Westmoreland high school football notebook: Top-ranked P-T readies for McKeesport

Friday, September 13, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Penn-Trafford football coach John Ruane bristled at the idea McKeesport and Penn-Trafford may have lost some of its shine because his top-ranked Warriors beat Gateway two weeks ago, and McKeesport has one loss.

“I totally disagree,” Ruane said. “It’s always a great matchup. It’s a huge rivalry when we play them. It’s as physical a game as we’ll play all year long. When they tackle you, you feel it.”

Penn-Trafford (3-0, 2-0) will host the Tigers (2-1, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Warrior Stadium. The teams have played every year since 2006 with McKeesport winning seven times. The Warriors have won four of the last five meetings including last year, 20-9.

What makes McKeesport a challenge is preparing for its triple-option offense.

Penn-Trafford installed the basic scheme and its scout team had to learn it this week.

“We prep very hard for them because they are so fast and physical,” Ruane said. “If ever there was a week when we’ll need a true team effort, it’s this one. We need waves of people to help us win this game.”

McKeesport is led by dual-threat quarterback Devari Robinson, running back Tyron Wagner and 6-foot-5, 210-pound receiver Deamontae Diggs.

The Tigers are tough to figure because they only have played one WPIAL team and that is Connellsville, whom Penn-Trafford also defeated. Their two others games are against Woodrow Wilson (Washington D.C.) and Erie Cathedral Prep, the latter responsible for their lone loss.

Penn-Trafford has outscored its opponents, 111-21, allowing seven points in each game.

“We respect them a lot,” Penn-Trafford senior linebacker Chase Burk said of McKeesport. “This is always one of the funnest weeks to play. Everyone has to do their job for us to win.”

Hall nears 100

The next win for Jeannette’s Roy Hall will be the 100th of his career as coach of the Jayhawks.

He would become the third coach in team history to reach the milestone, joining A. Markley Barnes (168) and Joe Mucci (151).

Hitting the road

Franklin Regional won’t spend a lot of time on its newly installed turf this season at Panther Stadium.

With an open week on the schedule — the Panthers could not fill the void left by Albert Gallatin’s departure from the WPIAL — the team will play just two more home games. The Panthers (2-0) hosted Latrobe last week.

They will not return home for six weeks, when they welcome McKeesport.

“I feel bad for the seniors,” Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said. “But they are saying if we can get a home playoff game, that’s a goal.”

A bye week, which will be the week of Sept. 23, could have its advantage.

“You see in the pros and the colleges,” Botta said, “a bye week helps the banged-up players heal.”

Faith in Jack

Norwin might be winless three weeks into the season but the Knights (0-3) are standing behind their senior leader, quarterback Jack Salopek.

Salopek, a Western Michigan recruit, has been under duress as Norwin combats injuries along its offensive line, but he continues to extend plays.

“Jack is always looking to make plays,” Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said. “It’s never because of a lack of effort. When we lose, he takes it personally.”

Salopek threw three interceptions last week against Hempfield but also tossed two touchdowns — his first of the season.

Salopek is 37 of 78 for 447 yards this season.

GCC game moved

Add another home game to Greensburg Central Catholic’s schedule.

The Centurions (2-1, 1-1) will now have six games in Carbon after Imani Christian (0-3, 0-2) asked to move next week’s game to GCC.

Wilkinsbrg’s Graham Field, where Imani Christian plays home games, still is undergoing renovations and will not be ready in time for the GCC game, which originally was scheduled for next Saturday.

It will now be played at 7 p.m. Friday (Sept. 20) at Centurion Stadium.

Imani also moved last week’s game from Graham Field to Jeannette. That decision was made well in advance of the WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference game.

“Home or away, it doesn’t really change anything for us,” said GCC coach Bret Colbert, whose team plays Friday at Leechburg. “I don’t know where most of the away games are anyways. I just hope the bus drivers do.”

Knowing the rules

Colbert admitted to being unfamiliar with a rule last week in a 21-14 loss to Clairton. When Clairton was called for defensive holding on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Colbert called a power run and the Centurions were stopped.

Colbert thought defensive holding was an automatic first down and thought his team had a fresh set of downs deep in the red zone with about 1 minute, 50 seconds to play. Rather, it was half the distance to the goal line and replay fourth down.

“The run play called theoretically could have gotten us in, but there are better plays to call for that situation,” Colbert said.

He said the loss was “100% on me.”

“I should have called timeout to be sure,” Colbert said. “Next time, I’ll know better.”

Extra points

Jeannette senior linebacker Justin Cramer picked up a scholarship offer from Division II Alderson Broaddus. He and Derry senior lineman Gavin Adams also received offers from Cincinnati Christian, a NAIA program. … Ligonier Valley returns to action after not playing last week. United forfeited due to a shortage of players. The Rams have won 31 straight District 6 Heritage Conference games.

… Southmoreland junior quarterback Zach Cernuto has completed 36 passes, 22 of them to senior Riley Comforti.

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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