Inspirational speech

Rob Burchianti | Herald-Standard

Brownsville graduate Cedric Penn delivers a compassionate, inspirational speech to the Falcons football team during picture day on Aug. 18. Penn played football for three years at Purdue and one year at Western Kentucky. He was a two-year starter in college and was named an All-American his senior year. Penn also penned the book “From Broke, Busted and Disgusted to Making a Million Dollars a Year: The Cedric Penn Story,” about his comeback story in life.

Football in the afternoon? A Monday night game?

There were a few oddities during Week Zero but the 2019 high school football season is off and running just the same.

The first WPIAL game to kick off on Friday was Waynesburg Central at Jefferson-Morgan.

At 4 p.m.

While that certainly isn't a normal starting time for a high school football game it became necessary because of a lighting problem at Parker Field that could not be corrected before Friday, so kickoff was moved up to the afternoon.

That didn't stop a big crowd from pouring into the stadium to see the Class AAA Raiders overpower the Class A Rockets, 38-0.

While J-M and Waynesburg jumped the gun a bit, another team waited longer than any other to get its Week Zero game in.

While Monday nights are know for NFL Monday Night Football, high school had its version of that at West Greene. The Pioneers had to reschedule their game to cater to Cameron High School out of West Virginia and that meant playing on Monday night.

That forces the Pioneers to play two games in five days as they host Bentworth this Friday in their Tri-County South opener. But coach Brain Hanson's team barely worked up a sweat in pounding the Dragons, 61-20, as Benjamin Jackson rambled for 261 yards and six touchdowns in an amazing performance.

One person who would've made it an awfully unusual Friday night had he not been able to make it was longtime Laurel Highlands PA announcer Barry Rosner, known affectionately as the "Voice of the Mustangs."

Rosner has suffered through some health problems this past year and had a major, life-threatening scare this summer. When entering the Mustangs press box on Friday, there was some doubt if he would be there or not.

But there he was and clearly fans and friends appreciated seeing him.

If you don't know Rosner then you've probably never been to an athletic event at Laurel Highlands. He's poured his heart and soul into organizing them for 40 years, this being the start of year 41.

At a football game he's done everything from announcing the game to running the scoreboard to making sure coaches -- home and away -- and everyone else in the press box have a variety of tasty food and drinks available pregame and/or at halftime.

When it was announced to the crowd that Rosner was in attendance he drew a round of applause. Many people walking by looked up to greet him and wish him well. The LH cheerleaders even unraveled a big sign that read "Welcome Back Barry" thanks to athletic director Mark John.

Rosner is still far from 100 percent, health-wise, but clearly being back in the press box was not only good therapy for him but uplifting for LH fans as well.

Speaking of uplifting, it was good to see a couple area teams begin their seasons by breaking losing streaks, and one of those may have had to do with a speech during picture day.

Brownsville won in thrilling fashion with a touchdown pass on the final play of the game to give the Falcons a 33-27 victory at Bentworth, stopping their losing skid at 11. During picture day one week before the game Brownsville graduate Cedric Penn delivered an inspirational, emotional speech to the team.

Penn is a former Falcons star who went on to play three years at Purdue, where he started his junior season, and one year at Western Kentucky where he started as a senior and was an All-American. He's a comeback story in life who also penned the book “From Broke, Busted and Disgusted to Making a Million Dollars a Year: The Cedric Penn Story.”

Scott Fichter, beginning his second year as Falcons coach, has worked hard to try to turn the Brownsville football program around and perhaps Penn's speech helped give the team an extra boost in its opener.

Also Mapletown snapped a 16-game winning streak with an impressive 29-6 win over visiting Avella. The two are both in the Tri-County South but this was considered a non-conference game. They'll meet again in a TCS clash on Oct. 18 at Avella.

Rob Burchianti can be reached at rburchianti@heraldstandard.com or on Twitter at @rvburch.

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