Westmoreland H.S. football notebook: GCC coach reflects on ‘all-around great day’

Saturday, October 2, 2021 | 5:30 PM

Friday will be quite unforgettable for Greensburg Central Catholic first-year coach Marko Thomas.

On Friday morning, he and his wife, Kerri, welcomed their fourth child — all boys — into the world. Devin was born at 9:11 a.m.

By the time 9:11 p.m. rolled around, Thomas was coaching his Centurions to a 35-0 victory at Springdale.

“It was an all-around great day,” he said. “But I really didn’t even do anything. My wife did all the work this morning, and the players and my assistants did the tough work tonight. It couldn’t have ended up any better.”

Gateway-P-T up next

The next big game in Class 5A will happen next Friday in the Big East Conference when Gateway (4-2, 1-0) visits Penn-Trafford (4-2, 1-0) in a first-place clash.

The teams did not play last year because of covid-related cancellations, leaving many to wonder what might have been.

Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane, who recorded his 100th win Friday when the Warriors defeated Woodland Hills, 27-6, is a teacher at Gateway.

The Warriors will see Gators sophomore quarterback Brad Birch, a Jeannette transfer, for the first time. Birch threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns Friday in a 53-7 win over Latrobe.

Ruane is the first Penn-Trafford football coach to record 100 wins. Art Tragesser is second on the wins list with 83, while John Yaccino had 59, Ron Smith 38 and Pat Kelly 29.

Knights return to action

Norwin was itching to get back on the field after a covid-related forfeit last week and some unexpected down time.

Players were on the field at Knights Stadium on Thursday after the girls soccer game, and they were bursting with energy.

They threw a football around and laughed as game day drew near.

It was like opening night eve all over again.

“We like to come down here after our team dinner,” senior running back Dom Barca said. “We can’t wait to play. It’s been two weeks.”

But the Knights were tripped up by Baldwin, 21-10.

Baldwin coach Tim Sweeney, the former Derry coach, showed sympathy for the Knights over their covid issues.

Baldwin had half of last season wiped out because of covid protocols, playing just five games in 2020.

“Give Norwin a lot of credit. It’s hard to come back. They were getting on a little bit of a roll, and then they get shut down,” Sweeney said. “This isn’t professional football. This is high school, and it’s hard for kids to bounce back. I want to congratulate them. They played the game hard all night.”

Interest grows in Whitlock

Devin Whitlock is doing everything he can to land Division I college offers.

Now, the colleges are starting to bite.

The senior quarterback/defensive back at Belle Vernon, whose game-winning run against Thomas Jefferson went viral, attracted attention from at least two larger programs.

The Citadel, an FCS program, offered him a scholarship, and West Virginia reached out with a preferred walk-on offer.

His highlight play, which has been called “Riptide at the Beach,” “Pancake and Syrup” and other names, was only 40 yards long. But it drew a crowd. One fell swoop showed his leadership, speed, energy and ability to turn a game on its ear.

Whitlock (5-foot-8, 165 pounds), a dynamic playmaker since he was a freshman at Monessen, scored with 4.5 seconds left in the 28-21 victory.

Going into Friday night’s game against standout junior Rodney Gallagher and unbeaten Laurel Highlands, Whitlock had rushed for 532 yards and nine touchdowns and had passed for 444 yards.

He also has a D-I offer from Youngstown State and D-II offers from West Liberty and Notre Dame College (Ohio).

In a rush

Nine area players rushed for more than 100 yards Friday night, the most in a single week this season.

They were: Jake Gedekoh of Belle Vernon (247 yards), Carter Green of Penn-Trafford (205), Whitlock of Belle Vernon (154), Aaron Alakson of Mt. Pleasant (153), Eli Binakonsky of Hempfield (123), Nick Beitel of Ligonier Valley (117), Daevon Burke of Monessen (116), Danny Dlugos of GCC (110) and Cade Yacamelli of Penn-Trafford (107).

Gedekoh, just a sophomore, filled in nicely for injured sophomore Quinton Martin, scoring five touchdowns. Binakonsky, a junior, moved from tight end to running back and scored a 72-yard touchdown.

Extra points

Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert was named the Steelers Youth Football Coach of the Week. The honor came after the Leopards rallied to beat Thomas Jefferson, 28-21, last Friday to move into the No. 1 spot in the WPIAL and state rankings. … Yough moved senior Tristan Waldier back to quarterback Friday, and he completed 14 of 30 passes for 139 yards with two touchdown and two interceptions in a 27-12 loss to Mt. Pleasant. … Nathan Schlessinger kicked field goals of 39 and 37 yards Friday for Penn-Trafford.

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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