Westmoreland football notebook: Greensburg Salem girls soccer coach among WPIAL’s top refs

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Thursday, October 7, 2021 | 6:42 PM


Jessica Melodia played for the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team from 2015-17. When she “retired,” a void was left in her life.

“I missed football,” said Melodia, the girls soccer coach at Greensburg Salem. “I started playing about 20 years too late but loved it. I didn’t have any injuries, but I enjoyed playing. A friend of mine said, ‘Hey, you should get into officiating.’ ”

That is what she did.

Melodia now is a PIAA referee and belongs to the Westmoreland County Chapter of football officials. She also works college games in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, the Mid-Atlantic Conference and New Jersey Athletic Conference.

She became the first female to officiate a WPIAL football championship last season.

“I did some middle school and midget games and then I filled in for some varsity games,” she said. “Now I am doing a game every week. I am leaving practice every Friday and heading out to a game.”

WPIAL officials representative Nick Morea said Melodia has been one of the league’s better officials.

“I don’t look at her as a woman. I look at her as an official,” Morea said. “She does a great job.”

Making a change

Yough made a significant position change last week, moving senior Tristan Waldier from wide receiver to quarterback, a position he played the last two years before season-ending knee injuries shelved him.

Waldier completed 14 of 30 passes for 139 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 27-12 loss to Mt. Pleasant. The Cougars (0-6, 0-3 Class 3A Interstate Conference) trailed 13-12 at halftime.

“I did it for the team. It’s where I belong,” Waldier said. “I was tired of losing by 40.”

Yough coach Chris Chunko said the move was made because Yough “needed a spark.”

“The team rallied behind him,” Chunko said. “We were moving the ball. He was willing to move back there. We moved (regular quarterback) Gavin Roebuck to wide receiver, and he had a couple catches. Tristan gives us so many options. He can make something out of nothing.”

Chunko will go against a former high school teammate this week in Southmoreland offensive coordinator Tim Bukowski. The two were linemen at Monessen.

Call to arms

Friday’s Greensburg Salem at Armstrong Class 4A Big Eight game will feature two of the top five passers in the WPIAL. Greensburg Salem senior Hayden Teska is second with 1,348 yards and 13 touchdowns. His counterpart puts the “Arm” in Armstrong. Junior Cadin Olsen (6-4, 205) has thrown for 1,166 yards and a WPIAL-best 17 touchdowns.

Both teams are 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference.

Pipkins’ son

Some might have noticed the name Pipkins last week coming out of the Hopewell-Ambridge game. Yes, Tom Pipkins III is the son of former Valley star basketball player and WPIAL all-time scoring leader Tom Pipkins.

The younger Pipkins, just 5-foot-5 and 180 pounds, is playing quarterback for Hopewell. In backup duty last week, he completed 11 of 18 passes for 124 yards in a 35-9 loss.

His father played football for two years at Valley before focusing on basketball. Pipkins scored 2,838 points, a WPIAL record that has held up since 1993.

Next man up

Franklin Regional has gone into just about every game this season down two starters.

The Panthers have been without senior lineman Josh Pelusi for the entire season, while senior running back and linebacker Garrett Deller only played briefly in the Hempfield game.

“We’re still trying to find that mix,” Panthers coach Lance Getsy said. “We’ve had defensive ends play linebacker and linebackers move to defensive tackle. Guys are playing positions they haven’t played before. We’re rotating guys on the offensive line, too.”

Despite the uncertainty and experimenting each week, the Panthers are 2-4 overall and won their 5A Big East Conference opener Friday against Connellsville, 36-0.

Connor Donnelly scored two touchdowns and threw for another.

Concussions have been an issue for Franklin Regional in the past, but Getsy said his players go through neck stretches each day, some on a machine, as part of concussion prevention.

Bryer’s next move

Belle Vernon senior Jack Bryer announced he will continue his playing career at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.

Bryer, a 6-foot, 210-pound fullback and linebacker, has 19 tackles this season for the Leopards, who are ranked No. 1 in WPIAL Class 4A.

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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