Billy Kisner decided not to run track this past spring. No problem. He simply waited until football season to get in his sprinting.
In the first two weeks of the season, Kisner has been running all over the field. He has had two games of rushing for more than 200 yards and is the fifth-leading rusher in the WPIAL with 420 yards on 35 carries.
Now get this: Kisner is a quarterback.
And he's only a sophomore.
"He played up last year [on the varsity] as a freshman and he was probably our best slot receiver," Penn Hills coach John Peterman said. "But he was a quarterback, too. We knew what we were going to have this year."
Kisner has flourished in Penn Hills' new "jet/fly sweep offense." The offense was put in by Peterman (second-year coach) and Joe Noll, who became Penn Hills' offensive coordinator this year. Peterman said Noll used the offense when he was the offensive coordinator at Springdale under Chuck Wagner.
When asked to describe the offense, Peterman laughed and said, "I don't want to give too much away. But you could say it's comparable to the triple-option offense, but it starts with a 'jet' [man in motion]. I think it suits our skill level well."
Kisner (5 feet 10, 180 pounds) ran for 216 yards in the season opener against Canon-McMillan and then 204 in the second game against Peters Township. Penn Hills actually had two 200-yard rushers in the Peters Township game as Isaiah Jones (5-10, 170) had 213 yards. Having two players run for 200 yards is highly unusual.
In two games, Kisner and Jones are averaging 14.1 yards a carry. Kisner, though, is only 2 of 11 throwing in two games.
"To be honest, I expected [Kisner] to play well," Peterman said. "What he has done hasn't surprised me. Maybe the amount of yards [rushing] is a little surprising. But if you start worrying about the quarterback, we have some other guys who can run."
The running game has led to a resurgence of sorts for Penn Hills (2-0). Last year, the Indians finished 3-6 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1997. The Indians are young, starting only two seniors on offense and four on defense.
"Being a team that broke a string of playoff appearances, we implemented a whole new program," Peterman said. "But I'm from this program. I played here. What we also tried to do is use some of the old traditions of this program. One thing I will say: These kids are buying in to everything the coaching staff is selling them."
Upon further review ...
A re-check of the statistics with the Post-Gazette and Sto-Rox shows that quarterback Lenny Williams is much closer to the WPIAL passing record than originally thought.
Williams, a senior, headed into Thursday night's game against Neshannock with 6,363 career yards. The WPIAL record is 7,162, held by 2011 South Fayette graduate Christian Brumbaugh.
Williams passed for 1,385 yards as a freshman, 2,177 as a sophomore, 2,237 as a junior and had 564 yards the first two games of this year.
Williams also has a good shot at another WPIAL passing record. Brumbaugh threw for 88 touchdowns during his career. Williams headed into the Neshannock game with 76 touchdown passes.
Three for the Raiders
You'd be hard-pressed to find how many times -- if ever -- an NFL team had three starters from the WPIAL on one side of the ball (offense or defense). But it happened this past Sunday.
When the Oakland Raiders offense took the field against the Indianapolis Colts, the Raiders had a trio of starters from the WPIAL -- quarterback Terrelle Pryor (Jeannette), center Stefen Wisniewski (Central Catholic) and tackle Lucas Nix (Thomas Jefferson).
The three played together once last year for a game when Nix was activated late in the season. But they didn't all start.
McKenzie moves up
Washington's Shai McKenize became his school's all-time leading rusher last week, but he also moved up to 21st on the WPIAL list with 4,658 yards. With seven games and likely the WPIAL playoffs still left this season, McKenzie seemingly has a decent chance of becoming only the sixth WPIAL player to rush for 6,000 yards.
Hopewell's Rushel Shell (2012 graduate) leads with 9,078 yards. Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo (2000 graduate) had 7,646, Penn-Trafford's Matt Gavrish (1998) had 6,512 and West Greene's Rodney Wilson (1994) had 6,304.
Top 10 material
After a 2-0 start, Clairton needs only one more victory tonight against California to move into the top 10 winning streaks in U.S. high school football history.
Clairton has won 65 games in a row. The 10th longest winning streak is 66, set by St. Mary's-Colgan (Kan.) from 1999-2004. If Clairton goes undefeated through the regular season, it will have a 72-game winning streak, which ties for sixth.
You can watch Clairton try to extend the streak tonight. The game will be televised live statewide by PCN.
On-field attack investigated
Police might file charges against a player from eastern Pennsylvania after an incident during a high school football game last week between Annville-Cleona and Hamburg.
According to a report on WGAL TV in Lancaster, South Annville Township police are considering pressing charges against Hamburg quarterback Joey Cominsky for his actions during the incident. Video replays show Cominsky ripping the helmet off Annville-Cleona's Josh Hartman and then using the helmet to hit Hartman in the head.
Hartman was able to re-enter the game later.
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org