Last night's high school football games went full force into the final moments of the games, unlike past weeks when the local teams' fates were pretty much decided shortly after half time.


Someone once said, “You’re never as good as you think you are when you’re playing well and you’re not as bad as they think you are when you’re playing poorly.” Let’s just hope that is the situation following the Northgate Flames football team’s second overwhelming loss of the season last Friday at Steel Valley.

The Flames were powerless in stopping Steel Valley’s ground game, which accumulated 316 yards. They picked up their second consecutive defeat as they were pounded by the Ironmen 47-19.


After what Avonworth varsity football head coach Jason Kekseo called a "great week of practice," the 'Lopes found themselves in a back-and fourth-battle last week against the Neshannock Lancers.

The first half of the non-section game was close. It wasn't until late in the third quarter that the 'Lopes took control of the game.

Avonworth did, however, win its first away game of the season 34-19, advancing to 2-0 overall on the year.


Both local varsity football teams took to the road Friday night, where they ended up in some high-scoring games.

The numbers worked in favor of the Avonworth Antelopes, who brought home a 34-19 win over Neshannock. Antelope stand-out Jimmy Zubik scored three touchdowns and pulled down an interception, while teammmate Eddie Kurtz returned a fumble recovery for another touchdown. Quarterback Tom Turnbull added another TD to the scoreboard. Defensively, Ryan Schmid and Andrew Niklaus had interceptions for the 'Lopes.


Big crowds helped kick off the local varsity football season under Friday night's full moon.

Defending conference champs Avonworth Antelopes proved that the loss of a dozen seniors wasn't going to make a difference in their ability to win games. In a nonsection game, the 'Lopes held Western Beaver scoreless. Jimmy Zubik picked up 160 yards and two touchdowns, with the third added by Eddie Kurtz. On defense, both Ryan Schmid and Andrew Niklaus had interceptions.

Final score: Avonworth 19, Western Beaver 0


After going 1-8 last season, the Northgate Flames varsity football team is determined to play hard until the final whistle of every game this year, something head coach Mike Pipak said the team had trouble with last fall.

Pipak, who is in his third season as head coach, said the Flames had a chance to win a lot of the games in the 2008 season, but the team was worn down and fell apart in the third quarter.

"We are emphasizing on finishing games," he said.

The Flames’ schedule will not make the season any easier though, as Pipak noted the difficulty of the section.


"Whatever it takes."

That's the motto this year for an Avonworth varsity football team that has a lot to live up to.

The starting line-ups for this year's 'Lopes will not look anything like last year's 11-1 section winning team. Jason Kekseo, who is in his fifth season as head coach, said that he had to replace all 11 starters on the defensive side of the ball, and eight players on offense.


Avonworth School District administrators were flooded with some 90 resumes after posting a job opening for an athletic director. That number first was cut down to 15, then down to three. Eventually there was only one candidate for the job.

The school board unanimously voted to hire Earl Chet Fuhrman as athletic director, replacing Greg Wagner, who resigned July 31.

“We were really impressed with his motivation, his exuberance for the job,” superintendent Dr. Valerie McDonald said at the board’s work session on Monday.


A quote from Confucius tells us, "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."

It is a philosophy with which Dean Smith of Ben Avon wholeheartedly agrees, and he stands as a living example of its truth.

"My hobby and my life's passion is my job," he says.

Especially during the last five months, which is how long it's been since Smith opened his martial arts school, the Dojo, on North Balph Avenue in Bellevue.


An Avonworth High School graduate is part of Westminster College's swimming and diving recruiting class of 2009.

Carolyn Swarlis, daughter of Paul and Teresa Swarlis, will swim for Westminster's team next year.

As part of the combined Northgate/Avon-worth swim teams, Swarlis competed with three relay squads that set school records, the 200 and 400 meter freestyle and the 200 medley teams. She also set the individual school record in the 100 freestyle.

She earned high honors at Avonworth, and earned the Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete Award.


An area youth recently placed first in the 7-8 year-old category in the pitch, hit and run competition at PNC Park.

To qualify for the championship, Turner Grau had to win at the local level preliminaries at Pine-Richland, and at sectionals at Springdale. In the finals at PNC, he went up against three other sectional winners from Western Pennsylvania. Athletes compiled points in each of the three categories to determine the winner.


The Northgate School Board voted earlier this week to allow a “Girls Little Hoopers” camp to be held at the middle-senior high school.

The board voted unanimously at its work session on June 8 to authorize the camp to be held June 15-17, from 9 a.m. until noon.


A coaching dynasty may be in the making at Northgate, as the current middle school football coach’s son is expected to take over his dad’s position next fall.

David Haslett Sr. recently resigned both his coaching position and his job with the district’s buildings and grounds department to accept another job outside Northgate.

Northgate School Board athletic committee chairman David Natale said that Haslett’s son, David Haslett Jr., is the recommended candidate for his father’s coaching job.


The Avonworth girls' basketball team will have familiar face coaching from the bench next season.

The board announced that Bob Schulz would return as the varsity girls' head basketball coach for the 2009-10 school year.

The longtime coach retired two years ago, turning over the reins to former Lady ‘Lope and assistant coach Julie Moehring. Moehring announced her resignation at the end of the 2008-09 season, citing a need to devote time to other areas of her life.


Avonworth’s varsity baseball head coach Phil Coffin learned last week that the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association had selected him as Class A “Coach of the Year.”

The first-year coach received the honor based upon voting by fellow coaches.

Coffin began his coaching career five years ago when he was hired by Avonworth. “I took over as the middle school head baseball coach for three years and then moved up to become the varsity assistant for two years. In this time, I also ran the J.V. program.” 


A Northgate/Avonworth track team athlete placed in the top 10 for the 100 meter dash last weekend at the state championships.

Khiry Watts placed seventh in the AAA in the PIAA State Track and Field Championships, held at Shippensburg University.

On May 22, Watts placed in the top 16, qualifing him for the semifinals that were held on May 23. He the finished in the top eight in the semifinals to move on to the finals, which were held later that afternoon.


Coaches for Avonworth's fall sports were hired at the school board’s regular meeting on May 11.

Jason Kekseo will return as varsity head football coach. Justin Grady, Duke Johncour, Ed Malsch, Mark Knochel and Joe Zeglowitsch were approved as varsity assistant football coaches. John Aguiar will be the seventh/eighth grade head football coach and Phil Coffin the seventh/eighth grade assistant football coach.



It wasn’t for lack of trying. Down by six runs, the Avonworth baseball team fought back inning by inning against Monaca.

And it wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm, as the dugout and fans shouted non-stop calls of encouragement.

But it just wasn’t to be, and so the season ended in the first playoff game last Tuesday with an 8-6 loss.

“It’s really hard to lose the first round of playoffs in your senior year. I think we played a really good game, but the mental mistakes hurt us in the end,” said Sean Wintermantel, senior third baseman.



With an 18-3 win over Vincentian High School last Tuesday, the Avonworth baseball team earned its page in the school’s sports history books, becoming the only team in memory to finish the season with a 10-0 season that earned them the Section 4, Single A championship.

The team, however, had no real reasons to be optimistic during the pre-season.

In fact, the team was 0-5 in non-section games, but those games are not part of the record book because all of the teams played were from much larger schools.



The Avonworth girls’ softball team secured second place in Section 3A to finish the regular season, and now await the pairings for the WPIAL playoffs.

The ‘Lopes, who began the season with a 2-5 record, abruptly changed direction, winning nine of their next 10 games to finish the regular season at 11-6.

Their most recent wins came over the past week as Julia Eck pitched a no-hitter, including 10 strike-outs, in a 10-0 win over Brentwood before the ‘Lopes defeated Sewickley Academy 14-0.