Scholastic Notebook – 11/15/2013

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Friday, November 15, 2013 | 4:01 PM


Look at Friday night’s WPIAL Semifinals and you see many of the same old faces, like Aliquippa, Woodland Hills and Thomas Jefferson, to just name a few. But there are definitely some new faces mixed in.

Penn-Trafford is making its first semifinal appearance since 1997. The Warriors have been to only one WPIAL title game.

Neshannock is making its second consecutive semifinal appearance and will play Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic. Neither Neshannock nor North Catholic has ever been to a WPIAL title game.

Beaver is making its first semifinal appearance since 2003, but the Bobcats haven’t been to a WPIAL title game since 1982 when they knocked off Jeannette, 18-13, on a chilly Saturday night at Mt. Lebanon Stadium. That came one year after Beaver won the Class AAA championship and then moved down in classification.

Here are some more WPIAL playoff factoids:

*** Upper St. Clair is playing Woodland Hills in the semifinals for the second consecutive season. Between those two, they have 20 championship appearances since 1980. In 34 previous seasons, Upper St. Clair has made 11 championship appearances and Woodland Hills nine.

*** Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render and Woodland Hills coach George Novak have 11 WPIAL titles between them. Render has five and Novak six (five at Woodland Hills and one at Steel Valley).

*** Aliquippa is trying to make it to the WPIAL Class AA championship game for the sixth consecutive season. Clairton also is trying to make it to the Class A title game for the sixth consecutive season.

*** North Catholic has never gone a full season undefeated since it joined the WPIAL in the mid 1970s. The last time North Catholic went undefeated for an entire season was 1970 when it played in the old Catholic League. North Catholic went 9-0 that year, outscored opponents, 279-66, and beat Central Catholic, 33-7, in the season finale at Three Rivers Stadium.

*** This is the third time in four years that Central Catholic enters the semifinals undefeated. The past two times, Central Catholic lost in the semifinals to Upper St. Clair and North Allegheny.

*** Clairton has won 22 WPIAL playoff games in a row. The Bears’ last district postseason loss was to Springdale, 22-21, in the 2007 Semifinals. Overall they have won 30 playoff games in a row with their last postseason loss coming in the 2008 PIAA Class A championship game.

Krepps Resigns

Let the football coaching carousel begin. At least one job is now open in the WPIAL. Belle Vernon’s Aaron Krepps has resigned as the Leopards’ coach after five seasons.

Krepps guided Belle Vernon to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs in all five years as coach, but the Leopards never finished better than 5-5.

McKenzie visits VT

Washington star running back Shai McKenzie is visiting Virginia Tech this weekend. He already has been to Florida State and will go to Georgia Tech in December. Pitt is his other finalist.

Nicholson an All-American

Another one of the top uncommitted WPIAL players is Gateway’s Montae Nicholson. A senior receiver-defensive back, Nicholson got a big honor this week when he was named to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

The all-star game includes top players around the country and is played in San Antonio Jan. 4. It is televised live by NBC-TV.

As for Nicholson’s recruiting, he has visited Michigan State, Florida State and Oregon. Pitt is his other top choice.

Rockets Make Noise

The PIAA playoffs start in two weeks for the four WPIAL champions. One team who has made a lot of noise this year and could be in the PIAA playoffs is located just outside the WPIAL.

Slippery Rock is having its best season in almost 30 years. The Rockets finished the regular season 10-0 for the first time since 1984. They play General McLane tonight in the District 10 Class AA semifinals.

A strong running game has been the main reason for Slippery Rock’s success. The Rockets average 48 points a game and their running stats are eye-opening. Slippery Rock is averaging 360 yards a game rushing and 10.6 yards per carry. Five players have been two 300 and 960 yards. The leader is Frank Conlon with 959.

Jeannette Goes Down

The Jeannette school board voted this week to move all of its sports teams down to Class A starting next season. Although Jeannette’s school enrollment is small enough to play in Class A, the Jayhawks have been playing “up” in Class AA.

Crouse Sets Record

Greensburg Central Catholic is playing in the PIAA Class AA girls soccer championship Friday, but it has already been a memorable week for one of the Centurions’ players.

In Tuesday night’s semifinals, senior Frannie Crouse broke the record for WPIAL career goals. Crouse now has 206, breaking the mark of 205, held by former Steel Valley soccer-basketball star Jess Strom.

Strom, by the way, is now the head women’s basketball coach at California University of Pa.

Greensburg Central Catholic is one of five WPIAL teams trying to win PIAA titles this weekend. The Centurions are trying to win their second consecutive title and play Southern Columbia Friday night at 5.

The Central Valley girls play Camp Hill Trinity Saturday at 11am for the Class AA title.

The WPIAL has three boys teams trying for titles. Upper St. Clair is trying for its second consecutive Class AAA title and plays Conestoga Valley tomorrow at 6:30. West Allegheny plays Holy Ghost Prep tomorrow at 1:30 for the Class AA championship. Sewickley Academy plays Mountain View tonight at 7:30 in the Class A final.

All championship games are at Hersheypark Stadium.

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More Football

Thomas Jefferson’s McClain Flinn shows flair for dramatic
Pine-Richland routs Cathedral Prep to claim PIAA Class 5A title
Central Valley caps undefeated season with PIAA Class 3A championship
PIAA Class 5A football championship breakdown: Pine-Richland vs. Cathedral Prep
PIAA Class 3A football championship breakdown: Central Valley vs. Wyomissing

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