High school football notebook: Quaker Valley is for real
September 23, 2013 4:00 AM
New Brighton players watch as Aliquippa's Troy Moon (9) fumbles the ball in the Quips' home game Friday against New Brighton. The ball was recovered by Aliquippa, which won, 43-0.
By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
They have been playing football at Quaker Valley for 58 seasons. But for the first time in decades, the Quakers are playing for "real."
At least that's what coach John Tortorea is telling his team after the Quakers are off to their best start in 30 years. Quaker Valley is 4-0 after defeating visiting Keystone Oaks, 52-0, Friday night at Chuck Knox Stadium.
Winning games with regularity in the fall is usually only something the Quaker Valley soccer teams do. The football program has been a doormat for many seasons. But what the Quakers' football team is doing so far has created a buzz in the district.
"This is my third season as coach and our message to the kids was they haven't really experienced 'real' high school football," Tortorea said. "Ninety-five percent of other schools experience the real excitement of Friday nights. But it was something here Friday night. We had a great student section. I didn't even know we had that many students in the school building. It was a packed house overall. It was an event. It wasn't just another football game in Leetsdale."
Quaker Valley was established in 1956, but the Quakers have made the WPIAL playoffs only four times. The most recent time was 1999.
The previous time Quaker Valley won their first four games was 1983, when Sam LoFaso was the coach and Mike Kolesar one of the star running backs. That team finished 10-2 and lost to Canevin, 11-7, in the WPIAL semifinals. At that time, Tortorea was a 10-year-old student at Immaculate Conception elementary school in Bloomfield.
Quaker Valley has yet to play the tough teams in the Class AA Century Conference and the combined record of their four opponents is 3-13. Still, 4-0 is reason to celebrate in Quaker Valley, no matter the opposition.
But the success isn't a total surprise to Tortorea.
"This is the first time we've been able to put just juniors and seniors on the field," Tortorea said. "Before, we were playing sophomores and freshmen. We were putting 14- and 15-year-olds on the field against 17- and 18-year-olds. Now, all of our skill-position players are juniors and our line is seniors. That helps.
"These kids have taken their lumps before. I keep telling everyone, these kids deserve what has happened to them this year and to enjoy it, but we really haven't played anyone yet."
Quaker Valley has received a little help the past two years from a cooperative sponsorship with Cornell, which folded its football program after the 2011 season. Quaker Valley has 47 players, including 10 from Cornell. Two Cornell players start -- quarterback Dane Jackson and receiver Blake Lipke. Jackson, a dual-threat quarterback, has been one of the main reasons the Quakers are averaging 43.8 points.
"He's something special," Tortorea said.
The perfect start
Kindhal Taylor has never thrown an incomplete pass in his entire career as a quarterback. Then again, his career as a quarterback has lasted only one game.
North Hills starting quarterback Jake Bruder suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the third game of the season and had surgery Thursday. So North Hills moved Taylor from receiver to quarterback. All Taylor did in his first start Friday was complete 9 of 9 passes for 114 yards in a 49-0 victory against Butler.
Taylor had never played quarterback his entire life, even in midget leagues.
Reservations for six
It's not known what the WPIAL or City League record is for most touchdown passes in the regular season. But in 2012, Thomas Jefferson's Joe Carroll threw 33, the most in at least the past 13 seasons.
In only four games this season, University Prep quarterback Ron Brown has 23 touchdown passes.
Check this out
• It is considered a pretty big accomplishment when a player rushes for 4,000 yards in his career. West Mifflin's Jimmy Wheeler might do it in two years. He has 3,272 yards the past two seasons. He has five games and most likely the playoffs left this season.
• Washington was successful in its first game without injured star running back Shai McKenzie (torn ACL). The Little Prexies defeated Yough, 35-13. But Washington has a real test Thursday at Jeannette (4-0). The game will be televised live by Root Sports.
• Beth-Center defeated Bentworth, 80-0, to become only the sixth team since 1952 to score 80 points in a WPIAL game.
• South Fayette leads the WPIAL in scoring at 54 points a game while Central Valley leads in defense at 1.5 points. South Fayette is averaging 27.8 points in the first quarter.