Thursday, October 7, 2021 | 6:42 p.m.
Jessica Melodia played for the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team from 2015 to 2017. When she “retired” a void was left in her life.
“I missed football,” said Melodia, the women’s football coach at Greensburg Salem. “I started playing about 20 years too late, but I loved it. I didn’t have any injuries, but I enjoyed playing. A friend of mine said to me, ‘Hey, you should start officiating.’ “
This is what she did.
Melodia is now a PIAA referee and a member of the Westmoreland County Football Officials Chapter. She also works in college games for the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, the Mid-Atlantic Conference and the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
She became the first woman to officiate a WPIAL football championship last season.
“I did college and midget games and then I filled varsity games,” she said. “Now I play a game every week. I leave training every Friday and head to a game.
WPIAL officials representative Nick Morea said Melodia was one of the best officials in the league.
“I don’t see her as a woman. I consider her to be a public servant, ”Morea said. “She’s doing a great job.”
Make a change
Yough made a significant change in position last week, moving senior Tristan Waldier from wide receiver to quarterback, a position he held for the past two years before season-ending knee injuries put it in the closet.
Waldier completed 14 of 30 passes for 139 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 27-12 loss to Mt. Pleasant. The Cougars (0-6, 0-3 Class 3A Interstate Conference) were down 13-12 at halftime.
“I did it for the team. This is where I belong, ”said Waldier. “I was tired of losing by 40.”
Yough coach Chris Chunko said the decision was made because Yough “needed a spark”.
“The team rallied behind him,” said Chunko. “We were moving the ball. He was ready to go back. We moved (regular quarterback) Gavin Roebuck to wide receiver, and he had a few catches. Tristan gives us so many options. He can do something out of nothing.
Chunko will face a former high school teammate this week in Southmoreland offensive coordinator Tim Bukowski. Both were linemen in Monessen.
Call to arms
Friday’s Greensburg Salem match at Armstrong Class 4A Big Eight will feature two of WPIAL’s top five assistants. Hayden Teska, senior of Greensburg Salem, is second with 1,348 yards and 13 touchdowns. His counterpart puts the “arm” in Armstrong. Junior Cadin Olsen (6-4, 205) threw for 1,166 yards and 17 touchdowns, the best WPIAL.
Both teams are 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference.
The next man
Franklin Regional has played just about every game this season with two starters.
The Panthers have been without senior lineman Josh Pelusi for the entire season, while running back and linebacker Garrett Deller only played briefly in the Hempfield game.
“We’re still trying to find that mix,” Panthers coach Lance Getsy said. “We had defensive ends who played linebacker and linebackers moved up to defensive tackle. Guys play positions that they’ve never played before. We also rotate the guys on the offensive line.
Despite the uncertainty and experimentation each week, the Panthers are 2-4 overall and won their first game of the 5A Big East Conference on Friday against Connellsville, 36-0.
Connor Donnelly scored two touchdowns and threw another.
Bryer’s next move
Belle Vernon senior Jack Bryer has announced that he will continue his playing career at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.
Bryer, a 6-foot, 210-pound fullback and linebacker, has made 19 tackles this season for the Leopards, who are ranked No.1 in the WPIAL 4A class.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Key words: Beautiful Vernon, Franklin Regional, Greensburg Salem, Hopewell, Valley, Young