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High school football notebook: Pine-Richland steps back into national spotlight

| Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017
Pine-Richland quarterback Phil Jurkovec practices Aug. 14, 2017, at Pine-Richland.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland quarterback Phil Jurkovec practices Aug. 14, 2017, at Pine-Richland.

Phil Jurkovec won't be the only four-star recruit at Pine-Richland's stadium this weekend.

When Wayne High School visits Sunday for a game nationally televised on ESPN, the Dayton-area school will feature four-star wideout L'Christian “Blue” Smith, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound senior with scholarship offers from across the country.

Kickoff is 1:30 p.m.

Smith's offers included Penn State, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oregon and Texans, among others. Ranked 29th among prospects overall by Rivals, Smith plans to make his commitment during Sunday's ESPN broadcast, choosing from finalists Ohio State, Kentucky and Cincinnati.

This is the second year in a row that Pine-Richland starts its season with a nationally televised Week Zero game. Jurkovec, who's committed to Notre Dame, drew ESPN's interest. The Rams visited St. Edward's a year ago and were scheduled to face the Cleveland school again, but ESPN preferred a different opponent.

“My options were play on ESPN at home (against Wayne) or play St. Ed's at home (not on TV),” said Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz, who chose the ESPN option.

Wayne, which reached the Ohio state finals in 2015 and '14, finished 11-1 last season. The team also features Kentucky recruit Alex Reigelsperger (6-5, 230), a three-star defensive end.

ESPN is scheduled to televise seven high school football games this weekend with Wayne vs. Pine-Richland as the only Sunday game. The Friday TV schedule includes St. John Bosco (Calif.) vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), 7 p.m., ESPNU; DeMatha (Md.) vs. Bishop Gorman (Nev.), 9 p.m., ESPN.

The Saturday games are Tulsa Union (Okla.) vs. Broken Arrow (Okla.), Noon, ESPN; Saraland (Ala.) vs. Heard County (Ga.), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU; Bartram Trail (Fla.) vs. Cartersville (Ga.), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2; and IMG Academy (Fla.) vs. Chandler (Ariz.), 10:30 p.m., ESPNU.

Another Classic

North Allegheny will kick off the second annual Western Pa. Legends Classic by hosting Morgantown, W.Va. at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.

Saturday's slate of games at NA's Newman Stadium include: OLSH vs. South Side Beaver at noon, McGuffey vs. Frazier at 3:30 p.m. and Plum vs. Penn Hills at 7.

TV time

WPIAL football may return Friday night, and fans will get their first taste of televised games on 22 The Point, which will broadcast Mars at Hampton at 7:30 p.m.

Other games the station plans to broadcast include:

• McKeesport at Franklin Regional, Sept. 1

• Hempfield at Mt. Lebanon, Sept. 8

• Armstrong at Gateway, Sept. 15

• Serra Catholic vs. Seton-La Salle at Thomas Jefferson, Sept. 22

• Central Catholic at Pine-Richland, Sept. 29

• Clairton at Aliquippa, Oct. 6

• Central Valley at Beaver Falls, Oct. 13

• Woodland Hills at West Allegheny, Oct. 20

• Pine-Richland at North Allegheny, Oct. 27

Home away from home

A few WPIAL football teams will be on the road for a few extra games this fall.

South Park, which is undergoing stadium renovations, will play Mt. Pleasant on Sept. 8 at Dormont Stadium, Derry on Sept. 22 at Baldwin, Aliquippa on Sept. 29 at Ringgold and McGuffey on Oct. 13 at Mt. Lebanon.

Beth-Center plans to play West Greene on Aug. 25 and Beth-Center on Sept. 22 at W&J's Cameron Stadium to allow larger crowds to attend.

Blackhawk's stadium is in the final phase of renovation but has made arrangements to play its home games at Geneva College, which also hosts Beaver Falls' home games. Blackhawk will host Knoch on Sept. 1, Indiana on Sept. 15, Trinity on Sept. 22, Highlands on Oct. 14 and Montour on Oct. 20.

Chris Harlan and Bill Hartlep are a Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach them at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib and bhartlep@tribweb.com.

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