Belle Vernon lineman commits to Pitt

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A trio of top WPIAL football players visited Pitt this weekend, and there was at least one photo on Twitter of the three players wearing Pitt jerseys inside the Panthers locker room.

One of the three decided he would like to wear Pitt's jersey for real next year.

Dorian Johnson, a highly-touted senior offensive tackle from Belle Vernon High School, made a verbal commitment Sunday to Pitt. The other two top uncommitted players from the WPIAL who also visited Pitt this weekend were Clairton receiver Tyler Boyd and Central Valley receiver Robert Foster.

Johnson is a big catch for coach Paul Chryst, and not just because he is 6 feet 6, 285 pounds. Johnson is ranked the No. 19 offensive lineman in the country by and Pitt beat out Ohio State and Virginia Tech to get him.

Johnson originally committed to Penn State this summer, but backed out of his commitment after Penn State was hit with NCAA sanctions.

"Pitt has always been a school that he's been very high on," Belle Vernon coach Aaron Krepps said. "I know it's a place he has liked for some time."

"He has the athletic ability and the strength. He has a heck of a punch, great feet and great hands. His potential is through the roof. I know with the type of work ethic he possesses, he's going to do everything he needs to do in order to have the opportunity to play early in his career [at Pitt]."

Heinz Field story lines

All four WPIAL football championships are Friday at Heinz Field, and it is a day filled with historical story lines.

Everyone from players to coaches to teams have opportunities to reach notable achievements. Ever since the WPIAL started playing all four championships in one day in 1986, it's hard to believe there has been a "four pack" with such historical potential.


• Clairton has won 59 games in a row and has a chance to break the state record for the longest winning streak in the Class A final against Sto-Rox. Central Bucks West won 59 in a row from 1997-2000. Clairton also has a chance to become only the second WPIAL team to win five consecutive championships. Braddock won six in a row, including one co-championship, from 1954-59.

• North Allegheny is trying to become the first team to win three consecutive Class AAAA championships since the classification was formed in 1980. North Allegheny plays Woodland Hills.

• Woodland Hills coach George Novak could become only the second coach in WPIAL history to win seven championships. Novak won one at Steel Valley and has five at Woodland Hills. The only other coach with seven titles is Phil Bridenbaugh, who coached New Castle from 1924-49. Bridenbaugh's total includes one co-championship. The other WPIAL coaches with six championships are Art Walker (five at Mt. Lebanon, one at Shady Side Academy) and Chuck Klausing, who won six at Braddock, including one co-championship, in the 1950s.

• West Allegheny coach Bob Palko and Clairton coach Tom Nola could become only the fifth and sixth coaches to win six WPIAL titles. West Allegheny plays West Mifflin in the Class AAA final.

• Aliquippa has a chance to add to its batch of WPIAL championships. The Quips have 14 titles, the most in WPIAL history, and play Washington in the Class AA championship.

• Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac and North Allegheny coach Art Walker, son of the former Mt. Lebanon and Shady Side Academy coach, each have a chance to join the select group of coaches who have five championships.

• Clairton's Tyler Boyd has a chance to break the WPIAL career record for most touchdowns. Boyd has 107, three behind former Hopewell star Rushel Shell, who had 110 from 2008-11.

• Washington's Shai McKenzie has a chance to break what is believed to be the single-season rushing record. Shell had 2,740 yards as a sophomore in '09. McKenzie has 2,656 and has rushed for 200 yards or more in 10 of 12 games.

Week-to-week change

What a difference a week made for Upper St. Clair. The Panthers went from one end to the other in terms of notable playoff scores.

In the Class AAAA quarterfinals, Upper St. Clair smashed Central Catholic, 38-0. It was the worst WPIAL playoff loss for Central Catholic since it joined the league in the 1970s.

Then Upper St. Clair was clobbered by Woodland Hills, 42-20, in the semifinals. It tied for the second-most points scored on Upper St. Clair in a playoff game since Jim Render became coach in 1979.

Quips uprising

Aliquippa has played 92 WPIAL playoff games, and the first was in 1942. The most recent was like no other in Aliquippa history.

Aliquippa's 56-0 victory against Jeannette in the Class AA semifinals was the highest point total for Aliquippa in a WPIAL playoff game. It bettered the 54 points Aliquippa scored against Union in 2003.

Aliquippa will play in a title game for the 23rd time in school history and the 18th since 1980.

End of the Killer B's

Seneca Valley's loss to North Allegheny Friday not only ended the season for the Raiders, but also ended the career of one of the most dynamic duos -- at least statistically -- in recent WPIAL history. Seneca Valley quarterback Jordan Brown and running back Forrest Barnes finished their careers with a combined 11,023 yards of offense.

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