Scholastic Notebook – 10/21/2016
Friday, October 21, 2016 | 2:54 PM
For the first time in WPIAL history, there could be a Lady in the football playoffs.
No, it’s not a female player or coach. It’s the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart team. The Chargers started playing WPIAL football in 2010 and failed to make the postseason in the first six years of the program.
OLSH could turn out to be one of the big turnaround stories in the WPIAL this season. The Chargers did not win a game last year, going 0-9. Now they are 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Seven Conference. They are almost assured of a playoff berth, with games remaining against Sto-Rox and Shenango. Rochester leads the conference at 6-0, Northgate is 5-1 and OLSH and Sto-Rox are tied at 4-2. Shenango is fifth at 3-3.
The top five teams are guaranteed of a playoff spot, and a lot would have to happen for OLSH not to make it.
The man leading the turnaround is first-year coach Dan Bradley. He came to the Catholic school in Coraopolis after a few years as Sto-Rox’s coach and a few more at Ambridge. It should not be overlooked that OLSH has certainly been helped by a handful of new players who transferred to the school. One of those is sophomore quarterback Tyler Bradley, who transferred from Avonworth and who also is the coach’s son. What’s interesting about Tyler’s situation is that his father also is Avonworth’s basketball coach. So, one way or another, transfer or not, he was going to play a sport for his father.
The question was to transfer to OLSH and play for his father in football? Or stay at Avonworth and play for Dad in basketball? Tyler chose the former. Tyler Bradley has completed 82 of 142 for 1,304 yards.
The two losses for OLSH this season are to Northgate and Rochester. In the Chargers’ other five games, they are averaging 49.6 points.
Another big turnaround story this season is going on at Blackhawk. The Cougars were 1-8 last year and were outscored, 324-159.
Now they are 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the Northwest Nine. Blackhawk plays at Montour tonight and Blackhawk qualifies for the playoffs with a win.
It’s been quite the turnaround for Blackhawk’s coach. Joe Lamenza took over last year for legendary Joe Hamilton, the second-winningest coach in WPIAL history. The Cougars struggled in Lamenza’s first year, but now things are looking up for the green and gold.
Jeter Backs Out of Commitment
Heralded Beaver Falls defensive lineman Donovan Jeter visited Notre Dame in September, and when he returned, he made a verbal commitment to the Fighting Irish a day later. Jeter was quoted in the Post-Gazette, “After that, I didn’t need to go anywhere else.”
Ahhh, yes he does.
Jeter took to Twitter this week to announce that he has backed out of his commitment and will re-open his recruiting. He plans to visit Michigan this weekend.
When he committed to Notre Dame, Jeter said Pitt and Michigan were his other top two choices.
Getting Their Kicks
If you are into kicking statistics, West Allegheny’s D.J. Opsatnik leads the WPIAL in field goals this year with eight. Mt. Lebanon’s Garrett Montilla has seven and Penn-Trafford’s Nick Tarabella six.
Fisher Snares TDs
Although Pittsburgh Central Catholic has a quarterback being recruited by Division I colleges, the Vikings still don’t throw all that often. Coach Terry Totten’s teams have always been run heavy.
But when Troy Fisher does throw, it’s amazing how often it ends up as a touchdown. Fisher has thrown 71 times this season and completed 44. But he has 12 TD passes. That means 27 percent of his completions end up in a touchdown.
Championship Dates Announced
The WPIAL announced earlier this week that the dates for the 1A and 2A football championships have been set. They will both be played Saturday, Nov. 26 at Robert Morris University’s Joe Walton Stadium.
Game times have not been set for the two games but noon and 6, or 1 and 7 are likely. After the first game, the stadium will be cleared out. Another ticket will be needed for the second game.
The Class 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A finals will be played a week before (Nov. 18) at Heinz Field.
It might not have gotten a ton of attention around the WPIAL, but last week’s Ringgold-West Mifflin game has to go in the Fantastic Finishes department. Miraculous Finishes might be more appropriate.
West Mifflin led Ringgold, 26-14, but Ringgold drove for a score with eight seconds left to make it 26-21. West Mifflin was hit with a personal foul penalty, so Ringgold moved up 15 yards on the kickoff.
Ringgold tried an onside kick and recovered at the West Mifflin 32. But West Mifflin was hit with another 15-yard penalty that moved the ball to the 17. George Martin then hit Octavius Vassar with a touchdown pass on the final play of the game.
Two Playoff Teams for One Coach
The WPIAL soccer playoffs begin Saturday and this postseason stuff should be doubly the fun experience for one coach.
Colin Williams is the coach of the Freedom boys team and also the girls team. This is his third year coaching the girls, but his first with the boys. Williams is believed to be the first coach to take boys and girls teams to the playoffs in the same year.
The Freedom boys are 11-6-1 and play Saturday against Springdale. The Freedom girls are 17-0 and got a first-round bye. The Freedom girls will play in the quarterfinals Thursday. If the Freedom boys win their first-round game, there won’t be a conflict. The boys quarterfinals are Wednesday.
The WPIAL cross-country championships will be next Thursday at Coopers Lake at Slippery Rock. “Repeat” will be a theme running through five of the six races.
There are three classifications for boys and three for girls. In five of the six races, teams will be going for at least their third consecutive title.
The North Allegheny boys are trying for their 12th consecutive championship. Elsewhere in boys competition, Knoch and Seneca Valley have both won two in a row.
In girls, Seneca Valley and Quaker Valley have won both won two consecutive. The only defending champ that hasn’t won at least two consecutive is Vincentian.
More Cross Country• Penn Hills notebook: Cross country makes best of Gateway Invitational
• Runners of varying experience levels mix together on Norwin cross country teams
• Strong freshman class adds to lineup for defending PIAA champion North Allegheny cross country teams
• Kiski Area cross country teams set goal of improving as season progresses
• A-K Valley Boys Athlete of the Week: Fox Chapel’s Jack Lorence