Football: Cornell football team back with alacrity after four-year layoff

Written by Brian Batko on .

Brian Batko profiles the Cornell football team.

2016 0826 Cornell Football1(Photo: Cornell's players run through some plays Monday at practice, a sight for sore eyes after the program was discontinued following the 2011 season. Lake Fong/Post-Gazette)

"As 30-some players lined up for their team picture Monday, a photographer yelled, "This is your first year back, so it has to be perfect!"

For Cornell football coach Ed Dawson and his staff, that bit of instruction couldn't be further from the truth. To Dawson, just hearing those words — "Cornell High School football" — brings a rush of excitement.

While many teams around the WPIAL rebuild and some merely reload, the Raiders football program must completely restart after a four-year hiatus. Cornell dropped the sport after the 2011 season because of low participation, but brought it back in January.

"It's been nice to stop at a convenience store and say, 'Oh my god, they're selling Cornell football hats,' " Dawson said with a grin. "Getting gas, there's T-shirts. I was at Walmart, and next to the Moon stuff, we had some Cornell things.""


Boys Basketball: Cornell's loss leaves the West without any Class A playoff teams

Written by staff reports on .

The local playoff season in Class A barely got started before it was over. The only local team was Cornell and the Raiders fell to sixth-seeded Jeannette, 50-36, Friday night at Baldwin.

Cornell probably had better talent than most 11th seeds, but the schedule did the Raiders no favors. Cornell opened the season with three games against teams from larger classes – Montour, Quaker Valley, and Laurel – and lost all three. All three ultimately made the playoffs and finished with a combined record of 48-16.

In all, Cornell played 11 teams in the regular season that eventually reached the playoffs and the Raiders lost all 11. Against non-playoff teams, Cornell was 7-1, losing only to Class AAA Keystone Oaks.

The Raiders were led by senior Blake Lipke, who scored about 16 points per game, and Cornell had only four non-seniors on the roster. Normally, that would cast doubt on the prospects for next season but, with Cornell returning to football and the realignment to six classes, anything could happen. Besides, with head coach Bill Sacco also the athletic director, the schedule may not be as challenging.


Girls Basketball: Cornell hopes to stay close to Quigley Catholic

Written by Joe Koch on .

Cornell High's girls basketball team might well be looking forward to its second game with Quigley Catholic on Jan. 18. There's good reason for that sentiment as the Raiders fell to the Spartans 61-50 in a game played at Cornell last month.

Since that loss, Cornell has won six of its past seven games with the only loss a non-section setback to Mars, 60-27, on Dec. 29. The Raiders are solid where it counts, though, as they are 3-1 against section rivals heading into today's 7:30 p.m. game at Sewickley Academy.

Following this game, the Raiders have a non-section game with Riverview before making the short trek to Baden for the game with the Spartans.

With a section record of 3-1 heading into tonight's game, Cornell trails just Quigley Catholic, which is 4-0 against section rivals and is 8-5 overall. The Spartans five losses, however, have come against opponents who either play in higher WPIAL classifications – Class AAAA Belle Vernon (65-59) and Ambridge (77-42), Class AA Riverside (48-44), Class AAAA Hempfield (65-46) – or West Middlesex of District 10 (61-44).


2015 West Male Athlete of the Year - Cornell's Dane Jackson

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles the West Xtra Male Athlete of the Year, Cornell's Dane Jackson.

"Being one of the top football players in the WPIAL wasn't sufficient for Dane Jackson.

No, he had to also be one of the best basketball players in the area as well.

If those two accomplishments weren't fulfilling enough, the senior added one more asterisk to his already bloated resume. Jackson did it while representing two different high schools.

Jackson, the Post-Gazette West Xtra Male High School Athlete of the Year, attended and graduated from Cornell, where he finished second only to Chartiers Valley's Matty McConnell in WPIAL basketball scoring last season as he averaged a whopping 29.3 points per game in the regular season. That helped Cornell finish 14-11 overall and vaulted the team into the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals and a win in the state qualifying tournament before the team lost to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in the fifth-place game."



Boys Basketball: Coach returns after health issues to lead Cornell

Written by John D'Abruzzo on .

John D'Abruzzo profiles Cornell boys basketball coach Bill Sacco.

2015 0220 Cornell BBasketball(Photo: Cornell's Zacchaeus Humphries drives to the basket against Jefferson-Morgan's Jalen Torres during the Raiders WPIAL Class A first-round victory last Saturday at Baldwin. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

"Sitting out this winter and not coaching high school basketball never really crossed Bill Sacco's mind.

Despite spending close to four months confined to hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, the Cornell boys coach could only focus on getting back to his spot the bench.

"[Basketball] really took my mind off things," said Sacco, who is in his 44th season coaching high school basketball. "I wasn't concerned about my health as much as I was concerned about what the team was doing."

Following a recent knee replacement, the 71-year-old Sacco ended up suffering from an infection that eventually spread to his spine. Doctors had to remove the infection and operate through his abdomen."