If you see Mars football coach Scott Heinauer take a quick peak at his cell phone during the Planets' game tonight, it will be a simple case of scoreboard watching -- and keeping track of his son.
Heinauer's team has made it to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals against Montour. His son, Danny, is a two-way starting lineman for North Hills, which plays Woodland Hills in a Class AAAA semifinal.
Scott Heinauer has endured many nights like this before. His oldest son, Justin, was North Hills' starting quarterback a few years ago. Danny Heinauer is in his third season as a starting lineman. But this unquestionably will be the hardest night to deal with for the elder Heinauer because never has so much been at stake for Mars and North Hills ... on the same night. And he can't be there to watch his son.
"It's a difficult night because I'd like to see him play at least one more time and, of course, we want to win," Scott Heinauer said. "Only three things can happen. One of us can make it to the championship, neither of us could make it, or we both could make it."
Heinauer has friends who send North Hills updates to his cell phone by way of text messages. He tries not to peak at his phone until halftime of Mars games -- unless his team is winning handily.
"I don't think I can be looking at my cell phone in this game, not until halftime," Heinauer said, with a laugh. "I'm usually too focused on what's going on in our game, but way in the back of my mind I wonder how [Danny] is doing."
Scott Heinauer, who also is Mars' athletic director, saw his son play only once this year, in the regular-season finale against North Allegheny. Dad wanted to attend the game, so months before he asked Mars school officials if the Mars-Knoch game could be moved to the following night. They agreed.
Last Friday, Mars' playoff game against West Allegheny ended before North Hills' game against Upper St. Clair. Heinauer was able to get a North Hills friend on a cell phone and got a play-by-play description of the final few minutes of North Hills' 16-14 win.
"If North Hills could win tonight, and Mars could win, that would be a great thing," Heinauer said.
Then Mars and North Hills would play in back-to-back championship games at Heinz Field.
Some of Clairton's statistics are downright astonishing.
• Clairton has played in nine playoff games the past two seasons (WPIAL and PIAA) and allowed only three touchdowns in those games.
• The Bears have returned five interceptions for touchdowns this season. Last week against Bishop Canevin, Josh Page intercepted three passes in one quarter and four in the game.
• Clairton is close to Jeannette's record scoring pace of three seasons ago when Terrelle Pryor was a senior. In 2007, Jeannette set a state scoring record with 860 points in 16 games. After 11 games, the Jayhawks had scored 604 points. After 11 games, Clairton has 572.
It didn't get much attention last week, but North Allegheny running back Alex Papson reached an impressive milestone when he surpassed 4,000 yards rushing for his career.
Papson, a senior, has 4,220 yards on 549 carries, and he is only the sixth Class AAAA running back to reach 4,000 yards. Two of the others made it to the NFL -- on defense. Gateway's Justin King (a defensive back with the St. Louis Rams) had 4,519 yards, while North Hills' LaVar Arrington (played linebacker with the Washington Redskins and New York Giants) had 4,357.
The other three Class AAAA running backs to reach 4,000 yards were Penn-Trafford's Matt Gavrish (6,512), Connellsville's Marcus Furman (5,041) and Central Catholic's Eugene Jarvis (4,301).
• FSN Pittsburgh is televising the North Hills-Woodland Hills game tonight, and it will be shown on tape delay at 10:30.
Comcast is televising the North Allegheny-Central Catholic game, and it will be shown Saturday on the FYI Channel at 7 p.m., and also will be available "On Demand."
• Hopewell's Rushel Shell finished his junior year with 17 200-yard rushing games for his career. Shell will head into his senior year with 6,766 yards on 796 carries. He needs only 880 yards to reach the WPIAL record of 7,646 yards, held by Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo.
• Steelton-Highspire running back Clayton McNair, who had brain surgery last weekend after collapsing in a game, is improving and was expected to be released from the hospital by late this week, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News. McNair had surgery to release pressure on his brain. He rushed for 188 yards and four touchdowns in a game before collapsing. He was unconscious for 25 minutes.
Another boy is making waves on a girls' field hockey team. Wyoming Seminary has reached the PIAA Class AA semifinals, and its best player was a male exchange student from Germany.
Cornelius Tietze, who played on the men's national team in Germany, has been dominating play for Wyoming Seminary. He had two goals and two assists in a 4-3 first-round PIAA win against Donegal, and three goals in a 4-2 quarterfinal win against Villa Maria.
"When you have someone who can finish like that, I don't care if you're a boy or a girl, that's a weapon," Villa Maria coach Jess Shellenberger said in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal New Era. "He has a ton of power on the ball and, even if your keeper's in the right spot, it's going to take a solid save to turn him away. He was the difference in that aspect."