Westmoreland high school notebook: Top punter, heat week and more
Belle Vernon would like to avoid fourth-down situations and keep the ball moving forward this football season.
But punting shouldn’t be an issue, not with the No. 1-ranked punter in the nation lined up to take the snap.
Incoming junior Cameron Guess has vaulted to the top spot in the latest Kohl’s Kicking Camp ratings for the Class of 2020.
A five-star punter and kicker, he is ranked No. 13 in the latter category.
Guess, known for his driving leg speed, averaged 42 yards per punt last season with a long of 61. He made 31 extra points and recorded 26 touchbacks.
“I have really been focused,” Guess said of his rise to No. 1. “I realized what I have and that I have a chance to be the best, so I dialed in and thought about nothing but competing.”
A number of Division I programs have shown interest in Guess, including Pitt, Syracuse and Ohio University.
The annual Kohl’s Kicking Camps bring together hundreds of kickers and punters and rate their performances in an effort to help get them seen by college programs.
Guess was ranked No. 5 last week, but his results at the most recent camp in Wisconsin boosted him to the top spot.
A two-sport standout, Guess still is deciding if he will play soccer this season for the Leopards.
Norwin’s Gianni Rizzo committed to Youngstown State on Friday, the day he had planned to make an unofficial visit to his future school for the second time -- with two friends joining him.
Teammate Jayvon Thrift and Latrobe’s Trent Holler, both of whom have offers from the Penguins, were going to go with Rizzo, but Youngstown State called to reschedule the visit.
Could there be a three-recruit deal brewing for the seniors?
“I can’t speak for the other guys,” Rizzo said. “I’m not sure when they’re going to commit. I think Jayvon wants to visit (Youngstown) with me. We’ll have to see.”
Thrift, a safety, and Holler, a lineman, each have offers from Pitt and West Virginia, among others. Thrift and Holler have said Youngstown State is not out of the running.
Football heats up
Monday starts “heat week” for football teams around the state. The PIAA-mandated heat acclimatization sessions are meant to get football players ready for potential heat and humidity in training camp the following week.
Helmets and shoulder pads are worn during the conditioning sessions, but contact is not permitted during the five-day period. Teams must have scripted sessions and give hydration breaks to adapt players to camp-like conditions. Workouts cannot last longer than three hours.
Players must participate in at least three consecutive heat workouts to satisfy the PIAA requirement.
Palmer Jackson closed with his best round of the tournament and secured a top-25 finish at the Junior PGA Championship on Friday at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
Jackson, an incoming senior at Franklin Regional, shot 2-under-par 70 to finish the 72-hole event tied for 23rd with five others at 2-over 290.
Jackson, 17, who said he plans to announce his college commitment soon, also posted rounds of 74, 71 and 75. He rallied Friday with a 33 on the back nine, making four birdies, including three over four holes after he made the turn.
Jackson will play in the U.S. Amateur Aug. 13-19 at Pebble Beach.
Incoming Norwin senior baseball player Owen Sabol gave a verbal commitment to play at Seton Hill. Sabol is a shortstop and one of the top hitters for the Knights.
Three more local players will take part in the Team USA Baseball National Identification Series on Aug. 22-26 in Cary, N.C.
Jacob Otto of Penn-Trafford, Gage Wheaton of Hempfield and Daniel Luko of Franklin Regional were picked for the 14-under Ohio Valley team.
The trio plays for Team All-American out of Trafford.