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Scholastic Notebook
By Rich Emert
Valley News Dispatch

Despite the fact Rochester is the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class A champion, and has a 20-game winning streak, longest in the WPIAL, the Rams are not No. 1 in the area.

That honor belongs to South Side Beaver which, like Rochester, is undefeated after five games. South Side Beaver is No. 1 and Rochester No. 3 in the NSN Class A Top 10. All that could change Saturday at 12:30 p.m. when Rochester visits South Side Beaver.

Rochester coach Dan Matsook is the first to admit Rochester first five games have not been against the best competition. Rochester has victories over Summit Academy, Union, Neshannock, Western Beaver and Reynolds. Of the five, only Western Beaver has a winning record. South Side's mark is not that much better, although it did hand Monaca its only the loss the first week of the season.

"We lost 10 starters on offense and seven on defense to graduation," Matsook said. "The easy schedule has allowed us to figure out where to play people. It has allowed us to get ready for the tough stretch ahead."

After South Side Beaver, Rochester has games against Laurel, Farrell and Monaca. South Side Beaver still has Laurel and Farrell in the tough Big Nine Conference.

Matsook said his Rams are smaller than they were last year when they went 15-0 and won the PIAA title. He added they are also quicker.

"When I look at how big we were up front last year I can't believe it,'' he said. "We're about 60 pounds lighter per man across the front, but we're much faster and we're trying to use that to our advantage.

"It should be a good game with South Side. I'm sure they want to end our streak just as much as our guys what to keep it going."

Vernillo watch: There were reports earlier in the week that Fort Cherry running back Mike Vernillo might sit out Friday night's game at Cornell.

Vernillo needs 92 yards to become the WPIAL's all-time leading rusher and there were rumblings he might not play offense against winless Cornell so he could break the record at home next week against Chartiers-Houston. That isn't going to happen.

"I don't know where that got started but there was never any question whether Mike was going to play,'' Fort Cherry coach Jim Garry said. "He's going to go Friday."

Vernillo rushed for 241 yards on 25 carries last week against Brentwood and moved into second place on the all-time list with 6,421 yards. Matt Gavrish from Penn-Trafford is the WPIAL's all-time leading rusher with 6,512.

Big night: Clarion-Limestone sophomore Dan Alderton had a game to remember last Friday. He carried 13 times and rushed for 349 yards in a 44-24 victory over Union-Rimersburg in a Keystone Shortway Conference contest. The 349 yards is a school record.

"He also caught a 70 yards pass for a score and had another reception for 40 yards called back," Clarion-Limestone coach Clyde Conti said. "He's not a big kid, about 5-10 and a 155 pounds, but he's quick. He's on the track team and has been timed in 11.3 (seconds) in the 100."

Clarion-Limestone is 3-2 and has a young team a very young team. Conti started five sophomores, three freshman, two juniors and a senior against Union-Rimersburg.

"We've got 25 guys on the team from grades nine through 12 and 19 of them are sophomores or freshmen," he said. "We not big. I think my guards are about 139 pounds, but we've got tough kids who work hard. Danny is one who works the hardest.''

Changes coming: The PIAA Board of Control voted last weekend to expand boys soccer and girls volleyball to three classifications for the 2000-2001 school year. Under normal procedures, a change must pass three readings but the board members waved that rule.

There were also discussion of adding one and perhaps two classifications to football and one classification to other sports.

The WPIAL backed the proposal that will add classes to boys soccer and girls volleyball. Why?

"Because it was sort of the path of least resistance," Larry Hanley, WPIAL Executive Director, said. "I'm a little surprised they decided to wave the three readings. I would have thought they would have given people a chance to look at the changes and comment on them.''

The WPIAL has seven Class AAA sections and six Class AA sections in soccer. Hanley said the reason why girls soccer wasn't expanded is there are few teams and girls soccer in the eastern part of the state is still played in the spring.

Golf finals: The WPIAL boys individual golf championships will be played Tuesday at Quicksilver Golf Course in Midway, Washington County. Forty players qualified for the finals.

Bobby MacWhinnie of Upper St. Clair was the medalist at the semifinal at Line Pine Golf Course. He had five-under par 69. Sean Dove of Burgettstown was next with a 76. At the semifinal at Armco Golf Club, Justin Smith had a four-over par 74 as did Noah Tuminella of Penn Hills.

The top 16 finishers at the WPIAL championship will advance to the PIAA tournament.

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