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Football: West Feature Athlete - Freedom's Nick Henderson

Written by staff reports on .

Name: Nick Henderson
High School: Freedom
Grade: 10
Sport: Football
Position: Wide Receiver/Quarterback

Background: Nick Henderson has been coming on strong as a receiver, catching five passes last week to increase his season total to 23. That likely will be his final total, though, as he'll switch back to quarterback because of an injury. Earlier this season, he passed for 287 yards while playing quarterback so he's comfortable there, too. He's used to playing a lot because he started last year for Freedom as a freshman in football, basketball, and baseball.

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Football: Montour wins big non-conference game

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When the Class AAA Parkway Conference drew the Class AAAA Southeastern Conference for its crossover games, Parkway fans were less than excited. That was for good reason, too, as only West Allegheny and Central Valley had even been competitive in their games, until last week when Montour handles Upper St. Clair 27-17 to win its sixth game in the last seven and on the road no less.

That win, especially this late in the season, should have a positive impact on the seeding committee as the Spartans could clinch a home playoff game win a win against Moon Friday. Montour used a solid running game to beat USC as David Haselu scored three touchdowns and the defense made their contribution as well as Stephen Fedyshyn returned an interception 99 yards in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Montour's defense has been increasingly stingy as the Spartans allowed only two touchdowns in the last two games against Class AAA competition and took West Allegheny to the final minute the game before that.

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Football: Rochester's line deserves some credit, too

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Rochester has maintained the distinction all season of having two running backs average over 100 yards and the Rams are likely to end the season with that unique distinction – Montrail Strozier already has 917 and Ishmael Tucker has 859. Both could actually reach 1,000 this year with big games in the season finale with Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

To achieve that, though, isn't just a reflection of their running style. The offensive line of Christian Coleman, Alex Kouba, Zach Tame, Chase Spooner, and Zach Smith has paved the way for the unique accomplishment.

"We don't have the breakaway guy we've had," said Rochester coach Gene Matsook. "But these guys have done a really good job of getting the backs into the secondary. They've gotten better each week.

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Boys Soccer: West Feature Athlete - Freedom's Carson Gilarno

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Name: Carson Gilarno
High School: Freedom
Grade: 9
Sport: Soccer

Background: Carson Gilarno scored the last two goals of Freedom's last regular season win, a 6-1 triumph against South Side Beaver. Freedom now prepares to go into the postseason as the 7th seed with a young team but head coach Craig Morgan isn't concerned about relying on freshmen. The Bulldogs have scored at least two goals in 11 of 18 games this season while allowing two or more in only four of the last 15, so the young team has been tested.

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Girls Soccer: West Feature Athlete - Moon's Delaney Snyder

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Name: Delaney Snyder
High School: Moon
Grade: 9
Sport: Soccer
Position: Forward

Background: Impact freshmen have almost become a norm in the WPIAL, and this year another one emerged on the Class AAA level in Moon freshman forward Delaney Snyder. The ninth grader was second on the playoff-bound Tigers with 13 goals. She joined with senior Kallie Conte and sophomore Emma Thomas to form a dynamic three-forward scoring attack.

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Boys Soccer: Ambridge makes big jump from last year

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Ambridge took its lumps in Class AAA last year but apparently gained valuable experience. Dropping down to Class AA this season, the Bridgers improved their record by a remarkable 11 games – from 4-12-2 to 16-2. That was the biggest one-year improvement of any team in the WPIAL.

The second-best improvement from 2013-2014 among local teams was Beaver Area's four game improvement which saw the Bobcats make the playoffs, but were eliminated in the preliminary round by Quaker Valley.

On the other side, the two teams that saw the biggest declines were teams that, not coincidentally, were hit the hard by graduation – Blackhawk (-5) and Beaver County Christian School (-3 1/2). Both made the playoffs last year but didn't make the cut this year.

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Boys Soccer: 2014 West Playoff Preview (First Round)

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Seven local teams qualified for the playoffs and six remain after the preliminary round – Beaver fell to Quaker Valley in the first round. It's almost unfair to face Quaker Valley coach Gene Klein and his more than 500 career victories in a preliminary round but Beaver gave it a battle, falling 2-1. The Bobcats finished 13-6.

In Class AA, defending champion West Allegheny (14-3-1) drew only the third seed and will open the playoffs at home against Burrell (12-7). Fifth seeded Ambridge (16-2) plays at home against Indiana (15-3) and 13th seeded Central Valley (10-6-1) plays at South Fayette (14-3-1).

In Class A, fourth-seeded Carlynton (12-5) plays Geibel Catholic (13-5) at Upper St. Clair. Seventh seeded Freedom (10-6-2) plays Riverview (12-5) at Ambridge and 11th seeded Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (9-8-1) plays Seton-LaSalle (10-8) at West Allegheny.

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Girls Soccer: Central Valley survives first-round scare

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

In its first playoff game of the year, defending WPIAL Class AA champion Central Valley (12-4-2) survived a first-round scare against a pesky Knoch team on Saturday. No. 10 Central Valley entered the game against No. 7 Knoch as the lower seed but the Warriors returned a handful of players from a team that finished unbeaten a year ago and claimed WPIAL and PIAA gold. Yet things have not come easy this season for coach Mark Perry's team. The Warriors lost four games this year and finished third in Section 3-AA with a 7-3-2 record. It was a section that the program had dominated since forming in 2010. In the playoffs things were not easy either as Central Valley was forced to overtime with the Knights. The Warriors finally prevailed when Olivia Pritts scored 6:30 into overtime to allow Central Valley to advance to the WPIAL quarterfinals where they will face another recent WPIAL champion in No. 2 Mars on Wednesday.

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Girls Soccer: Montour erupts for eight goals in first-round match

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

The Montour offense picked a good time to catch fire and they have shown they know how to beat the Freeport defense. The Spartans poured in eight goals in a WPIAL first-round match at home against No. 12 Freeport, a team that can say Montour has its number. It ties for the second most goals scored in a game this season for Montour who scored eight at Beaver Area earlier this year and nine against this same Freeport team on September 25. Victoria Kocsuta scored half of Montour's goals in the 8-1 win against Freeport. Montour has now won 14 consecutive games dating all the way back to September 13. The Section 3-AA champions are seeded No. 5 and are 17-2 overall. They will face No. 4 Belle Vernon (16-2-1) on Wednesday in a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal match. The Leopards won the Section 4-AA title.

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Cross Country: West Feature Athlete - OLSH's Erin Halligan

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Name: Erin Halligan
School: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
Grade: 11
Sport: Cross Country

Background: Halligan has been one of top five runners on the girls team for the past three years and is the vocal leader of the team. She placed third last year at the WPIAL Class A championships and ninth at the PIAA championships.

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Cross Country: Beaver Falls' Perretta earns Freedom Invitational title

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Beaver Falls' Dom Perretta won golden at the Freedom Invitational on Wednesday.

Perretta defeated Sewickley Academy's Griffin Mackey by 14 seconds with a time of 16:56. Burgettstown's Cody Divecchio also represented the West zone by finishing in third place in 17 minutes, 11 seconds.

It was Hopewell who performed well as a team. The Vikings finished in second behind Avonworth, 72-100.

Gregory Nero was the first Hopewell runner to cross the line, finishing in 10th place. Teammate Clark Cicone was close behind him in 13th place.

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Cross Country: Beaver girls runner-up at Freedom Invitational

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

The Beaver girls finished in second place at the Freedom Invitational on Wednesday.

Despite not having any runners place in the top 10, Beaver held a tight pack for a strong team placement.

Shady Side Academy took gold with 73 points, only five points in front of Beaver with 78.

Katia Kaffenes was the first Bobcat to cross the line in 11th place with a finish time of 22 minutes, 23 seconds. She was followed by teammates Emily Forner (13th place) and Delaine Baker (14th place). Hopewell's Carinna Lapson broke up the pack, taking 12th place.

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Golf: Burgettstown sends two boys to state final

Written by Joe Koch on .

Junior Cody Dobbin and senior Hunter Lecker from Burgettstown High have qualified to compete in the PIAA Class AA Boys Individual Championship that will be held at York's Heritage Hills Resort.

The two-day individual, 36-hole tournament begins Monday and concludes on Tuesday.

Dobbin finished in a seven-way tie for sixth place with a 6-over-par round of 78. Lecker shot an 80, and he was in a six-way tie for 16th place.

No competitors from Sports Town's West area competed in the boys Class AAA Western Regional.

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Golf: Half of Class AAA girls qualifers from Central Valley

Written by Joe Koch on .

Nine golfers competed at the Class AAA Western Regional Girls Individual Championship at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville, and the six players advancing to the PIAA Class AAA Individual Girls Championship are from WPIAL schools.

Three of the six are from Central Valley. Those three golfers -- Amanda Scala, Mady McDanel and Alex Bozich -- will have an extended stay in York. After competing in the two-day individual championship that begins Monday and winds up on Tuesday, those three golfers will team up with teammates Megan Santia and Krista Sudar and compete in the PIAA Class AAA team championship on Wednesday.

Scala is the only senior on the team, and she played well on Tuesday, placing third in the regional championship with a 7-over-par round of 79. McDanel, a junior, was two strokes behind with an 81. Bozich, a sophomore, tied for fifth with a 10-over-par round of 82.

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Golf: Neshannock's Kirkwood qualifies for PIAA Class AA girls final

Written by Joe Koch on .

Neshannock junior Marissa Kirkwood placed second in the PIAA Western Regional Girls Individual Championship on Tuesday at Tom's Run Golf Course and earned a trip to the PIAA Class AA Girls Individual Championship.

Kirkwood shot a 3-over-par round of 75, four strokes behind the championship effort posted by Seton-LaSalle's Joey Walz.

After shooting a 39 on the front nine, Kirkwood played even-par golf on the back nine to earn a trip to the two-day PIAA Class AA Girls Individual Championship that begins Monday at York's Heritage Hills Resort and winds up the following day.