reciever. Pitt and Ohio State are both recruiting Rippey in his junior season. Dontez Ford, Marzett Geter and Marshawn Ptomey also figure in the mix at reciever. Juniors Josh Beverly and Chris Richardson will anchor the backfield.

Sto-Rox hosts South Allegheny in the season opener on September 3rd, they will open conference play on September 17th hosting Neshannock.

UNION SCOTTIES

The Scotties won only one conference game in 2009, finishing 2-7 overall. But that one conference win came in the last game of the season vs. Neshannock, the Scotties’ main rival. Stacy Robinson is back for his 14th season at Union, and for the first time in a long while, the Scotties have some numbers. The problem is, those numbers are mostly freshman and sophomores.

Senior Andre Jones is the top returner in the backfield for Union, he will play a variety of roles in the Scotties offense, including quarterback. Sophomore Joe Sallman is also getting some looks at QB, he may be the starter before season’s end. Another sophomore, Austin Smith is penciled in at fullback, with a third sophomore, Drew Robinson in the backfield as well.

Up front, senior Tyree Abrams, Mike Annarella and Ronnell Hunt all started for most or all the season, they all return for Union. The Scotties have not made the playoffs since 2003, in Class AA as a member of the defunct Tri-County North. But this could be the year that Union turns it around.

WESTERN BEAVER GOLDEN BEAVERS

Western Beaver took a step back in 2009, with a 2-7 overall record and 2-5 in the Big Seven. The Golden Beavers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006, under head coach Matt Gray.

QB Joey Dawida returns for the Golden Beaver to lead the offense. His main target will be junior Dustin Creel, who started his first two seasons for Western. Jack Balser will get the start at running back for Western.

The Golden Beavers return a pair of honorable mention linemen in Brandon Barnes and Ryan Bensing. Barnes made the second team all-conference on the defensive line. Cody Orlowski received all-conference honorable mention on the defensive line in 2009, the senior returns for his final year. Creel and fellow junior Eric Blinn both received recognition last season in the secondary.

Western Beaver will wear a Wick decal on their helmet this season, in honor of former assistant coach Mike Wickline, who passed away in early August of a heart attack. Wickline was a long time assistant at Western Beaver, before moving over to Riverside.

The Golden Beavers may have the toughest non-league schedule, traveling to Fort Cherry to open the season September 3rd, then a trip to take on defending PIAA champion Clairton the following Friday. Western Beaver opens conference play at Cornell on September 17th, they do not play a home game until September 25th vs. Shenango.

MSA SPORTS PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:

1) ROCHESTER RAMS

2) STO-ROX VIKINGS

3) SOUTH SIDE BEAVER RAMS

4) SHENANGO WILDCATS

5) WESTERN BEAVER GOLDEN BEAVERS

6) NESHANNOCK LANCERS

7) CORNELL RAIDERS

8) UNION SCOTTIES

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