Scholastic Notebook – 02/01/2013

Friday, February 1, 2013 | 11:51 AM





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Bring up the subject of who some of the WPIAL’s best two-sport stars are from the fall and winter seasons, and most people think of football-basketball standouts.

But it’s hard to believe there is a better two-sport standout in the WPIAL than North Allegheny’s Alex DeCiantis. His sports, though, are football and wrestling.

DeCiantis (pronounced Da SHAWN tis) is a senior who was the leading rusher on a North Allegheny football team that was one of the best in the WPIAL in recent years. The Tigers were 16-0, won WPIAL and PIAA AAAA titles and outscored teams, 671-140. DeCiantis finished with 1,287 yards rushing.

Now DeCiantis is one of the top wrestlers in the WPIAL. He is the Post-Gazette’s No. 1-ranked wrestler in the Class AAA 182-pound division with a 19-2 record. DeCiantis needs only one win to reach 100 for his career as he has a 99-34 record. He could get his 100th win Friday night when North Allegheny competes in the WPIAL AAA team Semifinals on MSA Sports.

For the past two years, DeCiantis has finished third in the WPIAL individual championships. This could be the year he gets to the top of the ladder.

A Winter of Winning at North Allegheny

It’s hard to believe any school is having a winter season as successful as North Allegheny.

As stated above, the North Allegheny wrestling team has made it to the WPIAL Semifinals of the team playoffs and will meet Franklin Regional Friday night at Chartiers Valley.

The North Allegheny boys basketball team is 16-1 and the MSA Sports No. 2-ranked WPIAL Class AAAA team.

The North Allegheny girls basketball team is 15-2 and ranked No. 3 by MSA.

And North Allegheny is excelling on the ice, too. The Tigers’ hockey team is ranked No. 1 in Class AAA by MSA.

More Trophies for Big Macs and Bucs?

The WPIAL wrestling semifinals are Friday night and the championships Saturday. All of the matches are at Chartiers Valley.

Two teams will be trying to add to their surreal championship winning streaks. The Canon-McMillan Big Macs are trying to become the first team to win four consecutive WPIAL titles in the largest classification since the team playoffs started in 1979.

Meanwhile, the Burrell Bucs are seeking their seventh consecutive WPIAL Class AA championship. Both teams are favored to win titles.

New Castle’s Dominance

The talent of New Castle’s boys basketball team has been well-documented this season. The Red Hurricanes are 18-0 and the only undefeated team in the WPIAL.

But what is most astonishing about New Castle is their level of dominance against area teams the past two seasons.

The only game New Castle has lost in the past two seasons was to Montour in last year’s second round of the PIAA playoffs. Over the past two years, New Castle has played 39 other games against teams from the WPIAL and City League. Not one team in those 39 games has come within 10 points of New Castle.

Now here is the astonishing part: The average margin of victory for New Castle against WPIAL and City League teams the past two seasons is 29.4 points.

This season, New Castle’s average margin of victory against WPIAL-City teams is 30.1 points. Last year, it was 28.4.

Families of Swimming Excellence

Looking for dominant swimmers? Check the genes of the Dudzinskis and Buergers.

The two families have had swimmers excel on the WPIAL level in the past, and some other offspring in the two families are keeping the tradition going.

At Upper St. Clair, senior Brittany Dudzinski has the second-best time this season in the WPIAL Class AAA 100-yard butterfly and the No. 3 time in the 100 backstroke. Her younger brother, Ryan, a sophomore, is No. 1 in the WPIAL in both the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke.

Their older brother, Kyle, is a former PIAA champion swimmer at Upper St. Clair who is now a member of the University of Virginia team.

Meanwhile, at North Allegheny, another Buerger is making a splash. Zach Buerger has the best times in the WPIAL in both the 200 individual medley and the 500 free. He has two older brothers swimming on the Division I college level who also were highly successful at North Allegheny. Jon swims at the University of Virginia and Matt at Notre Dame.

Big 33 and the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is Sunday, and as usual, the team has a couple former Big 33 Football Classic players.

There has never been a Super Bowl without a former player from the Big 33, a high school all-star game played every summer in Hershey. This year’s Super Bowl has two former Big 33 players. Seton-LaSalle graduate Gino Gradkowski of the Baltimore Ravens played for the Pennsylvania team in the 2007 Big 33.

The San Francisco 49ers’ Ted Ginn played for the Ohio team in the 2004 Big 33. Ginn played at Glenville High School in Ohio.

Penn State Gets WPIAL Walk-ons

Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien prefers to call walk-ons “run-ons.” Well, O’Brien apparently likes to “run” with WPIAL players.

Three players from the WPIAL will be on Penn State’s team this fall as preferred walk-ons, and all three had big impacts on their teams. They are North Allegheny receiver Gregg Garrity, Blackhawk running back Cole Chiappialle and Pine-Richland running back-defensive back Brock Baranowski.

Garrity was North Allegheny’s leading receiver this past season. His father, Gregg Sr., walked on at Penn State after graduating from North Allegheny in 1979, and it was a storybook career for Gregg Sr. at Penn State. He became a starter, was a receiver on a national championship team and had his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated catching a winning touchdown pass in the Sugar Bowl that gave the 1982 Penn State team the national title.

Chiappialle was one of the leading rushers in the WPIAL this past season and ran for more than 400 yards in one game.

Baranowski missed much of his senior season recovering from an ankle injury suffered a year ago. But as a junior, Baranowski rushed for more than 1,000 yards for Pine-Richland.

Franklin Regional linebacker Carter Henderson is another possible walk-on at Penn State.

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