Scholastic Notebook – 11/19/2010

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Friday, November 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Running for 4,000 career yards isn't as rare as it used to be. Forty-seven players have done it in WPIAL history, and 40 of them have reached the mark since 1990. But when North Allegheny's Alex Papson reached 4,000 yards last week, it was a rare feat, at least when you consider the competition. North Allegheny is a Class AAAA team and Papson became only the sixth runner in Class AAAA history to rush for 4,000 yards. Class AAAA has been in existence since 1980. "I don't have anything against any of the other classifications, but to do it in Quad-A is really something. I think that's pretty impressive," said North Allegheny coach Art Walker. "And when you think of some of the competition we face up here in the North, it's not an easy thing to do." Papson has 4,220 career yards on 549 carries (7.7 yards per carry). He rushed for 171 yards on 25 carries as a freshman, 1,088 on 170 as a sophomore and 1,092 on 154 attempts as a junior. This season, he has 1,869 yards on 200 attempts. What also makes Papson's feat impressive is the company that he keeps as a Class AAAA 4,000-yard rusher. Two of the others played in the NFL and two more were Division I college players. The two who made it to the NFL were North Hills' LaVar Arrington (4,357) and Gateway's Justin King (4,519). The two who played at Division I colleges were Connellsville's Marcus Furman (5,041) and Central Catholic's Eugene Jarvis (4,300). Furman played at Pitt and Jarvis at Kent State. The other ClassAAAA running back to reach 4,000 yards was Penn-Trafford's Matt Gavrish (6,512), who played two years at Washington & Jefferson. Papson (5 feet 8, 180 pounds) has not decided on a college. Shell's Final Numbers Hopewell's Rushel Shell finished his junior season with 6,766 career yards rushing and 82 touchdowns. Let's look at some of the records he might have a chance to reach as a senior. * Barring injury, Shell seems like a cinch to break the WPIAL career rushing record of 7,646 yards by Fort Cherry graduate Mike Vernillo. Shell needs only 880 yards. * Shell might also have a shot at the state career rushing record of 9,027 yards, held by 2009 Steelton-Highspire graduate Jeremiah Young. Shell needs 2,261 yards to reach Young, but consider that Shell rushed for 2,510 yards this season alone. If Hopewell makes the playoffs next year and wins a few games, Shell might have an excellent chance at the state record. * Lastly, Shell also might have an outside chance at the state record for career touchdowns. It is 123, set by Bishop O'Reilly's Bryan Bellas from 1996-99. Shell has 82 career touchdowns. He scored 35 as a sophomore. WPIAL Finals Will Start Earlier The WPIAL football championships at Heinz Field will start earlier than ever this season. The league has moved up the starting time for the Class A title game next Saturday to 9:30 a.m. The usual starting time is 10:30 a.m. The reason for the change is because FSN Pittsburgh will televise the game live and the station also will televise the Penguins game at 1 p.m. If the game started at 10:30, FSN would have to pull out of the telecast before the game was over. The Class AA game will start at 1:30, the AAA game at 4:30 and the AAAA game at 7:30. The AAA game and the AAAA contest will be televised live by FSN. The Class AA game will be shown on tape at 10:30 p.m. Coaching Changes The switch to the WPIAL coaching merry-go-round has been officially turned on. Three coaching positions in the WPIAL already are open. * Bryan Deal resigned at Fox Chapel after six seasons. Deal had brought Fox Chapel's program to a level of respectability two years ago, but the Foxes were 3-6 last year and 1-8 this year. Deal, a former Pitt assistant coach, was 15-42 overall. * Valley has opened Troy Hill's position. Hill enjoyed some success at Valley. He was 36-33 in seven years and made four playoff appearances. But Valley was winless this year and has a 14-game losing streak. Moving up from Class AA to AAA didn't help matters for Valley this season. * Apollo-Ridge's John Simon has resigned after three seasons. The Vikings were 1-8 this year and 7-20 in Simon's three years. All-Western Final The South Park girls' soccer team is playing Mercyhurst Prep in the Class AA girls' soccer championship tonight. South Park is a WPIAL team and Mercyhurst Prep is from the Erie area. It seems strange to have two teams from the west playing for a state championship, but that's the way it goes these days because the PIAA no longer has true east and west brackets for many sports. After losing in the WPIAL semifinals, South Park was actually slotted in the eastern side of the PIAA Class AA bracket. So, the Eagles ran through the eastern bracket to play a western team in the final. South Park is one of three girls' teams going for championships this weekend at the PIAA title games in Hershey. The others are Peters Township (AAA) and Sewickley Academy (A). Going for Gold The WPIAL hasn't had a PIAA champion in girls' soccer since Pine-Richland won the 2005 Class AAA title. This is the first year for three classifications in girls' soccer. The WPIAL has never won more than one girls' PIAA championship in a year. Division I Talent While the WPIAL didn't have one boys' basketball player sign with a Division I college team during the recent NCAA's week-long early signing period, there were a handful of girls' players who signed with Division I colleges. And four of the Division I signees play in one section. Mount Lebanon's Madison Cable (Notre Dame), Baldwin's Belma Nurkic (Duquesne), Bethel Park's Candace Martino (Akron) and Mount Lebanon's Anna Kestler (William & Mary) all play in WPIAL Class AAAA Section 4. Where Are They Now * Former Sewickley Academy basketball standout Tom Droney is starting as a freshman at Davidson. Droney scored 11 points in an 84-70 loss to West Virginia Thursday. * Evan Pierce, the leading scorer on Mount Lebanon's WPIAL Class AAAA basketball championship team a year ago, has left the Wagner College team and plans to transfer. Wagner is a Division I team in the Northeast Conference. Pierce plans to finish the semester and then transfer.

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