Westmoreland County high school football notebook: GCC looks to knock off king Clairton

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Thursday, September 29, 2022 | 9:01 AM


Pieces of paper with “1998” written on them were plastered all over the Greensburg Central Catholic locker room this week.

The rumor going around Carbon was that ‘98 was the last time GCC beat Clairton. It motivated players and coaches, fired them up.

That year is close, but the Centurions actually last defeated the mighty Bears, 35-0, in 2001.

Still a long time ago, considering GCC coach Marko Thomas graduated high school in ‘98, and worth a spot on the team bulletin board.

“It’s been a while,” Thomas said. “We need to change that.”

The Centurions (3-2, 1-0) host Clairton (2-3, 2-0) Friday night in a Class A Eastern Conference game for first place.

“They are the king of the hill until someone knocks them off,” Thomas said of Clairton. “We believe we have a team that has the potential to do that.”

Clairton leads the all-time series with GCC, 13-6, and has won eight straight — by some one-sided scores, including 74-0 (2014), 84-0 (2016) and 57-18 (2020).

But GCC, which played in Class 2A from 2002-13 and did not play Clairton until the teams reunited in the Eastern Conference in ‘14, only lost by seven (20-13) last year and in 2019 (21-14).

“We felt we were good enough to beat them last year,” Thomas said. “We shot ourselves in the foot, and Danny (Dlugos) went down (with a knee injury). We had opportunities to put that game away and didn’t do it.”

The No. 3-ranked Bears have had better teams than this one, talent-wise. GCC, meantime, might have one of its most talented on paper. It is stacked with playmaking athletes and has been lighting up the scoreboard, averaging 61 points in its wins.

“We’re getting healthier and I feel like we’re getting better each week,” Thomas said.

Clairton is giving up 25.8 points per game. The Bears started 0-3 for the first time in 40 years but played solid opponents in Westinghouse, Washington and OLSH.

GCC gave up 35 points to Class 3A Mt. Pleasant, 21 to West Greene, and 55 to 2A Washington.

GCC scored 42 points in the first quarter last week and beat Springdale, 69-6.

“The scoring has been fantastic, but we need to solidify our defense,” Thomas said.

The Bears held another high-scoring team, Leechburg, in check last week in a 20-13 win.

“Clairton brings a swag,” GCC quarterback Tyree Turner said. “We’re trying to bring a new attitude and show this is our (conference). It’s going to come down to who wants it more.”

Turner said he is not surprised to see the Centurions scoring so much. The team has an abundance of weapons, so it hasn’t relied on one or two players.

“Our guys are unselfish,” Turner said. “Everybody wants to win. I just do my job and try to let our guys be athletes.”

Thursday night football

GCC will play at Frazier next Thursday night in another Eastern Conference game.

Frazier contacted GCC this week and said there are not enough officials available Friday and Saturday, so the game had to be moved up.

“It’s like we have a MAC schedule,” GCC coach Marko Thomas said. “Games all over the place — Saturdays, Thursdays, Fridays. We have long and short weeks.”

300 game

Two teams quietly reached the 300-win milestone.

Franklin Regional’s 16-7 upset win over Gateway was win No. 300 in program history. Hempfield, meanwhile, surpassed 300 wins during its 5-0 start.

Hempfield is 302-329-13 all time. Franklin Regional is 300-268-12.

In a rush

Robbie Labuda of Mt. Pleasant has opened his lead, albeit narrowly, for the Westmoreland County rushing title.

Labuda, who is splitting time between football and soccer, has rushed for 879 yards on 82 carries.

Latrobe’s Robby Fulton has 815 yards on 95 attempts, and Cody Rubrecht is third with 657 yards on 77 rushes.

Fulton is the top scorer in the county with 12 touchdowns for 72 points. Gino Caesar of Hempfield is next with 66 points on 11 TDs.

Labuda and Rubrecht both have 10 TDs for 60 points.

Extra points

Hempfield and GCC both have scored 223 points for 44.6 a game. … Hempfield has allowed the fewest points in the county (41). … Central Catholic tight end/linebacker Cole Sullivan, who has ties to North Huntingdon and Trafford, picked up a scholarship offer from Boston College. … Hempfield senior tight end/linebacker Anthony Vallano has an offer to play at Grinnell College, a Division III program in Iowa.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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