By Tom Fox
The journey toward Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center begins this weekend around the state of Pennsylvania.
With district basketball tournaments wrapped up, the PIAA has released its state brackets and there are some interesting first-round matchups.
Two really stand out.
District 4’s Williamsport, coming off a four-overtime loss to Abington Heights for the District 2-4 Class AAAA boys’ championship, will venture south to the Philadelphia area and will tangle with the team that many think is the pre-tournament favorite, Chester. The Clippers are currently ranked as the No. 1 team in the state by MaxPreps.com.
“We were going to have to see Chester anyway, first round or third round or whatever,” Williamsport coach Allen Taylor told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. “Chester usually is a good game, hopefully again this year, too.”
Chester (28-1) has tons of bumps on the road to Happy Valley. Potential matchups include Harrisburg in the second round, Pocono Mountain West in the quarterfinals and a possible meeting with undefeated Reading in the state semifinals. And sitting in the bottom of the bracket is Pittsburgh city champ Schenley.
In the girls’ AAAA bracket, former No. 1 Abington Heights was defeated by District 2 rival Scranton High School in its championship game. The Lady Comets and star Becky Burke will now travel to Norristown and a meeting with the new No.1 team in the state, Downingtown East, for its first-round game.
Scranton entered the district tournament as the No. 3 seed.
“It’s a great feeling,” Scranton coach Pat Ferguson told the Scranton Times-Tribune. “I put it right there with having my first child; only because I’m leaving and it’s just a great way to finish. Like I told the kids, it’s going up on the wall and it’s going to say 2007-2008 district champs, and I was part of it.”
Reading, Class AA’s North East and Class A’s Coudersport are the only two boys’ teams which enter with perfect records. In the girls’ brackets, there are no teams remaining that are undefeated.
Class A and Class AAA girls, and Class AA and Class AAAA boys will play on Saturday, while the remaining classes begin play on Friday.
Football: Changes in District 3, District 2
Two familiar names associated with Eastern Pennsylvania football have popped up in the news.
Long-time Lakeland High School coach Dan Case has recently decided not to apply for the position he has held during three different stints.
More impressive is the fact that the Chiefs have never endured a losing season under Case, and have won numerous district titles. Opponents of Lakeland have come to respect Case’s smash-mouth style football, in which the District 2 team would line up and bring the pigskin right through the heart of a defense.
“I told the board that I wasn’t going to re-apply,” Case told the Scranton Times-Tribune, citing personal family reasons for his decision. “I didn’t want something to occur where I couldn’t give the time I want to give. I love the kids and the coaches. But to be fair to the kids, I need to step away.”
In the land of District 3 football, Jim Cantafio was named as head man of the Cedar Cliff program.
According to the Carlisle Sentinel, Cantafio comes in after stops at Conestoga Valley, Wyoming Valley West and Wilson West Lawn, where he’s won a combined 10 league titles and three district titles. In his first two coaching jobs, he took programs from the cellar to state contenders, winning a district title with CV and finishing runner up in the state during the 1991 season.
“It’s an opportunity for me to be involved in one of the best conferences in the state of Pennsylvania,” Cantafio told the Sentinel. “There’s great competition, great coaches, it will be a challenge to compete against Cumberland Valley and Harrisburg with the likes of Tim Rimpfel and George (Chaump).”
Wrestling: Crestwood's Roosa Out for the Season
Crestwood senior Josh Roosa’s season has come to a disappointing end.
The undefeated Comet, who has a career record of 143-18, hurt his hand during one of Crestwood’s practices. Although he wrestled with a soft cast on his hand at the district championship, the Citizen’s Voice reported that the injury became worse and doctors were forced to place a hard cast on, thus ending his season.
Roosa ends his season at 34-0 and is one of only 17 Wyoming Valley Conference grapplers to win four district titles. He had already committed to wrestle at Bloomsburg University next season.
“He’s handled it like he’s handled everything. He’s been great," Crestwood coach Darren Testa told the Citizen’s Voice. "He’s glad he got a chance to test it out last weekend, because if he didn’t, he might always be thinking, ‘What if?’ But now the risks outweigh the benefits. There’s no doubt he’s tremendously upset, but he’s putting on a good face – ‘I get it. I understand. I’m OK.’ ”
Wrestling: Road to Hershey Has Some Bumps
It’s not often that Central Dauphin’s Walter and Marshall Peppelman both lose on the same night.
The Rams’ brother combination has been dominant on the District 3 mats.
But the two hit a snag last weekend at the South Central Class AAA Regional.
Marshall Peppelman, a sophomore at 140, lost to Cumberland Valley’s Bryce Busler, 2-1, in the championship.
Walter Peppelman, a senior at 145, didn’t reach the final. Instead, the Harvard recruit lost to Central York’s undefeated James English in the semifinals. English then went on to defeat 40-2 Joey Napoli in the finals.
Governor Mifflin’s Chris Carabello also pulled a stunner in the 215-pound weight class when he knocked Manheim Central’s Jordan Enck from the ranks of perfection with a 7-4 win in the finals.
The state championships will be held from March 6 to March 8 at Hershey’s Giant Center.
Tom Fox is sports editor at The Lock Haven (Pa.) Express. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.