Guido: Burrell to wrestle on 10th anniversary of state title

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 | 4:15 PM

With its 12th consecutive WPIAL Class AA championship in tow, the Burrell wrestling team is again headed to Hershey for the PIAA team tournament.

The Bucs will take on Muncy Thursday at Hershey's Giant Center.

Friday will mark the 10th anniversary of Burrell's only state title.

On Feb. 9, 2008, the Bucs defeated Bermudian Springs, 37-29, in a thriller at Giant Center.

Bob Speer, in the 152-pound bout, pinned Nick Grim at 2:48. With just a 31-29 lead, there was no room for error for Speer.

What's more, Speer had a shoulder pop out during his match and needed an injury timeout to recover.

Both the Bucs and the Bubblers came into the state finals with undefeated records.

Burrell fell behind early, but falls by Lou Gardone at 215, David Makara at 103 and Jordan Shields at 140 put the Bucs back on track.

The victory over Bermudian Springs was preceded by a hard-fought semifinal match against Reynolds, riding a 54-dual match winning streak.

Burrell prevailed 24-22 against the Raiders, defending state champs at the time.

The Bucs' semifinal win also was sealed on the final bout, when Shields bested Luke Taylor, 4-1.

A week earlier, Burrell defeated Shady Side Academy to win its second straight WPIAL crown 36-26 at Gateway.

Muncy, Thursday's opponent, is perhaps best known for producing scholastic-wrestler-turned-MLB catcher Ed Ott.

Ott, catcher on the Pirates' 1979 World Series title team, was a standout wrestler at Muncy in the late 1960s at 165 pounds.

He earned all-conference wrestling honors during his junior and senior seasons.

Donald earns MVP

Penn Hills graduate Aaron Donald was named 2017 NFL Defensive MVP over the weekend.

Donald, who played for Pitt before starting his NFL career with the Rams when they were in St. Louis, was a 2014 first-round draft selection.

This past season, Donald had 51 tackles, 41 unassisted. He forced five fumbles, recovering one. He has 204 tackles over his four-year pro career.

The only other player from a WPIAL school to win NFL Defensive MVP honors was Jason Taylor of Woodland Hills, who won it in 2005 with the Miami Dolphins.

On the other side of the ball, players from WPIAL schools to win MVP honors include Dan Marino (Central Catholic) in 1984 with the Dolphins and Joe Montana (Ringgold) in 1989 and ‘90 with the 49ers.

Other winners from the region include Johnny Unitas of the former St. Justin's High School on Pittsburgh's Mount Washington. Johnny U won it in 1959, ‘64 and ‘67 with the Baltimore Colts.

Unitas played his final game as a semipro for the Bloomfield Rams at George Leslie Memorial Stadium in Arnold before the Colts called.

Schenley's Larry Brown won the 1972 MVP award as a running back with the Redskins.

Looking for a home

St. Joseph High School's baseball team asked Freeport Borough council to use James Swartz Memorial Stadium for its baseball games this season.

The Spartans used the No Off-season Complex in West Deer last season. The school has rented a variety of home fields over the years.

Freeport Council President Tom Swisher said Monday that St. Joseph would have to coordinate dates with another organization that uses Swartz Stadium.

Council will vote on the request at a later date.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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