Westmoreland County high school football notebook: Haden Sierocky doing it all for Ligonier Valley

Thursday, September 8, 2022 | 10:01 AM

Haden Sierocky went from a quarterback candidate to a versatile weapon and catalyst for Ligonier Valley.

The senior running back and defensive back has scored five touchdowns four ways for the Rams (2-0).

A film hound who looks for a cerebral edge, the 6-foot, 186-pound Sierocky is just as valuable on defense.

“Haden is a quiet leader on both sides of the ball — until the scoreboard turns on, and then he doesn’t stop talking,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “As a safety, he really directs the entire secondary and has great football sense to make adjustments on the fly based on what he sees. He is a dying breed of younger players that really watches and understands the nuances of the game. Since he became a starter for us as sophomore, he has always made big plays for us.”

Sierocky has 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries (8.6 yards per carry), four receptions for 70 yards and a score and 404 all-purpose yards (202 per game).

His 85-yard interception return touchdown set a school record, and his 84-yard kick return is the second-longest in program history.

Ligonier Valley went back to a Wing-T offense for the first time in eight seasons — Beitel has led the team for 19 years — and Sierocky was a key “personnel” reason for the change.

“It allows for us to get the ball to him in many different ways,” Beitel said. “When he came back last season after an arm injury, we inserted him back in the game as a QB. It didn’t take teams more than two series to figure out that he wasn’t able to throw. Then they loaded the box against us. This put the entire offense at a disadvantage. Teams also assigned an extra player to him by taking that player out of coverage.

“It was a blessing because we had a preview of what teams would do to us if we kept him at the QB position in the spread.”

Beitel said Sierocky plays fearlessly, no matter the opponent — or the league. Like his teammates, he made a smooth transition from District 6 to the WPIAL.

“Haden doesn’t play with fear,” Beitel said. “He believes that he can turn any play into a big play. He is the type of player that wants the ball in his hands in the biggest moments.”

Reason to cheer

Mt. Pleasant started a unique fundraiser last year to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The drive continued this year, and the second annual Mt. Pleasant ACS Penny King/Queen Contest raised $1,386.56 — a total of $3,489.19 over two years.

Organizers will present a check to the ACS at 2:15 p.m. Friday at Viking Stadium.

The idea for the fundraiser is for Mt. Pleasant cheerleaders and athletes to compete in a “Penny Court.” A representative from each group collects pennies in a donation canister at the school, with their teammates collecting in the stands at games.

Balanced diet

Defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A champion Penn-Trafford has turned into a passing team across the first two weeks, but that isn’t totally by design.

The Warriors wanted to run the football this season, but quarterback Conlan Greene, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior who was recruited to play on the defensive line at Temple, has completed 36 of 68 passes for 452 yards in two weeks and the Warriors have rushed for 209 yards as a team.

Last week in a 19-7 loss against McKeesport, sophomore Tasso Whipple seemed to find a groove, rushing for 75 yards and a touchdown on eight carries before the Warriors turned back to the pass to push for a comeback.

“Being balanced is ideal,” Warriors coach John Ruane said. “We were close to it until we were down in the fourth where we threw on 12 to 15 straight plays.

“Tasso provided a much needed spark, and he gets better every week.”

Ruane believes balance will be a key to the Warriors remaining an elite team.

“We will continue to study the film and see what’s there,” he said. “Ideally, we are a good mix of run and pass each week.”

Crosby shows stripes

Samir Crosby, the budding freshman at Greensburg Central Catholic who grew up in Jeannette, had a breakthrough game last week for the Centurions at top-ranked Bishop Canevin.

Crosby, a receiver/quarterback/defensive back, returned a kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown, caught five passes for 105 yards and had two interceptions on defense.

Kobus at Jeannette

Anthony Kobus has joined the coaching staff at Jeannette under first-year coach Tom Paulone.

Kobus was the girls basketball coach at Franklin Regional a few years ago but has been around high school football for more than 20 years.

He was coach at Saltsburg and an assistant at Penn Hills and Franklin Regional.

“He is a former head coach, and he gives us an extra set of eyes in the press box on Friday nights,” Paulone said. “He will kind of oversee the offense, defense and special teams for us in a quality control role.”

Kobus also was an assistant boys basketball coach with the Penn-Trafford boys.

Central impact

At least three players with Westmoreland County connections are making key contributions to the Central Catholic football team (1-1).

Junior quarterback Payton Wehner, who has ties to Norwin, has completed 27 of 47 passes for 318 yards and a touchdown and has also run for a score.

Junior tight end Cole Sullivan, who has connections to Penn-Trafford, is a key blocker and occasional pass-catcher for the Vikings. His father, Roger, a principal at Trafford Middle School, played college football at Kentucky.

And junior wide receiver Jayden Thrift also started out at Norwin.

Extra points

Greensburg Central Catholic might have its hands full this week with West Greene linebacker Johnny Lampe. The 5-9, 195-pound junior set a school record last week with 23 tackles in a 31-21 loss to Chartiers-Houston. … Belle Vernon (1-0) remained No. 2 in the TribLive HSSN Class 3A state rankings. … Quarterback Roman Sarnic of Franklin Regional had a quietly good game against Latrobe last week. He ran for two touchdowns and passed for another, tallying 250 total yards (125 pass/125 rush). On defense, he forced a fumble and had a sack. … The combined score of the last two Latrobe-Franklin Regional games: Latrobe 76, Franklin Regional 74.

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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