High school football notebook: Coach honors slain lineman
November 3, 2013 11:03 PM
University Prep head coach Lou Berry, wearing the uniform of slain player Ne'Ondre Harbour, celebrates with his team after defeating Allderdice in the City League Championship at Cupples Stadium Saturday.
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Some high school football coaches wear polo shirts on the sideline in games. Some might wear a jacket or another shirt with the team name on it.
University Prep coach Lou Berry wears a team jersey, but it's one with special significance.
Berry wears the No. 50 jersey of former University Prep standout lineman Ne'Ondre Harbour, who was shot and killed in October 2012 in Garfield. Police said Harbour wasn't involved in a dispute that led to the shooting. Harbour would have been a senior this season.
More than a year later, Harbour isn't forgotten on University Prep's team. Berry makes sure of it. He has worn the jersey at every game since Harbour died. After University Prep won its second City League championship in three years Saturday, Berry proudly stuck out his chest.
"This young man who is no longer with us would have played [Saturday]," Berry said, pointing toward the No. 50 on the jersey. "Every day we talk about him at practice. We wanted to win this championship for him and his family."
Berry will continue to wear Harbour's jersey in the PIAA playoffs. University Prep will play in a Class AAA regional game Friday at Cupples Stadium on the South Side.
"I'll probably put this away next year," Berry said of the jersey. "But it's in honor of him because he would've been with us for three straight years and played in three of these championship games."
Two for 300
The WPIAL Class AAA first-round playoff game between Moon and West Mifflin was one for the ages and not just because of the 47-42 score.
West Mifflin's Jimmy Wheeler rushed for 359 yards to help his team to the win, and Moon's Cole Blake rushed for 309 yards. It is believed to be the first time two running backs have rushed for more than 300 yards in a WPIAL game.
Scoring is up
Scoring has been on the rise in the WPIAL for the past five seasons or so, and the first round of the playoffs continued the trend. It was the second-highest scoring first round since the WPIAL started taking 16 teams to the playoffs in every classification in 1998.
* The average point total of the 32 winning teams was 37.9, which is second to the 38.1 by the winning teams in 2011. A year ago, the winning teams averaged 37.6.
* The eight winning teams in Class AA averaged 43.9 points, the most by one classification in the first round. Class A teams averaged 43 points in 2011.
* Four teams scored 50 points or more, which ties for the second-highest mark since 1998. Seven teams scored 50 or more in 2011 and four teams also scored 50 or more in 2012.
The Class AA Allegheny Conference and the Class A Tri-County South took it on the chin again in the playoffs. Both conferences went 0-4.
It continues a bad trend for both conferences. It is the third consecutive year the Tri-County South has gone winless in the first round and the Tri-County South's record in first-round games is 5-23 since 2007.
Meanwhile, the Allegheny Conference is 1-11 in first-round games the past three years. This season, the Allegheny's top two teams -- Kittanning and Shady Side Academy -- gave up 57 and 42 points.
More playoff numbers
* Are there too many teams in the WPIAL playoffs? That's always a subject of debate. But consider this: The No. 15 and 16 seeds in all four classes were outscored, 327-36.
* The No. 15 and 16 seeds in Class AAA -- Hollidaysburg and Hampton -- had five first downs and 65 yards between them in their two losses.
* The 99 points scored when Yough beat Kittanning, 57-42, was the third-highest total in one playoff game in WPIAL history. All three of the top scoring games have been in the past seven seasons. Jeannette beat Aliquippa, 70-48, in 2007. New Castle beat Indiana, 55-49, in 2008.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.
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