Five things we learned in Week 8: Special moment for Neshannock’s Jeremy Nativio
Saturday, October 19, 2019 | 9:22 PM
Around the WPIAL, Neshannock senior Jeremy Nativio’s 34-yard touchdown run became a feel-good internet sensation.
“Pretty much everywhere that I’ve went today, you’ve got people coming up and saying that they saw it on social media,” Lancers football coach Fred Mozzocio said. “They said what a great thing it was and how happy they are for Jeremy.”
Nativio, who has Down syndrome, entered the game and scored in the final minute of senior night as Neshannock defeated Western Beaver, 36-0, on Friday. Western Beaver coach Derek Moye had his defense clear the way for Nativio, a move that Mozzocio called “first class.”
The touchdown run, with two teammates in tow, stoked emotions both in the stadium and online.
“It was pretty special,” Mozzocio said. “I think even the officials were teary-eyed when they saw it. They said, we’ve seen this stuff on TV, but to be here and be a part of it, it was pretty special.”
Nativio has been a part of Neshannock’s football program for four years. His older brother, Nathan, played center for the Lancers in 2012 and ’13, when the team reached the WPIAL semifinals.
Nativio wears No. 67, the same as his brother.
“Jeremy always wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps,” Mozzocio said. “I treat Jeremy just like I’ve treated all of our other kids. That’s the way his mother and father and brother have asked me to go about it. He has to abide by rules and come to practice and do what everybody else does. This was a little reward for him for everything he puts into the team.”
Neshannock (7-2, 5-1) is tied for first place in the Class 2A Midwestern Conference.
The roster lists Nativio at 5-foot-3, 190 pounds. He has played other snaps over the years, including a couple Friday at wide receiver, but this was his first career carry.
“I called a timeout and told him he was going to go to running back and we were going to give him the football,” Mozzocio said. “Jeremy kept telling me, ‘I want to go live. I want to go live.’ He said, ‘I want them to hit me.’ … He broke it up the middle and took it the distance.”
Mozzocio wasn’t certain how word reached Western Beaver’s sideline but believed it came from a member of the chain gang manning the first-down sticks. Regardless, Mozzocio said, Western Beaver’s sportsmanship created a moment to be remembered.
Boomer TD pic.twitter.com/4Dw7lyDa15— Craig Nuzzo (@craig_nuzzo) October 19, 2019
TD record within reach
The WPIAL regular-season scoring record is within Ben Jackson’s reach. The West Greene senior scored seven touchdowns in Friday night’s 62-8 victory over Jefferson-Morgan, bringing his season total to 39.
Armstrong’s Zane Dudek set the WPIAL record with 42 in 2016. West Greene (8-1) plays at Union (3-6) in Week 9.
Jackson, who rushed for 313 yards Friday, also became the all-time rushing leader in Greene County. He surpassed former West Greene standout RodneyWilson, who graduated with 6,304 yards in 1993.
Back for more
Five of the six defending WPIAL champions are returning to the playoffs. Pine-Richland, Penn Hills, South Fayette, Aliquippa and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart have clinched berths.
However, Steel Valley is out. The Ironmen (4-4) are only the second team in the past decade to win a WPIAL title and miss the playoffs the next. Beaver Falls did it in 2017.
But Steel Valley can be optimistic. The Ironmen, under new coach Ray Braszo, have won four of their past five games after starting the season with three losses. And the team’s top running backs, NiJay Burt and Amier Murray, are sophomores.
Just like last year?
The Class 6A playoff field looks just like last year. The same six teams qualified for the postseason: North Allegheny, Central Catholic, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Mt. Lebanon and Canon-McMillan.
But unlike last year, the WPIAL might need to use tiebreakers to decide which two teams receive first-round byes. It hinges on the outcome of the Week 9 game between North Allegheny and Pine-Richland. If Pine-Richland wins, there could be a three-way tie with Central Catholic for the conference title.
Deja vu for Laurel
It’s little consolation, but for the second consecutive year, Laurel could claim to be the most-deserving WPIAL team not in the playoffs. The Spartans handed conference-leading Sto-Rox (8-1, 6-1) its first loss, 23-15, on Friday night, but they have no path to the postseason.
Laurel (6-3, 4-2) could finish tied for third with either Cornell or OLSH, but the Spartans can’t earn a wildcard because it loses head-to-head tiebreakers to both. And the WPIAL rules dictate that the two third-place wildcard spots are awarded to teams in different conferences.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .