MSA Sports Countdown of Top 25 WPIAL Stories of 2013 – 12/30/13

Monday, December 30, 2013 | 3:43 PM

It has become a tradition like no other…at least during the holidays here at MSA Sports. It’s time to look back at another high school sports year with the top stories from around the WPIAL in 2013. We continue our countdown with the five stories that ended up #15 through #11.

#15 – Perfect Champions

It was a rare Perfect Saturday at Heinz Field on November 23rd as all four WPIAL football champions crowned did so with no losses. Pittsburgh Central Catholic, West Allegheny, South Fayette and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic were all 13-0 as they were presented with the golden football on a snowy day on the North Shore, but both the Lions and Trojans were not satisfied with just a district title, they wanted to stake their claim to state gold as well.

It was a record setting day in December for the South Fayette Lions, tying a PIAA title game record with 35 first half points, en route to a 41-0 victory over Imhotep Charter to win the PIAA Class AA title for the first time in school history. The victory also caps an undefeated season for the Lions, going 16-0.

Junior quarterback Brett Brumbaugh became the single season passing leader in WPIAL history, besting his brother Christian’s record of 3,726 yards set in 2010. Brumbaugh set the record in style with a 64-yard touchdown pass to Justin Watson on the second play of the second quarter.

Watson set a record of his own with a 31-yard catch in the second quarter, becoming the single season receiving leader in WPIAL history, knocking Carmen Connolly out of that spot. Connolly’s record, set in 2004, was 1,545 yards.

Brumbaugh finished the season with 3,910 yards, throwing for 299 yards on 18-of-25 attempts. He finished 41 yards shy of the state single season record. Watson had 6 catches for 126 yards, finishing with 1,568 yards for the season.

Head coach Joe Rossi said they used some of the predictions as many of the Philadelphia publications picked Imhotep Charter to win in a runaway, one predicted a score of 50-6 in favor of the Panthers. The South Fayette defense allowed just 148 yards of total offense, shutting down a Panthers offense that had scored 663 points this season. With the 41 points, South Fayette scored 719 points this season, becoming the eighth best scoring offense in PIAA history and the 7th state champion to score over 700 points in a season.

Meanwhile, It was a fairytale ending for the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans, claiming a 15-14 victory in overtime after rolling the dice. There was no doubt in Head Coach Bob Revenstahl’s mind, he was going for two and the win. It was, after all, a decision that paid off in an opening season victory over Apollo-Ridge and it paid off with an undefeated season and a PIAA Class A Football Championship on Friday afternoon at Hersheypark Stadium.

After falling behind 14-7 in overtime, Junior running back PJ Fulmore scored from 10 yards out on the first play of Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic’s first possession. Fulmore then used a second and third effort, as well as an extra push from Joshua Churchin to score the two-point conversion and give the Trojans their first ever state football crown. Fulmore carried 33 times for 109 yards in the win, but it was the final three yards that did not show up on the score sheet that were the biggest.

Fulmore said he knew the Trojans would go for two as soon as he scored. On the conversion, Fulmore was hit at the line of scrimmage and at the two yard line before surging into the endzone. He credited Churchin with a final push, allowing him to score after initially being stood up.

Old Forge took the second half kickoff and thought they would take a two touchdown lead, using 13 plays and eight minutes of clock. But Manetti tossed an incomplete pass on 4th down at the 14 yard line. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic took over the football and Fulmore stole the show, carrying ten straight times to move the ball to the Blue Devil 33. Ryan Kirby took a handoff from Fulmore and tossed their version of a throwback screen to Fulmore to gain 11 on 4th and 9. Three plays later, the Trojans found the end zone as Fulmore hit Jerome Turner with a lateral, the junior got a block from Ronnie Meder and went down the sideline for a 16-yard touchdown, tying the game with 7:01 remaining. The drive took 15 plays and nearly nine minutes to complete.

Both teams would exchange punts, Old Forge gained possession at it’s own 32 with one timeout left. Using their senior running back Brandon Yescavage, the Blue Devils gained a first down before hitting on a big pass play from Manetti to Schuback for a 22-yard gain to the 16. Manetti then hit Schuback to the 12 with eight seconds left in the game.

Schuback would attempt a 29-yard field goal that came up short of the mark after being partially blocked by Meder, sending the game to overtime. Old Forge won the toss and went on offense first. It took two plays for the Blue Devils to score, as Yescavage carried twice for five yards each, including the go-ahead touchdown. Schuback kicked the extra point, setting up the Trojans for the dramatic win.

The win is the 36th victory for the WPIAL in the State Championships and the 12th State Championship for the WPIAL’s Class A. The Trojans had just 145 yards of offense but held Old Forge to 219 yards. The Trojans finish the season unbeaten at 16-0. They will likely be one of the favorites to repeat next season with Fulmore, Turner and quarterback Adam Sharlow, who missed the last eight games with a knee injury, all returning. Defensively, Meder led the North Catholic with nine solo stops.

#14 – That Girl Can Run

Breanna Schwartz of Shaler ended her sophomore season and started her junior season proving again she will go down as one of the best female long distance runners in district history.

Schwartz helped headlined a memorable day at Baldwin High School back in May in the 2013 WPIAL AAA and AA Individual Track and Field Championships.

The then sophomore not only won gold in the 800 and the 1600 meter race, but she set new WPIAL records in both races.

Another record went down at the Coopers Lake Course in Butler in late October as Schwartz, now a junior won her second straight WPIAL Girls Class AAA cross-country championship. She broke the course record by nearly six seconds with a winning time of 17:52 and finished 53 seconds ahead of the runner-up.

#13 – The Dominator

Since the rubber in the pitching circle was moved back a few years ago, offenses have taken advantage with scoring in softball being up around the WPIAL. I guess then that would make recent Riverside graduate Kirsten Wilson a little old school.

Wilson pitched like a champion the entire 2013 season and capped it off with leading her Panthers teammate to the 2013 WPIAL Class AA championship with a 5-1 win over Deer Lakes back in late May.

Wilson entered the district title game with an 18-0 record and a .043 earned run average with 213 strikeouts and twelve straight shutouts. She picked up where she left off by not allowing a hit until there were two outs in the 6th inning and by then, the Panthers were leading 3-0.

Deer Lakes was the defending champion and the playoffs top seed, however they looked nervous from the get-go, committing three errors in the first inning leading to three unearned Panthers runs.

Wilson saw her shutout string end, but allowed only one earned run on two hits with two walks and eleven strike outs.

Riverside ended up going 22-1 with their only loss coming in the state championship game, a 1-0 decision to Brandywine Heights.

#12 – A Pair of Golden Stunners

Defending WPIAL and PIAA champion was a heavy favorite to repeat in girls basketball in both the district and state playoffs. However somebody forgot to tell their arch-rivals about that.

After losing to Seton-LaSalle twice in the regular season by scores of 66-35 and 66-58, Bishop Canevin started the WPIAL basketball championship weekend in March in grand fashion, upsetting the top-seeded Rebels 56-47 and winning their first girls basketball championship in school history

Seton LaSalle came into the game with a 66 game winning streak over WPIAL competition and an 8 game winning streak over the Crusaders.

Leading the way for Bishop Canevin was Johnie Olkosky with 26 points and 7 three pointers, a record for the Girls AA Championship. Carly Forse added 16 for the Rebels.

The two AA-Section 3 rivals would meet for a fourth time in the season and a second time in the postseason with a berth in the state finals at stake as Seton-LaSalle looked for revenge against Bishop Canevin in the PIAA Semifinals.

Once again the Crusaders stunned the Rebels in a 41-36 battle that advanced Bishop Canevin to Hershey where the Crusaders surprising postseason run ended with a state championship following a 45-38 triumph over York Catholic.

#11 – Legendary Coaches Say So Long

On the same January day that the President was inaugurated into office, two high-profile WPIAL football coaches said goodbye to their days as a high school football coach. it was the start to an off-season that saw four veteran successful coaches hang up the whistle.

Jack McCurry, one of the winningest coaches in the history of the WPIAL, stepped down as North Hills’ coach after 35 seasons. McCurry called his decision a “semi retirement” because he’s not totally sure he won’t coach again in some capacity.

McCurry is one of the deans of WPIAL football. He is third on the all-time WPIAL list of victories with a record of 281-108-9. He won four WPIAL titles, including one co-championship. He also won a PIAA championship in 1993.

Terry Smith left Gateway High School to become the receivers coach at Temple University. He also was the school’s athletic director. Smith was extremely successful, making the WPIAL playoffs all 11 seasons as coach at his alma mater. He won seven conference titles and made the WPIAL championship game four times. He lost each time, though. His record was 101-30 (.770 winning percentage).

Clair Altemus retired after building Pine-Richland into a Class AAA football power that including a WPIAL championship in 2003.

Altemus was 106-65 in 16 years coaching the Rams, overseeing the growth of a program from a nondescript Class A team to a perennial playoff team in Class AAA to eventually a Class AAAA team.

It’s hard not to think of Bob Jacoby when one thinks of Bishop Canevin. The longtime football coach retired in January after 40 years of coaching the Crusaders football team.

Jacoby also served as athletic director and softball coach at Bishop Canevin for 30 years each. He finished with a 238-170-7 record and won a WPIAL championship in 1990 in a dramatic victory over Washington and came within a 2-point conversion from a state title the same year.

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