The Mars boys basketball team has made it to the big screen in a movie with actor Matt Damon. But the part with Mars senior guard Garrett Ashbaugh ended up on the cutting-room floor.
Mars' team has an appearance in the movie "Promised Land," which stars Damon and will be in theaters nationwide today. Part of the movie was filmed in the Alle-Kiski Valley area and Mars' team was asked to be in a basketball scene shot in May.
"We haven't seen it yet, but my grandparents already saw the movie in California," said Ashbaugh. "There are a couple scenes with us in the background playing basketball. We're not wearing our [Mars] uniforms. They gave us ones to wear."
But Ashbaugh's hopes of seeing himself in a speaking role in the movie have been dashed, er, edited.
"I guess it got cut out," Ashbaugh said with a laugh.
Ashbaugh actually was asked to have a two-word speaking role in the film.
"We were sitting on benches and Matt Damon was in the middle of the gym talking," Ashbaugh said. "I had to stand up and yell at him. It was pretty cool."
Although Ashbaugh said the scene was filmed nine or 10 times, it didn't make the movie.
So Hollywood will have to wait for Ashbaugh. But there is a consolation prize.
"My name is in the credits," he said.
And for a high school kid, Ashbaugh was shocked at what else he got for his part.
"They paid me $1,000 for one day, just to say two words," Ashbaugh said. "All of our other players got something like $100 a day. Because I got paid more I had to buy them all something to eat."
Smith status still uncertain
It is still uncertain whether Terry Smith will return as Gateway's football coach.
Last summer, the Gateway school board made Smith's athletic director job a part-time position and slashed his contract in half. The board also passed a resolution that, as of Dec. 31, a Gateway administrator cannot also have a supplemental contract. That meant Smith couldn't be athletic director and football coach.
But Smith said the board recently extended the deadline on the administrator/supplemental contract issue to June 30.
"It not only affects me, but two other people in the district, so that's why they extended the deadline," Smith said. "Things are still up in the air about what is going to happen with me."
Smith has been Gateway's coach since 2002 and has a 101-30 record in 11 seasons. He also has seven conference championships.
Plum job open
Plum recently opened its football coaching job, meaning Frank Sacco is out after four seasons. Sacco had a 10-28 record.
Two of the top football players in the WPIAL will play in national all-star games today and Saturday.
Central Valley receiver Robert Foster will play in the Under Armour All-American Game at 5 p.m. today in St. Petersburg, Fla. The game will be televised live by ESPN.
Clairton receiver-defensive back Tyler Boyd will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at 1 p.m. Saturday in San Antonio. The game will be televised live by NBC.
The Army game and the Under Armour game include top players around the country. Also, Gateway's Smith is an assistant coach in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, which will be played at 9 tonight in Carson, Calif. The game will be televised by the NFL Network.
QB-center NFL combo
Has there ever been an NFL game where a team's starting quarterback and center were from the WPIAL? It happened this past Sunday with the Oakland Raiders.
Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor got his first NFL start for the Raiders. The Raiders' starting center was Central Catholic graduate Stefen Wisniewski. There haven't been too many WPIAL players who have gone on to make the NFL as a center.
But get this: For much of the game, three WPIAL players were on the field for the Raiders offense. Former Thomas Jefferson offensive lineman Lucas Nix was active for the first time this season and saw considerable playing time in the Raiders' 24-21 loss to the Chargers.
Some fans in Pennsylvania complain about playoff game sites chosen by the WPIAL or PIAA. But imagine if a coin flip would determine the site of a game and the difference between the sites would be 300 miles.
That's exactly what happened in Georgia this football season when Camden County High School when a coin flip and got to host Norcross in a state football playoff game. For more than a decade, the Georgia High School Association has been using a coin flip to determined home field in playoff games where two teams have the same seeding from their region. Both Norcross and Camden County were 1 from their region.
Factoring in travel and lodging expenses, Norcross lost about $20,000 in the coin flip.