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High school notebook: New school records established throughout Armstrong County

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Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Kittanning's Nick Bowers (83) runs past Apollo-Ridge's Duane Brown for a touchdown Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, at Owens Field in Apollo.

The Ford City/Kittanning merger ensured that this would be a historic season for football in Armstrong County, but outstanding individual performers wrote entries into local record books in 2014.

Kittanning’s high-powered offense allowed a host of players to set career marks, led by senior quarterback Braydon Toy. Toy finished his career with 3,489 yards and 42 touchdowns passing — both school records — and he also set both of those single-season marks in 2014 with 1,850 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Toy’s top receiver, senior Nick Bowers, finishes his career with 94 catches, 1,628 yards and 19 touchdowns receiving, all of which are school records.

Even sophomore running back Zane Dudek got into the act, as his 32 rushing touchdowns established a Kittanning record.

To the north, Redbank Valley senior quarterback Jake Dougherty finished his career last week with 5,830 yards and 62 touchdowns passing. Not only are those school records, the yardage total broke the Armstrong County record of 5,132 held by West Shamokin’s Trevor Henderson.

The aerial assault also went on in the southern part of the county, where Freeport senior quarterback Andrew Romanchak helped transform the once ground-and-pound Yellowjackets. Romanchak set career marks of 2,521 yards and 18 touchdowns passing, most of which came during this season, when he set single-season marks of 1,922 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Apollo-Ridge senior Tre Tipton spent part of this season at quarterback, but he leaves the school with what are believed to be record receiving totals of 110 catches, 1,981 yards and 32 touchdowns.

However, not all the big yards came through the air. West Shamokin senior running back Zac Horner ended his career with 3,284 rushing yards to set his school’s mark in that category.

Big 33 prospects?

Apollo-Ridge’s Tre Tipton and Kittanning’s Nick Bowers, both Pitt recruits, would seem to be locks for the Big 33 All-Star football game, but neither has been contacted nor invited.

The Big 33 has posted several prospect lists for potential players, but Tipton and Bowers have not been on any of those. The game is taking nominations this year via Twitter.

Only one local player is on the prospect list: Freeport quarterback Andrew Romanchak.

The Big 33 will be played June 20 in Hershey.

Tipton and Bowers have been invited to the NUC All-American Game on Dec. 30 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Bowers declined, while Tipton is weighing his options with other all-star game invitations still possible. The NUC game costs senior players $250 to play, according to its website.

WPIAL wipeout

Ford City’s five-set loss to Corry in the first round of the PIAA Class AA girls volleyball tournament turned out to be par for the course for WPIAL teams.

For the second straight season, no WPIAL teams advanced beyond the quarterfinals in the Class AA tournament after Corry eliminated both the Sabers and Beaver, and Fort LeBoeuf knocked out both Freeport and Thomas Jefferson.

The struggles in Class AA go back even farther. West Allegheny is the only WPIAL team to have reached the Class AA final since 2004. The Indians won in 2006 and lost in the 2010 final.

The WPIAL has not been much more successful in other classifications, either. Though the District 7 champs from both Class AAA (Baldwin) and Class A (Greensburg Central Catholic) are alive and in Tuesday’s state semifinals, no WPIAL team has reached the final in any classification since 2010.

Empty ice

One of the by-products of the PIHL’s hockey season starting three weeks sooner but ending no earlier is that some teams have massive gaps in their schedule.

Locally, Armstrong is the middle of a 17-day stretch without a game before it travels to Erie Cathedral Prep at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Freeport, with three more games on its schedule as a Class A team, doesn’t have a gap that long. The Yellowjackets are in the midst of a 12-day break until they visit Franklin Regional on Nov. 18, and Freeport has three more layoffs of 10 or more days to come.

Freeport does have a balanced schedule in terms of home and away games, but Armstrong might be forgetting what the inside of the Belmont Ice Complex looks like.

The Riverhawks’ last home game was Oct. 23, and they don’t play at home again until Dec. 4. Conversely, the team doesn’t have a road game from Dec. 22, the last game before the league-wide holiday break, until Feb. 10 against Fox Chapel.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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