Westmoreland County high school notebook: Norwin receiver’s options include WVU walk-on offer

Saturday, December 23, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Norwin football player Luke Denny popped up on a lot of college radar screens after a big play-filled senior season.

As Division II offers roll in, Denny received a preferred walk-on invitation from a Power Five school. West Virginia presented him with an opportunity to come in and work for a scholarship.

He also has a PWO offer from Akron.

His Division II offers include IUP, Slippery Rock, Mercyhurst and Clarion.

Denny put together a must-see highlight video as he caught 45 passes for 1,060 yards and 12 touchdowns. The catches and yards are program records.

“The biggest thing coaches see is Luke’s athletic ability and speed,” Norwin coach Mike Brown said. “The way he separates when he has the ball jumps out on tape. Not only on offense does he show his ability, but the way he covered on defense too. The aspect they like most is the competition he played against and still had huge success.

“I honestly think he had the best year out of anyone in the whole county.”

Tatsch surgery

Heavily recruited Latrobe junior football player Alex Tatsch, who has a laundry list going of Power Five college offers, had surgery Friday to repair a torn labrum.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Tatsch, who is getting recruited to play linebacker at the next level, said the procedure is very common and believes he can be cleared and working out again in five months.

The procedure cost him his basketball season.

Tatsch’s offers include Stanford, USC, Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and others. He recently had a USC coach visit Latrobe to meet with him.

Latrobe’s last FBS recruit was lineman Trent Holler, who recently signed to play at Memphis after two years at Marshall. He is a graduate transfer.

Tyler Altman, a 2003 Latrobe alum, played defensive lineman at Indiana, making him the last Power Five recruit from Latrobe.

New coach at P-T

Penn-Trafford hired Ryan Hankey to coach its boys soccer team.

Hankey replaces Ben Suchko, who was not retained after one season.

Hankey, a Gateway Hall of Famer who excelled at baseball and soccer in the WPIAL, the latter as a goalkeeper, was the boys soccer coach at Penn Hills.

In 2021, Penn Hills reached the WPIAL playoffs after a 17-year drought.

Player of the month

Senior forward Bryce Kropczynski of Penn-Trafford was named the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Class 2A Player of the Month for November.

Penn-Trafford only played two games last month, but Kropczynski had seven points with two goals and five assists for the Warriors (4-5-0).

Passing fancy

Two county players are now in the top 20 on the WPIAL’s all-time passing yards list.

Brad Birch, who left Jeannette for Gateway three years ago, finished with 8,496 yards, which puts him fourth behind Brett Brumbaugh of South Fayette (11,084), Brady Walker of Gateway (8,816), and Lenny Williams of Sto-Rox (8,508).

Birch became the first freshman to start at quarterback at Jeannette and helped the Jayhawks win a WPIAL title in 2020.

He did not reach a deal with a college during the early signing period (Dec. 20-22).

Jack Salopek of Norwin, who is in the NCAA transfer portal after leaving Western Michigan, is 20th now with 6,150.

WCCA calendar

Three events dot the Westmoreland County Coaches Association calendar for a busy January.

The association’s most popular event, the wrestling championships, will be Jan. 5-6 at Greensburg Salem.

The girls and boys bowling championships are set for Jan. 20 at Hillview Lanes, and the girls and boys swimming and diving championships are Jan. 26-27 at Derry.

The WCCA takes a break after that until April 25 when it hosts the track and field championships at Latrobe.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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