A-K Valley high school notebook: Local teams embrace unknown
It’s the time of the schedule where local teams venture out into the unknown.
The PIAA playoffs begin Tuesday in soccer and volleyball, with the Deer Lakes boys soccer team and the Freeport and Knoch girls volleyball teams representing the Alle-Kiski Valley.
Deer Lakes plays District 10 champion Fairview at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Dollinger Field in Erie. Freeport plays District 9 champion Redbank Valley at 5 p.m. Tuesday at DuBois Area High School, and Knoch plays WPIAL fourth-place team Elizabeth Forward at 7 p.m. Tuesday at North Catholic.
Freeport, making its sixth consecutive state playoff appearance and coming off a title last fall, and Knoch, also a defending champion, are more than familiar with the process of long bus rides and unfamiliar opponents, but Deer Lakes is going through a new experience entirely as this marks the first state tournament appearance in school history.
“I think we’ve been playing a certain style all season,” Deer Lakes coach Jordan Wiegand said. “We have a gameplan we go with, so it’s just some minor adjustments depending on who you’re playing. Going in blind against an opponent, we’re going to figure out as much as we can about this team we’re going to face. The unknown can be rather difficult at times to deal with, but I think if our guys play our game on any given day, we can force teams to play a style they’re uncomfortable with.”
A few local players are filling up the scoresheet in PIHL hockey.
Burrell’s Dylan Zelonka leads all skaters in Division II with 19 points in five games, with 10 goals and nine assists. Teammate Tyler Stewart is tops in goals with 14 and is tied for second with 16 points with Connellsville’s Ryan Brown, and Jonas Sopko also ranks in the top five with 11 points.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Burrell remains unbeaten at 5-0 heading into Monday’s game at Bishop Canevin.
Deer Lakes’ Shane Miller began the week tied for fifth in Class A with 13 points, coming off a six-point effort in an overtime loss last week to Freeport. Miller’s 10 goals rank third in Class A, behind Meadville’s Nicholas Franz (16) and Sewickley Academy’s Matthew Hajdukiewicz.
No. 1 for Cochran
Highlands junior Luke Cochran received his first offer to play college basketball this week, from Point Park.
The Golden Rams’ starting point guard, Cochran averaged 11.4 points per game in 2017-18 to help lead Highlands to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals.
A pair of Highlands juniors now have college offers, with Cochran and forward Johnny Crise (Robert Morris and USC-Upstate).
A contingent of six Alle-Kiski Valley wrestlers competed in the Super 32 Challenge late last month in Greensboro, N.C.
Kiski Area seniors Cam Connor (145 pounds) and Darren Miller (132) had the top performances, each finishing one win shy of the “blood round” by going 4-2 at the prestigious national tournament. Teammates Nick Delp and Jack Blumer, both juniors, went 4-2 and 1-2, respectively, while competing at 160.
Knoch junior Guy DeLeonardis and Plum freshman Vincent Citrano also competed, with DeLeonardis going 1-2 at 145 pounds and Citrano going 0-2 at 106 pounds.