High school football notebook: Home winning streak nears 50 games at TJ
By Chris Harlan
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
The stadium doesn't have the history of Woodland Hills' Wolvarena or The Pit in Aliquippa, but recent visitors to Thomas Jefferson's field haven't fared well.
A win Friday would be the 50th consecutive home victory by the Jaguars. TJ hasn't lost there since 2004.
“Our kids take a lot of pride in defending their own turf,” coach Bill Cherpak said. “The home crowd helps as well.”
Thomas Jefferson's most recent home loss was a 34-21 nonconference game against Gateway on Oct. 8, 2004. During the streak, the Jaguars' average winning score has been 40-7, which included 16 shutouts. This season, they've beaten Elizabeth Forward (42-0), Trinity (44-7) and Belle Vernon (35-0) at home. Uniontown (2-5, 2-4) visits Friday.
Among the memorable wins was a 3-0 victory over Chartiers Valley on Oct. 19, 2007. The Jaguars went undefeated that season and won the state title.
Last year's 28-14 victory over West Mifflin also stands out, Cherpak said, when both teams entered Week 9 unbeaten.
“That was exciting because of the huge crowd,” he said.
Two lengthy home winning streaks were snapped this season. North Allegheny had a 24-game streak at Newman Stadium end Week 6 with a 35-32 loss to Gateway. Clairton had won 38 straight at Neil C. Brown Stadium before its Week 4 loss to Monessen, 42-24.
Jeannette's school board will decide Monday night whether the Jayhawks football team remains in Class AA next season or drops to Class A according to athletic director Matt Lebe.
Lebe and football coach Roy Hall have recommended a move to Class A. The school's male enrollment puts it in the smaller classification, but the team has played up in recent years.
“You want to give the kids the best opportunity to succeed,” Lebe said. “(In Class AA), sometimes you're playing schools with 290 boys.”
The WPIAL will realign its football teams for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. In the current alignment, Class A included schools with fewer than 186 boys. Class AA was 186 to 298.
“This year is the lowest we've been in a little while,” Lebe said of the enrollment, which was 163 last year but has declined.
The school's basketball teams will remain Class AA, he said.
Catch and throw
With a 10-catch effort last Friday, Baldwin wideout Luke Smorey became the WPIAL's leading receiver. For the season, Smorey has 45 catches, 822 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Smorey (6-0, 185) also was the WPIAL Class AAA javelin champion last spring and placed third in the state.
“The last couple years he's played a few different positions,” coach Pete Wagner said, “but he's really grabbed the bull by the horns this season.”
His effort has Wagner and athletic director Vince Sortino searching for team records.
Hampton (4-3, 3-3) visits No. 6 Franklin Regional (6-1, 5-1) for a Greater Allegheny matchup televised by Root Sports. The 7 p.m. game will be shown tape-delayed after the Penguins.
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