'Week Zero' option allows Hempfield, Greensburg Salem football to again face off
When the WPIAL announced the new conferences earlier this week, many thought some rivalries would be lost.
But in Westmoreland County, it actually rekindled some old rivalries.
The PIAA and WPIAL are permitting teams to use the second scrimmage date to play nonconference games if they choose, and at least seven schools in the county are taking advantage of the extra week to play an official game.
Scheduled to play during what is being called “Week Zero” on Aug. 26 are Greensburg Salem and Hempfield, Penn-Trafford and Norwin, Latrobe and Derry, and Monessen and Charleroi.
Greensburg Salem will play at nearby Hempfield in a game that was agreed upon at the Westmoreland Area Athletic Directors Association meeting last week.
“It's good for the players and communities,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “I've never been involved in the game, but I've heard it's exciting.”
Hempfield leads the series 33-16-1. The teams first started playing in 1956 and have drawn huge crowds. The last two times they met were games won by Greensburg Salem — 38-35 in 2010 and 34-14 in 2011.
Former Hempfield coach Casey Cavanaugh, now an assistant at Greensburg Salem, was the Golden Lions coach then. Cavanaugh teaches at Hempfield.
The rivalry matchup stopped in 2011 when the teams were put in different conferences and the WPIAL did all the scheduling. There were no open dates on the schedule.
“It's a win-win for both programs,” Hempfield athletic director Greg Meisner said.
The game has pitted cousins against each other and fathers against sons. Greensburg Salem coach Jim Jones had to prepare for his son Adam, who was Hempfield's quarterback in 1993 and '94.
Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said the players are excited about playing against Hempfield.
“I loved to play in front of big crowds, and hopefully there will be 7,000 fans in the stands,” Keefer said. “It's already generated some excitement from the players, and it's good for the sport. It's something the communities can look forward to.”
Latrobe athletic director Mark Mears said Derry will come to Memorial Stadium next fall. Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said he and Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane will be ironing out the details about their game.
Penn-Trafford and Norwin had been Quad East Conference rivals for many years, but when the PIAA decided to move from four classes to six during the offseason, the neighboring rivals were slotted into different classes — Norwin in 6A and Penn-Trafford in 5A.
Latrobe and Derry haven't played the past four seasons after facing off annually for more than 50 years. Latrobe leads the series 35-18-1.