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High school football notebook: Two talented rushers battling with injuries

Chris Harlan
| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 6:42 p.m.

Two of the WPIAL's top returning rushers are dealing with leg injuries that have limited them this season.

Brentwood senior Justin Vickless has tried to play with a partially torn knee ligament, and North Catholic junior P.J. Fulmore has been rehabbing an injured ankle. The two running backs were among the WPIAL's leading rushers a season ago. Fulmore was fifth with 1,824 yards in 2012, and Vickless was 11th with 1,521 yards.

But Vickless injured his anterior cruciate ligament on the first day of camp. Now wearing a knee brace, he has battled the injury and will play again Friday. In his first two games, though, the knee forced him to the bench both times. He had nearly a dozen carries Friday against Monessen before leaving in pain, his coach said.

“I feel horrible for him,” Brentwood coach Kevin Kissel said. “All summer we worked on putting some different plays in just for him. He had almost 3,000 yards coming into this year and still had his senior season ahead of him. I feel so bad for the kid.”

Fulmore wrote on Twitter that he expected to miss a couple weeks with an ankle injury. He aggravated it in the first half of the Trojans' 22-21, double-overtime win against Apollo-Ridge in Week 1 and missed last week's 35-3 victory over Springdale.

“If it was up to him, he'd be playing today, but there are trainers watching him,” said North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl, who described the ailment only as a lower-body injury. “When they say it's time for him to go, he'll be ready to go. When that is, I don't know.”

North Catholic (2-0) visits Northgate on Friday. Brentwood (1-1) visits Windber, an out-of-district replacement for Imani Christian.

Vickless has 92 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Fulmore has had just seven carries for 19 yards.

Empty end zones

Through two weeks, six WPIAL defenses have not to allowed a touchdown.

Among them, Beth-Center, Clairton and Shady Side Academy haven't surrendered a point, though Beth-Center has played only one game, a 47-0 victory. Its Week 2 opponent, Geibel Catholic, forfeited.

Shady Side outscored its first two opponents, 84-0, and Clairton holds a 76-0 scoring lead. Bethel Park (52-3), Beaver Falls (82-3) and Central Catholic (89-3) each have allowed only a field goal this season.

Coaches' challenge

There were 26 coaching changes in the WPIAL before this season, and four of those new coaches remain unbeaten entering Week 3.

Carmichaels' Ryan Krull, Gateway's Donnie Militzer, McKeesport's George Smith and West Shamokin's Jon McCullough have 2-0 records.

A year ago, McKeesport and West Shamokin started 0-2, and Carmichaels was 1-1. Gateway began last year 2-0.

TV time

PCN will televise Friday night's Clairton at California matchup in the Black Hills Conference. The 7 p.m. game will be shown live on the statewide cable channel.

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