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.

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