It’s time to thank Ambridge and the state of West Virginia.
While it might have delayed this week’s edition of 5 Things, it provided us with the most expanded Week Zero we’ve had.
Ambridge forgot to hire referees for Friday night’s game against McGuffey, which pushed the game to Saturday and the Highlanders still rolled, 41-6.
Week Zero didn’t end until Monday night, when West Greene hosted Cameron, W.Va. The game was pushed back to Monday so that it could count towards Cameron’s win-loss record for the season.
Without further adieu, here is what we learned from a busy Week Zero.
1. Dual-threat QB: Since transferring from Laurel Highlands, Zack Swartz has put a stranglehold on the Washington High School quarterback position.
He made sure to haunt his former school Friday night.
Swartz amassed 322 yards of offense and scored six touchdowns in a 48-21 win over the Mustangs.
His legs might be better at keeping defenses guessing than his accurate throwing arm. Swartz, a senior, ran for 120 yards and four touchdowns against the Laurel Highlands.
It’s a running ability that will likely have to continue after the Prexies lost running backs Dylan Asbury and Tayshawn Levy to injuries. The severity of both are unknown.
2. All aboard: The Mapletown bandwagon is on the road.
OK, too soon? Maybe.
But there is reason to celebrate for those in Greensboro. The Maples ended a 16-game losing streak with their 29-6 win over Avella in a nonconference game, the first of a home-and-home series that will continue in Week 8. That game will be a conference game.
It was the first win for Mapletown since Sept. 15, 2017, also against Avella.
The visiting Eagles were reportedly shorthanded after some players broke team rules and didn’t play for all or parts of the game.
But Mapletown put together a solid performance with its youth, starting three freshmen and four sophomores.
3. No need for panic: There wasn’t a sense of urgency from the South Fayette players as their families and friends casually made their way onto the field after Friday night’s 27-13 loss to Upper St. Clair.
For some wearing Kelly Green in the crowd and the press box, there was a sense of hesitancy.
It was the first time South Fayette had lost a regular-season game at its home field in eight seasons. The last lost the Lions had in the regular season at South Fayette was against Seton LaSalle in 2011. They did lose a home playoff game to New Castle in 2016.
In the last two years, Upper St. Clair has ended the Lions’ regular-season winning streak at 57 and home regular-season winning streak at 34.
The four interceptions for first-time starting quarterback Naman Alemada jump off the page but his performance wasn’t nearly as bad as that number indicates. One of Alemada’s interceptions went through the hands of his receiver. Another was a bang-bang play, where Charley Rossi was matched up against a bigger linebacker in tight space. The ball popped up and the bigger person won.
The other two interceptions – both by USC’s David Pantelis – came about because a good player made good plays. Pantelis baited Alemada into both interceptions, throws every quarterback making their first start at the varsity level would try to make.
Alemada threw 54 times and was without starting running back Drew Franklin in the second half, not ideal for making your first start.
He will be fine and so will South Fayette.
4. “Big 3” start fast: In a previous story I mentioned what I’m now calling the “Big 3.”
However, none of them is taller than 6-0.
That didn’t stop any of the three wide receivers from making one big play after another to start the season.
Peters Township’s Josh Casilli, South Fayette’s Charley Rossi and Washington’s Zahmere Robinson each enjoyed successful opening nights. The three combined to score five touchdowns Friday. Casilli had touchdowns of 8 and 38 yards in a 45-0 rout of Fox Chapel. Robinson scored from 39 and 41 yards out. Rossi had a 51-yard touchdown catch after corkscrewing a defensive back into the South Fayette turf.
Just sit back and enjoy when these three take the field on game day.
5. Running down history: West Greene’s Ben Jackson sits at No. 4 in all-time rushing yards in Greene County history.
After a 261-yard night, which included six touchdowns in a 61-20 win over Cameron (W.Va.), Jackson passed Carmichaels’ Rocky Doman on the list. Doman had 4,145 yards for the Mikes.
Entering a Week 1 Tri-County South Conference game against Bentworth, Jackson has 4,287 career rushing yards.
Those still ahead of him are Mapletown’s Derek Bochna (4,793) and Dylan Rush (5,762). The county’s all-time rushing leader is Rodney Wilson with 6,304 yards.