Peabody’s Carr, Gehret linked again
June 19, 2009


Peabody High School's Pierre Carr didn't expect to win the gold medal in the Class AAA boys 200-meter dash at last month's PIAA track and field meet, but his surprises were just beginning with his edging of Altoona's top-seeded Brady Gehret in the finals by 26-hundredths of a second.

Carr is in Altoona this week to play for the West team in tonight's Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association All-Star Game. He is staying with Dave and Paula Binus, who are no strangers to Gehret and his family.

"My host family are right across the street from his grandma,'' Carr said during a break in practice earlier this week. "They were going to take me over to introduce me. We have a big cookout planned, so maybe he'll be there.''

Carr was the fourth seed in the 200 entering the meet, but posted the second-best time in the semifinals, next to Gehret.

"Going into the race, I really didn't think about [winning], because I'm not a 200 guy. But my coaches said me to try to get him around the turn. Once we got to the straightaway, he was behind me,'' said Carr, who also edged State College's Alex Kenney for the 100-meter gold.

Carr, though, wants it clear that he was a football player out for track, not the other way around. He's heading to Akron, where he'll be used as a slot receiver, running back and even a Wildcat quarterback.

The 19-year-old Carr has a nearly 3-month-old daughter, Ontaria, back at home. To help provide for her, he's even taken up odds jobs, like taxiing friends around for $5 a trip.

"It's stressful, because I'm an athlete, and I've been looking for a job, but I need to work it around my athletic schedule. I try to take care of her the best I can,'' Carr said. "It's a lot of motivation [to do well in college], because it's not just about me anymore. It's about my daughter.''

Almost in heaven

There'll be a number of Division I players on the field tonight, but Thomas Jefferson's Pat Eger will be among the biggest, both literally and figuratively.

The nearly 6-foot-7, 280-pound Eger signed in February to be part of West Virginia's rising national program. He's an offensive tackle, and will play there for the West at Mansion Park.

"I toured all the schools, but I think West Virginia was the best fit for me. It's close to home, but it's still far enough away. The coaches and everyone down there is nice. They're straight up with you,'' Eger said.

Thomas Jefferson is located in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh, and Eger, understandably, grew up a fan of the University of Pittsburgh, although more so in basketball than football. He said the Panthers told him they'd be offering a scholarship, but he didn't have one a week before camp, when he decided to commit to the Mountaineers over Maryland, Marshall, Miami of Ohio and Buffalo.

"I grew up a Pitt fan. I'm a huge Pitt basketball fan. I guess I'm going to have to throw all of those Pitt shirts on the fire. I've got to be a West Virginia fan now,'' Eger said.

Eger will be one of three TJ players in tonight's game - quarterback Tyler Wehner and lineman Sean Kundrat will be on the same sideline before playing college together just up the road from Eger at West Virginia Wesleyan. Their school won its second straight PIAA Class AAA title in 2008.

"The way Coach [Tom] Cherpak runs his practices, everything has to be perfect. The expectations are so high. The way he works it helps us for the next level,'' Eger said. "At Thomas Jefferson on a Friday night in football season, everything is closed. The stands are packed.''

Off base

Wehner is the son of Pittsburgh Pirates radio/TV announcer John Wehner, the former major league baseball player who was the Altoona Curve's hitting coach from 2002-2004.

The younger Wehner played catcher and shortstop for his high school baseball team but was more attracted by the gridiron.

"I've always liked football better because of all the action. Baseball's a little too slow for me. I still like the game, but I like football a little bit better,'' Wehner said.

Tyler's dad won't be able to make it to tonight's game because the Pirates begin a series in Colorado. Tyler Wehner said his father never tried to push him toward baseball.

"He always wanted to play football, but his mom wouldn't let him,'' Wehner said. "He played his senior year [at Carrick] High School and said it was one of the most fun times he had.''

Kicking it around

Sometimes the rivalry between the East and West has to be a bit manufactured, but that won't be the case with the respective kickers this week. Pittsburgh Central Catholic's Matt Oczypok, a Bowling Green recruit, and Athens' Shane Raupers are well acquainted.

Oczypok and Raupers met on the kicking camp circuit a couple of years ago and became friends. They even roomed together at Penn State's camp last summer.

"I was at the West practice, when Kellie [Goodman] told my dad. He told her to tell me. I found out, and I texted him,'' Oczypok said. "We just started giving each other crap for it.''

Kickers have a bit of a fraternity, and they often run into the same faces from camp to camp.

"You get invited to most of the camps, but you still have to pay, so those kids are the ones that actually want to be there,'' Raupers said. "A lot of them are really challenging, too, because those kids are the best in the nation. They're going there to compete.''

Oczypok was able to spend more time concentrating on his kicking in high school than was Raupers, who played both offense and defense, as well. Raupers said Oczypok was one of the people that he's turned to for help from time to time, and that seems to have paid off - Raupers was set to walk-on at Buffalo, but Syracuse in April offered a full scholarship, which he accepted.


Injuries have forced four of the original players from tonight's game. The East's Corey Mitchko and Riley Clugston have been replaced by St. Joseph's defensive back Ike Yeager and Muhlenberg lineman Byron Dovales. For the West, Tyrone defensive end Jerrod Good broke his hand and was replaced by high school teammate Matt Murray. Receiver Joshua Vermeulen is also out of action, but the West didn't bring in a substitute for him. The Circle of Excellence Award winners announced at Thursday night's banquet were Chris Steck and J.C. Smolke for the East and Patrick Marry and Nolan Nearhoof for the West. The captains for tonight were also announced - Steck, John Nurthen, Thomas Ryan and Jeremiah Young will represent the East, Eger, Jake Reede, Nico Price and Ramon SanDoval received the honor for the West. PCN's telecast of tonight's game will be handled by three former WTAJ faces. Jeff Shurilla and Jim Gregory will be up in the booth, while Kellie Goodman will report from the sideline.


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