Pennsylvania high school football notebook
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Holy Redeemer junior quarterback Jimmy Strickland made history on a rainy Friday night.
Strickland set the District 2 single-game passing record when he threw for 481 yards in the Royals' 47-37 win at Hanover Area. The previous mark of 474 yards was set by Riverside's Nick Dranchak earlier this season.
Strickland was 25 of 38 with five touchdown passes for the Royals (2-6). He leads the Wyoming Valley Conference with 1,805 yards.
District 1 and 12
• For the first time since Dick Beck became head coach at North Penn in 2002, the Knights (4-4) will not make the playoffs. Streaking Pennridge (8-1) bounced North Penn 28-21 in exciting fashion Friday night. With the win Pennridge proved they are more than running back Mike Class, who was limited to one touchdown 75 yards. The Rams should win the Continental Conference title and secure the third seed in the D1-AAAA playoffs.
• Central Bucks West (5-3) kept its playoff hopes alive with a harder-than-it-should-have-been 31-14 win over Hatboro-Horsham (1-7). The alphabet-challenging combination of quarterback Corey Rimenschneider and tailback Sherrod Higginbotham led the Bucks with two touchdowns each. Higginbotham rushed for 271 yards on 26 carries. Reimenschneider chipped in 122 yards.
• Central Bucks South improved to 7-1 with a 34-13 victory over Central Bucks East. It was a nice bounce-back win for the Titans, who were led by quarterback John Pileggi's four touchdown passes.
• Neshaminy (6-2) won a wild Suburban One National contest over two-win Bensalem, 42-33, without head coach Mark Schmidt. The skipper was serving a one-game suspension handed down by the Neshaminy administration for allegedly mistreating a player during the previous week's game.
• Abington (6-2) continues make a playoff run, dispatching Council Rock North, 30-13. The Ghosts were led by quarterback Dylan Collins, who ran for one touchdown and threw for another.
• Pennsbury defeated Norristown 28-0 to stay in contention for the Suburban One National title behind a pair of touchdown runs by Shawn Pepper.
• St. Joe's Prep remained perfect in the Philadelphia Catholic League, besting Father Judge, 42-3. La Salle had a rough go while defeating Roman Catholic 28-14. The Explorers lost starting quarterback Chris Kane for an undetermined amount of time with an ankle injury.
• To those who know him, football is losing a great man. Mid Valley football coach Frank Pazzaglia told his team and the school administration Monday that he is retiring at the end of this season. He has been a high school football coach at Blakely, Valley View and Mid Valley for 50 years. A member of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Pazzaglia, 71, has 344 wins to rank fourth all time in Pennsylvania. Mid Valley hosts Dunmore on Friday and finishes at Honesdale on Nov. 2.
• Wyoming Area's Nick O'Brien came close to tying a state record as he returned two punts for touchdowns in the Warriors' 48-15 win over GAR in a showdown of the top two teams in Class AA in District 2. The state record is three held by Roxborough's Ramon Odom. O'Brien had a 43-yard return and a 39-yard return go along with one rushing touchdown and three passing touchdowns.
• The logjam atop Section 1 in the Lancaster-Lebanon League will be snapped Friday night when undefeated Penn Manor (5-0 league, 8-0 overall) hosts Wilson (5-0, 7-1) in Millersville. Wilson brings a 34-game Section 1 winning streak — and the league's top-ranked defense — to town, and the Bulldogs just took over the top spot in the District 3-AAAA rankings. Penn Manor is third. So there's plenty of riding in this much-anticipated game.
• Great two-game stretch by McCaskey senior multi-purpose back Aaron Swinton. On Saturday against Cedar Crest, he rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns and caught five passes for 125 yards and another score. He also intercepted a pass on defense in McCaskey's 42-41 overtime win. Two weeks ago, in the Red Tornado's 42-7 triumph over Warwick, Swinton scored four touchdowns and picked off two passes on defense. McCaskey is 4-4 and ranked No. 9 in District 3-AAAA. Swinton, also a basketball standout for the Tornado, made a recruiting visit to Princeton last week, and he's also considering Bucknell and Penn for football.
• Cocalico put a stranglehold on the L-L League Section 2 race with a 34-18 win in the rain over Lampeter-Strasburg last Friday. Spencer Moser had a pair of first-quarter touchdown bursts and the Eagles (5-0 league, 7-1 overall) held off the Pioneers late. Cocalico is angling for its first Section 2 crown since joining the section in 2004. The Eagles have a one-game lead over Manheim Central, whom they defeated 48-35 in Week 6.
District 5 and 6
• Quarterbacks passing for 5,000 career yards are a rarity, but Penns Manor's Danny Ferens joined a more unique quarterbacking club when he surpassed the 5,000-yard rushing mark for his career in a 48-0 win against Purchase Line. Ferens only ran the ball twice in the game, scoring both times on gains that totaled 127 yards.
• In a huge Heritage Conference game last week, Ligonier Valley stopped a Homer-Center two-point conversion attempt when the runner slipped in the mud, then the Rams scored themselves to eke out a 14-13 victory. That sets up big games for both those teams again this week, as 7-1 Ligonier travels to 6-2 Northern Cambria, while 6-2 Homer-Center is at 7-1 Penns Manor.
• Bellwood-Antis kept its more-than-50-game winning streak against current Inter-County Conference teams alive with a 20-0 victory at previously-unbeaten Northern Bedford. The Blue Devils scored on a fourth-down run by quarterback Seth Worthing, a 5-yard Casey Gray run on the last play of the first half after the Black Panthers were assessed personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties earlier on the drive and a 5-yard interception return by Ian O'Shea. Bellwood also held Northern Bedford QB Blake Over, who came into the game with nearly 1,500 yards passing, to 98 yards through the air.
• Aliquippa, the state's No. 1 ranked team in Class AA, put on quite a show last week during a 66-7 victory over rival Beaver Falls before a regional television audience on Root Sports Pittsburgh. The Quips (8-0), who are averaging nearly 54 ppg, scored four times in the first quarter and opened a 46-7 lead at halftime. While the offense was dominating, the defense also stood out with an interception and fumble returned for a touchdown. “We played extremely well; we can't play better than that,” said Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac. Aliquippa will get its shot to play better Friday against also-unbeaten Beaver to decide the Midwestern Conference title. Beaver earned the 600th win in program history last week.
• Blackhawk running back Cole Chiappialle rushed for 404 yards on 33 carries Friday in a 48-25 victory over Chartiers Valley and has now gained nearly 1,400 yards this season. He joined an elite group of WPIAL running backs that have surpassed 400 yards in a game, including Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo, who held the WPIAL rushing record before Pitt's Rushel Shell broke it last year.
• The Pittsburgh City League playoffs begin this week, as defending champion USO plays Brashear and Allderdice takes on regular-season champion Perry. Perry earned the top seed after beating USO, 12-6, last week by stuffing USO four times from the 1-yard line in the final three minutes. “That was huge,” Perry coach Bill Gallagher said. “The kids had their backs against the wall, and our defensive staff did a great job. They did it. It was awesome. That was fantastic.” USO was mourning the loss of two-way starting lineman Ne'Ondre Harbour, who was shot and killed the previous Sunday night as an innocent bystander in Garfield, according to Pittsburgh Police.
• With wins during the final two weeks of District 9's regular season, Clarion (8-0) will become the first Class A team to go undefeated in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference since 2003, when Clarion-Limestone accomplished the feat. Clarion travels to Allegheny-Clarion Valley (3-4) Friday. And next week, the Bobcats will host Brookville (6-2). The KSAC split into two divisions, one for its six Class A teams and one for its five teams who are Class AA or larger, in 2010. But several conference members, including Clarion, still fill their schedules with non-division KSAC opponents. Clarion has yet to win a game by fewer than 12 points.
• Cathedral Prep star quarterback Damion Terry, a Michigan State recruit, is setting all kinds of records this season. He threw for six more touchdowns and ran for one in a 61-19 win over Central Tech. He is now 243 passing yards from becoming District 10's all-time career passer. He is 137 of 192 this season for 2,135 yards and 31 touchdowns to only two interceptions. His streak of more than 120 pass attempts without an interception was broken two weeks ago against New York power Aquinas Institute. Prep will host East on Friday before a trip to Edinboro in Week 10 to take on General McLane, which could be a District 10 Class AAA championship preview.
• Prep has become a strong candidate to end District 10's longest drought without a team in a PIAA championship game. Wilmington, the 2008 Class AA champion, is the last D-10 team to make it to Hershey. The Ramblers are 8-0 this season and have won by an average of 37.1 points per game. Prep is a huge favorite to win D-10 and could be 12-0 when squaring off with the WPIAL champion in the PIAA quarterfinals.
• District 10 could hash out its eight-team Class AA playoff field this week. Powerhouses Grove City, Hickory and Wilmington are in along with Corry, Northwestern and Greenville. Greenville knocked off Reynolds, 27-26, in overtime this past week, which decided the final playoff spot from Region 3. The last two Class AA spots are down to Fairview, Girard and North East. Fairview will travel to Northwestern, while North East hosts Seneca and Girard takes on Fort LeBoeuf.
• Fairview junior running back Shannon Jackson is having a career year. In only eight games, Jackson has rushed for 1,861 yards and 23 touchdowns on 222 carries. Jackson, who caught a touchdown pass earlier this season to break Fairview's string of more than 14 games without a touchdown pass, might be District 10's only 2,000-yard rusher. He tied a D-10 record with 49 carries in one game earlier this season and should reach the 2,000-yard plateau this week. If he doesn't, Fairview will likely get one playoff game for him to get there.
• The biggest Lehigh Valley Conference football game of the season will be Friday, when undefeated Easton (8-0 overall, 7-0 LVC) travels to second-place Whitehall (6-2, 6-1). Easton has won the last two meetings in the series, beating the Zephyrs 13-10 in the District 11 AAAA final in 2010 and winning 34-33 in overtime during the regular season last year.
• The status of Easton sophomore running back Shane Simpson, who missed last week's game against Liberty with an undisclosed injury, was unknown as of Tuesday afternoon. Simpson is the LVC's second-leading rusher with 979 yards and is averaging 8.5 yards per carry.
• Nazareth could have two 1,000-yard rushers by the end of Friday's game against Emmaus. Quarterback Parish Simmons (962 yards) and running back Jordan Gray (920) are both within 80 yards of the milestone. Simmons already has thrown for 1,182 yards this season, and ranks third in the LVC in both rushing and passing yards.
• Central Catholic running back Colin McDermott has a chance to add a few more records to his ledger in the next two weeks. He needs one more touchdown to become the school's all-time TD leader; he is currently tied with Rashonn Drayton at 64 touchdowns. McDermott also needs 290 more rushing yards to set a single-season school record. Tom Williams ran for a Central Catholic record of 1,769 yards in 1996. McDermott already has set the Vikings' career and single-game rushing marks this season.
• The weather last Friday night cooked up a strange brew for several games. Two games were suspended and resumed later in the evening when lightning was spotted. Three other games were suspended until Saturday. Two of those saw the teams trailing at the break rally to win. Jim Thorpe led Schuylkill Haven, 28-21, at the break when the weather hit Rotary Field. When the second half kicked off about 14 hours later Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes scored 21 straight points en route to a 50-42 victory.
• In an important Anthracite Football League matchup that also had District 11 Class A playoff implications, Shenandoah Valley led Marian 14-7 when the game was suspended with 6:51 left in the third quarter. The Blue Devils managed a field goal before surrendering two long touchdown passes by the Colts' Corey Quick that lifted Marian (7-1) to a 21-17 victory.
• Unbeaten Tamaqua led Panther Valley 26-0 when bad weather struck midway through the third quarter. Initially the game was called and Tamaqua declared the winner. However, AFL bylaws call for the agreement of both coaches before a game is called and PV coach Lon Hazlet decided to have his Panthers return Saturday at 7 p.m. to finish the contest. The Blue Raiders (8-0) scored three more times en route to a 46-0 win, taking a step closer to their first AFL title and a potential rematch with Catasauqua in the D11-AA playoffs. The Raiders beat Catty 33-32 in last year's Eastern Conference Class AA semifinals.
— Contributions from Kevin Keating, Pottsville Republican; Jeff Reinhart, LLLeagueSports.com; Tom Reisenweber, Erie Times-News; Mike Drago, Reading Eagle; Dan Morehouse, WNPV Radio; Stephen Miller, Allentown Morning Call; Joby Fawcett, Scranton Times; Phil Cmor, Altoona Mirror; Jim Reeser, Wilkes-Barre Citzens Voice; Andrew P. Shay, The Patriot-News; Bill West, Leader Times; and Bill Hartlep, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
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