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Cornell Officially Out Of Playoffs
Failed PATs Doom Raiders, 27-26

Cornell has struggled all season with making the points after touchdowns. Whether trying the kicks, runs or passes, those extra points have proven elusive in every game. Friday night, it cost the Raiders a victory over OLSH. And the 27-26 loss sends Sacred Heart on to the WPIAL Class A playoffs while Cornell sits home.

In the final minute, the Chargers intercepted two Cornell scoring passes in the end zone. The first was an attempt to score a two point conversion and give the Raiders a 28-27 win. Walter Clarit had scored the touchdown, but after missing earlier PATs, Cornell tried for two. Dereon Greer picked off the E.J. Dawson pass.

Having just scored the TD, Cornell kicked off to Sacred Heart. Coach Ed Dawson elected to try an onside kick. It worked, and Cornell recovered. With the final seconds ticking down, Cornell drove for the winning score. The pass that would have given the Raiders the win was intercepted in the end zone by Ziggy McIntosh.

The heartbreaking loss ruined a great comeback by Cornell. Sacred Heart had led 20-7 in the second. Just before halftime, Dawson hit Raequan Troutman to cut it to 20-14. OLSH expanded it to 27-14 in the third quarter. But the Raiders came alive in the fourth. Troutman ran a TD in from the four, but the PAT kick was missed. That made it 27-20. Cornell held Sacred Heart and drove down for Clarit's score.

The loss left Cornell 3-4 in the Black Hills Conference and 4-5 overall.

Riders Cling To Slim Playoff Hope
Troutman Leads Cornell Over Chartiers 52-7

Raequan Troutman ran for four first half touchdowns to lead Cornell to a 52-7 win over Chartiers Houston and draw the Raiders even at 3-3 in the Black Hills Conference and 4-4 overall.

Troutman ran the ball in from the 48, one, 23 and 60 yard lines. He rushed for 151 yards just in the first half.

The win kept alive Cornell's flickering hopes for a postseason slot. The Raiders must upset Sacred Heart this Friday. Burgettstown and Fort Cherry play each other. Currently, the top four teams in the conference are Bishop Canevin, Sacred Heart, Burgettstown and Fort Cherry. Each conference gets four slots in the playoffs. If Cornell were to upset OLSH, the two would be tied with three losses each and since Cornell won the game between them the Raiders would receive the bid.

Chartiers Houston dropped down this year from Class 2A and back in August was considered a major contender. In September Chartiers Houston was ranked fourth in Class A. But Class A has proven to be tougher than Ch-H expected and several losses have left the Washington County school battling to finish with a winning record.

Matt Sieg Scores All Fort Cherry Points
Cornell Slump Continues 27-7 As Playoff Hopes Fade

Matt Sieg scored four touchdowns Friday night as Fort Cherry rolled over Cornell 27-7 and probably clinched the final playoff spot from the Black Hills Conference.

The win dropped Cornell to 2-3 in the conference and 3-4 overall. Fort Cherry is now 3-2 and 5-3.

The only bright spot for Cornell came as E. J. Dawson powered three yards up the middle for his team's only touchdown in the second quarter to cut the Fort Cherry lead to 14-7. But Sieg then returned a punt 77 yards to pull the Rangers back out to 21-7.

Fort Cherry demoralized Cornell early by outgaining the Raiders 132 to minus 14 in the first quarter. Cornell did redeem itself in the second by gaining 73 yards but it wasn't enough to close the gap.

The Raiders play Chartiers Houston this Friday at home.

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Jason Cross Scores 5 TDs
Bishop Canevin Buries Cornell 63-0

Bishop Canevin put Cornell away early en route to a 63-0 win Saturday at Dormont Stadium. It was 14-0 after one quarter and 35-0 at halftime. One player, Jason Cross, accounted for all five first half TDs. Cross, a 6-0 155 lb junior, passed 27 yards to Azjuan Marshall for the first, ran the second in himself from the five, passed 28 yards to Tyjer Clayton for the third, passed 60 yards to Jayden Lindsey for the fourth, and intercepted a Cornell pass and ran it back 79 yards for the fifth. Geno DeFrank kicked all the extra points. In the second half Canevin sent in the reserves. Kole Olzewski passed 61 yards to Xavier Nelson, Jermell Lindsey ran back a punt return 31 yards, Clayton intercepted a pass and ran it back 18 yards, and Olzewski ran one in from the one. DeFrank kicked all the PAT kicks. The win left Cornell 2-2 in the Black Hills Conference, 3-3 overall. After a weekend of upsets, most notably Sacred Heart's loss to Burgettstown, Cornell could still grab a postseason runnerup berth if the Raiders can defeat Fort Cherry this week and Chartiers Houston next week, both games at home.


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Squib Kicks Rattle Raiders
Disaster, 26-6
Cornell Unravels At Burgettstown

Cornell suffered a complete meltdown Friday night and lost a key game to Burgettstown 26-6. The loss put any hopes of a postseason berth in serious jeopardy.

The game was played at Burgettstown's Hill Stadium, one of the WPIAL's classic facilities. It opened in 1920 and was renovated in 2000. Even in this fifth week of the season, the field was in great condition. A solid crowd was on hand on a frosty night. Neighbors on a high hill overlooking the field sat around backyard fire pits in Adirondack chairs enjoying a sort of balcony view while toasting s'mores, hot dogs and baked potatoes. Marching bands from both schools livened up the atmosphere and Burgettstown honored their grade school football teams and cheerleaders before the game. It was a magnificent atmosphere.

Unfortunately for Cornell its marching band, its numbers up, sounding impressive, looking good in its spiffy new uniforms (in the photo above members are bundled up against the cold, but they show off the uniforms when marching at halftime) was the highlight of the evening.

Burgettstown Coach Greg Marshall had no intention of letting Cornell's Raequan Troutman unleash one of his kickoff runbacks. So he used squib kicks to change the tempo of the game. Burgettstown worked on squibs in practice, and when the Blue Devils won the toss, they elected to kick off to start the game. Sure enough, Cornell was caught by surprise by the squib, and Zach Schrockman recovered for Burgettstown on the Cornell 25.

Three plays later Sondre Lunde hit Brodie Kuzior with an 18 yard pass. He fumbled but Schrockman recovered. The PAT kick was wide but Burgettstown led 6-0.

Burgettstown again used the squib kickoff, Cornell again fumbled, and the Blue Devils recovered on the 48. A pass to the 28, three runs, and a Lunde pass to James Leuice put Burgettstown up 12-0 with 7:42 in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter the home team scored again on an 11 yard Kuzior run and Pedro Guimaraes PAT to lead 19-0.

Walter Clarit finally put Cornell on the board with a two yard run with 3:40 til halftime. The PAT pass failed so it was 19-6.

Cornell held and got the ball back but was unable to score before the half.

In the third quarter neither team scored. Two possessions by Burgettstown and one by Cornell used up the entire 12:00.

To open the fourth, Draevon Newton intercepted a Blue Devil pass on the Cornell 32 but the Raiders couldn't score and Burgettstown ran off a sustained drive of five first downs. Caleb Russell ran it in from the five and Guimaraeas kicked the PAT kick for the final 26-6 score.

Except for the squib kicks, Burgettstown didn't do anything fancy. They mostly kept the ball on the ground, letting Kuzior (137 rushing yards) and Russell (80 yards rushing and 50 on pass receptions) provide the offense.

Cornell never could get its offense untracked. Raequan Troutman entered the game ranked 10th in the WPIAL in rushing with 734 yards on 61 attempts for a 12.0 per carry average, and eighth in scoring with 12 TDs and two PATs for 74 points. He provided most of the Raider yardage, but Burgettstown keyed on him and kept him out of the end zone.

Cornell faces a rough October. The Raiders play Bishop Canevin this Friday and Sacred Heart the final Friday. In between, they play Chartiers Houston and Fort Cherry. Canevin and OLSH are heavily favored. Fort Cherry and Chartiers Houston are slightly favored. Those two plus Burgettstown are now above Cornell in the race for a runnerup spot in the WPIAL playoffs. Cornell must win two of those four games and hope for a few upsets.

Cornell was without starting quarterback and defensive linebacker E. J. Dawson, who was on the sidelines in street clothes with a knee injury. Dawson could possibly return for Canevin and the stretch run. C. J. Jackson did a respectable job at quarterback, but Dawson's presence on defense would have made a huge difference. His play and his leadership would have shut down Burgettstown's runs up the middle.

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Sadie Snatchko Finally Wins Feature
Magill, LaBoon, Bubek, Poljak Win Season Titles

Frank Magill, who's been battling brother Tony plus the Koteleses and Matt Benard all year, won the Feature on the final night to clinch the 2022 points championship in the intensely competitive Hobby Stocks Division at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway.

Magill (photo, right), who graduated high school three months ago, entered the night with only a two point lead over Logan Koteles, four points ahead of Tony, and 13 up on Gary Koteles. Any one of them could have won the title with a feature win.

But Magill took over the lead on lap four. Logan hung in there, and the two were still battling through the final lap. It was Magill's fifth feature win this year and 16th overall.

Logan finished second in the race and in season points. Steve Shelpman, Benard and Gary rounded out the top five.

"it was a fun season," Magill told reporters afterward. "I knew these guys were going to show up every week so I had to be ready. This old car gave me everything it had. I thought it had one more win in it and tonight it came through."

Down in the Young Guns (teenage) Division, Sadie Snatchko (photo, left) won her first feature on the final night. She and Emmie Laboon fought throughout the race but Snatchko hung onto the lead.

Laboon won the season points title, barely ahead of Zoey Knight. Gavin Kokolis, Abby Gindlesperger and Snatchko rounded out the top five. Amazingly, after a century of male domination, seven of the top 10 Young Gun finishers were girls, and all say they intend to return next year. No other racetrack in the country has such a promising crop of female drivers.

In the Limited Late Models, Michael Norris grabbed the lead from Philip Bubeck early, then held off repeated challenges from Cole Petrelle. After a restart on lap 12, Norris pulled away but Petrelle found himself in a battle for second. On the final lap Zach Gunn nipped Petrelle for it. Tim Shaffer and Brandon Burgoon finished fourth and fifth. But Bubeck won the season points title, followed by Petrelle, Mike Reft, Shaffer, and Kassidy Kamacher. Kamacher had been a close second and closing in on Bubeck until a wreck back in August totaled her car and ended her season. Petrelle and Tony Musolino won the qualifying heats. It was Norris' third feature win this year, and sixth overall.

Tyler Dietz won the Pro Stock Feature. Nick Kocuba had led early, then A. J. Poljack took over. But once Dietz grabbed the lead he kept it. Poljack, Kocuba, Dale Tuche and Jake Billyk rounded out the top five. Poljack, however, won the season points title, ahead of Brian Huchko, Kocuba, Frank Magill and Tanya Charlier.

Kole Holden (photo, right) led the entire race and won the Sportsman Feature. It was Holden's second feature win this year and fifth overall. Jacob Jordan finished second in this feature but won the season points title, followed by Holden, Lucas Canon, Chelsie Kriegisch and Tony Tatgenhorst. These are the cars that most racetrack owners would like to see replace the Pro Stock Division. Notice the center mounted seat, giving the cars an Indy Car or Formula I appearance.

The regular season at PPMS is now over, but racing is not. This weekend sees the Lucas Oil Circuit, dirt track racing's version of NASCAR, come to town. Some local drivers will enter, but most of the field will be national. Rigs will begin arriving Thursday. Winning purses begin at $20,000 and go down from there. There will be all the usual divisions racing, but the major Lucas Oil division is the Unlimited Late Models. These are $100,000 rigs which are practically the same as NASCAR except they're set up for dirt tracks. The weekend will feature full race cards both Friday and Saturday nights, but the big draw is the annual Pittsburgher, a 75 lap, 37 mile showcase run on Saturday.  Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. currently leads the Lucas Oil Unlimited standings. His car is powered by a $45,000 Cornett Racing Engine putting out 900 horsepower. McCreadie just won the Indiana 100.

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Troutman, Johnson, Newton Star
42-0 Cornell Win Sets Up Burgettstown Showdown

Cornell, on the wings of Raequel Troutman, Khylil Johnson and Drevon Newton, rolled to a 42-0 win over Carlynton Friday night to go up 2-0 in the Black Hills Conference, 3-1 on the season, and set up a showdown this week at Burgettstown for a spot in the WPIAL play offs.

Carlynton is three times as large a school and just this year dropped down from 2A, but Cornell put the Cougars away early.

Johnson scored first on a 15 yard run, and Troutman ran in the PAT for an 8-0 lead.

Minutes later, Johnson added a nine yard run and C. J. Jackson kicked the PAT for a 15-0 lead, still in the first quarter.

Early in the second, Troutman fielded a Carlynton punt on the Cornell 45 and ran it all the way back. The PAT kick failed, but Cornell led 21-0.

But later in the second quarter Jackson lofted an 83 yard pass to Newton in the end zone. Jackson then kicked the PAT and Cornell took a 28-0 lead to halftime.

In the third, Troutman intercepted a Carlynton pass on the Cornell 30 and ran it all the way back. Jackson's PAT kick made it 35-0.

Troutman finished the scoring late in the third quarter with a seven yard run. Jackson's PAT kick finalized the score at 42-0 and Cornell Coach Ed Dawson sent in the reserves.

The performances earned Troutman and Jackson mention in the WPIAL's weekly top runners and passers list.

Cornell now heads to Burgettstown's historic stadium for a Friday night showdown that will position the winner for a postseason berth. The Blue Devils, who used to be a rival of Coraopolis back in the mid 20th Century when both were much bigger schools, just last year dropped down from Class 2A. Cornell ruined homecoming for the coal town last year. but with a quirk in the WPIAL schedule has to play them there again this year. Burgettstown has wins over Bethlehem 38-22 and #5 Chartiers Houston 14-8, but lost to #1 Bishop Canevin 38-17 and #3 South Side 38-14 to go 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference.

The computer picks Cornell and Burgettstown to both lose to #2 Sacred Heart and Cornell to lose to Canevin, giving both schools two conference losses. So the two are battling for third place and a runnerup playoff berth.

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Khylil Johnson Adds Two TDs, CJ Jackson Steady At QB
Troutman Emerging As Star, 48-0

Cornell coaches and fans have known for two seasons that Raequan Troutman was an outstanding receiver and open field runner.

Now the rest of the WPIAL is realizing that as well.

Troutman scored five touchdowns Friday night to lead Cornell to a 48-0 rout of Avella in both teams' Black Hills Conference opener.

He scored the first one on a 51 yard run early in the first quarter. He scored the next two in the second quarter on runs of three and 60 yards.

His last two came on runs of four and 45 yards in the third quarter.

This came after Troutman scored three TDs against Union last week and three more against Monessen two weeks ago.

He's been starting for Cornell for four years but has been overshadowed by other receivers and runners as the over achieving Raiders have reached the WPIAL semifinals twice. Now he's clearly the star.

And he's not alone.

Khylil Johnson added two TDs of his own on runs of 17 and 35 yards in the second and fourth quarters.

C. J. Jackson kicked the extra points.

But that wasn't Jackson's main contribution. With E. J. Dawson nursing an injured knee, Jackson, a junior, has also emerged as a reliable replacement at quarterback. He sees the field well, is quick and nimble in the backfield, has a strong arm and good accuracy, and protects the ball under heavy contact.

Cornell will be favored against Carlynton Friday, which would give the Raiders a 2-0 conference record. Sacred Heart and Bishop Canevin continue to look impressive and rank 1-2 in Class A, but Cornell doesn't have to beat either one of them to once again make the playoffs. It can advance as a runnerup if it can handle Carlynton, Fort Cherry, Chartiers Houston and Burgettstown. That would give Cornell a 5-2 conference record and a solid third place even if it lost both late season games to the two Catholic schools. And if Cornell's injured players get healthy, with explosive players like Troutman and Johnson, it could pull off one or two upsets.


Kamacher's Car Totaled, Season Likely Over
Gary Koteles Wins Josh Langer Memorial At PPMS

Gary Koteles of Stockdale won the annual Josh Langer Memorial race Saturday night in the Hobby Stock Division at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. It was a chaotic race with four yellow flag restarts but Koteles grabbed the lead on the first lap and held it the whole way. Every time he began drawing away from the field a caution would bunch the field back up right behind him.

Koteles (in 65K at right) entered the race in fifth place in the season point standings, only 19 points behind leader Frank Magill. But Magill battled Koteles for the lead the whole way and finished a close second so Koteles was not able to cut into the lead. Matt Benard, Jonathan Koteles and Logan Koteles finished third, fourth and fifth in the Langer Memorial.

Koteles and Magill each won their respective heat races.

Tony Magill, Benard and Logan Koteles are second, third and fourth in season points.

Down in the Young Guns Division, PPMS owner Matt Miley ran two features to make up for the feature rained out last week by rain.

Abby Gindlesperger (photo, left) won the postponed feature by edging Emmie LaBoon. Zoey Knight finished seventh, after briefly grabbing the lead on lap two but hitting car trouble on lap three.

But Laboon and Knight came back to finish first and second in the regularly scheduled feature (with Gindlesperger third) so still rank first and second in the season points race.

The season ends October 1 so only two Saturday nights remain for drivers to fight for position.

Matt Knight won both the regular and postponed Four Cylinder features. But he's over 728 points down in season points so even with all those points remained only in 10 place. Craig Rudolph leads the season points race.

Tim Shafer (In #45 photo right) won the Limited Late Model Feature for only his second feature win of the year. He led most of the way but two cautions bunched the field back up and kept things close.

Philip Bubeck leads the Limited Division by 58 points over Tom Klein (in car #77). Shafer is in third.

Kassidy Kamacher had worked her way up to second, just nine points behind Bubeck, but two weeks ago hit the wall and totaled her car. With her season over, Klein and Shafer have been able to move up.

Nick Kocuba of Burgettstown won the Pro Stock feature, with Al Poljack second and Brian Huchko third. Poljack, Hutchko and Kocuba are 1-2-3 in the season points race.

Racing continues this Saturday at 7 pm. The Vintage Cars from back in the 1970s will be racing, along with the usual slate of Limiteds, Pro Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Four Cylinders and Young Guns.

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Injured Starters Watch From Sideline
Union Outguns Troutman, 30-21

With several Cornell starters, most importantly senior quarterback and linebacker E. J. Dawson, injured and watching from the sideline in street clothes, Raequan Troutman tried to carry the Raiders on his talented shoulders.

He came close, but Union had four offensive threats to Cornell's one, and the Scotties upset the Raiders 30-21.

It looked like a typical Friday Night Lights show at the smallest public high school in Pennsylvania still fielding an 11 man football team. Cornell's band, which after several seasons under Director Bill Lamb looks classy and professional, marched down the long driveway, down Maple Street, and into Frank Letteri Stadium, a tradition no otther high school has. They performed both pregame and halftime shows, and were joined by Union's band, which also performed at halftime.

As teams everywhwere do, the Raiders ran out through a corridor of band and cheerleaders.

Troutman, a gifted receiver and runner, announced his presence immediately by taking a handoff and running 64 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play. Backup quarterback C. J. Jackson kicked the PAT and Cornell led 7-0 only 20 seconds in.

But Union took the ensuing kickoff and slowly ground out 70 yards in six minutes, with Mike Gunn running 12 yards for the TD at 5:32. The PAT failed and Cornell hung onto a slim 7-6 lead.

The rest of the first half the teams exchanged possessions back and forth without scoring. Cornell missed a field goal, but stopped two Union scoring drives with timely interceptions.

One incident at the end of the half brought coaches onto the field and enflamed lots of boos and jeers from the crowd. Union fired a long pass from the 46, which its wide receiver caught on the 10, ran three steps, then dropped. A Cornell player fell on the ball. But an official ruled that Union should keep possession with 00:16 left. Fortunately, Cornell's Traevon Newton intercepted the ensuing pass in the end zone, ending the half.

The problem with E. J. Dawson being out was that not only was he Cornell's quarterback, but its defensive captain and star linebacker. With Dawson in, no opponent could run up the middle. With him out, at halftime first year Union Coach Kim Niedbala directed his offense to attack that middle with various plays. Along with a fake punt, that strategy allowed the Scotties to take the third quarter kickoff, grind out five first downs, then let Elijah Booker run in from the 16. QB Brayton Thomas passed to Booker for the PAT and Union led 14-7 at 5:38.

Cornell picked up two first downs but stalled and punted. Union's Thomas promptly ran it 58 yards to score and passed to Cam Taylor for the PAT and a 22-7 lead at 1:21 in the third.

Troutman (#28 in photo, right) opened the fourth quarter with a 56 yard TD run at 11:48. Jackson's pass to Drevon Newton was good to cut the lead to 22-15.

Cornell's kick and fortuitous roll pinned Union at its own 15, but on the first play Thomas ran 85 yards to score and Matt Stanley ran in the PAT for a 30-15 lead at 10:44.

Pressed for time, Cornell went to the air. Passes to Newton and Julian Cordice and runs by Jackson and Walter Clarit helped the Raiders gain six first downs and let Troutman run in the TD from the 29. The PAT pass was overthrown, so the score was 30-21 with 7:24.

Cornell held Union and launched another long drive but the TD pass was intercepted in the end zone, at 3:01 and Union ran out the clock.


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Third Ranked Raiders Look Stronger Than Expected
Cornell "Upsets" Monessen 35-6

No one expected Cornell to beat Monessen except for the Cornell coaches and players. Cornell had knocked the Greyhounds out of the WPIAL playoffs last year 33-0 but even then everyone was saying THIS would be the year for the Mon Valley school. 22 starters returned, the entire offensive and defensive units, while Cornell graduated several key players. This game would be AT Monessen's historic stadium and the Greyhounds would be seeking revenge. So the computer, every Pittsburgh newspaper and the betting line all favored Monessen.

But Cornell grabbed an early 7-6 lead when Monessen missed an extra point. That lead held up through the first and second quarters and most of the third. Cornell added a TD late in the third for a 14-6 lead, then exploded for 21 points in the fourth.

Monessen looked like a senior loaded experienced team. But Cornell looked much better than expected on both offense and defense.

The Raiders now return home for a game with old rival Union, which lost to Canton (O.) 31-18 last week but pounded Ellwood City 20-6 Friday. Cornell will be a slight favorite.


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LaBoon, Knight Finish 1-2 In Teenage Feature
Winged Sprints Dazzle But Girls Keep Winning

On a beautiful but extremely dusty night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway, the Winged Sprints (photo above) attracted their usual crowd and turned in their usual spectacular show. As the advertising slogan says, they're "the fastest cars on dirt," cranking out 800+ horsepower with their 410 cc engines and reaching speeds of 150 mph. A car weighs only 1200 pounds --- they've left everything including starters off to get down to that low weight and have to be push started --- and the wings are to create downward air pressure to keep the cars from going airborne on the front and back straights. One of these cars costs around $65,000, including their $45,000 engines. They have their own circuit, which brings them to PPMS twice a month. 22 cars showed up this week.

On this particular night, Dan Kuriger of Rochester won the feature, with Brandon Matus of Wampum second. Lee Jacobs of Holmsville, O., Dale Blaney of Hartford, O., and Brandon Spithaler of Evans City rounded out the top five.

But exciting as Winged Sprints are, attention at PPMS is more and more focused on a bevy of girls as the 2022 season enters its final six weeks.

No dirt track in the country right now has more young girls not only competing but actually winning. Despite the fact that every one of these young ladies could easily win your local Junior Miss or Miss Pennsylvania pageant, in their various divisions they're all doing well.

With Karlee Kovacs of Carnegie recovering from injuries, Kassidy Kamacher of Aliquippa (left) is the reigning queen. Running in the Limited Late Models, the highest division, she consistently finishes in the top five and currently ranks second in season points, just behind Philip Bubeck of Colliers, W.Va.

Kamacher, 19, is a sophomore at the Community College of Beaver County, where she's majoring in accounting. If she doesn't end up as a professional race driver, she sees herself handling the accounting for a race team or a race track, perhaps at the NASCAR level.

"This is what she's always wanted to do," explains mother Melanie Kamacher. "Racing's in our family history. She's been coming to the track since she was a month old." Mom is right there, sitting in a lawn chair next to the car down in the pits. "I don't stress out too bad when she's out there, but I have been adamant about one thing : no matter what it costs, every single safety feature is on her car. And she and I agree she's never getting in a Sprint car."

Kassie's teachers, especially now that she's in college, are amazed. On the first day of school every semester students have to introduce themselves. When she says she's a racecar driver, teachers try to clarify. "You mean, you drive those little Go Karts?" they'll ask. When she says No, she drives cars just one notch below NASCAR and then pulls out her phone and shows them videos of her racing, they shake their heads in disbelief.

Her classmates are a little more understanding. They ask every Monday how she did.

"It's really hard out there. I'm going up against guys 50 years old. That's 30 years of experience. They know tricks and tactics I'm just learning. We're four months into this season and I'm a lot better now than I was back in May. But every race is a learning experience."

Saturday started out well for Kassidy. She placed third in her heat, two notches above Bubeck, who was fifth. But in the Feature, both she and Bubeck were knocked out of the race. So their 1-2 standing remains as it was.

And she's a role model for the dozen younger girls down in the lower divisions.

"If I've been able to encourage other girls to get involved, I feel pretty good about that," she says.

At the opposite end of the age spectrum, Zoey Knight (photo, left) is in eighth grade at Plum Middle School. At school she's known as a cheerleader and a very good softball player. "I've been playing softball since I was real little," she grins. "I'm pretty good at it."

But she's also grown up with racing. Although she's still three years short of her driver's license, she's won four Feature races this year, come close in six more, and ranks second in the Teenager ("Young Guns") Division, just behind Emmie LaBoon.

"The kids at school think it's neat that I race," she says.

But in her first season, Zoey admits the learning curve has been steep. "Racing's all about finding lines and openings," she tells reporters. "Things are moving pretty fast out there, and in our division we're not allowed any contact. Do I go high, or try to drop down low? Can I shoot that gap, or should I wait til it becomes bigger?"

Some Young Gun drivers want to move up as soon as possible, hopefully to the Hobby Stocks. But being in eighth grade, Zoey figures she'll bide her time for a few years.

However, she's dead serious about racing. "I'd love a career in racing. If I can't do that, my second choice would be a career in softball."

Knight had a bittersweet evening. She had to drop into the pits during her heat race with mechanical issues. But then she ran a strong Feature and finished second to Laboon. So rheir 1-2 standing remains in place.

Emmie LaBoon (photo, top right), is another girl who grew up in a racing family. She's a freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School and, like the other girls, has to explain to her classmates just what it is she does on Saturday nights.

Emmie has won three Feature races and currently leads the Young Guns Division, with Zoey in hot pursuit only eight points behind.

That's LaBoon in the photo at left, in #114.

'What makes this division so difficult is that so many of the drivers are inexperienced," she explains. "So they're trying different things. You never quite know what they're going to do. I like to get out ahead of the crowd, grab the lead early, and avoid all the action."

She was successful in that strategy in both her heat race and the Feature. She grabbed an early lead and kept it all the way to the checkered flag both times.

All of these girls are very attractive, very articulate and outstanding spokesmen for dirt track racing, just what PPMS needs to attract a new generation of fans.

In other action Saturday night, Ben Policz of Rices Landing held off Mike Reft of Pittsburgh for the Feature win in the Limited Late Model Division. Rounding out the top five were Tim Shafer of Aliquippa, Cole Petrelle of Follansbee, W.Va., and Zach Gunn of McDonald.

In the Pro Stocks Division, Chris Schneider of Lower Burrell won the Feature over Christian Schneider of Pittsburgh, with Brian Hutchko of Coraopolis a close third. Cody Koteles of Stockdale and Jordan Perkins of Hermitage filled out the top five.

Down in Hobby Stocks, Gary Koteles of Stockdale won the Feature. Matt Benard of Oakdale was second, followed by Tony Magill of Jefferson Hills, Jonathan Koteles of Stockdale and Garrett O'Patchen of Pittsburgh.

Travers Corbin of Colliers, W.Va. won the Four Cylinder Feature, followed by April Tennant of Colliers and John Gill of Burgettstown. Travis Clark and Hemi Kineston of Pittsburgh were fourth and fifth.

Next week will be the biggest weekend of the regular season for Kamacher and the Limited Late Models. PPMS will host the 16th annual Red Miley Classic. The Limiteds will run three feature races in one evening. Because of this, the other divisions will run no heats, but will run features only. The usual starting time of 7:00 p.m. will be in effect.

Robin Gilligan

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Dawson, Troutman Powerful #1 - 2 Punch
Cornell Hangs Tough At AAA Shadyside

Cornell's Raiders gave their fans more reasons for hope Thursday night with a strong performance at AAA Shady Side Academy.

It was the final scrimmage before the 2022 season begins officially next Friday night at dangerous Monessen.

Shadyside has 400 students and is considered a major contender in the AAA Allegheny Conference. The Bull- dogs were taller and heavier than Cornell. But they had trouble keeping up with the Raiders' speed and quickness on offense.

It was a scrimmage, not a game. No official score was kept. There were no kickoffs or punts. Coaches could stop play and point things out to their players. Both coaches kept running players in and out to see what they could do in various situations.

However, Cornell crossed the goal line more often than Shadyside and made several spectacular runs and pass plays.

Early, most of those were made by Raequan Troutman (photo, right in #4) and EJ Dawson (photo below, in #1), both experienced seniors. Both turned in impressive runs. EJ showed that his passing arm may be greatly underrated and Troutman not only pulled in some awesome catches but ran for significant yards once he caught it.

Opposing defenses are going to have to put their top two players on Dawson and Troutman, leaving several other Cornell players guarded by less talented defenders.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Dawson cautioned. "Our defense made errors tonight we have to correct. It is a mystery to me how after weeks of practice we still have players wondering around out there not knowing what formation we're in. They're in one formation and all the rest of us are in a different formation. But we've got a week left to straighten that out.

"What I did find encouraging was that our players were not intimidated by this AAA team. We went to war, play after play, and did not back down. The errors we made were not in playing passive. We were aggressive the whole game. That was what I wanted. I scheduled this scrimmage to challenge our players and they rose to the challenge. If we can keep working, we're going to be OK."

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QB & Center Positions Solid
Dawson, Pierce Give Cornell Cautious Optimism

Football begins with a Quarterback and a Center. If a team doesn't have an experienced, battle hardened quarterback who can pass, run, hand off and read defenses, it won't be able to score enough to win. And if it doesn't have a Center who can snap the ball on target every time with an opposing defender coming at him, then hold his position and block that defender from getting to the quarterback, the QB won't be able to perform no matter how good he is.

Cornell Coach Ed Dawson knows how lucky he is. He's got both. His own son, E. J.. (photo, right) has been playing quarterback since middle school and was a running back before that. And his Center, Jamarcus Pierce (photo below), held his own last year despite being an undersized freshman. Since Cornell reached the WPIAL semifinals, that meant Pierce played in 12 games, several of them against top 10 opponents.

As a sophomore, Pierce is still undersized. When an opponent tries to overpower him by playing a large defender opposite him, Dawson will move Pierce to another spot on the Offensive Line and replace him at Center with an older, bigger boy. But it doesn't happen often. Pierce has quick hands and quick feet, strength, athleticism and attitude. He can hold his own against opponents 20-30 pounds heavier and six inches taller, as he proved several times last year.

He's also a very good baseball player, which cuts down on his offseason hours in the weight room. So he's not significantly stronger than last year. But that hard earned experience helps compensate.

Most valuable, though, is his dependable snaps. They become even more valuable since Dawson plays back in the Shotgun. So the Center has to snap the ball back several yards. E. J. remembers what it was like having the ball sail over his head, bounce off his ankles or drift to his left or right. At best, he had to reach for the ball or chase it down, which totally ruined the play. At worst, the errant snaps caused fumbles and lost possessions. That all stopped when Pierce took over last August.

"He gives me confidence," E. J. explains. "I no longer worry about the snaps so I can use those few seconds to read the defense, glance around to make sure our guys are lined up right, and maybe call out an audible."

E.J. prefers the Shotgun alignment rather than lining up under Center. "I'm not real tall," he admits. "A lot of the linemen are taller than I am. The Shotgun allows me to stand back a few yards and see over them so I can read the defense."

Perhaps because for his first years in football, down in grade school, he played running back, E. J. likes running over passing. He's a powerful runner, hard to bring down, faster than he looks and elusive despite his size. But he's worked on his passing game, and is a good short and intermediate passer.

Playing for his Dad has been interesting. "We'll watch games on TV and talk about them." Ed was a star on a state championship Aliquipa team, then played at Allegheny College, and has coached at other places before coming to Cornell, so he knows his football.

"I've been around football my whole life," E.J. says, "so I sort of learned about it without even thinking about it. A lot of football is instinct. Things happen so fast you don't have time to think. You just have to react. All those years of growing up with it help me react a lot better."

E.J. is not just the Quarterback. He's also a Linebacker and the Captain of the Cornell Defense. Some scouts think he's a better college prospect on Defense than on Offense, although they see him as a potential running back.

"We lost several guys off our Defense last year," E.J. grants. "But I think a lot of our younger guys got a lot of experience in big games last year, so they should be OK. I think we're going to be pretty hard to move the ball on."

On defense, he's modeled himself after Troy Polamalu. At quarterback, there have been several he's liked and tried to pattern his game after.

As far as the effect of all that experience, "I think I'm a lot better at game preparation and game management. I know what it takes to get ready for an opponent. When we're studying game film, I'm a lot better at knowing what to look for. I know I pay much closer attention to what the coaches are telling us. I know how to focus on a scouting report."

But he also sees himself as a game manager. "I see the game flow better now than I used to. I know where we are on the clock and in down and distance. From the scouting report I have an idea what the opponent is probably going to do."

Except for youth league, very few football coaches ever get the chance to coach their sons. Whether in high school or college, it sets up a unique father son dynamic.

"It's been fun," Father Ed says. "I think what has helped us so much is that E. J. is honestly one of most intelligent kids I've ever been around. I've been around a lot of football players, and I've seen very few as smart as he is. He learns really quickly, remembers what he learns, and then based on that makes really good decisions during a game."

But Dawson admitted he's had to walk a tight line. "I've had to give him space when he needed it. And sometimes I've needed to take my own space when I needed it. As he grew up, we learned how to coexist."

Last season, E. J. missed two games with an injury. "We really missed him," Dawson points out. "Not just the yards he might have earned or tackles he might have made, but his leadership on both Offense and Defense."

All those years together have added up.

"He truly is an extension of me out there on the field. I honestly believe I could hand him a whistle and he could run a practice."

There's another Dawson son now in ninth grade. He's currently playing Wide Receiver. But that's another story.

E.J. and Pierce will face their first real test of the season late Thursday afternoon when they scrimmage at AAA Shadyside.

"We play AT Monessen next Friday," Dawson reminds reporters. "They have EVERY starter on both sides back, and we knocked them out of the playoffs so they'll be looking for revenge. We need to have our weaknesses exposed so we can study the film and work for a week on correcting them."

Shadyside should certainly expose them. The Bulldogs play in the Allegheny Conference and their schedule includes North Catholic, Elizabeth Forward, Apollo, Freeport, East Allegheny, Knoch, Deer Lakes and Valley. They return nine starters on offense and nine on defense. Shadyside is favored to reach the AAA playoffs and have a line of mostly 5-11, 6-0 and 6-1 players.

However, Dawson likes scheduling a tough scrimmage rather than playing an actual game during what the WPIAL calls "zero week."

"We can learn more from a scrimmage," he explains. "We can run more players in and outy, try different stuff, set up exactly the situations we want. And we can test ourselves against bigger schools like this."

For those making the trip, Shadyside Academy is in Fox Chapel. Due to rush hour traffic along the river, it will take about an hour from Coraopolis.


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Spectacular Accident At Pittsburgh Motor Speedway
"Pink Panther" Totaled As Kovacs Injured

In a spectacular accident on the back straight, the famous and beloved "Pink Panther" racecar was totaled and driver Karlee Kovacs injured Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway.

Kovacs, who began racing as a high school girl and now, as a college graduate, is considered the Queen of a new generation of women drivers, walked away with only a concussion, cuts on her leg and injured tendons in her wrist.

But her car, which rolled five tines, is beyond repair, and in all likelihood Kovacs' season is over. She had already planned to move to NASCAR for 2023, hopefully with a base in North Carolina, so it could also mean an end to her local racing career.

"It was scary," Kovacs (photo, left) posted on her Facebook page. "I only remember the first roll. After that it was all a blur. I'm sore, but after watching the Go Pro footage, I'm grateful to have gotten off with only minor injuries."

Kovacs told her tribe of loyal fans she hopes to return, but it's already late August, the season only lasts until October 1, and race teams usually work all Winter to get a car ready. A few race teams have offered to let her use a spare car but until she fully recovers from her concussion and injuries no decision will be made.

The accident came on the 11th lap of the White Memorial, one of the year's top races in the Stocks Division. Adam Ferree of Jefferson Hills went on to win the race, with Tony Magill, Logan Koteles, Matt Benard and Ben Anton rounding out the top five. Brothers Frank and Tony Magill are tied for first place in the Stocks season points race.

Cole Petrelle of Follansbee (W.Va.) won the Limited Late Model Feature, ahead of Tim Shaffer, Kassidy Kamicker and Dave Goble of Aliquippa, and Philip Bubeck of Colliers (W.Va.). Bubeck currently leads in season points with Kassidy Kamicker second. Goble, Shaffer and Tom Klein complete the top five.

Nick Kocuba of Burgettstown won the Pro Stock (Sportsmen) Feature over Al Poljack of Baldwin, Brian Hutchko of Coraopolis, Daryl Charlier of Midway and Jacob Billyk of New Castle. Poljack currently leads the season point standings, with Hutchko only nine points behind.

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Dawson, Troutman, Dennis, Caldwell Are Keys
Reloading Cornell Could Threaten Again

Ed Dawson is building a reputation as a miracle worker. Coaching at the smallest Pennsylvania public high school fielding an 11 man football team, he has led the Raiders to the WPIAL semifinals twice in three years with two totally different lineups. Cornell's only recent losses have been to Catholic academies which stock their rosters by recruiting large areas. The word on Dawson is that when rebuilding he's dangerous and with the talent he's difficult to beat.

Dawson lost several outstanding players to graduation but returns enough starters that the Raiders are considered very dangerous indeed.

He starts with the four shown here : Guard Eric Dennis (at left), Running Back Raequan Troutman, Quarterback E. J. Dawson (the coach's son), and Wideout Kevin Caldwell. Around these building blocks are Running Back Walter Clarit, Wideout Drevon Newton and Backup Wideout Julian Cordyce.

When Dawson first began building this program he had a roster of only 18 players. He's slowly built it until now he has 38. "In Class A," he says, "we can compete with 38."

Cornell looks solid on offense. The linemen are all back. Dawson has been playing either Quarterback or Fullback for three years. Troutman has served as either Running Back or Wide Receiver for three years. Everyone else is in either their second or third year.

Dawson, a former star lineman on a championship team at Aliquippa, prefers a strong running game behind a strong line. Son E.J. is not a great passer but is good enough, and makes up for it by being a powerful, physical hard to bring down runner. He can also lead interference for other running backs, like Troutman or Clarit.

The two big question marks for Cornell are Special Teams and Defense.

M.J. Smith, who handled kicking, punting, field goal and extra point duties for two seasons, has moved on to I.U.P. and his replacement is unproven.

The Defense is also uncertain. E.J. will captain the D and several players have experience but there are significant holes to fill. Cornell may find itself in several shootouts, with its offense forced to outscore opponents. Last year, the Defense would shut down opponents and the offense needed score only a few times to win, such as the 14-7 upset at Rochester.

Dennis will be a key up on the line and E.J. at Linebacker should help stop runs up the middle. But in last week's scrimmage against Riverside the offense ran opposite from Dennis and E.J. for key gains. Dawson's emphasis this week is plugging those gaps by toughening up those defenders.

"Defensive line is an attitude," he kept telling players on Monday. "It's hard work. That's why most kids can't do it and very few want to do it. You've got to bring your best effort every single play."

The WPIAL dealt Cornell a whole new deck of cards this year, moving them from their long time home in the Big Seven Conference to the Black Hills Conference. That means instead of its traditional rivalries with Rochester, Northgate, Shenango, etc., Cornell will now play Avella, Carlynton, Chartiers Houston, etc.

The 2022 schedule includes a scrimmage with Shadyside this Thursday, then.....

Sept. 2-at Monessen-*
Sept. 9-Union-*
Sept. 16-at Avella.
Sept. 23-Carlynton.
Sept. 30-at Burgettstown
Oct. 7-at Bishop Canevin
Oct. 14-Fort Cherry
Oct. 21-Chartiers-Houston.
Oct. 28-at O.L. Sacred Heart.

Monessen and Union are nonconference games.

Monessen will be an interesting matchup for a season opener. Last year, Cornell knocked the Greyhounds out of the playoffs, but Monessen had a lineup of all juniors and sophomores. This year, they're all back --- everyone --- and with Cornell coming to Monesssen the Greyhounds are spoiling for revenge.

Bishop Canevin and Sacred Heart are ranked #1 and #2 in the WPIAL and Cornell has to go to both. Sacred Heart beat Cornell in the regular season finale last year 13-12 and Canevin knocked the Raiders out of the playoffs in the semifinals 24-7.

Carlynton and Chartiers Houston are dropping down from Class 2A so should be a challenge. Cornell does get them both at home.

Cornell beat Burgettstown last year but must visit the Blue Devils again this year. Burgettstown dropped down from Class 2A last year.

Fort Cherry was forced to forfeit to Cornell last season due to COVID and the loss prevented them from earning a playoff spot. They'll have revenge on their minds but at least Cornell gets them at home.

The schedule doesn't do Cornell any favors. The Raiders have to travel to Bishop Canevin, Sacred Heart and Burgettstown for the second straight time. These are the three most highly ranked teams on the Cornell schedule and it's not clear why the usual home and away alternation does not apply. But on the other hand, Fort Cherry is slated to come to Cornell for the second year in a row, even though they couldn't make it last year due to a COVID forfeit.

Due to a wave of Class 2A teams dropping down to Class A over the last two years, the WPIAL reshuffled Class A into four conferences. Each conference will send its top four teams to the playoffs for a 16 team field.

This means Cornell could finish fourth in the Black Hills conference and still make the playoffs, although if the Raiders did they would receive a bottom seed and play a #1 seed first game. So Cornell will be trying to win over Avella, Carlynton and Fort Cherry and upset two of Chartiers Houston, Burgettstown, Bishop Canevin or Sacred Heart. Wins over nonconference Monessen and Union would enhance Cornell's chances for a higher seed.

In preseason rankings, the computer picks Canevin #1, Sacred Heart #2, and Chartiers Houston #5 in the WPIAL. It ranks Canevin, OLSH, Chartiers Houston and Burgett-stown 1-4 in the Black Hills Conference, with Cornell #5. So the four teams favored over Cornell are stacked right in a row in the last five weeks of the season.

Robin Gilligan

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Gindlesperger Wins Teenage Feature
Hutchko Wins Pro Stock Feature At PPMS

Brian Hutchko of Mcdonald started on the pole and led the whole way to win the Pro Stock Feature Saturday at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway.

Hutchko (#60 in photo at right) was in second place in the season points race behind Al Poljack and has now closed to within two points in the tight competition of what used to be called Sportsmen. Pro Stock cars average 100 mph.

A bad storm moved through the raceway just as fans and racing teams were arriving, dumping a large amount of rain. But it moved on quickly, leaving the skies clear. The track and pits held standing water for a while and races were moved back from 7:00 to 8:00 while everything dried out.

Abby Gindlesperger (photo, left) won her first ever feature race in the Teenage ("Young Guns") Division, ending Zoey Knight's string of three straight victories. Gindlesperger took the lead from Emmie Laboon on the third lap and held it the rest of the way. Knight finished a disappointing fifth, so lost several points in the season points race. Laboon remains in first place. What is most interesting, however is that four of the top five finishers in the Feature were girls and in season points six of the top nine are girls. Gindlesperger's feature win was testimony to her courage and perseverance, as back at the beginning of this season, in her first ever race, she was struck side ways on the back straight and rolled completely over.

Logan Koteles outfought Kayla McManus for the win in Hobby Stocks. Tony Magill, Frank Magill and Matt Benard rounded out the top five. Frank Magill currently leads in season points, with brother Tony and Benard right behind him.

Joe Martin of Punxsutawney won the Limited Late Model Feature, with Tim Shaffer of Aliquippa, Philip Bubeck of Colliers, W.Va., Brady Wonderling of Wellsville, New York and Brandon Burgoon of Washington, Pa. rounding out the top five. Bubeck contnues to lead the season points standings.

Jacob Jordan (#28, photo, right) led the whole way to win the Modifieds Feature. These are the cars with the driver sitting in the center, Indianapolis style. They run at about 110 mph. He was followed across the line by Kole Holden, Ayden Cipriano, Cole Edwards and Lucas Canon. Jordan is currently fourth in points.

The big attraction of the night was the Boss Sprints, the cars averaging 150 mph on big tracks like the Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. Ricky Lewis from Ventura, California set a new track record for fastest lap, screaming around the half mile in 17.669 seconds. Parker Frederickson of Kokomo, Indiana won the Sprint Feature, followed by Isaac Chappie from Willow Branch, Indiana, Carmen Perigo of Stoytown, Pa., Lewis and Dustin Smith of Philadelphia.

Down in Four Cylinders, Susie Rudolph of Steubenville won the Feature, with her father Craig Rudolph second.

This Saturday night will be Boy Scout Night, with all uniformed Boy Scouts getting in free. It will also be Autograph Night, with drivers coming to the front straight to sign autographs for 20 minutes.

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Policz Edges Charlier In Limiteds
Zoey Knight Emerging As Racetrack Star

Her t shirt says "Move Over Boys...Let This GIRL Show You How."

She's not kidding.

Zoey Knight, a lively Plum Borough teenager who's a cheerleader and pitcher back at school, won her third straight feature race at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Saturday night. She's competing against older, more experienced and better financed rivals and she's now only nine points out of first place in the season points race in the Young Gun (Teenage) Division.

Knight (photo, right), driving the only Dodge Neon known to be racing in western Pennsylvania, started way back in sixth, but passed four cars in two laps and then stole the lead going into the third lap. She held it the rest of the way.

"I have to thank my Aunt for letting us use her racecar," she told reporters afterward. "My Dad and Uncle do the mechanical work." The car had been sitting for six years before Zoey reactivated it.

Gavin Kokolis of Oakdale battled Knight all the way and finished second. Emmy Laboon from Elizabeth, the current points leader, came in third.

Up in the Limited Late Model Division, Ben Policz and Daryl Charlier battled the whole way before Policz (photo left) finally grabbed the lead on lap 20 and kept it the rest of the way. The race was stopped four times.

The two were 10th and 11th in season points standings going into the race so both will move up. Last week's top points leaders were Philip Bubeck, who finished 15th, and Kassidy Kamicker, who finished 8th, so there will be a lot of shuffling in this week's standings.

The race was billed as "topless" because the racing teams could remove their roofs if they wished. The roll bars and safety supports remained in place. Policz's car at left can be seen with its roof off. won the qualifying heats.

Frank Magill of Jefferson Hills tightened his grip on the season points lead in Hobby Stocks by winning another feature. Magill started back in 5th, but swung out and slid up to move into 2nd on the very first lap. Gary Koteles would lead for 17 laps, despite constant pressure from Magill. The older Magill finally got past Koteles on the 17th and then held first place til the finish. Matt Benard finished 3rd, Logan Koteles 4th and Tony Magill 5th. Jake Gunn and Cole Petrelle won the first two heats

A father daughter combination started first and second in Four Cylinders. Susie Rudolph was on the pole and her Dad Craig was right next to her in second. Susie grabbed an early lead and was pulling away, but yellow stopped the race and undid her strategy. When racing resumed Derek Quigley wrested the lead away from Susie and kept it the rest of the way.

This Saturday night the Sprints, the fastest cars running on dirt in North America, will return, along with all the usual divisions.

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Girls Rising In Numbers, Success
Speedway Becoming Friendly Family Feud

The Pittsburgh Motor Speedway is becoming a friendly family feud every Saturday night as sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, fathers and cousins battle each other for trophies in three divisions.

Fans and announcers struggle to keep names straight as Magills, Koteleses, Tennants, Billyks, Rudolphs and Antons take turns winning heats and features and passing each other in season points standings.

Nowhere are these battles closer or more exciting than in the Hobby Stocks Division, where the Magill and Koteles clans battle it out. Frank Magill graduated high school a month ago and brother Tony's a sophomore. They entered Saturday night with Tony the points leader, just two points ahead of Frank (in #05, photo at right). But Frank captured the Feature Saturday to also grab the season points lead. And that Feature win came over resistance from the whole Koteles team.

Cody Koteles grabbed the early lead with Logan Koteles in fifth. Two early multi car crashes involving Gary and Jonathan Koteles closed the field back up and forced Cody into the pits. Frank then took the lead, and fought off Logan, Tony and Danny Rich the rest of the way. Rich, Logan, Tyler Fox, and Tony rounded out the top five. Logan, Jonathan and Gary Koteles are in a three way tie for fourth place in season points standings. Ben and Tom Anton finished sixth and ninth.

Up in the Limited Late Model Division, where cubic displacement and other factors are tightly controlled, Tim Shaffer (photo, left) won his first feature of the season. Ben Scott of Delaware led early, with Dan Lepro wresting it away. Shaffer moved into the lead on Lap 11 and held it the rest of the way. Mike Reft, Lepro, Cole Petrelle and Philip Bubeck rounded out the top five.

Travis Corbin led the Four Cylinder Feature from start to finish. Derek Quigley, Andy Garlinger and Craig Rudolph were close behind. Corbin was only in sixth place in season points, 301 points behind Rudolph, so Rudolph will retain his lead for another weak. He's 62 up on Susie Rudolph and 190 up on Quigley.

The best race of the night from a technical standpoint was the Pro Stock (Sportsmen) Feature. Brian Hutchko of Coraopolis led early, although he and Al Poljack battled side by side for several laps. Poljack (photo in #36 at right) finally passed him on Lap 9 and held the lead for the rest of the race. Hutchko, Nick Kocuba, Mike Harris and Jackson Billyk rounded out the top five. The win let Poljack hang on to a slender two point lead in season points. Hutchko is second, just two behind, with Heath Close (552) Kocuba ( and Tanya Charlier.

It's in the Teenage Division ("Young Guns") where girls have completely taken over. Six of the top nine drivers are girls. Emmerson Laboon began the night in first place but only had a 15 point lead. Zoey Knight pulled off her first feature win, followed by Laboon, Sumara Weaver 4th and Abby Gindlesperger 5th. Other women who began in Young Guns are now racing in higher divisions : Susie Rudolph and April Tennant in Four Cylinders, Karlee Kovacs in Hobby Stocks, Tanya Charlier in Pro Stocks, and Kassidy Kamacker and Kayla McManus in Limited Late Models. Kamicker is 2nd in season points in Limiteds and Charlier is 5th in Pro Stocks.


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Nick Kocuba Captures Pro Stock Feature
Michael Norris Wins Herb Scott Memorial

Michael Norris of Sarver won the 10th annual Herb Scott Memorial Race Saturday night at the Pittsburgh Motor Speedway with an average speed of 123.3 mph.

Daryl Charlier of Midway and Mike Reft of Pittsburgh came in second and third. The field of Limited Late Models was broken into three qualifying heats to select the 26 car Feature field and starting order. Kyle Lukon led early but Norris passed him on lap 12. Charlier made several attempts to pass, both high and low, pulling even several times, but Norris hung on. Lukon finished fifth.

The event honors the late Herb Scott of Wexford. Scott won 12 Pittsburgh Racing Association season titles in 15 years and is generally recognized as the greatest dirt track driver in western Pennsylvania history.

Nick Kocuba (photo, right), Al Poljack and Charlier finished 1-2-3 in the Pro Stock (Sportsmen) Feature. It's Kocuba's first win of the season. Charlier drove Brian Huchko's 60H while Huchko was on vacation.

Gary Koteles won the Hobby Stock Feature, leading Cody Koteles and Frank Magill.

Cameron Hollister edged Emmersen Laboon down in the Teenage ("Young Guns") Feature.

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Coteles Wins First Race In "Pro Stocks"
Kuriger, Norris, MaGill Win At Speedway

On a hot, dusty Saturday night, with the track blazing fast and a good crowd watching, Rochester's Dan Kuriger took the lead on Lap 13 and went on to win the Winged Sprint Feature at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. It was Kuriger's first feature win of the season.

Behind him were Carl Bowser, Sean Rayhall, Brandon Matus and George Hobaugh.

Earlier, Hobaugh and Jeremy Weaver won Winged Sprint heat races.

The Winged Sprints are the fastest cars currently running on dirt tracks in the U.S. Their 410 cc engines produce 800+ horsepower and can hit 150 mph on the front and back straights. A Winged Sprint car can be built for around $65,000, most of which is in the $45,0000 engine. They have their own circuit, which brings them to PPMS twice a month.

Michael Norris took the lead on Lap 17 and hung on to win his first Limited Late Model Feature. Ben Policz looked to have the race won after moving into first and slowly pushing it out to a half lap lead. But a yellow flag bunched the drivers back up and gave Norris the chance to sneak ahead on a low inside cut. Policz finished second with Tim Shaffer third, Phil Bubeck fourth and Tony Musolino fifth.


The Limited Late Models now look to the annual Herb Scott Memorial Race on July 2. Scott, the most successful dirt track driver in western Pennsylvania history, did most of his racing at the old Heidelberg, South Park and Clairton tracks, although he also ran at Latrobe, Jeanette and others. Scott operated out of a gas station and service bay in Wexford and won season points championships in the old Pittsburgh Racing Association.

Frank Magill led from start to finish, surviving three restarts, to win the Hobby Stocks Feature. MaGill held off challenges by his brother Tony plus Gary Koteles and Matt Benard. He was helped when Koteles was forced into the Pits on lap 11 with engine trouble. Benard, Logan Koteles, Tyler Fox and brother Tony followed MaGill at the finish.

Danny Rich of Imperial returned to action after winning the 2019 Sportsman ("Pro Stocks") season points title but racing intermittently the last two years. Rich finished sixth driving Karlee Kovac's Pink Panther #221K. He also finished third in a heat.

Benard and Koteles won the Hobby Stock heat races.



Cody Koteles won the Sportsman (Pro Stocks) Feature, his first in the division after winning consistently down in Hobby Stocks last year. He led the race throughout but had to fight off Brian Huchko, Frank Magill and Al Poljack, who took turns challenging for the lead. Poljack finished second, followed by Huchko, Heath Close and Magill.

Koteles also won the heat race.

PPMS ran a makeup Sportsman Feature, which was rained out May 21. Poljack won it, followed by Huchko, Koteles, Close and Magill.





Bill Tennant of Colliers, W.Va. won the Four Cylinder regular Feature, with Travis Corbin second, Bill's wife April third, Susie Rudolph fourth and Craig Rudolph fifth.

The track also offered a makeup Feature for Four Cylinders which was rained out May 21. Susie won that, followed by Craig.

Tyler Hollister won the Young Guns (Teenage) Feature, followed by Zoey Knight, Sumara Weaver, Gavin Kokolis and Emmerson Laboon.


There is no racing this week at PPMS. The track has been rented for the entire weekend to a group staging a three day truck show. Racing will resume the week of July 2 with a full card plus the annual Herb Scott Memorial.


Kevin Edwards

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Chad Rulman Wins In Sprint Cars
Bubeck Wins Late Model Feature At PPMS

Philip Bubeck of Colliers (W.Va) won the Limited Late Model Feature at Greater Pittsburgh Speedway Saturday.

The night was beautiful but the track was dusty before it turned blazing fast about halfway through the race card. Another good crowd was treated to several close exciting races and some spectacular accidents, two of which were complete rollovers.

It was a busy four hours. Not only did seven divisions run heats and features, but in a special intermission ceremony owner Matt Miley presented trophies to the 2021 season points winners in each division.

Bubeck led most of the way in the Limited Late Models, but had to contend with car trouble, Daryl Charlier, Tim Shaffer and Mike Reft. Charlier was the most serious challenger until engine trouble forced him into the pits on lap 18. Shaffer finished second, with Reft third, Colby Beighey fourth, Dave Gobel fifth and Cole Petrelle sixth.

The win vaulted Bubeck into first place in season points at 452, two ahead of Cole Petrelle's 450. Kassidy Kamacker is third at 427, followed by Reft (373), Tom Klein (352), Gobel (351), Shaffer (298) and Charlier (241).

Chad Ruhlman won the Sprint Car Feature over Blaze Meyers, Brian Hartzell, Nolan Groves and Brian Cressley.

He started fourth but had taken the lead by the second lap and held off Meyers and Hartzell the rest of the way. That's Hartzell's #69 at left, in the pits being tuned up before the race.

"The track was immaculate tonight," Ruhlman told reporters afterward. "You could go high, low or middle with good traction. We should really give a lot of credit to the track crew here who maintain it in such good condition."

That's also the order in the season points race. Ruhlman leads with 72, with Meyers at 70, Hartzell at 69, Groves at 68 and Cressley at 67.

Justin Shea won the Modified Sportsmen Feature, edging Chelsie Kriegisch (#10 in photo at right), and others in a tense battle. Kriegisch, Kole Holden and Ayden Cirpiano started 1-2-3 and fought each other the whole way. Shea hit the wall and lost ground but came back to challenge Holden for the lead. They were still battling but on the final lap Holden's engine died and he limped into the pits. Behind Shea were Kriegisch, Cipriano, Tony Tatgenhorst and Jacob Jordan. Tatgenhorst leads in season points, followed by Kriegisch and Shea (200 each) Jordan (195) and Lucas Canon (192). The Modified Sportsmen are the track's most interesting division, parallel to the "Pro Stocks," which are what used to be called Sportsmen. They're RUSH Racing's attempt to keep racing affordable. They're custom made affordable cars with tight limits on engines and parts. The main modification is the driver sits in the center, not the left side, making them more like Indy style cars. They run GM 602 engines, standardized suspensions, steel wheels, carburetors, steering, etc. But racing teams in the Pittsburgh area have major investments in their left seat "Pro Stock" Sportsmen cars so they can't afford to discard them and build a Modified Sportsmen, even though one brand new can be built for $20,000-25,000. As younger drivers come up from Hobby Stocks they will probably choose to build Modified Sportsman due to costs, so over time this division will probably become the standard "middle" category, a bridge between Teenage, Four Cylinder and Hobby Stocks below and Sprints, Limited and Unlimited Late Models above. But it will take several years.

Cody Koteles won the Hobby Stocks Feature after a rash of spinouts, wall scrapings, false restarts, and bumpings. Koteles took the lead on lap nine but had to fight off his own father, Gary Koteles (#65k, photo at left) and Frank Magill the rest of the way. It was Cody's second major feature win this season. "It's neat to beat my Dad," he told reporters. "There's a lot of tough competition out there. I hope to move up to Sportsmen, and I feel these races are really preparing me." The win put Cody in first place in Hobby Stocks season points with 176, followed by father Gary Koteles (171), Adam Ferree and Tony Magill (166 each), and Logan Koteles (165).

Bill Tennant led from pole to checkered flag to win the Four Cylinder Feature, followed by Derek Quigley, Travis Corbin (in 2R, photo below), April Tennant and Craig Rudolph.

Rudolph leads the season points race with 366, followed by Quigley (303), Susie Rudolph (299), Lucas Weaver (194) and John Steele (173).

Travis Clark won the Young Guns (Teenage) Feature, followed by Tyler Hollister, Emmerson Laboon, Sumara Weaver and Zoey Knight.

Clark leads in season points with 412, followed by Laboon (402), Knight (385), Gavin Kokolis (318) and Abby Gindlesperger (303).

In all, six girls are competing in this year's Teenage Division : Laboon, Knight, Gindlesperger, Kiersten Chiernik, Sadie Snatchko and Weaver. That, added to Rudolph and Tennant in Open Fours, Kriegisch in Sportsmen Modifieds, Karlee Kovacs in Hobby Stocks, Tanya Charlier in Pro Stocks, and Kayla McManus and Kamacker in Limited Late Models, gives 13 girls and young women in all competing at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway, an all time record.

2021 season points champions honored at intermission Saturday night were Daryl Charlier in Limited Late Models, Nick Kocuba in Pro Stocks, Frank Magill in Hobby Stocks, Bill Tennant in Open Fours, Logan Koteles in Young Guns (Teenagers), Chelsie Kriegisch in Sportsmen Modifieds, Chad Ruhlman in Sprints and Matt Westfall in Winged Sprints.

Action resumes this Saturday night when the Winged Sprints, the fastest cars currently racing on dirt in North America, return. Then local racing teams take a week off on June 25th while the Monster Trucks rent the track for the entire weekend and put on their own show. PPMS will return to action July 2, Fourth of July Weekend, with the Herb Scott Memorial Race.

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Policz Wins In Limited Late Model
Schneider Scores Third Laboon Feature Win

Chris Schneider (#55, right) fought off Jordan Perkins and Christian Schneider for 30 laps to win the 10th annual Ed Laboon Memorial Race for Sportsmen ("Pro Stocks") Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway.

It was Schneider's third win in the Laboon series, which has become the most prestigious event of the season for Sportsmen and because of its high purse attracts the best racing teams in that division from five states.

Saturday was a beautiful night of racing, with clear skies, mild temperatures and no humidity. The Laboon classic is actually a package of several races, including time trials, four heats, a dash for the fastest cars, two consolation races and the feature. The largest crowd of the season also saw heats and a feature for the Limited Late Models and features for the Hobby Stocks, Four Cylinders and Young Guns (the teenage division).

Because many of the Sportsmen teams do not regularly compete here drivers were assembled for a meeting (photo, below) in the Pits to go over local rules and the evening schedule. But there were no issues. There were not even any wrecks or collisions except for a few wall scrapings and spinouts. That allowed the sizeable crowd to focus on the action, of which there was plenty.

Brian Huchko, Christian Schneider, Jordan Perkins and Chris Schneider won the four Laboon heats. Two Schneiders (who are not related) on the track confused the crowd and made announcing the races difficult. Christian won the time trials with a 21 second lap with Chris only 0.259 behind. Chris came back to win the eight lap dash among the drivers with the top eight times, thus winning the pole position in the feature. Perkins and Christian Schneider were placed second and third and spent the race fighting to see which could catch Chris or claim second. On many laps their battles with each other were more exciting than either of their efforts to overtake Chris only a car length ahead. Every lap or so, one or the other would inch partially alongside Chris, but on the next straight he would pull back away. In the end, Chris led the race from beginning to end, the first time that has ever happened. The finishers 4-8 were from out of the area, but Huchko was ninth, A.J. Poljack was 12th, and Nick Kocuba was 14th. Huchko now leads in season points with 359, followed by Poljack with 356, Heath Close with 346, Nick Kocuba with 336, and Steve D'Apolito with 294.

While Frank finished seventh in his heat, third in the semi and 22nd in the feature up in Sportsmen, down in Hobby Stocks, the Magill family was also enjoying an active evening. Younger brother Tony, age 16 (photo, right), led the division in season points coming in, while Frank, age 18, was fifth, a comparison certain to be the subject of dinner conversation at the Magill home in Jefferson Hills. "Our crew adjusted the car to fit my driving style," Tony told reporters. "Now the steering and suspension suit me a lot better." He was watching the track carefully. "It's been a great week for weather," he noted, "and the Pro Stocks and Limiteds will smooth it down pretty well before we get out there. So it should be fast. What I don't know is whether the best line will be high or low." Asked whether, at 16, he would stay in Hobby Stocks a few more seasons, or, like brother Frank, try to move up to Sportsmen, Tony just shook his head. "I'm watching to see how Frank does. There are some really good drivers, cars and crews up there." In the Hobby Stock feature, it wasn't Tony's night, as he finished sixth. Logan Koteles won it, with Matt Benard 2nd, Frank 3rd, Justin Clark 4th and Jonathan Koteles 5th.

Tony Magill still leads season points with 396, followed by Jonathan Koteles with 391, Benard with 389, Frank Magill with 382, and Logan Koteles with 378.

Up in the Limited Late Models, Cole Petrelle (#84, left) turned in another strong showing. He won his heat and battled Tim Shaffer, Philip Bubeck, Ben Policz and Daryl Charlier throughout the Feature before finishing third. It was a great race. Policz started fifth, Charlier seventh and Petrelle eighth. Policz grabbed third by lap three, moved up to second by lap six and first on lap 12. Charlier and Petrelle moved up right behind him. But Shaffer and Bubeck had started first and second and did nor give up those spots willingly. There was a long series of passings and repassings as the five fought it out at over 100 mph. Policz is a two time season points champion, but this is his first feature win of 2022. His daughter was born last Saturday so he hasn't been racing. "I tried the low line and it worked so I stayed down there," Policz told reporters after the race.

Petrelle now leads the season points race with 375, followed by Bubeck at 371, Kassidy Kamicker at 354, Mike Reft at 295 and Tom Klein at 283.

The evening marked the return of longtime fan favorite Karlee Kovacs in her famous Pink Panther. Kovacs had blown her engine at the end of last season and, with college and job responsibilities was just now getting a new one installed. "As a matter of fact we just finished the job this afternoon," she told reporters. "We haven't even had a test run yet." She'll graduate in December with an engineering degree and hopes to land a mechanic job on a NASCAR pit crew. "I'll move to North Carolina or wherever," she said. Saturday night, however, her new engine wasn't enough. She started seventh and finished fourth in the Hobby Stocks Feature. After eight years at PPMS, Kovacs announced that she would not run a full season this year. "I have school, a few weddings and other commitments," she said. "But we'll be here when we can."

Eric Reynolds of Sewickley, drove Herbie The Love Bug (photo, left) to a feature win in the Four Cylinders. It was not only Reynolds' first feature win, but the first time a VW has won a dirt track feature race anywhere in Pennsylvania. He won it mainly because Herbie was the last car standing. Everyone else either spun out, hit a wall, collided with each other, or suffered engine problems. Craig Rudolph now leads Four Cylinder season points race with 304, followed by Susie Rudolph with 299, Derek Quigley with 238, Lucas Weaver with 194 and Reynolds with 119.

Travis Clark won the Young Guns (teenage) Division, with Gavin Kokolis second and Emmerson Laboon third. Clark now leads Young Guns season points with 343, followed by Laboon with 336, Zoey Knight with 321, and Kiersten Chernik and Kokolis with 261 each.

Pittsburgh Motor Speedway will host a full card of races Saturday night, with Young Guns, Four Cylinders, Sprints, Hobby Stocks, Sportsmen and Limited Late Models all in action. Plus, this week Track Owner Matt Miley will recognize drivers who won season points totals in 2021.


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Hobaugh Leads Winged Sprints
Cole Petrelle Wins First PPMS Feature

Cole Petrelle of Follansbee (W. Va.) won his first Limited Late Model Feature at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Saturday night.

It was a beautiful Spring evening and the largest crowd of the season came to watch a full card of races in six divisions.

Many of the fans had come to watch the Winged Sprints (photo, right), the fastest cars currently racing on dirt in the U.S. Back in the 20th Century, these were called Midgets, and many of them today are merely old Midget cars with wings and modern safety features added. A Winged Sprint car can be built for around $65,000. The $45,0000 engine produces 800+ horsepower and can hit 150 mph on straightaways, although racetrack curves require them to slow down to about 125 mph. Drivers from as far away as New York, Maryland and Delaware competed in the Winged Sprints Saturday night. The Winged Sprints compete on a circuit and return to Pittsburgh Motor Speedway about once a month. They have their own fan base, which follows them around from track to track. The cars are so lightweight they don't even have starters. Each time they stop they have to be pushed by a truck to start them. The wings create a downward pressure that keeps the cars from lifting off at such high speeds.

George Hobaugh of Chicora won the Winged Sprint Feature race, outrunning Sye Lynch of Apollo, Carl Bowser of Freeport and Brandon Matus of Wampum. Earlier in the evening, Lynch won a preliminary 15 lapper with Hobaugh second. Hobaugh, Lynch, Bowser and Matus now stand 1-2-3-4 in season points.

Up in the Limited Late Models, Petrelle fought off Tim Shaffer and Dave Goble of Aliquipa, Philip Bubeck of Colliers W. Va. and Bryan Hoffman of Imperial. There were numerous spinouts, collisions, cautions and restarts, which kept tightening the race back up as Petrelle kept trying to pull away. The track was particularly fast after a week of rain then a day of sun and breeze. Mike Reft now leads the season points race with 295, followed by Petrelle with 292, Bubeck with 291 and Kassidy Kamacker with 279.

Another first time winner was Jordan Perkins of Newcastle, who won the Sportsman ("Pro Stocks") Feature over Brian Hutchko of McDonald. Cody Koteles of Stockdale, Al Poljak of Baldwin, and Steve D'APolito of Youngstown rounded out the top five. Hutchko now leads the season points race with 282, followed by Poljak with 279, Heath Close with 269, Nick Kocuba with 260 and D'Apolito with 217. The feature win moved Perkins up from 11th to 8th. He now has 142 points. Sportsmen are the focus next Saturday in the 30 lap Ed Laboon Memorial Race. It carries a $5,000 purse. Last year 46 cars from five states entered the Laboon Memorial heats, with the top 25 advancing to the feature.

The Hobby Stocks, for the second straight year the most competitive of PMS' six divisions, held two features, since their May 21 feature had been rained out. Stephen Shelpman of Pleasant Hills won the first one, with Logan Koteles of Stockdale second, Matt Benard of Oakdale third, Tony Magill of Jefferson Hills fourth and Marc Corio of South Fayette fifth.

Frank Magill won the second Hobby Stocks Feature, with Jonathan Koteles second, Benard third, Tony Magill fourth and Justin Clark fifth. Shelpman and Logan Koteles could not get their cars working in time so did not start the second feature.

Season points leaders are now T. Magill at 321, J. Koteles at 315, Benard at 310, G. Koteles at 307, F. Magill at 304 and Shelpman at 297.

Down in the Four Cylinders, Matt Knight of Plum won the Feature with Lucas Weaver of California (Pa.) second and Craig and Susie Rudolph of Steubenville third and fourth.

Travis Clark of Pittsburgh won the Teenage Division, with Gavin Kokolzs of Oakdale second, Zoey Knight of Plum third and Abby Gindlesperger of Pittsburgh fourth.

This Thursday, June 2, Pittsburgh Motor Speedway will host a special Thursday Night Thunder, an evening of racing featuring Sprint Cars. PPMS is part of a five night Thunder Over Western Pennsylvania, in which the Rush Sprint Car Circuit is staging five race nights at five different tracks.

Fans who would prefer to watch the races from their vehicles can buy a parking spot along the First Turn Terrace. Many fans arrive at 5, unload their grill, and tailgate before the first race.

Weather and Rising Costs Thin Crowd, Field
Lukon, Hutchko, Koteles Win At Speedway

Saturday saw several problems plaguing Pittsburgh Motor Speedway, but none of them stopped an exciting evening of races.

Black skies and forecasts of storms discouraged all but the hard core fans from coming out. Early forecasts called for storms to hit at 6, and were gradually revised to 7, 8, 9 and 10. Evil looking clouds kept passing over, lightning appeared in the distance, and raindrops fell briefly three times, but no storm or sustained rain ever developed. The weather also caused several racing teams to stay home.

Even worse, skyrocketing fuel costs and a shortage of high tech racing tires due to supply chain issues are causing racing teams to limit their racing nights. So the field of cars was smaller than usual.

However, the races themselves were filled with drama as drivers tried out new cars, fought for early season points, and resumed old rivalries.

The most spectacular was the Late Model Feature, which saw Kyle Lukon (photo above, being interviewed just after the race) grab an early lead and hold it through cautions and restarts. A spectacular crash right in front of the audience on the front stretch saw Zach Gunn's car flip and roll several times, landing on its roof. Gunn climbed out of the car and walked away but it took two tow trucks to haul the battered #17G back to the pits. Lukon battled Mike Reft, Cole Petrelle and Philip Bubeck all the way and they finished in that order. Lukon finished second to Daryl Charlier in the season opener so now leads the early points race. Reft and Bubeck finished third and fourth in that opener and now trail Lukon by a few points. "Cole Petrelle loaned me tires to run tonight," Lukon explained afterward. "And my Dad, who's 66, worked on the car all day.

"Without those guys I wouldn't be here. We help each other, then go out and run against each other. And not many guys 66 are still working on cars. It's amazing."

Brian Huchko (photo, 60H above) led every lap to win the Sportsmen ("Pro Stock") Feature. Steve D'Apollo was second and A. J. Poljack third. Nick Kocuba started in second and battled Huchko for a while but went out with water pump problems on lap 10. "At Lehrnerville last night, the car was handling kind of funny, but this is my home track so I wanted to test things out here. It was kind of quirky early, but it settled down after a few laps and did fine," Huchko told reporters afterward.

The focus of the evening was on the Hobby Stock Feature, which as usual drew the largest field. Cody Koteles (photo, right) started 11th but kept working his way up until by lap six he was second. He took the lead on lap eight and kept it the rest of the way. His father Gary finished second, with Tony Magill third.

April Tennant debuted a new car and won the Four Cylinder Feature. Husband Bill placed second, with Derek Quigley third.

Travis Clark won the Teenage ("Young Guns") Feature, with Emmerson Laboon second and Kiersten Chernik third.

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Charlier Wins In Late Models; Girls Are Rising Force; Teams Tinker With New Cars, Engines
Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Opens For 2022
Daryl Charlier opened 2022 just as he closed 2021, by winning the Limited Late Model Feature at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Saturday night. Charlier, the 2021 Limited Late Model season points champion at PMS, unveiled a sleek new white #3RK car (photo, right), replacing the black #114 he had last year. Unfortunately for PMS fans, Charlier announced this would be one of his rare appearances locally this year. He's moving up to the more powerful and prestigious Unlimited Late Model class, which some tracks refer to as "Super Lates." An Unlimited car costs about $100,000 and runs about 125 mph. Charlier will be racing mostly at Port Royal (near Harrisburg), Raceway 7 (at Conneaut, Ohio), Erie, and Eldora (Dayton, Ohio), tracks which offer the higher purses the more expensive cars require. He'll return to PMS for the four major Limited races. The race was Deja Vou for fans, as Charlier finished just ahead of Kyle Lukon, Mike Reft, Philip Bubeck and Philip Gunn.

Saturday night was a typical dirt track opening night. Unlike pavement, dirt is "alive," in the sense that the track changes with temperature, rain, time of day, and use. A track will not only change from day to day, but will change over the course of an evening. After five months of Winter, the PMS track would be totally different from 2021. Plus, many racing teams build or buy new cars, engines, transmissions, suspension or steering over the Winter. So they arrived around 5 pm and spent two hours testing their cars out on the track, then tinkering with every detail. The track Saturday night was as dusty as anyone could remember. Efforts to thoroughly wet it down delayed the first race and still did not solve the problem. A cloud of dust hung over the track all evening.

PMS is celebrating its 44th season with a unique achievement : It is the only auto racing track in the U.S. with girls or women in every division and one division more than half girls. Several years ago they showed up in the lower divisions. Year by year, they've worked their way up until now Kassidy Kamicker and Kayla McManus are in the top 10 of the Limited Late Model Division. Chelsie Kriegisch of Ellwood City placed sixth in the Rush Sportsmen, while Tanya Charlier was ninth in the PMS Sportsmen. Sadie Snatchko and Kiersten Chernick, both of Oakdale, finished third and fourth in Young Guns (the teenage division), with Zoey Knight of Plum sixth. Susie Rudolph of Steubenville was second in Four Cylinders. Karlee Kovacs of Carnegie did not have her Pink Panther (221K) ready for Saturday but will be in action this week in Hobby Stocks. "It's amazing," she said. "When I started I was in high school and I was the first girl ever. Ever. No one thought I could do it. Now there's this whole crowd of us and every one is doing well."

Justin Shea, Tony Tatgenhorst and Benjamin Easter placed 1-2-3 in the Rush Sportsmen Modifieds. These are the cars, one of which is shown at right, that Rush Racing Series executives would like to see replace the Penn Ohio "Pro Stock" Sportsmen currently supported at PMS. Notice the center seat, rather than the usual left side. These are almost like mini versions of Indianapolis style racecars. The idea is that by standardizing parts (engine, tires, transmission, suspension, etc.), the ever increasing cost of racing can be controlled. These are powerful racing cars. But the problem is locals have already invested in their traditional "Pro Stock" Sportsmen, with the driver seated on the left side, and can't afford to just walk away from that investment and buy or build a second car. So PMS owner Matt Miley continues to host both the Penn Ohio "Pro Stock" Sportsmen, and these center seat cars, which Rush calls Sportsmen Modifieds.

The actual "Pro Stock" Feature was won by Chris Schneider in a new car he unveiled for the first time. "This was its trial run," he said in an interview after the race. Trial run indeed. The car was so powerful he ran off and left the field, finishing half a lap ahead of Al Poljack. Steve D'Apolito of Youngstown was second. Jeff Broniszewski of Coraopolis was sixth.

Matt Bennard of Oakdale celebrated his graduation from high school by winning the Hobby Stock Feature. Although he was a consistent high finisher, this is Bennard's first ever feature win at PMS. He outlasted Gary and Cody Koteles and Tony Magill in a wild race that saw 13 yellows due to spinouts, tangles, and drivers hitting the wall in corners #1 and #4.

Another first time winner was Lucas Weaver in the Four Cylinders. He barely edged Susie and Craig Rudolph.

Emmerson Laboon won the Young Guns (teenage) Feature. Travis Clark of Pittsburgh was second, but three Oakdale drivers followed in third, fourth and fifth place : Sadie Snatchko, Kiersten Chernick and Gavin Kokolis.

The Pittsburgh Motor Speedway will run again this Saturday, with all the usual divisions plus the Wingless Sprints. Gates open at 5 pm, test laps begin at 6 and the first race begins at 7. The racetrack is 13 miles from Coraopolis, out Steubenville Pike a few miles past Robinson Town Center. Take the Noblestown Road exit off Steubenville Pike, then turn left. There's a full concession stand and Ed's Pub for adult beverages. Many fans rent parking space along a bank overlooking turns #1 and 2, bring their grills for tailgating, and enjoy the races from their vehicles.

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3:00 Stretch Before And After Halftime Fatal For Raiders
Bishop Canevin Ends Cornell Season, 24-7

Bishop Canevin broke Cornell's heart Friday night at Montour Stadium, defeating the Raiders 24-7, ending their dream season, and preventing them from reaching the WPIAL championship game at Heinz Field.

Bishop Canevin and Cornell both came into the game with highly rated defenses. BC's was ranked first in Class A and second in the WPIAL, giving up only an average of 6.1 points per game for the whole season. Cornell had won most of its games with its defense, holding opponents to one or two TDs, giving up an average of 12.5 points per game. So most experts and the Litkenhouse computer algorithm predicted a defensive battle.

And that's how it started. The teams kept punting the ball back and forth through the first quarter, neither able to earn a first down. The flowchart read "+1, N (incomplete pass), sack, punt, -4, -1, +5, punt, -1, N, +6, punt and so on. Finally, Raequel Troutman broke loose for a 39 yard run to the BC 36, and Cornell came alive. E.J. Dawson ran for five, Troutman for three, Dawson for three, and Sincere Kimbrough passed to Dawson on the nine. A few plays later, Kimbrough found Micah Dickerson in the end zone, MJ Smith kicked the PAT, and the Raiders led 7-0 with 1:45 left.

Cornell seemed to be gaining momentum when it recovered a BC fumble on the BC 39 at 0:38. But as the quarter ended, BC intercepted a Cornell pass on the BC 33. At that point, BC Coach Rich Johnson replaced quarterback Jason Cross with freshman Cole Olszewski.

With Olszewski at the controls, BC ground out three first downs to the Cornell 17. Lesae Lacks then caught an Olshewsky pass on the 10 and ran it in. The PAT tied it 7-7 at 4:43.

Cornell took over on its own 45 and looked like the Raiders were going to crank out another score before halftime. Troutman ran for seven, Kimbrough ran for 17 to the BC 31, Troutman ran for 14 yards to the 17, and Kimbrough hit Dawson with a pass for a first down on the three.

And that was where Cornell lost the game. For the next three minutes, on both sides of halftime, the Raiders collapsed. First, they failed to score on three plays from the three. On fourth down, they tried a field goal, which was blocked by Cross as the half ended. To open the second half, Cornell received. But the Raiders went three and out and punted. Olszewski immediately passed to Lacks for the TD and with the PAT the Crusaders led 14-7. BC kicked off and Cornell fumbled. BC recovered on the Cornell 44, and launched an eight play drive. Jaiden Torres ran in from the two and the PAT made it 21-7.

That effectively ended the game. All season, Cornell has played well by grabbing an early lead. The Raiders are good at grinding out yardage slowly and keeping the ball away from opposing offenses. The Raiders are not designed to come from two scores behind with a passing attack. Now down 21-7, they were forced to take to the air and BC was able to get into the backfield to bother Kimbrough, and cover his receivers downfield.

Bishop Canevin concluded scoring with a Gene DeFrank field goal with 2:33 left.

Kimbrough finished 5-of-13 passing for 62 yards with an interception. Troutman rushed for 83 yards on 10 carries.

Olzewski completed 9 of 13 passes for 150 yards. Lacks had three receptions for 83 yards.

Nevertheless, it was a great season for Cornell. The Raiders were picked to finish fifth in the Big Seven Conference and instead won it. They made their way into the top five rankings by October and earned a #2 seed in the WPIAL playoffs. Running backs Tim Henderson, Troutman and Dawson had spectacular seasons. Quarterback Kimbrough developed into one of Class A's best. Freshman Walter Clarit seems ahead of schedule and should be a strong player next year.

Dawson, the coach's son, greatly expanded his repertoire. Last season he was the quarterback. This year, he proved to be much better as the kind of running back once called a fullback. He has also become one of the Big Seven's outstanding blocking backs, and a formidable linebacker on defense. As captain of the defense, he has become a strong leader.

Coach Ed Dawson has already been nominated for Coach Of The Year honors for the second time in three years. What Dawson has accomplished is unreal. Taking over a school which had gone four years with no football program at all, he has coached the Raiders to the WPIAL semifinals two of the last three years. Cornell is one of the three smallest public high schools in Pennsylvania still fielding an 11 man football team (most schools in Pennsylvania the same size as Cornell now compete in a six man league). And Dawson has to contend with other schools recruiting his players. This season, former Cornell players were playing for three nearby schools, all of those also in the playoffs.

Although Neville Island and Coraopolis High Schools won championships, since their merger into Cornell the Raiders have never reached the championship game. This group of players had hoped to become the first Cornell team to play at Heinz Field.

Cornell was not at full strength against Bishop Canevin. Henderson, Troutman and Dawson have all been nursing injuries for several weeks.

Bishop Canevin returns to the championship game for the first time since 1990. The Crusaders struggled through lean seasons the past several years before assembling this group of players.

In the other semifinal, Sacred Heart beat Rochester after losing to the Rams back during the regular season.

So two Catholic schools will meet for the championship, a fact certain to fuel arguments about separating "nonboundary schools," (private, religious and charter schools) from "boundary schools" (public school teams limited to players living within set districts).

Playing their last game for Cornell were Henderson, Wilson, Kimbrough, Smith, Jerome Brown, Dickerson, Craig Pulford, Carmine Dellasandro, Jason Keene and Shaun Godrey.


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Bishop Canevin Next In WPIAL Semifinals
Dawson's "D" Stops Leechburg 46-18

"I love Defense," Cornell Coach Ed Dawson told reporters at midfield after the game. "We've built this program on Defense. And the kids have bought into it. They really take pride in their Defense. When we prepare for an opponent, we spend most of our time working on how we can stop their offense."

That emphasis played huge dividends Friday night in the WPIAL quarterfinals when Cornell faced the most explosive offense in the WPIAL in Leechburg. On a crisp November night in North Allegheny's beautiful and spacious stadium, the Raiders shut down the Blue Devils 46-18. Leechburg threatened on several occasions, but each time Cornell held, either with a goal line stand, a fumble recovery or an interception.

Leechburg, enjoying its greatest season in school history, had gone ten games without a fumble or an interception. They fumbled three times and had two interceptions against Cornell. "Those were no accidents," Leechburg Coach Randy Walters said afterward. "Cornell players really hit, and their defensive backs are so fast and quick. They jarred those fumbles loose and came out of nowhere to make those catches."

Leechburg quarterback Tom Burke completed the season having passed for 2213 yards, third best in history for a quarterback from any Allegheny Valley school of any size. And despite Cornell's swarming defense, he still completed 17 for 269 in this game. But it wasn't nearly enough.

Cornell grabbed control immediately. Leechburg kicked off, and on the first play from scrimmage Raequel Troutman (#28, right) sprinted from the Cornell 35 to the Leechburg 18. On the next play he ran to the four, and Tim Henderson then scored the TD. The PAT kick was wide, but Cornell led 6-0.

Leechburg came right back. They started on their own 30 and ran to the 50 and the Cornell 35, then passed for a first down on the seven. But Cornell held, and the Blue Devils were forced to settle for a Jake Shuffert field goal. So with 6:24 in the first it was 6-3.

The next time Leechburg got the ball, it drove to a first down on the Cornell two. Braylan Lovelace was just crossing the goal line for a TD when he fumbled and Sincere Kimbrough (#5, left) recovered for a touchback and a first down on the 20 with 1:20. Troutman ran it out to the 31, to the 35, to the 50, and as the second quarter began, to the Leechburg 44. Henderson ran it to the 28, and Troutman ran in the TD. The PAT kick was wide but Cornell led 12-3.

Leechburg went 3-and-out, punted, and Cornell started on its own 25. Henderson gained six but went out with a twisted ankle. Troutman ran to the Leechburg 43 and also went out with an injury. E. J. Dawson and Walter Clarit took over running duties until Henderson returned to score on a 39 yard run with 2:28 til haltime. The PAT run failed, but the Raiders led 18-3.

Leechburg drove to the Cornell 35 but a quarterback sack by Dawson with 0:22 ended that threat.

Leechburg received to begin the third quarter, but went 3-and-out and punted. Henderson ran the punt back to the Leechburg 16. Troutman ran to the nine and Dawson scored the TD at 8:03. This time M.J. Smith kicked the PAT and Cornell led 25-3.

Leechburg finally scored on the next possession.

The Blue Devils began on their own 32, ran to the 41, passed to the Cornell 48, to the 40, and from Burke to Logan Kline in the end zone. The PAT kick made it 25-10 at 6:02.

But not for long. Henderson ran the kickoff back 80 yards for 31-10 at 5:48.

Now down 21 late in the third, Leechburg had no choice but to take to the air. Taking over on his own 26, Burke passed to the 38, to the 49, to the Cornell 46, to the 36, to the 23, and to the 10 before a fumble was recovered by Cornell at 2:15.

Troutman ran it out to the 20 and then the 37 before the Raiders stalled and punted. Now in the fourth quarter, on their own 20, the Wildcats again took to the air. But Cornell's Jerome Brown intercepted one and ran it in. With Smith's PAT kick, the score was then 38-10 at 11:00.

Leechburg took over on its 36 and Burke passed to the 46, to the Cornell 24, and to Lovelace in the end zone. The Blue Devils ran the PAT for 38-18 at 9:49.

Cornell earned two first downs, then Troutman scored the final TD on a 56 yard run at 7:15. Clarit ran in the PAT for the 46-18 score.

Lovelace completed a spectacular season with 1506 yards gained rushing, but Cornell held him to only 27, his all time lowest.

Troutman carried for 255 yards, making him the leading rusher in the WPIAL for this quarterfinal weekend.

"We have a lot to be proud of," Coach Dawson told reporters at midfield after the game, "But I'm most proud of our resilience. These guys had a hard year last year during COVID. They learned how to suffer adversity and fight back. All this year, teams have come at us, and we've struck back. Tonight, this was a really tough opponent. We knew they were capable of scoring at any time. No lead was safe.

"But each time Leechburg scored, our guys came right back at them with a score to keep that winning margin."

Despite the win, Dawson wasn't totally happy. "We made mistakes," he said. "We have work to do. I'm thankful we have another week to play, one more week to work on those mistakes. That's all we can do, keep working. That's what football is, just a continuous process of trying to get better."

The win sends Cornell on to the semifinals against Bishop Canevin. The Crusaders have ranked second or third in the WPIAL all year. They've defeated Frazier 21-0, Carlynton 50-0, Northgate 27-8, Springdale 13-10, Greensburg Central Catholic 20-14, Jeannette 35-0, Imani 43-0, Riverview 69-0, Burgettstown 49-6 and Shenango 42-14. They've held five opponents scoreless, three to one score, and two to two scores. Their only loss was to #1 Clairton 28-18.

Canevin has a quarterback in Jason Cross who can both pass and run, two reliable receivers, and three solid runners. The Crusaders have a strong line that can give the QB time to find receivers, or open holes for runners. Xavier Nelson is their Big Play runner, who against Shenango ran the opening kickoff back 80 yards to score. Lesae Lacks is their leading receiver and a dangerous defensive back, who intercepted a Shenango pass and ran it back 80 yards to score. Lacks covers the opponent's top wide receiver, but against Cornell, with multiple receivers, it's not clear who that is.

It's hard to predict whether the game will be a tight defensive struggle or a high scoring shootout. Both teams have stifled opponents all year and take great pride in their defense, but both teams can run up 30 or 40 points. Canevin has run up a few scores (50, 69, 49) higher than any Cornell scores, but Canevin has played a weaker schedule. Cornell's Big Seven Conference has three of the four WPIAL semifinalists, and Cornell beat Rochester and should have beaten OLSH.

The Big Seven has historically dominated Class A, winning 12 titles in 15 years. Clairton has recently interrupted this dominance, but it may be shifting back.

One advantage Cornell may have is in The Big Play. Both Henderson and Troutman are capable of exploding for a punt or kickoff runback or a long run from scrimmage at any time. E.J. Dawson (#3 above) is a powerful runner, a classic fullback, but also a valuable blocking back, as seen in this photo clearing the way for Henderson (#8 above).

The late season emergence of Clarit as a runner helps Cornell spread defenses thin and allows Coach Dawson to give his other runners a few plays off.

Another advantage Cornell may have is in the defensive tandem of E.J. Dawson and Micah Dickerson. Both are big, strong, fast, quick, experienced, smart tacklers. To run it up the middle Canevin will have to clear both of them out of the way.

The game may come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes.

The game is at Montour Stadium at 7 pm.

The winner advances to the WPIAL Championship game at Heinz Field Thanksgiving Friday afternoon.

This is the second time in three years Dawson has coached one of Pennsylvania's smallest public schools to the WPIAL semifinals, and he's done it with entirely different lineups. Two years ago, Cornell was the smallest Pennsylvania public school fielding an 11 man football team. This year, Avella and Mapletown have dropped below Cornell in enrollment, making the Raiders one of the three smallest.

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Leechburg Next Opponent In WPIAL Quarterfinals
Cornell Wears Down Monessen 33-0

On a bitter cold night at West Allegheny Stadium, Cornell broke a tight game open in the second quarter with three touchdowns and cruised to a 33-0 win over the Monessen Greyhounds.

It was not as easy as the final score suggests. Monessen is in a rebuilding year and started a very young and undersized lineup. But they tackled and blocked ferociously. Hit after hit could be heard way up in the crowded stadium. (These photos are taken looking the other way, at the mostly empty bleachers. None of the photos show the large stadium and press box behind the photographer.) And Monessen had practically no bench, so Cornell, running players in and out, wore the Greyhounds down.

"These guys'll be back," Cornell Coach Ed Dawson agreed. "By this time next year, as these guys get a little bigger and stronger and are joined by a few reserves, they're gonna be hard to handle."

In the first quarter, when Monessen's players were fresh, the game was scoreless. Cornell kept the ball in Monessen's end of the field, but could not score.

Monessen won the coin toss and elected to kick. Cornell ran it back to the Monessen 46 but were stopped three straight downs and had to punt. The Greyhounds took over on their own five, went three and out, and punted back. Cornell ran it back to the 21, ran a screen pass to Tim Henderson on the two, and on the next play fumbled it into the end zone. Monessen fell on it for a touchback so got a first down out at the 20. They couldn't move and punted. Cornell took over on the 43 but still couldn't advance and punted. Monessen took over on the 13, stalled, and punted. Cornell had a first down on the 29. Henderson ran for a TD but a holding penalty brought it back. So the first quarter ended in a stalemate.

Finally, to open the second, E.J. Dawson passed 30 yards to Sincere Kimbrough in the end zone and after M.J. Smith kicked the PAT Cornell led 7-0.

Again the teams traded punts back and forth until Shamar Wilson caught a pass in the end zone to put Cornell up 13-0 at 4:10 til halftime. The PAT kick was blocked.

Monessen took the kickoff but on the first play from scrimmage Wilson intercepted a Greyhound pass and ran it back to the Monessen 17. From there the Raiders ground out two first downs. Then Henderson ran in the TD with 1:19. The PAT kick was wide, so Cornell led 19-0.

Monessen received to begin the third quarter and looked like they'd made several adjustments to their offense at halftime. They started with a first down on their own 20 and ground out three first downs to midfield. But then Micah Dickerson recovered a Greyhound fumble on the Monessen 48. Henderson took a four yard pass and ran 20 yards to the 24. Raquel Troutman ran it to the nine, and a horsecollar penalty put it on the four. Dawson ran it up the middle for the TD and Smith's PAT made it 26-0 with 3:31 left in the third.

The final score came in the fourth quarter by Raequan Troutman. MJ Smith kicked the PAT.

Across the WPIAL playoffs, Rochester beat Mapletown 35-0, Bishop Canevin beat Burgettstown 49-6, Shenango upset Carmichaels 31-13, Springdale upset West Greene 28-0, Leechburg beat California 28-7 and Sacred Heart upset Greensburg Central Catholic 28-8. So next week, in the quarterfinals, Cornell will meet Leechburg, Bishop Canevin meets Shenango, Rochester meets Springdale and Sacred Heart meets Clairton.

For the complete Class A Playoff ladder, scroll down to the post below.

Leechburg will present Cornell with one of its stiffest challenges this season. This is the greatest team in Leechburg history. Although they lost to Clairton and Bishop Canevin, the Blue Devils have crushed AA Summit 43-8, Jefferson Morgan 68-16, Riverview 71-8, Imani 66-6, Brentwood 50-20, Springdale 41-22 and Jeannette 53-7, then won a close one over Greensburg Central Catholic 31-27.

Quarterback Thomas Burke is a good short and medium distance passer and has several reliable receivers. Running back Braylan Lovelace is both fast and strong and can either outrun tacklers or run over them. Leechburg has one of the best lines in Class A. It both protects Burke while he scans for receivers or opens holes for Lovelace up the middle.

Leechburg's secret weapon is Jake Shuffert, a field goal kicker who is guaranteed up to 36 yards out. In Leechburg's win over California he kicked two. He makes the Blue Devils particularly dangerous because if they get to the opponent's red zone, they're going to score one way or another. The line protects Shuffert, who has never had a field goal blocked.

This is a senior loaded Leechburg team with just a few juniors mixed in. They've got speed, quickness and size, but what makes them difficult to beat is that they don't make mistakes. They lead Class A in (l) fewest fumbles, (2) fewest interceptions, (3) fewest yards penalized, (4) fewest incomplete passes, and (4) fewest dropped passes once contact with the ball has been made.

Leechburg also controls the ball. The main reason opponents scored so few points is that they couldn't get their hands on the ball. Leechburg averages twice as many minutes per game in possession as opponents and runs twice as many plays per game.

Cornell will be favored but not by much. It entered the playoffs as the #2 seed compared to Leechburg at #7. Cornell has more scoring threats in Tim Henderson, Shamar Wilson, Raequan Troutman, E.J. Dawson and Sincere Kimbrough. But it also makes more errors, including fumbles, dropped passes, penalties, missed assignments and interceptions.

Both teams are used to grabbing early leads and do not do well once behind. Cornell has lost two of its four close games. Leechburg fell behind against Clairton and Bishop Canevin and wilted.

As the host school which cannot use its own field because it does not meet WPIAL standards, Cornell will play the game at North Allegheny.

Robin Gilligan

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Open Against Monessen Friday Night
Cornell Receives "Ideal" WPIAL Draw

Cornell received the best draw possible in the WPIAL football playoffs which begin Friday night against Monessen at West Allegheny. The Greyhounds are 4-6 out of the Tri County Conference. Monessen is a proud football town along the Monongahela River and has produced good teams off and on for 100 years. But this isn't one of them.

If Cornell wins, it will play the Leechburg - California winner. Both have two losses, same as Cornell. This is Leechburg's best team in 40 years. But neither team has the speed or athleticism Cornell enjoys. Both are solid, well coached, veteran teams but both are beatable.

If Cornell makes it that far, it will presumably play Bishop Canevin in the semifinals, with the winner advancing to Heinz Field. Canevin must get past Burgettstown, Carmichaels and Shenango, but will be favored to do so. The Crusaders have one of their greatest teams in school history. They have a strong line, defense and kicking game. But Cornell has better skill position players and is a better big play team. If Tim Henderson or Raequan Troutman can run back a kickoff or punt or Sincere Kimbrough can connect on several deep passes, the Raiders could pull off the upset.

Cornell drew opposite Clairton, Rochester, West Greene, OLSH and Greensburg Central Catholic. The only way it can meet one of them is if it makes it to Heinz Field.

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Sloppy Game But Both Qualify For Playoffs
OLSH Goal Line Stand Stops Cornell 13-12

It was a game fitting for a Halloween weekend. On a cold, rainy and misty night at Moon's Rip Scherer Field, the gremlins and ghosts came out to haunt both Cornell and Sacred Heart. Neither team played well. It was a night of fumbles, interceptions, missed assignments, bad timing, poor officiating, shanked punts, injuries, missed kicks, foolish penalties and petulant behavior.

Cornell has been outstanding while going undefeated in Class A, winning the Big Seven Conference and positioning itself to receive a #1 seed in the WPIAL playoffs. It seemed like the Raiders had saved all their mistakes for this one night. Sacred Heart, a preseason favorite to win the conference, had somehow allowed itself to be beaten three times, but looked worse during this win than during any of those losses.

Not many fans watched the debacle. It began raining across the Western Hills at 5:30 pm, so most fans decided to stay home. The ones who showed up were mostly parents of the Sacred Heart students who were honored before the game and at halftime during Senior Night ceremonies. The rain backed off as the game began, but off and on it would begin sprinkling again.

Both teams botched scoring opportunities, but Cornell could have won easily had the Raiders simply kicked two extra points. They missed both. Which let the game come down to the last 60 seconds, during which Cornell had a first down on the OLSH five. The Raiders had no time outs, but Sacred Heart offsides allowed Cornell six plays. The Raiders tried repeatedly to bulldoze up the middle, but the Chargers stacked the box and stopped every try. Finally, with five seconds and one play left, Coach Ed Dawson called for a field goal. That's it in the photo at right. It was blocked as the buzzer sounded.

The sloppy play started early. Sacred Heart received the opening kickoff and had a first down on its own 35. An incomplete pass, a two yard loss and a short run later, OLSH tried to punt. It shanked out of bounds to the right, giving Cornell great field position on the Sacred Heart 40.

But the Raiders lost a yard, had two no gainers, and punted. OLSH took over on its own 20, but again couldn't move and punted. This time, the Cornell receiver fumbled and the Chargers recovered on the Cornell 42. They did grind out a first down on the 27, but a backfield tackle resulted in a nine yard loss to the 36. OLSH battled back to the 18, but fell one yard short and Cornell took over on downs. An incomplete pass, a loss of six, and a fumble, even though Cornell fell on it, forced a punt. This one went almost straight up in the air and came down on the Cornell 37. From there, Nehemiah Azeem passed into the end zone. Raider Drevon Newton intercepted it, which gave Cornell a first down on the 20. But yet again the Raiders couldn't move and punted as the first quarter came to an end.

This frustration continued through most of the second quarter. Finally, Sacred Heart launched a sustained drive from its own 34. B.J. Vaughn broke loose for runs of nine, 18 and six yards. The Chargers ground out four first downs, and Azeem ran it in from the two yard line to put OLSH up 7-0 with 2:01 til halftime.

Cornell received to begin the third quarter but miscues, penalties and drops marred play as the teams punted back and forth.

Finally, late in the quarter, the Raiders seemed to shake off the Halloween spell and get their act together. They scored twice in 90 seconds.

First, they launched a 60 yard drive from their own 40. E.J. Dawson ran it to the OLSH 34, and Sincere Kimbrough (#5 above) found Tim Henderson in the end zone with 3:05 left.

The gremlins reappeared briefly. Cornell had trouble handling the kicking tee and bungled the PAT. So Sacred Heart still led, 7-6.

But two plays later Julian Cordice intercepted an Azeem pass to give the Raiders the ball back. Dawson ran it to the five, then ran it in. That's Dawson, #3, just about to burst into the end zone in the photo below. He's just in front of and below Sacred Heart's #67.

However, Cornell went for two on the PAT and failed. So the Raiders led, but only 12-7 with 1:45 in the third.

After an exchange of punts in the fourth quarter, Cornell had a first down on the 50 but fumbled. Sacred Heart recovered on the Cornell 45 and launched a long drive which resulted in Azeem passed into the end zone (photo, above) which put the Chargers up 13-12 with 6:50. But they missed the PAT.

Cornell took the kickoff and began driving from their own 35. With E.J. Dawson running up the middle and Raquel Troutman catching passes the Raiders looked like they might pull it off. But Coach Dawson was out of timeouts. Two key penalties on Sacred Heart helped, but the Charger defense rose to one of its finest moments of the season to stop E. J. Dawson from getting over the goal line.

A key factor in this game was Cornell's center snaps. The Raiders have had a consistency at Center they lacked last year.

But Sacred Heart gave their Center trouble. Their interior linemen were much bigger than he was and overpowered him play after play. They anticipated the snaps so eagerly that often they seemed close to being called for neutral zone infraction, although it was never called. However, the result was that the Center was rattled, and his snaps were too high, too low, off to one side or the other, or too quick. So Kimbrough was constantly having to reach for the ball, which resulted in several fumbles but more often disrupted the timing of the plays. Over the entire game, these situations kept Cornell from maintaining drives.

For Sacred Heart, the win, ragged as it was, might have been an indication they have moved past their locker room discord and begun playing as the team preseason forecasts predicted.

Cornell's coaches just hoped it was a bad game they got out of their system. "Better now than next week in the playoffs," was their consensus.

Coach Ed Dawson was in a sour mood. "We played bad. We had some adversity early and we let it throw us off our game," he fumed. "I can handle mistakes. But players can't let one mistake carry over into the next play or the next several plays. You gotta stay focused. Keep your mouth shut and just concentrate on doing your job. Don't lose your composure."

With the loss, Cornell lost the chance for a first round bye and to host a game. The Raiders will now play Monessen at West Allegheny Friday night. "We obviously have a lot of work to do," Dawson said. "Tonight, we didn't look like a playoff ready team."


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Raiders Win Big Seven Conference Championship
Cornell Wins Forfeit Over Fort Cherry, 1-0

Fort Cherry has forfeited its game against Cornell scheduled for tonight.

Fort Cherry Athletic Director Tom Scarpone informed Cornell Athletic Director Bill Sacco that 20 Fort Cherry players have been exposed to COVID-19 and will be quarantined.

The game cannot be rescheduled because next week is the final week of the regular season and Cornell plays Sacred Heart. The following week the WPIAL playoffs begin. Football teams can only play once a week.

The WPIAL could rule the game a no contest, meaning it would not appear on either school's record as either a win or a loss. But that would not matter. Cornell has a two game lead in the conference standings and even if Sacred Heart wins next Friday's game the Raiders would still lead by one game. The only way Cornell could have lost the conference title would have been to lose both to Fort Cherry and Sacred Heart. Then, the Raiders would have finished in a three way tie with Sacred Heart and Rochester. However, Fort Cherry needed to win against Cornell and Burgettstown to qualify for the playoffs, unless somebody else forfeits.

The conference championship is the first outright title in school history. Cornell, now 7-0 in Class A, has been co-champions several times, most recently in 2019 when the Raiders shared the title with Sto-Rox.

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Cornell Pulls Off Greatest Win In Dawson Tenure
Henderson, Defense Shock Rochester 14-7

The photo at left says it all.

Rochester, preseason #1, currently either #1 or #2 depending on which poll you read, on a mission to get back to the WPIAL title game, with the #1 or #2 line in the WPIAL, an enthusiastic homecoming crowd warmed up with the Queen candidates riding Mustang convertibles in a pregame parade, ready to show upstart Cornell who was King of the Hill in the Big Seven Conference.

Cornell entered the game undefeated in Class A, but had benefitted from an early schedule of all the bottom and middle teams in the conference. The top three teams --- Rochester, Fort Cherry and OLSH --- were all stacked at the very end of the season. Every football predictor and conputer program picked Rochester, several by three touchdowns.

"What we need," said Cornell Trainer Jamie Peters just before kickoff, "is to hit them early, gain some momentum, get a shot of adrenalin, let our guys know we can play with this team."

Enter Tim Henderson, Cornell's great senior runner. Henderson took the kickoff on the Cornell 20, started to his right, spun past one tackler, faked another, drifted to the middle, evaded another, kept moving to the left, used a sudden burst of speed to escape two more as Raider blockers took out Rochester defenders, and headed up the sideline. The safeties saw him breaking into the open and raced across field to head him off. As the Cornell fans and band came to their feet, Henderson shifted into high gear. It was a footrace. Henderson does not lose footraces. The photo at left shows him crossing the goal line

CJ Jackson's PAT made it 7-0 only 15 seconds in.

"We need a perfect game," Coach Ed Dawson told them. "No fumbles. No interceptions. No missed assignments." And he got it.

But it was still a war, and it was fought mostly in the trenches. Rochester has a formidable offensive and defensive line : big, strong, fast, quick, experienced, smart and well coached. Their offense mainly consists of runs straight up the middle, with the line creating openings. Yet Cornell somehow fought them on even terms. The teams exchanged possessions through the rest of the first quarter and halfway into the second.

Finally, quarterback J.D. Azulay broke loose for a 57 yard TD run, and with Sal Laure's PAT kick the Rams tied the game at 7-7.

Rochester kept driving deep into Cornell territory, but the Raiders found ways to stop them. On what looked like a sure TD drive, Eric Dennis recovered a fumble.

On another deep penetration, Shamar Wilson intercepted a pass on the Cornell 24.

Rochester's defense entered the game ranked #1 in the WPIAL, allowing only 7.7 points per game. Cornell kept trying to run up the middle with absolutely no success. A dozen outstanding punts kept pinning Rochester deep in its own territory, but they would slowly grind out first downs until they were in Cornell's red zone. Somehow, the Raider defense kept stopping them.

Spectacular 20 yard runs by Raequan Troutman (left) and E.J. Dawson helped Cornell keep the ball and maintain good field position. Finally, with only 12 seconds remaining in the third, Henderson took a pitchout from quarterback Sincere Kimbrough (photo below) and scampered 53 yards for the winning TD. MJ Smith's PAT made it 14-7.

Cornell's defense spent the entire 4th quarter under siege. Rochester drove to the Cornell 18 but E.J. Dawson recovered a fumble at 7:48. The Raiders could not move the ball. Several spectacular Kimbrough passes (photo, above) were erased by penalties. A great punt pushed the Rams back into their own territory, but they ground out another long drive before the Raiders held. The Raiders took over on their own six with 3:47 left but again could not move the ball and had to punt at 2:36. Rochester took over on their own 45 and started one last drive as the crowd came to its feet. Runs up the middle gained two and seven yards, but two passes fell incomplete and Cornell took possession with 1:07. Kimbrough was able to take a knee on three plays to run out the clock as celebration broke out on the sidelines.

One factor that played a huge role in the second half was that somehow Cornell defenders found ways to break through that line and pressure Azulay. They were never really able to sack him, but they kept him on the run, and several times he was forced to throw the ball out of bounds since he didn't have time to find receivers downfield.

Coach Dawson was beaming afterward. "People talk about the weapons we have on offense, but our defense is what wins for us. And they won it tonight. This was a tremendous challenge for them. And Rochester did push us around a bit. But each time, we found ways to stop them. Like the old cliche, "bend but not break." I think the key is, usually, when Rochester pounds opposing lines for a while, they give up. Our guys tonight kept lining up every play and fighting back. You could see their guys in the second half looking at each other asking 'Who Are These Guys? Why Are They Still Coming At Us Like This?"

He also talked about Henderson. "Tim is such a special kid. He should be getting a lot more college offers than he is. They're missing out on a great prospect. Maybe if we keep winning he'll get more attention."

Rochester coaches admitted Henderson's opening TD hurt. "Our guys were all pumped up and that was like a needle in our balloon. We just deflated when he ran right through us like that."

But they were also impressed with Kimbrough. "That kid was throwing passes 60 yards in the air. And that one he threw in the fourth quarter he threw with our tacklers in his face. He was back on his rear foot and it still went 60 yards." Kimbrough (#5 below, at right, and above right) entered the game ranked among the WPIAL's best passers. He has completed 23 of 57 passes for 617 yards and eight TDs.

Henderson (#8 in the photos) averaged 22.2 yards per carry. Rochester's Sal Laure carried 21 times for 117 yards for an average of 5.57.

Cornell now stands 5-0 in the Big Seven Conference, 6-0 in Class A, and 6-1 on the season (after a season opening 14-7 loss to AA Mohawk). The Raiders rank #2 in Class A behind Clairton. They play Fort Cherry at home this Friday. The Rangers lost to Rochester 35-0 and OLHS 27-6 but have beaten everyone else.

With OLSH's 14-7 upset loss to Shenango Friday night, Cornell is now guaranteed to be co-conference champs. If Cornell wins just one of its remaining two games, it will stand alone as Big Seven Conference champion.

That one win would be critical for two reasons.

First, in school history, Cornell has never won a sole conference championship. They have been conference co champions several times, most recently in 2019 when they shared the title with Sto-Rox. The old Coraopolis and Neville High Schools won numerous Big Ten and Ohio Valley Conference championships, but since the merger Cornell has never done so.

Second, standing alone as conference champions would give Cornell a #1 seed in the playoffs. They'd be seeded away from the other conference champions : Clairton and West Greene, and the runnersup : Bishop Canevin and Carmichaels. They couldn't meet a team from their own conference until the semifinals. So they would likely open against Leechburg, Springdale, Monessen, Mapletown, Greensburg Central Catholic or California, depending on the results of the next two weekends.

As usual, the Big Seven Conference is the strongest of the Class A conferences. Rochester, OLSH and Cornell have ranked in the top five for much of the season, along with Clairton and Bishop Canevin. Fort Cherry and Shenango have ranked in the second five for much of the season.

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Showdown At Rochester Friday
34-14 Win Clinches Playoff Berth For Cornell

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and Burgettstown fans gathered for a Homecoming celebration they also hoped would produce a much needed win. Unfortunately for them, Raequan Troutman personally ruined their homecoming and any fantasies they had of a WPIAL post season playoff berth.

The Cornell junior ran the opening kickoff back 72 yards, then, in the third quarter, ran the opening punt back 60 yards. That jump started the Raiders to a 34-14 win that left them 5-0 in Class A, 4-0 in the Big Seven Conference and 5-1 overall. Amazingly, it also clinched a postseason playoff berth for Cornell and made them the first Class A team to do so.

It wasn't supposed to be this easy.

A win over Burgettstown was supposed to guarantee Cornell a winning record and thus make them eligible for a playoff berth, but normally they would have needed one more win to clinch one. However, in this wild and crazy and COVID scrambled season, with all the upsets and forfeits, all the contenders except Cornell and Clairton have losses. So the Raiders find themselves sitting atop the conference, ranked fifth in the WPIAL, and playing for the best possible seed, not just to get into the playoffs.

Back in Burgettstown Saturday afternoon, after MJ Smith's PAT kick put Cornell up 7-0, the teams traded punts four times. Then Sincere Kimbrough passed to Tim Henderson with a 40 yard pass in the end zone for a 13-0 lead with 9:45 left in the first quarter.

The score stayed there until 5:21 until halftime, when Caleb Russell's five yard run and the John Martine PAT kick cut it to 13-7.

Burgettstown took the kickoff in the third but went three and out, setting up Troutman's 60 yard punt runback. Smith's PAT kick made it 20-7.

Again, the Blue Devils went three and out, but their punt shanked out of bounds and Cornell had a first and 10 on the BTown 40. A 27 yard Troutman run produced another first down on the 10, from where Kimbrough hit Shamar Wilson in the end zone. Smith's PAT kick made it 27-7 with 6:17 left in the third.

Again Cornell's defense held Burgettstown to three and out, and the Raiders took over on their own 40. Troutman injured his right leg on a run, and Cornell somehow managed to earn two penalties on one play, costing them 30 yards. But Kimbrough and Wilson earned those yards back on running plays and as the quarter ended Cornell had a first down on the 30, then another on the 20. Kimbrough ran it in and Smith kicked the PAT for a 34-7 lead with 11:14 left in the game.

Cornell Coach Ed Dawson began subbing, and Burgettstown cranked out five first downs on an eight minute, 15 play drive from its own 30 to the Cornell 14. Jackson LaRocka passed to A. J. Kuzior for the TD and Martine kicked the PAT for the final 34-14 score.

Cornell now faces three huge games : AT Rochester this Friday, Fort Cherry at home, and AT Sacred Heart. Rochester, experienced and talented, is on a mission, and, especially since the game's at home, will be favored. But Cornell has a lot of weapons : Kimbrough, Troutman, Dawson, Henderson, Wilson, Smith, Clarit, a reliable center in Jamarcus Pierce, and an improving offensive and defensive line.

But Rochester will be the biggest and most physical team Cornell has faced. On their lines they do not start anyone under 200 pounds. The core includes senior left tackle Robert Perlick (6-foot-4, 260 pounds), junior left guard Dylan Yunt (6-1, 200), junior center Adam Schurr (5-10, 210), sophomore right guard Michael Norman (5-10, 205) and senior right tackle Daunte Welling (6-3, 260). Then the Rams add two pivotal tight ends in senior Noah Haskins and junior Ryan Clark. This seven man lineup functions very smoothly together. But they're not just big and experienced. They're quick, fast, strong and smart. They don't fall for fakes and traps and they play as a unit, not as individuals. They explode off the ball extremely fast and have their footwork down. Except for Clairton's famous "Wall," Rochester has the best line in Class A. Longtime Rochester Coach Gene Matsook does not have the offensive weapons Cornell does. The Rams are not a big play team. Instead, they play old school, grind it out, fundamental, physical football.

Kevin Edwards

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Rams Take Out COVID Frustrations On OLSH
Angry Rochester Pounds Sacred Heart 34-7

Rochester is one of the WPIAL's proudest football programs and they had had enough. Two weeks ago they were missing six starters due to COVID and lost a game to Union they should have won easily. Last week they had their game with Burgettstown cancelled due to COVID. The Rams had been the preseason #1 favorite for the WPIAL championship and now they had dropped to fourth place. They were in second place in their own Big Seven Conference. They were in a lean and hungry mood, ready to take out their frustrations on whoever they played next.

As luck would have it, that happened to be OLSH, undefeated, tied for first in the conference and ranked second in the WPIAL. OLSH was celebrating its homecoming at Moon's Rip Scherer Stadium and was favored by seven.

Not very likely. On the first possession, Rochester drove 51 yards in 10 plays. Sal Laure ran it in on an off tackle slant to put the Rams up 6-0 with 6:33. Then their defense held Sacred Heart and forced a punt. Two plays later, Laure took a pass from QB J. D. Azulay and ran 46 yards for a 12-0 lead with 4:04.

Sacred Heart managed one first down before being stopped again. A 45 yard Ram drive took eight plays and ended with Laure running it in from the four. Brother Antonio Laure ran the PAT to make it 20-0 with 8:25 left in the half.

Then it got worse fast. In the third quarter Azulay intercepted a Nehemiah Azeem pass and ran it back 78 yards for a 26-0 lead.

Sacred Heart finally scored on a 52 yard Azeem to Dereon Greer pass.

The teams exchanged punts, and then Rochester again launched a drive to the OLSH three, where Laure again ran it in. Azulay passed to Jerome Mullins for the PAT for 34-7.

Despite its one loss, Rochester is in a strong position for the October stretch run. It hosts Fort Cherry this week, then gets conference leader Cornell at home. The Rams travel to Shenango and end the regular season at home against Northgate. If the Rams can win the other three and beat Cornell, they will end up in a three way tie for first. But since they will have beaten OLSH and Cornell, they would be the conference champion and receive one of the top three seeds in the WPIAL playoffs.

Sacred Heart has to regroup. Their line was manhandled by Rochester even though position by position the Chargers are bigger and stronger. OLSH faces Union and Northgate away and Shenango and Cornell at home.

After #1 Clairton beat #3 Bishop Canevin Friday night, the computer rankings shuffled. Rochester is now #2, OLSH #3 and Canevin #4.

The Record needs a correspondent to take photos and keep game notes and send them in after each OLSH game. It can be a student, parent or fan. Anyone interested should email us at CoraopolisRecord@aol.com.


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Raiders 3-0 in Conference, 4-0 in "A"
Troutman, Dawson Lead Cornell Rally, 34-22

Cornell was in trouble. The Raiders trailed 22-13 in the fourth quarter. An undefeated Class A season and a Big Seven Conference first place was in jeapordy. Their leading rusher, Tim Henderson, was injured. They needed a hero or two.

They got them. Up stepped E.J. Dawson and Raequan Troutman to lead a furious 21 point rally and give Cornell a 34-22 win on a crisp Fall night at Frank Letteri Stadium.

Until then, Union, which already holds a major win over Rochester, was in charge. Tyler Staub returned a punt for the first Scottie TD with 1:21 in the first quarter. Cornell struck back immediately. After the kickoff, on their first play from scrimmage, Sincere Kimbrough fired a 14 yard pass to Dawson (#3 below) in the end zone and MJ Smith made the PAT kick to put the Raiders up 7-6.

But Union shut Cornell down for the rest of the second quarter. Then the Scotties took the second half kickoff and drove 65 yards in eight plays, sending Mike Gunn into the end zone on a one yard run. Staub hit Grayson Blakley on a pass for a two point PAT and Union led 14-7 with 8:20 remaining.

Troutman (#28 above) answered with a 50 yard touchdown run at 6:40, but the PAT failed and Cornell still trailed 14-13.

Union increased the lead to 22-13 with 2:01 in the third, as Staub found Braylon Thomas in the end zone. Staub ran in the PAT.

So the stage was set for that Cornell rally. Troutman scored on a 15 yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. The PAT failed but Cornell was within 22-19.

The Raiders kicked off and held Union, forcing the Scotties to punt it back. Troutman hauled it in on the 45 and ran it down to the one. On the next play Dawson broke into the end zone. Troutman ran the PAT in and Cornell led 27-22 with 9:23 left.

Cornell kicked off again and again the defense held. Cornell took the punt and drove to the 16, from where Troutman ran it in. Smith's kick made it 34-22 with 4:10.

Troutman led everyone with 184 yards and three TDs on 14 carries.

"Raequan is special," Cornell Coach Ed Dawson said. "He plays running back, receiver and defense. He always seems to step up just when we need him."

The win was Cornell's fourth in a row and left the Raiders 4-0 in Class A and 3-0 in the Big Seven Conference. Their only loss was in the season opener to Mohawk, a 2A team which is now in first place in the Midwest Conference at 3-0. After Rochester's win over Sacred Heart Saturday, those two are tied for second place with one loss each. Cornell is all alone in first place, and lurking at #6 in the WPIAL rankings.

But the road gets considerably tougher for Cornell in October. They face three of their next four games on the road. Next Friday night they travel to Burgettstown. Then they go to Rochester before returning to Frank Letteri Stadium for a Homecoming game against Fort Cherry. The season finale is against local rival Sacred Heart at Moon's Rip Scherer Field.

Cornell is battling for a postseason berth. It must win one more game to give it at least a 5-4 record. That would make it eligible for a berth, but would not guarantee one. A win over Fort Cherry would leave Cornell at least 6-3 and guarantee a berth, but they would receive a low seed and draw either #1 Clairton or #3 Bishop Canevin in the first round. To avoid that, Cornell would need an upset win over either Rochester or OLSH.

COVID could play a wild card role in this race. Already, the WPIAL has seen five or six games a week forfeited due to COVID, including a Burgettstown forfeit to Rochester. Rochester lost to Union when Rochester had six starters sidelined by COVID. Several teams have played but been shorthanded due to quarantines to some of their players. Cornell's E.J. Dawson and Tim Henderson are already nursing nagging injuries. For the Raiders to make an October run, those two have to return to full strength and everybody else has to avoid both injuries and COVID.

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Huchko Wins 5th Feature as Season Ends

Brian Huchko grabbed the lead on the second turn of the very first lap and held it the rest of the way to win the final Sportsman Feature of the 2021 season Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. It was Huchko's fifth feature win of the year and his third in the last five weeks. Nick Kocuba won the Season Points Race in the Sportsmen.

Frank Magill (in photo at right) won his seventh Stocks Division Feature after Karlee Kovacs and Jacob Wiser had led earlier. Magill also won the Stocks Season Points race. This was the most competitive, high powered and exciting Stocks Division in the last 20 years. Magill and several other drivers have already indicated their desire to move up to Late Models next season if they can find the sponsorship.

Bill Kessler finished the season in fine form by winning his first Limited Late Model Feature, battling Kyle Lukon almost the entire race. Daryl Charlier won the Limited Late Model Season Points Race.

Hemi Kineston won the Four Cylinder Feature as Bill Tennant captured the Season Points Championship.

The regular season now over, Pittsburgh Motor Speedway will host a full grand finale of racing this weekend, with Four Cylinders, Sportsmen, Stocks and Limiteds running Friday night and the annual Lucas Oil Pittsburgher 100 for Unlimited Late Models Saturday night. The 100 carries a $20,000 first place purse and attracts a national field. It's part of the Lucas Oil National Circuit, and is the closest dirt track racing comes to NASCAR. In fact, many of NASCAR's drivers moved up from this circuit. Pictured left is Jimmy Owens, four time winner of Lucas Oil Unlimited Late Model Season Points Championships, including last year's.

The big $500,000 rigs towing the $100,000 cars inside their luxurious trailers will pull into the Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Thursday so drivers can spend two days getting familiar with the track and adjusting their shocks, tires, and steering. Gates open at 3 pm so fans wanting time to walk through the pits, inspect these big time racing machines and their drivers close up, and perhaps take some pictures, can do so.

Robin Gilligan

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Sacred Heart Wins 27-6, Braces For Rochester

Sacred Heart again broke open a close game in the fourth quarter Friday night in dispatching Fort Cherry 27-6 to go to 2-0 in the Big Seven Conference and 4-0 on the season. The Chargers are now tied with surprising Cornell for the conference lead and face preseason conference favorite Rochester at home this Friday.

But for the second straight week, this win didn't come easy. Neither team could score in the first half. Finally, in the third quarter, Stephen Greer ran from the nine and Bill Fryer kicked the PAT to put the Chargers up 7-0.

To open the fourth, Fort Cherry's Maddox Truschel scored on a 34 yard run and although the extra point kick missed, the OLSH lead was only 7-6 with 10:00 left. Then, once again, the Chargers exploded.

Nehemiah Azeem ran one in from the seven and Fryer kicked the Pat for 14-6 with 8:00. Azeem passed 12 yards to Ziggy McIntosh and Fryer made the kick for 21-6 with 6:00. Then, Brandon Brazell ran it in from the 25, and although the PAT kick failed, the score was 27-6.

OLSH is now ranked second in the WPIAL, behind Clairton and slightly ahead of Bishop Canevin.

In the conference, Rochester, Union, Northgate and Fort Cherry are all a game back with one loss.

The Chargers are 4-0 but only 2-0 in Class A because their first two games were with AA teams.

The Record needs a correspondent to take photos and keep game notes and send them in after each OLSH game. It can be a student, parent or fan. Anyone interested should email us at CoraopolisRecord@aol.com.

Kevin Edwards

Licensed Physical Therapist

19 Years of Experience

Back, Knee, Ankle, Neck, Hip, Foot, Elbow, Wrist, Shoulder


1541 State Avenue

Kimbrough, Henderson, Troutman, Smith Star
Raiders Roll 34-16, Now 3-0 In "A"

Sincere Kimbrough (#8, bottom photo), Raequan Troutman (#28 in photo, right) and Tim Henderson led Cornell to a 34-16 win over Shenango Friday night to leave the Raiders 3-0 in the 2021 Class A race.

M.J. Smith (#23 in photo, below) also played a big part with four points after touchdowns. Last year Cornell struggled with PATs, but Smith has grown into a dependable kicker in this role.

The Raiders struck twice in the first quarter and Shenango never really threatened.

After receiving the kickoff and fumbling on its first play, Cornell held the Wildcats and forced a punt. The Raiders took over on their own 20 but Kimbrough fired an 80 yard pass to Henderson at the 7:08 mark. Smith's PAT made it 7-0.

The teams exchanged possessions in midfield until Kimbrough found Henderson with another 53 yard pass with 30 seconds left in the first. Smith's PAT made it 14-0.

Cornell seemingly went to sleep to open the second quarter. A Shenango punt put the Raiders on their own 15.

A backfield miscommunication led to a Safety, so Shenango trailed 14-2 with 10:00.

Cornell kicked off and Shenango launched its only sustained drive of the game. The Wildcats marched from their own 46 to the Cornell five and Hunter Lively ran it in. Trevor Valenti kicked the PAT to make it 14-9 with 8:00.

Then the Raiders woke up. Taking over on their own 25, Kimbrough fired a 65 yarder to Henderson on the Shenango 12. Cornell ground out a first down on the two, and Kimbrough ran it in. Smith's PAT made it 21-9 with 6:00. The teams exchanged punts for the rest of the first half.

After several more punts to open the third quarter, Troutman ran 78 yards to make it 27-9 with 7:00. Shenango used six minutes on a 45 yard drive to the Cornell 22. The Raider defense stopped them there, and on the first play Kimbrough fired a 46 yarder to Devon Newton on the Shenango 33. Kimbrough then passed 25 yards to Troutman for the TD, and with the PAT Cornell went up 34-9 with 10:00 left in the game.

Both coaches began subbing, and Shenango launched a three minute 56 yard drive which ended with Sam Myers scoring on a seven yard run and Valenti kicking the PAT for 34-16 with 6:00 remaining.

In the closing minutes a spectacular sack by Cornell's E. J. Dawson and an interception by Smith kept Shenango from scoring again.

Kimbrough finished with 266 yards passing and three TDs, placing him fourth in the entire WPIAL for the evening and first among Class A QBs.

The win left the Raiders 3-0 in Class A, 2-0 in the Big Seven Conference, and 3-1 overall after that opening loss to AA Mohawk.

Union was upset by Northgate 22-16, and Fort Cherry lost to OLSH 27-6. Burgettstown forfeited to Rochester due to players sidelined by COVID. So all of a sudden Cornell and OLSH find themselves tied for the conference lead at 2-0. Northgate, Union, Fort Cherry and Rochester are a game back at 1-1 each, with Burgettstown and Shenango two games back.

Cornell hosts Union this Friday night at Frank Letteri Stadium, then travels to Burgettstown next Friday.


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Coteles Edges Benard In Photo Finish

Cody Koteles edged Matt Benard (photo, right) by perhaps two or three inches in a thrilling finish Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. The Stocks Feature saw Koteles thread his way through three lapped cars and shoot ahead just as the two crossed the finish line. Koteles is second in season points with Benard third. It was Koteles' fourth feature win this year.

Garret Paugh won the Limited Late Model Feature. Joe Martin had led the entire way until Paugh cut under him at the white flag and held on for the final lap. Season points leader Nick Kocuba won the Sportsman Feature for his 19th career win. Brian Huchko was second. Bill Tennant won his 10th Four Cylinder Feature of the year.

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Kimbrough Leads Cornell Over Northgate 42-18

With E.J. Dawson injured, Sincere Kimbrough took over at quarterback and led Cornell to a 42-18 rout of Northgate Friday night at Frank Letteri Stadium.

The game was never really in doubt, and Kimbrough had plenty of help.

The senior transfer student who Coach Ed Dawson has described as "probably the best all round athlete on our roster" opened scoring with a six yard run early in the first quarter. The PAT failed.

Delvin Mitchell scored for Northgate on a 66 yard run to tie it at 6-6 but their PAT failed.

M.J. Smith put Cornell ahead for good, 9-6, with a 15 yard field goal.

Kimbrough then added a 24 yard run late in the first to put Cornell up 15-6.

Tim Henderson intercepted a Northgate pass in the second quarter and ran it back an electrifying 90 yards. Smith kicked the PAT for a 22-6 halftime lead.

Lewis Clark caught a four yard pass for a Northgate TD early in the third quarter, but Henderson scored for Cornell on a 35 yard Kimbrough pass to make it 28-12.

Raequan Troutman added a 30 yard run in the fourth and Smith added the PAT to put the game out of reach 35-12. Both coaches began subbing and although each team would score once more the outcome was clear.

Cornell ran up 326 yards in total offense compared to Northgate's 249. Kimbrough passed for 185 yards compared to Northgate's 129, and the Raiders ran for 141 compared to Northgate's 120.

Cornell converted three of nine third down plays, compared to five of 14 by Northgate. Each team fumbled once and intercepted two of the other's passes.

The win left Cornell 2-1 on the season, 2-0 in WPIAL Class A, and 1-0 in Big Seven Conference play.

The Raiders play their first road game this Friday night at Shenango, a preseason favorite and top five pick, but a team that has lost to AA Laurel 21-13 and AA Neshannock 42-8, and last Friday was upset by Big Seven rival Fort Cherry 35-7.

This leaves a cloudy picture. Fort Cherry has beaten Class A Carmichaels and Avella but lost to AA Chartiers Houston. Carmichaels and Avella are weak Class A teams and Chartiers Houston is a strong AA team, having won 44-15 and 29-0 in addition to its win over Fort Cherry. So it's not clear how strong Fort Cherry is, which means it's hard to know what to think of Shenango's loss to them.

But the Big Seven Conference race is equally cloudy. Union's shocking 16-0 upset of #1 ranked Rochester leaves the race wide open. Sacred Heart is now 3-0 and moves into first place in the conference and second in the WPIAL. Shenango will be a slight favorite this week, but if Cornell can pull off the win, then return home and handle Union the following Friday, it will be 3-0 in the conference entering its rugged October run of Burgettstown, Rochester and Sacred Heart. Cornell does not have to win the conference to make the playoffs, but it does have to finish with a winning record.

Robin Gilligan

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4th Quarter Explosion Gives OLSH 33-13 Win
When Burgettstown dropped from 2A down to 1A two years ago Blue Devil fans expected to dominate their new Big Seven Conference just as they had their old one in the higher enrollment class, when they made five straight playoffs. It hasn't worked out that way. Last year Burgettstown didn't make the playoffs. This year isn't looking too good, either. Sacred Heart has handed them key losses both years.

Friday night, the Chargers broke a tight game open in the fourth quarter to win 33-13 at Hill Memorial Stadium.

Earlier, Burgettstown's Jackson LaRocka had scored on runs of six and 10 yards. Chargers BJ Vaughn and Steve Greer scored rushing TDs to give OLSH a 14-13 edge. Then Neimiah Azeem threw for two touchdowns and Greer ran 49 yards for a third one to keep Sacred Heart unbeaten at 3-0.

Azeem completed nine of 18 passes for 102 yards. Greer carried eight times for 176 yards and the two TDs. Ziggy McIntosh added four catches for 44.

OLSH plays Fort Cherry this Friday at home. With Union's stunning 16-0 upset of WPIAL #1 Rochester and Fort Cherry's 35-7 upset of Shenango, the Big Seven Conference race is suddenly wide open.

The Record needs a correspondent to take photos and keep game notes and send them in after each OLSH game. It can be a student, parent or fan. Anyone interested should email us at CoraopolisRecord@aol.com.

Bids Requested For Line Relocations

Friends of Pittsburgh Professional Soccer is soliciting bids for relocation of existing public utility services associated with PennDot State Route 51 05A road improvement project, located in the Borough of Coraopolis in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

The work includes Waterline Relocation (relocation of 725 linear feet of 6" D1 pipeline, valves and appurtenances). It will include tie ins and traffic control.

The work also includes Sewerline Relocation (relocation of approximately 235 linear feet of 15" SDR 35 PVC). It will include two precast manholes, bypass pumping, tie ins and traffic control.

Stephen Shelpman Wins Stocks Invitational

Stephen Shelpman continued a late season run by winning the Stocks Division Invitational Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. Shelpman won the Stocks Feature last week, and has placed second once and third twice in the last five weeks. These high finishes have helped him close in on third in the season points race with two weeks to go. Kyle Lukon took the Late Model Feature and Brian Huchko (photo, right) won the Sportsmen Feature.

The Stocks Feature was relatively clean, with only one restart on lap nine, until Matt Benard spun out at the finish line, causing a six car collision. Shelpman won the pole based on his time trial performance and led the race the entire way. But he had to fight off Frank Magill and Cody Koteles every lap.

The Late Model Feature started with a six car pileup on the final turn of lap one, and had a second restart on lap six. Zach Gunn and Cole Petrelle led early but once Lukon worked his way to the front he kept the lead the rest of the way.

It was Huchko's fourth Sportsman win of the year and second in the last three weeks. He led almost the entire way despite two restarts.

Kevin Edwards

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19 Years of Experience

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1541 State Avenue

Cornell Rolls 52-8 As Clarit, Kimbrough Emerge

Cornell rolled to a 52-8 win over Jefferson Morgan Friday night on a muddy field as freshman Walter Clarit and senior Sincere Kimbrough emerged as major contributors.

The outcome was never in doubt. Cornell scored in every quarter and just had too many weapons. The only downside was that quarterback E.J. Dawson sat out the fourth quarter with a recurrence of a nagging injury.

The game began rather slowly as both teams were a little tentative on the spongy, saturated surface. Cornell took the kickoff, fired a pass to Drevon Newton, and made it to the JM 26 before two incompletes and a fumble ended the drive. JM moved it out to the 43 before stalling. Cornell took over, ran for five and seven yards, then Dawson fired a pass to Tim Henderson on the nine. On the next play Kimbrough ran it in for the touchdown. The PAT failed, so Cornell led 6-0 with 3:31.

Cornell kicked off and JM ran only four plays before a pass was intercepted by Henderson on the JM 46 (photo, right). On consecutive plays, Henderson then ran to the JM 35, ran to the five, Clarit ran to the one, and, on the first play of the second quarter, Dawson scored on a keeper. MJ Smith kicked the PAT and the Raiders led 13-0.

Again, after the kickoff, JM ran two plays before Kimbrough intercepted another pass and Cornell took over on the JM 39. Two runs put it on the JM 22 and Clarit ran 22 yards for the TD with 9:18 til halftime (Clarit is #7 in the photo below just crossing the goal line for his first score as a high school player). The PAT missed and Cornell led 19-0.

After the kickoff, JM turned it over on downs at the Cornell 47. On the first play Henderson ran 53 yards. Smith made the PAT and the Raiders led 26-0 at 6:40.

The end of the half saw a series of holding penalties move the Rockets almost 50 yards, to the Cornell one yard line, over the objections of several Cornell coaches. JM then ran it in with one second to go in the half, and completed the PAT pass after time expired, to make it 26-8.

In the third quarter, Phillip Barker recovered a JM fumble and ran it 30 yards for a TD with 7:15, to make it 32-8. Henderson took a 43 yard pass from Dawson to make it 38-8 with 4:04. Kimbrough ran one in from the eight yard line, and Smith made the PAT, for 45-8 with 1:35 in the third. Raequan Troutman rounded out the scoring with 10:11 left with a 47 yard run. Smith's PAT was good for the 52-8 finale.

Cornell Coach Ed Dawson was especially pleased with Clarit. "We've watched Walter coming up through the grades in all three sports so we knew he was a great athlete. It's been a matter of him adjusting to the speed and physicality of the high school game. Fans see him running the ball, but he's also proving valuable in our defense."

Son E.J.'s injury is worrying. "He's not just our quarterback. He's the key to our defenses. He's our defensive captain. At linebacker he plugs the middle and calls directions and shifts. We can't afford to have him hurt. He has a high pain tolerance and usually plays through injuries. The fact he came to the bench and said he couldn't go tells me he was really struggling. Alot of football injuries nag you all season until you get to the offseason and give them plenty of rest. I hope this isn't one of those."

Cornell opens Big Seven Conference play this Friday at home against Northgate. The computer favors Cornell.


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Charlier Holds Off Challengers In Miley Classic

Daryl Charlier (in #114, at right) held off Zach Morrow, Cole Petrelle and Mike Reft for 40 laps to win the Red Miley Classic for Limited Late Models at the Pittsburgh Speedway Saturday night. Charlier, pulling away in the season points race, averaged 115 mph but was just two seconds ahead of Morrow. It was a wild race, with five restarts due to wrecks, spinouts and wall collisions. Charlier didn't reach the front until lap 19.

Stephen Shelpman won the Stocks Division Feature over Adam Ferree and Jonathan Koteles. Bob Betz, Ben Anton and Frank Magill filled out the top six. This was an even hairier race, with six restarts and Danny Rich in the Pink Panther blowing an engine and spewing oil all over the track. Shelpman finally took the lead on lap 18.

Nick Kocuba edged Brian Hutchko in the Sportsman Feature and Charles Wolbert took the Super Modified Feature.

This week is the Josh Langer Stocks Division Memorial Race, but the other divisions will also be running and the track will host the annual appearance of the Vintage Division, cars reminiscent of the 1950s (but with modern technology to conform to 2021 safety regulations).

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Cornell Defense Holds But Offense Fizzles, 7-14

Cornell suffered a devastating loss Friday night, 14-7 to Mohawk at Frank Letteri Field.

Mohawk is a Class AA school and was favored, but was one of five games Cornell had a definite shot to win. The five wins would have given the Raiders a winning record and made them eligible for the playoffs. Now, Cornell is looking at only four games it has a definite shot to win and will have to upset either Rochester, Sacred Heart, Burgettstown or Shenango for a winning season and possible playoff bid. To clinch a playoff bid it will have to upset two of those.

Coach Ed Dawson's defense held against larger, heavier and more experienced Mohawk, allowing them only two touchdowns and actually holding them scoreless for the final three quarters. On the first play from scrimmage, Warrior quarterback J.C. Voss passed 55 yards to Marc Conti for the first TD. At 7:40, Voss passed seven yards to Boden Leslie to make it 14-0. After that, Cornell shut Mohawk down. The Warriors never got close for the rest of the game.

Tim Henderson (#8 in photo, right) scored Cornell's TD on a 50 yard run with 7:12 in the first quarter. Cornell spent a frustrating three and a half quarters trying to score again. The Raiders had first and 10s on the Mohawk 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 but could never get to the end zone.

Cornell plays Jefferson Morgan at home Friday night.

Robin Gilligan

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Sto-Rox Opponent Was A "Ghost Team"

Sto-Rox opened the 2021 season Friday night against Bishop Sycamore in Braddock's Wolvarena, part of an event called The WPIAL Against Everyone Else. The Vikings won impressively, thanks to a staunch defense and several big plays. Tre-shaun Barron returned an interception 17 yards for a TD and Sto-Rox kept forcing turnovers en route to a 19-7 victory. Junior Josh Jenkins caught a pair of TD passes from Austin Jones. The first was for 20 yards in the second quarter and the second for nine yards in the third. Jones finished eight for 15 for 121 yards passing.

Overall it was a great win. Bishop Sycamore players were all big, strong and fast. Although they only dressed 32 players, individually the players looked like the kind of athletes one would expect at a 5A school.

Sunday afternoon, some of the Sto-Rox players and fans turned on TV to watch the ESPN high school game of the day. To their amazement, they saw the exact same team lining up in Cincinnati, Ohio, against IMG from Florida. With the exact same players. The same quarterback. The same wide receivers. The same linemen. Less than 48 hours later.

Local viewers weren't the only ones who found this suspicious. As IMG rolled to a lopsided 58-0 win, ESPN announcers began commenting on how the Bishop Sycamore players seemed tired and overmatched. Sports writers across the country began making phone calls and going online to check the team out.

What they found has become a national story. "Bishop Sycamore" may be the greatest scam in high school sports history.

What everyone now knows is that there is no "Bishop Sycamore High School". The Ohio High School Athletic Association has never heard of it. Neither has the Ohio Department of Education. It is not listed as an Ohio charter school.

On various rosters and registration forms, "Bishop Sycamore" lists four addresses. When checked out, none are valid. One is for a church, which says it does not sponsor a school. One is for a fitness center, which says a coach brings about 30 boys in occasionally for workouts.

One is for the Franklin University Library, which says somebody from "Bishop Sycamore" had applied to reserve a room for meetings but the application was denied. One was for an apartment complex where Johnson once lived but was evicted for not paying rent.

Charter schools in Ohio must file paperwork with their local school district periodically to show that they are following state guidelines on curriculum, facilities, teacher qualifications, etc. As a Columbus school, "Bishop Sycamore" would come under the auspices of the Columbus Public Schools. But a representative from the Columbus Public Schools says no paperwork has ever been filed by any school calling itself "Bishop Sycamore."

Investigation of the players listed on the roster in the Friday night Sto-Rox game and the Sunday afternoon IMG game finds that 27 of the 32 graduated from various Ohio high schools from 3-5 years ago. Those players are 21-23 years old. The other five are 17-18 years old. Most of the 27 older players enrolled in junior colleges in the South, Texas or California with the intention of playing football. Some of them did play but were not offered scholarships by four year schools. Others dropped out, either because they did not make their junior college teams, or did not meet academic requirements.

Coach Roy Johnson (photos, above and below) is not certified to teach or coach, but has been trying to create his own team for 10 years. His first attempt was a team called Christians of Faith. When that collapsed he founded Bishop Sycamore. "Bishop Sycamore" has been scheduling games for three years. The team has never won. Most of the losses have been by 10 or more points. Many of have been quite lopsided. Last year "Bishop Sycamore" went 0-6. Johnson says he is just trying to help poor kids earn college scholarships. But Johnson has left a trail of unpaid bills and lawsuits behind, as his team stays in hotels and eats in restaurants and fails to pay.

The team is scheduled to play Duncanville, Ohio this week and Johnson Central in Kentucky next week.

By Monday, WPIAL and PIAA officials had become aware of the situation. But a spokesman at WPIAL offices in Greentree said, at least for now, they would count the win for Sto-Rox and include statistics from the game in season totals. They emphasized that no adult or player from Sto-Rox had done anything wrong. Normally, high schools are required to play other high schools officially certified by their own state associations or other state associations. Games against YMCAs, Boys Clubs or independent teams do not count. Normally, teams file rosters with eligibility information the week prior to the games. But somehow principals, coaches, athletic directors, WPIAL and PIAA officials and the managers of the Wolvarena event let "Bishop Sycamore" slip through. The PIAA had officially certified the game. As annoyed as Sto-Rox, Coursey, the WPIAL and PIAA are about the situation, ESPN is even more annoyed. It is being ridiculed nationally in newspapers and on social media for having been scammed by a bunch of 20 somethings into putting a team on national television that was not a high school, included no D-1 prospects and was not even very good when competing against smaller high schools with players 3-5 years younger.

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Magill Wins Summer Stock Championship

Frank Magill (photo, right) won both his heat race and Stocks Summer Championship Feature Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. It was Magill's sixth feature win this season and extended his lead in the season points race.

Magill paused in the pits to talk to reporters and admitted he dreams of moving up to Sprints, Limiteds or Modifieds. But the higher cost of those divisions is a problem. "Right now I'm just enjoying these weekly battles," he said. "You can't relax for a minute out there. It's not just one. There's a bunch of really good drivers in really good cars coming after you." He was referring to Cody Koteles, Matt Benard, Kaylee Kovacs, Danny Rich, Stephen Shelpman, John Cain, Chloie Jones and Kayla McManus, all close behind him in every race. Kovacs is now off to college but grizzled veteran Rich is driving her Pink Panther car and has proven himself a formidable threat in every race for the last three weeks.

A five minute rain squall was just moving through. Magill eyed the track. "It's pretty slick out there tonight." Back in May, his pit crew had trouble with the car. "We had to figure out several adjustments," he explained. "Once we did, it's been fine."

Magill won his heat by a wide margin. In the Feature, he took the lead from Rich on the third lap and kept it the rest of the way. But two restarts kept cutting his lead back and giving Rich, Koteles and Shelpman a chance. The top five behind Magill ended up being Shelpman, Benard, Rich, Koteles and McManus in that order. In the season points race the top six are Magill, Koteles (-26), Benard (-44), Kovacs/Rich (-64), Shelpman (-70) and Cain (-82) within reach.

Meanwhile, up in the Limited Late Model Division, Daryl Charlier won another Feature, leading almost the whole way after grabbing first on lap one. Ben Policz (photo, left) worked his way up to second on lap 15 but never could quite catch Charlier despite four restarts. It was Charlier's 69th win overall (he's also won in Sportsmen and Modifieds).

After Charlier and Policz, Cole Petrelle, Mike Reft, Dan Lepro and Tony White followed in order. Charlier leads the season points race, with Zach Morrow (-73), Philip Bubeck (-111), Zach Gunn (-182) , Policz (-185), Kassidy Kamacker (-198) and Petrelle (-226) trailing.

Policz and Charlier have taken turns winning heats and features all Summer. Fans keep asking Policz if he plans to move up to Unlimiteds, which would put him on the Lucas Oil Circuit, the closest dirt track racing comes to NASCAR. Policz says he has no interest. "This is a very competitive division. It's a lot of fun. But it's a hobby. Up in Unlimited, you have to travel all over the eastern half of the country to the big purse races. The cars are so expensive. And there's pressure. It's like a job. So, No. I'm happy right here." He's also not into the points race. "I've already missed a few weeks, and I'll miss a few more. I've won two season championships, so I don't need another one." No wonder Policz is having fun. A charter bus from Waynesburg pulled in full of his fans, partying and cheering for him all night. Policz and his team struggled with the car back in May. "We had the shocks rebuilt and they came back improperly calibrated. The company took them back and recalibrated them. The car's been fine since," Policz said.

Brian Huchko of McDonald won the Sportsmen Division Feature over Charlier. Charlier had quite an evening, jumping from one car to another in separate divisions. He was in first place but shredded a tire. By the time he got to the pits and his crew changed the tire, he was a lap back. Miraculously, he fought back up to second but couldn't catch Huchko.

Bill Tennant won another Four Cylinder Division Feature over Eric Reynolds in Herbie The Love Bug (photo, right). The Volkswagon Beetle is a crowd favorite but this is the highest it's ever placed.

Kierstan Chernik, another of the growing number of young women driving, won the Young Guns (Teenage) Division Feature over Logan Koteles. It was Chernik's first feature win.

This Saturday all the usual divisions will race, but attention will focus on the annual Red Miley Rumble, a 30 lap Limited Late Model Feature.


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Sacred Heart Holds Off AA Apollo Ridge 28-22

Sacred Heart, ranked third in Class A, stepped up to AA Friday to take on Apollo Ridge, a two hour bus ride from home. On a hot, steamy night, the Chargers scored a 28-22 upset, but just barely. A wild 4th quarter Apollo Ridge rally almost pulled off a miracle, but fell 10 seconds and 20 yards short.

The game was played because both teams had opponents cancel out of their opening games. So they decided to play each other. Since Sacred Heart already had five homes game, they volunteered to make the long drive.

The teams played on even terms for most of the first quarter until B. J. Vaughn intercepted a pass on the 49 yard line (photo, right --- OLSH is in the white jerseys and he's coming down with the ball just above the official) and ran it all the way in for a touchdown. The Billy Fryer PAT made it 7-0 at 4:19.

The teams traded possessions until Apollo Ridge blocked a Sacred Heart punt for a first down on the OLSH nine yard line. It looked like the Vikes would score but two plays later Brady Brazell stripped the runner and recovered the ball to give the Chargers the ball on their 10. A pass to Ziggy Macintosh, a run by Stephen Greer, and a pass to Gunnar Kiefer put OLSH on the AR 48. Dereon Greer caught the next pass on the 20 and ran it in for 13-0. The PAT was blocked. Again the teams exchanged possessions, until Stephen Greer ran one in from the 40 with 7:33 in the second quarter. MacIntosh caught the pass on a slant pattern for two on the PAT for 21-0.

Apollo Ridge got on the board at 5:49 on a 10 yard run by Nick Curci. Jacob Mull kicked the PAT. Then, with 1:48 in the third, Karter Shrock scored on a 19 yard run, and Mull kicked the PAT for 21-14.

Nehemiah Azeem scored on a keeper with 10:51 in the fourth to put the Chargers up 28-14. It looked like OLSH would cruise home, but players on both sides began cramping up from the sauna like conditions with high heat and humidity.

It was when Apollo Ridge's Landon Harmon scored on a one yard run with 10 seconds to go and Shrock passed to Gage Johnston for two points to cut it to 28-22 that things got tight. An onside kick gave A-R possession on the 40. Shrock ran it to the OLSH 20. But the Vikings were out of time outs and the clock expired before they could run another play.

Azeem completed 10 of 16 passes for 171 yards and overall turned in an excellent game. Greer at running back, Fryer on the PATs and the entire defense for three and a half quarters looked impressive. But Coach Dan Bradley was not happy with the last several minutes, when suddenly the Vikings were passing and running at will.

The Chargers play two more Class AA opponents : Riverside next week and Beaver Falls the following Friday. Then they drop down to Class A for their Big Seven Conference schedule.

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Pierce, Henderson Lead Cornell In Scrimmage

Freshman Center Jamarcus Pierce and Senior Running Back Timmy Henderson (photo below) played leading roles as Cornell wound up its preseason preparations with a Thursday evening scrimmage against Ellwood City.

The scrimmage was not a game conditions match. Instead the coaches agreed to use the other common format of 10 possessions for each team.

Cornell won a coin toss and went on offense first.

The biggest question mark was how the undersized Pierce would perform. Facing taller, heavier and experienced seniors at Center and the other interior line positions, could he snap the ball accurately and then come off the ball to protect the quarterback? As the photo at right shows, Pierce turned in a great performance. He's #78, in the middle of the photo with the blue undershirt showing. He has made a perfect snap, as you can see with the ball arriving at exactly the right height for QB E.J. Dawson to pass or hand off. Then you can see Pierce coming out of his stance and blocking the opposing Center.

He did this all evening, without a single bad snap and not a single opposing lineman getting past him into the Cornell backfield. After the problems Cornell had with the center position last season, this was a huge relief to the Cornell coaching staff.

It allowed Dawson to get the ball to Henderson, who dominated the first half. He broke loose for four touchdowns, two from the 50 and two from the 40 yard lines. Ellwood was unable to match his speed.

And he wasn't the only Cornell runner. Junior Raequan Troutman and freshman Walter Clarit peeled off 60 yarders. Troutman has been a reliable runner and receiver for two years and was expected to stand out this season. Clarit first achieved fame as a Little League baseball player (the "Basepath Bandit") in 5th and 6th grades, then focused on football in 7th and 8th grade and excelled there. He was thought to have potential but no one expected him to show it so soon. He gives Cornell yet another dangerous runner to add to a deep and talented ground attack. In two scrimmages Cornell's speed has allowed it to outscore Avella 55-0 and Ellwood City 42-0.

But what impressed Cornell's coaches the most was its defense. Not only was Ellwood unable to score, the Wolverines had trouble getting past the line of scrimmage. Their blockers were bigger and heavier than Cornell but were unable to keep tacklers from reaching the runners.

Quarterback E.J. Dawson contented himself with handing off and passing, but showed solid game management skills.

Best of all, Cornell committed almost no errors. The Raiders were called for three penalties, threw one interception and missed a few assignments. But those were partially due to Dawson's playing his freshmen and sophomores for half the plays to get them as much experience as possible.

The photo at right shows Dawson (# 3) handing off to Troutman (#4).

Scouts in the stands from future opponents found plenty to worry about. "They've got more speed than they've had. I don't think they had this much speed even during that great 2019 seaon," one said. "And they've all got that speed. Defenses are going to have a hard time keying on any one player."

"Their defense worries me," said another. "Their defensive starters all seem to be really quick and they really swarm the runner. It looks to me like they're going to force teams to pass, but down here in Class A very few teams have a strong passing attack."

Coach E.J.Dawson was still very cautious. "We have a lot of work to do," he told reporters afterward. "We've got to read situations faster and better, and we've got to stay focused. Our timing can get a lot sharper. We'll try to have a good week of work next week before our game with Mohawk next Friday."

Mohawk is a huge game. It's another AA school, from the same Midwest Conference as Ellwood City. Mohawk will be favored but it's an upset Cornell could pull off. A loss would not count against Cornell in Class A but a win would enhance the Raiders chances for an at large WPIAL bid.

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Dawson "Cautiously Optimistic" For 2021

Coaching football at the smallest public high school in Pennsylvania fielding a football team is a never ending challenge. Two years ago Coach Ed Dawson's Raiders won the conference title and reached the WPIAL semis as three players earned college scholarships. Last year, under severe COVID restrictions, Cornell dropped to 1-7. What 2020 revealed was that to work his magic at a small school, Dawson needs a strong offseason, lots of time in the weight room, and daily conferencing with players to keep them focused. When he didn't have it, since for much of the year students weren't even in school, things fell apart.

This year, as Pennsylvania gradually moves past COVID, Cornell again had a strong off season. "We had a good year in the weight room," Dawson says. "Everyone was focused."

Junior running back and wide receiver Raequan Troutman agreed. "Last year hurt," he recalled. "I never want to go through that again. We all worked hard all Winter, Spring and Summer to make sure we're better prepared."

Troutman (photo, bottom right) is one of the reasons Dawson is "cautiously optimistic" about 2021. He was a reliable runner and receiver as a freshman and sophomore and is now positioned for a breakout junior year. He scored two 85 yard run TDs in '20 and is both fast and elusive.

Dawson (photo, left) returns a solid core from last year. Starting at quarterback will be his son, E.J. (photo below). Although E.J. is probably a natural fullback and is the leader of the defense, he gained valuable experience at QB last season. "He's pretty efficient," Dawson says of his son. "He's become a good game manager. He doesn't panic. He's really improved on when to throw and where to place the ball. His decision making is speeding up. He's really solid."

Backing up E.J. is Sincere Kimbrough, probably the team's best all round athlete, who plays linebacker, quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Kimbrough has a cannon for an arm and has fired pinpoint 65 yarders in practice. But he's a transfer from Brashear and doesn't know the playbook quite as well as E.J. His athleticism makes him dangerous any time he has the ball in his hands.

Senior running back Timmy Henderson is a reliable threat to pick up several yards on every carry and can break loose for longer runs several times a game.

Micah Dickerson returns for his senior season as both a dangerous running back and the team's punter. He is a reliable runner, but his punting needs improvement. If he can kick further and more accurately place the ball away from the opponent's best runners, he can give Cornell a powerful weapon.

Completing Cornell's receiver corps are veteran Shamar Wilson and sophomore Drevon Newton, who also plays on the offensive line.

Key to this attack, however, is the Center position. Last year this was a major problem. Dawson runs the Shotgun offense, which requires a good passing center. The ball must be delivered on cue, into E.J.'s hands. Last year it often sailed over his head, off to the side, or fell at his feet. Sometimes fumbles resulted. Sometimes he would recover the ball but be tackled for loss. Even when he recovered quickly, the play was blown.

To solve this problem, Jamarcus Pierce will start at Center. Pierce is only a freshman, but has been centering the ball precisely through weeks of practice and one scrimmage. Pierce (photo below) will be undersized and inexperienced, and whether he can block opposing linemen remains to be seen, but if he can deliver the ball precisely, that alone will be a tremendous contribution.

E.J. must have time to pass or hand off. Cornell does have some size on the offensive line. Junior Cagney Smith and senior Jerome Brown anchor that line.

Another major contributor this year should be M.J. Smith, a proven extra point kicker who might also handle other kicking duties.

Last year a young, inexperienced Cornell beat itself in half its games. It ran up 150 yards of penalties a night, and most of them were avoidable mistakes : too many men on the field, delay of game, offsides, late hits, and other errors of immaturity. Cornell also led the Big Seven Conference in fumbles, mostly due to sloppy center snaps, but many due to awkward handoffs. If the Raiders can just eliminate those issues, they will become much more competitive.

The Raiders ran over Avella 50-0 last week in their first preseason scrimmage, but Dawson isn't sure what to make of that. "I don't know how good they are," he cautioned. "And they didn't have a lot of size."

That won't be a problem with this week's scrimmage opponent, Ellwood City. The Wolverines, who compete in AA against teams like Beaver Falls, have plenty of size, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. This will provide a good test for young Pierce at Center, but will also see how good Cornell's O and D lines really are.

On the O-Line will be C.J. Poulford, Smith, Damare Brough, Jaimere Jones, and Eric Dennis. On D-Line will be Poulford, Dickerson, Smith, and Dennis. Dawson and Henderson are linebackers, with Troutman and Wilson back in the secondary. Cornell's defense was strong last year and eight of the 11 starters return.

The Raiders have depth. The roster shows 32 players, which for a Class A school is strong. The best of the class A schools, such as Clairton and Jeannette, have 40, but many struggle with less than 20, and the average is between 22-25. And many of the younger players, even though they're only freshmen, came up through four years in Cornell's solid youth football program.

Rochester looms as the heavy favorite in the Big Seven Conference. The Rams reached the WPIAL semis last year and return most of the team. But Shenango, Burgettstown and Sacred Heart should battle Rochester for the conference's three automatic bids. Cornell will have to upset at least one of those to join that battle. Bishop Canevin has been moved to another conference, and Sto Rox has moved up to Class AA. Cornell's best chances for wins appear to be Northgate, Jefferson Morgan and Union. It needs to upset Fort Cherry and Mohawk to reach five wins and even qualify for an at large bid. But whichever of the four contenders does not win an automatic bid will be the main prospect for that at large bid. So Cornell needs to beat at least one of those to place itself in consideration.

The schedule is favorable. It includes five home games. Four of the first five are home. The easier games come first, giving the Raiders time to score wins, gain experience and build momentum before hitting the brutal stretch of Burgettstown-Rochester-Sacred Heart, all away, in October. The Schedule : Thur, Aug 26 : Ellwood City (Scrimmage) Home. Fri, Sept. 3: Mohawk Home. Fri, Sept 10 : Jefferson Morgan Home. Fri, Sept 17 : Northgate Home. Fri, Sept 24 : Shenango Away. Fri, Oct 1 : Union Home. Sat, Oct 9 : Burgettstown Away. Fri, Oct 15 : Rochester Away. Fri, Oct 22 : Fort Cherry Home. Fri, Oct 29 : Sacred Heart Away.

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Policz Holds Off Charlier In Late Models

Ben Policz held off Daryl Charlier for almost the entire race to win the Limited Late Model Feature at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway on a balmy moonlit Saturday night.

Charlier, seen at right, moved up to second place and tried every strategy to pass Policz, with no success. He tried going both high and low, but Policz countered each time. There were also a battle going on behind the leaders, as Cole Petrelle, Tim Shaffer and Bill Kessler fought for third.

It was Policz's 17th career win, tying him for 8th all time at the track. "It was a great race," he said at trackside later. "Daryl was right there on my fender so I couldn't let up for a second. And we were weaving in and out around the lapped cars, which complicated things. And then when Chris Lander spun out, I didn't know if they were going to pull a yellow or not. But we were able to hang on for the win."

Charlier held his season points lead, however. The win moved Policz up to fifth place but Zach Morrow, Zach Gunn and Philip Bubeck stayed in second, third and fourth. Neither Morrow nor Gunn started the Feature but Bubeck finished only ninth so lost a golden opportunity to close the gap.

Frank Magill won the Stocks Feature in another thriller over Tyler Fox, Stephen Shelpman and Danny Rich. It was was Magill's 5th Feature win this year at the track, after a successful couple of seasons in the Young Guns Division.

"It's fun racing door to door with really good drivers," he told reporters. "We're still working the bugs out of the car, but we've been blessed with really good luck this year."

One driver who hasn't been blessed with good luck is Kayla McManus, seen at left. She finished seventh Saturday, which will help move her up slightly from 15th place. But she admitted to reporters before the race that her #OOK car suffered a bent frame in an accident last year, and they haven't replaced it because they haven't decided whether to move up to Limited Late Models or not. "If we decide to stay in Stocks, we'll take care of it," she said, "But in the meantime, it's hard to compete with these guys when your car's slightly off."

Travis Clark won the Teenage ("Young Guns") Division Feature over Cameron Hollister and Logan Koteles. It was Clark's second straight Feature win, but Koteles (#5, right) remains in first place in the season points race.

Sye Lynch of Apollo won the Winged Sprint Feature in a thrilling last second finish over Wampum's Brandon Matus. Lynch never led in the race until he squeezed past Matus in the last 100 feet coming down the final straight for the checkered flag. Long time fans said it was the best checkered flag dash they'd seen in 20 years. The photo finish was decided by six hundredths of a second.

"This track is really fast," Lynch said later. "You have to go for the lead right away, and if you don't get it, then you have to hang close and wait for an opportunity. Fortunately, I found the opportunity right there at the end. I've wanted to win here for so long but have had to settle for thirds and seconds. My Grandfather won here, my Dad won here, and finally I can say I won here."

Brian Huchko won the Sportsman Feature over Mike Harris and Nick Kocuba. The Super Modified Feature (the cars with the driver sitting in the center like an Indy Car) was won by Justin Shea over Tony Tatgenhorst and JC Boyer.


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Weldon Captures White Memorial At PPMS

Todd Weldon (photo, left) won the W.W. White Memorial Race for Sportsmen Saturday night at Pittsburgh Memorial Speedway after fighting off Nick Kocuba the whole way. Kocuba led early, but Weldon moved into first as lap three began. Kocuba grabbed the lead back briefly on the fourth and 10th laps but Weldon managed to recover it each time. Newcastle's Billyk family filled the rest of the finish, as Jacob Billyk placed third, Jackson Billyk fourth and Jacob Billyk III fifth. Kocuba leads the season points race with 620. Brian Huchko was second with 596 (124) points, Mike Harris 540 (-80), Pete Loria fourth with 401 and Tanya Charlier fifth. It was Weldon's second feature win in three weeks at PPMS.

Bill Tennant won the Four Cylinder Feature, with Lucas Weaver, Derek Quigley, April Tennant and Craig Rudolph filling out the top five. Tennant leads in season points with 688, with Rudolph second at 661, Weaver third at 611, Noah Bubeck fourth at 540 and Eric Reynolds fifth at 528.

Cole Petrelle won the Limited Late Model Feature after first taking the lead on turn two of lap six from Colton Flinner. Daryl Charlier moved up to challenge on lap 18 but Petrelle held him off. Philip Bubeck, Dan Lepro and Tom Klein rounded out the top five. Charlier still leads the season points race with 833. Zach Morrow at 801, Zach Gunn at 741, Bubeck at 736 and Kassidy Kamacher at 655 complete the top five.

Cody Koteles won his third Stocks Feature after taking the lead from Kayla McManus on lap seven. The two battled the rest of the way, often running side by side, but McManus never could quite move in front. The other high finishers were Stephen Shelpman, Frank Magill and Ben Anton. Magill retains the season points lead by a slim 13 points over Koteles, 912-899. Matt Benard at 876, Karlee Kovacs at 856 and John Cain at 849 complete the top five. But Kovacs' season is about over, as she returns to college at California University.

This Saturday, all regular divisions will be back in action, but will be joined by the Winged Sprints. Hopewell Township's Tim Shaffer (photo, right) is a local favorite in this division. A Winged Sprint car can be built for around $65,000. The $45,0000 engine produces 800+ horsepower and can hit 150 mph on straightaways, although racetrack curves require them to slow down to about 125 mph. Drivers from five states will compete Saturday. Winged Sprints are the fastest cars currently racing on dirt tracks in the U.S. They compete on a circuit and return to Pittsburgh Motor Speedway about once a month.

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Norris Takes Televised Jook George Memorial

For the second consecutive year, Michael Norris won the Jook George Memorial Feature Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. Norris averaged 105.78 mph to edge Kyle Hardy in a wild 50 lapper with seven restarts.

36 Limited Late Model race teams from seven states showed up for this 32nd annual race, honoring William Thomas "Jook" George, who was a driver and then an owner who raced at PPMS and other area tracks. He won races and season titles in both roles. This year's Memorial offered a total of $21,000 in purses.

Kyle Lukon, Michael Duritsky and Daryl Charlier led or challenged for the lead through the 50 laps, but the late stage came down to a battle for first between Norris and Hardy. "I ran the middle line," Norris said later (photo, right). "I love this big track. It gives us room to maneuver. I wish they ran more big races here so I could come more often." Hardy agreed. "The track was great tonight. I wanted the high line but never could get it."

It was the first Pittsburgh Motor Speedway race to be televised live. The Lernerville TV Network (lernerville.tv), which began last year and has been televising all Lernerville races, did it as an experiment. Production was very professional and well received by viewers. The same company may televise other major races at PPMS this season.

Stephen Shelpman won the Stocks Division Feature after grabbing the lead from Cody Koteles. Shelpman averaged 87.35 mph. Koteles and Shelpman each won their qualifying heats. Shelpman had missed two weeks with a blown engine but his car and its new engine were running fine Saturday. Koteles had been leading but hit the wall and could never regain first place. Frank Magill finished 16th, so Koteles will close the 31 points he trails Magill in the season points race. Shelpman had been in 13th, 157 points back. The win will boost him into the top 10, but he's too far back to come close to the leaders.

PPMS has two other memorial races planned. This Saturday Sportsmen race in the Willie White Memorial. Stocks teams will point to the Josh Langer Memorial September 11.

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Weldon Wins Sportsman Feature At PPMS

Saturday night was Autograph Night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway, and as the aerial drone shot by Steve Skarupa at right shows, quite a few fans came down on the track to get programs, shirts and books signed by their favorite drivers. Those fans saw quite a show, too, as the top three feature races were all close, exciting and suspenseful.

Todd Weldon (photo below) started the Sportsman Feature in third but had moved into the lead by the end of the first lap. Nick Kocuba came up from seventh to grab the lead on lap four and Weldon had to regain it on lap six, holding it the rest of the way. But it wasn't easy. The race was stopped three times for wrecks and spinouts, which kept narrowing Weldon's lead. It was Weldon's first feature win of the year. Brian Huchko finished second, with Kocuba third. The win pulled Weldon up to sixth place in season points, but Kocuba still leads with 553. Mike Harris is second with 540, with Huchko third at 539.

Kyle Lukon won the Limited Late Model Feature after starting sixth. Daryl Charlier grabbed the early lead and by the end of lap two Lukon had moved into second. The race was fairly clean, with only one restart. On that restart Zach Gunn stole the lead temporarily, but Lukon grabbed it on lap seven and kept it the rest of the way. Levi Crowl was second and Gunn third.

Charlier leads the season points race with 737, with Zach Morrow second at 716, Phillip Bubeck third at 663, Gunn fourth at 661 and Ben Policz fifth at 560. Lukon is far back in the standings in 19th with 266. Saturday was his first feature win.

As usual, the Stocks Feature provided the evening's best race. Points leader Frank Magill started in sixth with rival Cody Koteles in ninth. By lap four Magill was in second and Koteles third. After a restart on lap five those two would move into first and second and battle for the lead the rest of the way, with Magill holding off Koteles.

Magill remains in first with 828 season points. Koteles is second at 797, Matt Benard third at 791, Karlee Kovacs fourth at 774 and John Cain fifth at 769.

April Tennant won the Four Cylinder Feature, and Logan Koteles the Young Guns (teenage) Feature.

This Saturday (August 7) is the 32nd annual Steel City Classic for Limited Late Models. The race, which pays $6000 to win, always draws a large field of the top cars and drivers from seven or more states. It will be live streamed. But the evening will also feature races in the other divisions.

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Koteles Wins Second Stocks Feature

Cody Koteles (photo, right) fought through three yellow caution flags and restarts to win the 20 car Stocks Division Feature at PPMS Saturday night. It was Koteles' second Feature win of the year and pulled him into second place in the season points race behind Frank Magill.

Koteles started in fifth, but took the lead on lap six. He and Magill battled the rest of the way, with Magill always on Koteles' bumper or trying to move above or below him, but Koteles held off Magill's every move.

It was payback time for Koteles, who probably would've won the Feature last week but had to pull into the pits with car trouble. He rejoined the race at the end of the field and worked his way back up to fourth but time ran out.

The top five were Koteles, Magill, Kayla McManus, Chloie Jones, and Tony Magill. The season points now stand at Magill 737, Koteles 708, Matt Benard 705, Karlee Kovacs 695 and John Cain 784.

Ben Policz fought off Daryl Charlier to win the 18 car Limited Late Model Feature. Policz started on the pole and led the entire way. Two restarts kept reducing his lead, and Mike Reft challenged during the middle laps until Charlier moved into second and spent the last three laps trying to get past Policz. The top five finishers were Policz, Charlier, Reft, Zach Gunn and Zach Morrow.

The Late Models are warming up for their upcoming 50 lap Steel City Classic on August 7.

Charlier (photo, left) still leads in season points with 660, followed by Morrow at 642, Philip Bubeck at 591, Gunn at 583 and Policz at 491.

Nick Kocuba won the Sportsman Feature, coming up from a sixth place start. He moved up to third on lap nine and second on lap 11, finally taking the lead on lap 12. Other top five finishers were Todd Weldon, Brian Huchko, Pete Loria and Mike Harris. The win gave Kocuba the season points lead with 484, followed by Harris with 481, Huchko with 469, Loria with 336 and Tanya Charlier with 265.

Hemi Kineston led the last three laps to win the Four Cylinder Feature. However, Bill Tennant still leads the season points race with 546.

The focus of the evening was on the Sprint Cars. These do not race every week at PPMS, but owner Matt Miley brings them in about once a month because fans love them, and in the hopes that eventually maybe they can become a regular division at the track. Both BOSS and RUSH cars ran Saturday. Rush Sprints is a division designed to keep prices down so the average person can afford to compete. There are tight limits on engines and parts, and cars are closely inspected at the tracks to make sure they are within these limits. A Rush Sprint can be built for $10,000 - $15,000. RUSH engines produce about 300 horsepower and hit about 100 mph. Boss engines produce 400 horsepower and hit about 110 mph. Sadly no local drivers currently participate. Most of the teams are from Ohio and Indiana. The nearest ones are from Butler, Kittaning and Evans City. Sprinters have no transmissions or starters and are pushed to start.

Saturday, Matt Westfall of Pleasant Hill, Ohio, won the BOSS 25 lap Feature. Chad Ruhlman of Erie won the RUSH Feature.


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Moon's Logan Zarin Returns Home A Winner

Frank Magill, Logan Zarin and Jeff Broniszewski won major Feature races at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Saturday night as the season reached its halfway point.

Magill (right, being interviewed) was greatly helped in his Stocks Division win as Cody Koteles had to drop into the pits during a yellow flag. Race rules mandate that anyone stopping by the pits and then reentering the race must line up in last place for the restart. Koteles had originally started far back in the 21 team field but had worked his way up to fourth. It was obvious to everyone in the stands that his car was the hottest on the track and he was going to be in second after another lap. The yellow flag would be a help, as it tightly grouped cars for the restart. A quick move underneath, a favorite Koteles technique, and he'd be challenging Magill for the lead with plenty of time remaining.

Koteles going to the back of the line gave Magill breathing room. As it was, Koteles still almost challenged him. He threaded his way through the field, as seen in the photo at left (Koteles is in #1), until he was once again fourth and within reach of Magill, whose back corner can be seen disappearing out of the photo. That's Adam Ferree in #29 and Chloie Jones in #76. Koteles has just passed Karlee Kovacs in #221K, The Pink Panther.

But time ran out. This photo is on Turn #2 of the final lap. Koteles got past #76 and was working on #29 as they crossed the finish line.

Magill averaged 92.93 mph for the race. Behind him, the other top five finishers were Ferree, Koteles, Jones and Kayla McManus. Three of the top eight finishers were young women.

The win expanded Magill's lead in the season points race. He came into the evening with a 21 point lead over Matt Benard and a 22 point lead over Kovacs and Stephen Shelpman. But Shelpman dropped out after lap #7, Kovacs finished only eighth, and Benard finished sixth.

The Stocks Division has become the most hotly contested of the five local divisions Pittsburgh Motor Speedway runs every week. (Owner Matt Miley hosts Sprints and Super Modifieds ("Modified Sportsmen") frequently and will host a Lucal Oil Unlimited Late Model race in October, but does not offer season point races in those.) 24 cars compete in the Stocks every week and the standings reshuffle after every race.

Meanwhile, Moon Township's Logan Zarin (photo, right) returned to PMS and won the Limited Late Model Feature fairly easily.

Zarin spends most weekends racing Unlimiteds ("Super Late Models") at major tracks such as Erie and Muskingum, which can afford the larger purses those cars require. But at PMS Saturday his famous white 1Z quickly moved up the field (see photo, below) and once he reached the lead he was never challenged. Zarin averaged 115 mph in the Feature race.

The rest of the top five behind him were Daryl Charlier, Zach Morrow, Zach Gunn and Ben Policz.

Zarin doesn't race often enough at PMS to be a contender in the season points race. Entering Saturday's Feature, the leaders were Charlier, Morrow, Philip Bubeck, and Gunn with Policz eighth. The standings will remain pretty much the same except Polizc will move up and Bubeck will move down.

The next time Zarin might appear at PMS will likely be August 7, when the Steel City Classic, a 50 lap Feature with high purses, will be held.

In the lower divisions, Bill Tennant won the Four Cylinder Division even though he was in a different car.

Tennant thus has the unique honor of being both first and 13th in the Four Cylinder Season Standings. This is possible because cars, not drivers, earn points at racetracks. Two different cars with Tennant listed as their driver are scoring points.

Craig Rudolph is 24 points behind Tennant at the top of the standings. Lucas Weaver, Noah Bubeck and Eric Reynolds round out the top five.

The Four Cylinder Division is certainly entertaining. It has Herbie The Love Bug, Lightning McQueen, a panel truck, and an unrecognizable vehicle with the back hatch missing.

Jeff Broniszewski of Coraopolis won the Sportsmen Feature over Todd Weldon, Brian Hutchko, Nick Kocuba and Vince Laboon. Weldon and Hutchko pursued Bronszewski for the entire race but never could quite catch him.

Broniszewski (photo, right) has won 29 victories in the Sportsmen ("Pro Stocks") but talked after the race about he's also blown three engines at PMS.

"This one seems to be holding up," he told reporters afterward. "So we're keeping our fingers crossed. We've put an awful lot of time and effort into this car."

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Koteles, Hutchko Win Stock, Sportsmen Features

Cody Koteles survived a four car battle to win the Stocks Division Feature at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Saturday night. It was his first Feature win of the season, and came just after he won his Heat race earlier in the evening. Chloie Jones, Frank Magill and Stephen Shelpman had also led the Feature race for a few laps each until Koteles finally grabbed the lead on Lap 13.

The win pulled Koteles up to sixth place in the season points race with 518. Magill still leads with 545. Matt Benard is second with 524, Karlee Kovacs and Shelpman are tied for third with 523, and John Cain is fourth with 522.

Brian Hutchko (photo, left) won the Sportsmen Feature by a wide seven second margin. The excitement in the race was in second place, where Mike Harris fought off Nick Kocuba for several laps. Hutchko is now in third place in season points with 331. Harris leads with 347. Kocuba is second with 344. Pete Loria at 204 and Chris Schneider at 147 round out the top five.

The big event of the evening was the Herb Scott Memorial for Limited Late Models. Honoring famous Western Pennsylvania driver Herb Scott, this annual classic, now in its ninth year, drew 30 cars from six states. Three massive pileups stopped the race. Jeremy Wonderling took the lead from Mike Norris on lap five and held it the rest of the way. While he has been hugely successful at other tracks across Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, this was Wonderling's first win at PMS. Results of the Scott Memorial left Daryl Charlier leading the Limited Division with 500 points. Zach Morrow is second with 486, Philip Bubeck third with 443, Zach Gunn fourth with 427 and Jake Gunn fifth with 406.

Racing will resume this Saturday at 7 pm. It's $1 Hot Dog night.

Robin Gilligan

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Whitling Wins Speedway's LaBoon Memorial
Bobby Whitling fought off attacks by Chris Schneider, Daryl Charlier and Brian Hutchko to win the 10th annual Ed Laboon Memorial Race for the Sportsmen Division at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Saturday. It was a battle all the way among the 26 drivers who started. "Chris left me early and pulled out to that big lead," Whitling recalled, "but after that first restart my car suddenly came to life and we were in it from then on. Daryl came on really strong late but had that bad luck when he hit the wall trying to go high. We put softer tires on and I stayed low. This is my first ever win here. I like this track but it's never been very good to me until now. To win this special race means a lot." Whitling took home a $5017 purse, the second most of any race in the Penn Ohio Sportsmen Series. This week's Sharon Speedway purse of $10,000 for first place is the highest. Schneider, of Lower Burrell, came in second. Hutchko placed third, but was thrilled. "I'm still running my old two barrel and I didn't think I could keep up with these guys with their bigger engines. We just tried to stay off the walls and do a good job late when we had to navigate around lapped cars."

Zach Morrow of Gibsonia won the Limited Late Model Feature with an average speed of 117.29 mph. It was his first Limited Late Model win at PMS but he'd won several features in previous years while racing Sprint Cars. He had come close last week, placing second to Daryl Charlier in the LLM Feature. Joe Martin and Jake Gunn finished second and third, with Charlier fifth. The win should put Morrow first in the season point standings. He was third last week, only four points behind Charlier and Dan Lepro, but Charlier finished fifth and Lepro 16th.

The Limited Late Models will race each Saturday night but their big midyear feature will be the annual Herb Scott Memorial on July 3rd. The 40 lapper pays $4000 to win. It will carry additional points so should go a long way toward clarifying the season points competition.

These are the cars, often nicknamed "Crates," that use a sealed engine crews cannot open and tinker with, and various other standardized parts such as shocks and transmissions. Cars are inspected at the track to make sure rules are being followed. The idea is that it keeps costs down and levels the playing field so wealthier racing teams cannot overwhelm opponents by simply outspending them. Driving skills thus become more important than the cars, which are all approximately identical.

Down in the Stocks Division, Frank Magill won for the second week in a row, holding off Matt Benard (#15 at right) of Oakdale, who finished second, and John Cain of North Versailles, who finished third. Local favorite Karlee Kovacs, in the Jailhouse Saloon Car, endured another frustrating night. Her car simply does not have the power to keep up with Magill, Benard and Cain. She started 10th and steadily worked her way up until she was 5th. But her average speed was 84.71 mph, compared to Magill's 91.80 and the others ahead of her ranging from 88 to 90. Kovacs is using her experience and talent to outperform her car, such as her third place finish last week, but she's going to have a hard time challenging Magill, Benard and Cain on a consistent basis.

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Charlier Captures PMS Late Model Feature

Daryl Charlier (photo, right pulling into Victory Lane just after the race) won the Limited Late Model Feature Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. The veteran driver averaged 107.08 en route to his 68th win and 28th in Limited Late Models. Charlier has also won features in Sportsmen and Modifieds. He won the Sportsmen Feature just Friday night at Lehrnerville.

"I usually like to run high, but tonight I was having a hard time getting a grip up there, so I eased down to the middle and just stayed there," Charlier told reporters after the race. "The car was running beautifully tonight, so thanks to my pit crew."

The race card started late because during warmup laps a car took out two light poles and they had to be replaced.

Zach Morrow, Tommy Schirnhofer, and Zach and Jake Gunn rounded out the top five, but Charlier started on the pole and led the entire way.

The win should put Charlier in first place in the early season points race. He entered the race in third, 10 points behind the lead. The win carries 86 points. Morrow was in fourth, 12 points behind, and picked up 84. Last week's leader, Dan Lepro, finished 10th.

Chris Schneider won the Sportsman Feature, averaging 97.37 mph. It's his 13th win and came in a 20 year old car.

"Our new car isn't ready yet, so we're running this old one. But she's doin' fine for us. I thought the track was smooth and slick and not a bit dusty."

Behind Schneider, Noah Brunell, Ricky Kugel, Nick Kocuba and Brian Huchko rounded out the top five.

Sportsmen drivers now point to the 10th annual Ed Laboon Memorial Classic coming up June 5th. With a $5,000 first place purse, the Laboon Memorial will attract the best Sportsmen racing teams in 12 states.

But Kocuba and Huchko were the big winners in the season point ranks. Kocuba had been tied for first and Huchko had been third, 15 points behind. They picked up 68 and 67 points, respectively, and the others in the top five finished far back or did not finish.

Frank Magill held off Cody Koteles and Karlee Kovacs to win the Stocks Feature. This is the last major division still using actual stock cars, although they've had safety equipment like roll bars, performance parts like shocks, brakes, etc, added, and the engine upgraded and tuned to racing quality. This is also the most hotly contested division at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway this season.

Magill led the whole way, but barely. Chloie Jones went out on Lap 2 with mechanical issues and Tony Magill moved up to challenge. The Magills battled in laps 1-6, until Kayla McMahan hit the wall and limped into the pits. On the restart, Koteles moved up and battled Magill the rest of the way. Kovacs, Matt Benard and Adam Ferree spun out in a tangle on Lap 11. Kovacs recovered and shot forward on the restart to dart from 7th to 3rd, from where she spent the rest of the race trying to catch Magill. John Cain and Ben Anton finished 4th and 5th.

"I just held the top line," Magill said after the race. "With 24 cars, there's a lot of banging going on, and I tried to stay above it."

The win left Magill leading the season points standings with 280. Kovacs is in second with 272. Behind them are Benard, McMahan, Koteles and Cain.

Matt Kiesel won the Four Cylinder Feature, and Logan Koteles won the Young Guns (teenage) Feature.

Justin Shea won the Modified Division Feature. All entries were from Ohio, New York and other parts of Pennsylvania. The important thing about this race was not who won, but that local fans got to see this "new" type of car, which is growing in popularity elsewhere. As can be seen in the photo at left of Shea and his car, these are a radical departure from the traditional dirt track racer. Drivers are centered, like in an Indianapolis or Open Wheel car. Rush is pushing this division as an affordable option for teams who want to compete at a high powered level but can't afford it. Rush Modifieds are standardized. They all use the same General Motors 602 cubic inch engines. They're sealed at the intake manifold, cylinder heads, front cover and oil pan, and officials check before and after races to make sure the seals have not been broken. They all use the same Holly 650 cfm carburetor, $135 Bilstein shocks, 86" Hoosier racing tires, and nine feet by five feet frames. All these components are bought from RUSH at discount prices. So no team can outspend any other team. All cars are close to equal. Driving skills and pit crews should be the only determinants of success. Owner Matt Miley will bring these cars to Pittsburgh once a month this year. The reluctance of local teams to make the change is the investment they already have in their existing cars.


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Lepro, Kocuba, McManus Win Features

Dan Lepro of Midway picked up his first Limited Late Model Feature win of his career Saturday night at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. Lepro, who in 2020 moved up from Go Kart racing, averaged 114.37 mph in winning the race over Ben Policz, Zach Morrow, Daryl Charlier and Bill Kessler, who battled him all the way. The photo at right shows Speedway owner Matt Miley congratulating Lepro. Ricky Steigerwald of Moon and Eric Hamilton of Imperial finished 7th and 11th. Lepro, who was nominated for Rookie Of The Year last year, admitted "The oil pressure gauge worried me the whole way." But he was elated. "This is only our second season in this car. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into getting it ready."

Kyle Lukon of Burgettstown and Logan Zarin of Moon skipped PMS action Saturday to enter the big Limited Late Model stakes races at Erie Speedway. Lukon won their Heat with Logan third. In the Feature Lukon finished 8th and Lukon 10th.

Nick Kocuba of Burgettstown (formerly of Imperial)won the Sportsman (which RUSH insists on calling "Pro Stocks" even though the cars are neither pro nor stock) Feature after dueling with Brian Huchko for 10 laps. While trying to pass Bill Slade, Huchko hit the wall and had to enter the pits. Huchko is back in Sportsmen this year after several years in the E-Mod Division, mostly at other tracks. He returned to the race and was able to work his way back up, but could finish only 5th. Kocuba, who averaged 108.32 mph, has a pit crew of his Dad and brother Ryan. Close behind Kocuba were Mike Harris, Al Poljak and Slade.
In the Hobby Stocks Feature, which so far is 2021's most hotly contested division, Kayla McManus, in her newly repainted 00K, won with an 89.56 mph average. It was a wild race, with numerous snarls, spinouts and restarts. McManus sharpened her skills in the Young Guns (teenage) Division, and has moved up to Hobby Stocks this year. "It was rough," she told reporters afterward. "We were knocked and banged around quite a bit, but there were 22 cars out there, so that's to be expected." Three of the top six starters were young ladies. Chloie Jones, moving up to cars at age 17 after several years in motorcycles, finished fourth. Longtime local favorite Karlee Kovacs started sixth and exploded from the starting flag to squeeze into third, but on turn 3 hit a massive snarl and had to stop by the pits. She came back but could only finish 13th.

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Post Covid Era Begins At Speedway

Yes, people are still wearing masks, washing their hands often and social distancing. But as everyone gets vaccinated and the threat of COVID slowly recedes, sports events are returning to normal. Saturday night, Pittsburgh Motor Speedway opened 2021 with a full slate of heats and features.

Most of the old favorites were there, and a few new drivers joined the competition. Logan Zarin of Moon Township picked up right where he ended last year, by finishing second in the Limited Late Model Feature. Zarin, in 1Z (the white car below), started 17th but steadily worked his way up through the 20 car field amid a series of wrecks and restarts. Kyle Lukon of Burgetttstown won the race. Other high finishers were 3. Mike Reft, 4. Cole Petrelle, 5. Dan Lepro, 6. Zach Gunn, 7. Tony White, and 8. Bill Kessler.

Noah Brunell of New Alexandria won the Sportsman Feature (now referred to as "Pro Stocks") with Burgettstown's Nick Kocuba second. These cars now race as part of the Penn Ohio Circuit, which includes Pittsburgh and tracks in Pennsylvania, Ohio and western New York. Points earned at any of the tracks count toward the Penn-Ohio season championship.

Stephen Shelpman of Pleasant Hills won the Hobby Stocks Feature, barely holding off a gang attack by Adam Ferree, Frank Magill and Karlee Kovacs. Kovacs, a California State University graduate from Carnegie, is now an American Eagle sales rep during the week while she waits for a local teaching position to open up. That's her in #221 below. She slid into second a few times during the race and held third for most of the laps, but lost out on the final lap to Magill. Shelpman started 4th but after a restart after lap one he movcd up to grab the lead although he had to fight off Ferree, Magill and Kovacs on every lap. The Hobby Stocks, sort of the high amateur division, drew 20 cars for this season opener and treated the audience to two exciting heats and one very competitive feature. Many of its drivers and pit crews have a decade of experience behind them. This could be one of this year's best divisions.

Kyle Janas of Groveton had a frustrating night. He led his Four Cylinder Division heat for a while but lost it on the final lap to Bill Tennant. Then, in the Feature, he started third and battled Tennant for the lead for a while but was forced out by car trouble with two laps to go.

Cameron Hollister of McDonald won the Young Guns (teenage) Feature over Cameron Lambert of Mars. Lambert started on the pole and led for a while but blew a tire. His pit crew got it changed and he returned to the race but never could regain the lead.

This Saturday (May 8th) the usual divisions will race plus the visiting Sprint Cars. The first race will begin at 7 pm and the last one usually ends around 10 pm.

Robin Gilligan

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Fort Cherry Ends Cornell Misery 41-6

2020 will go down in history as the season Cornell would just as soon forget. Having graduated a corps of great seniors from a conference championship team, Coach Ed Dawson needed a strong off season to bring his sophomores and freshmen up to speed. Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, he didn't get any off season. Then, with no off season and a very inexperienced lineup, he needed a couple of early nonconference games to work on execution and timing. He didn't get those, either, thanks to WPIAL and PIAA rulings that shortened the season and allowed only conference games. So Cornell faced a series of senior loaded conference opponents and suffered through onesided losses.

Friday night, Fort Cherry ended the Raider suffering with a 41-6 pounding. The Raiders hung on during the first quarter, giving up only one three yard touchdown run by Chase Belsterling and the PAT kick by Nasier Sutton for a 7-0 deficit.

But Fort Cherry won the game with a three touchdown second quarter for a 27-0 halftime lead. Maddox Trusche ran from the 12, Belstering ran 93 yards from the opposite seven, and Jake Tkach threw a 19 yard pass to Sutton. The PATs were all kicked by Sutton. Tkach and Connor Kazares scored the two second half touchdowns on one yard runs.

Raequan Troutman scored Cornell's only TD on a 78 yard kickoff runback but the game was already out of reach.

So Cornell turns its attention to 2021. The Raiders will be strong. They'll have a battle hardened quarterback in E. J. Dawson and two legitimate stars at running back in Amere Hibbler and Troutman. They'll have experience on the line and on defense. They'll still be young, with mostly juniors and sophomores, but they'll be a contender.

Meanwhile, next week, Shenango and Rochester will represent the Big Seven Conference in the WPIAL playoffs, while OLSH could receive an at large bid.

Kevin Edwards

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Rochester Wins In Second Quarter, 35-7

Rochester scored 21 points in the second quarter and went on to a 35-7 win at Cornell Friday night in the last 2020 home game for the Raiders.

Amere Hibbler (#2 in photo at left) scored the only Cornell touchdown on a 58 yard run, also in the second quarter. M.J. Smith kicked the extra point. At that point, Cornell was still in the game at 21-7.

But Rochester, which two weeks ago blasted Sacred Heart and is headed for a showdown next week at Shenango for the Big Seven Conference championship, just had too much offense for the young, rebuilding Raiders. Rashawn Reid opened the Ram scoring with an 11 yard run. Sal Laure ran in the next two TDs, one from the 16 and one from the four. Danny Robinson scored on a 45 yard run, and, in the fourth quarter, Laure added a 10 yard run. Adam Schurr kicked the PAT after all five TDs.

Cornell is now out of contention for a post season bid but finishes the season next Friday at Fort Cherry, which lost a shootout to Union 43-42.

Sacred Heart lost to Shenango 45-21 Friday, so is also out of contention. The seven game WPIAL season, shortened by COVID-19, concludes early this year to allow for an abbreviated playoff series.

Burgettstown Rolls Over Cornell 29-14

Burgettstown held Cornell scoreless for three quarters and hammered the Raiders deeper into the hole 29-14 Friday night at Frank Letteri Stadium.

Cornell is now 1-4 on this pandemic shortened seven game season with only two games remaining. The Raiders play fourth ranked Rochester at home Friday and travel to Fort Cherry (2-3) a week later. They won't be favored in either contest.

Both Cornell scores came on spectacular runbacks. Tim Henderson (#7, in photo at left) ran one Burgettstown kickoff back 75 yards for a touchdown, and Micah Dickerson ran one back 52 yards for a TD. Cornell went for two after both scores. On the first, E.J. Dawson's pass was incomplete. On the second, Dawson ran it in for two points.

But it was too little too late. By the time of Henderson's electrifying run, Cornell was down 22-0. Burgettstown then scored again as Jackson Larocka passed 25 yards to Cole Shergi. William Craig kicked the extra point to make it 29-6.

Shane Kemper opened the scoring way back in the first quarter with a one yard run. The kick failed and the Blue Devils led 6-0. Burgettstown caught Cornell in its end zone for a safety and led 8-0. There was no scoring at all in the second quarter so Cornell was still just one TD (and two point PAT) down at halftime. But Burgettstown scored in the third quarter as Kemper caught a 25 yard pass from Larocka and then ran in the extra point for a 16-0 lead. Early in the fourth, LaRocka ran it in from the one for that 22-0 edge. The kick failed.

The win was slight consolation for Burgettstown, which had been a contender for several years in Class 2A, with 21 straight regular season wins, 15 straight conference wins, and five straight playoffs. When declining enrollment dropped it to Class A, the Blue Devils were expected to win the Big Seven Conference and challenge Clairton and Jeannette in the playoffs. It hasn't worked out that way. Burgettstown is only 2-5.

Cornell is also suffering a disappointing season. The Raiders are rebuilding after last year's championship, but they expected to finish at least 4-3 and maybe contend for an at large bid. COVID-19 doomed that by preventing Cornell from practicing enough.


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Cornell Loses In Overtime To Union 20-18

The inability to score extra points after touchdowns has been a problem with Cornell all year, and even back into last year. It's been a time bomb waiting to cost the Raiders a game.

Friday night, it did.

The Raiders scored three touchdowns at Union, which should have been 21 points and a victory. But they could not add the PAT after any of them and lost 20-18.

It took a while. The game went into overtime, the first for Union since 2001 and possibly the first ever for Cornell.

No one scored in the first quarter. Cornell struck first in the second period on a 48 yard punt return by Tim Henderson (#7 in photo at right). Later in the quarter, Union's Tyler Staub pushed in from the one yard line to tie it at 6-6.

In the third quarter, Amere Hibbler caught a 28 yard pass from E. J. Dawson (# 3 in photo below) to put the Raiders up 12-6.

With 3:36 left in the fourth quarter, Union's Jackson Clark went in from the four yard line to tie it at 12-12. He made the two point conversion, but a holding penalty nullified it. Union's second attempt failed. The Scotties kicked off to Cornell and were called for a horsecollar tackle, which gave the Raiders the ball on the Union 29. But on third down, Dawson's pass was intercepted in the end zone by Union's Anthony Nealy. That gave Union possession on its own 20 but the Scotties could not score and the game went to overtime.

Cornell won the toss and gave Union the first possession. Clark carried it in from the five and then ran in the PAT for a 20-12 lead. But the Raiders weren't done. On their first play from scrimmage, Henderson ran it in for the TD cutting the lead to 20-18. So it all came down to the PAT. Cornell tried a run, but it failed, and the game was over.

The loss was devastating for Cornell. It dropped the Raiders to 1-3 and ended their hopes for an at large bid to the playoffs. They return home to face Burgettstown Friday night. The Blue Devils lost to Shenango 48-7 Friday. They have also lost to OLSH 41-0 and Rochester 29-7, and beat Fort Cherry 27-22. Union plays OLSH this week at Moon Stadium.

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Zarin Finishes Second In Regular Season Finale

Logan Zarin of Moon Township concluded a strong late season rally to finish second in the 25 lap Late Model Feature at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway to wrap up the 2019 regular season. Zarin finished 5th in the points race, won by Ben Policz in Car 14B. In the Four Cylinder Division, Kyle Janas of Forest Grove (above Groveton) finished third in the Feature race and third in the regular season standings. Karlee Kovacs finished fourth in season points in the Hobby Stocks.

This Friday is the Bill Hendren 100 for Limited Late Models. Saturday is the Lucas Oil Pittsburgh 100 with a $20,000 first place purse. This is the biggest dirt track weekend of the year in the Pittsburgh area, drawing Limited and Unlimited Late Models from Florida to Texas to California. The closest to NASCAR dirt track racing gets, the Pittsburgh 100 features $100,000 cars hauled around in semi cabs and air conditioned trailers costing more than the car. The entire weekend is quite a show.

Robin Gilligan

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Watkins-Led Shenango Embarasses Cornell 68-14

It was supposed to be a battle for a WPIAL playoff spot, but apparently the Cornell Raiders missed the memo. In the words of their Coach, Ed Dawson, "We didn't show up. We had no passion. No pride. We let this team come in here and run all over us on our home field."

Shenango, which returned every starter on both offense and defense, has been in 2A but was dropped to 1A this year. They were older, bigger and stronger at every position than the young, rebuilding Raiders, which are mostly sophomores and freshmen. They were led by senior quarterback Reis Watkins (#4 in photo at right), a 6-3, 220 college prospect who ran for 199 yards on 20 carries and scored six touchdowns. That's sophomore Raequan Troutman tackling Watkins in the photo while sophomore E.J. Dawson (#3) looks on, but the Raiders didn't succeed in bringing down Watkins very often.

In all, Shenango totalled 373 yards of offense while Cornell managed 71. The Raiders still shot themselves in the foot with fumbles and false start, delay of game and offside penalties. Their problem with center snaps continued. Cornell lines up in a shotgun with Dawson 3-5 yards back. The snap is repeatedly too high, either over his head or requiring him to reach up for it, or too low, either bouncing off the ground or requiring him to reach down for it. Sometimes he has to turn and chase the ball down. At the least, this ruins the timing of the play, and at worst, it results in a fumble recovered by the opponent.

It didn't take long for these problem to occur Friday. Cornell received and took over on its 28. A high snap lost the Raiders two yards. A delay of game lost them five more. A low snap gave the defense time to get to Dawson and rush his pass, which fell incomplete. So they punted.

Shenango took over on the 50. A Cornell offside penalty and four runs put the ball on the eight, from where Watkins ran it in. Aidan Johnson kicked the PAT and Shenango was up 7-0 with 5:56. Johnson would kick eight PATS and would have kicked two more had Shenango's coach not ordered him to take a knee after the last two touchdowns.

Cornell took over on its 28. Two passes to Caleb Dunn and a keeper by Dawson moved the ball out to the 42, where a high snap resulted in a fumble. Shenango took over, ran two plays, and Watkins ran it in from the 29 for 14-0 at 2:46.

Cornell took over on its 20. A high snap forced Dawson to fall on it at the 13, and the Raiders had to punt. Shenango started on its own 47 as the quarter ended and five plays into the second Watkins bulled in from the seven for 21-0. Raiders were beginning to hang their heads and needed a glimmer of hope. They got it with Raequan Troutman's spectacular 85 yard kickoff runback for a touchdown with 7:25. MJ Smith's PAT made it 21-7.

Cornell, flushed with enthusiasm for a big comeback, gambled with an onside kick. It didn't work, and Shenango recovered on its 49. On the next play Watkins ran 51 yards to make it 28-7 with 6:28.

It got worse fast. Cornell took over on its 20. A false start moved it back to the 15. A high snap allowed Shenango to recover on the two, and on the next play Watkins bulldozed in to make it 35-7 with 4:50.

Cornell took over on its 25 but a penalty immediately moved it back to the 15. Three incomplete passes forced a punt and Shenango took over on the Cornell 45. Four plays later Watkins ran 15 yards to make it 42-7 with 1:39.

Cornell was on the 50 and driving when the first half ended.

The crowd was sparse to begin with due to COVID limits, and half of them left at halftime. Shenango played its reserves for most of the second half. Cornell bad snaps, fumbles and penalties continued. A beautiful 50 yard Amere Hibler run was nullified by a holding penalty. Jamal Bigstaff ran 65 yards for a fourth quarter Raider TD and MJ Smith made the PAT for 62-14 with 10:12. But even then Shenango wasn't done. Their JVs scored a final TD with 3:19.

Cornell plays at Union this Friday. Both teams are 1-2 and the computer ranks the game a tossup. The WPIAL will take two teams from each conference and two at large teams to the playoffs, so a team with two losses could still qualify but a team with three losses will be eliminated. Shenango, meanwhile, is 2-0 and plays Burgettstown (1-2) Friday.

Kevin Edwards

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19 Years of Experience

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OLSH Mercy Rules Burgettstown, 41-0

No one expected this. Burgettstown has been quite a power in Class 2A for the last decade. In just the last few years, the Blue Devils have run up 21 straight regular season wins, 15 straight conference wins, and five straight playoffs. They've lost two games in three years, both in the playoffs. Due to an enrollment decline, they were dropped down to Class A this year, and were considered an immediate title threat, being ranked #3 behind Clairton and Jeannette. Sacred Heart returned talent and experience from last year, and were considered the strongest team Burgettstown would face, a probable at large entry after the Blue Devils won the conference.

But SH junior Jay Pearson made it clear from the kickoff that 1A was no step down in competition. He took the kick and ran it back 92 yards for a TD. The OLSH defense forced a punt, and on the second play Neimiah Azeem passed to Pearson for an 80 yard TD run. Again Burgettstown stalled and punted, and Azeem passed 32 yards to Pearson for the third TD. Another Burgettstown stall and punt, and after a short drive Azeem carried in from the two. Still in the first half, Pearson leaped over the Blue Devil defense from the one, then made the two point PAT for 35-0. In the second half, Dior Devers scored one more TD to make it 41-0.

Sadly, due to Pandemic restrictions, there were very few fans at Moon's Rip Scherer Field to see all of this. As impressive as the Charger offense was, its defense was even better. Burgettstown has a lot of weapons and is a high scoring outfit. OLSH completely shut them down.

So suddenly it's 2018 all over again. Sacred Heart is 2-0, ranked #3 in the WPIAL, and just became a heavy favorite to win the conferene and take on either Clairton or Jeannette in the playoffs. This Friday they travel to winless Fort Cherry, then next week travel to Rochester.


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Moon's Logan Zarin Surges In Late Season

Moon Township's Logan Zarin has placed first and third on consecutive Saturday night Feature Races to climb out of the teens and into fifth place in the season point standings of Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. Zarin now has 729 points, only 99 behind Michael Duritsky of Masontown. But in all likelihood, 5th is where Zarin will finish. There aren't enough races left for him to catch first place Ben Policz, who has 978, John Mollick at 898 or Bill Kessler at 836. The season didn't start until June and Zarin missed two races early. He then placed 17th, 1st, 23rd, 9th, 1st, 4th and 9th, before the 1st and 3rd finishes in September. Those two missed races plus the 17th and 23rd places are hurting now.

Other area drivers did not fare so well Saturday night. Kyle Janus of Forest Grove started first in the Four Cylinder Division but faded and came in only 11th. April Tennant of Colliers, W.Va. won. Karlee Kovacs again had a difficult time in Hobby Stocks, placing only 12th among 21 cars in their Feature. Steven Shelpman of Pleasant Hills won. Racing will resume this Saturday with a Sportsman ("Pro Stocks") Feature, plus all the usual categories.

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Cornell Wins 27-6 Despite Penalties, Fumbles

For the second straight game, Cornell's young Raiders kept shooting them selves in the foot with penalties and fumbles. But thanks to the efforts of Tim Henderson (# 7), Ameer Hibbler (#2) and Raquel Troutman (28) and the quarterbacking of E. J. Dawson (#3), the Raiders rolled to a 27-6 win over Northgate on a surprisingly chilly September night.

The scene at right was all too typical. Dawson, being tackled after a short gain, saw the ball pop loose. On this play, Henderson dove on it to save the possession for Cornell. Unfortunately, he wasn't always there, and on several occasions the Flames recovered to end strong Cornell drives.

The 150 yards of penalties hurt worse. This is a young team with mostly sophomores and freshmen. They cannot seem to get the hang of starting a play on the snap of the ball. Over and over, sometimes multiple times on the same series of downs, Cornell is called for offsides or false starts. The Raiders are also guilty of frequent holding violations.

What bails them out is their defense. This is a surprisingly strong defense, led by Dawson. The defense doesn't commit mistakes and doesn't run up penalties. They stop runners for no gain and harass passing quarterbacks.

Friday night's game was played at the old Bellevue High School field, a small but classy facility just off the main street downtown. Northgate has installed brand new, state of the art lights. Due to the Coronavirus, six feet apart seating was required and only parents and media were admitted to the actual seats. A sizeable crowd gathered along the chain link fences behind both end zones and watched from the alley and driveway. By the second half everyone including coaches had their hoods pulled up and hands in their pockets.

They saw Northgate receive the kickoff but stall after eight plays and punt. Cornell took it on its own 45 and drove to the NG 34, but penalties drove it back to its own side of the 50. With a fourth and 21, the Raiders punted. The NG receiver bobbled the ball and Jason King recovered for Cornell on the 14. A few plays later, Henderson ran it in down the right side from the four. The PAT kick was wide right and Cornell led 6-0.

Northgate took over on its 45 and drove to Cornell's 35 before stalling. Troutman moved it out to the 50 and Hibbler ran to the Bellevue 30. But penalties moved Cornell back to its own 35 as the quarter ended. The Raiders punted. NG took over on its own 23 and had ground out to its 34 when Cornell recovered a fumble. Hibler ran it to the one, and Dawson ran it in at 9:26. The pass failed for the PAT and Cornell led 12-0.

Northgate took the kickoff on its 30. Three plays later, Drew Lopez ran an interception back 35 yards at 8:16. Hibbler ran the PAT up the middle to make it 20-0.

Cornell recovered a Northgate fumble to stop the Flames and take over on their 20 with 4:03. Dawson ran it down to the 11 on a QB Keeper, but penalties moved it back and a couple incomplete passes gave it to NG on the 16. Cornell's defense pushed the Flames back to the six and forced a punt, which Henderson ran back to the NG 11 with 1:03. Hibbler ran it up the middle to the four and Dawson got to the one. A holding penalty put it back on the 15. A false start put it back even further. Dawson was irate because during the stepping off of the penalties the clock was not stopped so the Raiders never had a chance to run another play. As Cornell fans protested loudly from the stands, the half ended 20-0.

The officials could have called the game at halftime. Except for two plays nothing much happened in the second half.

Henderson scored on a spectacular 76 yard run at 8:10 and M.J. Smith's kick made it 27-0.

Northgate's Davonte Christie ran it in from the four at 3:00. The PAT run failed.

Cornell will have to play a lot better to handle Shenango this Friday. The Wildcats were only 1-9 last season but have their whole team back. They still start mostly sophomores, but have a senior at quarterback, seniors at wide receivers, and a senior center. They beat Union 25-12 last week and Fort Cherry 44-0 Saturday night. They're heavily favored over Cornell.

"We've got to eliminate those penalties," Coach Ed Dawson said after the Northgate game. "Our problem is not only are we young, but the Virus took away our off season and preseason, which is where teams work on these things and get their timing down."

He was pretty satisfied with his son E.J. at Quarterback. "He manages the game pretty well. He doesn't panic. He's pretty efficient. He's only a sophomore, so his decision making needs to speed up. And his judgement on when to throw and where to place the ball is still developing. But he's getting better every week. He's also really doing a good job on defense."

Robin Gilligan

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OLSH Survives Ragged Rivalry, 34-26
Photos by Tom Salvie Photography

The game wasn't supposed to be this week. As a neighborhood rivalry, it is played the last week of the season. That gives both teams two months to work out their flaws and face each other at full strength. Both coaches like to open with a nonconference opponent to get past opening game jitters.

But thanks to Covid-19, the WPIAL has reduced everyone to seven games and had the computer condense and rearrange their schedules without regard to rivalries or strength of opponents. Covid has also reduced the number of practices and affected the way coaches can conduct practices. Football is not a game which can be practiced with social distancing and everyone in masks. So here were Cornell and Sacred Heart opening against each other. The result was a ragged, sloppy game played before a very sparse crowd of parents and a few students sitting far apart at Frank Letteri Stadium. No fans were admitted and media were confined to the end zones as teams needed the entire sidelines for everyone to stand six feet apart.

The early matchup hurt Cornell the worst. The Raiders, after the greatest season in school history, a conference championship and WPIAL semifinal run, graduated its core of seniors and is rebuilding. Coach Ed Dawson has another good sophomore crop, but they need experience. His son, E. J., is at quarterback (#3 in photo, right). E.J. Friday night did a credible job. Cornell will not have the exciting pass attack of the last two years, but it won't need it. Amere Hibbler (#2 in photo, below right) and Tim Henderson (#7 in photo below left) are dangerous runners and receivers. But Dawson's line needs work, the center position is shaky (several snaps over the QB's head or on the ground stopped key drives), and the silly penalties have got to be stopped. That comes only with experience.

Sacred Heart, which won the WPIAL two years ago and rebuilt last year, is favored to win the conference this year and make another title run. Coach Dan Bradley has another high powered offense and a big, talented line on both sides of the ball. Bradley has a knack for developing quarterbacks. Now he has another legitimate talent in Jaymar Pearson, and suddenly Nehemiah Azeem gives him a second rising quarterback. To go with those two Bradley has Stephen Greer, Ryan Gehring, Bobby Brazell and Duran Smith.

The Chargers started quick, as Pearson scored on a five yard run and Gehring kicked the PAT for a 7-0 lead. After the teams traded possessions a few times, Cornell blocked an OLSH punt. Hibbler ran for five yards and Henderson scampered in from the seven. MJ Smith's PAT kick tied it at 7-7 with 1:54 left in the first quarter (#23 in photo, left).

Cornell was offsides on the kickoff and had to rekick from its 35. Brazell ran it back to the Cornell 43. Bradley put Azeem in at quarterback and moved Pearson to wide receiver and running back. Greer ran to the 36 and a flag against Cornell put it on the 31. Pearson ran to the 20, then to the three, then scored from there. Gehring made the PAT for 14-7 at 0:43.

Cornell took over on its 20 but a false start penalty put it back to the 15. Hibler ran for 36, Henderson for three, then Henderson for 46 to score in just three plays. Smith's PAT was blocked, leaving OLSH up 14-13 with 11:48.

OLSH took over on its 15. Two passes to Pearson took it to the 30, then the 42. Duran Smith ran it out to the 50, and Greer ran to the Cornell 28. A flag brought it back to the 35, but Azeem passed to Greer on the 18. Another flag brought it back to the 23, but Azeem found Smith on the 17 and on the next play hit Brazell in the end zone for 20-13. Gehring's PAT made it 21-13 with 6:00.

Penalties were becoming more frequent and the rest of the half became a flag fest. Cornell took over on its 25 but a penalty put it on the 15. OLSH stopped the Raiders for three plays and Micah Dickerson punted to the Cornell 48. The Chargers incurred a penalty back to their own 42. A series of Cornell offsides penalties, a pass to Brazell and a Greer run put the ball on the one yard line, but Azeem fumbled in the backfield and Cornell took over on its own two. On the first play from scrimmage Hibler ran 98 yards to make it 21-19. Coach Dawson went for two hoping to tie the game by halftime but the pass fell incomplete.

Penalties kept either team from getting much done for the remaining two minutes of the half. The Cornell sideline was particularly unhappy with the officials. Cornell ended the half with 72 yards in penalties. But OLSH was also unhappy with at least 10 occasions on which the Raiders substituted and the departing player was late reaching the sideline, giving them 12 men on the field. None of those had been called.

Cornell opened the third quarter at its own 37. Three penalties later the Raiders punted to the OLSH 20. The Chargers then launched a 10 play, 80 yard drive. Dawson exploded when a Sacred Heart runner clearly fumbled the ball and Cornell recovered but the official ruled the runner was down. Greer ran the ball five times during this drive, including the three yard TD. Gehring's PAT made it 28-19.

Toward the end of the third, players on both sides began cramping. Pearson was also struggling with an injury, apparently a hamstring. Just before the quarter ended, Dawson again protested an obvious fumble which was ruled dead and given back to Sacred Heart.

OLSH began the 4th with Azeem running for a first and goal on the Cornell eight. Two flags pushed the Chargers back and Cornell's defense held. Cornell took over on its 22. Savon Wilson ran for eight to the 30. Then a snap over his head sent Cornell Quarterback E.J. Dawson chasing the ball down on the 17, where he fell on it. On the next play another bad snap sent him scrambling back to fall on the ball at the five. Micah Dickerson came in to punt but Cornell had 12 players on the field. That put the ball on the two. A Sacred Heart penalty moved it back out to the seven. Finally, Dickerson punted out to the Cornell 41. The Raider defense held and the Raiders took over on their 43. On the first play Dawson hit Henderson with a 62 yard pass for the TD. Smith made the PAT to close the gap to 28-26 with 5:20. Suddenly, despite the penalties, injuries, cramps and mistakes, it was a game.

This was where Steven Greer took over. He ran for 14, 29, five, and 10 for the TD. The PAT failed, but OLSH led 34-26 with 3:31. Still, Cornell had a shot. A TD and two point PAT would tie it. Hibbler opened with a 20 yard run and it looked like the Raiders might do it. Then a bad snap resulted in a fumble, OLSH recovered, and just downed the ball to run out the clock.

Bradley sees Burgettstown coming up this Friday night at Moon. He has a talented, experienced team, but it will have to play much better to beat Burgettstown, ranked third and considered the other conference title contender. The Blue Devils dropped down from Class 2A, where they've made the playoffs five straight years, won 18 straight regular season games and two conference championships. They're big, fast, quick, athletic and experienced. Bradley knows penalties, fumbles and errors will be fatal against Burgettstown.

Dawson, meanwhile, has reason for optimism. With a lineup heavily loaded with freshmen and sophomores, his Raiders last week held AA Mohawk to 12 points, being outscored only 12-6. Mohawk beat AA Ellwood City 45-0 Friday night. Then against heavily favored Sacred Heart, Cornell was in the game until the fumble with one minute left. Hibbler and Henderson have emerged as serious threats who can explode for long runs. Cornell's line held up well against a large, experienced OLSH line. Cornell travels to Northgate this Friday. Northgate lost 47-6 to Rochester Friday.

The Coraopolis Record needs an OLSH parent or fan to provide photographs for football and basketball games this season. Our student photographer for the last three years has graduated and is off to college. Repeated emails to the school have not found a student with the time, a good camera (phones are not adequate for motion at night), and the interest. Anyone interested should contact us at CoraopolisRecord@aol.com.

Kevin Edwards

Licensed Physical Therapist

19 Years of Experience

Back, Knee, Ankle, Neck, Hip, Foot, Elbow, Wrist, Shoulder


1541 State Avenue

Policz Finishes First, Second In Dual Features

Ben Policz won the first feature and finished a close runnerup in the second at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway Saturday night. Kyle Lukon of Burgettstown won the second, but Lukon only races locally at high payout specials, so he is not a contender in the season points race, ranking only 45th. Policz's first and second places kept him in the season points lead, just ahead of John Mollick in car 60M (photo below). Mollick finished second to Policz in the first feature but faded to eighth in the second. The race was a battle among Lukon, Policz, Daryl Charlier, Mike Duritsky and Logan Zarin, with one then the other taking the lead. Policz did pull away twice but caution flags tightened the field back up. Logan Zarin of Moon Township placed fifth in the first feature but only ninth in the second. Justin Lamb finished 12th in both races. Bryan Hoffman could not get his car started in the first but came back to finish 30th in the second.

The Limited Late Model standings now show Policz leading, Mollick second, Zarin ninth, Lamb 19th and Hoffman 24th. Other area drivers are Tony White of Hopewell in eighth, Dave Gobel of Aliquippa 13th, Kassidy Kamicker of Aliquippa 18th, Bob Schwartzmiller of Coraopolis 25th, Tim Schafer of Aliquippa 31st, and Bobby Springer of Clinton 53rd.

In other races, Daryl Charlier of Midway won the Sportsman ("Pro Stock") feature, with Bill Robertson of Imperial fourth and Jeff Broniszewski of Coraopolis fifth.

Stephen Shelpman won the Hobby Stocks feature. Bob Betz of South Heights was fifth and Matt Benard of Oakdale sixth. Karlee Kovacs again had car trouble and drifted back to 13th.

Kyle Janas of Coraopolis finished fifth in the Four Cylinder feature. Philip Bubeck won it, with Bill Tennant second.

This Saturday Pittsburgh Motor Speedway will offer the usual race divisions plus races for the Vintage cars, old style coupes that resemble models from the 1950s and 1960s (although they include high tech modern parts).


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Schafer Wins PPMS Winged Sprint Feature

The weather finally gave Pittsburgh Motor Speedway a break Saturday and fans saw a full evening of top races.

Hopewell Township's Tim Shafer (photo, right) won the 20 lap Winged Sprint Feature. These are the 2020 version of what back in the 20th Century were called Midgets. A Winged Sprint car can be built for around $65,000. The $45,0000 engine produces 800+ horsepower and can hit 150 mph on straightaways, although racetrack curves require them to slow down to about 125 mph. Drivers from as far away as New York, Maryland and Delaware competed in the Winged Sprints Saturday night.

The Winged Sprints are the fastest cars currently racing on dirt tracks in the U.S. They compete on a circuit and return to Pittsburgh Motor Speedway about once a month. They have their own fan base, which follows them around from track to track.

Also racing at PPMS Saturday were the Rush Sprint Cars. These run with no wings. Rush Sprints is a division designed to keep prices down so the average person can afford to compete. There are tight limits on engines and parts and cars are closely inspected at the tracks to make sure they are within these limits. A Rush Sprint can be built for $10,000 - $15,000. Ther engines produce about 300 horsepower and hit about 100 mph. Rush Sprints also compete at PPMS about once a month, but sadly no local drivers currently participate. (photo bottom right)

The big race of the evening for local fans was the 20 lap Limited Late Model Feature. Ben Policz of Rices Landing won it, with Tommy Schirnhoffer of Dormont second and Cole Petrelle of Weirton third.

Moon Township's Logan Zarin in 1Z (photo, left) started 12th in the 22 car field and finished fourth. Other local drivers were Bryan Hoffman of Imperial finishing 6th, Tim Schafer of Hopewell finishing 12th, Tony White of Aliquippa finishing 15th, and Justin Lamb of Findlay Township finishing 20th.

Daryl Charlier of Midway won the 15 lap Sportsman Feature, edging out Nick Kocuba of Bulger.


Neither Karlee Kovacs nor Kyle Janas had a good night. Kovacs, in the Hobby Stocks Division, started 6th and had actually moved up to 3rd. But car trouble took her out. She finished 15th, especially disappointing since Kovacs was second in season point standings and might have moved into first with a high finish. Frank Magill, Stephen Shelpman and Cody Koteles finished first, second and third. Bob Betz of South Heights was fourth. Matt Benard of Oakdale was 8th.

Janas started 8th in Four Cylinders. Like Kovacs, he had moved up but sudden car trouble sidelined him. He was credited with a 9th place finish.

Weather permitting, Pittsburgh Motor Speedway will return to action this Saturday night with a full card. The major event will be the annual 33 lap Red Miley Rumble, a 33 lap feature for Limited Late Models. Combined with a 20 lap feature immediately preceding, this gives Late Models a 53 lap evening. Hobby Stocks and Four Cylinders will also run.

Fans are reminded masks are required to meet state requirements.

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Garrett Paugh Wins Herb Scott Memorial

Garrett Paugh of Elkins, West Virginia took the lead from John Mollick on the 15th lap and held it the rest of the way to win the 2020 Herb Scott Memorial at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway.

Paugh (shown celebrating atop his car, right) started third in the 30 lap feature for Limited Late Models, and took advantage of eight restarts, which kept bunching the field of 25 cars.

Moon Township's Lagan Zarin (Car 1Z, below) looked impressive in winning his Heat, but finished only 20th in the Feature.

Other locals weren't so lucky. Christian Schneider, in the 1ST of Imperial's Ken Meinecke, placed a distant 12.


Karlee Kovacs placed third in her qualifying heat in the Hobby Stocks division, and Kyle Janus placed fourth in his heat in the Four Cylinders. Because of the length of the Herb Scott Memorial and the award ceremony that followed, no Feature races in Hobby Stocks or Four Cylinder divisions were held. Those Features will be held Saturday night, July 25th, in addition to the regular card, meaning two Features in each division.

The Herb Scott Memorial is held every year to honor the late Herb Scott, the greatest dirt track racer in Western Pennsylvania history. Scott, operating out of a gas station in Wexford, won over 500 races and 10 Pittsburgh Racing Association season championships. Scott's duels with Joe Mihalic, Dick Linder and Buddy O'Connor drew crowds of 10,000 to racetracks at Heidelberg, South Park, Latrobe and Clairton. Scott's son presents the trophy every year.

Robin Gilligan

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Kovacs Sweeps To First and Third Finishes

Karlee Kovacs (221K in photo at right) enjoyed her best night in a disjointed season Saturday as she swept to First and Third places in a crowded Hobby Stocks field at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. 25 cars ran in two qualifying heats and 17 started the Feature. Kovacs won her heat and placed third in the Feature. Steve Shelpman won the Hobby Stocks Feature, as Matt Bernard finished ninth.

Kyle Janas and Christian Schneider were not as successful. Janas (#88 in photo below) came in seventh in his Four Cylinder heat, then had car trouble and sat out the Feature.

Schneider, driving the Ist for Ken Meinecke, placed third in his Limited Late Model heat but only seventh in the 17 car Feature. Keith Barbara won the Feature as Tony White finished 10th, Bobby Springer 15th and Logan Zarin 17th.

In other Features (in which no local drivers competed), Chuck Wolbert won in Modifieds and Jason Fosnaught in Sportsmen. The Modified Division is the Rush version of what PPMS has called Sportsmen. The Modified cars have the seat centered like an Indianapolis style racer, and use a sealed Crate engine. They are less expensive, but PPMS drivers don't want to go to them because of the investment they already have in their classic Sportsmen. The centered seat, steering column and controls mean no current Sportmen car could be used. They would have to be scrapped and all new cars built.

The Speedway was able to run Saturday night in this on again off again season, but it will be a week to week decision as the Governor or County Commissioners announce what may be open and what may close.

Kevin Edwards

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19 Years of Experience

Back, Knee, Ankle, Neck, Hip, Foot, Elbow, Wrist, Shoulder


1541 State Avenue

Team Meinecke Wins First 2020 LM Feature

Christian Schneider, driving for Imperial's Team Meinecke in Car 1ST (photo, right), led from start to finish and won the first Limited Late Model Feature of 2020 at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway. It took seemingly forever to get the race under way. A yellow flag on the first and third laps and another on the 10th kept bunching traffic back up, but when they finally put 10 uninterrupted laps together Schneider began to lap the field. Ken Meinecke, a longtime driver who is now an owner, looks to have spent the off season building a very powerful machine within the the RUSH legal limits. John Mollick of Toronto stayed with Schneider the whole way but could never pass him and finished second.

Justin Lamb (93X) of Findlay Township, 2018's season champion, came from a 16th place start to finish sixth. Bob Schwartzmiller, who appeared only sporadically last year, looks to have Car 28S (photo, left) running smoothly. He finished third in his heat, then started and finished ninth in the Feature. Bryan Hoffman of Imperial finished a disappointing 13th after a fourth place start.

Down in Hobby Stocks, Karlee Kovacs finished second in her heat and fourth in the Feature in her familar pink and black #221. Kovacs, who has become a fixture in the Hobby Stocks while attending high school and college, is overdue for a run at the championship this year. She's got the experience if her team can give her the car.

Matt Bernard of Oakdale finished eighth in Car #15B in Hobby Stocks.

Kyle Janus of Forest Grove Road just above Groveton has moved up. After several years in Young Guns, he's now in the Four Cylinder Division in Car # 88. He came in sixth in his heat and second in the Feature.

Racing will resume this Saturday (July 4th) at PPMS.


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DiVito Named Pennsylvania Player Of The Year

Kaden DiVito, a 5-11 guard who has starred at Cornell since the 4th grade, this week was named Pennsylvania Boys Basketball Player Of The Year.

DiVito, whose senior season was cut short by the virus pandemic, finished with 1970 points and 77 wins as a varsity player for Coach Bill Sacco.

Son of Jennifer DiVito, Kaden is also an honor student and a football and baseball player.

He filled several roles for the Raiders during his four varsity seasons. He could score prolifically when needed, as he showed with 46 points against Deer Lakes and many outputs in the high 20s or 30s. When opponents double teamed him, he could lead the team in assists. He could play the quarterback role, getting the ball to team mates in scoring position. Or he could play the defensive closer, harassing opposing shooters.

He was deadly from three point range, but if opponents came out and overplayed him, he could slash down the lane or drive the baseline. He had an explosive first step which he used to great effectiveness against taller opponents who tried to block his shots.

Out on the fast break in Cornell's run and gun attack, he was a deceptive ballhandler who could out dribble a defender to the basket or fire long passes to teammates for layups.

That ballhandling also came in handy late in games when Cornell was trying to protect a lead. Cornell employed an outside weave offense in such cases, and DiVito had to keep the ball away from defenders.

He was durable. He was often knocked to the floor, especially after going high for layups. He was also often run over while playing defense against taller opponents. But he would average 30 minutes a game, only coming out late in the fourth quarter after a win was guaranteed.

DiVito was also a reliable rebounder, leaping far higher than his height would suggest. He was good for 7-10 rebounds a game.

As a freshman and sophomore he dreamed of playing for a Division I college. When his size levelled off at 5-11 that dream faded. But his skill set will make him a formidable competitor at Washington & Jefferson.

The award came as quite a surprise when he was notified.

"I didn't even know Pennsylvania named a state Player of the Year," he told reporters. "When they called I was just shocked."

But he considers it a shared trophy. "It's really for my teammates, my coaches and the community. Without all of them, this would never have happened."

He also had the advantage of moving into the Cornell starting lineup as a freshman, which not only gave him time to build his statistics, but meant by the time he was a junior, he was battle hardened.

Having played in the WPIAL and State tournaments every year helped, too, because it meant coaches and sportswriters across the state, who vote for the award, got to see him. Cornell played in Pitt's Petersen Events Center during the WPIAL Tournament, and travelled to places like Johnstown and Clarion to play State Tournament games.

He is the first Cornell player to ever be named Player of the Year.

"It's amazing," Coach Bill Sacco said. "But he earned it. He deserves it. We wouldn't have gotten as far as we did without him."

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Cornell Trio Signs With Washington & Jefferson

The greatest trio of athletes in Cornell High School history isn't done. They have all signed to continue their careers at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa. Kaden DiVito (#15 in photo below) and Isaiah Langston (#3 in photo at right) have signed to play basketball for Coach Ethan Stewart Smith. Zaire Harrison (passing the football in photo below) has signed to play football for Coach Mike Sirianni. And the three plan to room together. "We'll have a suite," DiVito explains. "We've already talked to the coaches and dorm people about it."

They could even end up playing together. DiVito and Langston were outstanding wide receivers in football. Harrison was an outstanding basketball player. All three were outstanding baseball players. At a small college, many players play more than one sport. The temptation will be there. And Harrison is not opposed. "Obviously, my first priority has to be football, and if we make it to the postseason that could go into December," he told reporters. "But after that, if the coaches agreed, I'd definitely be interested."

The coaches don't seem to have a problem. "We never shut the door on guys playing multiple sports," says Smith. "I have a great relationship with Coach Sirianni, and Coach Mountain in baseball. If that is something these guys had an interest in, we'd work with them."

Washington & Jefferson is a Division III school, which competes in the Presidents Conference against Waynesburg, Carnegie Mellon, Westminster, Geneva, Thiel, Grove City, Bethany, Case Western Reserve and St. Vincent. But it's not small time. W & J has one of the proudest football traditions in the NCAA. Its basketball teams were once strong, and have been rebuilding for the last few years under Smith.

But Washington & Jefferson is nationally known for its strong academics. It boasts small classes and all professors possessing a doctorate.

W & J is also known for its odd calendar, which features Fall and Spring semesters and a Winter semester in which each student takes only one class, 9 - 5 five days a week for a month, delving deep into some topic related to the student's major field. It has an enrollment of 1300.

A major reason DiVito signed there is its Math, Statistics & Data Analysis Department, which is ranked among the nation's top 20. He plans to major in Statistics with the hope of becoming a data analyst for an NBA or Division I college basketball program.

W & J began recruiting DiVito his junior year and became really serious in December. When he visited the campus the brand new facilities won him over. He signed in February. "It was a load off my shoulders. I could then focus on the WPIAL and State tournaments."

He then helped talk Langston and Harrison into joining him. "It had to be their decision," he insists. "But I pushed it every chance I got."

The three have played football, basketball and baseball together since grade school. They helped Cornell restore its football program, leading it from no program at all to the conference title and WPIAL semifinals. They led Cornell to four straight basketball postseasons, reaching the State Elite Eight (quarterfinals) their junior and senior years. This year's tournament was suspended due to rhe Coronavirus but Cornell was considered a serious contender to win the state title.

DiVito was named Pennsylvania's Player of the Year and was named to the First Team All State Team. Langston was named to the Third Team All State Team, although he was coming on very strong in the postseason and had the pandemic not halted the tournament, he would likely have moved up to the second or even first team.

Harrison, playing quarterback, passed for 2089 yards this season and 5238 yards during his four year high school career, making him the outstanding quarterback in Cornell history and the #2 quarterback in the WPIAL.

The three helped Cornell to 77 basketball wins during their four year high school run.

DiVito scored 1970 points, making him Cornell's all time leading scorer. Had Cornell played one or two more tournament games, he would certainly have passed the 2000 point mark.

Ironically, DiVito averaged fewer points this year, 20.6, than he did last year, 26.3. But that was because almost everyone double teamed him on defense, and Langston and Harrison increased their scoring output.

The friends face opposite situations at W & J.

For four years at Cornell, Harrison was THE quarterback. Now he will face stiff competition just to get on the field. . Among his freshman team mates is QB Drew Schiano, who set numerous state records in Ohio with nine TD passes in one game and 67 in his senior season. Schiano won the Tony Fisher Northwest Ohio Player of the Year award. The class also includes Central Pennsylvania All Star Seth Georg, a linebacker and defensive end from Portage HS, and Ohio All Star slot receiver Anthony Rosali. These freshmen will join a program of veteran upperclassmen, who finished last year with a bowl win. Where Cornell was always an underdog, fighting to upset teams with fourth quarter heroics, W & J will open the season as the favorite to win the conference. Any year the Prexies do not win nine or more games is considered a disappointment.

After four years of playing at Frank Letteri Field before slim crowds, Harrison will now play in sold out Cameron Stadium (photo, below), a 2000 seat facility which opened in 1885 and has been renovated several times since, most recently in 2018. When W & J competed in Division I, it hosted Pitt, West Virginia, Penn State, Notre Dame and Syracuse.

It has hosted players like George Gipp and coaches like Knute Rockne. The 1922 Prexies held the University of California to a 0-0 tie in the Rose Bowl and were named national champs. In 2019 Cameron Stadium was named one of the top 10 Division III stadiums.

Harrison will major in Business, another department in which W & J is highly ranked nationally. Head Coach Mike Sirianni began recruiting him during his junior year. Zaire visited several other schools but after seeing W & J he decided he fit in there much better. He'll be part of a 25 player freshman class and has already been online messaging back and forth among his future team mates. Normally, he'd report to W & J in the Summer to start working out, but the Coronavirus has placed those plans on hold.

He is certain of one thing, however. "My goal is to play in the postseason and they have a history of doing that almost every year. I can't wait," he told reporters.

DiVito and Langston will enjoy playing in the brand new Salvitti gym (photo at right). The gym was completely stripped out and renovated in 2019. It has a new floor, lighting, seats, sound system and dressing rooms. The photo here shows the seats retracted but when extended the gym seats 2,000. Back in the 20th Century when W & J teams were competitive they drew capacity crowds, but since 2000 they have struggled and the crowds have declined.

Coach Stewart Smith is hoping DiVito, Langston and the other incoming freshmen will help complete a massive rebuilding process. Once proud W & J totally collapsed in the 2010s, winning 4, 2 and then one game in three straight years. The school hired him from Carnegie Mellon to turn the situation around.

His first year he had only six players. "We couldn't do anything but play a control game and hope nobody fouled out," he recalls. They won five games and he hit the recruiting trail. His second year they won 10. Last year they came on late to win 14 and host a playoff game. This year, with hardened sophomores and juniors, he has signed his best class yet. He has 12 new players, six from the WPIAL, three from West Virginia, one from Georgia, and one each from Huntington and Elizabethtown, Pa. The other WPIAL recruits are from Mt. Lebanon, Ambridge, Beaver and Seton LaSalle.

"We have starters and reserves back at every position," Smith explains. "But to play the pressing, fast breaking, up tempo style we want, we need depth. So some of these freshmen will see playing time. It will be an extremely competitive environment, but there will be opportunities for Kaden and Isaiah to carve out a role. It will depend on who adapts fastest to a new system and new teammates and who works the hardest."

Smith (photo, left) played college basketball at Penn State Altoona, where he was a four year starter and is still the school's all time leader in steals and assists. He served as an assistant coach at Dickinson College and Carnegie Mellon before coming to Washington & Jefferson. "We started recruiting Kaden his junior year. Then, last Fall, Bill Sacco called me and said, 'Hey, we have this other guy you should also be looking at,' and we started coming to more games and watching Isaiah. We realized right away what a great fit both of them would be for our program. What I love about them is their versatility. Kaden can play on or off the ball. Isaiah is as good a rebounder as I've seen and can defend any position on the floor. On offense, he would be a valuable perimeter player, but coming off screens, he gives us the ability to create mismatch opportunities. I'm excited to start working with them."

It's the first time Smith has recruited two players off the same team to W & J as freshmen, but he does have players coming in this year who in high school played at Ambridge and Trinity (W.Va.) with teammates who are already at W & J.

He was also thrilled when Kaden was named Player of the Year and both players made All State. "It's always exciting to welcome recruits with this kind of recognition."

Harrison, meanwhile, can't wait to start working under Sirianni (photo, right). Sirianni played at Mt. Union (Ohio), where he was an All Conference wide receiver on conference and national championship teams. He was an assistant coach at Wilkes College and Ithaca College before returning to Mt. Union as wide receivers coach, where he helped his alma mater win two more national championships.

Since coming to W & J, Sirianni has become one of the NCAA's most successful coaches. He has been named conference coach of the year seven times and regional coach of the year twice. In 17 seasons, his teams have reached the postseason playoffs 14 times. He has become famous for developing quarterbacks, producing five Division III All American signal callers who were prolific passers, rolling up 40,000 yards and 400 touchdowns.

As a head coach he has a winning percentage of .818. During his 17 seasons W & J has won at least nine games 12 times, including three straight 10+ win years. Twice his teams have finished undefeated. His teams annually rank among the nation's best offenses, having set numerous records for TDs, passing yards, total yards, first downs, receptions and fewest turnovers.

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PIAA Suspends State Tournament

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has suspended the boys and girls state basketball tournaments until further notice.

The PIAA will reassess the situation in two weeks.

The drastic action, taken the first time in over 100 years of holding state tournaments, is in response to the rapidly spreading Coronavirus. Professional and college sports and other state high school sports are also being suspended.

Cornell was to play Bishop Carroll High School this Friday night at Hempfield in the state Elite Eight. If Cornell had won, it would have played Monday night in the state semifinals to determine who advanced to Hershey for the state championship game. With #1 Vincentian and #2 Elk County Catholic upset and out of the tournament, Cornell, ranked #7, is given a definite chance to make a run at the state championship.

Cornell Superintendant Aaron Thomas said he thought the PIAA would still try to hold the tournament, perhaps sometime in April.

One possibility is they could hold the games but not allow spectators. They might also test each player and coach for the Coronavirus before allowing them into the gyms.

But some schools are already closing entirely and announcing that extracurricular activities are also suspended. Whether most schools will close and whether basketball teams could continue to practice is unknown. This is a situation which has never occurred before and every day brings new developments.




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Raiders Skate Across Thin Ice, 53-44

Cornell was in deep trouble Tuesday night at Clarion University. The Raiders were playing far from home with a crowd decidedly favoring nearby Elk County Catholic. The officiating looked a bit suspect, too. The first seven fouls went against Cornell and starters Isaiah Langston and Jeavantae Kingwalden were saddled with two fouls each in the first quarter.

This meant Cornell had to battle the 6-5 and 6-4 Crusaders with no player taller than six feet, or else risk fouling Langston and Kingwalden out.

And the Raiders were making more errant passes than usual, lofting them out of bounds or having receivers zig when the passer expected them to zag.

Elk County Catholic feeds on situations like this. The Crusaders, ranked #2 in rhe state, and had lost only once (at Dubois) when several playees were sick with the flu. The patient Crusaders work the ball back and forth, reversing the floor and probing the defense until they get the shot they want. Opponents only average 46.3 points a game because they can't get their hands on the ball often enough to score more. ECC rarely makes mistakes. Its players spread the floor and wait for the defense to make a mistake or commit a foul.

Playing ECC is like playing in quicksand or, with two starters in foul trouble, like skating across thin ice.

Blaine Sams opened scoring with a corner three but ECC came back with a tip in and a layup to take the lead 4-3 at 4:21 in the first. The teams then alternated layups and the lead, with Kingwalden and Langston scoring two each to give Cornell an 11-8 edge at the break.

ECC definitely controlled the pace. They worked the ball for from 60-90 seconds each possession. Usually, it takes about that long for an opponent to make a mistake on defense, leaving someone open, misplaying a pick and roll so one of the ECC bigger players ends up guarded by an opposing guard, or committing a careless foul.

What ECC was not used to was Cornell's intensity on defense. Raiders were overplaying the passing lanes, doubleteaming shooters but getting back if they passed out of the trap. Crusader shooters could not get clear for good shots.

Sams hit another three to open the second quarter. Layups by Harrison and Kaden DiVito and a top three by DiVito offset two ECC free throws for a 21-10 Cornell lead with 3:31 til halftime.


But Langston picked up his third foul at 4:24 and Kingwalden his third at 2:50. Cornell Coach Bill Sacco had to alternate them from then on, with Drew Lopez (#24 in photo above) filling in for one or the other. Lopez, a junior, did a great job despite his lack of size.

A corner three by DiVito helped, but ECC kept hitting free throws. The halftime score was 24-17.

Langston picked up his fourth foul early in the third. But two Harrison threes and a layup and one three by DiVito plus a layup boosted Cornell to a 38-26 edge entering the fourth.

A Harrison three made it 41-26. Layups by Langston, Harrison and Kingwalden plus free throws by Sams and Langston kept the Raiders ahead of a rain of four Crusader threes.

They cut Cornell's lead to 48-41 with 1:02 on a shady move at the free throw line. An ECC guard not known for his free throw shooting stepped to the line and suddenly developed a nosebleed. A player off the bench was allowed to replace him and shoot his free throws. That player was one of ECC's best free throw shooters and made two. The player with the nosebleed returned to the game immediately after the free throws.

But Cornell hung on to win and advance to the State Elite Eight this Friday night.

Harrison led all scorers with 15 points, followed by DiVito with 14, Langston with 10, Sams with eight and Kingwalden with six.

Harrison led all rebounders with six. Kingwalden added five, Sams and DiVito four each, and Lopez and Langston (whose minutes were limited due to those fouls) two apiece.

Harrison had seven assists. DiVito added four, Kingwalden three, Sams two and Langston one.

Sams' two corner threes were critical in building Cornell's early lead, especially after he went scoreless in the WPIAL Championship gane. "I quit lifting weights for the last two weeks and I think it helped," he told reporters afterward. "My shot feels more natural again."

Cornell Coach Bill Sacco was all smiles after the game, telling reporters this was one of his all time favorite wins given ECC's #2 ranking, familiarity with the floor, huge home crowd, and the way his team overcame the adversity of Langston and Kingwalden being in early foul trouble.

Elk County Catholic Coach Aaron Straub thought Cornell's pressure defense was the difference. "We watched tapes. We knew what to expect. But we couldn't replicate that defense in practice. You can't imagine how intense they are until you're actually in the game. They were in our faces all night. And they never stop. They're very athletic and they just keep coming at you. No one up here (in north central Pennsylvania) plays that kind of defense."

The game was played in the beautiful newly updated Clarion University Gym. Since Cornell's girls played there two years ago, Clarion has done a multimillion dollar renovation and has basically a brand new facility. It has the best lighting of any gym in the state and three magnificent Diamond Vision display boards which allow for instant replays.

Cornell now faces Bishop Carroll of Ebensberg Friday night in the Quarterfinals at Hempfield Area High School in a doubleheader with Brothers Valley playing Bishop Canevin in the other game.

The upset of the tournament occurred when Brothers Valley (of Berlin) shocked Vincentian by 20 points. Brothers Valley was ranked #3 entering the game, but Vincentian was #1 and no one was thought to have the size to handle Vincentian's front line.

Brothers Valley Coach Tanner Prosser had noticed the tendency of Royal big men to power over defenders in the lane. WPIAL refs consistently gave Vincentian the benefit of the doubt and called blocking on the defenders. Prosser suspected that officials from the central part of the state would call the charge. He worked his players hard on taking those charges, being in position early, having their feet set and their hands high, and keeping their feet motionless until the offensive player ran over them and knocked them to the floor.

He was gambling on getting the calls. It worked. Vincentian's big men got in foul trouble early and eventually fouled out. When they resorted to three point shooting, their shots did not fall. At one point, Brothers Valley went on a 19-0 run and Vincentian never recovered.

Brothers Valley now plays Bishop Canevin, which defeated Cameron County Tuesday. The winner of the Cornell - Bishop Carroll game will play the Brothers Valley - Bishop Canevin game next Monday night in the Final Four. The winner of that game will play the winner of the East Thursday in Hershey for the State Championship. But first Cornell has to face Bishop Carroll. The Huskies show a lineup of 6-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-2, but not all those players start and the others run 6-1 and shorter. 6-6 senior center Nolan Burke is the biggest threat. Burke averages 14 points and 12 rebounds a game. He led scoring in the Shade win with 16 points.

Bishop Carroll comes out of the District 6, the area around Altoona. Their17-9 record is misleading. In District 6 there are not as many Class A schools so many of Bishop Carroll's games are against 2A, 3A and even 4A opponents. Still, the Huskies needed a controversial foul call and three clutch free throws to defeat Shade. With two seconds to go, trailing 51-49, a Carroll player went up for a three. It missed but the official called a foul on the Shade defender. The Bishop Carroll player made all three free throws for the 52-51 win.

It's the second year in a row that Cornell has made the State Elite Eight. Last year, Vincentian knocked them out of the tournament with a 10 point win. Three of the remaining eight teams in the state are from public schools, two in the West and one in the East. Cornell has only reached the State Championship game once. The old Coraopolis High School reached it twice. The old Neville High School never reached it. But for most of the last 100 years, only the District winners advanced to the state playoffs, and a team only needed three wins to get to Hershey. Historically the state only had two classes, A and B, so winning the WPIAL was more difficult. For most of its existence, Coraopolis was in Class A with North Allegheny, Sharon, Uniontown, Farrell, McKeesport, Aliquippa, Midland., Charleroi and Newcastle.

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PIAA Sends Cornell To Clarion For ECC Game

The PIAA announced Sunday that Cornell must travel to Clarion University Tuesday for its game with Elk County Catholic in the State Tournament Sweet Sixteen.

In addition to Cornell having to make the two and a half hour trip to Elk County Catholic's back yard, it means the Raiders must play on a court they have never seen before while Elk County Catholic has played four games there within the last two weeks. The Crusaders played quarter finals, semifinals and finals there in the District 9 Tournament, which they won. They then defeated Imani there Tuesday night in the State Tournament.

Since the Cornell - Elk County Catholic game is at 7:30 as the second part of a doubleheader, it means the Raiders will be late getting back home early Wednesday morning. If they win, they then have to get rested and ready for a Friday night game at another distant location, probably at Johnstown. But they can't complain. Two other WPIAL schools were sent to Hershey and Harrisburg last Friday.

The PIAA normally tries to choose a site approximately halfway between the two schools. But there isn't a large gym close to halfway between Cory and Clarion.

Coraopolis is 115 miles from Clarion. St. Mary's, home of Elk County Catholic, is 45 miles from Clarion. The good news for Cornell fans is that they can get to Clarion by travelling two interstates, I-79 North and I-80 East. Clarion has plenty of restaurants fans can stop at if they arrive in time before the game, but those restaurants close early so will not be open after the game. The gym at Clarion is an older but good facility. Cornell's girls played there two years ago.

Elk County Catholic is ranked #2 in the state and has lost only one game. They have a lineup of 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. Cornell is ranked #7 and its tallest player is 6-1

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Raiders Yawn Past Saltsburg, 73-29

It's been a long, hard season for Cornell, playing in the toughest section in the WPIAL, then battling through the playoffs. The Raiders were ready for a break. They got one Friday night against Saltsburg, The Trojans, a runnerup team from District Six (the area around Indiana, Pa.) were no match for Cornell's speed, quickness or shooting, and the game was over by halftime.

Like every team in the tournament, Saltsburg was taller than Cornell. But the Raiders outrebounded them. They also recovered their shooting eye, which had deserted them in the championship game at Pitt's Petersen Events Center.

Saltsburg hung in there for a quarter. Isaiah Langston opened scoring on a tip in and Zaire Harrison added a layup, but the Trojans used a layup and a top three to go ahead 5-4 at 6:12. However, that was their last lead.

"G" Kingwalden drained a corner three to regain the lead for Cornell at 7-5. Layups by Harrison and Kaden DiVito and another Langston tip in made it 13-5. Saltsburg kept trying, however, hitting a jumper and a side three to narrow it to 13-10. A top three by DiVito and layup by Langston pulled Cornell out to 18-10 before Saltsburg laid one in to trail 18-12 as the first quarter ended. Then a free throw cut it to 18-13 to open the second.

That was the end of that. Cornell buried the Trojans with a 25-0 run. It included three DiVito layups, three layups and a free throw by Harrison, a layup and free throws by Kingwalden, and a layup by Blaine Sams, two by Langston, and one by Michael J. Smith. Suddenly it was 43-13 at the half.

Most of those layups came off steals or rebounds and passes fired downcourt to streaking Raiders. The Trojans could not hit and Cornell was getting every rebound.

But some of the layups also came off drives slashing through Saltsburg's already set defense, which was not able to contain Cornell's passing and cutting. That's Sams in the photo above, driving through three defenders to get to the basket. DiVito in the photo bottom right is about to do the same. Harrison in the photo bottom left has faked a shot and is driving under the defender. Langston at left is soaring past yet another defender.

The second half was played under a "running clock" because of the huge Cornell lead. Both coaches substituted freely to give their reserves a chance to play in a State Tournament game.

The biggest moment came at 4:04 in the third quarter when Kaden DiVito was upended going high for a layup and crashed to the floor. At first it looked like he had come down on his wrist, but after being helped to his feet and to the bench he turned out to have only a cut lip. Once the blood was cleaned up and the lip treated, DiVito returned to the game briefly before all the starters were pulled.

Harrison led all scorers with 23 points. DiVito added 22, Kingwalden 12, Langston 10, Smith three and Sams and Drew Lopez two each.

Harrison and Langston each grabbed 10 rebounds. Sams added eight, DiVito seven, Kingwalden six, Lopez three and Smith one.

Lopez stole three passes. DiVito, Harrison and Kingwalden added two steals each and Sams one.

Harrison contributed nine assists, DiVito eight, Langston seven and Kingwalden four. But these figures are misleading. Most of these "assists" were long passes coming off rebounds and were to teammates streaking for the basket.

The game was played at Kiski Area High School. It had originally been scheduled for Fox Chapel High School, but was moved at the last minute. Many fans and even some media went to Fox Chapel not knowing of the change.

The win advances Cornell to the State Octafinals, i.e. the Sweet Sixteen. They will meet Elk County Catholic, the champion of District Nine (the area around Clarion). Elk County is just south of Kane in the Allegheny National Forest. Ridgeway is the county seat but Elk County Catholic is located in the village of St. Mary's.

Elk County Catholic is ranked second in the state. The Crusaders have only lost once all year, to arch rival Dubois. Their lineup includes 6-4 Mykey Incorminias, 6-4 Mason Mcallister, 6-2 Mark Kraus, 6-2 Jordan Deprator, 6-1 Leo Gregory and 6-1 Jack Bauer.

Elk County defeated Cameron County for the District 9 Championship, then defeated Imani Christian Friday night while Cornell was beating Saltsburg.

The computer favors #2 Elk County over #7 Cornell. For the Raiders to pull off the upset, not only will the "big three" of DiVito, Harrison and Langston need to have good shooting nights, but Sams and Kingwalden will have to contribute. Those two failed to score in the WPIAL title game at Pitt. Against Saltsburg Kingwalden did have 12 but Sams still only had two. When Sams and Kingwalden are draining threes from the corners, it spreads the defenses and opens driving lanes. Against the taller Crusaders, Cornell will also need all five starters plus Lopez and Smith crashing the boards.

The Cornell - Elk County game will be Tuesday at 6 pm at Clarion University Gym.

The winner of the Cornell-Elk County Catholic game will face the winner of the Shade - Bishop Carroll game. Shade defeated Nazareth Prep 63-56 at Johnstown Friday night.

The winner of that Cornell-ECC-Shade-BC bracket will go on to the West Region Finals (in effect, the State Tournament Semifinals). In the oher bracket, Bishop Canevin plays Cameron County Tuesday night while Vincentian plays Berlin Brothers Valley. Those two winners will play Friday night with the winner advancing to the West Region Finals.

The Vincentian - Berlin Brothers Valley game is seen as the biggest threat Vincentian faces in the West. Berlin Brothers Valley is ranked third in the state and has the size to deal with Vincentian.

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Tragedy Takes Jamestown Star, Affects 1A Playoffs

One of Pennsylvania's outstanding Class A basketball stars has died in his sleep and plunged his team and hometown into a week of mourning when they expected to be celebrating a District 10 Championship.

Darian Keyser, 6-6 center for Jamestown High School in northwestern Pennsylvania, averaged 19 points and 15 rebounds this year and has already signed a college basketball scholarship. He was also an outstanding baseball player, an honor student and a four time class president.

Because of Keyser (photo, right), Jamestown was considered a serious threat for the West Regional and PIAA State Championship. He was considered one of the few big men in the state able to take on Vincentian's 6-6 and 6-5 inside players.

The way the PIAA State Tournament brackets are set up, Vincentian and Jamestown were favored to reach the West Regional Semifinals, which are in effect the state quarter finals. Cornell is in the opposite bracket, and if the Raiders got that far would play the winner in the West Region Championship game, with the winner going on to Hershey for the State Championship.

Without Keyser, Jamestown's coaches and players chose to go ahead and play the District 10 Championship game, which they lost to a Commodore Perry team they had beaten badly twice during the regular season. Commodore Perry is not considered a threat in postseason play.

Keyser was not suffering from any known medical condition which would account for his unexpected death.



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Vincentian Closes Out Cornell, 63-51

Cornell ran into a double edged sword Thursday night at Pitt's Petersen Events Center in the WPIAL championship game.

One day earlier, administrators announced that Vincentian High School would close at the end of this semester. After recovering from the initial shock, players at the perennial basketball and baseball powerhouse vowed to win one last title for their school. Cornell thus faced a team on a mission, one riding an emotional wave.

At the same time, Cornell played one of its worst games of the year. Perhaps the players were intimidated or disoriented by the big arena. It was their first ever game there, while Vincentian has been in the finals four straight years, winning two and losing two. The Pete was no big deal for them.

Perhaps the game meant too much. After the semifinal win that sent them on to the Pete, Cornell players repeatedly spoke of how much it meant to them, how they had worked so long so hard for it, how it was a dream come true, how they had wished for it for years.

Perhaps it was the pressure of playing in the championship game, no matter where it was played. Vincentian was used to it and Cornell was not.

Perhaps it was the sight lines. Behind the baskets is nothing but thousands of seats going all the way to the very high ceiling, and the lights in the Center are unusually bright so the games can be televised. Shooting at a big college arena is quite different than it is in even the biggest high school gym.

Whatever the cause, Cornell never did play the game that got it there. None of the seniors could hit. They couldn't hit anything: threes, jumpers, dunks, free throws, layups.

The Raiders hit just 18 of 51 shots for 35%. This was Cornell's lowest shooting percentage of the year. Usually they hit 58-62%, and they shot 68% in their home victory over Vincentian. The Raiders were also unable to hit from beyond the arc. They hit only six all night, four by Zaire Harrison (photo below right) and one each by Kaden DiVito (photo left) and Isaiah Langston (photo above). The usually deadly Blaine Sams, who is especially reliable from the right corner, did not score. Jeavantae Kingwalden, who normally sinks several from the sides or up top, did not score.

This was not an accident. "They beat us over at their place with that hot shooting," Vincentian Coach Tim Tyree told reporters afterward. "We were determined they were not going to do it again. We spent almost all our game preparation on defense. We've been playing against these same guys two and three times a year for four years and we had plenty of film. We knew where they liked to shoot from. We made sure those spots were not available."

The Royals also targeted DiVito. "He's such a dynamo. He's all over the floor, passing, dribbling, shooting. We knew we had to contain him." DiVito, the WPIAL's leading scorer all season with a 21 points per game average and some games in the high 20s and even 30s, finished this night with eight. He didn't score a single field goal in the first half. Cornell lost by 12. The 13 points the Raiders were missing from DiVito might have made the difference. But Vincentian had taller players guarding him and usually double teaming him. There was nothing he could do.

And all those missed shots went to Vincentian. The Raiders totaled only 14 rebounds, their lowest in four years. The much taller Royals had a huge advantage : 6-6 to 6-1, 6-5 to 6-0, etc. They outrebounded Cornell 49-14.

And the officials didn't help. By the end of the first quarter, four Cornell players had two fouls, most of them charging fouls as Royals cut off their drives to the basket. This kept them from playing the kind of intense defense they usually use to overcome that height disadvantage. Alex Griggs for Vincentian also got in early foul trouble with three, but the Royals have a deep bench, and replaced him with someone just as good.

Despite all these troubles, Cornell battled all the way. A Harrison layup, top three and putback, and Langston three, kept the Raiders close at 12-10 entering the second quarter. A spurt to open the second may have decided the game, as Vincentian scored on a putback, two jump shots and two free throws to pull ahead 20-11. A Langston jump shot and free three cut it to 20-13, but the Royals responded with three layups and two free throws to reach 28 and put Cornell in a deep hole. From that point on, the Raiders were playing catch up, and, unable to hit consistently, they never could close the gap.

But they still trailed by only nine at the half, 34-25. As explosive as they've been all season, if they could begin hitting, there was still hope.

Then, to open the third, Kingwalden picked up his third and fourth fouls and went to the bench. Drew Lopez (photo, left), replaced him, but was even shorter. Lopez snuck in for two layups but Vincentian began going inside and dunking over top of him.

At the end of three it was 52-38.

Cornell's stats were grim. Harrison led scoring with 22. Langston added 17, DiVito eight and Lopez four. Harrison grabbed eight rebounds and Langston six.

The only bright spot was that Kentucky Coach John Calipari flew up to watch the game. Cornell Coach Bill Sacco coached Calipari at Moon.

Cornell's season is not over. As WPIAL runnerup, The Raiders move on to the State Tournament, where they play Saltsburg next Friday at 6 pm at Fox Chapel. The winner will play the Elk County Catholic - Imani winner the following Tuesday. If Cornell wins and Nazareth Prep wins as predicted, they would meet Friday, March 13. In the other bracket, Vincentian will play Berlin Brothers Valley in the second round, with the winner favored to reach the West Regional finals (state semifinals).

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Cornell Seniors Make It To "The Pete" 68-47

This group of Cornell seniors has dreamed of playing in Pitt's Petersen Events Center, which they call "The Pete," since they were in the seventh grade. Making it to The Pete means playing in the WPIAL Championship Game.

Three years in a row Cornell has been stopped short. As freshmen, Imani did it. As sophomores, Vincentian did it. Last year, Nazareth beat them in the semis at Ambridge. Each year, the team that stopped Cornell went on to win the WPIAL.

This was their final chance. And Monday night, before a full house at West Allegheny's spacious gym, the Raiders pulled away in the fourth quarter to down Bishop Canevin 68-47 and nail down that precious berth at The Pete.

It wasn't easy. Canevin, with the advantage in sise and depth, tried to nullify Cornell's speed and quickness by slowing the game down.

The Crusaders had perfected this strategy while winning Section 2A with a 12-0 record. For the season they had held their opponents to less than 50 points a game.

And for a half it looked like a winning strategy against Cornell. Canevin led 3-2, 9-5, and 14-12 in the first quarter. Thanks to free throws and a layup by Kaden DiVito, a top three by Isaiah Langston, a layup by Zaire Harrison and threes from the side and corner by Blaine Sams, the Raiders managed to finish the period ahead 15-14. But only because that corner three by Sams dropped through at the buzzer. And Langston had to leave the game with his second foul at the 4:29 mark.

Canevin went back up 19-17, tied it at 24-24 and led 27-26 before Cornell squeezed out a 32-29 halftime edge. The Raiders got their second quarter points from a Jeavante Kingwalden jump shot and free throws, DiVito's top three, follow and free throws, and, once he returned to the floor half way through the quarter, Langston's three layups and three free throws.

It was in the third quarter that Cornell slowly took control of the game, although it was a struggle as Langston picked up his third foul just one minute in and Sams his third at 4:25. Nevertheless, Langston and DiVito hit layups, Harrison a side three and Kingwalden a foul line jump shot (photo bottom right) for a 41-31 advantage at 4:00. DiVito hit another layup and Langston came in with a miniute to go and sank a top three at the buzzer to lift Cornell to 46-37.

Then the Raiders exploded to open the 4th. Harrison hit threes from the top and side, Langston added one from on top, and Harrison sank two free throws and suddenly it was 57-39. Sams drew his fourth foul at 5:34 but the game was in hand.

Now the tables were turned. Canevin, who had wanted to slow the game down, now had to play catchup against one of the toughest outside weaves in the WPIAL. As the Crusaders had to come out and chase Cornell, suddenly the lane was open, and Kingwalden was able to lay two in and Langston lay one in and dunk one. As an exclamation point, Sams (#15 at right) drained a corner three.

Langston (#3 above) led all scorers with 23. DiVito (#2 below left) and Harrison (#1 top right) had 13 each. Kingwalden added 10 and Sams nine. DiVito led rebounders with eight. Harrison grabbd seven and Langston and Kingwalden four each. DiVito contributed six assists and Harrison five. Harrison, DiVito, Langston and Kingwalden each stole the ball twice.

Numerous college scouts, mostly from Division II schools, were in the stands. Both teams included players not only accomplished on the court, but with good grades and high test scores.

It took a long time for players, fans and parents to clear the court after the game. "Goin To The Pete!" they kept chanting. This is Cornell's first trip to the finals since 2012, when the current seniors were in fourth grade. Back in the mid 20th Century, when the entire WPIAL Tournament was held at the old Pitt Field House, playing on that floor was not as big a deal. But now that only the finals are held there, it has taken on legendary status. Back in the Cornell locker room, players danced around in glee.

"This really means a lot to me," DiVito admitted. "I've wanted this so bad for so long. It's like a dream come true."

Langston nodded. "This is such an amazing feeling," he grinned. "We've worked so hard for so long for this."

Coach Bill Sacco was all smiles. "I'm so proud of them. They deserve it. They've been a great bunch to coach."

Cornell plays Vincentian at 7 pm Thursday at Pitt for the WPIAL title. The two split two regular season games. Vincentian is ranked #1 in the state. But both teams will go on to the State Tournament.

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Raiders Scorch Imani For Semifinal Berth

The Northgate Gym has flames painted on each corner and Cornell took that as a cue Thursday night as the Raiders scorched Imani 84-65 in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

The Raiders were only slight favorites. Imani is an inner city Pittsburgh academy with a lineup of tall, athletic players. But they led only once, on an opening jump shot and rebound putback.

Then Cornell buried them on Zaire Harrison's two layups and a corner three, Blaine Sams' top three and Kaden DiVito's layup. Suddenly it was 12-4 at 4:38.

Imani never quit. A layup, side three, baseline jumper and three free throws kept them in the game, but for Cornell DiVito (photo below) put back a rebound and added a layup, Jeavonte Kingwalden (photo bottom right) hit a side three, Isaiah Langston (photo right) laid one in, and Harrison (dribbling in photo below right) sank a side three and two free throws as the Raiders led 26-14 after one.

Langston opened the second quarter with a soaring tip in to double the score at 28-14. Langston dominated the quarter with a slashing layup, 15 foot jump shot, free throw and spectacular dunk. Added to that were a Harrison jumper, DiVito steal and layup and free throw. But it was a wild quarter, with steals, tieups, missed shots and free throws and wild passes by both teams. Still, the Raiders went to halftime leading 40-26.

They put the game away early in the third, with a top three by Harrison and corner three by DiVito for a 46-26 lead. Harrison picked up his third foul and had to be replaced by Drew Lopez (bottom left). But the rout continued, with a corner three and layup by Langston, three straight layups off steals and a jumper by DiVito, a corner three by Sams, and a side three by Lopez. That made it 65-46 entering the fourth.

Harrison came back in at this point, and Cornell went to its trademark outside weave.

Sams drained two corner threes, Kingwalden added another corner three, and Langston, Harrison and Kingwalden hit a series of layups off steals and passes downcourt after defensive rebounds.

Cornell Coach Bill Sacco sent in the reserves to finish out the game.

Harrison led all scorers with 23 points. DiVito added 20, Langston 18, Sams 12, Lopez three and Kingwalden eight.

Langston led in rebounding with eight. Harrison, DiVito and Kingwalden each grabbed six, and Sams added two.

Harrison and DiVito each contributed six assists. Langston and Kingwalden had three each, and Sams one.

DiVito, Langston and Sams each stole three Imani passes. Kingwalden stole two and Harrison one.

The win sends Cornell to the WPIAL semifinals Monday night where they will face Bishop Canevin, which edged Union 40-39 on two last second free throws. Union had tried to slow the game down and it almost succeeded.

Whether Imani's season is over depends on Cornell. If the Raiders win Monday night and make the championship game, Imani will receive a "trailer" bid to the State Tournament. If Cornell loses, Imani is done.

This is so because, as the state's largest and most powerful region, the WPIAL receives six slots in the Class A State Tournament. The other, much smaller, regions receive one or two. So the WPIAL awards bids to the four semifinalists. Then, the two quarterfinal losers to the champion and runnerup also receive bids. Of course, the all important seeds in the State Tournament depend on the WPIAL finish. The two "trailers" receive the low seeds, playing the two top non-WPIAL teams. The WPIAL champion and runnerup play runners up from other regions, and the semifinal losers play champions from other regions.

In the other Class A quarterfinals, Nazareth Prep edged Eden Christian 69-57 in a game much closer than the score suggests. Eden was within four, five and six points for most of the fourth quarter but never could close the gap.

Vincentian destroyed Geibel Catholic 99-51. So Vincentian will play Nazareth in the other semifinal Monday night.

So of the eight teams in the quarterfinals, only two were publlic schools : Cornell and Union.

And of those eight teams, five were from Cornell's Section 1A, proving once again that the section is by far the strongest in the WPIAL.

Of the four teams in the semifinals, three are from Section 1A and Union came within one point, two free throws and five seconds of giving the section a four team sweep. Of the four teams in the semifinals, Cornell is the only public school.

A Cornell win Monday night would fulfill a dream for these seniors, who have been starting since they were freshmen and made the playoffs every year but never made it to the championship game at Pitt's Petersen Events Center, which players refer to as "The Pete."


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Cornell Draws Opposite Vincentian,Nazareth

Cornell's dreams came true.

The WPIAL awarded the Raiders the #2 seed in the Class A Playoffs that begin this week. Vincentian received the #1 seed, with Bishop Canevin #3 and Nazareth #4. That gave Cornell a first round bye. The Raiders won't play until next Thursday, February 20, when they'll face the winner of the Imani Christian vs. West Greene game. If Cornell wins that quarterfinal game, it will advance to the semifinals and play the winner of the Bishop Canevin - Union - Clairton quarterfinal.

Most importantly, Vincentian and Nazareth are in the opposite bracket and assuming they win their quarterfinal games will meet in the other semifinal. Vincentian meets the winner of the Leechburg-Geibel game. Nazareth will play Clairton in the octafinal, and if it wins will face the Eden Christian - Greensburg Central Catholic winner.

Cornell's draw is not easy. West Greene has two 6-3s and one 6-4 player, Imani has two 6-5 players, and Canevin has 6-4 Dom Elliott. The undersized Raiders struggle with taller teams. But in a very difficult field, they received the best draw possible.

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Isaiah Langston Passes 1000 Points

Isaiah Langston (#3 in photo at right) scored 29 points Monday night in an exhibition game against inner city Neighborhood Academy to give him a four year total of 1003.

Langston becomes the third Cornell senior to pass the 1000 point mark. Kaden DiVito and Zaire Harrison also passed that threshold this season.

Cornell won 71-33. The game was never close. The Raiders led 26-6 after one quarter and 43-12 at halftime. They went on to a 64-25 third quarter edge. Coach Bill Sacco sent in the reserves in the fourth quarter.

Divito added 12 points.

Sacco scheduled the game as a fill in to keep the team sharp during the WPIAL dead period while teams wait for the playoff announement tonight.

The WPIAL has announced pairings for the upcoming Class A Playoffs. Cornell, along with Vincentian and Bishop Canevin, has received a first round bye. Vincentian was given the #1 seed, Cornell #2 and Canevin #3.

West Greene and Imani Christian will play in a first round game Thursday night. Cornell will play the winner Thursday night, February 20, at a site yet to be announced.

If Cornell wins that quarterfinal game, it will play the winner of the Canevin - Union - Monessen game in the semifinals.

Nazareth received the #4 seed. If the seeds hold, it will play Vincentian in the opposite semifinal. Cornell could thus play either Vincentian or Nazareth at the University of Pittsburgh Petersen Events Center for the WPIAL championship.

Cornell is now 16-6 on the season, 12-2 in Section 1A.

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Cornell Seniors Bid Farewell With Epic Win

Cornell's seniors, who have been starting since they were freshmen and have achieved the greatest four year run by the same players in school history, gave their fans one of the greatest wins in school history Friday night by upsetting the state's #1 team, Vincentian, 66-57.

Cornell did it by flipping the script from road losses to Vincentian and Nazareth. In those games against much taller opponents, Cornell could not hit, got in early foul trouble, had to back off on defense because of the fouls, and was unable to slow the game down and work for open shots.

Friday night, every Cornell player hit a high percentage, especially from outside. Cornell drained six threes in the first half alone, which forced Vincentian to come out to the perimeter and guard the shooters. Once out there, it was obvious Cornell was quicker and faster and had more explosive first steps.

Free of foul trouble, Cornell also cranked up its pressure defense. Many of its layups resulted from steals and long passes downcourt. The Raiders also went to war on the boards as the officials let both teams play. Fans of both teams were unhappy with several noncalls, but even though several Raiders ended up on the floor with no whistle, overall it worked to Cornell's advantage

With Royals defenders aggressively guarding the threes, the Raiders could fake the shot and burst past. Since all Royals had been drawn out, the lane was open for drives. Isiah Langston and Kaden DiVito alone scored seven layups on these moves.

Scrambling to retreat back inside and help stop these drives, Vincentians then left the corners open, and Zaire Harrison or Langston could drive to the lane and fire passes to DiVito or Blaine Sams for open threes. Sams drained five.

The first quarter was a battle for the lead. Kaden DiVito scored the first basket on a layup and was fouled, as seen in the photo at right. He sank the free throw and the Raiders led 3-0. They would never lose that lead. Vincentian hit a corner three to tie it at 3-3. Isaiah Langston and Divito scored layups and DiVito sank a corner three but Vincentian responded with three straight layups to stay with Cornell 10-9 at 3:37.

DiVito scored two more layups and Langston hit two free throws but Vincentian made two jump shots and a top three. Sams (dribbling in photo below right) drained a side three but a Royal layup left Cornell defending a shaky 19-18 lead at the break.

The Raiders won the game in the second quarter. A 15 foot Langston jump shot, a layup and corner three by DiVito put Cornell up 27-23.

That was when Langston ((#3 in photo at left) tipped, tipped, tipped and finally scored on a tipin and was fouled. He made the free throw for a 30-23 lead at 4:18. Vincentian scored a layup to cut it to 30-25, but Langston sank a corner three, Sams hit a side three and a corner three, and DiVito laid one in for a 41-25 halftime edge. It was the first time all year the Royals had trailed at the half.

They opened the third quarter with two follows, a free throw and a layup but Sams hit a corner three, Zaire Harrison laid one in, and Divito sank a free throw to hold the lead 47-32 at 4:51.

Vincentian scored three layups as the quarter wound down, but Sams sank anorher corner three to hold the lead at 50-38.

But the key to the third quarter was that Vincentian only had seven possessions. Cornell was controlling the pace of the game as they patiently worked for the shots they wanted. Vincentian was scoring every time they had the ball. They just didn't have it enough. And since Cornell had a 12-16 point lead, they were in no hurry.

The Raider patience continued in the fourth. They held the ball for the first 1:10 before DiVito sank a corner three for 53-39. Vincentian quickly responded with a corner three.

Cornell held it for another minute but missed. Vincentian missed, too, but scored on a tipin to make it 53-44 with 5:27.

Cornell worked it around for another minute before Langston laid one in on a slashing drive. Vincentian came down and was called for charging. Cornell held it for another minute before Langston was fouled and sank both free throws for 57-44 at 3:30.

The Royals laid one in and hit a free throw to cut it to 57-47 at 2:42. Vincentian called time out and went to a full court press. The crowd rose to its feet.

Langston was fouled and sank two free throws for 59-47 at 2:09. A Vincentian layup cut it back to 59-49 at 1:17. Harrison slashed in for a layup and was fouled. His free throw made it 62-49 at 1:13. Vincentian sank a corner three and a layup for 62-54 with 51 seconds.

Langston broke loose for another spectacular drive, was fouled, and sank two free throws. A top three cut Cornell's lead to seven at 64-57 with 24 seconds to go. But DiVito and Sams hit free throws for the final score.

A celebration erupted at the buzzer as players hugged each other and Coach Bill Sacco, and fans streamed out of the stands to join in.

The win avenged a 92-61 loss at Vincentian back in January and quelled talk about Vincentian being unbeatable by any Class A team.

Sams, with five of five threes, 15 points, pressure defense, clutch ballhandling and crisp, pinpoint passing against Vincentian's very physical defense, played the finest game of his career.

Although Harrison was held to one of his career low point outputs, he actually played one of his best games. His defense, ballhandling and rebounding were outstanding.

Cornell entered the game ranked third in the WPIAL behind Vincentian and Bishop Canevin and ahead of Nazareth and Greensburg Central Catholic. The win might move the Raiders up to second, ahead of Canevin. This would be critical, because it would improve their draw in the upcoming playoffs. The WPIAL will announce those pairings at a meeting Tuesday night.

Vincentian thus ends the season in first place in Section 1A with a 13-1 record. Cornell is second at 12-2. Nazareth is third at 11-3. Eden and Union are tied for fourth at 7-7 and will both advance to the playoffs.

The WPIAL field this year includes Bishop Canevin, Monessen, Geibel Catholic, West Greene, Greensburg Central Catholic, Imani, Clairton and Leechburg, as well as Vincentian, Cornell, Nazareth, Union and Eden. The opening playoff games are expected to be next Friday or Saturday.

Langston turned in another outstanding performance with 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. He hit nine of nine free throws. DiVito added 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and six steals. Kingwalden had three points and five steals.

As a section runnerup, Cornell should draw a third place team, which would pit it against Geibel or Clairton. As the current #3 team in the WPIAL, Cornell should be in the same bracket as Canevin and opposite Vincentian and Nazareth. That would be critical, since it would mean the Raiders could reach the finals at Pitt before meeting either Vincentian or Nazareth for a third time.

Cornell plays two exhibition games in the "dead period" between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs. Raider Coach Bill Sacco likes these games because they keep his team sharp. Cornell plays Central Valley at Lincoln Park at 5 pm Sunday and Neighborhood Academy at home at 7 pm Monday. Central Valley is the merger of Monaca and Center. The Warriors are 12-7 this year, 7-5 in their 4A section. They did not qualify for the playoffs. Quaker Valley, Blackhawk, Newcastle and Ambridge took the four playoff spots for that section. Neighborhood Academy is a private college prep school in inner city Pittburgh. Students are required to participate in sports to fulfill their physical education credits. Neighborhood is not a WPIAL member but plays a limited number of games against WPIAL schools. It is 0-4 this year, having lost to Winchester Thurston 81-38, Bentworth 65-44, Geibel 73-61, and Aquinas 74-65. There is no JV game.

Robin Gilligan

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Jayvees End Season With A Loss, 69-47

Powerful Vincentian rolled over Cornell's outmanned Junior Varsity team Friday night 69-47 to end their season at 6-9.

The Raiders hung in there for a half. MJ Smith hit three layups, a corner three and a side three, while Hunter Smith added a layup, to trail only 16-14 after one.

In the second, layups by Drew Lopez, Hunter Wegley and Patrick Scott and a free throw by Scott kept the Raiders within striking distance 26-21 at halftime.

Wegley drained a midrange jumper to cut it to 26-23 to open the third, but at that point the Raiders totally collapsed. Vincentian went to a full court press and stole the ball seven straight times. They fired the ball upcourt for layups every time, and added a follow, free throw and one more layup to lead 50-26 at the quarter break.

Cornell actually outscored Vincentian 21-19 in the fourth quarter but it was too little too late. Smith hit a layup, side three, top three and free throws. Lopez added a side three, a layup, a free throw.

But the Raiders could not stop Vincentian from scoring. The Royals kept taking the ball inside and laying it in over Cornell defenders frantically waving their arms. They scored nine of these plus one free throw.

Smith led all scorers with 27. Lopez had eight, Hunter Smith and Hunter Wegley each had four, Scott had three and Tristine Carlisle had one. Carmine D'Alesandro did not score.

With the five varsity starters all graduating, this JV team will be Cornell's varsity next season. It's going to take massive offseason work for Cornell to make the WPIAL and State playoffs again.

Unless someone experiences a dramatic growth spurt or a tall transfer shows up, this will be the shortest starting lineup in the WPIAL. The current varsity also carries that distinction, but it makes up for it with great shooting and spectacular leaping skill. Except for only Smith and Lopez, this is not a high scoring group and Smith is its only strong rebounder. It becomes essential that Craig Pulford recover from his back injury and Caleb Dunn get his academics in order.

This year's eighth graders struggled. They'll need two years at the JV level before any of them are ready for the varsity. The school's next strong team is in the seventh grade. In a league of 2A, 3A and 4A schools, they won all season.

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Langston Leads Cornell Over Quigley 77-62

With Cornell, Vincentian and Nazareth graduating most of their starting lineups, Quigley sees itself as a rising power in Section 1A. The Spartans have size and a trio of shooters. Tuesday night, in their final home game of the year, they dreamed of making a statement against traditional power Cornell. Those underclassmen sank 12 threes and crashed the boards. And they hung with Cornell for a while, leading for the first four minutes and tying 16-16 to end the first quarter. Isaiah Langston (#3 in photo at right) was having none of that. The 6-2 senior exploded for 32 points, eight rebounds, six assists and six steals to lead Cornell to a 77-62 win and set up a showdown with #1Vincentian Friday night.

Quigley started off with three threes, two from the corner and one from the side, two layups, a jumper from beside the lane, and a free throw. Langston alone scored nine with a top three, two layups and two free throws for nine points. Kaden DiVito (# 2 in photo bottom right) added a side three and two layups as the teams went to the second quarter 16-16.

DiVito was staggered for a few minutes by a hard fall to the floor after soaring high for a layup. He was so shaken that the referee stopped the game to ask if he was alright. But he stayed in the game, and the Raiders began picking up steals off their press. Langston hauled down four rebounds and scored 10 points on two side threes, a layup and two free throws. DiVito added eight with two layups, two free throws and a set shot from the side. Zaire Harrison (#1 in photo bottom left) hit two layups and a free throw, Blaine Sams (#15 in photos below and bottom right) added a corner three, and Cornell went to halftime leading 42-27.

The Raiders put the game away with nine points to open the third, as Harrison hit a top three and two layups and Langston added two free throws. A Quigley layup and follow were too little too late with the score suddenly 51-31 at the 4:13 mark. DiVito, who was fouled almost every time he touched the ball, hit three free throws and a layup and Langston finished the quarter with a side three and two layups to make it 63-44.

Fouls were mounting at this point but it didn't matter. Harrison spent much of the fourth quarter on the bench and only scored on one follow, but Langston hit a layuip and a two from just inside the line, DiVito added four free throws, and Sams a side three. Cornell spent the last three minutes working on its control game, which it figures to need Friday against Vincentian and in the playoffs.

Langston's 32 points led everyone. DiVito added 23 points and six assists. Harrison had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Sams' two threes gave him six points and Je'avante Kingwalden had two points and six rebounds.

The win left Cornell second in Section 1A at 11-2 with Vincentian first at 13-0. Nazareth defeated Union Tuesday 54-40 and Vincentian beat Eden 84-43, so Nazareth is in third at 10-3. Union hosts Western Beaver Friday as Eden goes to Nazareth, so barring a huge upset Union and Eden will tie for fourth place. How the WPIAL will pick that fourth playoff team is uncertain. This all senior Cornell team, which is concluding the greatest four year run in school history, plays its final home game Friday night.

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Depleted Jayvees Crushed By Quigley 53-20

Cornell's Junior Varsity is in the final week of its season and is not finishing well. Caleb Dunn is ineligible due to grades. Drew Lopez was held out for missing practice. Craig Pulford is out with a back injury. That takes away most of their rebounding, scoring and ballhandling.

Quigley revealed just how vulnerable the depleted Raiders are Tuesday nighr when they handed them a 53-20 beat down. The game was never close. Quigley led 14-7, 30-11 and 35-15 at the quarter stops.

There weren't many bright spots for Cornell. Michael J. Smith (#33, in photo at right), led them with nine points and 10 rebounds. Scott Patterson and Hunter Smith (#30 in photo below left) did most of the ball handling. Carmine D'Alesandro (#14 in photo below right), despite being the smallest player on the floor for either team, provided scoring, passing and defense. Hunter Wegley (#32 in background in photo bottom right) and Tristine Carlisle hung in there but were guarded by taller Spartans and had a hard time stopping those same taller opponents on defense. The only two Cornell threes of the night were by D'Alesandro and Smith.

Behind Smith, D'Alesandro added five points, Carlisle had four and Wegley two.

The Raiders could not hit. Part of that was the size disadvantage, as they had trouble getting shots off over taller defenders, and when they did they had to rush it or shoot a higher arc. But they also missed layups and free throws. They were badly outrebounded, 38-17. And many of their passes were too slow and were intercepted by Quigley defenders.

The loss dropped the Jayvees to 6-8 with one game remaining. Their unravelling season is especially worrisome because Cornell graduates five seniors and this group will become the varsity as of April 1. Hopefully Pulford, at 6-2, will recover from that back injury and develop into a competent center, and MJ Smith and Dunn will be able to help him on the boards. But they need a strong Summer in the weight room and at Summer Camp to compete with varsities from Vincentian, Nazareth, Union and a rising Quigley.


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Raiders Pull Away From Union Late, 67-45

The WPIAL's top four scorers were on the floor at the same time Friday night at Cornell, so fans expected a real shootout. And that's what they got.

#1 Kaden DiVito, #2 Matt Stanley of Union, #3 Isaiah Langston and #4 Zaire Harrison were all in action as Union tried to upset the Raiders and avenge one of its rare home losses.

Cornell had defeated Union 56-48 on January 7th. But Union had two players out with injuries for that game and now they were both back. The Scotties also had motivation. Union was tied with Eden Christian for fourth place and needed this win over Cornell to reach the postseason.

Nick Pasquarello, 6-2 senior (#20 in the photos), was a force on the boards as usual. The Scotties made it a very physical game. They controlled the pace, working the ball around, reversing the floor again and again until they got exactly the shots they wanted and then making them. They made that clear on their very first possession, when they held the ball for over a minute before sinking a corner three. Three layups and a corner two just inside the line gave Union 100% shooting for the first quarter. Two DiVito layups (#2 below), one each by Harrison (pink shoes below right) and Langston, and a corner three by Blaine Sams tied the score at 11-11 at the quarter break.

Cornell opened the second with a corner three by DiVito, a layup by Harrison and a tipin by Langston (#3 at right) for an 18-11 lead at 6:13. Two layups and a baseline jumper cut that to 18-17, but Langston hit a layup, a corner two and a foul line jump shot while Harrison added a free throw to pull the Raiders back out to 25-17 at 1:41. A Union layup cut it to 25-19 but Harrison found Langston with a lob pass for a dunk and DiVito sank a free throw for a 28-19 halftime lead.

Union opened the third with threes from the corner, side and top. Harrison hit a baseline jumper and two free throws to keep Cornell up 32-28 at 5:35. A Jeavante Kingwalden layup and Langston corner three increased that to 37-28 but two Union corner threes cut it back to 37-34 at 4:02.

By this point the game had become extremely physical. Cornell finished the third with a surge on layups by DiVito, Harrison, and Langston, two free throws by Harrison, and a dunk by Langston on a lob pass from Harrison. The one layup by Langston was a spectacular drive from midcourt. Union's only response was two layups. The quarter ended 48-38.

Union opened the fourth with a tipin and two free throws to narrow it to 48-42 before Cornell exploded. Langston scored on two spectacular dunks and a free throw, Harrison broke through for three twisting layups, DiVito scored on one layup and three free throws, and Sams drained a side three. That put Cornell up 67-42 and Coach Bill Sacco pulled his starters. The reserves did not score, but Union sank only one more corner three for the finsl 67-45 score.

Langston led both scoring and rebounding with 22 poinrs and 10 boards. Harrison added 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. DiVito had 17 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals. Sams had six points. Kingwalden had two.

The win guaranteed Cornell a playoff spot. The Raiders are in second place at 10-2 with games next week at Quigley and home against Vincentian, which is first at 12-0. Behind Cornell are Nazareth at 9-3, Eden at 7-5 and Union at 6-6. Union plays Nazareth and Western Beaver next week. Eden plays both Vincentian and Nazareth. Presumably, Union and Eden will end up tied at 7-7. They split their two games, so the WPIAL will have to break the tie to choose which one goes to the playoffs.

Union Coach Mark Stanley thought his team gave a good effort. "I warned the boys coming in that Cornell was capable of 10-15 point runs. We wanted to get a lead and slow it way down, but we never could get ahead. Cornell just has those three guys able to score at any time from anywhere on the floor. I thought we wore down by late in the third quarter. Playing against Cornell is exhausting because of their in your face defense and run and gun offense. You can keep up for a while, but eventually it gets to you. I thought we did a good job working for the shots we wanted and hitting them, but once we got tired those shots quit falling. Cornell is hard to beat on this floor."

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Cornell Jayvees Lose To Union, 50-40

Cornell's Junior Varsity dropped to 6-7 on the season as it lost to Union 50-40 Friday night.

They led for the first four minutes on layups by Drew Lopez (#24 below right) and M. J. Smith and a jump shot from the lane by Lopez. But threes from the corner and side and two layups put Union ahead and the Raiders never caught them. It was 16-11 after the first and 26-16 at halftime. The third quarter score was 39-28.

The closest Cornell came was in the fourth quarter when Caleb Potts Dunn (in the corner about to receive the pass in the photo below) rebounded and put it back up to bring the Raiders to within six at 40-34. But then Union ran off eight straight points on layups and free throws.

Lopez and Patrick Scott (#22 dribbling at right and with ball below left) led all scorees with 11 each. M. J. Smith added 10, Dunn six and Hunter Smith four.

Other members of the JV team are Carmine D'Alesandro, Hunter Wegley and Tristen Carlisle. The Jayvees end their season next week with games at Quigley Tuesday and home against Vincentian Friday.

Robin Gilligan

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WPIAL Announces 2020 Cornell FB Schedule

The WPIAL has announced 2020 football schedules and Cornell ends up with two new nonconference opponents.

The Raiders will open with Mohawk and play Jefferson Morgan a week later.

Then they will play seven straight conference games : Northgate, Shenango, Union, Burgettstown, Rochester, Fort Cherry and Sacred Heart.

Coach Ed Dawson and/or Athletic Director have the option of adding one more game, in the so called "zero week." That game would be a week before Mohawk. Or Dawson could choose to play a second scrimmage and only play seven actual games. He has done this the past four years.

Mohawk is a Class AA school which finished last year 1-6 in their conference and 2-8 overall. Their two wins were over Ellwood City and Summit.

Jefferson-Morgan is a Class A school which finished last year 3-4 in their conference and 3-7 overall. Their three wins were over Mapletown, Avella and Bentworth.

Cornell graduates most of its starters from this year's conference champions and WPIAL semifinalists, the best team in school history. But Dawson returns several skill position players and several linemen.


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Cornell Holds Off Eden Christian, 70-62

Cornell held off Eden Christian 70-62 Tuesday night to tighten its hold on second place in Section 1A and set up two final week showdowns with Union and Vincentian. The game was close throughout. Eden Christian, which is a relatively new school that has only been competing in the WPIAL several years, has its best team in history. The Mt. Nebo school is tied with Union for fourth place in the section. One of them will qualify for the WPIAL playoffs. So, with only two weeks to go, Eden is fighting for every win, and this was a home game.

Even worse, this Eden team is exactly the kind of team that has been giving Cornell trouble. Like Vincentian and Nazareth, Eden has its "twin towers" in 6-4 Drew Lipinski and 6-4 Ryan Aiken, plus three other starters at 6-1. The Warriors usually control the boards, and like to take the ball inside and score over shorter opponents. Cornell battled to a 13-9 first quarter lead, but Eden out scored the Raiders 18-17 in the second so the halftime edge was only 30-27. Cornell probably won the game in the third quarter, when it totalled 20 points to Eden's 16 for a 50-43 lead. Eden narrowed the lead several times in the fourth but the Raiders managed to pull back ahead to tally another 20 while holding Eden to 19. Eden's Elijah Manges led all scorers with 21. Lipinski and Tom Medure added 13. For Cornell, Zaire Harrison led with 19. Kaden DiVito (#2 in photo at right) added 17 and Isaiah Langston had 11.

The win left Cornell 9-2 in the Section with three games to go. Vincentian, which beat Western Beaver 90-39 Tuesday night, stands alone in first at 11-0. Nazareth, which won 76-44 at Quigley, is third at 8-3. Union, which rolled over Rochester 56-78, and Eden are tied for fourth at 6-5.Cornell faces a strong challenge Friday night at home against Union. The Raiders then play Sewickley in a Saturday showcase at Quaker Valley, travel to Quigley Tuesday, then close out the regular season next Friday at home against Vincentian.

Kevin Edwards

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Cornell Youth Baseball Signups Begin

Signups have begun for the 2020 Cornell Youth Baseball Association.

Cornell this year will be competing in the Southwest Pittsburgh Baseball League. Teams in the league at this time include Crafton, Beechview, Sheraden, Brighton Heights, Mt. Washington, Westwood, Carrick, Sto-Rox, Avalon and Bellevue. There may be teams join or withdraw between now and the season opening. Kirk Jessup is the Commissioner. Cornell will again play its home games at Ronnie Bliwas Field.

The CYBA offers teams at the TBall, Coach Pitch, Minor, Little and Pony League levels. Fees are $50, $60, $70, $80 and $100 for the respective levels. $10 discounts are available for families registering two or more siblings, for returning CYBA players, and for Cornell youth football players. Any player can only count one discount.

Parents can sign players up at www.tinyurl.com/cornellyouthbaseball or in person at the Coraopolis Memorial Library from 6-7 every Wednesday and 10 am - noon every Saturday.

The Association has obtained the use of an indoor facility at Cornell High School so will be able to begin practices regardless of weather. Coaches will be able to work on conditioning, fundamentals, pitching, batting and fielding skills for a month before the opening game.

Both girls and boys are welcome. Youth baseball is considered the best possible preparation for girls planning to play softball at the high school level. Football players are also welcome. Youth baseball season ends before football practices begin.

Robin Gilligan

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Raiders Regain Winning Ways At WB, 82-38

After a disastrous week of two road losses, Cornell regained its winning ways Tuesday night at Western Beaver with an 82-38 rout.

The game was over in the first quarter when the Raiders grabbed a 20-10 lead. Then they shifted into high gear and outscored the Golden Beavers 30-9 in the second, for a 50-19 halftime edge. At the end of the third it was 75-27. Cornell Coach Bill Sacco played his reserves in the fourth.

Kaden DiVito (#2 in photo at right) led all scorers with 28. With a 22.6 average, DiVito ranks 15th among WPIAL scorers from all classes. Zaire Harrison added 21 and Isaiah Langston 12. Langston averages 19.7 and Harrison averages 16.4. So despite being in a well balanced offense, all three are among the WPIAL's top 25 scorers of all classes.

Elsewhere in Section 1A, Vincentian beat Nazareth 74-72, the second time this season Vincentian has beaten the Saints by one basket. That leaves Vincentian all alone in first place with a 9-0 record, Cornell in second at 7-2 and Nazareth third at 6-3.

Eden Christian defeated Rochester 74-59. Union rolled over Quigley 61-44. This leaves Eden and Union tied for fourth at 5-4. Unfortunately, Eden has more games remaining against the top three teams so is likely to pick up enough losses to give Union sole possession of fourth and the accompanying WPIAL postseason bid.

Cornell still faces a rugged road stretch in the unbalanced schedule the WPIAL computer created for it. The Raiders travel to Rochester this Friday, and Eden next Tuesday. That will conclude five consecutive road games. Then, on Friday (January 31) Cornell finally returns home for a big game with Union. Tuesday (Feb. 4) the Raiders go to Quigley and then close out the regular season with Vincentian Friday Feb. 7.

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WPIAL FB Realignment Alters Cornell Schedule

The WPIAL football realignment for the next two year cycle will significantly change Cornell's schedule.

Gone from the Raider schedule are Sto-Rox, Laurel and Bishop Canevin. Added will be Burgettstown, Fort Cherry and Shenango.

Bishop Canevin has been moved to a different Class A conference. Sto-Ros and Laurel have been moved up to Class 2A.

Burgettstown, Fort Cherry and Shenango have all been moved down from Class 2A.

So Cornell's conference schedule will now include Northgate, Union, Rochester, Sacred Heart, Burgettstown, Fort Cherry and Shenango.

Last season, Sto-Rox handed Cornell its only regular season loss.

Rochester and Sacred Heart are traditional WPIAL powers.

The WPIAL realigns schools every two years, which represents a home-and-away cycle. Its computer creates the schedules, including the nonconference games.

There will also be a change in the nonconference schedule. Coaches requested, and the WPIAL agreed, to move all nonconference games to the beginning of the season, so that teams have two or three games to polish their offenses and defenses before beginning conference play.

The WPIAL struggled with this year's realignment. Coaches and administrators have complained loudly for the last two years about the loss of traditional rivals, the long distances teams have to travel, and the declining attendance because fans don't care about the teams placed in their conference.

So the WPIAL summoned all the coaches and administrators to a special meeting at which they presented an alternate proposal. They would go back to neighborhood rivals regardless of school size. This would have had Cornell playing Avonworth, Carlynton, Quaker Valley and Montour, in addition to OLSH, Sto-Rox, Northgate and Rochester. But, at the end of the regular season, conference play would be irrelevant. The WPIAL computer would power rank all teams and select the top eight in each class to advance to the playoffs.

Coaches decided they didn't like this format, either. They voted to keep conferences within enrollment classes.

For most of the 20th Century, Burgettstown was a traditional Coraopolis and Cornell rival in both football and basketball. Fort Cherry has been a frequent basketball opponent and Shenango has off and on been a football conference opponent. As Cornell declined in enrollment and Burgettstown grew slightly, they stopped playing each other. But now Burgettstown is also losing enrollment, so it is once again close to Cornell's size.

Cornell is coming off its greatest season in school history and Coach Ed Dawson will be in a massive rebuilding year. However, he retains several key skill players and several key linemen so has a nucleus to build around. OLSH will be strong again and favored to win the conference. Rochester suffered through its rebuilding year last year and will be strong again. But losing Sto-Rox from the schedule will help, since Cornell has not won a Sto-Rox game in modern memory. Losing traditionally strong Laurel will also help. Struggling Canevin was a guaranteed win, so losing it from the schedule hurts.


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Cornell Grade Schoolers Lay The Foundation

Cornell High School Girls Basketball is struggling. The team is in the WPIAL's toughest section and is not doing well. And the reason why is no secret. Cornell has never had a comprehensive elementary school program. It does not bring girls up to the high school with game experience or years of work on fundamentals.

This year they're trying to change that. Aaron Melius and Bethsny Griffith volunteered to coach a 4th grade and under, and a 6th grade and under team. They have third graders acting as reserves on the 4th grade team, and 5th graders acting as reserves on the 6th grade team. (Mark Bolla coaches the high school team.)

On the sixth grade team, he starts Zoey Kaczmarek (#62 in photo at right), Bethany Shugis, Alivia Walsh, McKenna Griffith and Courtney Gutt. Reserves are Kylie Arnot, Areanna Camardese, Ramsey Shaw, Peyton Thomas and Gianna Gracyk

On the fourth grade he starts Caitlyn Gibson, Maleah Turner, Samantha Melius, Clara Joranger and Reese Roebels.

Their basic routine is to practice two days a week and play one game a week. However, the gym isn't always available, so sometimes they have to adapt. They might play two games one week and none the next.

"This gym is a problem," he admits. "We only have this one gym. But we have both girls and boys high school teams, middle school teams, and grade school teams all needing to use it. One problem that causes is if the high school teams use it right after school, and the middle school teams use it next, then by the time we get our turn it's too late in the evening to ask 10-12 year old girls to be staying out every night.

Another problem is the schedule. "We want to play a 10 game schedule. But none of the other schools our size bother with grade school girls. The only schools which do are the big 5A schools like Canon McMillan, Montour, Chartiers Valley and West Allegheny. If we play them, with so many more girls to draw from, they have girls much taller and more athletic. So we have a hard time winning. Now, we could find schools our size with teams, but they're a long ways away. We'd be driving up on the other side of Pittsburgh or down below Washington or up by Newcastle every week. Not all of our Parents can do that, what with jobs and other family responsibilities."

He's hoping to find a few Class A Tournaments for late February. He'd organize one and host it at Cornell, but the gym;'s not available.

So, temporarily Cornell is a Class A school playing in a 5A conference.

It's tough to persuade grade school girls to invest the time in basketball. Cheerleading, Girl Scouts, piano lessons and homework take precedene.

"But if we don't get them involved now, we never will. Right now, we have really good athletes in high school on the cheerleding team. But not playing basketball. So we have to get them now."

Melius played high school basketball at Portage, in the center of the state. After serving in the military, he played college basketball in his mid 20s.

"For years I resisted the temptation to coach because it's so time consuming. But here they had no one else, so it came down to either I did it or there was no team for my daughter to play on."

Samantha Melius is the coach's daughter. She already has a reputation as a fine youth baseball player, as does McKenna Griffith. Samantha has played on Coach Pitch teams, McKenna on Minor League teams.

Melius would like to work with the girls during the off season if he can persuade them to put in the time and if he can get the gym.

"We have a lot of fundamentals work to do," he pointed out. "If we have to compete with these bigger schools, we have to become better shots, better ballhandlers, better defenders and better rebounders. Plus, the girls have to spend a lot of time in the gym if they're going to develop the kind of instincts you need to play in midle school or high school."

But in the first year of the program he has 29 girls on the roster. "If we can keep them, we'll be OK in a few years."

Kevin Edwards

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19 Years of Experience

Back, Knee, Ankle, Neck, Hip, Foot, Elbow, Wrist, Shoulder


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Nazareth Dims Lights On Cornell, 65-48

The Lawrenceville Boys & Girls Club, where for some unexplained reason Nazareth Prep plays its home games, has a fine full length floor. But on a good evening it has only eight lights overhead. Friday night, three of those were burned out. So playing there was rather like playing on an outdoor court under a streetlight. There were shadows. (These photos have been artificially brightened through Photoshop.)

And the darkness went beyond lighting. Cornell played its worst game of the season, losing 65-48 to a poor shooting team it had beaten 76-54 just a month ago.

The difference was that this time Coach Nehemiah Brazil told his Saints to shoot NOTHING outside the lane. All Nazareth shots were layups, dunks, follows, lobs and free throws.

For the first quarter and half of rhe second, it looked like Cornell would overcome this strategy. Isaiah Langston hit two layups and a foul line jump shot, Kaden DiVito made a corner three, a tip in, and a layup, and Giavante Kingwalden added a layup for a slim 17-16 lead. But it was a costly quarter. Zaire Harrison (shooting in bottom photo) was already in foul trouble with two.

In the second Drew Lopez (with ball in bottom photo) opened with a layup, Langston followed with a corner three and a dunk, DiVito hit a layup and a free throw, and Harrison added a top three. That made it 29-16 with 4:54 til halftime. And that was when Cornell's game fell apart.

"We're up 13," Coach Bill Sacco told his team.

"We're in control. From here on, run your weave and keep working the ball until you get either a layup or short jump shot or a wide open three. Do not hurry your shots and do not take anything but your best shots."

No one listened. The Raiders kept firing too quickly and did not wait for their favorite shots. The much taller Saints got every rebound, came down, and fed the ball to the big men inside. Nazareth scored on three layups, a jump shot (from in the lane just below the foul circle), a follow and two free throws to cut the halftime lead to 31-28. Meanwhile, Cornell was accumulatimg fouls. Harrison had gone back in and promptly picked up his third. Other Raiders had two. And relations with the officials were becoming testy. The larger, beefier Saints were making it a physical game and Cornell was being called for fouls. Nazareth made more free throws (17) than Cornell shot (14), and Cornell only hit five of 14. Nazareth players hit 17 of 31. So the Saints shot twice as many as Cornell.

The third quarter was a disaster for Cornell. The only points they could produce were a Harrison layup and free throw and a Lopez layup. Meanwhile, taking it inside on every possession, Nazareth scored 18 on four layups, three follows and four free throws. The Saints shot poorly. They took three or four shots to finally make a simple layup. But they kept grabbing rebound after rebound over the much shorter Raiders.

And the fouls kept mounting. Sacco played reserves Drew Lopez, Caleb Dunn (#12 in photo above) and MJ Smith to spell his foul plagued starters, but only Lopez scored and he got the only rebound of the reserves.

The atmosphere grew more hostile as the Saint lead rose. Ranked 4th to Cornell's 2nd, they taunted Cornell after each made basket, clapping in their faces and chanting "over rated." When Raiders took the bait and responded, they were whistled for warnings or Technical fouls. Blaine Sams (#15 at right) was called for two technicals and will have to sit out a game next week.

Cornell launched its final rally to start the fourth. Down 46-36, Harrison hit a corner three and layup, Sams a side three and Langston a layup to cut it to two with 5:44 left. But those were the last field goals Cornell scored. The Saints ran off four follows, two layups, a five foot jumper and five free throws for 19 points while the Raiders were limited to one free throw each by Harrison and DiVito.

For the second game this week Cornell was outrebounded badly, 50-29. Much of that disparity was due to Nazareth shooting so badly. Each possession, they would rebound three or four times trying to score on layups, tipins or follows. Langston led Cornell with 11, followed by DiVito with seven, Kingwalden with four, Harrison and Sams with three each, and Lopez with one.

Langston and Harrison led scoring with 14 each. DiVito added 10, Lopez four, and Kingwalden and Sams three each.

The game was especially worrisome because it revealed a Cornell inflexibility that could prove fatal in the playoffs. This late in the season, everybody has everybody scouted and has plenty of game film. Coach Brazil had clearly drilled his defenses on Cornell's offensive movements and their favorite shooting spots. Every time a Cornell player moved to one of their spots, a defender was there waiting. Brazil used a matchup zone out of a 1-3-1 alignment to reach Cornell's perimeter shooters, while collapsing on anyone trying to drive. Notice in the photo at left, and the two above, how any Cornell player moving toward the basket is immediately surrounded by three defenders. It's an effective defense, but it opens up other players IF the players are patient and willing to keep reversing the floor and finding the open man, or driving and kicking out.

For example, in rhe photo above (taken from the catwalk high above the floor) Harrison has three taller defenders collapsed on him, but Kingwalden (#4) is wide open at the free throw line for an easy jump shot. The secret is to keep moving the ball and not forcing shots.

That rebounding problem can also be addressed by aggressive boxing out, even if it comes down to face blocking by some players while teammates go for the rebound. Against timber tall teams like Vincentian and Nazareth, it must be addressed.

But Cornell's seniors, who have been playing together since the 4th grade, seem reluctant to run any new offensive movements or bother with boxing out. They have compiled the most successful four year run in school history and believe in their system. Unfortunately the game is changing. They face coaches who have recruited all star teams and are using sophisticated strategies against them. Sacco and his staff have been around for 40 years and know the game, but the players have to listen.

Cornell will face Vincentian once more in the regular season and will almost certainly face both Nazareth and Vincentian in the postseason, in the WPIAL and the PIAA. Last year Nazareth defeated Cornell in the semifinals to keep them from the Petersen Events Center, then Vincentian knocked Cornell out of the PIAA. Two years ago, Vincentian stopped them in the semifinals.

The loss left Cornell and Nazareth tied for second in the Section with 6-2 records, behind 8-0 Vincentian. Cornell will lose its #2 ranking in the WPIAL, probably to be replaced by Bishop Canevin.

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Vincentian Size, Marksmanship Too Much

Cornell's #2 ranked Raiders gave it all they had, but there's a reason Vincentian is ranked #1 in the WPIAL and the entire state.

A 6-6 player playing hard is just too much for a 6-0 player playing hard. Cornell could create no advantage Tuesday night in Vincentian's rat's nest gym with its three rows of metal bleachers and fans sitting with their feet on the playing surface. The Royals won in a rout, 92-61, although the score was only 84-55 when Cornell Coach Bill Sacco called time out and sent in the reserves with 3:16 remaining.

Cornell opened up in its usual aggressive in your face defense and made a game of it for a while. Kaden DiVito (#2 in photo below) put a rebound back in and scored two free throws, Zaire Harrison (#1 in photo at right and below)) scored on a top three, two layups and a free throw, and Isaiah Langston (bottom photo) scored on a layup. That put Cornell up 14-11 with 3:28 left in the first quarter and Vincentian Coach Shelton Carney called time.

He changed his lineup, replacing a few of his taller players with 5-10 and 5-11 players to match Cornell's quickness. And he ordered his players to open fire from the perimeter. The result was stunning. The Royals hit three straight side threes and buried SIX threes in all, two from on top and four from the sides, en route to a 27-21 first quarter lead. Harrison's layup and top three and Giavante Kingwalden's jump shot could not keep up with this barrage.

The problem Cornell faced was that they had 6-6 players shooting over their outstretched arms and draining threes. There was nothing they could do.

But they kept fighting. Vincentian's long distance shooting cooled to begin the second, and with those shooters out on the perimeter Cornell was able to grab a few rebounds and fire them downcourt. Harrison, Langston and DiVito scored three straight layups to cut that gap. Again, Carney called time and changed strategy. This time, he told his team to take it inside. Again, Cornell with its height disadvantage was unable to stop the Royals.

Layups, a dunk and a foul line jump shot pushed the lead back out to 41-29 at 2:43, as all Cornell could produce was a DiVito layup.

Then things got worse. Harrison and Langston picked up their second fouls and Kingwalden his third, so Sacco had to ease off his aggressive defense. Blaine Sams grabbed a rebound and put it back and Harrison hit a layup at the buzzer to keep Cornell's flickering hopes alive, 45-33 at the half.

But Vincentian and the officials quickly extinguished those hopes in the third. The Royals scored the first nine points to go up 54-33. While this was happening, Langston picked up his third foul only 40 seconds in, and Kingwalden got his fourth at 6:32 and fouled out at 6:11.

Cornell fans weren't happy with the officials, but whenever two or more 6-6 players are wrestling with 5-10 and 5-11 players for the ball, either under the boards or out on the floor, and every player is physically fit and strong, inevitably the smaller players end up on the floor, against the wall or in the first rows of the stands, just like a bear shaking off a dog. That was how the game progressed, with DiVito, Harrison and Sams taking the brunt of it, but Langston getting knocked around under the basket (see photo below). In one almost comical sequence, Vincentian double teamed Harrison on their full court press. They wrestled the ball away and flung Harrison into the stands. He was still freeing himself from being half under the bleachers and half tangled up in two spectators while down at the other end of the floor Cornell was playing 4-on-5 defense until he got there. There was no call by the official standing three feet away.

Cornell couldn't get its shots off. Vincentian defenders swatted shots away, blocked them, or simply grabbed them out of the air and went the other way. Even when Raiders did get a shot off, it was hurried and had to be altered, usually with a higher arc to get over those taller defenders. So the usual high Cornell shooting percentages were way down.

Somehow, DiVito managed to get off three layups, Harrison soared high for a spectacular runner (photo, left), Langston sank three free throws, and Drew Lopez added a layup. But it was too little too late, as the third quarter score ballooned to 69-47.

Those 24 points came on nine layups, all over top of Cornell defenders who had position, plus a side three and three free throws.

The fourth opened with a Vincentian dunk and three layups and Harrison picking up his fourth foul. That made it 77-47 with 5:17.

With 3:16 to go and the score 84-55 Sacco pulled his starters to avoid injuries.

DiVito led Cornell with 21 points. Harrison added 20, Langston nine, MJ Smith three, and Sams, Lopez and Kingwalden two.

It was the worst Cornell rebounding in three seasons. The Raiders were outrebounded 44-17. Langston had nine, Harrison four, DiVito three and Sams one.

DiVito had five steals. Langston had four assists and three blocks.

The win left Vincentian alone in first place in Section 1A with a 7-0 record. Cornell is second at 6-1. Nazareth, which defeated Eden 75-54 Tuesday, is third at 5-2. Eden is fourth at 4-3.

Vincentian remains #1 in the WPIAL and #1 in Pennsylvania. The computer considers them the odds on favorite to win the state championship.

Cornell gets the Royals at home the last Friday of the regular season. Presumably, Vincentian will not shoot quite as well, especially from the three point line. But the Twin Towers of Ethan Embleton and Angelo Reeves are still 6-6 and Cornell will still have to figure a way to handle them on the boards and keep them from just scoring over top of defenders,

First, however, Cornell has another challenge. It has a game Friday night against Nazareth. The Nazareth game is a classic example of how bizarre competition in WPIAL Class A has become. The WPIAL has ruled that Nazareth's home court is so bad as to be unusable. So the Saints have to find another site for their home games. They've played some at Robert Morris, then moved to the Hill District YMCA. That arrangement ended. Nazareth has now scheduled Friday's game at the Lawrenceville Boys & Girls Club along the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh. So Cornell and Nazareth, located three miles apart across a bridge from each other, are both travelling 18 miles into the city to play. Parking is not a problem at the Lawrenceville site, there being two large lots adjacent. This new facility was built in 2000 to replace the old 1920 building. The problem will be in seating. The gym was not built with the idea of hosting games. There is room for 100 spectators. The JV game begins at 5:30. Cornell fans are urged to arrive early in order to get one of those 100 seats, or indeed to get in at all. Although Cornell defeated Nazareth earlier this year at Cornell, the Saints are defending WPIAL champions and only lost to Vincentian by three two weeks ago. The Saints badly outrebounded Cornell in their earlier matchup.

Robin Gilligan

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Raiders Destroy Quigley, 86-35

Cornell's Raiders warmed up for their showdown with Vincentian with an 86-35 Friday night home rout of Quigley.

Quigley stayed with Cornell for a quarter, 23-17. Then Cornell shifted into gear and outscored the visitors 24-9 in the second for a 47-26 lead at halftime. It gor worse for Quigley, as Cornell rolled 20-3 in the third and 19-6 in the fourth.

Zaire Harrison and Kaden DiVito led all scorers with 22 points each. Isaiah Langston added 15.

The win kept Cornell ranked second in the WPIAL and tied for first in Section 1A with Vincentian with a 6-0 record.

Vincentian defeated Eden Christian 82-62 Friday night, as Nazareth beat Union 73-53 and Western Beaver rolled over winless Rochester 86-48.

So now it's on to the Tuesday night civil war with Vincentian at the Royals' McKnight Road crackerbox gym.

Vincentian starts the tallest lineup in Pennsylvania and is ranked #1 in the state, as well as the WPIAL. The shortest Royal starter is 6-5. Its Twin Towers, Angelo Reeves and Ethan Embleton, both 6-6, both average 20+ points and 10+ rebounds.

Ironically, Cornell now finds itself hating to go into Vincentian with its cramped floor and playing conditions, officially recognized as the worst remaining gym in the WPIAL. For years, the old Coraopolis High School had the worst gym in the WPIAL and opponents always hated coming in. Now Cornell has a fine gym and has to go play in a bad one.

Because of the home floor advantage, Vincentian will be favored. But Cornell gets the Royals back home in February.