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High School

“Mr. High School Sports” – Eye on the WPIAL: 5 Class AA Coaches with Something to Prove

Football on grass

The Penn-Ohio All-Star Classic will be the last high school game for 35 seniors, many of them representing Beaver County programs.

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By Matt Popchock

Some may fight for championships, others may fight to build on what they began in 2010, while still others may simply fight for respectability for their programs. At any rate, here are five head football coaches “Mr. High School Sports” will be keeping an eye on in Class AA this fall:

Kevin Horwatt, Burrell – He’s one of the most noteworthy alumnae in program history, and he’s succeeding of the most successful football coaches Burrell ever had. Can he get this team out of mediocrity in the Allegheny Conference, and into the postseason, where we’re used to seeing the Bucs?

Tom Liberty, Riverside – One of the biggest changes in WPIAL football this off-season came when this very accomplished prep football veteran took over the Panthers, and immediately set the program’s sights on the playoffs after its narrow miss in 2010. In the always brutal MAC, can he continue his legacy and help them cross the line between pretender and player?

Todd Hazlett, Deer Lakes – One of the biggest changes in WPIAL football last year was seeing the Lancers in the playoffs; it had never happened before, and it was probably the feel-good story of the entire 2010 campaign. Was that just a blip on the radar screen, or can Hazlett’s 2011 team continue re-writing the history of that program?

Greg Perry, Seton-LaSalle – A strong season in a particularly strong Century Conference did not end the way he wanted it to last year. The Rebels still have the weapons to be a WPIAL champion, so can he get his kids to learn from last year’s early exit and take them to Heinz Field for the first time since Bill Stull did so in ’04?

Roy Hall, Jeannette – He had an incredibly tough act to follow, and he did get the Jayhawks back to the playoffs after their district-high streak of playoff appearances ended in 2009, but they fell flat in their two biggest games of 2010. He’s got some talent coming back, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, so can they rebound as a group and get Jeannette back into the championship hunt?

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Be sure to revisit the “Mr. High School Sports” blog at 937thefan.com throughout the summer for more high school football coverage, as we prepare to kick off the 2011 season!