High school sports notebook: Ex-Hempfield, Jeannette football assistant heads to Central Catholic

Sunday, January 29, 2023 | 4:12 PM

Former Jeannette and Hempfield football assistant Ryan Reitz will be with a new team next season.

Reitz has accepted the offensive coordinator position at Central Catholic under new head coach Ryan Lehmeier.

“When Ryan asked, it was just too hard to pass up an opportunity like this,” Reitz said.

Reitz, a Jeannette alum, brought a no-huddle, spread offense to Hempfield last year and forced opponents to prepare for fast-paced play-calling.

Reitz added innovation to Jeannette’s scheme a few years ago when the Jayhawks won a WPIAL title and made the PIAA final.

He has worked clinics at Pine-Richland, where Lehmeier was an assistant.

Lehmeier replaces Terry Totten, who retired after leading Central for 18 seasons.

Central was the WPIAL Class 6A runner-up last season. The Vikings, who have made the district finals nine times in the past 10 years, will return a number of key players.

Reitz coached with his father, Ray, last season at Hempfield. Ryan said his dad plans to stay with Mike Brown and coach at Norwin.

Reason to cheer

After guiding her squad to WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A championships, Hempfield cheerleading coach Suzannah Meyer was named the National Federation of High Schools’ Section 2 Coach of the Year.

Hempfield repeated as WPIAL champions this season.

Thrower Award

The third annual Willie Thrower Award, which recognizes the top quarterback in the WPIAL and City League from this season, has its five finalists.

They are: Payton Wehner of Central Catholic, Keyshawn Morsillo of Westinghouse, Armstrong’s Cadin Olsen, Sto-Rox’s Josh Jenkins, and Cruce Brookins of Steel Valley.

Wehner is from North Huntingdon.

Gymnast to watch

Olivia Kovach is hoping to put Mt. Pleasant gymnastics on the WPIAL map.

A freshman, Kovach is the first independent gymnast to compete out of Mt. Pleasant in five years.

With a pair of meets remaining this season, she will attempt to become the first Mt. Pleasant gymnast to make the WPIAL championship, set for Feb. 11.

She also is a USAG Level 9 Competitive Gymnast for Ultimate Gymnastics in Delmont. Renee Ruggeri is her coach for both teams.

Kovach has qualified for the USAG Level 9 Pa. state meet, set for April.

Hail Caesar

Hempfield senior football player Gino Caesar made a commitment to play at Edinboro of the PSAC.

A 5-foot-10, 205-pound running back and outside linebacker, Caesar had offers from a number of Division III programs but opted to play Division II.

Last season, he rushed for 1,111 yards and 15 touchdowns on 210 carries and added 12 receptions for 194 yards and a score.

He did not fumble and averaged 5.3 yards per carry.

Soccer openings

Jeannette has coaching vacancies in both of its soccer programs.

Bill Bryant resigned from the girls position after two seasons.

Bryant, who is pursuing other interests, worked to build up a program that has been thin on numbers.

There were times he had less than the standard number of 11 girls on the field. Practices also were difficult.

Jeannette went 0-14 last season and has lost 43 straight games.

The boys job, held by Art Cicero since 2018, was opened in December.

Cicero was 23-43-1 and led the Jayhawks to their first WPIAL playoff appearance.

Miller headed to Clarion

Southmoreland senior Henry Miller signed to continue his swimming career at Clarion.

Miller has won two WPIAL titles and a PIAA championship in the 100-yard butterfly.


Belle Vernon junior Braden Laux landed his first Division I college offer to play at the next level. Then he added a second.

Laux, a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder, is being courted by Western Kentucky, an FBS program in Conference USA. Eastern Michigan offered him on Saturday, when he made a visit to the campus.

Laux played quarterback and defensive end last season for the WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A champion Leopards.

Penn-Trafford junior lineman Zach Tomosovich is up to five Division I schools interested in his game. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder added offers to play at Dartmouth and Eastern Michigan.

• Ohio University and Miami of Ohio offered Norwin junior football standout Jackson Pons, a wide receiver and defensive back.

• Anthony Vallano, a senior tight end, linebacker and long-snapper at Hempfield, announced he will play at Division III Carnegie Mellon.

• Hempfield football player Ethan Shaw has an offer to play at Division II Cal U.

Shaw is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound two-way lineman.

• Norwin tight end and defensive end Noah Vogel picked up two more Division II PSAC offers, from Edinboro and Shippensburg.

• AJ Clemens of Norwin has a football offer from Cal U.

• Hempfield softball player Mia Bandiermonte signed a letter of intent to play at Chatham.

Bandiermonte is an infielder for the Spartans.

Derry wrestler Dylan Klim will continue his career at Saint Vincent, which brought back the sport for PAC competition in 2023-24.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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