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Scholastic Notebook
By Rich Emert
Nauticom Sports Staff

Pitt coach Walt Harris hopes Dustin Picciotti's high school record rubs off on the Panthers.

Picciotti helped Central Bucks West High School to three consecutive PIAA Class AAAA titles. He never lost a high school football game and has decided to help Pitt try and win more than it loses.

Tuesday night, Picciotti gave Pitt an oral commitment. He will not be able to sign a binding NCAA Letter of Intent until next month, but he is the prize of Pitt's recruiting class.

At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Picciotti is considered the top fullback recruit in the country this season. This past season, he rushed for 1,678 yards and scored 37 touchdowns. As a junior, he gained 1,969 yards and set a PIAA championship game record when he rushed for 238 yards against New Castle. As a sophomore, he started at linebacker for the Bucks.

Picciotti visited Pitt last weekend. He canceled visits to Syracuse and Boston College. The Associated Press Big School (Class AAAA and AAA) Player of the Year, Picciotti had said he was interested in programs where fullbacks carried the ball a lot. Pitt didn't give the football to its fullbacks that much this past season.

In other recruiting news, Woodland Hills defensive back/wide receiver Rafael Smith has given Kent State a verbal commitment. He caught 23 passes for 423 yards and intercepted three passes, returning one for a score.

Road warriors: Peters Township's boys team has not had a home this season. Because of renovations to the school's gym, Peters Township has made a lot of bus trips.

The rides haven't bothered Peters Township any. The Indians are 11-4 overall, 5-1 in WPIAL Section 2-AAAA going into Friday's action.

"The only thing that will be the same with our gym when we get back in it will be the four walls," Peters Township coach Rick Bell said. "We'll have new bleachers and a parquet floor on the playing surface. We lost some seats because of the new bleachers and the wider isles, but not much."

The Indians are supposed to get into the gym for their first home game of the season next week. Bell said he hasn't talked to his players much about being on the road. "It's only a distraction if you let it be a distraction," he said. "We just haven't talked about it. I teach advance placement psychology at the high school. It's like when we moved up to Quad-A. You can either worry about it, or just go out and play and forget about it."

Bell has also used some creative scheduling to make up for not having a home court. The Indians were in two tournaments and have played three games at Washington & Jefferson College, which is just down the road from the school. They have also had a game at Ringgold High, which is also close.

City showdown: There will be a Pittsburgh City League showdown Friday afternoon when Peabody, 13-1 overall and 8-0 in the league, plays at undefeated Schenley, 13-0, 8-0. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.

"Usually we've got a loss by this time," Schenley coach Fred Skrocki said last week. "It would be something if both and Peabody keep winning. It's been a long time since two teams with those kinds of records met in the City League."

Taking over: Montel Staples took over as head basketball coach at Duquesne High School this season after serving as Rich Moran's assistant coach for many years. Now, Staples is taking over as athletic director at least temporarily.

Staples is the interim AD at Duquesne. Tony Ruscitto, who had assumed the job this school year after Moran retired, has resigned. Staples' Dukes are 9-5 overall, 3-1 and tied with Monessen and OLSH for first place in Section 3-A.

Volleyball all-stars: The Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association has announced its Pennsylvania All-State team for the 1999 season.

Class AAA

First team: Mandi Altomari, Baldwin; Emily Churton, Mt. Lebanon; Amy Gnibus, Suquehannock; Danielle Hart, Martinsburg Central; Laura Heffner, Conestoga Valley; Alison Runk, Warwick; Jackie Hill, Susuehannock; Kaleena Walters, Mt. Lebanon; Jessica Rayburg, Valley; and Ashley Walton, Northeastern.

Second team: Jenn Barba, Meadville; Sarah Brown, Susquehannock; Melanie Bull, Susquehannock; Jamie Bunting, Upper St. Clair; Laura Campbell, Mt. Lebanon; Julie Davis, Allentown Allen; Jen DeWalt, Bethleham Freedom; Kim Glass, Conestoga Valley; Andrea Kastein, Mt. Lebanon; and Amanda Pfeifer, Ambridge.

Class AA

First team: Carli Dale, Cochranton; Amanda Dawson, Richland; Jenni Drake, Shannock Valley; Tabitha Eshleman, Greencastle; Sarah Gates, Delone Catholic; Stephanie Istvan, Richland; Lori Lyman, Conneaut Lake; Morgan McLaughlin, Richland; Megan Wolf, Reading Central Catholic; and Kim Zipf, Reading Holy Name.

Second team: Erin Braukus, Narivity; Sarah Brown, Pine Grove; Allia Caresani, Shannock Valley; Keturah Chambers, Farrell; Kristin Cuff, Nativity; Niki Decker, Reading Holy Name; Karen Gogal, Marian Catholic; Lyndsi Hughes, Grove City; Julie Lasher, Mountain View; Shannon McNeil, Reading Holy Name; Emily Morris, Canton; Jessica Niedermeyer, Conneaut Valley; Beth O'Conner, North Star; Tiffani Ribblett, Conemaugh Valley; and Alana Rykala, Conemaugh Valley.