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WPIAL Class AAAA preview

| Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010

Take a look at the 2009 standings from WPIAL Class AAAA.

The four conference winners were Woodland Hills (Quad East), Gateway (Quad South), North Allegheny (Quad North) and Bethel Park (Quad West).

Now, try to make a good case for one of those teams not repeating.

Go ahead. We'll wait.

Tough, isn't it?

With Division I recruits sprinkled throughout the rosters of all four teams and good, experienced, playoff-tested coaches in charge it wouldn't surprise anyone if they are the top playoff seeds two months from now.

Class AAAA is usually predictable, even though no one would have guessed that Gateway would have a three-game losing streak in the title game.

Looking for a spoiler• Try Mt. Lebanon in the Quad West.

Seeking a dark horse• Keep an eye on Peters Township in the same conference.

The WPIAL's Class AAAA teams, league by league, in predicted order of finish:

Quad North (Section 1)

1. North Allegheny

Last season: 9-2 overall, 5-0

Coach: Art Walker Jr., sixth season

Top returnees: RB/DB Alex Papson, 5-8, 175, sr.; RB/DB Matt Steinbeck, 6-0, 185, sr.; WR/DB Dan Slivka, 6-2, 185, sr.; OL/DL Justin Haser, 6-5, 235, sr.; OL/DL Vince Czerniewski, 6-0, 255, sr.; FB/LB Kevin Cope, 5-10, 200, sr.; OL/DL Jack Wall, 6-1, 250, sr; QB Mike Buchert, 5-10, 160, sr.

Top newcomers: TE/DE Rob Kugler, 6-3, 240, sr.; WR/DB Brendon Coniker, 6-0, 170, soph.; DE Patrick Kugler, 6-3, 230, soph.

Outlook: The Tigers are poised to repeat as conference champions. They're led by Papson, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2009. The addition of the Kugler brothers, sons of Steelers line coach Sean Kugler, should help.

2. North Hills

Last season: 6-6, 2-3

Coach: Jack McCurry, 33rd season

Top returnees: QB/DB Taylor Schmidt, 5-10, 170, sr.; OL/DL Dan Heinauer, 6-1, 245, sr.; OL/DL Jay Loritz, 6-1, 255, sr.; OL/DL Derrick Dunn, 5-11, 240, sr.; TE/DE Coleman Mazur, 6-2, 230, sr.; C/LB John Wanner, 6-0, 190, sr.; WR/DB Brody Zangaro, 5-9, 175, sr.; WR/K Mark DeVita, 5-10, 160, sr.; RB Mike Sieber, 5-9, 180, sr.; RB/LB Josh Neurohr, 5-9, 180, sr.

Outlook: Schmidt, who has committed to play baseball at Cincinnati, led the Indians in passing and rushing yards last season, when North Hills reached the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals. A return is possible.

3. Erie McDowell

Last season: 8-3

Coach: Mark Soboleski, third season

Top returnees: RB Greg Garmon, 6-1, 200, sr.; OL/DL Andrew Bennett, 6-6, 250, sr.; FB/LB Jeremy Baronner, 6-2, 210, sr.; QB Colin Kimball, 5-10, 160, sr.

Outlook: Now a member of District 7, McDowell finally is eligible to challenge for a conference title and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs two goals within the Trojans' reach.

4. Seneca Valley

Last season: 5-5, 3-2

Coach: Don Holl, second season

Top returnees: QB Donny Holl, 6-2, 220, sr.; WR/DB Jordan Glaser, 6-2, 205, sr.; OT/DT Jeff Palmer, 6-1, 260 sr.; RB Jack Graham, 5-10, 175, sr.; TE/LB Pat Kulp, 6-1, 215, sr.; OT/DT Tyler Boozel, 6-2, 215, sr.; WR/LB Mike Martin, 5-10, 170, sr.; TE/LB Aaron Pynos, 6-1, 210, sr.

Top newcomers: WR/DB Oliver Philogene, 6-0, 170, jr.; RB/DB Forrest Barnes, 5-11, 165, soph.

Outlook: The Holls took Seneca Valley to the playoffs in 2009 in their first year with the program, and they would be disappointed if the Raiders don't return in 2010. Week 6 against Pine-Richland and Week 7 at Shaler will be crucial games.

5. Shaler

Last season: 9-2, 4-1

Coach: Neil Gordon, third season

Top returnees: WR/DB Sean Gavin, 6-0, 175, jr.; QB Ryan Mincher, 6-1, 175, jr.; TE/LB J.P. Holtz, 6-4, 228, jr.; WR/DB Joe Panza, 5-9, 165, sr.; TE/DE Zach Schramm, 6-3, 210, sr.; WR/DB Nick Kerin, 5-9, 160, sr.; OL/DT Tim Walters, 6-2, 260, jr; LB Brandon Berringer, 6-1, 210, jr.

Top newcomers: OL/DL Ross Budziszewski, 6-2, 270, soph.; OL/DL Nick Carey, 6-2, 265, soph.; OL/DL Jesse Elrick, 6-1, 260, soph.; OL/DL Nick D'Amico, 6-2, 240, soph.

Outlook: The Titans graduated their leading passer (Tyler Bills), rusher (Matt Ramey) and receiver (Jesse Della Valle) from a team that reached the WPIAL quarterfinals, so several voids need filled before Shaler can contend.

6. Pine-Richland

Last season: 3-6, 1-4

Coach: Clair Altemus, 13th season

Top returnees: WR/LB Tommy Berexa, 5-9, 175, sr.; RB Justin Williams, 5-8, 185, sr.; WR/DB Collin Ryan 6-1, 185, sr.; LB Conor Mincer, 5-8, 205, sr.; LB Matt Mahood, 5-9, 205, sr.; QB Andy Borgen, 6-2, 185, sr.; OL Mark Bland, 6-3, 215, sr.; K Christian Holowchak, 5-9, 155, sr.

Outlook: Williams rushed for 1,110 yards, and Berexa was fourth in the WPIAL in receptions with 45, but they combined for only 11 TDs. A few more trips to the end zone could help the Rams reach the playoffs.

7. Butler

Last season: 0-9, 0-5

Coach: Jim Rankin, first season (former North Allegheny coach; member of the Pennsylvania High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame)

Top returnees: RB/LB Cole Baxter, 6-2, 190, sr.; OT/DT Adam Steiner, 6-1, 260, sr.; QB/DB Jordan Lumley, 6-3, 180, sr.; FB/LB Carlos Sanchez, 6-1, 185, jr.; C/DT B.J. Hays, 6-0, 190, sr.; TE/LB Tanner Wahler, 6-1, 225, jr.; K/P Marc Hunka, 5-10, 180, sr.

Top newcomers: WR/DB A.J. Lee, 6-4, 195, sr.; WR/DB Jake Alston, 6-3, 190, soph.

Outlook: Rankin, who coached North Allegheny to WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA titles in 1990, was hired to fix a program that hasn't had a winning season since 1997 despite having the largest enrollment in the WPIAL.

Quad South (Section 2)

1. Gateway

Last season: 12-1, 6-0

Coach: Terry Smith, ninth season

Top returnees: WR/OLB Armstead Williams, 6-2, 215, sr.; C Jason Rystol, 5-10, 250, sr.; DB Daniel Bradley, 5-9, 185, sr.; OLB Nolan Toran, 5-9, 185, sr.; DE Sascha Craig, 6-1, 220, sr.; DE Demond Haynes, 5-10, 225, sr.

Top newcomers: QB Thomas Woodson, 6-2, 185, soph.; RB/DB Brian Jones, 5-9, 180, jr.

Outlook: The consensus among the conference's coaches is that Gateway and McKeesport, because of their athletes and tradition, should battle for the title. Gateway will play without top Division I prospect Dondi Kirby, a defensive back who will miss the season after knee surgery.

2. McKeesport

Last season: 7-3, 5-1

Coach: Jim Ward, first season (coach at Yough in 2009; coached two years at South Allegheny)

Top returnees: TE/OLB Branden Jackson, 6-5, 225, sr.; G/DL Delvon Simmons, 6-5, 275, sr.; T/DE JeJuan Jackson, 6-1, 250, sr.; C/LB Tyler Volpe, 5-10, 215, sr.; SS Wayne Graves, 6-1, 185, sr.; RB/CB Sam Gooden, 5-9, 195, sr.

Top newcomers: QB Eddie Stockett, 6-4, 190, soph.; TE/DE Sa'Quan Clark, 6-3, 215, sr.; WR/S Kevin Johnson, 6-0, 185, sr.

Outlook: The Tigers are going through a transformation: Legendary coach George Smith resigned after 28 seasons. Ward takes over and embraces the challenge. The Tigers were a running team under Smith, but Ward expects to utilize the pass more.

3. Norwin

Last season: 5-5, 2-4

Coach: Art Tragesser, first season (assistant at Latrobe in 2009; head coach at Penn-Trafford for 13 seasons and Jeannette for 10 seasons)

Top returnees: OLB Ben Baird, 6-2, 210, sr.; WR Christian Bryan, 5-10, 175, sr.; QB/OLB Tim Petro, 6-2, 210, sr.; RB/CB K'Hari Singleton, 5-7, 160, sr.; WR/CB Andy Carter, 6-2, 185, sr.; C/DL Ron Dornin, 6-1, 220, sr.; T/DL Steve Marinko, 6-1, 240, sr.; WR/DB Chris Marghella, 6-2, 180, sr.

Top newcomers: OL/DL John Gray, 6-0, 225, sr.; OL/DL Zach Churilla, 6-1, 220, sr.; OL/DL Drew Smith, 6-3, 230, sr.

Outlook: Norwin's players are learning new systems. Tragesser said the team has plenty of experience, led by Baird.

4. Hempfield

Last season: 3-6, 2-4

Coach: Greg Meisner, sixth season

Top returnees: QB Dante Nania, 6-0, 200, sr.; WR/FS Dolan Facchine, 5-11, 170, sr.; WR/LB Garrett Trent, 6-2, 210, sr.; NG/C Gino Pilato, 6-2, 266, sr.; OL/DL Justin Premich, 6-3, 265, sr.; WR/CB Steve Schmitt, 5-11, 175, sr.; OL/DL Sean Fyalkowski, 6-2, 265, sr.; OL/DL Jesse Kirkling, 6-2, 265, jr.; ILB/G Nathan Prenatt, 6-2, 248, sr.

Top newcomers: FB/LB Tyler Lilja, 6-1, 215, jr.; RB Travis Day, 5-7, 165, jr.; DB/WR Tyler Handlan, 5-9, 165, soph.

Outlook: Hempfield installed new turf at Spartan Stadium, and the hope is fewer injuries. Meisner said the strength of the team is Nania, the offensive line and wide receivers.

5. Latrobe

Last season: 4-6, 3-3

Coach: Ray Reitz, second season

Top returnees: G Matt Halula, 6-1, 230, sr.; QB D.J. LoNigro, 6-1, 190, sr.; LB/RB Gavin Finley, 5-10, 175, sr.; LB Scott Mohring, 6-1, 195, jr.; RB/OLB Derrick Zavatsky, 6-0, 180, jr.; FB/S Steve Tyler, 5-9, 195, sr.; WR/CB Richie Hall, 6-0, 170, jr.; WR Jason Stewart, 6-0, 175, sr.

Top newcomers: G Dylan Colucci, 6-4, 290, jr.; T Sly Revitsky, 6-1, 230, jr.; DB ILB/TE Ean Jury, 6-1, 225, sr.

Outlook: Reitz said his goal is for the team to be competitive in every game and become more physical. He also said running the football effectively is a must, and he expects the team to be better in all phases of the game.

6. Penn-Trafford

Last season: 3-7, 3-3

Coach: John Ruane, first season (Gateway assistant for nine seasons)

Top returnees: QB Zach Emerick, 6-3, 200, jr.; RB Manny Simpson, 5-11, 210, jr.; TE/LB Mike Theys, 6-2, 215, sr.; FB Rocco Yauger, 5-10, 205, sr.; OL/DL Connor Downs, 5-11, 245, sr.

Top newcomers: WR/S Lou Laffoon, 6-1, 180, sr.; OT/DT Justin Williams, 6-2, 230, jr.

Outlook: Ruane said he's eager to help bring back a rich tradition at Penn-Trafford. He said he's working with an intelligent group of players, and he's not conceding anything to his former team at Gateway.

7. Connellsville

Last season: 0-9, 0-6

Coach: Jeff Immel, second season

Top returnees: QB Matt White, 6-0, 195, sr.; TE/ILB Anthony May, 6-2, 235, sr.; OL/DL Brandon Show, 6-5, 270, sr.; OL/DL Ty Wildey, 6-2, 265, sr.; FB/ILB Seth Kozak, 5-11, 230, jr.; OL/DL Nick Pittsment, 6-3, 280, jr.; RB/OLB Nico Comsa, 5-10, 175, jr.

Top newcomers: C/DL Brandon Freed, 6-2, 255, jr.; OL/DL Brady Ritenour, 6-5, 310, jr.

Outlook: Connellsville has lost 26 consecutive games, but Immel said the team is working hard to reverse that. He said he is trying to build confidence and make the players believe in themselves.

Quad East (Section 3)

1. Woodland Hills

Last season: 12-2, 5-0 (WPIAL champion)

Coach: George Novak, 24th season

Top returnees: RB/LB Mike Caprara, 6-0, 195, jr.; TE/DE Quinton Jefferson, 6-5, 220, sr.; QB/DB Jevonte Pitts, 5-11, 175, sr.; RB/DB Lafayette Pitts, 6-0, 180, sr.; RB/LB Ejuan Price, 6-0, 235, sr.; K Sam Scifo, 5-9, 145, jr.; OL/DL Alfonzo Strozier, 5-10, 260, sr.; OL/DL Jullian Turner, 6-2, 290, sr.

Top newcomers: WR Shakim Alonzo, 6-3, 175, jr.; LB Deandre Timbers, 5-10, 190, sr.

Outlook: Lafayette Pitts, a Pitt recruit, should once again do it all for the Wolverines, whom many favor to repeat as WPIAL champs. Pitts was a running back, defensive back, kick returner and punter last season. The only question mark is the offensive line, which returns one starter.

2. Central Catholic

Last season: 8-3, 4-1

Coach: Terry Totten, sixth season

Top returnees: OL/DL Jordan Elliott, 6-0, 245, jr.; OL/DL Chris Grimes, 5-9, 230, sr.; QB Perry Hills, 6-2, 185, jr.; RB Damian Jones-Moore, 5-7, 170, jr.; WR Dustin Lowman, 6-0, 180, sr.; WR Anthony Nixon, 6-2, 185, jr.; DB Luke Smith, 6-2, 190, sr.; DB Louis Taglianetti, 6-2, 175, jr.

Top newcomers: TE Pat Kelly, 6-4, 210, sr.

Outlook: Central was considered a young team last season, when it reached the Class AAAA quarterfinals. Although young up front, this team is capable of averaging more than 25 points per game, as Central has done six of the past seven seasons.

3. Penn Hills

Last season: 5-6, 3-2

Coach: Ron Graham, third season

Top returnees: OL/DL Mike Airgood, 6-0, 235, sr.; OL Brandon Ames, 6-2, 265, sr.; OL Treyvon Hester, 6-2, 265, jr.; WR Corey Jones, 5-10, 150, jr.; FB/LB Lamon Kyser, 6-0, 220, sr.; OL Shaquille Madison, 6-4, 300, sr.; RB Terrell Roberson, 5-8, 170, sr.; S Shawn Sharkey, 5-11, 180, sr.; OL Tyler Swatchick, 6-0, 230, sr.; QB Chaz Whittaker, 6-2, 170, jr.

Top newcomers: RB/DB Malik Blakeman, 5-7, 165, jr.; WR/DB Lamont Wright, 5-7, 170, sr.

Outlook: A big front line could push around opponents and allow some of the Indians' athletes to run free. Roberson should get the brunt of the carries at tailback, but Graham said he'll have help. Roberson is coming off foot surgery. Whittaker and senior Phil Morford are expected to battle for the quarterback spot.

4. Plum

Last season: 3-7, 2-3

Coach: Frank Sacco, second season

Top returnees: RB/DB Joe Bailey, 5-10, 180, sr.; OL/DL Anthony DiLonardo, 6-3, 250, sr.; WR/DB Ryan Garrity, 6-0, 180, sr.; WR/DB C.J. Lutz, 5-10, 170, jr.; OL/DL D.J. Martin, 6-0, 195, sr.; WR/DB Bob Sekerka, 5-10, 180, sr.; OL/DL Christian Suprano, 6-4, 240, sr.; WR/DB Demetrius Wellington, 5-10, 180, sr.; QB Chris Zdinak, 6-1, 185, jr.

Top newcomers: WR/DB Tarique Ellis, 5-10, 165, jr.; RB/LB Jim Keller, 5-10, 195, sr.

Outlook: Plum is a year more experienced and could be strong enough to push for third place in the conference behind several senior leaders. Look for the Mustangs to pass more with quarterback Chris Zdinak, who threw for nearly 600 yards as a sophomore.

5. Kiski Area

Last season: 3-7, 1-4

Coach: Troy Wilson, second season

Top returnees: TE/DE Corey Allen, 6-4, 240, jr.; FB/LB Bill Emerick, 6-1, 180, sr.; RB/DB Aaron Frye, 6-0, 180, sr.; DE/TE Leonard Graham, 6-3, 195, sr.; OL/DL Alonzo Newsuan, 5-11, 240, jr.

Top newcomers: RB/DB Owen Copney, 5-9, 165, jr.

Outlook: With the departure of standout Tarique Godson, Wilson said he plans to "spread the ball around more" but will rely heavily on several multi-purpose backs. The Cavaliers went into training camp with juniors Tim Johnson (6-2, 205) and Chris Zaccagnini (6-0, 185) as the favorites to win the quarterback job.

6. Fox Chapel

Last season: 3-6, 0-5

Coach: Bryan Deal, fifth season

Top returnees: OL/DL Adam Biznowaty, 6-6, 280, jr.; WR/DB Tre Bradley, 5-10, 170, jr.; OL/DL Mike Connor, 5-10, 225; RB/LB Montay Green, 5-11, 230, sr.; OL/LB Nick Hollinger, 5-8, 220, sr.; LB Micky Jacobs, 6-1, 185, jr.; WR/DB Randy Mallinger, 5-7, 150, sr.; OL/DL Russell Maronowski, 6-0, 200, sr.; OL/DL Matt Sasson, 6-2, 275, sr.; RB/LB Jack Wight, 5-10, 180, sr.; P A.J. Anderson, 5-10, 145, sr.

Top newcomers: QB Tony Pompeo, 6-2, 210, sr.; OL/DL Pat Ryan, 5-10, 185, sr.

Outlook: Fox Chapel has 18 returning lettermen, but at least seven of them will have to play both ways. Green could be the key to the Foxes' playoff hopes. A Division I prospect, Green has dropped about 20 pounds but has been hindered by a hamstring injury. Sasson and Biznowaty are also Division I prospects along the front line.

7. Altoona Area

Last season: 2-8, 2-3 (Mid-Penn Conference, District 6)

Coach: Tom Palfey, second season

Top returnees: Dom Hazlett RB/LB, 5-9, 160, sr.; RB/LB Chad Koch, 5-8, 145, sr.; RB/LB Deron Lee, 5-10, 160, sr.; OL/DL Braedon Luciano, 5-10, 235, sr.; OL/DL Gabe Skelley, 6-6, 235, jr.; TE/DE Ethan Wilt, 6-2, 185, sr.

Top newcomers: WR/DB Xavier Pierce, 5-11, 170, sr.; RB/LB Logan Tornatore, 5-11, 185, sr.

Outlook: Altoona returns to the WPIAL for a third stint. The Mountain Lions competed in the league in 1969 and lost to Gateway in the Class AAA championship game at Pitt Stadium. Altoona will run a Wing-T offense with multiple formations. The Lions haven't won a playoff game since 2003.

Quad West (Section 4)

1. Bethel Park

Last season: 10-2, 5-0

Coach: Jeff Metheny, 17th season

Top returnees: RB Bre Ford, 5-11, 205, sr.; WR/TB/FS Nick Kwiatkoski, 6-2, 215, sr.; C/DT Mack Cox, 6-2, 240, sr.; LB/FB Manny Surunis, 6-1, 205, sr.; TE/DL Brian Sherry, 6-2, 250, sr.; NG/OT Max Bair, 6-3 275, sr.; WR Louis Dibble, 6-2, 190, sr.; TE/LB Chris Rizzo, 6-2, 205, sr.

Top newcomers: QB Anthony Cinello, 5-10, 180, jr.; WR/CB Shaquille Carter, 5-11, 195, sr.

Outlook: The best aspect of Metheny's program is that he always seems to have juniors in important roles, which is good for this season and next. Ford ran for 1,316 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Quad West coaches don't want to think about how Ford will be a year older, wiser and stronger.

2. Mt. Lebanon

Last season: 5-5, 3-2

Coach: Chris Haering, 15th season

Top returnees: OT/DT Tim Cwalina, 6-7, 295, sr.; TE/DE Paul Lang, 6-5, 235, sr.; DB/RB Luke Hagy, 6-0, 185, jr.; ILB/FB Devin Lauer, 6-1, 200, sr.; DE/OL Christian Schultz, 6-3, 230, sr.

Top newcomers: QB/DB Tyler Roth, 6-1, 175, soph.; DL/TE Dylan White, 6-5, 215, soph.

Outlook: Talk to any coach in the conference, and you hear the same thing: Mt. Lebanon is big and loaded with talent. The tests come early and often. Before Mt. Lebanon plays its first conference game, it hosts Pine-Richland, visits Penn-Trafford and Penn Hills and welcomes Class AAA runner-up Hopewell (with running back Rushel Shell).

3. Peters Township

Last season: 5-4, 1-4

Coach: Nick Milchovich, fourth season

Top returnees: QB/OLB Austin Hancock, 6-2, 225, sr.; RB/FS Andrew Erenberg, 5-10 195, jr.; TE/MLB Will McClure, 6-2 230, sr.; OT/DT Nevin Hagman, 6-4, 265, sr.; OT/DT Jon Allen, 6-1, 245, sr.; G Tyler Clark, 5-10, 250, sr.; C/NT Boyd Jones, 5-10, 275, sr.

Top newcomers: G/DE/MLB Clayton Evans, 6-0, 240, jr.; RB Justin Miller, 5-8, 160, jr.

Outlook: Milchovich has been pointing toward this season since many of his seniors were playing midget football. They are big, smart, talented and experienced. Beware.

4. Upper St. Clair

Last season: 6-4, 3-2

Coach: Jim Render, 41st season

Top returnees: RB/FS Connor Scott, 6-0, 180, sr.; OLB Dakota Conwell, 6-2, 205, jr.; OL Ian Park, 6-4, 285, jr.; OL Jake Radziukinas, 6-3, 275, jr.; FL Mitchell Fawcett, 5-9 160, sr.

Top newcomers: WR/DB Mike Wilcox, 5-11, 165, jr.; TE Jack Schwaba, 6-5, 215, jr.

Outlook: If Render can find a feature back, he has the parts in place to field another winning team. He laughs at those who cringe at the sight of Mt. Lebanon's first four games: Upper St. Clair has Shaler and Norwin on the road before home games against North Allegheny and defending AAA champ West Allegheny. Ouch!

5. Baldwin

Last season: 2-8, 2-3

Coach: Jim Wehner, second season

Top returnees: QB Nate Reed, 6-1, 185, sr.; RB/LB Garrett Wild, 6-1, 210, sr.; RB/SS Zach Dinardo, 5-10, 180, jr.; OL/DL Nate Dawson, 6-3, 245, sr.; NG Randy Bush, 6-0, 270, sr.

Top newcomers: TB/LB Dorian Brown, 6-0, 190, soph.; WR/FS Jeremy Joyce, 5-11, 170, jr.

Outlook: Baldwin has the right coach to turn around the sour fortunes of its program 6-32 in the past four seasons but the Quad West is no place to start a comeback. Too many good teams.

6. Canon-McMillan

Last season: 3-6, 1-4

Coach: Tim Sohyda, first season (former West Mifflin defensive coordinator)

Top returnees: OT/DL Pat Cummings, 6-0, 255, sr.; CB/WR Matt Duffy, 5-10, 165, sr.; C/DE Connor Miller, 6-2, 220, sr.; OLB/HB Luke Martin, 5-10, 185, sr.; WR/CB Alec Schram, 5-9, 150, sr.

Top newcomers: TE/DE Alex Campbell, 6-3, 250, soph.; TE/OLB Cooper Schroeder, 6-3, 210, jr.

Outlook: Sohyda has a lot of solid players to replace. Plus, he follows former coach Guy Montecalvo, one of the great coaches in the WPIAL the past three decades. Montecalvo, the athletic director, hired Sohyda, so expect positive results.

Additional Information:

Cool facts

Quad North

• Five of the seven coaches in the Quad North have won WPIAL titles, with the only exceptions being Seneca Valley's second-year coach, Don Holl, and Erie McDowell's Mark Soboleski, a newcomer to District 7.

Quad South

• Latrobe's Memorial Stadium is the lone natural surface field left in the conference. Hempfield, Norwin and Penn-Trafford each replaced their old turfs this summer.

• Gateway has made the Quad-A finals at Heinz Field three consecutive years and four times under coach Terry Smith, but it has yet to win the big one. The 2008 game, a 35-34 overtime loss to Central Catholic, was one of the best games in WPIAL history.

Quad East

• Woodland Hills quarterback Jevonte Pitts is the uncle of teammate and star running back Lafayette Pitts.

Quad West

• Mt. Lebanon won or shared the WPIAL Class AAAA championship five times from 1980-2000, but it hasn't won a title in this century.

Additional Information:

2009 standings

Quad East

Woodland Hills: 12-2 (5-0 conference)

Central Catholic: 8-3 (4-1)

Penn Hills: 5-6 (3-2)

Plum: 3-7 (2-3)

Kiski Area: 3-7 (1-4)

Fox Chapel: 3-6 (0-5)

Quad South

Gateway: 12-1 (6-0)

McKeesport: 7-3 (5-1)

Latrobe: 4-6 (3-3)

Penn-Trafford : 3-7 (3-3)

Norwin: 5-5 ( 2-4)

Hempfield: 3-6 (2-4)

Connellsville : 0-9 (0-6)

Erie McDowell: 8-3 (0-0)

Quad West

Bethel Park: 10-2 (5-0)

Upper St. Clair: 6-4 (3-2)

Mt. Lebanon: 5-5 (3-2)

Baldwin: 2-8 (2-3)

Peters Township: 5-4 (1-4)

Canon-McMillan: 3-6 (1-4)

Quad North

North Allegheny: 9-2 (5-0)

Shaler: 9-2 ( 4-1)

Seneca Valley : 5-5 (3-2)

North Hills: 6-6 (2-3)

Pine-Richland: 3-6 (1-4)

Butler: 0-9 (0-5)

Additional Information:

Key games

Quad North Conference

» Butler at North Allegheny

7:30 p.m. Sept. 10

Butler coach Jim Rankin returns to North Allegheny's Newman Stadium, where he won a WPIAL and PIAA title with the Tigers.

» Seneca Valley at Shaler

1:30 p.m. Oct. 16

Playoff qualifiers a season ago, this game could help decide whether one or both of these teams will return to the postseason.

» North Allegheny at North Hills

7:30 p.m. Oct. 29

The Quad North rivals again meet in the final week of the regular season, this year at Martorelli Stadium.

Quad South Conference

» Hempfield at Penn-Trafford

7:30 p.m. Sept. 17

This game features two of the conference's top quarterbacks • Hempfield's Dante Nania and Penn-Trafford's Zach Emerick.

» Norwin at Latrobe

7:30 p.m. Oct. 22

Norwin coach Art Tragesser was an assistant at Latrobe last year. Tragesser and Latrobe coach Ray Reitz played and coached at Jeannette.

» McKeesport at Gateway

7:30 p.m. Oct. 29

This game again should decide the conference title. These teams are loaded with Division I prospects. Both teams are starting sophomore quarterbacks.

Quad East Conference

» Central Catholic at Woodland Hills

7 p.m. Sept. 24

Only the second conference game for both teams, but the potential exists for big plays and a high-scoring finish at the raucous Wolvarena.

» Kiski Area at Altoona

7 p.m. Sept. 24

Quad East teams will begin the long trek to Altoona for the first of four conference games in Blair County. Who knows, this game could have a bearing on the playoffs down the road.

» Woodland Hills at Penn Hills

7:30 p.m. Oct. 29

Unless Woodland Hills already has the conference title secured by then, Penn Hills could be primed for an upset as the playoffs approach.

Quad West

» Bethel Park at Peters Township

7:30 p.m. Oct. 1

Lucky for Peters Township, the game is early. Later on, its experienced team won't sneak up on anyone.

» Bethel Park at Mt. Lebanon

7:30 p.m. Oct. 15

This is a chance for an exceptionally talented Mt. Lebanon team to show everyone it's for real.

» Upper St. Clair at Mt. Lebanon

7:30 p.m. Oct. 29

Usually, this game is the highlight of the season in the South Hills. This year, it could decide a champion.

Additional Information:

Preseason rankings

The Tribune-Review's preseason high school football rankings, as voted upon by staff members Chris Harlan, Dan Stefano, Jerry DiPaola, Keith Barnes, Paul Schofield, Bill Beckner, Paul Kogut and Bryan Black (first-place votes in parentheses):

1. Woodland Hills (6): 78

2. Gateway (2): 74

3. McKeesport : 60

4. Central Catholic: 49

5. North Allegheny: 48

6. Bethel Park: 39

7. Mt. Lebanon: 28

8. Shaler: 18

9. North Hills: 14

10. Upper St. Clair: 12

Also receiving votes: Penn Hills 8 points, Erie McDowell 7, Peters Township 3, Norwin 2.

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