Scholastic Notebook – 11/13/2015
Friday, November 13, 2015 | 12:51 PM
A Steel Valley player made some history last week. Now, the Steel Valley team will try to make some more history Friday night.
It went pretty much unnoticed, but Steel Valley running back DeWayne Murray surpassed 4,000 career yards rushing last week in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. Although close to 70 runners have gained 4,000 yards rushing in their careers, it is a noteworthy feat for Murray because he is only a junior and is the first Steel Valley player to reach 4,000 yards.
Murray has 4,097 yards on 363 attempts, an impressive 11.3 yards-per-carry average. Because he is only a junior, he has a good chance to next year become the 17th runner in WPIAL history to gain 5,000 career yards.
While Murray made some personal history last week, Steel Valley will tonight try to gain a spot in the WPIAL semifinals for the first time since a kid named Charlie Batch was the Ironmen’s quarterback. Steel Valley plays Beaver Falls in a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal tonight at Montour.
The last time Steel Valley was in the semifinals was 1991 and the Ironmen’s QB was a future NFL player. Batch, who played for the Steelers and Detroit Lions, was in his first season as a starter and Steel Valley beat Charleroi, 34-12, in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals.
Batch opened many eyes that season as he finished the regular season as the third-leading passer in the WPIAL with 1,579 yards. He didn’t throw a ton, but he was a high-percentage passer, completing 82 of 129 (64 percent) during the regular season.
Not to bring up bad memories, but Batch had a sub-par performance in the semifinals against Riverside. The game went to overtime and Riverside scored first to take a 35-28 lead. Steel Valley got its chance from the 10-yard line, but a sack pushed back the Ironmen. The game ended when Batch threw an interception, his third of the game.
4,000-Yard Club Party
Becoming a member of the 4,000-yard club is a popular thing to do this season.
Murray is the fifth WPIAL player this season who has reached 4,000 yards. The others are Woodland Hills’ Miles Sanders, Clairton’s Lamont Wade, Armstrong’s Zane Dudek and Beth-Center’s Anthony Welsh.
There could me one more member of the 4,000-yard club tonight. Aliquippa’s Kaezon Pugh has 3,884 yards and the Quips play in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals. But Pugh was injured in last week’s first-round game and didn’t play in the second half. As of earlier this week, he was questionable for tonight’s game.
This is only the third time in WPIAL history that five runners have reached 4,000 yards in the same season. The others were 2011 and 2013. The only other time six runners reached 4,000 yards in a season was 2007.
Low Scoring Leader
There has been a lot of talk the past few years how scoring in WPIAL football is way up. It has even been documented in newspapers.
But for individual scoring, this might have been a down year. At least as far as the WPIAL leader goes. Murray led the WPIAL in scoring during the regular season with 173 points. That is the lowest total for the WPIAL leader since Greensburg Central Catholic’s David Miller led the league with 164 points in 2009.
Murray is the second Steel Valley player in six years to lead the WPIAL in scoring. In 2010, Delrece Williams was No. 1 with 194 points.
It’s Been a While
Look at the WPIAL Quarterfinals and there are two relative new faces playing.
Frazier won a playoff game last week for the first time since the 1983 season when the Commodores made it to the WPIAL Class A championship before losing. One of the stars of that team was Joe Lafko, now the Hampton boys basketball coach. Lafko was inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame in June.
Also, Belle Vernon is in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2000. That year, Belle Vernon made it to the Semifinals before losing to West Allegheny.
A Scoring Bonanza for Cartwright
There has never been a girls soccer player in the state of Pennsylvania who found the back of the net so often in a season as Bailey Cartwright. And by the time she finishes her career at Greensburg Central Catholic, Cartwright could be the all-time leading career goal scorer in Pennsylvania.
Cartwright is a junior at Greensburg Central Catholic who set the state single-season record for goals. She scored two in a PIAA Class A first-round game Tuesday to give her 79 for her career. That broke the record of 78, set two years ago by Alyssa McGhee of Bishop Guilfoyle.
Cartwright could add to her total when Greensburg Central plays in the PIAA Quarterfinals Saturday.
The way Cartwright scores goals, she has a good chance to break the state record for career goals next season. The record is 208, shared by McGhee and former Greensburg Central Catholic star Frannie Crouse, who is now at Penn State.
Steel Valley Opens Schifino’s Job
The timing is peculiar, but the Steel Valley school board voted, 5-0, on Wednesday night to open Drew Schifino’s position of boys basketball coach.
The timing of the move comes just a few days before the official start of basketball practice on Monday. Steel Valley athletic director Shawn McCallister, the coach before Schifino, has said district administration will have a new coach in place by then.
Schifino was let go after only one season. He was criticized by many in the public and the Steel Valley district back in February when he refused to coach Steel Valley’s first-round WPIAL playoff game. It was Schifino’s form of protest for leading scorer, Dom Keyes, being ruled academically ineligible.
Schifino coached one year at Waynesburg before coming to Steel Valley. Schifino was a former star at Penn Hills High School whose 2,318 points is eighth-best in WPIAL history.
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