South Allegheny was in a rush to win its season opener.
The Gladiators showed that by producing a huge rushing performance in a 40-24 win at Sto-Rox in a Class AA Century Conference game last Friday. The Gladiators ran for 443 yards against a Sto-Rox squad playing its first game in Class AA after making it to the WPIAL Class A title game the past two seasons.
Seventh-year Gladiators coach Pat Monroe was very complimentary of two of his senior running backs prior to the season, and both responded with big efforts. Curtis Moore had a monster performance, rushing for 210 yards and six touchdowns. DaVonte Johnson added 132 yards. They ran behind an offensive line that includes three-year starters Zack Young and Seth Hitchens.
"[Moore and Johnson] did well, but so did our offensive line," Monroe said. "With all due respect, Sto-Rox is a younger team. [Their] coaches took over in July. [Coach Jason Ruscitto] has a lot of young guys up front. We did what we had to do against them. But you have to put that game into perspective."
Moore, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury, scored on touchdown runs of 5, 12, 34, 48, 8 and 35 yards.
"He's potentially as good as anyone out there at the high school level," Monroe said. "He has all the attributes. He's big enough. He's 6 feet. He's a hard runner with good open-field ability. He's just a tremendous back."
South Allegheny has a big test Friday when it plays host to Seton-LaSalle, which won its opening game against Century Conference foe South Park, 19-8. Seton-LaSalle is ranked No. 3.
"We know what they have," Monroe said. "They're strong. They're big. They're disciplined. They have every aspect covered. You're going to have nothing given to you. We're going to have to fight for every yard."
McKeesport back breaks out
Khaleke Hudson rushed for 191 yards a season ago.
It took Hudson just one game this season to nearly double that number.
Hudson, a fullback/wingback in McKeesport's flexbone offense, ran for 346 yards and five touchdowns in leading the Tigers to a 36-7 victory against visiting Connellsville last Friday. No WPIAL player rushed for more yards in Week 1 than Hudson, who did his damage on just 16 carries. That's an average of 21.6 yards per carry. Three of his scoring runs went for more than 50 yards.
"I feel that I had to do whatever I could to help the team win," Hudson said. "It was a good feeling out there knowing my performance was good, but all that matters is the 'W.'"
Hudson (6 feet, 202 pounds) is one of the most highly recruited juniors in the WPIAL. Schools are recruiting him as a safety, but Hudson believes interest in him as a running back could be picking up soon. Pitt and West Virginia are among the schools to offer him thus far. Hudson said Penn State is his favorite, however. Penn State has not offered, but Hudson expects them to soon.
Hudson will go head-to-head with a Pitt recruit when McKeesport travels to take on Altoona in a Class AAAA Foothills Conference game Friday. Altoona features senior fullback/linebacker Kevin Givens.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Ringgold's prospects this season, but a 49-6 opening-week loss at Thomas Jefferson might have put a damper on some of the enthusiasm. The loss didn't do anything to squelch the expectations of Ringgold's coach, though, who said the Rams will be eager to go Friday when they play host to Uniontown.
"I told the kids out there the last thing we're going to do is panic. I still feel like we have a good football team," Nick Milchovich said.
Ringgold had little success slowing down Austin Kemp and Thomas Jefferson's wildcat offense. Kemp, a running back, took direct snaps and had a career night against the Rams, running for 249 yards and four touchdowns. Kemp even threw a touchdown pass. TJ's bruising offensive line helped the Jaguars rush for 391 yards.
The Ringgold offense struggled mightily moving the ball against a Thomas Jefferson defense that was more physical and didn't give the Rams room to do much of anything.
In addition, some long, sustained drives by the Thomas Jefferson offense kept the Ringgold offense off the field for extended periods of time. Quarterback Nico Law was 6 of 12 for 111 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for minus-10 yards on seven carries. Running back Chacar Berry was held to 52 yards.