High school football notebook: Backup QBs make impact
Dan Farinelli's sophomore season had been relegated to practice snaps and second-team reps.
Junior Cody Wolfe was seeing time at wide receiver and had become more concerned with catching passes than throwing them.
How quickly things can change.
Both became starting quarterbacks when teammates suffered injuries in recent weeks — Farinelli at Valley and Wolfe at Burrell.
Farinelli got the start last week after third-year starter Ty Matthews underwent surgery to remove his appendix.
Wolfe took over two weeks ago when James Liput suffered a concussion in the first quarter against Freeport.
Both are 1-0 as starters.
Farinelli completed 6 of 11 passes for 118 yards with two touchdowns to senior wideout Chaz Cheatham in a 22-16 win over Summit Academy.
Wolfe started slow in relief against Freeport, throwing three interceptions, but was steady in a 17-10 win at Ford City. He was 5 of 8 for 89 yards and a TD.
Liput has been cleared to return, but Matthews could be out for an extended period of time.
“I took reps when Ty was around, and I tried to learn,” Farinelli said. “I was third string last year and didn't really get to do much.”
Wolfe isn't new to big plays. He had an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Shady Side Academy.
Liput has been impressed with Wolfe.
“He got thrown in against the best defense in the conference, so think it is unfair to judge him from that game,” Liput said.
Farinelli, the grandson of former Valley coach Ray “Whizzer” White, was one of the players affected by the loss of a junior high program for a season. But he is catching up.
“I think I will be ready (this week),” he said. “My offensive line had some great blocking for me.”
With two weeks left in the regular season, only two Alle-Kiski area teams has clinched playoff berths.
Freeport (6-1) and Burrell (6-1), who are aiming to lock up the Allegheny Conference title, are headed to the Class AA postseason.
The Yellowjackets shared conference titles in 2009 and ‘11.
The WPIAL's elaborate tiebreaker system, which uses head-to-head competition, Gardner Points and then point-differential, to decide qualifiers, will come into play soon and will help decide other local teams' fates.
The top five teams in each Class AAAA and AAA conference qualify, along with one wild card team.
In Class AA and A, the top four teams advance.
In all classes, the top two teams from each conference host first-round games. The quarterfinals and semifinals are at neutral sites, with the finals set for either Nov. 23 or Nov. 24 at Heinz Field.
Dugan nearing mark
Springdale running back Sean Dugan has 3,724 yards, just 150 yards short of the record set by Wayne Mundekis (2002-05).
Dugan needs 276 yards to become just the third player in A-K history to rush for 4,000 yards, joining Riverview's Lucas Heakins (1996-98) and Valley's Brandon Williams (1995-97).
There was a time when 100-yard rushing games were an achievement. But local backs are making 200-yard efforts the standard.
A-K ball-carriers have rushed for 200 or more yards nine times this season. Springdale's Dugan and Burrell's Cole Bush have done it three times each.
Knoch's Ben Tackett, Highlands' Elijah Jackson and Freeport quarterback Brendan Lynch each have accomplished the feat once.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.