High school football notebook: Newcomers bolster No. 1 Jeannette

Thursday, October 19, 2017 | 4:51 PM

Jeannette's Seth Howard wasn't going to play football this season. But coaches and teammates wooed him to the gridiron and he changed his mind.

“I felt bored and all my friends were playing,” Howard said. “I knew they had a big chance to win the WPIAL and PIAA.”

A better-late-than-never story, Howard came out for the team. Will the rest be history? Maybe. Howard joined the Jayhawks the Sunday before the Week Zero opener against East Allegheny and has made an instant impact for Class A No. 1 Jeannette (8-0).

“I knew he was an athlete,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “I watched him play basketball. I watched him play baseball. His dad wanted him to play also, but we didn't want (Seth) to play unless he really wanted to. He decided he wanted to play, and we're glad to have him.”

The junior slot receiver has accounted for six touchdowns — four rushing, one on a reception and another via pass on a swift, buck-sweep handoff from Robert Kennedy that he threw to Marcus Barnes for a 43-yard scoring play last week in a 55-7 win over Greensburg Central Catholic.

“We have a lot of good guys so you have to ready all the time,” said Howard, who also has played some outside linebacker. “I was a little rusty in the beginning. I haven't played since (youth league). But it's really been fun.”

Howard, who played on Jeannette's WPIAL Class A championship baseball team last spring, is one of several newcomers who have helped make an already strong team even stronger.

Don't overlook the play of Anthony Johnson, who has been a menacing defensive player for the Jayhawks, disruptive and energetic from every snap. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound junior still is learning how to wait for the snap, but once he grasps the game fully, coaches think he could have a college future in football or basketball. The latter is Johnson's main sport.

Hall knew from the day Johnson came on board during summer heat workouts that he was a player.

“You have an idea; when you coach as long as I have you can see some people that you think can help,” Hall said. “Did I think Seth Howard would be doing what he's doing? Absolutely not. Did I think Anthony Johnson, who hasn't played since he was in seventh grade, do what he's doing? No. I see improvement with these guys and we're glad to have them.

“A small school like Jeannette, you don't get new kids coming to your school all the time.”

Nearing perfection

Penn-Trafford is two wins away from an undefeated regular season. The Warriors (8-0), ranked No. 1 in WPIAL Class 5A, have accomplished that feat four others times, in 2000, 2011, 2014 and 2015.

Three of the four times came under coach John Ruane.

The Warriors were 9-0 the previous times, but could finish 10-0 this time.

Playoff picture

Four Westmoreland County teams have clinched spots in the WPIAL playoffs so far: Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional in 5A, and Belle Vernon (4A) and Jeannette (A).

A few teams are on the postseason bubble.

Norwin clinches a spot in Class 6A if Canon-McMillan loses Friday to Peters Township.

Greensburg Salem needs to beat Trinity Friday to clinch in 4A, while Derry can inch closer to a spot in 3A with a win over Waynesburg.

Greensburg Central Catholic clinches a Class A berth with a win over Bishop Canevin.


Penn-Trafford senior Will Mayr grabbed two more college scholarship offers this week. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound two-way lineman was offered by West Virginia State and West Virginia Wesleyan, both Division II programs. Both play in the Mountain East Conference.

Mayr also has an offer from Seton Hill.

• Belle Vernon senior wide receiver/defensive back Logan Pfrogner was offered by Division II Wheeling Jesuit. Pfrogner leads the Leopards with 15 receptions for 241 yards and three touchdowns, and has two interceptions on defense.

• West Virginia State offered Yough lineman Scott Houseman (6-4, 310).

Statistically speaking

As the regular season winds down, it's worth a peek at the top statistical leaders in Westmoreland County.

Norwin first-year starting quarterback Jack Salopek has completed 113 of 204 passes for 1,482 yards to lead the county in passing. The sophomore has eight touchdowns.

Yough junior Dustin Shoaf has rushed for a county-best 1,204 yards and nine touchdowns, while Hempfield senior tight end Braden Brose is the area's top pass-catcher with 42 receptions for 584 yards and six scores.

Jeannette senior quarterback Robert Kennedy has scored 18 touchdowns to lead the scoring column.

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

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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