Westmoreland H.S. football notebook: Hempfield copes with sudden end to season

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Saturday, October 17, 2020 | 5:52 PM


Hempfield players had no clue they were playing their final football game of the season two Friday nights ago at Baldwin.

The seniors had no idea it would be their last high school game, period.

Hempfield had some recent covid-19 cases in school and initially planned to pause athletics for about a week. But when a football team member tested positive, the team had to shut down for 14 days. That meant canceling their final two games: Friday at Central Catholic and this week at home against North Allegheny.

The announcement hit the team like a bucket of ice water.

“It was very difficult knowing that I would never step on the field with some of my best friends ever again,” Spartans senior quarterback Christian Zilli said. “I felt awful for the seniors who don’t play any other sports, especially because the Baldwin game is the last time they’ll play a high school sport.”

Spartans players have to quarantine so they could not be together on a usual game night Friday.

Hempfield is 1-4 and was tied for last in Class 6A with Norwin.

“Hearing the news was very sad, disappointing and very emotional,” Spartans senior running back Mario Perkins said. “Knowing I will never go out on a Friday night with my brothers again is heartbreaking. But we all know it’s for the better for us regarding our health and safety.”

Perkins visited Seton Hill Saturday.

Zilli said players are trying to deal with the abrupt end to the season.

“We had a Google meet with our mental performance coach, Melissa White, (on Thursday) as a team just to see how everyone was doing. But that is the most ‘together’ we’re allowed to be until (Oct. 23),” Zilli said.

The PIAA has given teams until Thanksgiving to play additional games, but it does not appear Hempfield will pursue any further chances to play.

Make-up game?

Southmoreland postponed Friday’s game against Brownsville because of covid-19 cases in the school district. But the game still could be made up, depending on whether the Scotties make the WPIAL 3A playoffs.

Making the playoffs is clearly goal No. 1.

Athletic director Dan Boring said it would be nice to get the seniors one more game either way.

FR injuries

Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta did not know the severity of injuries to two key players after Friday night’s 27-14 win over Latrobe.

Senior tight end Luke Reppermund (shoulder) and senior running back Brandon Zanotto (leg) left the game with injuries and did not return.

“We’re hoping it won’t be too bad,” Botta said.

More Birch

Can Brad Birch be any more impressive for Jeannette? The freshman quarterback, one of the top drop-back passers the team has had in years, completed 11 of 14 passes for 293 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-0 win over Bishop Canevin.

Oh, and he did all of that damage in the first half.

His brother, junior Brett Birch, had five catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns, including an 86-yard strike.

Pitt offers Krevokuch

Norwin senior tight end and defensive end Tanner Krevokuch has been in contact with Pitt tight ends coach Tim Salem lately, and the conversation sparked greater interest.

After sending some highlights, Krevokuch (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) received a preferred walk-on opportunity with the Panthers.

Central Michigan had offered him last year, but that program signed two tight ends and subsequently pulled the offer.

“I am beyond thankful for Coach Salem to give me this opportunity,” Krevokuch said. “I am going to strongly consider this offer.”

Krevokuch said Salem told him he would understand and even support him if a better financial package came along elsewhere.

Tour de Rams

Ligonier Valley’s first year back in the WPIAL after five decades has kept the bus drivers busy. Not many teams have covered the miles the Rams have this season.

Consider: Ligonier Valley has played in six counties in six weeks. The Rams have played at Apollo-Ridge (Armstrong), Frazier (Fayette), Western Beaver (Beaver), Serra Catholic (Allegheny) and Waynesburg (Greene) — and they’ve had one home game in Westmoreland.

New QB

Yough debuted sophomore quarterback Gavin Roebuck in Friday’s 32-14 loss to Valley. The move allowed the Cougars to move senior Gamal Marballie back to tailback. Roebuck threw for 153 yards but threw four interceptions.

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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