6:45 – One day “Mr. High School Sports” went to visit the old alma mater, and the next day he gets to see the older alma mater in action. We’re live on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, the makeshift home of the Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings, who host the North Hills Indians at Gesling Stadium in less than an hour for a WPIAL Class AAAA Northern Eight Conference contest that could go a long way toward deciding playoff positioning.
North Hills is coming off a 28-14 non-conference win over Penn-Trafford, while Central Catholic blanked Shaler 35-0 in its regular season/Northern Eight lid-lifter.
The North Hills Marching Band just serenaded us across the field, and the Vikings are warming up to our right. Loyalties aside, I’ve always felt it was one of the better bands in the area, always well taught (trust me on that one). Central Catholic, one of only a couple teams in the WPIAL without a true home field, has done an excellent job under Terry Totten making this one a tough place to play, and it is expected to challenge for a district title again in 2012. A North Hills win would definitely be considered a signature one for this group of players, and for their coach, who is coming off a rare playoff miss. Some have speculated Jack McCurry, one of the most successful coaches in the area, may be nearing retirement. McCurry still seems to coach with the same gusto as when I was a student, so, personally, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Anyway, check back for periodic updates of this game, and many of the other Week 2 matchups in the WPIAL.
6:52 – With all the lightning delays in Week 1 (to say nothing of what happened in Monaca last night), it is worth noting, as you can probably tell from our press box photo, it’s starting to cloud up over the CMU campus. Having said that, we don’t see anything threatening on the horizon, and the forecast said anything bad would hold off until tomorrow. Game time temperature will be roughly mid-80s, humidity still noticeable even as we get closer to the true start of fall.
7:00 – As we noted, there’s star power on the sidelines, not just on the field. McCurry’s 276 wins entering tonight are third-most in WPIAL history, and he’s got four district titles under his belt, the most recent one coming in LaVar Arrington’s freshman 1993 season. His defensive coordinator, Pat Carey (my old gym teacher, by the way), was a running back on McCurry’s 1987 team, which was ranked No. 1 in America by USA Today. Totten helped guide Central to WPIAL titles in ’03 and ’04, and as head coach in ’07, beating Gateway in overtime in one of the most thrilling WPIAL Finals ever played. Totten was part of PIAA championship teams in ’04 and ’07, as well as a state silver medalist in ’03.
More to come…
7:09 – Our first update of the night: Clairton, winners of a nation-high 48 straight, eager to make up for last week’s scare, already lead Carlynton 8-0 in Black Hills Conference play.
7:11 – An interesting non-conference battle in Quad-A: McKeesport up 6-0 early at The Wolvarena against Woodland Hills. Both teams coming off losses, with Hempfield’s win over the Tigers being the bigger eyebrow-raiser. Eddie Stockett scored on a keeper. Meanwhile, Mt. Pleasant up 7-0 early on GCC in Class AA Interstate Conference action.
7:13 – Both these teams like to play old-school power football, so I’m focusing on the running backs tonight. Jordan Blackmon was a beast for the “Big Red” last week, running for 115 yards and two scores against the Warriors, and I’m particularly interested to see Central Catholic junior Luigi Lista-Brinza, who ran for 136 on 23 carries in Week 1, and has already shown flashes of excellence as a freshman and sophomore. McCurry’s defenses are usually very stubborn, and Lista-Brinza, among others in that backfield, will provide a good challenge.
7:18 – Central Catholic’s band has just done a fine job delivering the National Anthem…and North Allegheny’s offense has delivered an early 7-0 lead on Northern Eight rival Fox Chapel.
7:21 – If there is an x-factor, it could be the quarterback play of Graham Adomitis, who enrolled at North Hills before transferring to Central Catholic for his freshman year. Furthermore, Totten has another option in former Kiski Area signal-caller J.J. Consentino, whose off-season transfer was ruled eligible after much debate. North Hills didn’t pass much last week, and Brian Johnson, the probable starter, is unproven.
7:25 – Starting lineups are being introduced for both teams as they take the field. We’re seated a little closer to the visitors’ side, but the crowd appears to be pretty much split down the middle.
7:27 – Update: Hempfield leads Latrobe 7-0 in Foothills action, thanks to a Joey DeFloria TD run of 14 yards.
Meanwhile, in this game, I picked Central Catholic earlier today, heretical as it may sound under the circumstances, because I like their running game, and I think the Vikings have a little more depth. However, North Hills looks like it learned its lessons from 2011, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Indians’ defense steal this thing.
7:29 – North Hills has won the toss and will receive, moving the ball left to right on your computer or mobile screen to begin the game. Time to get excited…
7:30 – Just in: Aliquippa up comfortably on South Park, 21-0, and N.A. leads the Foxes by the same score.
7:32 – North Hills in business early after a 26-yard run by Josh Hulbert. Meanwhile, McKeesport makes a goal-line stand, and leads Woodland Hills 6-0 after one.
7:35 – The Indians were held near midfield thanks to a nice backfield tackle on Blackmon, but coffin-kicked the Vikings inside the 5. Their defensive line looks sharp on the first couple plays. Meanwhile, Gateway leads Connellsville 7-0.
7:38 – Jimmy Wheeler’s 33-yard TD run has West Mifflin up 7-0 on Belle Vernon in a “big” Class AAA Big Nine affair. Pine-Richland, Knoch each in lightning delays, Washington up 24-0 on Southmoreland.
7:41 – David Urso and Stephen Wood team up to sack Johnson, making North Hills waste good field position. Good poise by Central’s defense. Urso, by the way, has an extensive hockey background.
7:43 – Central takes timeout with 4:08 left in a scoreless first quarter. Meanwhile…
*TJ up 7-0 on EF.
*Ft. Cherry and Cali tied 7-7.
*GCC takes the lead 14-7 on Mt. Pleasant with a fumble return.
*Gateway leads Connellsville 13-0.
*Hampton all over Highlands, 21-0.
*McKeesport still up 6-0 on Woody High.
7:48 – Elliot King and Corey Bopp team up for a fumble recovery for North Hills, but Wayne Carney misses a 37-yard field goal to the right. Urso is having a great game up front, and the inexperience at QB is hurting the Indians. 2:19 left, 1st quarter.
7:51 – Updates: The Wolverines force an end-zone fumble recovery for a safety and trail McKeesport 6-2. Rochester up 14-0 on Shenango, Monessen up 7-0 on Brentwood.
7:53 – Timeout North Hills, their first, late in the first quarter. Indians up front doing a great job containing Lista-Brinza, but to Central’s credit, have nothing to show for their great field position yet.
7:55 – North Hills and Central Catholic scoreless after one quarter. Indians have the ball just inside Central territory.
West Mifflin now up 14-0 on Dorian Johnson and Belle Vernon. Ben Tackett’s one-yard TD run has Knoch up 6-0 on Trinity.
7:57 – Reddick began the second period with a 37-yard burst through the right side. Nice cut to the far right to get the extra yardage. Ensuing false start penalty on North Hills could be harmful. Moments later, an offensive holding call. North Hills, in fairness, should probably be ahead, but can’t get out of its own way.
8:01 – Urso picks off Johnson at the Central 26. He’s quietly becoming the star of this game, though the pass itself was a bad decision by Johnson, who was under a ton of pressure.
8:04 – Monessen and Brentwood now tied 7-7. Kittanning up 7-0 on East Allegheny. Apollo-Ridge leads Wilkinsburg 14-0.
8:07 – Central takes a 7-0 lead on North Hills with 7:54 left in the 2nd quarter. 52-yard TD run by Leo Loughrey, who darted through the right side and outran the secondary. That turnover really stings now for North Hills. His first score of the year, and Mitch MacZura’s extra point just gets by the gunner.
8:10 – Monessen has taken a 14-7 lead on Brentwood in the 2nd quarter, while Baldwin leads Plum by the same score in the 2nd of that game.
8:16 – Central trying to score before the half. Lista-Brinza, a shifty runner for sure, taking a beating out there. Should be interesting to see how and if Totten adjusts.
8:18 – Butler leads Shaler 7-0, while Franklin Regional, out for redemption, leads Indiana 21-0 in Northeastern Conference play. Meanwhile, Central Catholic has used its second timeout before punting with 1:32 left in the half. MacZura booms it to the North Hills 9. I rarely talk much about punters, but that was an all-conference kick.
8:22 – Central Catholic leads North Hills 7-0 at halftime. Both teams playing inspired defense, but really, Central’s has bailed the Vikings out of some sticky situations. This game, as I expressed earlier, could easily be 14-7 North Hills. Jordan Blackmon has been conspicuously absent from the North Hills offense.
8:24 – Monessen is clinging to a 14-13 lead over Brentwood in that pivotal Class A Black Hills game. Ford City and Freeport, which could help decide the AA Allegheny Conference crown, are scoreless in what has reportedly been a sloppy (penalty-filled) contest.
8:26 – Updates: Union leads Leechburg 13-0 in a Class A Big 7 game, and New Castle leads non-conference Riverside by the same score. Ringgold ahead of Laurel Highlands 14-12, Gateway blasting Connellsville 46-0. Apollo-Ridge up 20-0 on Wilkinsburg, and South Allegheny leading Quaker Valley 21-0. Penn-Trafford up 17-0 on Norwin in the Foothills Conference, and as the NH band plays again, Seneca Valley leads Pine-Richland in another Northern Eight game, 10-0, after the first quarter.
8:30 – More updates: Burrell leads Valley 14-0 in the renewal of that Allegheny Conference rivalry. South Fayette leads KO 21-0, Mt. Pleasant now up 21-14 on GCC, and West Mifflin has a 14-7 lead on Belle Vernon right before the half in Rostraver.
8:34 – Not many first half stats to write home about, again, with the game being dominated by the defense, but here’s a running back comparison: Lista-Brinza 8 carries for 30 yards; Reddick 6 carries for 64 yards. Loughrey’s long TD run remains the difference-maker; his only other carry, two plays earlier, was a two-yard run.
8:38 – After a couple turnovers, DeQuan White has scored on a run, and Woodland Hills now leads McKeesport, 15-12, early in the third (thank you, Keith Barnes).
8:40 – Central’s band is winding down its Beatles medley, so it’s almost time for the second half. North Hills is very much in this game and needs to finish its drives, pure and simple. Despite all the roster turnover, Central’s front seven are still really impressive. Conversely, the Vikings need to find some holes for Lista-Brinza to go with the big one they made for Loughrey. With neither team showing any willingness to pass, it looks like this game comes down to ball control, and which team out-toughs the other.
8:43 – A few scores from the Alle-Kiski Valley trickling in: Burrell up 20-0 on Valley at the break, Shady Side up 14-0 on Deer Lakes at half, Knoch comfortably ahead of Trinity 26-0 at half.
8:45 – In case you missed it, Monessen and Brentwood have reached halftime in that important game, with the ‘Hounds leading 21-13.
West Allegheny up 17-0 on Ambridge in the Parkway Conference, while Jesse Zelonka has 248 pass yards and 4 TD for Apollo-Ridge in just one half, as Apollo-Ridge leads Wilkinsburg 34-0.
8:48 – North Hills kicking left to right to begin the second half…
8:50 – Jimmy Wheeler with 182 rush yards for West Mifflin, which leads Belle Vernon 21-14 in the second half (thank you, Josh Rowntree).
Seton-LaSalle up 21-0 on McGuffey, while Woody High now leads the Tigers of McKeesport 21-12; Tom Greene and Ed Stockett shaken up as Cody McClelland found Greene for a touchdown.
8:53 – George Isasky recovers a Lista-Brinza fumble near Central’s 40-yard line. Sooner or later North Hills has to take advantage of these chances…
8:55 – Freeport leads Ford City 7-0 on a 22-yard run by Brendan Lynch on 4th down. Hempfield up 37-0 on Latrobe.
8:57 – Sounds like Ben Tackett and Dakota Bruggeman are having big “Knights” for Knoch, which is way ahead of Trinity. Meanwhile, North Hills uses its first timeout, still down 7-0, 7:36 left in the 3rd, facing 4th-and-short from the Central 30.
Central jumps offsides, a big break for the Indians. Meanwhile, Tyler Mellors has 202 rush yards for Mt. Pleasant, which is tied 21-21 with GCC.
9:02 – North Hills just can’t find the big play. Central’s defense stiffens, aided by an own fumble by Johnson, and Wayne Carney misses a 50-yard field goal attempt (yes, you read that right) that didn’t look close. 5:00 left in the 3rd, same score.
Moments later, Lista-Brinza over the middle for 19, leaping a defender at the line of scrimmage for his longest run of the night.
9:05 – Early headline-grabber: Hampton looks on its way to a 2-0 start, leading Highlands 35-7 in the second half. Meanwhile, Adomitis just missed Shafer Swann deep down the far sideline, a break for North Hills.
9:10 – According to the Trib’s Keith Barnes, McKeesport’s Ed Stockett is out of that game due to injury, and third-stringer David Quee is in for the Tigers.
Blackhawk leading Moon 13-0 in a Parkway Conference battle.
9:13 – End of the 3rd quarter with Central still up 7-0 on North Hills.
9:14 – First final of the night, to my knowledge: Jefferson-Morgan beats Bentworth 45-21.
9:17 – Lista-Brinza with a really nice run, weaving through defenders, and shedding two tackles for 26 yards (illegal block on Central). Vikings with a chance to maybe put this one away.
9:19 – N.A. goes to 2-0 with a 48-7 win over Fox Chapel.
9:22 – Hempfield now also 2-0 after beating Latrobe 43-7.
Central calls its first timeout with 7:00 left in the game, trying to extend its lead. Gigantic third down coming up at the North Hills 5-yard line…
9:24 – Wow! Jim Wheeler with 331 yards rushing for West Mifflin! Titans up 34-14 on Belle Vernon.
Touchdown Central. 14-0 Vikings, 6:35 left. Lista-Brinza got just enough for the first down, and, fittingly, Loughrey finished the drive with a one-yard run that, unless the Indians can move the ball quickly, might have finished them as well.
9:28 – Reddick shaken up on the kick return for North Hills. Stumbled twice trying to get off the turf. You hope it’s not a concussion. Hard to tell from our angle, but looks more like lower body at closer glance.
Meanwhile, Jeannette beats Charleroi 50-0, and GCC now leads Mt. Pleasant 28-27 after Zach Herman hit Chase Keller from 10 yards out with 2:30 left. Freeport leading Ford City 13-7 in the third quarter, Burrell up 34-0 on Valley late.
9:32 – McCurry now out on the field as the stretcher has been wheeled onto the field. This is a damaging loss for the Indians. Medical staff taking its time trying to carefully transport Reddick onto the table.
6:21 left at the stoppage. Everyone who isn’t already sitting has taken a knee.
9:35 – Reddick is strapped up and receives a round of applause. Looks like we’ll be back to again shortly.
9:41 – Central with the ball, 5:00 left in the game. Not sure why Adomitis threw on the first play. Both QBs still struggling in the second half. Moments later, Jeff Bauman with a hard-hitting sack. North Hills defense not quitting by any means.
9:46 – Montae Frank falling on a muffed punt by North Hills. Don’t ask me how the Indians kept the ball there. Meanwhile, Johnson and Larry Richardson haven’t been able to get on the same page all night.
9:49 – Central recovers a fumbled screen pass that looked initially like it would go for a first down in Vikings territory. Barring strange developments, that’s probably the game right there.
9:55 – Final: Central Catholic 14, North Hills 0. Indians 1-1 overall, Vikings now 2-0 across the board.
Check out KDKA-TV’s 11:00 News and 937thefan.com for all of tonight’s Week 2 final scores.
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)