Scholastic Notebook – 10/18/2013
Friday, October 18, 2013 | 12:09 PM
These are the days of spread offenses and pass-happy teams in WPIAL football. It’s not often you see a team average over 300 yards a game on the ground.
But in the next two weeks, two of the top games in the WPIAL will match teams that average more than 300 yards a game rushing. It is definitely unusual. And if you think running the football is not important any more, consider that all four of the teams involved in those games enter Week 8 with perfect records.
Aliquippa plays at Beaver Falls in a big WPIAL Class AA Midwestern game tonight, matching two teams that average more than 300 yards a game rushing. It will be the same next week when Thomas Jefferson plays at West Mifflin a WPIAL Class AAA Big Nine Conference game.
West Mifflin leads the WPIAL in rushing yardage, averaging an impressive 371.4 yards a game. Of course, Jimmy Wheeler accounts for most of that yardage. He leads the WPIAL in rushing with 1,788 yards, an average of 255 yards per game. Jon Green has added 405 yards on 53 attempts.
The other three teams take a more “team” approach to rushing. Is there a better one-two running punch in the WPIAL than Aliquippa’s Terry Swanson and Dravon Henry? Their yardage totals are almost identical. Swanson has rushed for 719 yards and Henry for 737 and between them they average an incredible 17.8 yards per carry. Swanson averages 14 yards a carry and Henry 22.
Aliquippa’s Kazeon Pugh has 325 yards rushing. As a team, Aliquippa is third in the WPIAL in rushing yards at 318.4 yards.
Beaver Falls’ running attack is impressive in that the Tigers have four players with at least 250 yards rushing. As a team, the Tigers are second in the WPIAL, averaging Damian Rawl leads with 829 yards. Kahlil Caracter became eligible to play a few weeks ago after transferring from Freedom and has added another top runner to the backfield. He has rushed for 358 yards on 28 carries.
Neshand Atkins has 277 yards and Marcu Cleckly 259. And don’t forget about quarterback Danny Stratton, who has rushed for 196 yards on 26 carries.
Then there is Thomas Jefferson, which is fifth in the WPIAL in rushing at 314.3 yards a game. Austin Kemp leads with 816 yards on 91 attempts. Chase Winovich, who plays quarterback, has 320 on 22 attempts. Ricky Daley has 251 yards.
So if you see either the Alquippa-Beaver Falls or Thomas Jefferson-West Mifflin games, you’ll certainly see teams on the run.
Throwing in the City
Pass-happy teams are not reserved for the WPIAL. Some quarterbacks in the City League also are making impacts this year.
Three City quarterbacks are among the top 25 in the area in passing yardage. That is very unusual. University Prep’s Ron Brown leads the WPIAL and City League with 2,316 yards passing. He has completed 127 of 201.
Allderdice’s James Jackson is 19th with 1,014 yards (50 of 128). Brasher’s Angelo Reed is 23rd with 930 yards.
Playing the Percentages
Lenny Williams became the all-time leading passer in the WPIAL last week, but what has been impressive about him this season is his accuracy. Williams is the WPIAL’s second-leading passer in yardage with 1,570, but he has completed 69 percent of his passes (70 of 101)
Speaking of accurate passers, you also have to be impressed with Pine-Richland’s Ben DiNucci. He is fourth in the WPIAL in passing yardage with 1,461 and he has completed 72 percent (101 of 140).
Joe Hamilton is the second-winningest coach in the WPIAL with 337 victories. But his program looks like it has fallen upon hard times.
For the second year in a row, Blackhawk has started the season with a 1-6 record. The Cougars are still alive for the playoffs but this would be the second year in a row Blackhawk would finish with a record below .500. That doesn’t happen often at Blackhawk.
The last time Blackhawk had back-to-back losing seasons was the early 1980s. From 1980 through 1983, Blackhawk went 3-7, 4-5-1, 4-5-1 and 2-7-1.
Beating the Champ
Canon-McMillan’s Lauren Waller is expected to challenge for the PIAA Class AAA girls golf championship Monday and Tuesday in York, Pa. She finished third last year and won the PIAA western regional qualifier Wednesday.
But in order to win, Waller will have to knock off a golfer who played in the U.S. Womens Open this summer.
Erica Herr, a junior at Council Rock North in eastern Pa., was good enough to make it through qualifiers and play in the U.S. Womens Open. She also is the two-time defending PIAA champion.
Waynesburg Hires Schifino
At Penn Hills High School, Drew Schifino was one of the most prolific scorers in WPIAL boys basketball history. Now he’ll try to make his point in the WPIAL as a coach.
Schifino was hired Tuesday as the new boys coach at Waynesburg High School. He will try to turn around a program that has won only 19 games the past three years and has not won a section game in that time.
Schifino is a 2000 graduate of Penn Hills and finished his career as the eighth-leading scorer in WPIAL history with 2,318 points. In 2000, he set a WPIAL playoff record for points with 147 (36.8 average). It’s a record that still stands today. He also set a Class AAAA championship game record for points with 39.
Memphis is now showing interest in Lincoln Park forward Elijah Minnie. A few other Division I schools are interested in him as well as teammate Ryan Skovranko.
Beano Hall of Famer
Kiski School, a prep school in Saltsburg, will have ceremonies Friday night at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association to induct its first class into the Kiski School Sports Hall of Fame. One of the inductees will be Beano Cook, a well-known Pittsburgh area college football analyst for ESPN and ABC-TV. Cook passed away last year. He is a 1949 Kiski graduate.
Among other inductees is Bob Mathias, a 1949 grad who two Olympic gold medals in the decathlon.
Also, Kiski School has a renovated football stadium that is now called the Beano Cook Outdoor Athletic Center. Ceremonies for that opening will be tomorrow night. Cook gave $500,000 to the school.