Hempfield’s Sliwoski-Brose show special connection in Week Zero

Sunday, August 27, 2017 | 2:57 PM

Hempfield was supposed to have a big-play connection with quarterback Justin Sliwoski and tight end Braden Brose, but the senior tandem's season debut Friday was more than even they could have expected.

Hempfield downed neighboring rival Greensburg Salem, 49-21, with Sliwoski-to-Brose underlining the victory at Spartan Stadium.

Sliwoski completed 15 of 23 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns and Brose grabbed eight receptions for 144 yards and three scores.

Sliwoski said some people call the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Brose, “Gronk,” referring to New England Patriots tight end and matchup nightmare Rob Gronkowski.

“It makes my job a lot easier with his skill set and what he can do after the catch as well,” Sliwoski said. “His height is a big advantage, and it helps me a ton.”

Brose primarily is a tight end but lined up wide a few times Friday and gained separation easily on smaller defensive backs.

“We have worked hard this offseason on our timing,” Sliwoski said.

Thomas wins debut

Connellsville football rallied for a 46-33 win over Uniontown Friday night, giving first-year coach Marko Thomas a win in his head-coaching debut.

The win also helped the Falcons retain the Coal Bucket, the annual rivalry's trophy.

Thomas is a Penn-Trafford grad, and Connellsville hosts his alma mater this week.

Soccer time

WPIAL soccer season officially begins Friday.

Some opening-weekend boys games to watch include Norwin at the Baldwin tournament, Franklin Regional in the Shaler tournament, and the Hempfield tournament on Saturday, which also features Greensburg Central Catholic and Greensburg Salem.

On the girls side, Hempfield also is hosting a tournament Friday, Belle Vernon is doing the same Saturday, while Penn-Trafford at Bethel Park and Moon at Franklin Regional are other good openers.

Section play begins Sept. 5-6. The top four teams in each WPIAL section make the playoffs, set to start Oct. 21.

Teams get three points for a section win and one for ties. Ties will be broken via head-to-head competition.

The WPIAL championships will be Nov. 2-4 and the PIAA finals Nov. 17-18.

Rule changes

Soccer teams will be adjusting to new rules this fall. For starters, players can now kick the ball in any direction during kickoffs. In the past, the ball had to be kicked forward from the center of the field.

Now, all free kicks, sans penalty kicks, can go anywhere.

And speaking of penalty kicks, players can now get crafty and use a stutter-step move on a shot, given there still is continuous movement.

Officials are now permitted to use electronic communication devices to talk from far apart on the field, which could cut down on extended huddles by officials and lead to improved calls.

Tough call

Success has helped turn Norwin into a girls soccer factory. After winning back-to-back WPIAL titles and returning a host of talent, coach Lauren Karcher had 52 players sign up this season. That meant she had to make cuts, which was a gut-wrenching matter for the coach.

“I'd be lying if I told you I didn't cry,” she said. “Our football team kept everybody (that signed up). It's not easy. Some of those girls we let go are good players.”

GCC dedication

The Greensburg Central Catholic girls tennis team is dedicating its season to former instructor Enrico Campi, who died in March. The Centurions opened the season Wednesday with a pre-match ceremony at the Greensburg Racquet Club, which was owned by Campi, who also was a long-time tennis coach at St. Vincent.

Campi was a teaching professional for more than 30 years. GCC players will display badges on their tennis bags with the initials “E.C.” to honor Campi.

GCC coach Tony Splendore said Campi taught numerous youth players over the years.

“Enrico dedicated his life to teaching the sport of tennis,” Splendore said. “How lucky we are in the area to have the Greensburg Racquet Club and to have had such a great teacher of the sport.”

GCC won its opening match 5-0 over Southmoreland. Campi's wife, Molly, and daughter, Cassandra attended the ceremony.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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