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“Mr. High School Sports” – WPIAL Football Adds One Class A Team, Loses Another

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By Matt Popchock

(mpopchock@kdka.com)

One northern-area school in District 7 is distancing itself from the gridiron, while another has broken ground on a brand new football program.

Vincentian Academy, a Catholic school in the North Hills just off Route 19 with a current enrollment of 230, will join the WPIAL for football, most likely in 2014. There is a chance, though, it could begin play in 2012, if enough interest is drummed up prematurely.

At a pep rally Friday afternoon Vincentian school president and former WPXI-TV sports director John Fedko announced that current Pittsburgh Central Catholic receivers coach Tim Storino will lead the Royals in their inaugural season.

Meanwhile, though I can’t corroborate any of them, I’m hearing rumors that Fedko might tab a former North Hills standout to be Storino’s special teams coach…

But seriously, I will be following the growth of Vincentian football, which will compete in Class A, with earnest. No one can dispute Fedko’s passion, and I’m sure he and the coaching staff will take good care of the new program. Storino has already been a very successful JV coach.

Plus, we’ve seen another Catholic school, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart out in Coraopolis, start a football program recently that has gotten off the ground rather quickly. After posting just one win in 2010, the Chargers, led by Isaiah Neely, one of the WPIAL’s top tailbacks, came within a tiebreaker of making the playoffs. In fact, Bud Beatty, the athletic director at OLSH, was an inspiration behind the creation of Vincentian’s program.

Vincentian has enjoyed great success in basketball (both genders) and softball since the turn of the century. Could football be joining that list in the near future?

Meanwhile, the news out of Coraopolis has not all been good. Cornell, which most recently competed out of the Class A Big 7 Conference in football, announced Friday the dissolution of its program after 40 years in the WPIAL.

Perhaps this was just a matter of time. Only 23 dressed for the Raiders during the 2011 season, and enrollment barely reaches a hundred. Still, it’s disappointing to see the team disappear just when it was starting to turn around. Jerry Knause and Ed Lawson led Cornell to consecutive playoff berths for the first time ever in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

The PIAA has agreed to let Cornell players dress for Quaker Valley’s team in the Class AA Century Conference moving forward. Oddly enough, John Tortorea’s first win as QV’s head coach came in a 27-26 decision over Cornell in the 2011 season opener.

This agreement means Tortorea will have more raw talent to work with in 2012, and it could turn the Quakers into a much more playoff-ready team.

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

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