Among the seven Lawrence County schools competing in the WPIAL, the team with perhaps the most expectations is Laurel High.
After last season’s 6-4 season, the team narrowly missed out on the playoffs after winning its season finale against Northgate, 60-0, but didn’t get the help it needed. Instead, the Spartans were left on the outside looking in.
Poised to not let that happen again this year, Laurel started out the 2019 campaign strong by blanking county rival Mohawk, 21-0, at home on the heels of Luke McCoy’s 100 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Laurel checks in this week as the No. 2 WPIAL team in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Class 1A rankings behind only Clairton. The Spartans are No. 3 in the P-G’s statewide rankings behind No. 1 Old Forge and Clairton. Laurel travels to Clairton for a Sept. 20 matchup.
This week was also the first game in almost a year the Spartans’ Hayden Hamilton was able to attend after getting injured against Rochester last year in the season’s second week. Hamilton is working with the coaching staff this season breaking down film, helping give pointers to his teammates and conferring with coach Brian Cooper during games as the two go over replays on a sideline iPad.
THAT’S MY BROTHER
An interesting note from Friday night’s game between Shenango and Union. In a game marred by more than 20 penalties — blame it on it being the first game of the season? — the first half seemed to drag on as both sides tried to find some offensive rhythm.
After a scoreless first quarter, Shenango finally made its way down the field after quarterback Tino Campoli hit receiver Xavier Gumpp for a 37-yard catch-and-run that helped move the ball close to the goal line. Five plays later, Campoli plunged into the end zone for the game’s first score from a yard out. And who was lead blocking on the quarterback sneak? That would be Anthony Campoli, Tino’s older brother and starting center.
That means every offensive play by the Wildcats starts with a Campoli to Campoli exchange before younger brother either hands off, runs or passes and Anthony leads protection from up front.
WILMINGTON GETS ANOTHER TEST
For the second year in a row, Wilmington’s schedule features two heavyweights in Sharon and Farrell.
Last Friday, the Greyhounds got the best of Class 3A Sharon again. This week, the team gets another shot at the Steelers, which dealt the ‘Hounds their only loss before the state championship game last year. Farrell, which went undefeated on its way to the PIAA Class 1A title, lost a narrow 14-12 game to University Prep from the City League.
Farrell is led by first-year head coach Anthony Pegues, who was the offensive coordinator for last year’s team. Wilmington is ranked No. 3 in the state by the P-G. The No. 1 team, Southern Columbia, defeated Wilmington the last two seasons in the PIAA Class 2A championship game in Hershey. Southern Columbia traveled to Georgia on Sunday for an ESPN2 showcase game against Hammond, a school also coming off two straight state titles, and won convincingly, 36-0.
COLLEGE BALL IS BACK
Are you ready for some (college) football?
A handful of Division-I teams took to the field over the weekend during “Week 0,” including Youngstown State in the Penguins’ 45-22 win over Samford (New Castle graduate Pat Minenok had two tackles) and Villanova’s 34-14 victory over Colgate (Ellwood City Lincoln graduate Nicholas Ioanilli had nine tackles for Colgate.). That leaves a majority of teams across the country to open their seasons this weekend. Of local interest, a pair of former New Castle stars take the field as Iowa (Geno Stone) plays Miami (Ohio) Ohio State (Marcus Hooker) plays Florida Atlantic.
On Saturday night, Pitt (Neshannock’s Jimmy Medure) takes on Virginia on the brand new ACC Network.
Wilmington graduate Colton Richards had signed with Robert Morris, but the freshman transferred early this month to Division II Slippery Rock just as fall practice began. Slippery Rock, by the way, opens 2019 ranked 10th in the Division II preseason poll.