Scholastic Notebook – 11/07/2014

Friday, November 7, 2014 | 5:06 PM

If the first round of the WPIAL playoffs proved anything, it was that the Foothills are alive.

Since coming back to being a WPIAL conference in 2006, the Foothills was always thought to be the weaker sister to all of the other Class AAAA conferences. Sure, it might have had a strong team like a Gateway, Penn-Trafford or even Central Catholic. But as far as strength from top to bottom, the Foothills didn’t measure up.

This year, though, the Foothills flexed some muscle like never before. Four Foothills teams won first-round games – Penn-Trafford, McKeesport, Altoona and Plum. It was the first time since 2006 that the top four teams in the Foothills won first-round games. The two that lost were fifth-place Norwin and sixth-place Connellsville.

Having the top four win games and going 4-2 overall was significant for the Foothills. Only two years ago, the conference was 1-5. In years that only the top four teams made the playoffs, the Foothills was never better than 2-2 from 2006-11.

Altoona had a nice win against Bethel Park. It was Altoona’s first WPIAL playoff win. But the biggest win for the Foothills was Plum knocking off Penn Hills, the No. 1 team from the Southeastern Conference. It was Plum’s first WPIAL playoff win since 1996. Coincidentally, Plum also upset Penn Hills that year.

The 4-0 Guys

The Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference and the Class A Big Seven Conference both went 4-0 in first-round games. Should it be all that surprising that the Big Seven went 4-0? Not really. The Big Seven also was 4-0 two years ago.

And it was nothing new for the Greater Allegheny to go 4-0. It seems the Parkway Conference is always regarded as the best – top to bottom – in Class AAA. But you have to take notice of what the Greater Allegheny has done lately. This is the second consecutive year the conference went 4-0 in the first round and it was 3-1 in 2010.

Football Coaching Vacancies

The WPIAL football regular season ended only two weeks ago and there are already a few  schools known to be looking for new coaches.

Vincentian opened its position, asking Tim Storino to step away after the school’s first official season in the WPIAL. Vincentian was 2-7 this year. In 2013, the WPIAL suspended Storino for the 2013 season for alleged recruiting.

Canon-McMillan opened its coaching position, which was expected. Ron Coder resigned in the middle of the season. Terry George took over as interim coach, but the school opened the job after the season.

Also, Von Braddock resigned as Brownsville’s coach.

Brumbaugh to Duquesne

It didn’t involve a player going to a major college, but there was significant news on the WPIAL football recruiting front this week when South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh accepted a scholarship to Duquesne University. Brumbaugh committed to the Dukes Tuesday night.

Brumbaugh is the all-time leading passer in the WPIAL and second in Pennsylvania history. It was a nice catch for the Dukes (NCAA Division I-AA). A senior, Brumbaugh was hoping to get offers from I-A colleges. But no colleges from that level were showing interest. Temple and Akron had offered scholarships in the spring, but neither has been recruiting Brumbaugh for months.

Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt has landed a few other WPIAL stars, either through transfers or signing them out of high school. Chartiers Valley’s Wayne Capers first played at the University of Arizona but now plays for Duquesne.

Duquesne will actually have two of the four leading passers in WPIAL history on its roster next year. Former Montour star Dillon Buechel is fourth on the all-time list. He is Duquesne’s starting quarterback, but is hurt right now.

Brumbaugh isn’t the only WPIAL standout senior to choose Duquesne. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic running back P.J. Fulmore also is committed to the Dukes.

Berry Good

Ringgold quarterback Nico Law last year became one of the few QBs in WPIAL history to have 1,000 yards passing and running in the regular season. Law isn’t throwing or running quite as much this year under first-year coach Nick Milchovich, but that has given a chance for Chacar Berry to shine more. And Ringgold has shined right with him.

Ringgold is 9-1 and hasn’t lost since the season opener to Thomas Jefferson. Berry is having a tremendous season. He has rushed for 1,308 yards on 146 carries and scored 22 touchdowns. A year ago, Berry rushed for only 563 yards on 87 carries.

The emergence of Berry has lightened the load some on Law. Last year, Law completed 93 of 180 for 1,494 yards and rushed for 1,210 yards on 116 carries. That was in 10 games.

In 10 games this season, Law has rushed 87 times for 708 yards and completed 68 of 199 for 1,151 yards.

Transfers Make Difference

Stephon McGinnis reportedly has looked good for the Aliquippa football team at receiver and defensive back since transferring from Ambridge in the middle of the season. Aliquippa would’ve been good with or without McGinnis, but he is one of two transfers helping the Quips this year.

DiMontae Bronaugh leads Aliquippa in rushing with over 1,000 yards. Last year, he was Hopewell’s leading rusher with more than 800 yards.

Matter of Defense

The Peters Township boys soccer team had an impressive offense on its way to winning the WPIAL Class AAA championship. But the Indians’ defense has been one of the best in the area in recent years.

Peters Township plays Pittsburgh Central Catholic Saturday in the PIAA quarterfinals and you can rest assured that Central Catholic will have trouble finding the back of the net.

Peters Township has allowed only five goals all season and the Indians have shutouts in 17 of 21 games. They gave up one goal to Sewickley Academy and Upper St. Clair scored four goals in three games against Peters Township.

Split Eligibility Decisions

Two basketball players transferred from Sto-Rox to Lincoln Park, but only one will be allowed to play this year.

The WPIAL had two separate hearings Tuesday for 6-foot-3 junior Jihad Cromer and 6-3 sophomore Mike Smith. The league ruled Smith eligible, but denied eligibility to Cromer for a year, saying he transferred, at least partly, for athletic reasons.

The league also granted an extra year of eligibility to McKeesport Khalil Perdue. The league said it was a “hardship” case.

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