Scholastic Notebook – 12/10/2012

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Monday, December 10, 2012 | 3:47 PM


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A year ago, the WPIAL had only one football team make the state championships. This year it’s a party of three.

North Allegheny, Aliquippa and Clairton are the three WPIAL teams that will play for PIAA titles Friday and Saturday in Hershey. North Allegheny plays Coatesville in the Class AAAA championship Saturday, Aliquippa takes on Wyomissing in Class AA Saturday and Clairton meets Dunmore in Class A Friday.

Last year was only the second time the WPIAL had only one representative in the title games since the PIAA playoffs started in 1988. This is the 10th time the WPIAL has three teams in the championships.

Four WPIAL teams have made it seven times and two WPIAL teams have made it six times.

As far as champions go, the WPIAL will try to win three PIAA championships in a season for only the fourth time. The other times were 2007, 2005 and 2001. Overall, the WPIAL has 34 PIAA titles.

Only Two Have Four

Clairton, which has a 62-game winning streak, is trying to win a fourth consecutive PIAA title. Only two other teams in the history of the PIAA playoffs have won four in a row. Berwick won four from 1994-97 and Southern Columbia five from 2002-06.

Legendary Coach

Dunmore, Clairton’s opponent in the PIAA title game, has the second-winningest coach in Pennsylvania history.

Jack Henzes has been coaching for 46 seasons and his overall record is 371-152-8. He has coached at Wyoming Area and Dunmore and is in the National High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame.

George Curry is the only coach in Pennsylvania who has won more games than Henzes. This is the third time Henzes has led Dunmore to a PIAA title game. Dunmore won the Class A title in 1989 and lost in the Class AA championship to Jeannette and Terrelle Pryor in 2007.

Coincidentally, in 1989, Dunmore beat Keystone for the PIAA title. Keystone knocked off Clairton, 15-14, in the Semifinals that year.

Hot Ford

Not much is said about Clairton’s passing game. Running back Tyler Boyd usually grabs the spotlight on Clairton’s offense.

But Clairton quarterback Armani Ford has been on a roll lately and has become a bigger part of Clairton’s offense.

In the past four games, Ford has completed 34 of 51 passes (67 percent) for 733 yards. In the first 11 games, Ford was only 44 of 67 for 1,120 yards.

Early-Season Basketball Showdown

One of the top boys basketball games of the early season will be Tuesday night when Mars plays at Hampton in a non-section game.

Hampton is the MSA Sports No. 3-ranked WPIAL Class AAAA team while Mars is No. 2 in Class AAA.

The two teams played in the same section for years, but Hampton moved up to Class AAAA this season.
Both teams are 2-0 after winning tournaments this weekend. Mars had an impressive win against Seneca Valley in the championship of the Scott Lang Memorial Tournament at Mars, while Hampton won the Penn-Trafford Tournament.

Impressive Start

No WPIAL player has had a more impressive start to the season than Jeannette’s Ciara Gregory. A senior guard who is a Charlotte recruit, Gregory started the season with 40 points against Franklin Regional. The following night, she had 39 against Mount Pleasant.

Ward, Steele Resign

Two more WPIAL football coaches stepped down from the job last week.

McKeesport’s Jim Ward resigned after three seasons at McKeesport while Rod Steele resigned after three seasons at Steel Valley.

Ward had a 19-11 record at McKeesport and said he just thought it was time to step away. He also has been a head coach at Yough and South Allegheny.

Steele was 16-14 in his three years.

Their departures mean eight WPIAL jobs are now open.

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