Saturday’s Scholastic Starz – 09/04/2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011 | 9:23 AM

On a hot and humid afternoon and evening, five WPIAL games were featured on the first Saturday of the high school football season. Here are the top five performances from players who overcame the sauna like conditions to lead their team to a victory that left their opponents in their 2011 openers…a little steamed.

John Dugas and Mike LaRocka – Burgettstown

After a convincing win on the road Saturday afternoon, you could say that Burgettstown was solid…solid as LaRocka (well, you could). The Blue Devils starting running backs proved to be big time players with big time plays as halfback John Dugas returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for one touchdown, then returned an interception 70 yards for another score while fullback Mike LaRocka rushed for 109 yards and scored twice on a 74-yard run and a 19-yard scoring pass from Ryan Dupain in a 33-7 victory over the South Side Beaver Rams.

John Camello to Rob Jones – Northgate

With this Class A Eastern Conference contest deadlocked at 20-20 after three quarters at Robert Morris University, the combination of John Camello and Rob Jones took over. The two hooked up for fourth quarter touchdown passes of 7 and 17 yards with that final toss putting Northgate ahead for good as the Flames out battled the Chargers of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart by a score of 32-27.

Tanner Garry – Fort Cherry

It was defense be damned in the 2nd and 4th quarters Saturday afternoon in a Class A non-conference game at Industry as Fort Cherry and Western Beaver combined for 48 second quarter points and 32 final quarter points in an old-fashioned wild, wild Western shootout. The hottest gunslinger on this day was Rangers quarterback Tanner Garry, who was 11 of 13 passing for 191 yards and three touchdowns in a 55-40 victory over the Golden Beavers, giving Fort Cherry their 300th career gridiron victory.

Avery Pears – Shenango

When coaches preach about hard work and dedication on the football field will bear great fruits of their labor, I don’t think they had Pears in mind. Nonetheless, host Shenango is off to a 1-0 start thanks in part to Avery Pears, who was one of six Wildcats to score touchdowns and the only one to crack the end zone twice on runs of 29 and 40 yards in a 47-16 rout of the visiting Avella Eagles in a Class A non-conference contest in Lawrence County.

Dante Forte – University Prep

It has been an ever changing year for Dante Forte. The Division I recruit ended the school year at Peabody, started practice this summer at Gateway and begins the season at the district newest school…a move that quickly paid off for University Prep. Forte threw a 13-yard touchdown pass, scored on a 23-yard run and also returned an interception 33-yard to the house in leading the Panthers to a 20-6 victory over the Summit Academy Knights in Prep’s first ever football game.

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