Heavy-hearted Burrell set to take on rival Valley
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Noah Cornuet had a legitimate chance to start on the offensive line for Burrell this season, but the well-liked sophomore never got that chance.
Cornuet collapsed during a heat-acclimation workout earlier this month and died from a rare heart tumor.
Cornuet's tragic story has cast a humbling shadow over opening night, giving longtime rivals Valley and Burrell perspective and purpose as they get set to meet for the 35th straight time Friday night at Valley Memorial Stadium.
Football will happen as usual, but not before Cornuet is fondly remembered.
“We have a very unique group this year,” Burrell coach Kevin Horwatt said. “We're a very young team. We don't want to be rah-rah (for Cornuet). We want the kids to do what comes natural. They can be natural leaders. We want the kids to take it and go with it versus the coaches constantly bringing it up. It's all part of the healing process.”
Burrell went to training camp with just 31 players. It pushed on for 32.
“We're small in numbers but big in heart,” Horwatt said.
Valley has discussed ways to honor Cornuet as part of the pregame events.
New Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo, aware of the heightened nature of Burrell-Valley, took 25 of his players to the funeral home to see Cornuet. The team offered a gift of wind chimes and their condolences, a family member telling Colosimo, “I hate Valley, but I hope you win every game except when you play us.”
“Football is nothing compared to that,” Colosimo said. “With any football game, you win or you lose, and you're either happy or sad. But the next day it changes. With Burrell's situation and what they've been through, that doesn't change.”
Colosimo hasn't led a team through the paper sign-busting emotion of an opening night since 2011, when he was at Greensburg Central Catholic.
Colosimo was an assistant at Valley in 1994. He knows about the rivalry's tradition.
“All I know is that last time I coached against Burrell we lost,” he said. “We had that same type of rivalry with Jeannette. You want to win for bragging rights. But it's a rivalry: It happens on the field and stays on the field.”
Colosimo went 143-46 in 17 seasons at Greensburg C.C. and led the 2009 team to a WPIAL Class AA title. He has big plans for Valley, albeit over time.
“The goal isn't just to beat Burrell,” Colosimo said. “It's to beat Aliquippa. You have to set goals. It's the only way you get better.”
Valley broke a four-game losing streak in the series last season with a convincing 26-0 victory in New Kensington. Valley leads the Battle of the Bypass series 20-14, and the shutout was their first against Burrell since 2006.
“It's always exciting to open with Valley,” Horwatt said. “It sets the tone for the rest of the season. You see a lot of character in that game. You can build off it and shape things off of it.”
Burrell should have a strong running game with senior Ryan Sowol but is generally inexperienced across the board.
Valley has talent at the skill positions, particularly with juniors D'Aundre Johnson and Tyson Hill returning.
Junior Eugene Bailey and senior Nick Marzullo also are viable targets for new quarterback Philip Petit.
Those players also could see time in the backfield as Valley tries to replace all-conference running back Demetrius Houser.
“I've never had four wideouts that good,” Colosimo said.
Tight end Vinny Dicarolis and Logan Ludwiczak, a potential center or guard, are key senior leaders on the lines.
Valley will run a 3-4 defense.
“You always love to play at home, but my first start (as a Burrell quarterback) was at Valley,” Horwatt said. “It's a hostile crowd but a great atmosphere. You don't get to enjoy it until Friday night when the lights come on.”
Horwatt never has met Colosimo but knows about his success in Westmoreland County football.
“Being a young coach myself, I want to meet him,” Horwatt said. “It will be enjoyable to listen to stories from someone like him.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Clairton among greatest WPIAL dynasties; Aliquippa, South Fayette close
- WPIAL history full of football dynasties
- WPIAL Class AAAA final preview: Penn-Trafford looking to reverse trend of playoff losses to Central Catholic
- WPIAL Class AA final preview: Rivals South Fayette, Aliquippa to play for title for record 3rd straight season
- WPIAL Class AAA final preview: Big-play passing attack paying off for defending WPIAL champion Central Valley
- WPIAL Class A final preview: Jeannette proved it was up to challenge of facing Clairton during Eastern Conference matchup
- Karns City tops Bedford in state football playoffs
- Central Catholic senior Jones plays key role in all phases for Vikings
- Jeannette junior Swinton says ‘football is my life’
- HS highlight reel: Pair of title games to be on tape delay Saturday
- Frazier football well represented in all-conference honors