Franklin Regional’s baseball team will have a Division I recruit at shortstop for the second consecutive season this spring.
Last year, the Panthers had current Maryland freshman Matt Maropis at shortstop, so then-junior Mike Yerecic played out of position at third base.
Yerecic impressed over the summer at his natural shortstop position with the Murrysville American Legion team, making the All-West All-Star game at PNC Park.
Yerecic signed a national letter-of-intent with Ohio University last week.
Ohio University was 26-25 this past season. The program has a number of players from western Pennsylvania. Riverside shortstop J.D. Lowry was among the seven other players to sign with Ohio last week, and the Bobcats return three former WPIAL players, including Riverview graduate Phil Sabatini.
BIG OPENING NIGHT
The opening weekend of high school basketball included some first games for new coaches and new gyms, a couple of standout individual performances and the ending of a very long, ugly streak for East teams.
The streak was for the Valley boys, once one of the top programs in Class AAA. The Vikings entered Friday’s games on a 44-game losing streak that started two seasons and two coaches ago. That all ended, as Valley got coach Vern Benson his first victory, a 59-54 decision over Greensburg Central Catholic in the first round of the Valley tournament.
The Vikings’ streak of victories ended at one with a 57-52 defeat by Seneca Valley in the tournament title game.
The second coach in Riverview history, Kevin Krajca, got his first victory opening night, 48-36, over Cheswick Christian Academy, in the Springdale Tournament. The Raiders lost to Deer Lakes, 49-47, in overtime in the finals Saturday.
Krajca is replacing Jack Schmitt, who coached Riverview the first 31 years of the program.
New Woodland Hills boys basketball coach Larry Anderson also won his first game at the school, a 56-53 victory over Butler at the Ambridge Tip-Off Tournament. Woodland Hills beat Ambridge, 76-56, in the title game behind 22 points by Chris Williams.
Plum opened its new gym in style, winning both of its games in the Plum Tip-Off Tournament. Alvin Hill scored the first points in the new gym, part of a major renovation of the entire school, a 3-point shot with 6:26 left in the first quarter of Plum’s 57-30 victory over Greensburg Salem.
“This is great,” said guard John Koch, who had 18 points in Saturday’s 70-31 victory over Westinghouse. “We’re lucky enough to play in it every night.”
City League favorite Peabody had a mixed opening weekend. The Highlanders opened with a little revenge, beating West Mifflin, 59-51, with Dan Davis hitting five 3-point shots and finishing with 23 points. West Mifflin defeated Peabody, 36-33, in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals last season.
Peabody lost in the Central Catholic Tournament final to the host Vikings, 57-54, though junior forward Gavin Turner kept the Highlanders close with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Ford City sophomore Lizzie Suwala, one of the top players in Class AA last year as a freshman, led all girls scorers with 34 points opening night in a 65-40 victory over Moniteau in the Kittanning Tournament.
Serra Catholic showed off an impressive freshman in Laura Grimm, who scored 32 points in a 94-50 victory over Yough opening night of the Serra Tournament. Then, the Eagles defeated defending WPIAL Class AA champion Vincentian, 59-45, in the finals.
MESSAGE FROM H.S. PICKS EAST
H.S. Picks East is an angry man.
He admits that a late-season swoon that dropped his percentage to 71.7 for the season played a role. He was 4-1 two weeks ago, leaving his season record at 167-66.
The prognosticator’s real problem was being shut down before the PIAA playoffs. He swears he was going to pick all four WPIAL teams to win last week, and with his record, anybody would hate to have any potential victories taken away.
He is also rambling on to no end about all the witty things he had to say last week. Nobody had the heart to tell him that his readers would probably go into shock if one of his cracks was actually funny.
But we do need to make sure he returns for next fall, so we caved in and allowed him some space to make predictions on this week’s Quad A final.
Parkland’s edge is Austin Scott, who set the PIAA single-season rushing record this season with 3,602 yards to go with 48 touchdowns on the ground.
The 302 yards Chris Morgan racked up for Woodland Hills in the semifinals last week is barely more than an average day for Scott.
Scott hasn’t faced a defense as good as the one Woodland Hills brings to the state finals, particularly against the run. The Wolverines are also making a repeat trip to the finals.
Take the edge in experience over the record-setting back. Woodland Hills, 21-20.
— George Guido and H.S. Picks East contributed to this report.