High-SchoolPennsylvania: Football

Three local stars headline ESPNHS Underclass All-American team

December, 23, 2011
Three players from Pennsylvania earned spots on the ESPNHS Underclass Football All-American team this morning.

Cedar Cliff junior Adam Breneman made the team as a tight end. According to the list...

"This big target (6-5, 225) caught 72 passes for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He's got offers from the likes of Stanford, Notre Dame, Miami, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan and South Carolina."

North Allegheny junior Patrick Kugler, who also earned a spot on the ESPNHS All-American team as a third-teamer, made the list as an underclassman. From the list...

"Kugler definitely has the bloodlines to succeed in the trenches, as his father, Sean, is the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Patrick's play this season was key to North Allegheny reaching the Class AAAA state semifinals and being ranked among the nation's top teams."

Central Valley junior Robert Foster made the squad as a kick returner. Foster is also a wide receiver and defensive back and made the ESPNHS Pennsylvania Preseason All-State team as a defensive standout earlier this season. From the list...

"One of the nation's top receivers in the Class of 2013, Foster caught 37 passes for 584 yards and 12 touchdowns. But he was especially dangerous on returns -- his 70-yard kickoff return set up the game-winning touchdown against Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.) on ESPNU."

For the full ESPNHS Underclass Football All-American team, click here.

Five local stars make ESPNHS All-American football team

December, 22, 2011
A quintet of football stars from Pennsylvania were honored today on the ESPNHS All-American team.

Senior tight end Colin Thompson of Archbishop Wood and senior Noah Spence of Bishop McDevitt earned first team All-American nods. Thompson, according to the list...

"Whether run blocking or catching passes, Thompson made a huge impact for the Vikings, who rolled to the Class AAA state title. Rated the nation's No. 1 tight end by ESPNU, Thompson has committed to Florida."

Spence, according to the list...

"Spence, who was named Gatorade State Player of the Year, finished the season with 108 tackles and 12.5 sacks while leading McDevitt to the Class AAA state final. The Ohio State recruit is rated No. 4 in the ESPNU 150."

In addition to the two first-teamers, senior running back Rushel Shell of Hopewell made the second team. On the third team was junior offensive lineman Robert Kugler of North Allegheny and senior offensive lineman Brandon Arcidiacono of Archbishop Wood.

For the full list of ESPNHS All-Americans, click here.

2011 state champions, state by state

December, 20, 2011
Across the country, the high school football season is now complete, and Pennsylvania's football champs join the list of state champions in every classification throughout the nation.

To see the full list of state champions as well as how this state stacks up, click here.

POWERADE Pennsylvania Rankings (Final)

December, 19, 2011
After games ending Sunday, Dec. 17

NOTE: With the playoffs having ended, these are the the last Pennsylvania weekly rankings of the season.

The wonder of the postseason is that even the best teams can fall, making no game ever assured. But the best of the best teams can take care of business through the most difficult circumstances. Archbishop Wood is one of those teams. After losing in the first week of the season to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Wood ran roughshod over the opposition and dominated postseason opponents to win a Class AAA title. The Vikings weren't alone; Central Dauphin, Lancaster Catholic and Clairton also won when it counted to earn state championships.

1. Archbishop Wood — defeated Bishop McDevitt, 52-0 (final regular season rank: 2)

2. Central Dauphin — defeated North Penn, 14-7 (final regular season rank: NR)

3. North Allegheny — lost in Class AAAA state semifinal (final regular season rank: 3)

Click here for the full POWERADE Pennsylvania Rankings.

Pennsylvania Preps Pick'em: championship edition

December, 15, 2011
Each week we'll take some intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

After a long season — one of the longest in the nation — the championship games are finally here. Let's pick them all.

Class AAAA

North Penn (13-2) vs. Central Dauphin (14-1)

Each of these teams escaped their semifinal matchups with one-possession victories — North Penn won by seven, while Central Dauphin won on a last-second field goal over heavily favored North Allegheny. North Penn has been an outstanding team all season long, using a balance of excellent defense and a strong offense. This team's calling card has been making timely stops when it matters most. But Central Dauphin's calling card? Sacks. Lots of them. In all, 15 players on C-D's defense have recorded a sack. Getting that kind of pressure up the middle and in the backfield causes turnovers, puts teams in long-yardage situations and helps teams win the field position battle. North Penn will need to avoid making those kinds of mistakes if it wants to win. PREDICTION: Central Dauphin 27, North Penn 17

Class AAA

Archbishop Wood (13-1) vs. Bishop McDevitt (13-2)

Between Central Dauphin and Bishop McDevitt, we've learned one thing — don't sleep on the middle of the state. McDevitt has the distinction of being the only team to beat Central Dauphin this year. After starting the year 1-2 and then facing off against what is now a Class AAAA finalist, this season could have spiraled out of control quickly. Instead, players like junior Alec Werner (3,279 yards, 30 TDs) put the team on their back and turned everything around. But this will be the team's toughest test. Archbishop Wood has only gotten better as the season has gone on, and the Vikings dropped 70 (!) in the semifinals. Check out our ESPNHS story on senior RB Desmon Peoples, and then get ready for a big-time showdown between these two schools. I think Wood pulls away late. PREDICTION: Archbishop Wood 37, Bishop McDevitt 20

Class AA

Lancaster Catholic (15-0) vs. Tyrone Area (14-1)

Gotta first issue an apology to the Tyrone Area supporters out there. If I'm going to take credit for getting things right (and am I ever), I'm going to admit that I didn't give your team enough love last week. I guessed you'd get blown out by 21; instead, the Golden Eagles pulled of an improbable upset, beating Aliquippa in a one-point thriller. It doesn't get any easier from here, though. Lancaster Catholic's perfect season is on the line, which means it's going to take every player on that stellar defensive unit of Tyrone to slow down the Crusaders. But you know what? I'm a believer now. Any team that can hang with the Quips is good enough to win a state title. PREDICTION: Tyrone Area 23, Lancaster Catholic 21

Class A

Southern Columbia (14-1) vs. Clairton (15-0)

Here's an interesting note: Clairton's 46th win last week put the bears into a tie with Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) — the nation's No. 1 team in the POWERADE FAB 50 — and Pahranagat Valley (Alamo, Nev.) for the nation's longest current win streak, at 46 games. Bosco and Pahranagat both have completed their seasons, which means a win this weekend puts the Bears ahead until at least next year. The Bears slowed down a bit last week — only 30 points, the lowest point total since November of last year — and will need to not take Southern Columbia lightly, as the Tigers average nearly 43 points a game. But at this point in the season, I'm not sure anyone in the state can hang with Clairton. PREDICTION: Clairton 34, Southern Columbia 14

Previous Record: 38-20

Five Days of List-Mas: PA's underclass football players

December, 13, 2011

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: The top underclassmen in high school football.

The state championships are nearly over and the Class of 2012 has had a great run, but it’s never too early to start looking at the impressive players in the Class of 2013 and beyond. Who’s going to rule the gridiron in Pennsylvania next season? We give you the early rundown of who to watch for.

5. Mack Leftwich (JR), North Allehgeny, QB
Credentials: Threw for 2,223 yards, 20 TDs; ran for 933 yards and 16 scores; led team to POWERADE FAB 50 national ranking and state semifinal berth

4. Michael Keir (JR), Roman Catholic, QB
Credentials: Three-year starter, earning D-I interest, threw for nearly 1,500 yards this season, owns school passing record

3. David Williams (JR), West Philadelphia Catholic, RB
Credentials: Rushed for more than 1,500 yards, 16 scores, led team to state semifinals

2. Patrick Kugler (JR), North Allegheny, OL
Credentials: Stellar lineman anchored protection for Mack Leftwich (see No. 5), already has 15 major D-I offers

1. Robert Foster (JR), Central Valley, DB/WR
Credentials: Scored 12 TDs on offense but was even better on defense; named to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 as sophomore, already has six D-I offers

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Tomorrow: The POWERADE Pennsylvania Weekly Rankings.

Pennsylvania Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 6

December, 8, 2011
Each week we'll take some intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

(Ranks are based on this week's state rankings)

It's the state semifinals. It doesn't get much better than this — who's got what it takes to advance to the finals? Are there any cinderellas left? We're not holding back. Let's pick 'em all.


La Salle (13-1) vs. North Penn (12-2)

Undefeated in-state, La Salle has to be feeling pretty good about this season so far. The Explorers lost only to Bergen Catholic (N.J.) in the second week of the season. Since then, it's been smooth sailing. But it hasn't been the most difficult schedule. North Penn, meanwhile, has navigated a stretch of teams such as Neshaminy, Pennsbury and St. Joseph's Prep. These two teams actually met up in the first week of the season (La Salle cruised, 44-27) but these are two very different teams now than they were then. PREDICTION: La Salle 27, North Penn 21

No. 3 North Allegheny (14-0) vs. Central Dauphin (13-1)

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be a quarterback facing off against the Central Dauphin defense. The Rams have 74.5 sacks this season, led by senior Evan Schwan's 15.5 quarterback takedowns. That'll be one tough task for a North Allegheny team that will throw the ball. Senior Mack Leftwich has 2,149 yards and 19 passing scores this season. But can C-D hang with the Tigers offensively? That's going to be a big question moving forward. Central Dauphin has a punishing defense. North Allegheny is much more balanced. PREDICTION: North Allegheny 17, Central Dauphin 10

Read More »

Pennsylvania Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 5

December, 2, 2011
Each week we'll take three intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

(Ranks are based on this week's state rankings)

Council Rock South (12-1) vs. North Penn (11-2)

Council Rock South has just one loss this season — a three-point loss to Pennsbury. That, coincidentally, is who the Golden Hawks' opponent just beat to advance to the quarterfinals. North Penn toppled Pennsbury, 27-3. Does that mean North Penn is 30 points better than Council Rock South? Hardly. The Golden Hawks will rely on senior QB Brian Donnelly to shoulder the load offensively, and he'll do so as he's done all season — by running the football. North Penn counters with a defense that has been stellar of late — the Knights have averaged less than eight points allowed per game over their last four contests. PREDICTION: North Penn 27, Council Rock South 17

Montour (11-2) vs. No. 9 Grove City (12-0)

You might not find a defense anywhere in the state as impressive as Grove City has. The Eagles have allowed just 58 points all season long. To put it in perspective, the offense has scored more than 58 points in four games this season. They've shut out three of their last four opponents. But it's safe to say the Eagles haven't faced anyone as talented as Montour yet this season. The Spartans have plenty of offensive talent — they average more than 37 points per game in the tough WPIAL — and they have one of the state's best quarterbacks in senior Dillon Buechel, not to mention stellar senior RB Julian Durden. Can District 10's best hang with the class of the WPIAL? This game could be epic. PREDICTION: Grove City 24, Montour 21

Tyrone Area (12-1) vs. Hickory (11-1)

Tyrone enters the game with arguably the best quarterback in District 6. Senior Steve Franco, who's headed to Akron next season, needs only 59 passing yards to break his own school record for yards in a season. He's already surpassed his completions mark. He and senior rusher Christian Getz form a very balanced offense, and the defense does the rest. On the other side, Hickory relies on stellar running back DeShawn Coleman, a junior who's amassed 2,237 yards and 31 scores on the ground this year. For the winner? In all likelihood, a date with dangerous WPIAL foe Aliquippa (with all apologies to a stellar and unbeaten Moniteau squad). PREDICTION: Tyrone Area 24, Hickory 17

Previous Record: 32-15

Allentown C.C's Nosovitch named ESPNHS Player of Week

December, 1, 2011

Allentown Central Catholic senior quarterback Brendan Nosovitch added to his lengthy list of accomplishments this week after his impressive performance earned him ESPNHS Player of the Week honors.

Nosovitch, who is committed to South Carolina, is featured in the ESPNHS Weekly Report, which is featured above. (Skip to the 3:29 mark if you're not interested in the Texas and Georgia highlights.)

Nosovitch and his Allentown C.C. teammates take on West Shamokin this weekend in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals.

For the full story on Nosovitch's honor as well as the rest of the ESPNHS Players of the Week, click here.

Bishop McDevitt's Noah Spence named Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
Bishop McDevitt defensive End Noah Spence was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania Football Player of the Year this morning.

Spence, a senior, has led his Crusaders team to the PIAA Class AAA state quarterfinals (playoffs are still ongoing) and has led a defense that has surrendered less than 12 points per game. He's also an Under Armour All-American.

For the breakdown on Spence's award, click here.

Pennsylvania Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 4

November, 23, 2011
There's no time for chit-chat; there's turkey to be had. So let's get to it.


North Allegheny 27, Upper St. Clair 17

Pennsbury 24, North Penn 21

Cumberland Valley 33, Wilson 17

Class AAA

Montour 29, Knoch 24

Grove City 41, Cathedral Prep 21

West York 17, Lampeter-Strasburg 10

Class AA

Lancaster Catholic 20, Wyomissing 16

Aliquippa 24, Jeannette 22

Pen Argyl 31, GAR Memorial 14

Class A

Clairton 41, Sto-Rox 31

Penns Manor 27, Bellwood-Antis 14

Old Forge 20, Southern Columbia 13

Previous Record: 24-11

Playoff Time: the PIAA bracket breakdown

November, 22, 2011
It's finally time. The sectional tournaments have wound down and now it's time for the state's best teams to come together and determine the state champ. Let's break down the classifications and take a look at who is the favorite and who might be a sleeper.


It seems strange to be headed into the state tournament without the state's top team, Pittsburgh C.C., which suffered a 28-14 loss to Upper St. Clair last week. But that's why they play the games. Upper St. Clair's work is not done — now the team faces North Allegheny, which has been nothing short of dominant all year. This is a rematch of an early-season matchup, which North Allegheny won, 28-21. The winner of that WPIAL title game and first-round state matchup has to be considered a heavy favorite to run the table. But the bottom half of the bracket is loaded with talented teams such as Cumberland Valley and Central Dauphin, none of which should be taken lightly.

Favorite: North Allegheny. The 19-game winning streak will be tested, but the Tigers have few weaknesses.

Sleeper: Council Rock South. A three-point loss to Pennsbury is the only blemish. A tough schedule set the stage for a deep postseason run.

Read More »

Pennsylvania Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 3

November, 17, 2011
Each week we'll take three intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

After a brief hiatus, we're ready to get back at it and give you our picks for some of the state's best matchups this week. Let's get to it.

(Ranks are based on this week's state rankings)

No. 1 Pittsburgh Central Catholic (11-0) vs. No. 6 Upper St. Clair (10-1)

Upper St. Clair's only loss came at the hands of North Allegheny. A win would set up a rematch; a loss means we all get to see the Western PA matchup of the year between No. 1 and No. 3. But don't gloss over this matchup. Upper St. Clair has the talent across the board to match up with the state's top team. Dakota Conwell has been a man possessed and is one of the state's top dual-threat QBs. But he'll face the best defense he's played all year, and the offense isn't bad either, led by QB Perry Hills and WR Anthony Nixon. But we have no fear here at ESPNHS, so I'm picking the upset. PREDICTION: Upper St. Clair 24, Pittsburgh Central Catholic 17

No. 3 North Allegheny (11-0) vs. Gateway (9-2)

Don't take Gateway lightly. The team's two losses were by a combined eight points, and one came against top-ranked Pittsburgh Central Catholic. The defense is stout, the offense is surprisingly potent, and the Gators are playing some of their best football right now (they've beaten their first two playoff opponents by a combined score of 86-21). But North Allegheny is nationally ranked (No. 35 in the POWERADE FAB 50) and has played like a team possessed all year long. For Gateway to come away with the win would be a monumental upset. PREDICTION: North Allegheny 17, Gateway 13

George Washington (8-2) vs. La Salle (10-1)

La Salle is not an explosive team. They don't have a world-beating offense and their defense is solid but unspectacular. But at 10-1, there's no denying that this team has the mental edge in close games. The team's last three wins have been by 11 points or fewer. In playoff games, that advantage can't be put into quantifiable numbers. And since you can expect a close game against George Washington, that could be a big advantage. But all those close games can wear down a team, too. And George Washington is no slouch opponent; the Eagles are tough, athletic and know how to put up points. PREDICTION: La Salle 20, George Washington 17

Previous Record: 21-11

Pennsylvania fall postseason update

November, 15, 2011
We've been MIA for a little while, but the Michigan postseason has been in full swing, so it's time to get back on track and find out what's going on around the state.


The state tournament brackets won't be announced until next week, but there's still plenty of district action going on, particularly in the WPIAL. The state has a new career rushing champ — Rushel Shell — but his Hopewell Vikings lost in the Class AAA quarterfinals. Shell finished his career with 9,078 career rushing yards. The state record was 9,027 yards, set by Jeremiah Young of Steelton-Highspire. Shell also broke the national record for career 100-yard rushing games with 39.

We'll have full coverage of district title games, Thanksgiving Day contests and more in the next week right here on the ESPNHS Pennsylvania blog.


There's plenty of usual suspects in the state soccer brackets. Now in the semifinals, Conestoga and Council Rock North will battle for a trip to the title game, while State College and Upper St. Clair hope to meet them there. Those games are TONIGHT. The state finals are on Saturday. State semifinals in Class A and Class AA are also this evening.


You can get a full rundown of the state meet here. Several teams and individuals hope to be in the hunt for the Nike Cross Nationals regional on Nov. 26 in New York.

Pennsylvania Preps Pick'em: Playoffs Week 1

November, 3, 2011
Each week we'll take three intriguing matchups and put our knowledge to the test with some predictions. If you think your team's game is one of the best on the schedule, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @CParishESPNHS and we'll put it up for debate.

This week, the schedule is in flux as some regions are playoff-ready and others still have scores to settle.

(Ranks are based on this week's state rankings)

Neshaminy (6-3) vs. Pennsbury (7-2)

This is a battle of two teams that were at one point ranked in the POWERADE Pennsylvania Weekly Rankings. Now it's a battle for a playoff spot. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Neshaminy holds the 17th spot in the power-points standings, but only the top 16 get in. So the Redskins need a win to get in — and doing so would likely help them vault into the top 16 even if the other teams around them win as well. But doing so will be no easy task. Pennsbury has one of the state's best players in offensive lineman J.J. Denman, and the Falcons have lost just once — to unbeaten Abington — since a season-opening loss at Easton. PREDICTION: Neshaminy 20, Pennsbury 14

Woodland Hills (6-3) vs. Mt. Lebanon (6-3)

These two teams are remarkably similar in a lot of different ways. Both teams have 6-3 records earned from beating sub-par opponents but not having the firepower to hang with the stronger teams. Both teams lost their final contests. But here's an interesting stat. Woodland Hills is perfect this season on the road (4-0). Is it an anomaly or a sign of things to come? One thing's for sure — Mt. Lebanon won't let them walk all over them at home. Look for a tough, hard-fought game that goes right down to the wire. PREDICTION: Mt. Lebanon 17, Woodland Hills 10

Beaver (7-2) vs. Shady Side (7-2)

The Beaver Bobcats started their season with an impressive 6-0 mark, posting four shutouts and allowing only 13 points in that span. Then things got a little tougher. A loss to unbeaten Aliquippa was a wakeup call, and a final-game loss to Beaver Falls was tough to swallow. But there's plenty of talent on this squad, and they'll give host Shady Side a great game. The Indians had had their hiccups, but when they're right they're one of the best teams in the WPIAL. Since starting 1-2, Shady Side has ripped off six straight wins and enter the postseason as one of the state's hottest teams. That will help in this matchup. PREDICTION: Shady Side 31, Beaver 21

Previous Record: 18-11