South Hills notes: Brentwood’s Aiden Wardzinski has memorable playoff opener

Friday, November 15, 2019 | 5:07 PM

Brentwood junior Aiden Wardzinski was a one-man wrecking crew in his first taste of the WPIAL playoffs.

Wardzinski scored all four Brentwood touchdowns — two rushing, one receiving and another on an interception return — to lead the fifth-seeded Spartans to a 28-19 win Nov. 1 against No. 12 East Allegheny in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.

“He’s a physically tough runner,” said Kevin Kissel, the Spartans’ veteran coach. “He’s getting better and better.”

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back rushed for 116 yards on 17 carries, logging TD runs of 49 and 1 yard. He also caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback John Milcic and returned an interception 44 yards for a score.

“I played good, but there’s definitely stuff I have to improve and work on,” Wardzinski said. “I’ve still got so much to prove.”

Through 10 regular-season games and one playoff test, Wardzinski led the Spartans in rushing with 998 yards and nine scores on 155 carries and receiving with 506 yards and four scores on 41 catches, averaging 12.3 yards per reception.

He also competes in track in the 100-meter dash and 400 relay.

Other items from around the South Hills:

• What is the great equalizer in volleyball? Baldwin coach Chris Kelly isn’t sure.

“It’s tough to come up with a great equalizer in volleyball,” Kelly said. “Maddi Sgattoni was a great equalizer (at Baldwin) because she was great in all facets of the game: passing, serving, defense, hitting and blocking. A great setter could be a great equalizer. A great setter makes average hitters good and good hitters great, whereas an average setter can have the opposite effect. I think a team that can pass the ball well and serve aggressively always has a good chance to win.”

Brentwood coach Kayla Hubsch offered a more specific response.

“I would say it would be a team with a great server,” Hubsch said. “If you have a player or two that have a serve that is difficult to receive, it can send you on a nice run to get you back into a game. We have played against teams that were average but had a great server who could take over a game or bring them back into a game.”

• And the list goes on. No fewer than 17 former Thomas Jefferson football players are continuing their careers in college.

Some have remained teammates: Devin Danielson and Noah Palmer at Pitt, Nick Friewald, Garret Fairman, Jon Muehlbauer and Alex Territ at Washington & Jefferson, as well as Jake Giegerich and Nick Urbanowich at John Carroll.

Other TJ grads playing collegiately include Zane Zandier (Virginia), Quinton Hill (Howard), Dom Serapiglia (Tulsa), Justin Vigna (Walsh), Spencer Everley (Mercyhurst), Logan Burnsworth (Cal (Pa.)), Darius Barrett (Clarion), A.J. Putignano (Saint Vincent) and Nick Territ (Westminster).

Another TJ product, Chase Winovich, enjoyed a brilliant career at Michigan and is a rookie defensive end with the New England Patriots.

• TJ’s Tanner Patrick and Tyler Turk were teammates of Knoch’s Hannah Rowe on the Revolution Volleyball club team in the offseason.

“The three of us have our own little rivalry, which is super fun and exciting,” Patrick said. ”Hannah will be attending Albany. She’s an amazing and dedicated player.”

• The top runners on the TJ boys cross country team were sophomore Kyler Bender, juniors Kaiden Smith, Gabe Snyder, Matthew Kail, Luke Thurner and Ian Majetic, along with freshman Aidan Stella.

The leading runners on the girls squad were senior Lydia Shaw, and freshmen Amelia Patterson, Kiley Doran, Elizabeth Santoro and Noelle Narr.

• The TJ girls tennis team, coached by Chuck Correll, qualified for the WPIAL playoffs this year — marking the first time the Jaguars have advanced to the postseason since they were bumped up to Class AAA three years ago.

• On Nov. 8, Brentwood’s football team blanked Neshannock, 20-0, to improve to 10-2 and reach the WPIAL semifinals for the first time since 2006. The Spartans defeated Valley (30-0) and Seton LaSalle (12-7) before losing to Jeannette (47-28) that season.

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