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WesternPAFootball.net Notebook: A tribute to a sports writer battling cancer, D6 running backs catching fire, Tyler Boyd closing in on milestone

Written by: on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Cancer is a disease which knows no boundaries.

So before we get into some interesting football notes and tidbits in this week’s notebook, it is probably best to begin this week’s notebook by extending our thoughts, prayers and positive energy to a prep sports writer from York County in south central Pennsylvania.

Steve Navaroli, a veteran reporter for the York Daily Record/Sunday News, is undergoing treatments for cancer. He penned a column Oct. 7 on GameTimePA’s website noting he would be taking a break from day-to-day activities in a region he has covered extensively since 1991.

In his column, Mr. Navaroli noted he began treatments Sept. 24 and that they will continue through November.

I think that I can safely speak for the entire EasternPAFootball.com and WesternPAFootball.net family when I say that we all wish Mr. Navaroli nothing but success in his fight to overcome this disease. Cancer has personally affected my family, claiming the life of my grandfather in 1993. I was 7. I didn’t know what cancer was then, but I knew I didn’t like it. Then again, nobody likes it, no matter what age you are.

I’m sure many of us out there can think of a family member or relative who also has fought or is fighting life’s toughest fight.

Read Mr. Navaroli’s column for yourself if you have a chance (go to www.gametimepa.com) and you’ll understand the impact he’s had in his 20+ years of sports coverage for York County prep sport athletes, schools and programs across many sports, not only football.

Though Mr. Navaroli’s voice might be missing from the YDR’s sports pages for a brief time, it would be far worse for that voice to be lost from those sports pages forever.

James Oliver, a junior running back for Tyrone Area High School in District 6, had quite the night to remember Friday.

Oliver ran for 343 yards and six touchdowns as the Golden Eagles whalloped Bald Eagle Area. Oliver’s big night sent him well over 1,000 yard rushing for the season and he’s also the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer and primary offensive weapon, statistically speaking, anyway.

There’s also another District 6 running back who has been tearing things up of late – Richland’s Tanner Solarczyk. Over the Rams’ first four games, Solarczyk had only scored two touchdowns on the ground. But the Ram junior has made finding the end zone quite a frequent habit over the last few weeks. He’s scored seven rushing touchdowns combined in wins over Bishop McCort and Somerset Area, bringing his season totals to nine rushing touchdowns on 91 carries and 791 yards.

Solarczyk has five straight 100+-yard rushing performances for Richland, which is off to a 6-0 start.

West Mifflin senior tight end Marcus Martin rarely catches passes in the Titans’ run-heavy offense featuring James Wheeler and Derrick Fulmore, but he’s made the most of his chances. After an 88-yard touchdown reception Friday (which also was WM’s only completion of the game), Martin is up to five (5!!!) receptions for 253 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 50.8 yards per reception.

And get this – Martin is the Titans’ featured receiver – no other Titan player has more than four receptions. West Mifflin is 6-0 overall.

Here’s an odd stat you don’t see every day – Saint Marys, a AA school in District 9, forced six turnovers in its Week 6 game against Clarion Area. But the Flying Dutch didn’t win. Instead, Clarion improved to 6-0 with a 40-28 triumph.

The game was played Thursday night during Clarion’s annual Autumn Leaf Festival, which has become a tradition of late for the Bobcats (playing Thursday nights during ALF). In fact, for those of you outside of northwestern Pennsylvania, Clarion is nicknamed “The Autumn Leaf Capital” and the towns street signs even have red leaves on them.

Friday’s North Allegheny-Gateway game featured numerous Division-1 FBS and FCS recruits all on the same field. North Allegheny boasted Michigan recruit Pat Kugler, Richmond recruit Brendan Coniker, Stephen F. Austin recruit Mack Leftwich and rising junior Elijah Zeise, who has a Pitt offer and is attracting other interest.

Gateway featured Arizona recruit Thomas Woodson, Pitt recruit Jaymar Parrish and rising juniors Montae Nicholson, Brenon Thrift and Ricky Rodgers. Nicholson, Thrift and Rodgers have varying levels of offers and interest from FBS programs.

Clairton’s Tyler Boyd is closing in on an impressive career milestone – 4,000 career yards rushing – a mark he should attain this week in the Bears’ Saturday night meeting with 5-1 Bishop Canevin in Dormont.

Boyd has rushed for 3,975 yards as a Clairton Bear, just 25 yards shy of Clairton becoming the second WPIAL program with three career 4,000-yard rushers. Beaver Falls is the other. Boyd would join Zaire Washington (4,050 yards) and Deontae Howard (4,415) in the 4,000 club. Howard holds the program career rushing record, a mark from which Boyd is 440 yards shy.

Boyd, however, already broke one of Howard’s Clairton rushing records. His 2,400 yards in 2011 edged Howard’s previous single-season rushing record of 2,234 yards, set in 2009 when Clairton won the first of its three PIAA A football championships.

Follow Josh Funk on Twitter @Funk_pafb

Follow WesternPAFootball.net on Twitter @WPAFootball

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