District notebook: IUP reaps big harvest in football recruiting

8 from WPIAL, City head 15-player class

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Recruiting is often a matter of the "victor getting the spoils," and that certainly is the case when it comes to IUP's football recruiting class.

The Crimson Hawks, who won the PSAC last year and advanced to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals, put together a strong class of 15 players and, perhaps more important, did well in Western Pennsylvania where they signed eight players.

IUP coach Curt Cignetti said that he wants to continue to make Western Pennsylvania the program's top priority in recruiting and said he believes it is necessary to have long-term success.

"I'm extremely excited about this class, all 15 of them, and what they mean to our future as a program," Cignetti said. "But I'm especially excited about the number of players we signed from Western Pennsylvania as that is our home base, our lifeblood and it is where we want to be very strong.

"I think the tradition of the WPIAL and the schools and the programs there speaks for itself, and now we need to continue to make strong connections there and make sure we can get the best players possible from that area.

"Recruiting and development is what makes a program -- you have to find good players, and we believe we have -- and coach them up, and that process with these guys is just beginning."

IUP's eight WPIAL/City League players are running back Darian Bradley (Beaver), wide receiver-defensive back Chaz Cheatham (Valley), defensive end Jordan Diven (West Allegheny), tight end Kevin Edwards (North Allegheny), running back Patrick Ferguson (Allderdice), tight end Collin Jackson (Pine-Richland), fullback-linebacker Rex Pearce (Elizabeth Forward) and quarterback Ed Stockett (McKeesport).

A big jump

Shippensburg, which lost to IUP in the PSAC football title game, had one of the best offenses in the nation.

The Red Raiders' eye-popping statistics apparently caught some people's attention in a big way.

So much so that offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich, was hired for the same job with Oklahoma State.

Shippensburg broke or tied 73 school offensive records last season and ranked No. 1 in the nation in total offense (529.92 per game), second in passing offense (387.69 per game) and second in scoring offense (46.85 points per game).

Calling all alums

Thiel basketball -- both the men's and women's teams -- will play host to an alumni day Feb. 16 and has invited all former players to attend the teams' home games against Grove City that day.

The focus will be on recognizing all members of the 1,000-point club in attendance, but every former player is welcome to attend and connect with the current teams and staff.

"We're proud to follow in the footsteps of the many alumni that have built the Tomcats men's basketball program," seventh-year head coach Tim Loomis said.

"Every year, we try to honor the past while looking forward to an exciting future. I encourage all former players to return to campus to help us salute the founding fathers of Tomcats basketball."

Diving in

One of the best things about some Olympic sports is that small-college athletes can participate against Division I teams.

Which brings up Clarion's senior diver, Justin Duncan, a six-time Division II All-American who won the one-meter and three-meter events last weekend at the Pitt Invitational.

Duncan beat Pitt's Aaron Snyder in the one-meter, and that's significant because Snyder is one of the best divers in the Big East -- he finished second at the Big East championships in that event last season.

Not surprising, Duncan was named the PSAC men's swimming athlete of the week.

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Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com and Twitter @paulzeise.


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