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Post-Gazette South Fabulous 22

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Keystone Oaks football fans were expecting an exciting season. After all, two of the most prolific players -- statistically -- at their positions in the WPIAL last year were returning: quarterback Greg Dapper and receiver Dan Vagni.

Golden Eagles supporters were actually thinking playoffs, an unusual mind-set considering their team hadn't gotten that far since 1983 and was competing in the monstrous Big Seven Conference.


The regional Fabulous 22

But Coach Nick Kamberis' squad got there. And even though the Eagles dropped a 7-6 first-round decision to Hopewell, the eventual WPIAL Class AAA runner-up, they had a smashing season. Dapper and Vagni led the way, earning inclusion on the PG South Fabulous 22 team.

Twelve other teams from the region qualified for the postseason. McKeesport Area and Thomas Jefferson made it to the WPIAL semifinals, TJ for the fourth year in a row. Mt. Lebanon and its workhorse running back, Brian Young, reached the quarterfinals. Upper St. Clair's resurrection continued, and a talented group of sophomores give the Panthers high expectations for 2002.

Bethel Park, Brashear, Duquesne, Seton-LaSalle, South Fayette, South Park, Steel Valley and West Mifflin also qualified.

There are 22 football schools in the PG South region, and 16 are represented here. South Fayette and Canevin Catholic players were considered for the PG West Fabulous 22.

Ben Bluemle, 6-0, 185
Baldwin, QB-DB, Sr.

Throwing passes or defending them, Bluemle stood out. He was a first-team All-Quad East defensive back the past two seasons, and was second-team All-Quad West in 1999. This year, he completed 86 of 162 for 1,164 yards and scored a team-high nine TDs. Bluemle passed for 1,460 yards last season.

Greg Tweardy, 6-3 1/2, 215
Bethel Park, QB, Sr.

Physically and statistically, Tweardy stood out. He was first-team All-Quad North after completing 75 of 148 passes for 1,315 yards and 13 TDs. That included 15 of 23 for 331 in a playoff loss to Central Catholic. Last year, he threw for 1,384 yards and 11 TDs. Ivy League and Mid-American programs are interested.

Duquesne's Todd Harris finished with the seventh highest career rushing total in WPIAL history with 5,224 yards. Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette)

Ryan Mendel, 5-11, 170
Brentwood, RB-DB, Jr.

In nine games, one less than most WPIAL teams played, Mendel gained 1,253 yards on 202 carries (6.2) and scored 16 TDs. He ran for 847 yards as a sophomore, giving him 2,100 and a shot at the vaunted 4,000 mark next season. A slashing-type runner, Mendel also is a top-notch defensive back.

Karim El Nokali, 6-4, 210
Chartiers Valley, QB, Sr.

El Nokali, who has size, a strong arm and fleet feet, became a Division I prospect in a short time. He was a backup as a sophomore and sustained a broken hand in the eighth game last season after passing for 861 yards. This year, he completed 118 of 250 for 1,489 yards and 11 TDs, plus 17 interceptions.

Tywan Napper, 5-11, 175
Clairton, RB-DB, Sr.

A West Virginia recruit, Napper was an exceptional defensive back for the past three seasons, making first-team All-Eastern Conference each time. A breakaway runner, he also led the Bears in rushing and scoring this season, gaining 719 yards on 95 carries (7.6) and registering 11 TDs.

Todd Harris, 5-9, 193
Duquesne, RB-DB, Sr.

In four years, Harris gained 5,224 yards rushing, seventh-best in WPIAL history, and scored 48 TDs. His numbers this season: 224 carries, 1,713 yards (7.6), 15 TDs. Harris made first-team All-Eastern Conference three times and the daily PG Fabulous 22 this year. Toledo is very interested in his services.

Ryan Abels, 5-9, 160
Eliz. Forward, RB-DB, Jr.

Small in stature, Abels was big for a 3-7 team. He was a first-team All-Big Seven running back, gaining 1,443 yards on 187 carries (7.7), scoring 13 TDs. Three TDs came on defense. Abels, who started in the secondary as a sophomore, gained 312 and 289 yards in the last two games this fall.

Greg Dapper, 6-3, 202
Keystone Oaks, QB, Sr.

Dapper led the Golden Eagles to their first playoff berth since 1983. He completed 131 of 218 passes (60.1 percent) for 1,920 yards, and made the daily PG's Fabulous 22. Dapper, of Dormont, became a starter as a sophomore and, overall, was 309 of 567 for 3,745 yards. He has made a commitment to Temple.

Dan Vagni, 6-1, 190
Keystone Oaks, WR-DB, Sr.

Though often double-teamed, Vagni was the WPIAL's No. 3 receiver in the regular season. Including a playoff game, he had 57 catches for 823 yards (14.4), nine TDs, repeating as a first-team All-Big Seven choice. Last year, he was No. 2 with 58 catches for 667 yards, six TDs. He also played in the secondary and punted.

Ryan Kwiecinski, 6-2, 210
McKeesport, QB-DB, Sr.

An ace baseball pitcher, Kwiecinski delivered after switching from fullback to option quarterback. He gained 1,652 yards on 245 carries (6.7); scored 23 TDs; hit 28 of 56 passes for 625 yards (22.3 per completion); made the daily PG Fabulous 22; and was the first-team All-Quad East multipurpose back.

Brian Young, 6-1, 185
Mt. Lebanon, RB, Sr.

Young made a preseason commitment to Georgetown lacrosse, then proceeded to become the WPIAL's top rusher during the regular season. Including two playoff appearances, he carried 333 times for 2,214 yards and scored 27 TDs. He topped 200 yards four games in a row and was first-team All-Quad North.

Bob Whitaker, 6-5, 305
Mt. Lebanon, OT, Sr.

Division I-caliber linemen have become a Lebo tradition. That tradition continues with Whitaker, a first-team All-Quad North choice. His blocking helped Brian Young become the WPIAL's top rusher in the regular season. Whitaker will choose from North Carolina State, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, Oklahoma.

R.J. Soeder, 6-1, 190
Seton-LaSalle, WR-DB, Sr.

On offense and defense, Soeder provided a lot of pop over the past four years. He was one of the WPIAL's top receivers in 2000 and 2001. This season, he had 53 catches for 850 yards (16.0); five TDs; three interceptions; two fumble recoveries. Soeder, of Upper St. Clair, was a PG South all-star last year with 88 catches.

Shane Jakubovic, 5-11, 160
South Park, WR-DB, Jr.

Obscure as a sophomore, Jakubovic developed into a junior achiever. He was among the WPIAL receiving leaders with 52 catches for 954 yards (18.3), and scored a team-high 10 touchdowns. "Shane has great hands and runs great routes," said Eagles Coach Tom Loughran. He made All-Century Conference.

Luke Getsy, 6-3, 205
Steel Valley, QB-DB, Sr.

After committing to Pitt, Getsy had a fourth big year with the Ironmen, ending the regular season as the WPIAL's No. 7 passer. Including one playoff game, he completed 99 of 172 (57.6 percent) for 1,639 yards. Getsy, of Munhall, ended his scholastic career with 388 completions in 752 attempts for 6,010 yards.

Brandon Snyder, 5-11, 175
Steel Valley, RB, Sr.

Snyder sparkled in his first year as a featured back, scoring 22 touchdowns and topping 1,000 yards rushing. He ended the regular season with 1,120 yards on 137 carries, and earned All-Century Conference honors. Snyder was the No. 2 rusher for the Ironmen last year with 313 yards.

Nick Cherish, 6-2, 191
Thos. Jefferson, WR-DB
, Sr.

Coach Bill Cherpak cherished this versatile performer. He had 41 receptions for 674 yards (16.4) and eight TDs. As a first-team All-Big Seven Conference safety, Cherish had 53 tackles (31 unassisted), two interceptions and a number of breakups. He also punted and kicked, making three field goals.

Nate Starrett, 6-1, 194
Thos. Jefferson, RB-DB, Sr.

Starrett was first-team All-Big Seven as a multipurpose back. He had 623 yards on 117 carries (5.3), 20 catches for 420 yards (21.0), and eight TDs total. As a cornerback, he had 44 tackles (20 unassisted), four interceptions, two fumble recoveries. Starrett is called "The Professor" because of his strong academics.

Victor Surma, 6-2, 195
Upper St. Clair, WR-DB, Sr.

Surma's speed enabled him to be a first-team All-Quad West multipurpose back. Eight of his nine TDs covered 19 yards-plus, including one kickoff return. Surma had 21 catches for 468 yards (22.3). He will make an official visit to Penn State, where his father, Vic, played. Several other Division I teams are interested.

Scott Geiger, 6-4, 270
Upper St. Clair, OT-DT, Sr.

A standout blocker, Geiger helped fuel an offense that averaged 35.9 points in the regular season, tops in WPIAL Class AAAA. A two-way starter for two years, he is being courted by Richmond, Holy Cross and Rhode Island. USC Coach Jim Render projects him as a college center or guard.

Jason Lerro, 6-4, 250
West Mifflin, OT-DE, Sr.

Lerro was a two-way starter for four seasons, and a star. He was first-team All-Big Seven on offense the past two years, and first-team All-Keystone on defense as a sophomore. Coach Ray Braszo said he lined Lerro up "at the strength of the offense we were facing." Some Division I programs are interested.

Brandon Nathan, 5-10, 155
West Mifflin, RB, Sr.

Nathan went from never carrying the ball as a junior to carrying the Titans' offense this fall. A speedster, he gained 1,399 yards on 184 attempts (7.6), scored 21 TDs, and was first-team All-Big Seven. Nathan returned kickoffs and played behind Lee Petersavage, a top-flight running back, as a junior.

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