Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gameday: Cleveland Browns

Heinz Field
Radio: WDVE and other affiliates

What To Watch For

1. Last Ride for 99 and 25

In what seems to be a common theme over recent years, the Steelers will likely be bidding farewell to two of their longstanding starters. Both Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark's contracts expire at the end of this season and it is unlikely that either will return next year. Get a good look at these two in black and gold, because it is probably the last time you'll see them.

2. Record Chasing

Antonio Brown has already broken the Steelers single-season receiving yards record and is the first Steelers receiver to ever top 1400-yards. Brown is 11 catches shy of tying Hines Ward's record of 112 receptions and would need 12 catches in the finale against Cleveland to surpass Hines. Joe Haden is listed as "questionable" and it would be to AB's advantage if Haden doesn't suit up. Brown also needs at least 70 yards to set the Steelers single-season record for most yards per game, which is currently held by Buddy Dial who averaged 92.5 in 1963. Ben Roethlisberger has already surpassed his previously-held franchise records for attempts and completions in a season and needs 247 yards to break his own single-season yardage record. The franchise record for touchdown passes (32) seems a bit out of reach (Ben has 27 right now), but with 2 TD passes, Ben's 2013 season could move into 2nd on the franchise list. Finally, Shaun Suisham is currently 28 of 30 (93.3%) which is tied for the best single-season field goal percentage in franchise history with Gary Anderson (who was also 28-of-30 in 1993).

3. The Scoreboard

Somehow, some way, the Steelers are still in the playoff hunt. Football Outsiders has put the Steelers chances at about 9%. All it takes is 4 steps: the Steelers beat the Browns, the Jets beat the Dolphins, the Bengals beat the Ravens, and the Chiefs beat the Chargers. The first 3 games are all at 1:00, which means we'll be doing plenty of scoreboard watching during the game. Of course, it could all go to hell at 4:25 when Andy Reid makes the final decision on which starters he will play and which he will rest.

4. Finish Strong

Sitting at 2-6 at the halfway mark of the season, it seemed almost impossible that the Steelers could rebound to an 8-8 finish. Now, despite everything else that has happened this year, the Steelers can not only finish 8-8 but could make the playoffs. On one hand that is a testament to how bad the AFC is this year. This is also not a time to feel sorry for ourselves that we are in this position. When you lose games to Oakland and Tennessee and Minnesota, this is the situation you find yourself in, relying on other teams to win. That said, this season has an entirely different feel to it than last year. In 2012, the Steelers limped to a 3-5 finish and played themselves out of playoff contention. This season, they are closing strong at 5-2 over the second half of the season and the offense is clicking. Since losing to Oakland, the Steelers haven't been held under 20 points and have surpassed 27 points all but twice. Contrast that with the first 7 games when the Steelers highest output was 27 and they only broke 20 points twice. These are all good signs heading into next season and the most important thing this team can do is finish with a strong showing and a win over the Browns.

Merry Christmas, You Filthy Animal: Steelers Win


Things couldn't have gone better early Sunday afternoon. The Jets won. The Bills won. When the coin was flipped, the Steelers were still clinging to their slim playoff hopes.

The Steelers came out of the gates quick, with a Timmons sack forcing a 3-and-out then moving the ball out to midfield on the legs of Le'Veon Bell. Two penalties set things back and a give-up play on third and long sent the ball back to the Packers.

Playing for field position didn't work out so well as Matt Flynn started working the short passing game, moving Green Bay down the field. Eddie Lacy starts to take over on the ground once the Packers get into Steelers territory and moves Green Bay into the red zone. On first and goal, Flynn goes back to the air and lobs one up for Jarrett Boykin who makes a leaping grap over Cortez Allen. Pretty good coverage, Boykin just made a better play.


Before this game, the Steelers were 0-6 this season when they allowed a first quarter touchdown.

Thankfully, the Steelers weren't going to take any of that crap. The Prescription went to work, busting a big 22-yarder up the gut then Ben went up top and hit Antonio Brown streaking down the sideline to move us all the way into the red zone. The Prescription gets us down to the 1 where Ben hits Manny in the back of the end zone.


Second Quarter

The Packers go right back to Boykin who picks up 20 yards then they get 15 more on a roughing the passer call. Thankfully, a packers lineman decides to grab Jason Worlids' facemask on 3rd down, nullifying a conversion and knocking them out of field goal range. Worlids is pissed off and sacks Flynn.

AB rips off a great return to get us back to midfield before he's knocked out of bounds by a defenseless punter. The offense can't do anything but pins Green Bay deep. A holding penalty pretty much ends the Packers drive, and the Steelers get it back.

AB makes another grab to get us into Green Bay territory, but we can't get any farther. Clay Matthews injures himself sacking Ben.

Flynn starts picking on William Gay and Lacy picks up a few big chunks before cutting one back across the field and hurdling over Ike Taylor into the end zone.


Terrible backside contain by Chris Carter.

The Steelers took over with just under 2 minutes to go and got a great return from Manny Sanders across midfield. However, the Steelers "hurry up" offense wasted 50 seconds running just 2 plays that gained just 13 total yards. A pass to Cotchery got us into 3rd an short and we used our second timeout with 40 ticks left. The Prescription ripped one for 10 yards up the middle to get us to the 13, and Tomlin decided not to use a timeout. The clock kept winding and the Steelers didn't get another snap off until the 16 second mark. That's 24 seconds in between snaps. Two incompletions later, only 6 seconds remained on the clock and the Steelers opted for a field goal and took their last time out into the locker room with them.


Third Quarter

The Steelers got the ball to start the second half and Ben and AB went to work. Two quick strikes over the middle get us near midfield where things stall out. On 4th and 2, Tomlin shows his mettle with a ballsy call for a fake punt and Mat McBriar rolls out and lofts one down the field to David Paulson who hurdles a defender and takes it inside the 30.

What a job by McBriar standing in under pressure and hitting his second option and collecting a roughing the passer call to go with it.

On the next play, Ben steps away from pressure then takes off upfield, rumbling 13 yards into the end zone for the go-ahead score.


The Packers came back and slowly picked their way down the field, alternating passes and runs and slowly plodding against the Steelers defense. We finally caught a break when Flynn couldn't connect with Jordy Nelson on 3rd down and the Packers opted to punt it away and pin the Steelers deep.

That wound up being the right decision as Bell fumbled for the first time this season right on the goal line, giving the Packers the ball right on the doorstep. Despite gashing us on the ground all game, Green Bay threw two passes and had to settle for a field goal, which set off the most bizarre sequence you'll see all season.

Steve McLendon gets a great push and blocks Crosby's field goal attempt. Ryan Clark scoops up the ball then makes a bizarre decision to try to lateral the ball to William Gay who can't handle it and Ziggy Hood eventually knocks the ball out of bounds. Ziggy gets flagged for illegaly batting the ball out of bounds. The refs rule that the Steelers never possessed the ball (despite Ryan Clark having two hands on the ball and being able to lateral it to Will Gay) so they inexplicably gave the ball back to Green Bay.

(Credit to @SteelersDepot for the gif)

Not possession? Also, not down by contact?

When Tomlin tried to challenge, he was told that the play was not reviewable.

Of course, this is the same officiating crew that thought this wasn't pass interference:

Somehow, the Packers got the ball on the 1 and Lacy punched it in. 



Unlike in the past when Tomlin had benched backs for fumbling, he put Le'Veon back in the game. And The Prescription answered.

Bell busted the first carry right up the gut for 25, followed by a penalty on the Packers that moved us into field goal range. Dwyer made the most of a few chances to get us to the 11 before Ben zips one to Matt Spaeth down the seam for the touchdown.

Spaeth's first catch of the year. Huge.


After a big return from Dr Jekell and Micah Hyde, Flynn throws a hilariously bad pass out to Boykin that is tipped and picked off by Cortez Allen who takes it 40 yards back to the house.

Big-time turn of events for the Steelers after the terrible officiating.


A holding penalty on the Packers pretty much ended their next drive and the Steelers took over with good field position. Rather than running the ball (and running out the quarter), Ben tries to fit on in to Heath and it gets picked off by AJ Hawk.

Fourth Quarter

With a short field, the Packers were able to work it down inside the 5 but the defense held and forced a field goal.


The Steelers really needed to keep their defense off the field, but couldn't do it, going 3-and-out. A poor punt gave Green Bay the ball far too close to midfield.

After being on the field for so long, it was a lot to ask this beleagured defense to come up with a stop. James Starks started gashing the defense then Flynn found Nelson on Gay for 31 yards to get into the red zone. Starks got them to the 1 before Kuhn pounded it in to tie the game.


On second down from the 10, Ben buys time moving around in the pocket and comes back to AB on the right side who makes some guys miss and goes for 30 yards, moving him into first place on the Steelers single-season receiving yardage list. With the ball near midfield and the clock winding under 5 minutes, Tomlin uses a timeout and opts to go for it on 4th down. Ben hits Will Johnson out in the flat to keep the drive rolling, but the drive doesn't go much further from there.

Pinned deep, the defense stands strong with Brett Keisel coming up with a sack on first down then Troy running down a scrambling Flynn on 3rd down and knocking the ball out while flying through the air. Keisel falls on it to give us the ball in the red zone with 2 minutes to go.

Vintage Steelers defense turnover right there.

Green Bay had all 3 timeouts left, so the Steelers had to run the ball to use the clock. On second down, they make a bizarre decision to throw for the end zone and Ben overthrows AB, stopping the clock with 1:40 to go. Bell gets 5 on a 3rd down pass to get us to 4th and 3. The Steelers catch a huge break when the Packers jump offsides on the field goal, giving us a first down at the 5 with 1:35 to go.

And Mike Tomlin's clock management struck again.

At this point, with the Packers only having 1 timeout remaining, the Steelers should have taken 3 knees and kicked the field goal. Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats detailed this.

With 1:35 left, the Steelers could have kneeled the ball 3 times and run all but about 8 seconds off the clock, which would have enabled them to kick a 25-yard field goal for the win. Even after Le'Veon Bell's first down carry got them to the 1 and forced the Packers to use their final timeout, the Steelers had about a 99% chance of winning if they had simply kneeled it out. However, Tomlin opted to run the ball on 2nd down and Bell scored, which actually increased Green Bay's chances of winning from less than 1% to 9%.


Rather than kicking a field goal with under 8 seconds to play, the Steelers kicked off to Green Bay with 1:28 to play, and Micah Hyde returned the kickoff 70 yards back to the Steelers 31 (which actually gave the Packers a 21% chance to win the game).

Flynn went to work with new life, hitting Nelson and Quarless to get them down to the 5 with 43 seconds left. They opted to run the ball and Will Allen and Cam Heyward made the biggest tackle of the season, keeping Starks out of the end zone. With the clock rolling and 20 seconds to play, the Packers got flagged for a false start penalty, which ran 10 seconds off the clock. That was huge for the Steelers defense.

With 10 seconds left, you would think that the Packers could get 2 plays off, but Flynn lets the clock roll all the way to 3 before taking the snap and his slant pass for Boykin bounces off of his hands, incomplete.



Can someone buy Mike Tomlin a clock for Christmas?

Ride or die with the Steelers, Bengals, Jets and Chiefs this weekend.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gameday: Green Bay Packers

Lambeau Field
Radio: WDVE and other affiliates

What to Watch For

1. Let It Snow

It's going to snow in Green Bay on Sunday. A lot. There is a Winter Storm Warning in effect for most of Wisconsin for Sunday and there could be upwards of 5 inches of snow on the field for this game. Neither team has played particularly good defense this year and the game could devolve into an Eddie Lacy vs. Le'Veon Bell affair.

2. Antonio Brown

Last week, AB tied Hines Ward's mark of 95 catches (2003, 2009) that put him second on the Steelers single-season receptions list. The franchise record for receptions in a season is Ward's 112 (set in 2002). It's unlikely that Brown will get 17 catches this week, but a big performance against Green Bay could set him up to break or tie the mark at home next week in the season finale. Look for the Steelers to try to get him some easy catches on WR screens to boost his numbers. On the yardage front, Brown currently has 1307, which puts him 5th on the Steelers single-season yardage list and only trails Yancey Thigpen's franchise record 1398 yards by 91, which he could break this week against Green Bay's weak secondary.

3. That Time Zone Thing

I bring it up every time the Steelers leave the Eastern Time Zone, because the stat is just so startling. Under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 74-44 (.627) overall and 69-28 (.711) when the game is played in the Eastern Time Zone. But when the Steelers leave the Eastern Time Zone, they are just 5-16 (.238). To make matters worse, the Steelers have now lost 8 in a row outside of EST, dating back to December 2011. The last time the Steelers won a game outside of EST was against the Tyler Palko-led Kansas City Chiefs 13-9 on Monday Night Football on November 27, 2011. It's not like the Steelers have been toppled by great teams. Their current 8-game losing streak features losses to Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, Tony Romo, Matt Cassel, and Terrelle Pryor. Don't think for a minute that just because Aaron Rodgers isn't playing that Matt Flynn isn't capable of adding his name to that list.

4. Matt Flynn

Aaron Rodgers will miss this week's game and Matt Flynn will start his fourth game of the season for the Packers. Flynn has a habit for keeping games close - he is credited with Game Winning Drives in each of the last two weeks (though arguably Tony Romo deserves more for the Packers winning last week than Flynn). Flynn has been decent the last two weeks and the Steelers secondary is only a shell of their former selves. As usual, it all starts up front with getting pressure, as Flynn is significantly less mobile than Rodgers.

5. Finish Strong

I'm not going to talk about the playoffs, even though we are not mathematically eliminated. What I am going to say is that the Steelers have an opportunity to build some momentum heading into the offseason and into next year. They came into this season as a team that didn't know how to win. This was painfully obvious with an 0-4 start in the preseason followed by an 0-4 start in the regular season. Slowly, this team has begun to put it together, albeit too late in the season. But a strong finish to the season can close out 2013 on a high note (possibly even finish at 6-2 in the second half).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

PIAA Classifications Announced

Today the PIAA published a series of documents listing the classifications for every school in every sport across the state. It takes a bit to comb through the documents, but I made it through the football pdf and discovered that 11 schools will be changing classifications next season in the WPIAL.

As a brief reminder of the process: schools are realigned by the PIAA every two years, which then trickles down into a realignment of the WPIAL conferences. Since Football is a boys sport, the classifications are based on the enrollment numbers of 9th-11th grade boys in each participating school. Schools had to submit their enrollment figures earlier this year, which the PIAA will make public in the coming weeks.

The new enrollment cutoffs for football, which will impact the 2014 and 2015 Classifications are:

Class A: 1-174
Class AA: 175-299
Class AAA: 300-492
Class AAAA: 493 and up

Schools are not permitted to "play down" in a lower classification, but school districts are permitted by majority decision to vote to "play up" in a higher classification. The only school that has chosen to "play up" in the upcoming cycle (2014 & 2015) is Aliquippa, playing up in AA though their enrollment would put them in Class A.

Class A

The Departed: Apollo-Ridge, Carlynton, Laurel, Sto-Rox, West Shamokin

New Arrivals: Riverside, Jeanette, Greensburg Central Catholic, Vincentian

Jeanette and GCC had been playing up for the last few years and will be playing to their enrollment figures now. Vincentian has been playing a WPIAL schedule for the last two years but was not officially part of a conference. Now that their "trial run" is over, they should be added to a conference in 2014. If all of the listed schools are placed into conferences for 2014, there will be 35 Class A teams, which will mean 3 conferences of 9 teams and 1 conference of 8. The wild card here is Geibel Catholic, which was listed on the PIAA list but had to forfeit two games last season and one in 2013 due to a lack of players. If Geibel doesn't play varsity football, then there will be two conferences of 9 and two conferences of 8. 

Projected Conference Alignment:
Big Seven: Neshannock, OLSH, Riverside, Rochester, Shenango, South Side Beaver, Union, Western Beaver
Black Hills: Brentwood, California, Clairton, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, GCC, Jeanette, Monessen, Serra 
Eastern: Avonworth, Bishop Canevin, Leechburg, North Catholic, Northgate, Riverview, Springdale, Vincentian, Wilkinsburg
Tri-County South: Avella, Bentworth, Beth-Center, Carmichaels, Frazier, [Geibel], Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene

Notes: California wants to get back to the Tri-County South, but unless the WPIAL moves one of the teams from the TCS to the Black Hills, I have a hard time seeing that happening. If they do, Avella and Bentworth would be the likely candidates as the have played in the Black Hills in the past. When aligning the other conferences, swapping Laurel and Riverside was an easy move, along with adding GCC and Jeanette to the Black Hills which was their only logical geographic fit. The WPIAL could put GCC and Jeanette in the Eastern Conference to replace Apollo-Ridge and West Shamokin, but that would be an excessive amount of traveling for a lot of the Eastern Conference schools. When it came down to it, I was left with Bishop Canevin and Vincentian without a home and I had open spots in both the Big Seven and the Eastern Conference. I decided on Vincentian in the Eastern based on their geographic proximity to Avonworth, Northgate and North Catholic. Since Bishop Canevin was in the Eastern Conference in the 2010-11 cycle, I put them back in the Eastern Conference as well, though they could have gone to the Big Seven.

Class AA

The Departed: Riverside, Jeanette, Greensburg Central Catholic, Yough

New Arrivals: Apollo-Ridge, Carlynton, Derry, Highlands, Laurel, Sto-Rox, West Shamokin

AA is adding 7 teams and losing 4, which will create some very interesting realignment scenarios for the WPIAL to work out. Their most difficult hurdle will be in the Allegheny Conference where three new arrivals (Apollo-Ridge, Highlands and West Shamokin would all fit geographically. AA will go from having 35 teams to having 38 teams. The WPIAL will likely stick with 4 conferences (two of 10 and two of 9) rather than stretching AA out into 5 conferences (two of 7 and three of 8).

Projected Conference Alignment:
Allegheny Conference: Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ford City, Freeport, Highlands, Kittanning, Summit Academy, Valley, West Shamokin
Century Conference: Burgettstown, Carlynton, Keystone Oaks, Quaker Valley, Seton-La Salle, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny, South Fayette, South Park, Steel Valley, 
Interstate Conference: Brownsville, Charleroi, Derry, East Allegheny, McGuffey, Mt Pleasant, Southmoreland, Washington, Waynesburg
Midwestern Conference: Aliquippa, Beaver, Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Freedom, Laurel, Mohawk, New Brighton, Sto-Rox

Notes: As I did in Class A, swapping Laurel and Riverside was an easy move. I added Sto-Rox to the Midwestern Conference to bring it up to 9 teams. East Allegheny, after a brief time in the Allegheny Conference was sent back to the Interstate Conference (replacing the departed GCC). Derry and Yough were a direct switch as well. Shady Side Academy got the short end of the stick by being the furthest south of the Allegheny Conference teams. The only logical fit for SSA was the Century Conference, which then bumped McGuffey to the Interstate Conference, which isn't a terrible place for them since Washington and Waynesburg are also there. The Midwestern Conference is potentially brutal with the addition of Laurel and Sto-Rox. Carlynton, given their proximity to KO, Seton and South Fayette was placed in the Century Conference, though they could have also landed in the Midwestern.

Class AAA

The Departed: Derry, Highlands

New Arrivals: Gateway, Yough

Things are status quo in AAA. It's hard to see any major changes coming as the number of teams will remain the same (27). Gateway and Yough will likely replace Highlands and Derry in the Greater Allegheny Conference, which is a geographic fit for both schools. 

Projected Conference Alignment:
Big Nine: Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, Uniontown, West Mifflin
Greater Allegheny: Franklin Regional, Gateway, Greensburg Salem, Hampton, Hollidaysburg, Indiana, Knoch, Mars, Yough
Parkway: Ambridge, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Chartiers Valley, Hopewell, Montour, Moon, New Castle, West Allegheny

Notes: The Parkway Conference is essentially secure. Some shuffling could occur between the Big Nine and the Greater Allegheny, but that doesn't seem likely.

Class AAAA

The Departed: Gateway

The only question here is whether or not Gateway's spot in the Foothills Conference will be filled by one of the teams from the Southeastern Conference (Plum, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills would be the candidates). There will still be three Quad-A Conferences with two conferences having 8 teams and one having 9. My bet would be that the WPIAL leaves Quad-A alone and doesn't move anyone to replace Gateway.

Projected Conference Alignment:
Foothills: Altoona, Connellsville, Hempfield, Kiski Area, Latrobe, McKeesport, Norwin, Penn-Trafford
Northern Eight: Butler, Central Catholic, Fox Chapel, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Shaler
Southeastern: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon, Penn Hills, Peters Twp, Plum, Upper St Clair, Woodland Hills

Saturday, December 14, 2013

O Ye of Little Faith

Fortes In Fide.

"Strong in Faith"

The motto of North Catholic High School, my alma mater. Anyone who has been following me on Twitter or that has been a long-time reader of my blog knows how much interest I take in high school football. For years, my alma mater had never been able to break through. They had lost in the Semi-Finals 4 times since 1997 and had never reached the WPIAL Championship Game since joining the league when the Catholic League disbanded in the early 1970s. I was in the band during my time in high school and had to sit through some brutal games. Homecoming my senior year saw us down 14 to Deer Lakes with 2 minutes to go in the half. Two blocked punts and a pick-6 later, Deer Lakes led 35-0 at halftime. In spite of having to watch some really bad football teams, I grew a love for High School Football. I would go home after games and update standings sheets in Microsoft Works (because that was before Excel existed) and I would have all the playoff scenarios figured out by the time I got to school on Monday morning.

This has been a long time coming. Coach Bob Ravenstahl has resurrected the program and brought them to the top of the mountain. I couldn't be more proud to be an alumni of North Catholic High School.

After the State Championship Game today, Senior linebacker/Offensive Lineman Josh Churchin put it better than anyone ever could:
On the surface, you might just think this was something a high school kid said. You might think "How could anyone doubt the undefeated state champions?" But this wasn't just an off-the-cuff remark. From the beginning of the season, everyone doubted this team. Two of the biggest names in WPIAL prognostication doubted them time and time again. And every week the Trojans went out and proved them wrong. Yet still they doubted, and still the Trojans persevered.


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette features a weekly predictions column by "The Fumbler" in order to maintain the anonymity of the prognosticator. This season, "The Fumbler" picked against the Trojans an astonishing 7 times in their 16 outings this season.

Actual Result: North Catholic 22, Apollo-Ridge 21 (OT)

Actual Result: North Catholic 21, Avonworth 12

Actual Result: North Catholic 21, Neshannock 14

Actual Result: North Catholic 14, Avonworth 7

Actual Result: North Catholic 27, Neshannock 14

Actual Result: North Catholic 14, Sto-Rox 0

Actual Result: North Catholic 15, Old Forge 14 (OT)

MSA Sports

MSA Sports is pretty much a Godsend for any high school sports fan in Western Pennsylvania. They broadcast almost all of the games each week over the internet and have a scoreboard on their website that they update during games and are always the first ones to have all the final scores posted each week. Melissa Carle is one of their broadcasters and also writes a weekly "Chick's Picks" segment on their website. Melissa was not as bad as The Fumbler, "only" picking against the Trojans 5 times in the 13 weeks of WPIAL play.

Actual Result: North Catholic 21, Avonworth 12

Actual Result: North Catholic 21, Neshannock 14

Actual Result: North Catholic 14, Avonworth 7

Actual Result: North Catholic 27, Neshannock 14

Actual Result: North Catholic 14, Sto-Rox 0

After going 1-3 in the WPIAL Championship Games, Chick's Picks did not continue making predictions for the PIAA Playoffs. 

In spite of all the doubters, of everything that was written about how great the players on the other teams were, of all the postseason awards Lenny Williams is receiving, the Trojans just kept winning. They ran the ball. They played defense. They dominated on the offensive and defensive lines. They held Avonworth to just 19 points over 8 quarters of play when the Lopes averaged 39 points per game in the rest of their contests. North Catholic held Neshannock to 14 points twice after the Lancers averaged 43.5 in their other games. The Trojans shut out the WPIAL's all-time leading passer Lenny Williams in the Championship game, pitching a shutout against a Sto-Rox team that averaged 43.8 points per game. After claiming victory at Heinz Field, they did something that many alumni thought would never be done.
They rang the bell.

The Bell has hung in the corner of the gymekklesiatorium for ages. It used to be run whenever North Catholic beat Central Catholic. But the two schools ceased their annual rivalry games in the early 2000s. As North Catholic's enrollment declined, it seemed unlikely that the bell would ever be run again. But they rang it this year after winning the first WPIAL Championship in school history.

And now, after winning the State Championship, the Bell will ring AGAIN.

If you drive by the school on Troy Hill Road, you'll notice this sign above the entrance to the gymekklesiatorium (which is a combination of gym, ekklesia (church) and auditorium for the uninitiated):

North Catholic is moving to a new school in Cranberry this summer, but in the mean time, they are going to need to add a sign with something other than basketballs. 

Today, Josh Rowntree was on the radio call for MSA Sports, just as he was when the Trojans captured the WPIAL Championship three weeks ago. Here's his call of the game-winning two point conversion that junior PJ Fulmore converted in Overtime to give the Trojans the State title:
You can also follow them on Twitter: @JRown32 and @MSASports


The Tribune-Review tweeted out the cover of their Sports Page tomorrow:
This is PJ Fulmore, going in for the touchdown in overtime that would pull the Trojans within 1 and set up the Championship-winning two point conversion, which Fulmore also converted.

This group, this team, has done something that no other football team in the history of North Catholic High School has accomplished. They are State Champions. They made not have been as athletically overwhelming as the Clairton team that won last year, and they may not have as many Division 1 recruits as teams that win the AAA or Quad-A titles, but at the end of the day, the same trophy will sit in the halls of North Catholic that sits in Clairton and that will sit with Archbishop Wood.

That trophy means one thing: STATE CHAMPIONS.

And the Bell Will Ring Again.