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2004 Bullet Points

Bullet Points #2

****It was a big weekend for the WPIAL as far as bragging rights across the state are concerned. Two perennial Pittsburgh powers had their ways with eastern foes in front of a Fox Sports Pittsburgh audience. North Hills blanked Bethlehem Catholic 34-0 and Pittsburgh Central Catholic beat fellow nationally ranked opponent St. Joseph’s Prep 38-12. Both WPIAL squads were completely in control of their respective games. Maybe this is a changing of the guard in big school PIAA football. In years past, the eastern part of the state has dominated state title contests.

Central Catholic’s Shane Murray might be one of the best all-around QBs in the area. He not only passed and ran the Vikings to their win but also made contributions on the defensive side of the ball with 2 interceptions from his safety position. Murray returned the two INTs for 95 yards combined. He must be a rarity in Class AAAA; how many QBs at that level play defense?

****Is there a team in the western part of the state that throws the ball better than Seton LaSalle? The WPIAL Class AA Rebels beat South Fayette 35-0 Friday night in a contest held at Heinz Field. Quarterback Bill Stull was 18-for-28 for 354 yards and five touchdowns. His favorite target, Carmen Connolly, caught nine passes for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns.

You might remember one of their QBs from the past, Bruce Gradkowski. He is now playing at Toledo and scorched Pitt a year ago in an upset victory for the Rockets. I wonder if Walt Harris is having second thoughts on passing him up now. With Steel Valley product Luke Getsy transferring to Akron, Pitt is one injury to Tyler Palko away from having God knows who at QB?

****Here is one for the “are you kidding me” file. Valley coach Troy Hill must be drinking the Terry Smith Gator-ade. He has been taking lessons from the master of hyperbole from Western Pennsylvania coaches. He was quoted last week in the Post-Gazette as referring to his sophomore wide receiver Toney Clemons as “the next Larry Fitzgerald”. Give me a break.

****Congratulations to Rockwood High School on their first victory on the varsity level since the re-birth of their program. The District 5 Rockets beat Westmar (MD) 35-8. Maybe the co-Head Coach system might work, as Rockwood is quite possibly the only program in the state that utilizes it. Adam Rullo and Jonathon Hale shared the CEO responsibilities at the small Somerset County school.

****It was not as triumphant a return to the varsity spotlight for William Penn of the Philadelphia Public League. Their scheduled game with Martin Luther King was called a no-contest due to the fact that there were too many injuries on the William Penn side of the ball. The Lions are in their first season since 1984.

****How can one not feel good for Trojan Defensive Coordinator and Athletic Director Tony Penna? Penna gave his heart and soul to the Vo-Tech baseball and football programs for many moons prior to their dissemination. He often took on students that had not even participated in said sports until they reached the school in their sophomore years. I knew from my two seasons playing Colt League baseball for Penna that he was a special coach, always teaching, tough but encouraging. Penna was as unselfish as they come, never pursuing other coaching opportunities and a chance to win. It is nice to see him now on the winning side of some of those scores that his Spartans were normally on the losing side of in the past 10 years.

****We called it, although we did not think it would happen this early. National powerhouse De La Salle lost for the first time since 1991 thus ending their 151-game winning streak. Congrads to Bellevue High (WA) for pulling off the unthinkable. To put things into their proper perspective, the last time this program lost, Brian Mangiafico was JHS’ quarterback!

****The answer to yesterday’s trivia question is 1984. Joe Greenwood and Carlton Haselrig were picked to represent JHS in the Big 33 based on their performances in the 1983 season.

 

Bullet Points #3

(This week’s Bullet Points will have the first update from the “Little Trojan” ranks. Props to Coach Brian Subich for the much appreciated updates!)

****No football team in the Greater Johnstown School District has lost as of yet. Sure you might all be aware that the varsity squad is 2-0 but the 8th Grade and Freshmen squads are both 1-0 as well. The Frosh team, led by Coaches Heinrich and Avramis, beat Central 14-6 while Coach Subich’s 8th grade squad beat Central Cambria 20-6. Jerome Arnold, Isa Wadley and Quadir Christian all scored touchdowns for the 8th graders.

Both teams, as well as the 7th Grade squad, take on Westmont this week.

****As kind of a neat gesture, Patriots CB Ty Law, when introducing himself during the Thursday night NFL opener referred to himself as from “Aliquippa High School” rather than the customary college proclamation. Law’s unhappiness in New England has been well publicized and I really wish Pittsburgh would make a play for him. He is the premier cover corner in the league and Lord knows the Steelers could use all the help they can get. Their defensive backs almost blew the opener against Oakland.

Staying in Aliquippa, all-everything grad Darelle Revis also did the Quips proud over the weekend. He started at CB as a true freshmen in Pitt’s opener against Ohio U and forced a fumble. Bernard “Josh” Lay, also a Quip by way of Valley Forge Military Academy, also had quality playing time in spite of overcoming injuries.

Pitt will have to improve their offensive line play if they are going to be successful this year. Tyler Palko was running for his life Saturday night against a Division 1-AA squad!

****We introduced West Shamokin a few weeks ago, congratulating them on winning their first game as a member of the WPIAL. Things have gone way downhill for them since. They lost their next two games by a combined total of 97-0. You know the WPIAL these days though, they still will be around come playoff time, it’s like hockey everyone gets in!

****We mentioned last week that De La Salle lost their first game since 1991 eariler this year. They slid from #1 in the USA Today Super 25 to #14 on one loss! Well they lost Week 2 and are completely out of the poll! I know we live in a “what have you done for me lately” society but I just cannot believe that a team can fall so far, so fast. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to compile national polls (I struggle enough with my District 5-6 poll!) but this is ridiculous. Sorry Central Catholic fans, if they line up against you guys tomorrow, I’m putting my money on De La Salle. Of course, I would NEVER condone betting on high school sports

****The answer to yesterday’s trivia question is Dennis Erickson. He first coached the Vandals before moving on the University of Miami, Seattle Seahawks, Oregon State and now the San Francisco 49ers.

Bullet Points #4

**** The answer to yesterday’s trivia question is 1990. Altoona defeated JHS 24-6 in the last meeting of these one-time archrivals.

**** For the “things that make you go hmmm..” file: When Cambria Heights kicked the ball out of bound on the opening kickoff Week 1, the officials placed the ball on the 40. We know this because LaRod Stephens ran for a 60-yard touchdown from the first play from scrimmage. However, last Saturday night when Westmont kicked the ball out of bounds JHS got the ball as the 35. Who is right? I am not sure. The 2004 NFHS rule book is unclear, it offers the team three choices, none of which give the team a clear cut choice of putting the ball at either the 35 or the 40.

****Little Trojan update: The freshmen squad beat Westmont 44-8, while both the 8th and 7th grade squads tied the Hilltoppers. In both those games the score was 8-8. Thus far, Saturday night’s loss by the varsity is the only loss any team in the program has suffered to date.

**** From outside the district, if one takes a look on top of the standings board of the Pittsburgh City League (PIAA District 8) you might see an unfamiliar team. Peabody High School is 3-0 and has outscored their opponent 126-15. Peabody plays Schenley Friday. In other City news, Perry Traditional Academy fell to Ohio powerhouse Ursuline out of Youngstown over the weekend 27-13. The Commodores will play Allderdice this Thursday.

**** With the majority of the games begin postponed in the WPIAL, many played as late as Monday, I read in the Post-Gazette that many of this week’s games could be moved back to Saturday. I can already hear the excuse mongers that are WPIAL coaches coming alive. “We had to play on a short week.” Blah. Blah. Blah. Hey guys, people lost their homes and had their lives turned upside down in the flooding. That should put high school football in its proper perspective.

**** On a similar note, I cannot believe the insensitive way Carlynton High School was treated. For those of you that do not know, this is the high school located in Carnegie, one of the hardest hit areas of the widespread flooding. Their game with Northgate was scheduled to be made up Monday. However, conditions forced classes to be cancelled. The school has a “no class, no game” rule so they were forced to forfeit the game due to their own policy. Surely the WPIAL could have stepped in and handled this differently.

**** Former West Allegheny star Tyler Palko had a rough outing this past week as quarterback of Pitt in their game against Nebraska. His brother, Luke, however fared better. He caught a touchdown pass from Anthony Doria (Seton LaSalle) in the game’s final seconds to give St. Francis its second win a row for the first time since Lord knows when! Way to go Red Flash!

**** Where is the Mojo? While watching the Texas High School Scoreboard show on Fox Sports Southwest I was surprised to see so many empty seats at a Permian High home game. With the movie version of the classic book “Friday Night Lights” due out in a few weeks, I would think things would be buzzing in Odessa. The Panthers, rebounding after some less than stellar years, beat Amarillo 41-17.

**** Chris Mangus must have had a great weekend. His never-say-die Highlanders beat Central on a pass play with 15 seconds to go. Imagine Mangus’ delight, while already high from Cambria Heights’ first win of the year, when he got home and saw that Westmont upset Johnstown. I guess he learned his lesson huh?!?!

**** Since we have had time to let the initial shock of the Westmont wear off I would like to say that, although it hurts, it is not the end of the world. Why? Well, winning the LHAC really is not a high priority when it comes to the PIAA playoffs. The only other Class AAA team in the LHAC is Somerset and while they are improved under Ernie Fetzer, are not nearly as good a team as the Trojans. There are seven teams in District 6 Class AAA including JHS. The other six are not faring well so far this season. The Trojans hold a slim 10 point lead over Somerset in the points, Central Mountain is in third and 40 points back. Huntingdon is 1-2 and has been somewhat of a disappointment. Things look bleak in Mifflin County as both Lewistown and Indian Valley are both 0-3. The Trojans could quite possibly drop 2 more games and still be sitting comfortably in a playoff spot.

Bullet Points #5

9/29/04

****The answer to yesterday’s is 1982. The Trojans beat the Ramblers 21-14 at Windber Stadium. JHS started off a quick 2-0 that year, also beating Altoona week one. However, their season was soon to be interrupted due to a teachers’ strike (the most recent one the district has gone through). They had to forfeit their next two games to Williamsport and East Allegheny. This game marked the first time Windber was on the Trojans’ schedule since 1968. It is also my earliest memory of attending a Johnstown game with my parents.

****Speaking of Trojans and Ramblers, the PCN Game of the Week this past week was an entertaining one between Erie McDowell and Erie Cathedral Prep. Although McDowell pulled away to win the game 36-15 it was still an entertaining match-up to watch. This week’s PCN game is also from the Erie area as General McLane takes on Erie Strong Vincent. These are two Class AAA opponents that Johnstown could meet down the road if they would advance in the PIAA playoffs. And putting the fact that Erie Strong Vincent beat Erie East 90-14 aside, the play in District 10 is very competitive and one of the most underrated districts in the state. East just does not have a good squad this year, perennial doormat of District 6 AAAA (before they moved to AAA this year) Central Mountain put 50 on them! Although the district is not a juggernaut when it comes to PIAA gold. They have only had four state titles since the beginning of the PIAA playoffs began and oddly enough, they have won one in each classification: Erie Cathedral Prep (AAAA in 2000), Erie Strong Vincent (AAA in 1991), Hickory (AA in 1989) and Sharpsville (A in 1997). However, that is three more times than any team from District 6 has won state. Tyrone’s AA title in 1999 is the only time a D6 team has hoisted PIAA gold.

****Sto-Rox has suffered some growing pains this year. As if getting acclimated to life without all-everything Adam DiMichele at quarterback is not enough, the move up to Class AA has not proved to friendly to the Vikings. The former WPIAL Class A power has struggled thus far in the Class AA Century Conference as they are 0-4 and have been outscored by their opponents 126-42. The school, which is made up of pupils from Stowe Township and McKees Rocks (hence the name), is year-in, year-out one of the most solid athletic programs top to bottom in the PIAA.

****In last week’s High School Notebook column written by the Post-Gazette’s high school sportswriter extraordinaire Mike White, he references an interview that defending Class AA champion Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac gave to the Beaver County Times. When asked about why he did not like to play on Saturday afternoons he said “We're like Dracula. We perform at night."

Playing on that it is notable to point out the dwindling teams not only in the LHAC, but District 6 as a whole. Westmont is the lone LHAC member that plays on Saturday afternoons (Vo-Tech did before it disbanded its athletic programs and Richland did also prior to installing lights at Herlinger Field, which are great when they work!). Of the 47 teams that compete in District 6 only 7 (the afore mentioned Westmont as well as WestPAC members Blacklick Valley, Conemaugh Valley and Ferndale and Heritage Conference members Marion Center, Laurel Valley and United) have fields with no lighting. That is a mere 15% and surely in the years to come that number will dwindle.

****The lighting situation Friday night at Richland brought a quite comical Trojan memory back to mind. In 1993, we were on the road against Tri-Valley (now called Albert Gallatin) and there was no malfunction with the lights, they just were not very good! It was bad enough that as we ran off the field after the victory, Quenteen Robinson (never at a loss for words!) yelled “that’s why your lights are dim!” One of the best taunts to a crowd I ever heard in my life and it was deserving. For a WPIAL AAAA school they should have been ashamed of the condition of their lights, field and bleachers. Executive Director Larry Handley should have revoked their membership on the spot.

The joke was on us though as that was our only victory of the season as the move up to Class AAAA offered us similar growing pains that we mentioned about Sto-Rox earlier in this column.

****From the “North of the Border” file, former Trojan and Maryland Terrapin Geroy Simon continues to excel in the CFL for the BC Lions. In the Lions’ game against Calgary Friday night Simon had 8 catches for 99 yards. He continues to lead the league in receiving and according to the TSN (Canadian version of ESPN) announcers, he needs about 120 yards a game for the rest of the season to break Allen Pitts’ all-time CFL receiving yards record. Geroy’s effort was not quite enough as Calgary came back and won the game in the final seconds 22-21, losing by a rogue if you will. (Look, don’t make me explain what that is, just understand that there is a play in Canadian ball where you can score a single point. If you want technical clarification go to www.cfl.ca and look at the rulebook. It is in Section 2, Article 4 to be exact!)

****Wrong Way Riegels and Jim Marshall step aside, you have company. According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dispatch reports, Canon McMillan junior P.J. Hoskins picked off a pass and ran the wrong way. To make matters worse, once he got to the end zone he spiked the ball which resulted in a safety.

In true “Leon Lett” style (at least in the Super Bowl against the Bills!), it turned out not to matter as the Big Macs rolled 48-9 over Chartiers Valley.

Does anyone remember that JV game with Jeff Myreicks?

****Not much to report on the Little Trojans front this week. Although the Tribune Democrat reported games for the JV on Monday and the 8th and 7th grade teams Wednesday and Freshman football was in action Thursday, the only score reported was that the JHS 7th graders beat Richland 14-8.

The school just does not do the job it used to in reporting scores of the underclass programs like it used to. Back in the late 80s and early 90s you would get the full box score for the junior high and JV games. If anyone has any further info on this past week’s games please contact me.

Doug Keklak can be reached at trojannation@yahoo.com.

 

Bullet Points #6

****First, the answer to yesterday’s trivia question: Brownsville. Although most fans remember that JHS dropped the WPIAL playoff game in a heartbreaker to Montour that year, the Falcons demolished the Trojans 38-7 in Week Two. It is amazing that the Trojans rebounded so well, they started the season off 0-1-1 after tying Bishop McCort Week One (needing a touchdown and two-point conversion late to do so). JHS rattled off eight wins in a row, including a thrilling come from behind game at Valley, to finish the regular season 8-1-1 and as Keystone Conference champs. Side note: the hit that kicker (also a OL/DL) put on Aaron Wilson on a kickoff is still to this day the hardest hit I have ever seen in a high school football game. You just had to be there.

****I am proud to say that this is the first week that I have a full “Little Trojan” report. On Monday in JV action, Richland defeated Johnstown 18-12. On Wednesday both the 7th and 8th grade squads defeated Somerset. The 8th graders won 24-0 with Quadir Christian scoring two touchdowns and Isa Wadley the other. The 7th graders beat the Eagles in Somerset by a count of 8-0. Finally, closing out the week, Thursday the Freshmen team lost to Somerset 14-0. It was a breakeven week for the program, going 2-2 in sub-varsity play. Thanks again to Brian Subich for providing some of the above information.

****It was quite a Friday for two kickers in the WPIAL. Greensburg Salem’s Matt Boe hit field goals from 50 and 51 yards out. I cannot recall ever hearing of a kicker making two 50-yarders in one game. Not to be outdone that badly, Plum’s Pat McAfee hit from 48 and 45 yards out. You cannot say enough about what a weapon a good kicker is in the high school game. If you have one and your opponent does not that could clearly be the difference of a ballgame.

****Did anyone else watch the Notre Dame-Purdue game Saturday and think the Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty on Boilermakers’ receiver Taylor Stubblefield was a terrible call? Come on refs, lighten up. It is not everyday a team converts a 97-yard pass play for a score, you are going to penalize the guy because he pumped his fist in the air? Terrible.

****How about the Peabody Highlanders of the Pittsburgh City League getting the big win against Brashear. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review dogged them earlier this week and they went right on out and proved them wrong. According the a Trib scribe, Peabody was sitting where it was because it hadn’t played anybody good yet. So what did the boys from East Liberty do, they went out and beat the Bulls. Great win for the program. The Trib has a way of ticking teams off, I believe a writer from them once stated that the Trojans got “weak in the knees” when they left the 814 area code. The Trojans went out and proved them wrong just like the Highlanders did.

****The LHAC schedule of games for Week Six looks to be solid all around. We will touch base more on these match-up during “Helmets and Sweats” tomorrow but for now just keep in mind that of all six games, only one (Bedford vs. Central) has the opportunity to be a blowout. Obviously this means you have some weak teams matched up against each other but sometimes those types of games can be just as hard fought and competitive as a Bishop Carroll-JHS or Forest Hills-Bedford or Bishop McCort-Central Cambria.

****There was a small classified ad in last Saturday’s Tribune Democrat regarding some sort of function for homecoming. It read “Trojan Football Alumni Coaches & Players; Friday, October 8; Trojan Stadium Homecoming Game. Special Guest Super Bowl Champ Jeff Richardson” There are no other details about the event and what exactly it is. Richardson is a JHS grad that played on the Super Bowl III Champion Jets team with Joe Willie Namath. The ad states that you must RSVP by today to either 814-535-5655 or 814-266-2207.

Doug Keklak can be reached at trojannation@yahoo.com

 

Bullet Points #7

10/13/04

****The answer to yesterday’s cupcake question was of course Geroy Simon.

****Little Trojan update time: the 7th grade beat Bishop Carroll 14-0 last Thursday night under the lights at Trojan Stadium. Coach Brian Subich’s 8th graders improved to 3-1-1 by demolishing the 8th graders from BC 36-0. Isa Wadley and Jerome Arnold had 2 touchdowns a piece and Quadir Christian had one score. The 8th graders play their final game of the season Monday, October 18th at 7pm at Trojan Stadium. What a thrill it must be for these youngsters to get a chance to play under the lights. Get out and support the future of the program if you are in the area and not doing anything Monday night. Surely, you will be home in time for Monday Night Football. Another piece of information, the standings for the LHAC Freshmen teams was in the Tribune-Democrat last week and showed the Trojans with a record of 3-1. As always, we thank Coach Subich for supplying us with the updates.

****I read in the Tribune Democrat yesterday that Conemaugh Valley is putting together an alumni band for its upcoming festivities. There will be a parade that goes through East Conemaugh and they are bringing back some retired band directors as well. How is it that this school, which really does not have a lot of tradition on it’s own (I do realize the significance of the old days before the consolidation when Franklin-East Conemaugh was one of the hottest rivalries in the area. The winner of the game got a day of school it was so big.) has a front page story and JHS cannot get more than a tiny classified ad.

I have already harped enough about the alumni night with Jeff Richardson but I will say this: I have some ideas on improving what was a pretty lackluster homecoming. I was more taken by the significance of the game and what it meant to beat Bishop Carroll but after a few days of reflection, there really should have been more done. For starters, the alumni band idea is great. I have a brother-in-law who participated in one for North Star a few years back and had a blast. The school had plenty of time to send out flyers. Not only did my class (1994) have its 10-year reunion this past Labor Day Weekend, but the major project of constructing a school directory was published and delivered earlier this year. Surely SOMEONE from the school purchased a copy of that. It is a great resource to get in touch with alums if they chose to put an address or e-mail in. (See, these are the types of things that Sports Information Director could do!)

Another idea that would help would be to move the game to Saturday. Why? Many reasons, first of which would be the low turnout football alum. Many, even if the event had been promoted properly, would not have been able to attend because if they are from out of the area, they would have a hard time getting to Johnstown for a Friday night game. Also, think of the past players and coaches that are involved with other schools in the area like Jerry Davitch and Tom Fleming up at Richland or Greg Gardill over at Bishop McCort. You may have loyalties to other programs now, especially since you are drawing paychecks from those districts, but you can never change the school you graduated from. Give the many great players that had to move out of the city or state a chance to get back in to town and attend the festivities on Saturday.

Saturday would be great for a parade and homecoming crowning as well. I remember in 1993 going to Norwin to play on a Saturday. They normally play their games on Friday nights, but this was homecoming so it was moved to Saturday afternoon. I have to tell you, it was almost a college like atmosphere in that stadium that day. The same could be done at Trojan Stadium, it could be an all-day affair, perhaps even starting the night before with a pep rally. A parade that leads in to the stadium could be done Saturday in the late afternoon, leading in to some great pre-game festivities and ultimately ending with a 7:00 kickoff.

****Thursday Night Lights: with all the hype about the film made from the classic “Friday Night Lights” book swirling through Texas, four great programs will be showcased this week on cable television. Although the movie is getting mixed reviews, thus should not be the case when Denton Ryan takes on Southlake Carroll which is going to be on ESPN2 Thursday night and Odessa Permian vs. Midland Lee is on Fox Sports College central. Check your local listings for times.

****Speaking of Texas, I have mentioned the High School Scoreboard Live show that is done by the Fox Sports Southwest crew. I watch this show each week on my digital cable and I have to say, there is no reason that a similar show cannot be done with the FSN Pittsburgh crew. SW Sports Report regular Dana Larson anchors the show with a guy who is a guru of high school football in Texas. It is about the most professionally produced show about high school football that I have seen to date. Surely FSN Pittsburgh could put someone like Rob King on the set with Mike White, high school sportswriter with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a semi-regular in the studio anyway.

The one thing of caution would be that it be a well-represented show of the western part of the state. FSN Pittsburgh already does a nice weekly roundup on Sunday mornings that is WPIAL related (with an occasional City League highlight package). Although I am not sure exactly how far the viewer ship of FSN Pittsburgh extends, there is no reason a good show covering Districts 5-10 could not be produced. Rest assured, an e-mail campaign for this project is already underway by yours truly!

Doug Keklak can be reached at trojannation@yahoo.com.

 

Bullet Points #8

10/20/04

****The answer to yesterday’s trivia question is as follows: the last tie game the Trojans were involved in was during the 1992 season. The Trojans and the Latrobe Wildcats tied 6-6 in a game played at the Point Stadium. JHS, playing in it’s first season in Class AAAA, had a rough year, finishing 1-7-1.

****Little Trojan Update: it was a tough week “down on the farm”. Although the JV Trojans beat Bishop Carroll 50-6 on Monday, the 7th graders dropped a 30-12 decision to Forest Hills and the freshmen lost to the always tough Bishop McCort ninth graders 42-14.

****I had to laugh when I read Richland’s Fred Yanity’s crybaby comments about the inequities of the LHAC in last week’s Tribune-Democrat. First of all, according to enrollment figures, the Rams are very close to being bumped up to Class AA so if anything he should be embarrassed that they cannot build a winning program up there. At the game against Johnstown earlier this year, I overheard some fans saying “well, at least hockey is starting soon.” Second, he is somewhat inaccurate about crossover of classifications in the WPIAL. Yes, for conference game purposes WPIAL teams only play other teams in the same class, but they are free to move around however they like. Small enrollment figures are no excuse. Defending Class AA PIAA champ Aliquippa actually has a Class A enrollment and I content they could compete with Class AAA teams for state gold.

And as for playing classification only games, like it would matter for the Rams. I’d take any of the teams at the top of the points table (Blairsville, Juniata Valley, Moshannon Valley, Bellwood-Antis, etc) over Richland in a blowout. This would not solve their problems. Here is an idea: build your program. You want to point out by-laws stating the PIAA owes it to schools to put them in a competitive situation but what about the school’s responsibility to build a quality program and field a good team?

Believe me, I would love to swap Windber for Richland in football for LHAC purposes, as I mentioned in yesterday’s column, we would gain back a long lost rival. That would not be the best thing from an entire athletics program point of view. Girls’ sports, especially volleyball, at Richland would continue to dominate no matter what conference you place them in. So actually Fred, it is exactly what Cory Isenburg said, football is king because it is the money sport, period.

Maybe the LHAC and some other conferences could start a very European soccer-like relegation system, where the bottom two teams in each conference would drop out and form their own conference the next year. It would take a year to fully take place but then after the second year, you could bring the top teams back in to their “feeder” leagues if you will. I know it will never happen but it is interesting food for thought.

Oh, and by the way, get your football field fixed, it looks a mess.

****I thought maybe after JHS’ convincing win over Bishop Carroll, that the Trojans would get some love in the Harrisburg Patriot-News state rankings. They did not even get honorable mention, which I thought was odd because they listed both Peabody and Perry of the City League in the honorable mention slot. Perry is not the squad they once were and Peabody is an enigma, simply having a good season but I like the Trojans chances against either of these teams.

Now do I think we match-up with the PIAA Class AAA elite, no. Teams like Thomas Jefferson, West Allegheny, Moon, Berwick, Manheim Central and Erie Strong Vincent are quite frankly much better football teams than the current JHS squad.

I believe this is a testament to not only the weak LHAC but the weak contingency of Class AAA teams in District 6.

****On that note, I was reminding by a friend of mine last week that the road to Hershey in the Class AAA bracket has the District 6 champ facing off against the District 4 champ. In years past it was the D6 team taking on the D9 team. The winner of that game playing the winner of the District 8-District 10 (Pittsburgh City League vs. Erie area). This year there is an added step because of the WPIAL teams starting early to preserve their Championship Saturday at Heinz Field. It used to be that the WPIAL champ would play the western final the next week and if they won, they would move on to states. Now, the WPIAL champ steps off of Heinz Field and in to the western quarterfinal. This means that the winner of the above mentioned District 6-District 4 game will play the WPIAL (District 7) champ. The City League winner will now play the District 9 winner, with the winner of that contest playing the District 10 winner. You can view the PIAA brackets at http://www.pafootballnews.com/2004-PIAABrackets.htm.

****The same goes for the Class AA teams in the district. I cannot see any of the local squads, even Bishop McCort, hanging with Aliquippa or Seton LaSalle. The WPIAL AA is very strong this year. This current playoff set up is going to make it even more difficult than in the past for a District 6 team to advance to the state finals.

****Yes, I was caught up in the Thursday Night Lights last week as I watched Southlake Carroll remain the top team in the nation in beating Denton Ryan on ESPN2. SC has 2,213 kids enrolled at their school. I love how Jimmy Dykes referred to the 7-3 season in 1999 prior to Todd Dodge’s arrival as head coach as stumbling. I know there have been many years around the Trojan Nation when a 7-3 season would have been a blessing. It just goes to show you how truly seriously they take their prep football in Texas. The Dragons are an amazing 31-1 in the last two seasons.

I thought two other things were interesting. First, Texas coaches hand pick officials for games. (How is that for home cooking Jason?!) Also, at the 5A level there is very little two-way play. Although it must be nice to have that luxury I think that is doing a kid a disservice if they are looking to go to Division I. Many guys need to be properly evaluated on both sides of the ball in order to find their best fit. Ryan Mundy was a star wide receiver at Woodland Hills but Michigan has him playing defensive back. Artrell Hawkins was the best running back in the area for Bishop McCort but he went to Cincinnati and later the NFL as a cornerback.

****There have been many more forfeits due to ineligible players in Pennsylvania this year than in any year in recent memory. Duquesne of the WPIAL will have to give a victory from earlier in the season and Mastbaum of the Philadelphia Public Schools had to forfeit two wins. Both cases were due to an overage player being allowed to play. I have to say this smells of athletic directors simply not doing their jobs. There is no excuse for something like that to slide through the cracks.

That is, of course, unless the AD’s are looking the other way. Far be it from me to accuse someone of cheating but it very well could be a case of “don’t ask don’t tell”.

Doug Keklak can be reached at trojannation@yahoo.com.

 

Bullet Points #10

11/3/04

****The answer to yesterday’s trivia question is Terrill Simms who scored a 21-yard touchdown in the final home game at the Point Stadium a year ago.

****If you go to the Standings/Scoreboard page, you’ll see the quarterfinal WPIAL match-ups posted. It appears as if there will be some very good games this week. If you join my Yahoo group (which you can do through the links page of this website) you will see my bracket predictions. They will be posted later tonight. I will post predictions weekly from this week through the PIAA championship, so join in and stay posted.

****Anecdote of the week: last week at the Central Cambria game, a CC cheerleader came over to the area where I was sitting with some of my Trojan brethren. She was selling red ribbons that had the words “Trash the Trojans” on the bottom of them; they were for the benefit of her cheerleading squad. I, of course being the staunch JHS supporter I am (and proudly wearing my Johnstown cap I might add) blurt out “yeah, I’m going to buy something that says ‘Trash the Trojans’.

Well, a friend of mine was good-hearted. He asked her how much they were, then gave her the dollar but, in a nice gesture, told her to give the ribbon to a Central Cambria fan, perhaps a friend of hers. Watch out Cambria County, with that bold salesmanship, this girl may be selling you your next home in ten years or so!

****You know, I don’t venture much into NFL speculation/commentary on this page, I normally leave that to the pros. However, I just have to ask: is there a bigger media whore in sports than Terrell Owens? I have seen interviews on HBO and CBS in the past few weeks and it’s all old hat. The interviewer tries to chastise TO for his antics, he refutes them, then the questioning goes to his Grandmother and the tears start flowing. All the while he’s sporting a cap or bandana with his website advertised on it. Whatever.

I hope the Steelers knock off another unbeaten this weekend. And best believe, the second McNabb over/under throws or missed TO wide-open the honeymoon will be over and the fireworks on the sideline will begin.

****Good luck to Don Schmidt and the Allderdice Dragons of the Pittsburgh City League as they make their first city playoff appearance in quite sometime. They will be the heavy underdogs against perennial power Perry Traditional Academy but it is quite an accomplishment just to get the program this far under a first-year coach. Kickoff is 7:00 at Cupples Stadium.

****CORRECTION: last week we erroneously reported Glen Mills as a 1-7 team in our “Helmets and Sweats” column. With the Battling Bulls win over Huntingdon Friday night, they improved to 5-4. We regret this error in reporting but we checked it through our normal avenues and there were errors that were out of our control.

Doug Keklak can be reached at trojannation@yahoo.com.

 

Bullet Points #11

11/10/04

****The answer to yesterday’s trivia question is Temple University.

****Indoor football is back in town! Johnstown has been granted a franchise in the brand new Atlantic Indoor Football League that will commence play this spring. Former Johnstown High assistant coach Brian Basile was named head coach last week.

I for one am really excited that the indoor game is back at the War Memorial. I had great times at those Jackals and J-Dogs games a few years ago. Head over to the Holiday Inn on Market Street after the game for a really good midnight buffet spread too!

I wonder if JHS grad Quentin Robinson will be on the squad again. If so, he’ll be forced to his patented jump in the crowd and run up the steps celebration at only one end of the arena as the Party Pit is now at the other. Or better yet, he could join me and my crew for a beer after a score! Somehow I think the powers that be would frown upon that!

****United skipper Chris Matava showed mad class after his squad was eliminated by Bishop Carroll in the playoffs. That loss leaves Blairsville as the sole remaining team from the Heritage Conference left in the playoffs. Matava showed some nice solidarity in a Tribune-Review piece today by saying "Blairsville -- I wish them the best, if we can't do it, they can do it."

And how about Blairsville cruising right along. The Bobcats were 9-2 last season and are 10-0 at this point of the year. Although the competition in the Heritage Conference is pretty weak, Blairsville has a premier Class A program. The teams that Ab Dettore has put on the field the past two years would have more than held their own against the LHAC. I’m not saying they would dominate, but it would be interesting to see them and possibly a Windber and how they would stack up against some of the LHAC squads.

We’ll see this Friday as the Bobcats take on the Bishop Carroll Huskies in a District 6-A semifinal that will take place in Blairsville.

****It is always nice to see a western Pennsylvania product on a national game. That’s exactly what you got last night with Seton LaSalle product Bruce Gradkowski leading the way for Toledo in a MAC game against Northern Illinois. How Walt Harris and the Pitt Panthers passed up on this kid is beyond me. Especially as pass happy as Walt is and how he fancies himself as a QB genius and Pitt being known as “Wide Receiver U”.

Hey Walt, you might want to pay attention to what is going on in that Catholic school in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. They have a pretty good passing game there, you might have heard of QB Bill Stull and WR Carmen Connolly. Connolly just broke the PIAA record for most catches in a season with 92 receptions.

I guess I should be fair, Harris did pick walk-on Joe Delsardo to make the team and even awarded with him a scholarship. The former Rebel has been starting opposite Florida product, and the next great Pitt receiver, Greg Lee most of the year. He made what no doubt will be the catch of the year in college football this year, give him the ESPY award now!

****NFL writer extraordinaire Ed Bouchette was right on the money with his Sunday column. He talked about how the NFL needs a minor league system that plays in the fall. Sure, NFL Europe is a good development league but it plays in the spring. If a team has a key injury they are literally picking guys up off the street to play. The Cleveland Browns did this with Richard Alston who returned a kick for a touchdown against the Ravens Sunday night. He was selling cars during the week! Can you imagine this happening in Major League Baseball?

****Speaking of Major League Baseball, congratulations to the Pirates’ Jason Bay for winning the National League Rookie of the Year. It is quite amazing that Bay has done something that Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Barry Bonds failed to do. Let’s hope the rest of his career is as good.

****Well, I guess I should dedicate a bullet point to the Trojans but there really isn’t much to mention today. I’ll say this much, Trojan fans will enjoy the much larger set of bleachers on the home side of Mansion Park. The higher seed will have JHS wearing the Columbia Blue jerseys and having home team status. However, I would expect a large contingency of Red Raider faithful making the trip. Bellefonte won the district title in 1999 and their fans are most likely itching to get another championship in their community.

We will do our part to ensure that DOESN’T happen!

Doug Keklak can be reached at trojannation@yahoo.com

 

 

Bullet Points #12

****The answer to yesterday's trivia question is back in 1989, when Johnstown opted to play an independent schedule as a member of the District 6-AAAA group, they played Hollidaysburg in the district championship and lost 24-0.

****It appears I have ruffled quite a few feathers in the Seal Nation with my comments in this week's Monday Morning Ramblings about the "neutral" site. Some have even accused me of inciting hostility towards Selinsgrove. This is hardly the case. I have nothing but respect for the Selinsgrove team, I've been following them from afar for quite a few weeks now because I knew this match-up was not only a possibility but a probability. A team that is 10-1 and District champions cannot be taken lightly.

I would advise anyone that thinks this is not the case to take heed to Donald Trump's words on his hit show "The Apprentice". He says all the time, "business is business, it's never personal." The issue we in the Trojan Nation have is the principal of the thing. It is hardly fair for ANY team to have to travel three hours to play a playoff game.

****The PIAA has spun this in an incomplete fashion. Many Seals fans have e-mailed me to tell me that this was Johnstown's choice. We chose to play the game on Saturday. This is true. We chose to play the game on an artificial surface similar to the one at Trojan Stadium. This is true. However, what isn't being said is that the choice of the "neutral" site we would have had had we chose to play Friday was Shikellamy. This is pretty much the same distance to travel.

Furthermore, when e-mailed about this, a member of the executive staff at the PIAA stated that this was agreed upon between the AD and the District 6 chairman and the PIAA. If this is the case, why was Tony Penna on the phone Monday morning asking the PIAA why JHS would have to travel to Selinsgrove to play the game. Executive Director Brad Cashman told Penna, "because I said so." They doesn't sound like the mutual agreement some at the PIAA and in Selinsgrove might have you believe.

Yes, Johnstown made the choice, but it really wasn't much a choice. It is like saying "how do you want to be executed? Lethal injection or firing squad?" Either way you're still dead. When all is said and done, Arcruio, Penna and company made the right call. Both playing on turf and getting an extra day of preparation are key at this time of year.

Sources tell me it is PIAA policy that Saturday playoff games be played on artificial turf. I'm not sure how true that is, last I checked Heinz Field is still grass. (I can't wait to hear the Steelers complaining about the field being chewed up and blaming it on the high school kids. That field is going through yet another season of being tattered midway through the year. They need to just bit the bullet and get fieldturf.) However, according to the Post-Gazette today, a look around at the other Saturday games all appear to be at artificial surfaces.

****Again, this isn't a personal thing but maybe it's something that the PIAA needs to look at as far as neutral fields. Altoona, Huntingdon and State College would all be neutral sites that would have been more fair to play at. Oh well, let's just hope for a Trojan victory come Saturday and make this whole point moot.

And next year, both teams can win their districts again. We'll be more than glad to host the Seals at beautiful Trojan Stadium!

****WPIAL tidbits: The always popular Championship Saturday is at Heinz Field this weekend. This will be the first time in three years I'll miss the games. That's OK with me, I'd miss those games to have my Trojans alive at this point of the season any day. In any event, if you aren't inclined to make the trip to Selinsgrove but still want to see some good football make the trip to Pittsburgh. It's the best value going: $10 for all four games. Here is the lineup:

Class A: Rochester vs. Clairton, 10:30

Class AA: Seton LaSalle vs. Aliquippa, 1:30

Class AAA: Thomas Jefferson vs. West Mifflin, 4:30

Class AAAA: Central Catholic vs. Gateway, 7:30

And if you're not up to the travel, all four games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Net. Check your local listings.

I have been more than critical a number of times on the amount of teams that make the WPIAL playoffs, especially those that enter the tournament with a losing record. However, I had to eat a little bit of crow as West Mifflin finds itself in the championship game after entering the playoffs with a 4-5 record. They got to this unlikely position by upsetting Bob Palko's West Allegheny Indians by one point last weekend. Palko, as per the usual, was nothing but class following the game. He was quoted in the Post-Gazette as saying the following: "Three cheers to the WPIAL for deciding to put four teams [in the playoffs from each conference]," Palko said. "It's a chance for that community and that team to go down to Heinz Field and win a championship."

Now, if he could just get his son from refraining from dropping f-bombs on national television!

Although I live in the Steel Valley School District, Kennywood Park and the West Mifflin School District are a short drive down the road from me so I'll be rooting for them to do the unthinkable and beat a very good Thomas Jefferson team for WPIAL gold.

****And last but not least, I mentioned Monday about former Trojan Geroy Simon and his BC Lions playing for the Grey Cup this Sunday. I realize that WBGN is a station that is only picked on Pittsburgh cable outlets. I will be recording the game. If anyone would like a copy I'd be more than glad to dub one for them, all I ask is that you send me a tape. If you're interested, e-mail me so we can exchange mailing addresses.

Doug Keklak can be reached at trojannation@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

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