After Wyoming Area's District 2 Class 2A semifinal victory over Lake-Lehman, senior Trent Grove made an observation. To paraphrase, he believed the coaching staff saw potential in this group of seniors when they were sophomores.
Potential is great … only when it becomes production. Many Wyoming Valley Conference coaches have tossed the word around when describing players, only to see it fizzle out for one reason or another.
Not with this group of senior Warriors. A team doesn't win 10 of 12 games on potential. It wins when players go from green sophomores to gold-medal seniors (coincidentally the school's colors).
Wyoming Area has 12 seniors on its roster. All but one – a first-year player – have been instrumental in the Warriors' success leading into Saturday's PIAA Class 2A playoff game with District 11 champion Pen Argyl.
• Nick O'Brien: Simply put, O'Brien is arguably the best all-around player ever to wear the green and gold. What gets overlooked because of his offensive prowess at quarterback is his defense. He is an incredibly vicious hitter.
• The skill players: Zak LaNunziata, Cody Schmitz and Jordan Zezza don't put up eye-popping numbers. But all three have an uncanny knack for making big plays, be it on offense, defense or special teams.
• The linemen: Wyoming Area has three very good ones – guards Joe Erzar and Joe Taylor and tackle Carl Zielinski. Actually four since Grove does more blocking at tight end than catching.
Erzar and Taylor excel at pulling and blocking on the second level. Zielinski, the biggest at 290 pounds, is the road grader of the bunch. All four also contribute heavily on defense, with Grove the team's top pass rusher.
• The role players: Kyle Davis and Dylan Pegg have found a niche on special teams and occasionally as receivers. Davis also helps out at times as a linebacker, while Pegg sees time in the secondary on passing downs. Alex Gercak had some injury issues as a junior and didn't join the team this year until the season had started. He's found a home as the starting nose guard and pitches in on the offensive line.
Perhaps it's pure coincidence, but Wyoming Area also has 11 sophomores on the roster. It will be interesting to see if they reach their potential like this bunch did.
One thing is for sure. They have a very tough act to follow.
Nick O'Brien has 5,036 career rushing yards according to the team's website. It has him listed as the third leading rusher all time in the Wyoming Valley Conference behind Williamsport's Darrell Blackman (6,804) and Pittston Area's Matt Pisano (5,694).
But is O'Brien actually the WVC's all-time leading rusher? Here are the facts, and you decide.
Blackman rushed for over 4,000 yards during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Pisano had over 2,600 yards during that same span. But WVC football didn't exist those two years. The WVC and the Lackawanna Conference merged to form the Northeast Pennsylvania Football Conference. The NEPFC dissolved in time for the 2002 season.
So since there was no WVC, do Blackman's and Pisano's numbers those seasons count toward a WVC record? An argument can be made both ways.
Yes, they should count since Williamsport were WVC members before and after the NEPFC. Blackman and Pisano would have likely put up similar rushing totals those years if the two conferences didn't merge. They were just victims of zealous school administrators who hatched the ill-fated NEPFC.
No, because the NEPFC was an entity by itself. There were no WVC divisions, no WVC divisional champions. So if the WVC – at least in football – didn't exist those two years, how can there be any statistics attached?
The WVC has no official record keeper or statistician to answer those questions. Like I said, you decide.
If the PIAA continues its previous pattern of the past few seasons, then Wyoming Area will be playing at a District 2 site in the next round if it defeats Pen Argyl.
The team on the top part of the bracket has received home games within its district. If that's the case again, Wyoming Area would play District 12 champion Imhotep Charter (12-0) next weekend here. A likely site would be Wyoming Valley West's stadium based on its synthetic surface, facilities and proximity to the turnpike. District 12 is Philadelphia.
Imhotep won the D1-12 subregional tournament and played Wednesday in a non-playoff game against Boys Latin.
West Pittston native George Chaump has been essentially fired by Central Dauphin East after two years as its head coach.
According to The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Chaump, 76, said he was told to either resign or retire. He wouldn't do either, so the school district opened the position.
CD East finished 3-7 this season and will have its fourth new head coach in five years. Chaump has a long coaching resume that including head coaching spots at Marshall University and Navy and a stint as an assistant in the NFL with Tampa Bay.
Chaump also told The Patriot-News he wants to continue coaching.
Checking in on a couple former WVC coaches.
• Former Berwick coach Gary Campbell is having a successful season at Wahconah Regional in Dalton, Mass., the school he left to coach the Dawgs in 2006. Wahconah is 7-2 and ended the longest winning streak in Berkshire County history by defeating Mount Greylock 20-8 four weeks ago. Mount Greylock had won 33 consecutive games. The teams played again Wednesday night.
• Former Tunkhannock coach Don Holl finished the season 10-2 with Seneca Valley. The Raiders lost their WPIAL Class 4A playoff game last week 47-17 to North Allegheny. Holl coached Tunkhannock from 1995-98 and then coached Erie Cathedral Prep to three District 10 Class 4A titles in his four years there. He moved to Seneca Valley in 2009.
• Former Pittston Area coach Lon Hazlet finished his second season at Panther Valley at 3-7. While that might not sound impressive, Panther Valley was 2-18 in 2010 and 2011 combined. Hazlet coached at Dubois and Karns City prior to coming to Pittston Area.
Wyoming Area vs. Pen Argyl
PIAA Class 2A first round
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Northern Lehigh H.S., Slatington