Westmoreland high school football notebook: GCC’s Dlugos boys play with heavy hearts

Saturday, October 23, 2021 | 4:08 PM

“RWG Pap” was written in bold, black lettering on the tape wrapped around Nate Dlugos’ wrist.

The Greensburg Central Catholic junior quarterback/defensive back, his brother and teammate, Nick Dlugos, and their cousin, Danny Dlugos, went to Friday’s game at Jeannette with heavy hearts.

Only hours before kickoff, they attended a visitation for their late grandfather, Donald, who died earlier this week at age 68.

The funeral was Saturday morning.

There was nothing keeping the Dlugos boys from playing Friday. Why?

“Pap loved football,” Nate Dlugos said. “He got me into playing it. If he was still on earth with me right now, he would want me to play. I know he’s up in heaven right now watching over me, and he’s smiling because we beat the Jayhawks.”

Donald Dlugos played college football at Miami (Fla.) before transferring to Edinboro, where he met his future wife, Karen.

GCC won 49-3 for its first victory at Jeannette since 2009. The Centurions (6-3, 4-2) clinched a WPIAL Class A playoff spot.

“They’re a football family,” GCC coach Marko Thomas. “Very emotional for them. They’re hurting, which is acceptable when you put yourselves in their shoes.”

Nick Dlugos is a sophomore receiver and defensive back. Danny Dlugos, a senior fullback and linebacker, did not play because of a leg injury.

“It feels good to finally beat them” Nate Dlugos said of Jeannette. “Our whole family has been at Central. We have a lot of pride in the school. To finally beat them, it feels really good.”

Nate Dlugos said it also was tough to not play alongside Danny Dlugos.

“I told Danny, ‘I said a prayer with him before the game. I’m going to play for you, too,’ ” Nate Dlugos said. “It’s like our whole family. It was definitely different playing without my pap being in the stands and playing beside my cousin. I played for both of them.”

Honoring Hall

Jeannette recognized coach Roy Hall on Friday night, showering him with praise in the next-to-last game of his final season. A number of messages from former players and friends were read over the loudspeaker.

Late in the game, Hall waved his hat to the crowd as he walked the sideline.

At the end of the game, the school’s marching band surprised him with a personalized rendition of the Jayhawks’ fight song.

Hall had tears in his eyes as memories from 37 years of coaching — 13 as head coach — came rushing back.

“I appreciate what everyone did tonight,” Hall said. “There has been so much support from the community. Everyone has been great. I could feel the love.”

A proud Jeannette alum, Hall has 116 wins, two WPIAL championships and a PIAA title with the Jayhawks.

Norwin still alive?

Norwin isn’t ready to surrender its playoff hopes to the big dogs in Class 6A just yet.

The Knights (3-6, 1-5) pulled out a 16-7 win over No. 5 Canon-McMillan on senior night in North Huntingdon to end a five-game skid and make next week’s regular-season finale at Hempfield more meaningful.

The top five teams out of eight make the playoffs. If Norwin beats Hempfield and Canon-McMillan loses to Central Catholic, the Knights still could qualify.

In Norwin’s win, senior running back Dom Barca broke a 33-year-old Knights record with a 95-yard touchdown run. The previous mark was 85 yards by Mike Cole in 1988. Barca finished with 124 yards on 12 carries and caught a touchdown pass.

Playoff spots

Westmoreland County has five WPIAL playoff qualifiers heading into the final week of the regular season: Penn-Trafford (7-2) and Franklin Regional (4-5) in Class 5A, Belle Vernon (7-0) in 4A, Mt. Pleasant (5-3) in 2A and Greensburg Central Catholic (6-3) in A.

Yough gets a win

Yough had scored just 39 points through eight games. Friday night, the short-handed Cougars (1-8) erupted offensively for a 49-26 win over visiting Brownsville.

Shane Swope Jr. and Raidon Kuroda scored three times each, with Swope returning a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.

Swope carried 27 times for a career-high 148 yards and two TDs, and Kuroda ran for 55 yards and two scores.

For a Class 3A game, player participation was alarmingly low, as in 40 total players.

Yough dressed 23, and Brownsville had only 17 in uniform.

Yough was missing seven suspended players following last week’s fight at Valley. Brownsville has been short-handed in recent weeks because of covid issues and injuries. The Falcons canceled back-to-back games against Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland.

Night off

Belle Vernon did not play in Week 8, so the Leopards treated Friday as another day of preparation for next week’s big first-place clash with McKeesport for the Class 4A Big Eight Conference title.

“We had a good lift and some good on-field conditioning,” said coach Matt Humbert, whose Leopards are 7-0 overall and 5-0 in conference. “You try to focus on some of the things that you typically let fall by the wayside during the season. We always lift twice a week during the season, but we really try to hit it hard (Friday). The goal was trying to simulate exertion like they would do on a Friday night.”

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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