Westmoreland high school football notebook: Southmoreland’s 3-0 start creating buzz

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Saturday, September 7, 2019 | 8:40 PM


Southmoreland is beginning to draw a crowd to Russ Grimm Field.

There is a buzz around Alverton, and oft-discouraged fans are starting to come out of the woodwork to see what all the commotion is about.

“We feel like we can compete with anyone, and it’s good knowing every win we get closer and closer to playoffs,” Scotties senior receiver Riley Comforti said.

The Scotties are out to prove themselves and turn around a program that has not been to the WPIAL playoffs since 1979.

A playoff berth still is weeks away and far from a lock, but there is reason for optimism after the Scotties moved to 3-0 on Friday night with a 48-25 victory over visiting Carmichaels.

Southmoreland had not had a 3-0 start since 1991. That season, the Scotties started 4-0 but lost five of their final six to wilt from the postseason chase.

The big-play passing combination of junior quarterback Zach Cernuto and Comforti is living up to the billing. Cernuto completed 17 of 24 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns Friday, and Comforti snagged 10 receptions for 148 yards and two scores.

The Scotties are 2-0 in the Class 2A Interstate Conference.

And don’t sleep on that running game, which is making the offense more balanced than some expected. Bruising back Colt Harper rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns against Carmichaels.

“There’s a lot of excitement in the school and community,” Scotties coach Dave Keefer said. “It’s really fun to be around.”

The team breaks huddles in practice with “Forty on three,” referring to a near-40-year playoff drought.

Vikings rolling

Mt. Pleasant has recovered nicely from a season-opening loss to Southmoreland. The Vikings are piling up the points, with their latest victory coming Friday night against Yough, 55-35.

Mt. Pleasant put up 28 points in the third quarter. Along the way, it produced three 100-yard rushers, who combined for seven touchdowns: Jake Johnson (130 yards, 12 carries), Nick Loughner (124, seven carries) and Aaron Alakson (118 yards, 12 carries).

The Vikings defeated Hampton last week 48-34. They have scored 48 or more in three of their last four games after pounding Uniontown, 49-13, in the final game of last season.

Instant offense

If it wasn’t for Latrobe senior Kameron Stevens, the Wildcats would not have been in Friday’s game against Franklin Regional.

But the speedster kept the Wildcats close because of his kickoff-return ability.

Stevens returned two kicks for touchdowns — from 96 and 93 yards — and he almost had a third, getting spun down after gaining 31 yards. He has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns. He had one in Week Zero at Derry.

“Kameron does a great job hitting the seam,” Latrobe coach Jason Marucco said. “The return team does a good job, and he follows his blockers and has great vision.”

Norwin hobbled

Norwin has been bitten by the injury bug. The Knights played without three starters against visiting Hempfield. Senior linemen Aaron Bowen and Connor Vogel and sophomore receiver Ryan Hileman did not play with injuries.

Senior tight end Jake Merlin was injured during the game. Bowen and Hileman were hurt during practices. Vogel was injured during warmups last week against North Allegheny.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Knights coach Dave Brozeski said. “It’s not like we’re doing anything different (in practice). It’s tough to see because we ask so much of our guys, and they’re battling their butts off.”

Hempfield sharp

How efficient and balanced was Hempfield’s offense in Friday’s 34-17 win at Norwin?

The Spartans rolled up 463 yards — 248 passing and 215 rushing — and averaged 7.3 yards per play over 63 plays.

Senior quarterback Blake Remaley was 20 for 26 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns, while senior running back Nathan Roby rushed for 141 yards and two scores in 21 carries, caught seven passes for 152 yards and a TD, and intercepted two passes.

That being said, the Spartans had nine penalties for 97 yards, which concerned the coaching staff.

“I thought we were well-balanced,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “We have to clean up the penalties. We go from a second-and-6 to a second-and-16 because of a hold. We can’t have that. We need to clean that up but it’s a win so I’ll take it.”

Huss-le points

Derry senior running back Justin Huss continues to be one of the top backs in the WPIAL through three weeks.

Huss had his second straight 200-yard rushing game Friday as the Trojans defeated South Park, 35-7. He ran 19 times for 227 yards and a 70-yard touchdown, but also caught three touchdown passes from Paul Koontz — of 12, 33 and 4 yards.

Confidence boost

Greensburg Central Catholic did not beat No. 3 Clairton Friday in a Class A Eastern Conference game, falling 21-14. But coach Bret Colbert still gave the team a confident shot in the arm with a tweet that read, “We now know that we belong in the conversation … Proud of our guys!!”

Tweet of the day

Coming attractions

• McKeesport at Penn-Trafford, 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Class 5A top-ranked Warriors host another quality opponent of which it shares a friendly yet spirited rivalry.

• Mt. Pleasant at Derry, 7 p.m. Friday: Class 3A Big East rivals meet at Trojan Stadium to see which one can slow the other’s rushing attack.

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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