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Football

TJ linebackers earn all-conference honors

| Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson's Jake Giegerich sacks Belle Vernon's Mike Fine on fourth-and-7 during the WPIAL Class 4A game Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Thomas Jefferson's Jake Giegerich sacks Belle Vernon's Mike Fine on fourth-and-7 during the WPIAL Class 4A game Friday, Oct. 14, 2016.
Erie Cathedral Prep quarterback Joseph Mischler eludes Thomas Jefferson's Quinton Hill during their PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, at Baldwin High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Erie Cathedral Prep quarterback Joseph Mischler eludes Thomas Jefferson's Quinton Hill during their PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, at Baldwin High School.
Thomas Jefferson's Garret Fairman intercepts a pass against Belle Vernon during the WPIAL Class 4A game Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. The Jaguars won 55-0.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Thomas Jefferson's Garret Fairman intercepts a pass against Belle Vernon during the WPIAL Class 4A game Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. The Jaguars won 55-0.

Did you know that:

• All four starting linebackers on the WPIAL champion Thomas Jefferson football team were all-conference selections?

The Jaguars' linebacking corps was led by seniors Jake Giegerich, Quinton Hill and Luke Petruzzi and junior Garret Fairman.

“What an experience winning at Heinz Field,” Petruzzi said. “I'm grateful to my teammates and coaching staff for all the hard work we put in over the course of the year. It takes special people to dedicate 10 months to a sport, from winter lifting to summer camp. I thought our hard work reflected our play over the course of the season.”

• Thomas Jefferson's Marina Petruzzi, a sharp-shooting junior guard and Luke's younger sister, attained double figures in all 22 games last season?

Petruzzi netted 20-or-more points nine times, including back-to-back 28-point performances versus Elizabeth Forward and Ringgold early in the season.

The TJ girls opened the 2016-17 season with two losses in the Bethel Park tournament before securing a 58-38 win last week in their home opener against South Park.

Petruzzi attained double figures in all three games, including a 20-point effort against South Park.

“Our team strengths are pushing the ball up the court and defense,” she said. “Our starting lineup is tough. We have a lot of girls who know how to play well, and are competing hard against each other.”

• Michigan will play Florida State in the Capital One Orange Bowl at 8 p.m. Dec. 30 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami?

TJ graduate Chase Winovich is a redshirt sophomore defensive end at Michigan.

“He's a young man, I remember when we recruited him saying, ‘this guy is a very talented player,' ” Greg Mattison, the Wolverines' defensive line coach, said. “Coach (Jim) Harbaugh always does what is best for the team; (we) moved (Winovich) and gave him the opportunity to get on the field earlier as a tight end. We found we had enough tight ends; (we) moved him back to defense right before the bowl game, and I was going to put him in.

“He had done such a good job at bowl practice that I was going to get him in the game at the end, but the offense kept the ball.”

• Lexie Zovko, a senior forward on the TJ girls' basketball team, is the head drum major of the TJ band?

She also a treasurer of the National Honor Society, vice president of the French Honor Society, and president of the history club; and is a member of the French Club, AP Humanities Club, Gifted Program and the brass ensemble.

As the Jaguars' tallest player, Zovko, who owns a 4.2 GPA, is one of the top defenders on the team.

“We have been working hard on defense at practice,” she said.

• Thomas Jefferson lost to Erie Cathedral Prep in the PIAA football playoffs in both 2015 and '16 and surrendered four touchdowns in each game?

• TJ boys basketball coach Dom DeCicco has four assistants this season?

They are Ryan Alderson, Bill Corbin, David Alderson and Dante DaBaldo.

• Bob Ladick, assistant wrestling coach at Thomas Jefferson, recently celebrated his 65th birthday?

Ladick, father of TJ head coach Michael Ladick, reminded this year's Jaguars team, “I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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