Casey Zajicek scores in California's WPIAL Class A championship victory against Carmichael this week.
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Winning a WPIAL title with an undefeated record put the California baseball team into some elite company. Now comes the really hard task that has never been completed by any team.
The PIAA playoffs start Monday and California takes a 20-0 record into a Class A first-round game. Since the PIAA playoffs started in 1977, no WPIAL team has gone on to win a PIAA title with an undefeated record.
California is only the sixth team to win a WPIAL title with a perfect record since the WPIAL went to more than one classification in 1979. The others were Freeport in 1979, Canevin in 1993, West Allegheny in 2007, Elizabeth Forward in 2011 and South Park in 2013.
Not one of those undefeated teams made it to the PIAA championship.
"I just think [being undefeated] makes this all the more special. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said Josh Luko, the ace pitcher who has a 10-0 record.
But coach Nick Damico is trying not to make a big deal out of the undefeated record.
"I don't really think about it," he said. "I'm sure the kids think about it. Being undefeated might add a little more pressure.
"We're just going to do the same things we've always done. We'll focus on defense and pitching first. Offense is a bonus. We want our offense to do well, obviously, but sometimes the offense is not there."
Camp for linemen
There are a number of camps for high school football players. But one at West Allegheny High School next weekend seems unique.
"We might be the only camp just for offensive linemen," said James Moore.
Moore is one of the camp coordinators of the Joe Moore O-Line Camp, named after Moore's father, who was a revered offensive line coach at Pitt and Notre Dame. The camp runs Saturday and Sunday.
This is the fourth year of the camp, which includes some big-name staff members. More than 100 players are expected, just to learn more about being an offensive lineman.
Players will learn from a number of former NFL players and even current NFL assistants. Russ Grimm, former Pitt offensive lineman and Pro Football Hall of Fame member, is the director this year. Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and other NFL assistants, including Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, also will wok the camp along with former NFL players, including Jimbo Covert and Greg Meisner, and WPIAL coaches Bob Palko of West Allegheny and Bill Cherpak of Thomas Jefferson.
"The staff is unbelievable and we think we have a pretty unique thing going," James Moore said.
The camp is open to any high school player. For more information, call 412-818-2862 or go to www.joemooreolinecamp.com.
The WPIAL held its boys and girls lacrosse championships at Highmark Stadium on the South Side for the first time May 22-23 and the games drew nice crowds.
The games were played as doubleheaders both nights. Attendance for the girls doubleheader was a little more than 900. The boys doubleheader drew more than 1,700. It's hard to compare crowds at the lacrosse championships to those at the soccer championships because soccer has six games (boys and girls) compared to four in lacrosse. But the four lacrosse games definitely outdraw four soccer championships.
Lacrosse is growing in the WPIAL. For example, there were nine more boys teams compared to two years ago.
"We were extremely pleased at the crowds [at the lacrosse championships]," said WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley. "I would say interest is definitely growing in the sport."
Beaver Falls basketball player Elijah Cottrill will attend Polk, a junior college in Florida.
Cottrill is a 6-foot-2 guard who missed most of his senior season with a knee injury, but was good enough to make the Pittsburg Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 as a junior. Polk is coached by former Robert Morris coach Matt Furjanic.
Former Beaver Falls star Lance Jeter also played at Polk before playing at the University of Nebraska. Pitt recruit Sheldon Jeter, who also played at Beaver Falls, took classes this school year at Polk.
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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