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High School Note Book
By Rich Emert

It's football season, but basketball, especially the transfer of a basketball player, has been in the news. Daren Tielsch, who helped Blackhawk capture WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA titles last season, has transferred from Blackhawk to Montour. Last year at this time Tielsch transferred from Montour to Blackhawk. A 6-foot-6 1/2 junior, Tielsch averaged 11 points per game last season. He was not one of coach John Miller's starters, but was the first player off the bench.

"I didn't know he was coming last year when he transferred in and I didn't know until the end of last week that he was leaving," Miller said. "The one thing I want to make clear is that Daren was never a starter for me. He started a couple of games when we had guys out, but he was not a starter." No, but Tielsch was one of Blackhawk's leading rebounders and key players. Along with point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham, the Cougars would have had a solid inside-outside game this coming season if Tielsch had stayed. With Tielsch, Blackhawk would have been favored to repeat as WPIAL champion. Tielsch and Fuss-Cheatham played on Miller's AAU team, the J.O.T.S., this summer. Tielsch didn't give any indications he would be returning to Montour.

The WPIAL ruled Tielsch ineligible last year, saying the move from Montour to Blackhawk was for athletic intent. The decision was appealed to the PIAA level and reversed. Miller said Blackhawk would not challenge Tielsch's decision to return to Montour.

"Do I think Montour recruited Daren back? No," Miller said. "I wish him well. He's a great kid."

Meanwhile, Nathan Hupp, a 6-7 freshman, has transferred to Blackhawk from Canon-McMillan. Miller said Hupp isn't expected to contribute this season.

"He probably will not even be on the junior varsity," Miller said. "He'll play on our ninth grade team."

All of the controversy is starting to wear on Miller. He is quick to point out he will not be coaching at Blackhawk much longer.

"I've got two more years of teaching and then that's it, so I won't be here when Hupp is a senior," Miller said. "I've been telling people I've got just two more and then I'm done."

  • Fort Cherry running back Mike Vernillo has made a verbal commitment to West Virginia. His decision to sign with the Mountaineers in February, when letters of intent become binding, is not surprised. West Virginia has been the front runner for Vernillo's services. West Virginia coaches started recruiting him early in his high school career and Vernillo likes the atmosphere in Morgantown. He picked WVU over Maryland and Boston College."It's like a family atmosphere, like it is here at Fort Cherry," Vernillo said. "Their offense is suited to the way I run. They've had success with running backs who are short and squatty." Vernillo, who is 5-11 and 194 pounds, needs less than 1,000 yards to become the WPIAL's all-time leading rusher. He is 929 yards away from breaking the record set by Matt Gavrish of Penn-Trafford.
  • Highlands High football coach Tim Karrs was faced with a tough decision this past week.The teachers' union at Highlands went on strike Monday. Karrs, who guided the Rams to the Greater Allegheny Conference title last year, decided not to cross the picket line. That means Bill Heasley, Highlands athletic director and a member of Karrs' staff, will probably guide the Rams Friday night when they host Derry Area in a conference contest.
  • New rule changes this football season? There are not many. The one fans may recognize has to do with the team box on the sidelines. In the past, the team box went from the 30-yard line to the 30-yard line. The box is the area in which players and coaches are allowed to move about. This season, the team box has been extended from the 25-yard line to the 25-yard line. One other rule change has to do with the size of towel a player is allowed to wear in his uniform belt. It has to be four inches by 12 inches.
  • Riverside has added lights to its football stadium. The Panthers will play their first home game Saturday afternoon, but the rest of the school's home contests will be Friday nights. South Allegheny, meanwhile, has been having problems with the lights at it's stadium and has been forced to move its first two home games to Saturday afternoon.
  • Finally, Burrell was supposed to play Johnstown at Point Stadium in Johnstown Friday night. That game has been moved to Windber High's stadium. The reason? Baseball. The Johnstown Johnnies minor league team, which competes in the Frontier League, has qualified for the playoffs. Point Stadium is the Johnnies home field and has not yet been shifted from a baseball to football configuration.