West Xtra: OLSH's Neely posts big numbers
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High school football is a sport prone to outlier offensive statistics, be it hundreds of yards on the ground from running backs, video game-like numbers from a quarterback or a multiple-touchdown game from a wide receiver.
The WPIAL, obviously, is no exception and last Friday provided enough evidence of that reality as Our Lady of the Sacred Heart's 42-26 win at home against Western Beaver saw two running backs account for an astonishing total of 544 rushing yards between them.
OLSH running back Isiah Neely went off for 310 yards -- the second-highest rushing total in the WPIAL last week, behind only Jim Wheeler's 342 yards for West Mifflin -- and Western Beaver's Zach Perry, not to be entirely outdone, ran for 223 yards of his own.
The pair also combined for seven touchdowns (five for Neely, two for Perry), with all five of Neely's touchdowns going for 25 yards or more, including three that went at least 60 yards.
Chargers coach Bill Daniels said the game was a sign of things to come from Neely, although maybe not to the extreme of rushing for more than 300 yards per game.
"I think it is ... I hope it is," Daniels said of Neely's performance. "We made some changes in the offensive line that worked.
"I think Isiah was disappointed with our team's overall performance against Union [a 20-6 loss on Aug. 31]. He had a determination that that didn't happen again. He runs hard and he does that on a consistent basis."
At least as far as his defense is concerned, Daniels is keeping his fingers crossed that the game was something of an anomaly.
"I haven't seen any games like that and I hope I don't have to again," he said.
Strangely enough, the Chargers' win over the Golden Beavers was not the only game in the region featuring two running backs with incredibly strong days.
In Blackhawk's 26-21 victory against Moon Area, running backs Anthony Colaianni and Cole Chiappialle combined for 355 yards (178 for Colaianni and 177 for Chiappialle). Chiappialle scored three touchdowns for Blackhawk -- two rushing, one receiving -- and Moon's Colaianni recorded one touchdown.
With the team's starting quarterback and most potent ground-gainer -- Tory Delmonico -- sidelined with an ankle injury, West Allegheny needed someone to step up and compensate for the absence of one of its stars.
It was a call answered by not one, but two of the Indians' rushers, as running backs Chayse Dillon and Armonde Dellovade each ran for more than 100 yards in their team's convincing 24-7 win against Ambridge Area last Friday.
On 13 carries, Dillon amassed 152 rushing yards and also scored on two touchdown runs, one of which went for 74 yards. Dellovade, a sophomore, rushed for 102 yards on just six carries.
The possible emergence of a backfield with two marquee rushers could be excellent news for the No. 5 Indians in their quest for a Class AAA title in 2012.
West Allegheny's win against Ambridge kept the team undefeated on the young season and it will hope to maintain its unblemished record as it travels to Moon Friday in what will be its first road game of the year.
Arguably no WPIAL program suffered a bigger or more significant loss to its roster this past offseason than Hopewell, which had to replace stud running back Rushel Shell.
Thus far, his absence has been felt strongly as the Vikings are off to an 0-2 start that has seen them get outscored, 68-41. It marks the first time since 1993 that Hopewell has dropped its first two games of the season.
Shell, now a running back at Pitt, left an indelible impact on the Vikings' program in his time there. He was the team's leading rusher in each of his four seasons and he left the school with career rushing totals of 9,078 yards (a state record) and 110 touchdowns. Last season, with Shell leading the way, Hopewell averaged about 30 points per game, a statistic down nearly 10 points through the first two games.
All is not lost in the Vikings' backfield, though, as senior Adam Murray rushed for 146 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-33 loss to Chartiers Valley. More performances like that will need to come from Murray and others in order for Hopewell, which went 12-1 as recently as 2009, to bounce back from a tough start.