By Matt Popchock


Before I proceed, let me go back to last week’s edition of Spanning the States, in which I challenged readers to tell me any strange-but-true stories of high school football games that were delayed for unconventional reasons after posting a story about a game in South Carolina that was postponed due to a fire ant infestation.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, ask, and you shall receive.

I got a great e-mail from Russell in Derry, PA, who was nice enough to share this anecdote:

“I’ll tell you of one that happened back in 1985.  South Allegheny was to play Wilkinsburg at home near the end of the season.  South Allegheny needed the win to try to clinch the conference championship.  I was the head junior high coach and John Spanbauer was my assistant.  Every Friday night, we would go out to our varsity’s next opponent and scout them.  We went to South Park I believe, which is about a half hour drive from Glassport.  Our game was over pretty quick and we sped back to Glassport to see how the varsity had done.  There were no cell phones back then.  We got back to the stadium and we see an empty dark stadium, but with the locker room lights still on and Head Coach Don Elko’s car and assistant coach Ed Ghetian’s car still there.  We walked in and I asked what happened?  Ed was sitting on a folding chair in the middle of the locker room with a big grin on his face and said ‘You’ll never believe what happened here tonight.’

“He then incredously explained that the Wilkinsburg equipment truck never showed up for the game.  Their team was there in street clothes, ours was there dressed, and warming up on the field, the stadium was packed with people, the refs were there, the band was playing, but…Wilkinsburg’s equipment never arrived. Apparently the guy driving the equipment truck supposedly got a flat tire, got it fixed, and then decided to just take the truck back to Wilkinsburg rather than drive to the game, and didn’t tell anybody.  The WPIAL rescheduled the game for the next evening, the equipment truck did show up, and South Allegheny won the game 18-0 and the conference championship that year.”

Thanks, Russell, and for the rest of you, keep those e-mails coming!

Now, on with the festivities…

*Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam, and Sebastian Janikowski, eat your heart out. In the meantime, Dirk Borgognone, you can go ahead and pop that cork, because your record is safe for another week.

Dempsey, Elam, and Janikowski, just to refresh your memory, kicked 63-yard field goals in the NFL, and Dempsey did it (literally) with half a foot. Borgognone, in 1985, set a national high school record by booting a 68-yarder for Reno High School (Reno, NV), as we mentioned in this blog recently, and last Friday, another kicker–oddly enough, from around that area–came close.

Austin Pacheco, a senior at Carson High School (Carson City, NV), drilled a 64-yarder to give his team a last-second win over Bishop Manogue (Reno, NV).

He’s bound to get some D-1 offers, considering he’s 10-of-11 in the field goal department, and has kicked for over 3,000 yards and 60 points this season.

What are they putting in the water out in Reno (what little water that desert area has to begin with)?

*Boy, oh boy, locked-out NBA players sure are getting desperate…

Thanks to the CBS “Eye on Basketball” blog for this tip: LeBron James made a surprise appearance at his alma mater…to participate in varsity football practice.

Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s already boasts one of the top Division III football teams in Ohio, but the team was definitely blown away by the extra support, as reported by Fox 8 in Cleveland.

Wonder if those kids are still bitter over “The Decision” now?

*Speaking of the Buckeye State, Kenton eked out a 30-28 decision over Elida in a battle of small Ohio schools last Friday, but the bigger headline was the performance of Kenton senior and Missouri recruit Maty Mauk.

Maty is now the all-time United States leader in career completions with 1,136, after having connected on 36 attempts in last week’s victory. He broke a 13-year-old record set by former Nitro (WV) quarterback–and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect–J.R. House.

He’s not done yet, either. He’s moved up to second in national history behind eventual Florida great and national champion Chris Leak in career attempts and yardage. He’s third all-time nationally in TD passes…just one spot behind brother Ben Mauk, who was also one of the most prolific high school QB’s in U.S. history.

Ben starred at Cincinnati and Wake Forest and currently works as Kenton’s quarterbacks coach after getting invited to camp by the Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm last year and leaving the team for medical reasons. (Leak, by the way, has also ended up in the AFL, with the Jacksonville Sharks.)

*Not all the news from Ohio is happy, though. A player from eastern Ohio is in trouble with local authorities for using a thumb tack in a post-game handshake line. Yikes…

Like I said earlier this week, I don’t care what anyone says, sportsmanship matters, especially at that level.

*Meanwhile, one coach from a school in San Antonio, Texas has been dismissed for spying on an upcoming opponent. The coach was caught on the upcoming opponent’s sideline during the game and asked to leave the stadium. He denies allegation of wrongdoing.

We can disagree on sportsmanship sometimes, but I think gamesmanship can be an even thicker gray area. So give me your thoughts, folks…where do you draw the line? How should this coach be dealt with, if at all?

*Coincidentally, I’ll shift my attention back to Ohio one more time before signing off for now.

The biggest high school football game of the week outside the PIAA takes us to Fordham University, where St. Edward of Lakewood, Ohio, one of the top teams in that state, and the very team that manhandled Penn Hills in WPIAL Week 1, will take on Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, NJ), the top-ranked team in the country according to MaxPreps, this Saturday night.

St. Edward sits at No. 9 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 (human rankings) and No. 24 in their Freeman (computer-generated) Rankings. That team features wide receiver Quincy Jones, who is receiving interest from the MAC, but got his first official offer recently from West Virginia.

Don Bosco Prep features strong side defensive end Darius Hamilton, the No. 5 prospect at his position in the country according to CBS Sports recruiting expert Tom Lemming, and the No. 36 overall prospect. Darius is the son of former Pitt All-American and New York Giant Keith Hamilton, and Pitt is one of many D-1 schools that has given Darius an offer.

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