Scholastic Notebook – 10/18/2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014 | 7:15 PM

Neshannock High School has never gotten much attention for football, and not just because the small Lawrence County school is on the outer edges of the WPIAL.

Neshannock hasn’t gotten much attention because the football team had been one of the least successful in WPIAL history – until lately.

What is going on the past few seasons at Neshannock is really one of the biggest turnaround stories in the WPIAL in a long time. And this year, the story might have a perfect ending.

Neshannock is 8-0 after a 49-14 victory against Chartiers-Houston Friday night. A victory in the final regular-season game against Union will give Neshannock its first undefeated regular-season since the school started playing in 1958. That means there had been 56 previous seasons of Neshannock football – and none like this one.

This is also the third consecutive year that Neshannock will be in the playoffs. To understand where Neshannock is now, you have to understand the Lancers’ past. For a 25-year period from 1984 through 2008, Neshannock had a .271 winning percentage. Only five WPIAL programs had a worst record over that time.

Heading into this season, Neshannock had qualified for the WPIAL playoffs only six times. Only 14 teams currently playing WPIAL football had qualified fewer than six.

The man leading the Neshannock revival has been Fred Mozzocio. Do you think it is just a coincidence that Neshannock has qualified for the WPIAL playoffs three consecutive seasons, and Mozzocio has been the Lancers’ coach three seasons?

This year’s Neshannock team averages 47.5 points, second-best in Class A behind Clairton. Neshannock has allowed only 81 points.

Greyhounds Out

Monessen can’t qualify for the playoffs this season, no matter what happens on the final weekend of the regular season. That is definitely noteworthy because Monessen has qualified 31 years, sixth-most in WPIAL history.

The Kicking Queen

It’s not often that you see a kicker for a high school team boot a field goal in the first half, take off the helmet and put on the homecoming queen crown at halftime.

But that was the story Friday for Penn-Trafford’s Casey Aunkst.

Aunkst is in her first season as Penn-Trafford’s kicker. In the first quarter against Plum, she kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead. It was her second field goal of the season. Then at halftime, she was named homecoming queen.

Aunkst has been a busy student-athlete this fall. She also is one of the captains for the Penn-Trafford girls soccer team that takes a 16-1-1 record into the WPIAL playoffs that began today (Saturday).

On top of that, Aunkst was a starting guard on Penn-Trafford’s girls basketball team that won a WPIAL title last season.

Hedrick to Connellsville

It didn’t get much attention because it is in the middle of football season, but there was a rather significant coaching change recently in WPIAL boys basketball.

Andy Hedrick resigned as Blackhawk’s coach to become Connellsville’s coach. But there is more than just basketball behind this move. Hedrick was also given an assistant principal’s job at Connellsville.

Hedrick had the tough task of taking over at Blackhawk for legendary John Miller, who retired after the 2004-05 season. But Hedrick did well. On his nine seasons as coach, Blackhawk made the WPIAL playoffs every season and his record was 137-91. His shining moment came in 2008 when Blackhawk won the WPIAL title and finished with a 25-6 record.

At Connellsville, Hedrick takes over for Dan Bosnic, who resigned.

Schwartz Primed for Championships

The WPIAL boys and girls cross-country championships will be Thursday at Cooper’s Lake in Slippery Rock. It looks like Brianna Schwartz is primed to win her third consecutive WPIAL Class AAA title.

Schwartz, a senior at Shaler and arguably the best distance runner in WPIAL history, didn’t run some of the big invitationals this fall. She started serious training a little later because she doesn’t want to tire out. She plans to run in the Foot Locker national championship in December.

Well, Schwartz seems anything but tired. At the Mack Cooper Invitational at Slippery Rock a week-and-a-half ago, Schwartz won the event with a time of 17 minutes, 48.8 seconds. That broke the course record of 17:48.8, which she set last year at the WPIAL championships.

Schwartz’s main competition figures to come from North Allegheny’s Madeline Davidson and Mt. Lebanon’s Kelsey Potts.

Waller Going for State Title

Canon-McMillan’s Lauren Waller has been a dominant golfer among WPIAL girls. Here score of 68 at the WPIAL finals was the best ever by a girl in the championships.

But now the question is can she win a PIAA title?

The PIAA championships are Monday and Tuesday in York and Waller is considered one of the favorites after finishing tied for third last year. You might figure her top competition would come from defending champion Isabella DiLisio of Mount St. Joseph and Jackie Rogowicz of Pennsbury, who finished second last year.

But DiLisio did not make it out of the PIAA eastern regional qualifier last Tuesday. Rogowicz finished second to qualify.

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More Basketball

Penn Hills girls determined to work through struggles
Penn Hills boys using balanced attack to contend for section title
Chartiers Valley girls bask, just briefly, in state record winning streak
Carlynton boys basketball back on right track
Thomas Jefferson set for another rivalry matchup with Chartiers Valley girls

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