Westmoreland County high school football notebook: Playoff win would mean a lot to Greensburg Central Catholic

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Thursday, November 2, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Greensburg Central Catholic versus West Greene.

Truth be told, there isn’t very much green to this WPIAL Class A first-round playoff matchup.

GCC (7-3) defeated West Greene (8-2) earlier in the season 48-30 and will look to make it back-to-back wins over the Pioneers when the teams play at 7 p.m. Friday at Plum’s Mustang Stadium.

Familiarity is on the teams’ side. For GCC, it could help stamp out a postseason drought.

The Centurions have not won a playoff game since 2011 when they beat Ellwood City, 18-15, in the WPIAL 2A quarterfinals. Muzzy Colosimo was the coach.

“It’s hard to even think about it,” GCC quarterback Tyree Turner said of the lack of playoff wins.

GCC first-year coach JT Thompson said a playoff win would be validation for a restructured program that has had three coaches in five years.

“There is a renewed vision of the program and the culture,” Thompson said. “I think we defied expectations of a lot of people. We didn’t win the (Eastern) conference, but making the playoffs is a great accomplishment.

“Not to put the cart before the horse, but a playoff win would be a big statement.”

In the teams’ matchup in Week 2, GCC fell behind 14-7 but used defense and special teams to recover and surge ahead.

“We scored 21 points in something like two minutes,” Thompson said.

A 70-yard kick return touchdown by Samir Crosby, a pair of Turner scoring passes to Crosby and Matt Mazowiecki, a 28-yard pick-6 by Aidan Allison and a short TD run by Turner had GCC ahead 35-14 at the half.

“We caused a lot of turnovers,” Turner said. “We have to be able to stop their running game as a whole and make them a passing team.”

West Greene defeated GCC four years ago in the first round, 36-0.

GCC did not qualify for the playoffs in 2020 and was one-and-done the last two years.

“The first time I saw GCC play was at West Greene,” Turner said, referring to the teams’ first-round playoff matchup in 2019. “That was my first experience around the football team.”

Turner has passed for 1,249 yards, rushed for 600 yards and accounted for 25 touchdowns. He has one interception.

Crosby has rushed for 533 yards and seven TDs and has 27 receptions for 493 yards and four scores. He also leads the team with 88 tackles.

Turner and Crosby each have six interceptions.

West Greene standout running back Colin Brady will not play this week with an injury, a load off of GCC’s shoulders.

He suffered an ankle injury Sept. 15 against Carmichaels. He has missed the last two games.

Brady ran for 209 yards and three TDs against GCC in the first meeting. He has rushed for 1,089 yards and 13 touchdowns in seven games.

Senior running back and linebacker Nick Dlugos will not play for GCC with a lower leg injury.

Thompson said moving Ty Rozir and James Botti from tight end to tackle has bolstered the offense.

“Those guys have really come through for us and done a great job,” Thompson said. “They are unselfish kids for making that switch.”

Thompson, who was a college assistant at several schools, only made the playoffs one time, with Mercyhurst in 2010.

GCC is the “home” team but has to play at a neutral site because its stadium did not fit the WPIAL’s requirements.

“They’re talking about getting a student bus to the game, so that’s cool,” Turner said.

Craggette clinches

A school-record performance gave Southmoreland running back Da’sjon Craggette the Westmoreland County rushing title.

Craggette, a transfer from Greensburg Central Catholic who attends Geibel and plays football for the Scotties as part of a co-operative agreement, finished the regular season with 1,329 yards.

He ran for 335 yards in last week’s 40-3 win over Mt. Pleasant.

Penn-Trafford’s Tasso Whipple ended up second with 1,269 yards, and the rest of the top five included Kyle Dupill of Franklin Regional (1,165), Devin Beattie of Burrell (1,140) and Ahmad Ward of Derry (1,030).

Jeannette’s Noah Sanders ran for 1,020.

Stopping Dugger

Penn-Trafford prides itself on defense, but the Warriors could have their hands full Friday with Penn Hills senior quarterback Julian Dugger.

A dual threat for the No. 2-seeded Indians, Dugger is a Pitt commit who was not recruited as an “athlete.” Pat Narduzzi likes him as a quarterback.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Dugger is 89 of 175 for 1,412 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions.

While he can sling it around, he also is a scrambler who can find open space quickly.

“He is very talented and has started a lot of games,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “He has a big-time accurate arm and is a dangerous runner. We have to focus on just playing great team defense as they have a ton of playmakers and they all touch it.”

Molter out?

Jeannette coach Tommy Paulone said quarterback Payton Molter is day to day with an injury to his throwing arm. The senior’s playing status for this week is uncertain.

The injury occurred last week against Clairton.

The Jayhawks visit California on Friday night in the Class A first round.

Molter is 87 of 150 for 1,420 yards and 19 touchdowns. His backup is his top receiver, sophomore Kymone Brown (26 catches).

Brown has seen minimal time under center this season. He is 4 of 12 for 44 yards.

Another option is freshman Markus McGowan, who has attempted two passes in four games played.

Recruiting

Dlugos will play at Williams College (Mass.), where his brother, Nate, is a freshman defensive back.

Another brother, Zach, is a junior linebacker at Amherst, which plays in the same New England Small College Athletic Conference.

A sibling rivalry game is in their future.

As a side note, freshman Ryan Kimmel, another GCC alum, plays for Bates, another NESCAA program. Kimmel is a freshman defensive end.

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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