Westmoreland high school football notebook: Penn-Trafford’s Whipple enjoys breakout

Saturday, September 23, 2023 | 4:50 PM

Tasso Whipple was a little hesitant to talk to the media after his record-breaking performance Friday night.

The Penn-Trafford junior running back, the kid with the cool-sounding name, had just ran for 300 yards and scored four touchdowns but wasn’t quite up for an interview.

Fair enough.

Whipple let his game do the talking as he broke Manny Simpson’s single-game rushing mark of 292 yards from 2011 in a 41-18 win over Hempfield on homecoming night in Harrison City.

Whipple scored on runs of 6, 13 and 35 yards and caught the game’s opening score, a 44-yard halfback pass from junior receiver Jack Weishaar.

He had a 70-yard touchdown negated by a penalty.

Whipple collected 158 yards on his final six carries, all in the fourth quarter when the Warriors (2-3, 1-0) scored 20 points to move past Hempfield (1-4, 0-1), which crept within 21-18 early in the fourth.

What a Big East Conference opener it was for Penn-Trafford.

The Warriors’ blocking up front was solid and, minus a number of drive-killing penalties, was the biggest key to victory.

“Our line was really good, and Tasso got downhill in a hurry,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “I thought our tight ends really blocked well and helped us establish the run.”

Senior tight ends Paul Darragh and Mark Jollie book-ended the line at times to give Whipple and junior and freshman quarterbacks Jonny Lovre and Ben Grabowski room to get to the perimeter.

Penn-Trafford rushed for 404 yards, which looked a lot better on the stat sheet than nine penalties for 71 yards — five for holding.

“We worked all week to get that push so Tasso, Jonny and Ben could get down field,” Darragh said. “We sealed the outside. It is about the little things because they turn into big things.”

Tough ending

Norwin was down seven points and driving inside the final minute Friday when a controversial call dashed the Knights’ hopes.

Luke Denny appeared to score a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining, but the ball came out near the end of the play and it was ruled a fumble.

Woodland Hills escaped the Knights, 30-23, at the Wolvarena.

Social media buzz Friday night indicated the Knights thought the ball broke the plane before it came out, and the play should have been a touchdown.

Jackson Pons posted on X that the Knights got “robbed … and everyone knows it.”

Tristyn Tavares threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns, both to Denny, who caught five for 192. Pons had eight receptions for 91 yards.

Norwin (2-3, 1-0) hosts Penn-Trafford (2-3, 1-0) next week in Big East play.

Panthers erupt 

Franklin Regional was so fired up that media outlets picked it to lose to Shaler, the Panthers decided to crush the No. 5 Titans, 55-7.

The Panthers (3-2) led 35-7 at the half and scored in a variety of ways after the Titans tied it 7-7 early. Ayden Hudock had touchdown catch and a run, Chase Lemke threw for two scores and ran for two more, Kyle Dupill had a TD grab, Austin Kerns returned a fumble 20 yards for six and Elijah Bennett had 20-yard pick 6.

Nick Purdue, the brother of late Panthers’ lineman Joe Purdue, also scored on a short run.

The loss was the first of the year for Shaler (4-1).

Derry aisle 

Derry, suddenly propped up at 3-2, began the season on a 19-game losing streak. But on Friday, the Trojans started a winning streak.

They rolled past Apollo-Ridge, 35-21, for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2019.

Damauri Robinson (117) and Ahmad Ward (113) both topped 100 yards rushing. Both scored two touchdowns.

Jeannette 4-1 

Jeannette made it three straight wins with a 35-7 victory over Charleroi, the first time the Jayhawks have done that since 2020 when they won their last WPIAL title.

Jeannette (4-1, 1-0) isn’t ready to give up its all-time wins lead yet, either. The Jayhawks are tied at the top of the WPIAL with Aliquippa with 774 victories.

They will try to make it four straight when then they return Eastern Conference play against Riverview (3-2, 1-1) next week at McKee Stadium.

BC offers Tatsch 

For the second time in less than a week, Latrobe junior Alex Tatsch received a Division I scholarship offer from a Power 5 school.

Boston College reached out to Tatsch (6-3, 210) just a few days after West Virginia made him an offer.

Tatsch is a running back and linebacker for the Wildcats. He is the first Power 5 recruit from Latrobe since linebacker Tyler Altman, who went to Indiana as a defensive tackle in 2003.

Lineman Trent Holler was the last high-profile recruit for the Wildcats. He had Power 5 interest but signed with East Carolina.

He is currently starting at center for Marshall.

Marshall and Connecticut also offered Tatsch.

GCC scores 60 

Tyree Turner accounted for six touchdowns as Greensburg Central Catholic flattened Springdale, 60-14.

Turner ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns, threw for two scores and returned an interception 35 yards for another TD.

GCC ran for 297 yards and intercepted four passes.

Samir Crosby had a rushing touchdown and returned a punt for a score.

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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