Alle-Kiski Valley notebook: Best area football games happening early
Forget the idea of saving the best for last. A few local football schedules have been top-heavy this season with a number of high-profile games crammed into the first three weeks.
• Class A No. 6 Apollo-Ridge opened the season against No. 3 North Catholic, a team it could end up sharing the Eastern Conference title with.
• Class AA No. 10 Valley (2-0, 2-0) not only faced arch-rival Burrell in Week 2, but follows with what could amount to the Allegheny Conference championship game this Friday against No. 6 Shady Side Academy (2-0, 2-0).
• Highlands (2-0, 2-0) is off to a fast start in the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference, which always features a handful of strong opponents. But the Golden Rams face one of the conference favorites in Week 3 — Franklin Regional (2-0, 2-0).
• Kiski Area (2-0, 2-0) appears to have one of its more talented teams in recent years, but the Cavaliers have to face Quad East Conference favorite Gateway just three games in.
Coaches know they have to play everyone eventually, but the early onslaught of big games keeps them busy. And with the tougher games out of the way early, that means there probably are more “winnable” games to come.
“It's tough because we put so much into (the Burrell) game,” Valley coach Chad Walsh said. “There was a tenseness to (last week). We have to put it behind us and refocus on a new challenge.
“Shady Side will be ready for us. (Coach Dave Havern) also has them prepared. We have to be ready to go, too.”
Said Kiski Area coach Dave Heavner: “In our conference, week in and week out, it's stiff competition. There's no let up.”
Springdale has the Alle-Kiski's longest WPIAL football playoff streak at 11 straight appearances, but the Dynamos might have to fight to make it a dozen.
They fell to 0-2 Friday with a loss to North Catholic. That hasn't stopped the coaching staff from keeping goals high.
“The expectation here is a certain level of play, and we're not meeting it,” second-year coach Dave Leasure said. “That's on me.”
Springdale, which hosts Wilkinsburg Friday night, hasn't started 0-3 since 1999.
In the rough
Kiski Area was listed among the teams in the WPIAL girls golf alignment for the fall, but the team won't play a single match this season.
The team has been suspended for a year due to a lack of participation. Boys coach Matt Stasko said only one girl signed up but she has joined the boys team.
The girls program was started by former boys coach Rich Mottura about 17 years ago.
On the run
Knoch boys cross country could be a quiet contender in WPIAL Class AAA. The Knights already have won two invitationals, the latest coming Saturday at the 17-team West Middlesex Big Red Invitational.
Preston Carlsson took fourth individually with a time of 17:24, while Brandon Grumski was seventh (17:43).
Knoch also won the season-opening Quad County Warm-Up as Carlsson and Grumski finished 1-2.
Plum has a talented girls soccer team that is off to a 5-0 start but it could be ... even better?
Coach Mike Proviano said his team is down three starters, including junior standout midfielder Christine Tamburri, who tore her ACL during Cup play in February.
Aaliyah Odom and Ashley Amato have combined to become one of the top scoring tandems in Class AAAA this season.
“You have to wonder how much better we'd be with those girls,” Proviano said. “It's kind of scary.”
Valley's D'Aundre Johnson delivered a vicious, open-field hit to help clear the way for teammate Devin Houser's 75-yard gain during the third quarter of Friday's Burrell-Valley rivalry game. The hit found its way to the Web and had more than 1,900 YouTube views.
It should be noted that Burrell's Andrew Fisher, who took the hit, was shaken but returned to the game.
Here's a link to the play:
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.