Scholastic Notebook – 11/14/2014
Friday, November 14, 2014 | 1:15 PM
It has been well-documented how Pine-Richland quarterback Ben DiNucci has turned out to be one of the most prolific passers in the history of the WPIAL.
But DiNucci also has benefitted from a terrific one-two receiving punch.
It looks like you could call seniors D’ondre Gastion and Mike Merhaut are a receiving duo for the ages. There are no records available for best receiving one-two punches, but you can bet you will be hard-pressed to find many duos from the same team who have been as productive as Gastion and Merhaut.
How many teams have had two receivers with 100 or more career catches? But that’s what Pine-Richland has in Gastion and Merhaut, a pair of seniors.
Both Gastion and Merhaut went over 100 career catches last week. Gastion now has 106 catches for 1,685 yards and Merhaut has 100 for 1,598. That means the two of them have 206 catches and 3,283 receiving yards between them. And it’s not like they have been three-year starters on teams that have gone far in the playoffs every year. Merhaut had four catches as a sophomore and Gastion none. The past two years, they have played in only 21 games.
Here is an interesting stat for Gastion. He has fewer catches this year than last, but almost 300 more receiving yards. A year ago, he caught 64 passes for 766 yards. This year, he has 42 catches for 919 yards.
The Rams’ aerial game will be on display tonight when they play McKeesport in the Class AAAA semifinals.
Life of Riley
While Merhaut and Gastion are an impressive duo, one receiver who recently finished a fine career was Riley Stapleton of Indiana.
Stapleton led the WPIAL in receptions this regular season. Over the last three seasons, he caught 140 passes. That’s impressive. But the question is how many receivers do you think in WPIAL history had more than 2,000 receiving yards in their career? Surely, not a lot. Stapleton had 2,052.
Another One-Two Punch
An impressive one-two running punch this WPIAL season is Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic’s P.J. Fulmore and Jerome Turner. Statistics say they are a rare one-two punch.
Fulmore and Turner were the only two WPIAL running backs from the same team to run for 1,000 yards in the regular season. In fact, they were only the eighth tandem in the past three decades to have 1,000 yards. The last to do it was Keystone Oaks’ Jordan Maddox and Matt McCann in 2009.
Championship Game Times
The WPIAL has set the game times and order for the football championships next Friday at Heinz Field.
The Class A final will be first at 11 a.m. The Class AAAA championship will be at 2 p.m., the AA game at 5 and the AAA final at 8.
Schwartz Picks Colorado
Usually, the big recruiting news in the WPIAL comes from football and basketball. But some notable recruiting news came this week in track/cross country.
Shaler Area senior Brianna Schwartz signed with the University of Colorado. It is significant because Schwartz is considered the best distance runner in WPIAL history, both track and cross country.
Villanova, Syracuse and Virginia were Schwartz’s other finalists. She admitted that, originally, Colorado’s distance from home bothered her. But in the end, that didn’t matter.
“When I went on a visit there, I just really liked the whole culture and the whole atmosphere they had,” said Schwartz.
Colorado has one of the best distance running programs in the country.
Schwartz has won WPIAL and PIAA titles and set records in both cross country and track. She won a third consecutive WPIAL title this year and her first PIAA championship. Now she will compete for a national championship. On Nov. 29, Schwartz will run in the Northeast regional for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. The top 10 from the regional will compete for the national championship Dec. 12 in San Diego.
Schwartz finished sixth at the national race a year ago.
The Greensburg Central Catholic girls soccer team will play for the PIAA Class A soccer championship Friday night in Hershey. If the Centurions win, they will move into a very select group.
Greensburg Central is trying to win its second consecutive championship. The only WPIAL girls team to repeat as champions is Peters Township, which won three in a row from 2010-12.
On the boys side, Sewickley Academy also is trying to repeat as Class A champion. Only five other WPIAL boys teams have won two consecutive titles. Upper St. Clair was the last to do it in 2012-13.
Two other WPIAL teams will be seeking PIAA titles Saturday. The Canon-McMillan girls are playing in their first state title game while the Peters Township boys are seeking their fourth championship. The others were in 1988, ’89 and 2007.
Bears to Blackhawk
The official start of high school basketball practice is Monday and Blackhawk finally has its boys coach.
Josh Bears was hired only Thursday. The reason for the late hire was that former coach Andy Hedrick only resigned last month. Hedrick left for Connellsville, where he also got an assistant principal’s job.
Bears was successful in 10 seasons at West Allegheny, but was not re-hired by the school board after last season. Bears won a WPIAL title at West Allegheny and made it to the WPIAL semifinals two other times.