CTK 2011 – WPIAL AA CENTURY Conference Preview
Thursday, August 25, 2011 | 10:47 AM
The Century Conference has always been one of the most competitive conferences from top to bottom in the WPIAL. Just three years ago, the conference crowned tri-champions in Sto-Rox, Seton-LaSalle and Keystone Oaks. But since winning three of four WPIAL Class AA championships from 2002 through 2005, Century Conference teams had been in a four year title drought until last fall.
Could the Lions 2010 title spark another championship run for the conference?
Here is a look at the 2011 Century Conference:
BURGETTSTOWN BLUE DEVILS:
You could say the lights went out on the Blue Devils last year when they finished at the bottom of the conference with an 0-7 record in the Century and 1-8 overall. That won't be a problem this year though because due to a code issue with the light standards at Hill Memorial Stadium, Burgettstown will go old school and play all of their home games on Saturday afternoon.
The sun won't be the only thing shining on Matt Taylor's Devils this season as the eight-year coach returns eight players on both offense and defense for what should be a much improved team.
Senior Ryan DuPain returns under center for the Blue Devils. He threw for 845 yards a year ago with seven touchdowns. Also back is John Dugas at running back and defensive back. The 5'10, 170-pound junior was second on the team in receiving last year. Senior running back Mike LaRocka will be counted on to help the rushing attack while senior wide receiver Jake Deener will help the passing attack.
There is plenty of experience back up front on both sides of the ball led by 5'11, 275-pound senior Artie Wilkins, one of the leading tacklers for Burgettstown a year ago. The Blue Devils will also rely on seniors John Stover (OL, LB), Roger Vigliotti (OL/DL), Eric Hutchinson (TE/LB) and junior Chris Braham (OL/DL).
KEYSTONE OAKS GOLDEN EAGLES:
After a three year drought from playoff action in 2003, 2004 and 2005, Keystone Oaks has been a regular in the postseason now for five years running. And even though they had three postseason wins in the last two years, Golden Eagles fans are ready for the team to deliver that one big KO playoff victory to reach the North Shore.
However, just making it six straight playoff trips might be tough for head coach Nick Kamberis, who enters his 12th season as lead Golden Eagle. Keystone Oaks will be very young here in 2011.
KO does have experience at wide receiver and under center, where senior Matt Buckley returns as a three year starter at quarterback. His prime targets will be junior Corey Sevacko and sophomore Ricky Rogers.
Junior Ryan Carrol is the only starter back on a youthful offensive line. The defense will be green as well with many starters having graduated from a year ago. However one standout back is Marc McCann, brother of former Keystone Oaks running back star Matt McCann.
QUAKER VALLEY QUAKERS:
Another year, another new football coach at Quaker Valley. For the second straight year and for the fourth time in seven years, a new man will be leading the Quakers into battle here in 2011.
John Tortorea takes over as head football coach at Quaker Valley with one goal in mind: To establish and develop a success program and to teach the players what it takes to be a success on and off the field.
The Quakers do have eight starters back on defense and seven on offense. The interior line will have plenty of experience on both sides of the ball with 6'0, 235-pound senior Jacob Smith (Nose Guard/Guard), 6'1, 195-pound senior Rocco Brown (DE/Guard) and 6'0, 195-pound senior Brandon Glenn (DE/C).
Two other key players on both sides of the ball will be senior Lex Gibb (FB/LB) and senior Jordan Vescio (Slot/FS). QV will not only have a new coach, but also a new quarterback as junior Burke Moser takes over under center. Senior Joe Starke will get some totes at running back.
Most coaches shy away from preseason expectations. Greg Perry is not like most coaches. If you ask him about this upcoming season, he'll smile and tell you that if the Rebels can stay healthy, this could be a promising season.
Now in his 8th season as head coach at Seton-LaSalle, Perry has reason to be optimistic with seven starters back on offense and eight returning on defense.
There is another Brumbaugh ready to wreak havoc on the Century Conference. With Christian Brumbaugh gone from South Fayette, younger brother Luke takes over under center at Quarterback High. Luke saw some playing time last year as a sophomore behind the WPIAL's 6th leading passer in David O'Brien. Fellow juniors Scott Orndorf (WR), Lou Rotunda (WR) and seniors Jamie Miller (TE) and Dylan Buccella (WR) will be the primary targets through the air.
While the Rebels have that great passing reputation, they always feature a solid running back as well. This fall will be no different with Kevin Hart toting the pigskin. As a junior last season, Hart finished 7th in the WPIAL on the ground with 1,335 yards and scored 26 touchdowns (2nd most in district).
J.J. Beggan, a 6-4, 290-pound tackle on both sides of the ball and a Kennywood Park Preseason All-Star winner, anchors an offensive and defensive line along with 6-3, 260-pound senior Will French, 6'1, 240-pound senior Jay Moog and 6'2, 210-pound senior Pat Morgan.
Three other players to watch for Seton-LaSalle are junior Nick Synyj (FB/LB), senior Anthony Mendolino (DE) and senior Matt Jackovino (S).
SOUTH ALLEGHENY GLADIATORS:
Since the turn of the century, success on the gridiron has been tough sledding for South Allegheny. In the last eleven years, the Gladiators have won a grand total of 22 games.
One-third of that total (7 wins) has come over the last three years since the silver fox has taken over as head coach. Pat Monroe hopes to improve on the two wins a year ago, which has been the average yearly wins in Y2K.
Opponents of the Gladiators will need to be ready to deal with Division I recruit Jesse James this fall. The 6-7 1/2, 246-pound senior tight end/defensive end has made a verbal agreement to attend Penn State University. James last year had 34 receptions for 463 yards for an average of 13.6 yards per catch.
Also returning for the Gladiators is senior signal caller Dylan Fox, who made the move from wide receiver to quarterback last fall.
SOUTH FAYETTE LIONS:
What a golden year 2010 was for South Fayette. A second consecutive Century Conference outright title, the school’s first WPIAL championship in 46 years and a first ever berth in the PIAA state championship game. But there were a lot of seniors on that talented squad.
Now in his 5th season as the head Lion, Joe Rossi knows he will have a young, inexperienced team for the most part, but he also knows there is some talent back for SF.
Senior Zach Challingsworth is South Fayette's all everything guy. He had 41 receptions and 13 touchdowns last season and has a fresh scholarship offer from Toledo.
Another Lions player getting college looks is Sean Lacinski. The 6'4 300-pound lineman has offers from Robert Morris, Duquesne and Monmouth. Kevin Hitlan and Nick Guyan are also returning starters on the line from last season.
Trevor Fiorentini is back as a second year starter at fullback and linebacker. Last year, Fiorentini was the team’s second leading tackler and rushed for 310 yards and 11 touchdowns on 50 carries. Coach Rossi says look out for Mike Fetchet. He is a returning corner who has great potential at wide receiver as well.
STEEL VALLEY IRONMEN:
Quietly, Rod Steele has become one of the rising young head coaches in Class AA. In his first two years at Steel Valley, the Ironmen have been a factor in the Century Conference race and have made the playoffs both years, only to see their season end two years in a row with an opening round playoff loss to Beaver Falls. Now Steele believes his third year will be a charm for Steel Valley.
While only four starters are back on offense, eight starters return on defense for the Ironmen. 6-2, 280-pound senior Tasean Carter is joined by 6-2, 260-pound sophomore Corey Pinkerton up front. Senior Nizeer James and sophomore Brenon Thrift are returning linebackers while a trio of seniors leads the defensive backs in Michael Todd, Gilbert Carswell and Dontez Williams.
Those players will also start on offense with the three cornerbacks lined up at wide receiver waiting for passes from junior quarterback Patrick O'Malley.
The Ironmen do have huge shoes to fill at running back where Delrece Williams led the WPIAL in rushing with 2,149 yards on the ground last year. Williams also led the district in scoring with 31 touchdowns.
Three newcomers are ready to help fill the void with the ground game. Seniors Marlon Brown, Trequan Thomas and junior Denzell Sherrill will all get cracks early on trying to keep the Ironmen offense balanced.
WASHINGTON LITTLE PREXIES:
The glory days of Wash High football seem like a distant memory. Since the Little Prexies last WPIAL championship in 2001, Washington has qualified for the playoffs only three times (2002, 2005 and 2009). However there is reason to be excited for Washington High School fans in Mike Bosnic's third season.
The Little Prexies return plenty of skill players and athletes including junior quarterback Josh Wise, junior tailback Jaylin Kelly, senior tailback Jordan Thomas and senior tight ends Joe Phillips and Eric Ellis.
Three other young athletes that Bosnic figures will play a bigger role this year include sophomore Shai McKenzie, junior Daron Whitaker and sophomore Chase Caldwell.
The Little Prexies have the skilled players, but how quickly they develop offensive and defensive lineman might be a key to how well they do this season. Junior Rikwon Moore will try to lead a young, inexperienced group in the trenches.
Washington opens up the season in Week One on the road at Class A power Clairton, a game Bosnic hopes will give the Little Prexies a confidence boost before they head into their tough Century Conference schedule.
MSA SPORTS PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. SETON-LaSALLE REBELS
2. STEEL VALLEY IRONMEN
3. WASHINGTON LITTLE PREXIES
4. SOUTH FAYETTE LIONS
5. KEYSTONE OAKS GOLDEN EAGLES
6. SOUTH ALLEGHENY GLADIATORS
7. BURGETTSTOWN BLUE DEVILS
8. QUAKER VALLEY QUAKERS
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