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“Mr. High School Sports” – Friday Night Spotlights: Bill Cherpak

Bill Cherpak

Bill Cherpak leads Thomas Jefferson, which has won four WPIAL Class AAA titles under his watch, against Class AAAA stalwart Woodland Hills at The Wolvarena Friday. (Photo credit: Thomas Jefferson High School Athletics/West Jefferson Hills School District)

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By Matt Popchock

(mpopchock@kdka.com)

There’s nothing quite like football on Friday nights in western Pennsylvania, and there’s nothing quite like friendly competition either.

When the 2011 season kicks off throughout the region, two of the most reputable coaches in WPIAL history will actually do something neither of them have done before: coach against each other. It’ll happen at The Wolvarena this Friday, as last year’s Quad-A runner-up, Woodland Hills, plays host to traditional Class AAA power and 2010 district semifinalist Thomas Jefferson.

TJ head coach Bill Cherpak and Wolverines head coach George Novak go way back. Cherpak was a star lineman for Steel Valley when Novak coached that team to a WPIAL title in 1982. The two once worked together, in fact, on Novak’s staff at Woodland Hills.

“Mr. High School Sports” caught up with Cherpak to talk about taking his Jaguars back…to the top of the classification. Cherpak told us what he’s learned from his time alongside Novak, and what he knows about his 2011 squad, including its ability to run the ball effectively with Ryan Ruffing. He also talked about what he expects from new full-time starting QB Dom Presto, and how important it is for his defense to grow up after last year’s humbling playoff loss to eventual champion Central Valley.

In addition, Cherpak gave his thoughts on the work ethic of his own program, and handicapped the rest of the Big Eight Conference, which the Jaguars have won ten times in the past 11 seasons under him.


Kickoff for Friday’s game is at 7:00 on 93.7 The Fan, with Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis on the call. Pre-game coverage by our friends at the MSA Sports Network begins at 6:00, hosted by Don Rebel.

For more on this game, be sure to check out Mr. High School Sports’ Week 1 preview this Friday morning, as well as his live in-game blog Friday evening, on 937thefan.com.

(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)