High school notebook: Belle Vernon football won’t play up to 4A

Sunday, January 9, 2022 | 3:48 PM

Belle Vernon has been one of the top football teams in WPIAL Class 4A for nearly half a decade.

The Leopards have reached the semifinals four straight years and made the finals at Heinz Field in 2019 and ‘21.

Class 3A, brace yourself because here come the Leopards.

Belle Vernon will play down a class next season. Athletic director and coach Matt Humbert said the school will not voluntarily “play up.”

The WPIAL landscape is changing again for the next two-year enrollment cycle, and a number of area schools will be affected. The enrollment numbers are out, now schools are awaiting the WPIAL’s section relignment.

In football, Norwin and Hempfield could see a more competitive balance as they drop to Class 5A, cutting loose from a dwindling 6A ensemble that now consists of five teams.

Latrobe is moving from 5A to 4A, and Derry and Yough are stepping down from 3A to 2A.

Some other notable moves of Westmoreland County interest are in basketball where Penn-Trafford goes from 6A to 5A for both boys and girls teams.

Greensburg Salem’s boys basketball team will go from 6A, where it played up voluntarily, to 4A, while the girls’ team will slide down to 4A.

More moves:

• The Penn-Trafford and Latrobe boys and girls soccer teams, mainstays in the WPIAL’s largest class, are going from 4A to 3A.

This will drive a wedge between Penn-Trafford and Norwin as longtime section rivals. The schools still could play each other in nonsection games.

Latrobe’s girls were expected to be one of the top 4A teams with a load talent returning. Now, the Wildcats could be a force in 3A, although powers Mars and Moon are also in that class.

• Latrobe baseball, going on five years removed from WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A titles, is moving to 4A.

Greensburg Salem (3A) and Ligonier Valley (2A) also will be in new classes.

Yough softball, a perennial contender, drops to 3A.

Greensburg Central Catholic baseball and softball will actually go up, from A to 2A.

• The Jeannette boys soccer team is in Class A but elected to play up to 2A.

Texas after Martin

Coveted 2024 football prospect Quinton Martin of Belle Vernon welcomed his ninth Division I FBS Power 5 scholarship offer last week, from Texas.

New Longhorns assistant coach, Brennan Marion, is back on the recruiting trail after leaving Pitt just after the Peach Bowl. Marion, a Greensburg Salem alum, is now the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator for the Longhorns.

He also recently offered Laurel Highlands star junior Rodney Gallagher.

Martin has four Big Ten offers, three from the ACC and two from the Big 12.

Status quo for Yacamelli

With Joe Rudolph leaving the Wisconsin football staff to coach at Virginia Tech, Wisconsin recruits might waver on their commitments to the Badgers. It happens in college football when trusted coaches leave.

But not Cade Yacamelli.

The star senior running back/defensive back from Penn-Trafford said his commitment is firm.

Rudolph, a Belle Vernon native and former Pitt offensive coordinator, had a big impact on Yacamelli choosing Wisconsin.

“My family loves coach Rudolph, but he was not the only reason I committed,” Yacamelli said. “I love pretty much everything about Wisconsin besides the fact that it’s far from home. Yes, coach Rudolph is an amazing person and definitely a huge reason at first why I was so interested in Wisconsin. But I feel there are also other great people on the staff as well, and that is why I committed.”

Brown promoted

New Jeannette football coach Thomas Paulone has at least one assistant in place. The former standout Jayhawks quarterback added another notable player from the storied program’s recent past in Darius Brown.

Brown, nicknamed “Fatman,” will serve as Paulone’s assistant head coach, his Charlie Cook to Roy Hall.

Brown was on Hall’s staff last season.


Garrett Moorhead, a senior lineman for the WPIAL and PIAA 5A champion Penn-Trafford football team, announced he will continue his career at Case Western Reserve in Ohio. Moorhead (6-1, 260) was a first-team all-conference player as an offensive guard this season.

Greensburg Central Catholic senior football player Aaron Stasko, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver, defensive back and long-snapper, received a preferred walk-on offer from Duquesne. He also has an offer from Division II Seton Hill.

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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