Westmoreland high school football notebook: Rivals Greensburg Salem, Hempfield brace for clash

Friday, August 23, 2019 | 12:45 PM

On paper, Friday’s season- opening football game between Greensburg Salem and Hempfield looks like one of the better matchups between the rival teams.

Only the teams can be the judges of whether a paper analysis translates to the field.

Experienced returnees are back for both sides as the Golden Lions and Spartans face off at Hempfield’s Spartan Stadium in their 55th meeting.

Greensburg Salem leads the all-time series 35-18-1.

“The rivalry is one of the better ones in the area,” Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said. “It’s one of the few games that our communities compete against someone with such close proximity.”

The neighboring teams did not play from 2012-15 but resumed their rivalry in ‘16.

Hempfield has won three straight in the series, including a 27-24 win last year at Offutt Field in downtown Greensburg.

“This is what high school football is all about,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said, “local rivals playing each other.”

Many of the players from that game return, including both quarterbacks, running backs from each side and a number of linemen.

Hempfield then-junior Nate Roby turned the tide in his team’s favor in last year’s game. He had two interceptions, including a pick-6, a blocked extra point, and he ran for 66 yards.

Hempfield plans to be a more run-oriented team this season with Roby and junior Mario Perkins — and senior quarterback Blake Remaley — who will run behind a hefty and more experienced line led by 6-foot-3, 280-pound Delaware recruit Fintan Brose.

“I think this is a very good matchup,” Bowen said. “Greensburg has a lot of talent and they have played us close in the past. I think the team that does not turn the ball over and makes the least amount of mistakes will win.”

New QBs

Of the 13 Westmoreland teams in action Friday night, six will have new quarterbacks.

Greensburg Central Catholic will start junior David Altimore, who had been competing for camp snaps with freshman Nate Dlugos.

“He’s a good athlete,” GCC first-year coach Bret Colbert said of Altimore. “His natural reactions in the pocket make him a threat.”

Monessen, GCC’s opponent this week, also will have a new face under center. Coach Mikey Blainefield said senior lefty Dawayne Howell will get the nod. Howell played some quarterback as a sophomore but gave way to freshman Devin Whitlock last season. Whitlock transferred to Belle Vernon this year.

“He has good chemistry with the line and receivers,” Blainefield said. “He has a solid understanding of the offense.”

Jeannette (junior James Sanders), Yough (sophomore Tristan Waldier), Mt. Pleasant (junior Asher O’Connor) and Ligonier Valley (senior Sam Sheeder) also will debut new starters under center.

Franklin Regional will play a second scrimmage instead of a Week Zero game, but the Panthers also will have a new quarterback in junior Trevor Brncic. The Panthers scrimmage Friday night at Bethel Park.

Wins list

When teams take the field to open the season Friday night — and each week thereafter — they can add to their program’s win total.

Jeannette leads the WPIAL in all-time wins with 747. Greensburg Salem is fifth with 694, and Monessen is seventh with 664.

Those are the top three Westmoreland schools in wins. The remainder of the Top 10 is: 4. Ligonier Valley 451; 5. Latrobe 450; 6. Norwin 388; 7. Greensburg C.C. 346; 8. Mt. Pleasant 325; 9. Belle Vernon 315; 10. Kiski Area 297.

Hempfield and Penn-Trafford are tied with 290 victories — 11th place all-time in Westmoreland, and Franklin Regional is 14th in the county, at 281.

Matchup to watch

An intriguing one-on-one matchup could develop Friday in North Versailles when Jeannette visits East Allegheny.

Athletic, two-way senior Jackson Pruitt is expected to match up against East Allegheny senior Tyler Padezan. Both play receiver and defensive back. Pruitt and Padezan are strong in pass coverage and both can make catches downfield.

Padezan had 33 receptions for 674 yards and six touchdowns last year. He has FCS Division I offers from St. Francis (Pa.), Rhode Island, Duquesne, Albany, and William & Mary.

Remember me?

When GCC takes on Monessen on Friday night, two GCC players will reunite with some old friends. Seniors Zach Kuvinka and Brandon Brown are from Monessen.

Kuvinka is a running back and linebacker. Brown is a wide receiver and defensive back.

Scotties record

The single-season record for pass receptions at Southmoreland is 50, held by Asa Costelnock in 2011. An earlier mention of the record credited a different player.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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