CLARION, Pa. – With the close of the decade of the Teens, D9Sports.com has been doing a series of “Best of the Decades” stories.
(Photo: Brookville wrestling after winning the 2016 dual meet PIAA championship)
The final story is the “Best Teams of the Decade”.
These teams were picked regardless of sport or gender, and like any list of this kind is just the opinion of a select panel. Debate is always welcome.
10. 2017 BROCKWAY BOYS’ SOCCER
The 2017 Brockway boys’ soccer team made history in District 9 becoming the first boys’ soccer team to advance to the PIAA semifinals.
The Rovers breezed to the District 9 Class 1A title beating Elk County Catholic 2-0 in the semifinals before rolling past Port Allegany, who had beaten Brockway the previous year for the title, 7-0 in the championship game with Carter Adams scoring twice and Austin Moore getting the shutout in goal.
In the opening round of the PIAA tournament, Brockway secured a 3-2 win over Seton LaSalle when Tino Inzana headed in a direct kick from Zane Puhala with two minutes to play. The Rovers trailed 2-1 with seven minutes left when Hunter Allenbaugh tied the game on a penalty kick after Clayton Heckman was tripped in the box.
The quarterfinals saw another late goal, this one by Puhala with just over 13 minutes left, give Brockway a 2-1 win over Springdale after the game was tied at one at halftime. Not only did the victory make Brockway the first D9 boys’ team to reach the semifinals, the Rovers joined the 1996 and 2015 Karns City girls’ teams as the only District 9 soccer teams to reach the semifinals.
The semifinals turned out to be another one-goal contest, but this time Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic secured a 1-0 win on a goal by Ryan Augustine with 5:20 left in the first overtime.
The Rovers had a chance to win the game on the rush just before Augustine’s goal, but a Heckman shot off an Adams feed was stopped by a diving save from Trojans goalkeeper Keaton Jennings.
9. 2012 PORT ALLEGANY FOOTBALL
While the 1999 St. Louis Rams might have been the greatest show on turf, the 2012 Port Allegany football team gave the Rams a run for their money in excitement and were perhaps the greatest show on grass in District 9 during the decade.
The Gators breezed to a second consecutive District 9 Class 1A football title winning the championship game on a snow-covered field in Bradford, 47-8, over a Clarion team it had beaten by just one point in the title game the previous season. Matt Bodamer threw three touchdown passes to Nick Conway, ran for two more scores and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the victory.
In the PIAA quarterfinals against Sharpsville, again at Bradford, Port Allegany pulled off a bit of a miracle in a 28-21 win.
Bodamer hit Tyce Miller with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds left with the Gators trailing 21-20.
Port Allegany had missed a field goal with 2:11 to play that would have given it the lead, and Sharpsville appeared to seal the game when Joey Pagliaroli briefly broke free on a fourth-and-1 run from the Sharpsville 29-yard line seemingly picking up the first down that would close the game. But Port Allegany’s Tyler Shaffer, who already had two rushing touchdowns to his credit, came up and delivered a blow as Pagliaroli fought for extra yardage knocking the ball loose. The Gators pounced on it with Nick Conway recovering at the Sharpsville 40 with 1:11 left setting up the game-winning drive.
In the PIAA semifinals, Port Allegany ran into perennial power Clairton, which went on to win the PIAA title with future Pitt and NFL star Tyler Boyd leading the way with the Gators losing to the Bears, 44-12, despite Conway actually outgaining Boyd 140 yards to 104 with Conway’s yardage coming through the air and Boyd’s on the ground.
Port Allegany finished the season 13-1, and Bodamer became the all-time leading passer in Pennsylvania (since broken) with 10,948 career yards while setting the record of the most touchdowns with 137 (both are still District 9 records). During the 2012 campaign, Bodamer completed 70.3 percent of his passes (227 of 323) for a Pennsylvania-record 3,951 yards and a Pennsylvania-record-tying 52 touchdowns passes vs. just eight interceptions. He also rushed for 832 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season on 124 carries and finished his career with 2,315 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Conway and Miller were the top two receivers in District 9 with Conway catching 77 passes for 1,482 yards and 24 touchdowns and Miller grabbing 79 balls for 1,424 yards and 18 scores.
8. 2019 BROOKVILLE BOYS’ TRACK & FIELD
Brookville’s 2019 boys’ track and field team was so dominating that if you took the point totals of the second- and third-place teams at the District 9 meet (Elk County Catholic – 62 – and Smethport – 52) and added them together, the Raiders would have still won the D9 title 131 points to 114 points.
At the District 9 meet, Ian Thrush (100-meter dash and 200-meter dash) and the 4×100-meter relay team of Thrush, Bryan Dworek, Cabe Park and Jack Krug all set meet records, and Brookville took 1-2-3 in the 100 and 200 races with Thrush followed by Dworek and Park in the 100 and Dworek and Krug in the 200.
Thrush and Krug also were part of the winning 4×400-meter relay team where they were joined by Dillon Olson and Kyle MacBeth. Olson also took home D9 gold in the 110-meter hurdles and was second in the 300-meter hurdles, while Krug was second in the 400 and Dworek won the long jump.
At the PIAA meet, Brookville took second place behind Hickory losing out by just six points, 40-34.
The 4×100 relay team was second, while the 4×400 relay finished seventh.
Thrush was also second in the 200 and fourth in the 100 with Olson finishing fourth in the 110 hurdles with Dworek taking fifth in the long jump.
7. 2017 CLARION BASEBALL
When you think of a Cinderella team, the 2017 Clarion baseball squad comes to mind.
The Bobcats weren’t a strong hitting team – they only batted .259 as a squad. But they could pitch the ball (1.14 team ERA) and field the ball (.953 fielding percentage).
When Clarion lost 4-1 in eight innings to Oswayo Valley in the District 9 Class 1A championship game, it looked like those hitting woes were going to catch up to the Bobcats.
But then PIAA playoffs happened, and clutch hitting happened.
In the first round, a 4-3 win over Berlin Brothersvalley, Clarion trailed 3-0 going to the fifth inning before scoring four times in the fifth to pull out the victory. Ryan Anthony had a two-run single in the fifth to break the ice, and Reed Anthony scored his twin brother on an error, and Sterling Conner followed with a double to drive home Reed Anthony all the way from first with the go-ahead run.
The second-round game came against District 9 third-place finisher Elk County Catholic, and a three-run third inning coupled by a three-hit shutout performance by Reed Anthony gave the Bobcats a 3-0 win and a spot in the PIAA semifinals for the first time in school history. Spencer Miller’s sac fly proved to be the game-winning RBI.
In the semifinals, Clarion matched up with a strong Greensburg Central Catholic game, and the game was scoreless into the bottom of the seventh at North Allegheny High School when the Bobcats won in walk-off error fashion.
Kyle Patterson started the seventh by getting hit by a pitch, and Dominic Fleming bunted him to second. Spencer Miller was walked intentionally, and Ryan Anthony hit a slow roller to second that moved the runners to second and third with two outs for Reed Anthony. Reed Anthony then hit a chopper towards third that the GCC third baseman couldn’t handle allowing Patterson to score the game-winning run sending Clarion to the PIAA title game for the first time.
Reed Anthony, while not getting the win – that was pooched by Miller – was the reason Clarion won the game going six innings of three-hit, one-walk ball to shut down the Centurions.
In the PIAA title game, Clarion – with Reed Anthony not eligible to pitch – gave up two first-inning runs to Meyersdale and lost 2-0.
6. 2013 JOHNSONBURG BASKETBALL
Speaking of a Cinderella moment, Johnsonburg delivered that in the 2013 PIAA Class 1A basketball semifinals.
Going against powerhouse Lincoln Park, no one gave the District 9 champion Rams a shot.
But as junior guard Cole Peterson said after the game, “We shocked the world!”
At the very least, the Rams shocked the Commonwealth with a 59-53 win over the Leopards, who trotted out four Division-I caliber players including Maverick Rowan who went on to play at North Carolina State and then in the NBA G-League and Elijah Minnier who went on to play for Eastern Michigan, led by the play of Peterson and fellow junior guard Cameron Grumley.
Peterson and Grumley each scored 22 points in the win, while the Johnsonburg defense forced 22 turnovers.
Trailing 28-25 at the half, the Rams pulled ahead 34-32 on a pair of free throws by Grumley with 4:36 to go in the third quarter. They never trailed again, although they were never able to pull away from the talented Leopards.
Johnsonburg’s great season came to an end in the PIAA Championship game with an 83-63 loss to Vaux.
5. 2015 ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC SOFTBALL
The first of five state championship teams on this list, Elk County Catholic rolled to the 2015 Class 1A softball championship beating Conemaugh Valley, 7-0, in the finals behind a no-hitter by Abbey Bauer, who also hit a home run in the contest. Bauer walked just two and struck out five in the win.
While the championship game was a breeze, getting there was a battle for the District 9 champion Lady Crusaders.
It actually started with a 1-0 win over Smethport in the D9 title game and continued with wins of 3-1 over Hope for Hyndman in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, a 3-2 victory over West Branch in the quarterfinals and a 2-1 win over Cochranton in the semifinals.
In the semifinal victory, Bauer gave up a home run to the lead-off hitter then shut down the Cardinals the rest of the way, and ECC scored twice in the third inning on singles by Marissa Heary and Sophie Yanak.
4. 2013 JOHNSONBURG BASEBALL
Just a couple of months after advancing to the PIAA championship game in basketball, Johnsonburg found itself back in a PIAA title game, this time in the 2013 baseball championships.
But unlike in basketball where the Rams settled for silver, Johnsonburg, which actually finished second to Elk County Catholic in District 9, took home gold with a 5-0 win over Canton.
Cole Peterson, a future star at St. Bonaventure who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and has played as high as Class AAA, was impressive o the mound in the title game throwing a three-hit shutout while striking out six giving him 116 strikeouts in 74 innings on the season.
The title game was tied going to the sixth, but Johnsonburg scored five times in the sixth to get the victory.
Taylor Feronti’s single scored Cameron Grumley with the game’s first run, Quinn Luhr had a suicide squeeze and Kyle Sheldon delivered a two-run hit.
As the second-place finisher out of District 9, it wasn’t an easy road to the finals for Johnsonburg starting with a first-round matchup with WPIAL champion Western Beaver, which ended up in the Rams favor, 5-0.
The quarterfinals was a game to remember, as it took 11 innings for Johnsonburg to beat defending champion Bishop McCort, 7-6, in miracle fashion.
The Rams trailed 6-0 after five innings and had just two hits and four base runners through five.
But in the sixth against a relief pitcher, Johnsonburg sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs on three hits, five walks and a hit batter. One of the big hits in the sixth was a two-run double by Sheldon.
Quinn Luhr then won the game in the 11th when his two-out single to center scored Peterson, who had walked and moved into scoring position on a Holmberg single.
There was no letdown after the epic quarterfinal win for Johnsonburg, as the Rams beat California, 8-1, in the semifinals, the same California team that beat ECC in the opening round.
3. 2018 PUNXSUTAWNEY SOFTBALL
When Punxsutawney won the 2018 District 9 Class 4A softball championship game over St. Marys, 10-0 in five innings, it marked the fourth straight District 9 title for the Lady Chucks (2 in 3A and 2 in 4A) and had one of the most memorable performance in D9 history with Kylee Lingenfelter recording all 15 outs by strikeout.
The thing was, a lot of people thought that was going to be the highwater mark for Punxsutawney, which had lost in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs in each of the previous three seasons.
But this team, in this year, with this pitcher was different.
Behind Lingenfelter, who gave up one run on 12 hits, eight walks and a hit batter in 33 innings of postseason work while striking out 74, the Lady Chucks won the PIAA title for the first time.
The PIAA run started with an 8-0 win over Elizabeth-Forward with Lingenfelter throwing a two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts and Holly Hartman driving in five runs.
In the second round, another 8-0 victory, this time over West Perry, Lingenfelter struck out 18 and Kendal Johnston had a home run, a double and four RBIs.
The semifinals brought a matchup with defending champion Mt. Pleasant, and again Linfenfelter dominated in the circle giving up her lone postseason run on four hits while striking out 12.
It was Lingenfelter’s third-inning home run that broke a scoreless tie, and Sarah Weaver followed the homer with one of her own to give Punxsutawney a 2-0 lead that eventually turned into a 3-0 advantage before Mt. Pleasant scored once in the sixth in a 3-1 Lady Chucks victory.
In the championship game against Bethlehem Catholic, it was more of the same with Lingenfelter dominating in the circle.
The senior, who now plays for Penn State, was practically untouchable giving up four hits, three walks and a hit batter while striking out 15.
And again Lingenfelter was right in the middle of the offense as well, as her RBI double in a two-run third gave Punxsutawney a 1-0 lead before she made it 2-0 scoring on a Madison Stonbracker single.
2. 2012 CLARION VOLLEYBALL
After back-to-back second-place finishes at the PIAA Class 1A volleyball championships in 2010 and 2011, Clarion delivered District 9 its first – and to this point only – PIAA volleyball championship in 2012 with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-9) win over Williamson in the title match.
The District 9 champions took out Bishop Canevin (3-0) in the first round, Maplewood (3-1) in the quarterfinals and Greensburg Central Catholic (3-2) in the semifinals to reach the championship match at Central York High School.
The win over Greensburg Central Catholic was in come-from-behind fashion with the Lady Cats dropping the first two sets by scores of 25-21 and 27-25 before winning three straight by counts of 25-21, 25-11 and 15-11.
1. 2016 BROOKVILLE WRESTLING
Brookville pulled off the rare feat of winning both the 2016 PIAA Class 2A dual meet wrestling championship and the 2016 PIAA Class 2A wrestling title at the individual championships.
The Raiders secured the dual meet championship with a 33-24 win over Saucon Valley and then won the championship at the individual championships with 72.5 points edging Huntingdon, who scored 70.5 points.
In the dual meet championships, Brookville beat Montoursville, 32-25, then downed Reynolds, 29-27, in the semifinals to reach the title match.
In the semifinal match, Brookville trailed 21-20 with three weight classes left, but two of those were strong weight classes for the Raiders.
Taylor Ortz won by pin at 132 pounds to give Brookville a 26-21 lead, Cole Aaron then gave the Raiders the title with a 5-1 win over Chaise Hauck at 138 pounds.
The win in the championship match was historic for Brookville in more ways than one. Not only did it give the Raiders their second dual meet title (the other was in 1999) it was also the 600th dual-meet win in program history.
The Raiders got wins in the champion match from Keelan Kunselman at 106 pounds (technical fall), Gavin Park at 113 pounds (fall), Ortz at 132 pounds (fall), Aaron at 138 pounds (major decision), Caleb Hetrick at 160 pounds (decision), Dane Clever at 182 pounds (decision), Noah Cieleski at 195 pounds (decision) and Tyler Cook at 220 pounds (decision).
At the individual championships, Brookville showed its overall depth in winning its second team title of the year.
Ortz led the way with a state title at 132 pounds, while Aaron was fourth at 138 pounds, Kunselman fifth at 106 pounds, Park seventh at 113 pounds and Hetrick eighth at 152 pounds.