Thursday night football is returning to the WPIAL and Root Sports television. Root Sports, a cable station that airs Pirates and Penguins games, plans to televise Thursday night WPIAL games once again this season, after a one-year hiatus.
From 2005 through the 2010 season, Root Sports (formerly FSN) televised one WPIAL game on Thursday nights. Many of the telecasts were live in the first few years. But due to conflicts with Pirates and Penguins TV schedules, Root had to show many of the games in 2009 and 2010 on tape delay.
So last year, Root did not televise games on Thursday nights and instead televised games on Friday nights, whether live or on delay. But this September, the Pirates will be off two Thursdays and play afternoon games two other Thursdays. The Penguins will not have a Thursday preseason or regular-season game until Oct. 18.
Root Sports will release its Thursday night television schedule within the next week or so, but teams already have a Thursday night game on their schedules for Root Sports. A few of them are Montour at Central Valley (Sept. 6), Clairton at Monessen (Sept. 20) and Seneca Valley at Central Catholic (Sept. 27).
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt was born in Ross, and her father, Ralph, is a 1969 North Hills High School graduate.
Schmitt isn't the only U.S. Olympian with ties to North Hills. The parents of soccer player Kelley O'Hara were athletes at North Hills. Dan O'Hara was a 1979 North Hills graduate who was an all-conference defensive back and also played some at quarterback. Karen O'Hara, Dan's wife and Kelley's mother, is a 1980 North Hills graduate who was one of the top gymnasts on two state championship teams at North Hills. The O'Haras now live in Atlanta.
Nate Snodgrass thought the Naval Academy basketball program was right for him. But the military lifestyle wasn't.
Snodgrass, a standout point guard at Butler High School and a Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 selection this past season, accepted a scholarship this past week to Northern Kentucky, which is moving from NCAA Division II to I this season. Snodgrass had planned to play for Navy and left for the Naval Academy's "Plebe Summer" June 28. But he lasted only two weeks before returning home.
"It wasn't like it was too hard. It was just the whole thing," Snodgrass said. "It was about the whole wearing of a uniform, how you have to act, how you have to speak. The military just wasn't the right fit for me."
Snodgrass didn't attend classes at Navy, so he left without penalties from the Naval Academy or the NCAA. He will be eligible to play at Northern Kentucky this season. Northern Kentucky was a strong Division II program but will play in the Division I Atlantic Sun Conference, a 10-team league that also has East Tennessee State, Jacksonville and Stetson. Snodgrass also visited Wofford.
"[Northern Kentucky has] a senior point guard, but no one else. So I should be the backup point guard right away," Snodgrass said.
One of the saddest stories concerning a former WPIAL athlete came last month when Pete Sauer suddenly died while playing basketball in New York. Sauer was 35 and a former Post-Gazette Player of the Year for basketball. Sauer and Sto-Rox's Monty Latimer were named co-Player of the Year in 1995.
While Sauer had great individual accomplishments -- starting on an NCAA Final Four team at Stanford University -- he should always be remembered for what he did for Shady Side Academy athletics. Sauer helped put the Indians on the WPIAL map after the school joined the league in the early 1990s. In 1995, Sauer led Shady Side Academy to a PIAA championship. His brother, Alex, was a sophomore starting guard on that team.
Pete Sauer was a two-time member of the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5.
He was planning to move from New York back to the Pittsburgh area with his wife, Amanda, and their three daughters, ages 7, 6 and 4.
Friends and family members have set up a trust fund for the future education of Sauer's daughters. For information: www.sauerchildrentrust.org
Central Valley receiver Robert Foster, the highest-rated WPIAL football player in the class of 2013, narrowed his college choices to seven earlier this summer -- Pitt, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, USC and Oregon. Foster is rated the No. 16 player in the country by scout.com and No. 34 by rivals.com.
• The PIAA overturned an earlier WPIAL ruling and made J.J. Consentino eligible to play football at Central Catholic. Consentino, a junior quarterback, transferred from Kiski Area to Central Catholic, but was ruled ineligible by the WPIAL because the league claimed he transferred for athletic intent. But as often happens, the PIAA overturned the WPIAL ruling in July. Consentino is vying to become Central Catholic's starting quarterback. He was the starter at Kiski Area as a sophomore before he injureda knee.
• Malik Walker is back at Ambridge. Walker, a senior who led the Ambridge basketball team in scoring last season at 15.3 points, transferred to Lincoln Park after last season but has since returned to Ambridge.