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Scholastic Notebook
By By Rich Emert
Valley News Dispatch

Matt Steve, a senior at Hempfield, had a game to remember even if his team did not.

Steve rushed for 446 yards on 42 carries in Hempfield's 44-41 loss to Connellsville last Friday. The yards were not only a WPIAL single game record, they were also a PIAA mark. .

Neither the WPIAL nor the PIAA are big on statistics. But the WPIAL single-game rushing record before Steve went crazy was believed to be 424 yards set by Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo in 1997. The PIAA record was believed to be 439 yards set by Vince Clarke of Darby Township in 1978. .

At 5-foot-11, 160 pounds, Steve is a converted wide receiver. He didn't move into Hempfield's backfield until the seventh game of the season. .

Only three other running backs in WPIAL history have rushed for more than 400 yards. They are Jim Smith of Laurel Highlands, who gained 413 in 1989; Brian Baschnagel of North Allegheny, who had 409 in 1971; and Brandon Payne of Woodland Hills, who gained 405 in 1997. .

Hempfield did not qualify for the WPIAL playoffs. The Spartans will play a non-conference game at home Friday night against Uniontown. .

Friendly rivals: Folks in Jeannette will be proud when two of their favorite sons, Jim Rankin and Art Tragesser square off in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. .

Tragesser coaches Penn-Trafford, Rankin North Allegheny and they will meet at 7:30 p.m. at Penn-Trafford. The coaches are hardly strangers. They grew up together and played football at Jeannette High School. .

Over the years, Tragesser and Rankin have helped each other in the playoffs. When Penn-Trafford made it to the WPIAL Quad-A championship game two years ago, Tragesser called Rankin for advice. .

"Jim and I have always been close," Tragesser said. "We've always given each other advise on teams and games, but I don't think we'll talk much this week." .

While the two coaches are good friends they have different offensive philosophies. North Allegheny uses the Delaware Wing-T offense, Penn-Trafford uses the run and shoot. .

Site problems: WPIAL Executive Director Larry Hanley would like to play all of the league's semifinal games on fields with artificial turf, but admits that might be a problems. .

Last year, the WPIAL was able to use Pitt Stadium for a Quad-A semifinal doubleheader. That won't be the case this year, plus construction at Peters Township and Upper St. Clair, which have artificial turf fields, limits their use. .

"We had hoped to use Pitt but as soon as the Notre Dame game is over they're going to be selling everything from the toilets on down," Hanley said. "So, that's out and I heard they were having some trouble with the turf at Hempfield. .

"We do have Franklin Regional and that's a plus. But some others, like Trinity, just aren't big enough to handle some crowds. We'll do what we can and we'll try to make it the same for everyone so that if one semifinal (in a classification) is on turf so will the other." .

Final year?: Although Rochester coach Dan Matsook hasn't made it official, this will probably be his final season coaching the Rams. .

Matsook guided Rochester to the PIAA Class A title and a 15-0 season last year. The Rams are 8-1 and in the WPIAL playoffs again this season, but Matsook has been double duty. He was named Freedom High School's principle just before the PIAA final last years and running back and forth between the two schools has bee tough. .

Last year after the PIAA final Matsook said he would stay in coaching until his son graduated from Rochester. Brandon Matsook is a senior tight end/linebacker at Rochester. The Rams play host to Brentwood Friday night. .

Monster mash: Lauren Shaffer's nickname is "Monster" and she was a demon at the WPIAL cross country championship last week. .

Shaffer, a junior, won the girls' Class AA race, covering the 3.1-mile course at Slippery Rock University in 18 minutes, 55 seconds. She finished almost a minute and a half ahead of second place Christine Taranto, a freshman at West Allegheny. .

The winning time in the girls Class AAA race 19:21 by Hempfield freshman Lauren Bricker. Shaffer's time was good enough that she would have placed in the top 50 in the boys Class AA race. .

Shaffer is favored to win the PIAA Class AA cross country title Saturday at Lehigh University. .

In the WPIAL boys races, Scott Munro of South Park won the Class AA race for the second consecutive year and sophomore Shawn Cavanaugh of Mt. Lebanon won the Class AAA title. .

Soccer champs: The boys and girls soccer teams at Allderdice captured City League championships Wednesday. Schenley was the loser in both games. The Allderdice boys won 2-0, the girls 4-0. .

In the WPIAL, Quaker Valley defeated Riverside, 3-0, for the Class AA title. It is the sixth soccer championships for the Quakers. East Allegheny defeated Sewickley Academy, 1-0, in the consolation game. .

Sewickley Academy defeated Charleroi, 2-1, in a shootout for the girls Class AA title.