Father vs. son twist adds spice to Greensburg Salem-Hempfield rivalry

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 | 5:15 PM

Over the 56 years of the Greensburg Salem-Hempfield football rivalry, the game has featured battles between cousins, friends and even a coach going against his son.

That was when Greensburg Salem coach Jim Jones went against his son Adam, who was Hempfield’s quarterback.

This year’s version features a son coaching against his dad.

Hempfield offensive coordinator Ryan Reitz will be trying to figure out ways to exploit the outside linebackers at Greensburg Salem, who are coached by his dad, Ray.

“If he embarrasses me too much, there won’t be any care packages from mom,” Ray Reitz chuckled. “Ryan and I talked a lot, more when he was the offensive coordinator at Jeannette. He’s asked me different things over the years. Now I’m worried he’s going to use it against us.”

Ray Reitz helps Greensburg Salem defensive coordinator Matt Boe and defensive assistant Bill Wisniewski devise gameplans.

Hempfield leads the all-time series 39-15-1 and has won the past four meetings. The 2020 game was canceled because of the coronavirus.

Hempfield won the 2019 meeting 40-3. Greensburg Salem’s last win came in 2011, 34-14, when former Hempfield coach Casey Cavanaugh, now a Greensburg Salem assistant coach, was in charge of the Golden Lions.

Whoever wins, it will be the coach’s first win in the series. Hempfield is led by first-year coach Mike Brown, and this is Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer’s 10th season. He is 0-4 against Hempfield.

“I’m excited for the players to get a chance to play a meaningful game,” Brown said. “Greensburg Salem has been a longtime rivalry, and the players are excited about playing them. We’re fortunate that we have a couple close games this season.

Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional will be tough nonconference games, and we have Norwin in conference. It will be nice to have short bus trips and play in front of fans.”

Brown is familiar with rivalry. He played at Penn-Trafford and said he always liked the battle against neighboring Norwin.

“It was a game I looked forward to,” Brown said. “Mainly because you grew up playing against each other, you know your opponent well.”

Hempfield scrimmaged Fox Chapel last week, and Greensburg Salem took on Latrobe.

Both coaches saw some good things and areas that needed to be addressed.

“The biggest thing we wanted to see from the players in the scrimmage was them playing fast and with passion,” Brown said. “I wasn’t worried about the X’s and O’s. We can fix mistakes on film.”

Hempfield has a young team led by defensive end Dan Sierk. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior will be counted on to show the way.

Junior quarterback Jake Phillips and junior running back Gino Caesar are leaders on offense for the Spartans. Both were elected captains by the team.

“There is no extra incentive for me to beat Hempfield,” Keefer said. “If you defeat a Class 6A team, it doesn’t guarantee a successful season. It’s nice and a good start, but we can’t lay an egg the next week like we did last year after winning the 700th game.

“Hempfield is a solid team and it has a good quarterback. We’re going to face a stiff challenge.”

Keefer said he likes his team’s big-play potential.

“We didn’t show a lot during the scrimmage,” Keefer said. “I did see where we need to get better.”

Greensburg Salem returns a veteran offensive line, led by senior Billy McChesney, that must open running lanes for the backs and protect quarterback Hayden Teska.

“I was impressed by Greensburg Salem’s big offensive line,” Brown said. “It’s a concern. They’re a good football team.”

Greensburg Salem vs. Hempfield

Series: Hempfield leads 39-15-1

Last year: Game canceled because of pandemic

First game: 1956, Greensburg won, 49-0 (Greensburg Salem formed in 1959)

First Hempfield win: 1958, 13-7

Last 10 meetings

2019: Hempfield, 40-3

2018: Hempfield, 27-24

2017: Hempfield, 49-21

2016: Hempfield, 28-21

2011: Greensburg Salem, 34-14

2010: Greensburg Salem, 38-35

2009: Hempfield, 40-7

2008: Hempfield, 27-20

2007: Hempfield, 27-14

2006: Hempfield, 6-0

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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