Monessen RB Gillaspie's exploits aren't drawing D-I coaches — yet
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Clintell Gillaspie has put together the kind of football season that most running backs dream of.
He has rushed for 895 yards on only 90 carries (9.9 avg.) and has caught 24 passes for 605 yards (25.2 avg.).
In the process, the 6-0, 223-pound senior running back has also scored 26 touchdowns and added 18 extra points for a total of 174 points. He is tied with West Mifflin's Jimmy Wheeler as the WPIAL's overall scoring leader.
For all the talented running backs Monessen has had over the years, Gillaspie is the first since Bubby Holmes in 1971 to sit atop the WPIAL in scoring.
For all of his accomplishments on the field for the 9-1 Greyhounds, Gillaspie hasn't caught the attention of too many Division I college coaches.
That has Greyhound coach Andy Pacak scratching his head.
“I talked to (Pitt offensive coordinator) Joe Rudolph, who told me that Clintell ran a 4.79 in the 40 during the summer at Pitt and I think that is what has some coaches backing off,” Pacak said. “But like I told Rudolph, Pitt took three kids from Clairton last year and all of them are playing and if he looks at this year's tape against Clairton, he will see Clintell running away from Clairton kids for three touchdowns and nobody can catch him.
“Clintell is a lot faster than 4.79 and he plays that way,” Pacak added. “Plus, he doesn't go down on the first hit. I just think college coaches recruit on the Internet and don't go out and actually watch kids play any more. Any coach who comes to watch Clintell play would fall in love with him.”
Western Pennsylvania was long ago tabbed a hotbed for quarterbacks with the emergence of such players as Joe Namath, Joe Montana and Dan Marino, to name a few.
Well, the mid-Mon Valley isn't doing too badly in an effort to live up to that tradition this season.
No less than four area quarterbacks have surpassed 1,000 yards throwing this season with another possibly going over 1,000 in the playoffs, the first time in recent memory that feat has been accomplished.
The list of mad bombers includes Frazier's Charles Manack, Monessen's Noah Rullo, Ringgold's Nico Law, and Yough's Tyler Donahue.
Manack is the local leader as the Commodore junior has thrown for 1,653 yards and 25 touchdowns, having completed 94 of 166 passes.
He currently is seventh in the WPIAL in passing yardage.
Right behind is Donahue, a senior who has thrown for 1,259 yards and 15 TDs, hitting 103 of 176 passes.
Next up is Rullo, a junior who has certainly made the most of his 60 completions in 101 attempts by throwing for 1,257 yards and 18 TDs.
Law has completed 82 of 155 for 1,239 yards and 14 TDs.
The player on the cusp is Davidson. The Pitt-bound senior has thrown for 870 yards, hitting 40 of 87, with 14 TDs.
Meanwhile, Law and Davidson have already surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau this season.
Play it again, Leps
Belle Vernon Area has qualified for the Class AAA playoffs for the fifth consecutive year, despite not having a record over .500.
The Leps made the playoffs the last three seasons, going in at 4-5, and finishing 4-6.
In 2010, the Leps were 5-2 in the Big Eight Conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs and finished the campaign 5-5 overall.
In 2009, they were 3-3 in conference play and lost in the first round to again finish 5-5.
Last season, however, BVA nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament in dropping a last-second 17-16 verdict to highly-seeded Central Valley in the first round.
• Charleroi Area's Dakota Moorer ended his football career for the Cougars with a bang as he caught 20 passes for 409 yards and six TDs in the last two games.
• Although neither Charleroi Area nor California Area is opting to play a 10th game this week, a Cougars-Trojans contest at California Thursday night would have made a lot of sense.
It would have given California the fourth home game it lost during the season with Imani forfeiting and would have drawn a decent gate with two local teams playing the only game in town that night.
• Speaking of California, the school is drafting a letter to the WPIAL asking to be put back in the Tri-County South Conference when football conferences are realigned for the next two seasons. The Trojans were longtime members of the T-C South until being moved into the rugged Black Hills with Monessen two seasons ago.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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