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Week 6 high school football preview

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Top high school sports
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 6:16 p.m.
 

Here's a look at some of the top Week 6 high school football matchups:

Class AAAA

Quad Central

Peters Township (3-2, 2-2) at Plum (0-5, 0-5)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Plum almost got off the schneid last week at Canon-McMillan, but the Big Macs outlasted the Mustangs, 16-13. Peters Township will try to bounce back after falling to Bethel Park, 29-6. It is the first-ever football meeting between the schools.

The X-factor: Peters Township tailback Mike Minjock, his team's leading rusher this season with 685 yards and 10 touchdowns, tallied 154 yards in a losing effort against the Black Hawks. His 98-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter prevented the shutout.

Keys to victory: PT: Get Minjock on a roll, but don't rely too much on the run. Being balanced at this time of the season is a key for a lot of successful teams in the WPIAL. P: Staying positive mentally and building upon successful plays on both sides of the ball will be key. Sophomore Joe DeFelice carried the ball 10 times against Canon-McMillan, and he ripped off a 55-yard touchdown run. Senior Jake DiGuilio had a big game defensively last Friday with a team-best 15 tackles.

Prediction: Peters Township, 30- 14.

Quad Central

(7-AAAA) Woodland Hills (3-2, 3-2) at Baldwin (1-4, 1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Woodland Hills dropped a tough 39-36 overtime decision at home to Mt. Lebanon last week. Baldwin, which played without injured running back Dorian Brown, fell to No. 3-ranked Upper St. Clair last week, 47-6.

The X-factor: Woodland Hills quarterback Cody McClelland has passed for 825 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012. Baldwin sophomore quarterback Doug Altavilla passed for 141 yards last week.

Keys to victory: WH: The Wolverines will be looking to avenge last week's disappointing loss with a high-powered offense that can score in bunches. B: Baldwin has dropped three in a row, but a boost in confidence can lead to a victory and a shot at the WPIAL playoffs.

Prediction: Woodland Hills, 24-14.

Quad East

Hempfield (3-2, 3-2) at Altoona (1-4, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: This is a key game for both squads. Hempfield, under first-year coach Rich Bowen, is looking to get back on the winning track after a tough loss to unbeaten Gateway. Altoona, which has played well under former Tyrone coach John Franco, had a two touchdown lead at home against McKeesport before the Tigers rallied for a win.

The X-factor: With running backs Joey DeFloria and Skyler Carkuff sidelined, Bowen will depend on quarterback Tyler George and wide receiver DeLorian Day to pick up the slack.

Keys to victory: H: The Spartans have to rely on their defense to keep the game close while George finds his capable receivers -- Day and Tyler Handlan. A: Keep plugging away. No. 2-ranked Gateway was the only team that dominated Altoona. Start finishing the deal. Quarterback Brennan Luciano ran for a score and threw a touchdown in last week's loss.

Prediction: Hempfield, 20-14.

Quad East

Latrobe (1-4, 0-4) at McKeesport (2-3, 2-2)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: This game reunites Latrobe coach Ray Reitz with his former assistant, Jim Ward, but these aren't the glory days the two had when they were on the same staff at Jeannette. Both teams are working to improve, but while the Wildcats have fallen into the conference basement, the Tigers still have an opportunity to turn things around and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs. McKeesport has had a topsy-turvy season with plenty of lowlights and some highlights. The Tigers, though young in certain areas, still have enough talent to recover and make a solid run into the postseason, especially considering there are five guaranteed spots in the conference.

The X-factor: McKeesport has been held to fewer than 20 points four times. It's the first time that has happened in the regular season since 2002.

Keys to victory: L: Be patient. McKeesport has been prone to self-inflicted wounds this season and the Wildcats may get some opportunities thanks to costly penalties or turnovers. M: Take out the old playbook. The run-option offense is obviously not generating the kind of production it needs to, so maybe it's time to turn back to the clock to 2011 and let quarterback Eddie Stockett, an Akron recruit, throw it 40 times a game.

Prediction: McKeesport, 19-7.

Quad East

Norwin (1-4, 1-4) at Kiski Area (2-3, 2-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Now conference opponents, Norwin and Kiski Area are meeting for the first time since 2009, when the schools faced off in a Week 10 nonconference game won by the Knights, 49-14.

The X-factor: The Ricky Carter-to-Joe Brungo passing connection has been the Cavaliers' best offensive weapon and should be one of the main concerns of a Knights' defense that allowed more than 500 yards against Connellsville.

Keys to victory: N: The Norwin rushing attack, led by running back Zach Tinsley and quarterback Nick Amendola, will need to be more effective than the last two weeks, when the Norwin offense has been big play or bust. KA: The Cavaliers have struggled to put points on the board, especially in the red zone. Doing that begins up front, and Kiski Area's offensive line will need to play an efficient and physical game against an undersized but aggressive Norwin defense.

Prediction: Kiski Area, 28-20.

Quad East

(9-AAAA) Penn-Trafford (4-1, 4-0) at Connellsville (2-3, 2-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Both teams picked up road wins last week, as Penn-Trafford came on strong to put away Latrobe, and Connellsville won in a shootout at Norwin.

The X-factor: The Falcons are coming off their best running game of the season, led by Jordan McCrae's 173 yards, and that sort of ground attack will make the job easier for a Connellsville defense that has struggled in its last two games.

Keys to victory: PT: The Warriors' defense, led by linebacker Brian McDonough, has held its last four opponents to 14 points or fewer. C: Quarterback Jade Maher is capable of moving the ball against good defenses, but his team's defense can't leave him in a position where he must play from behind and force the issue to keep up with a ranked opponent.

Prediction: Penn-Trafford, 28-14.

Quad North

Fox Chapel (1-4, 1-3) at (8-AAAA) North Hills (4-1, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Fox Chapel took out its offensive frustrations on Shaler last week, posting its first win in the process, 49-14. Twins Nigel and Chad Garnett and fullback Carrington Vaughn all rushed for more than 100 yards as the offense let loose. The win snapped a six-game losing streak. North Hills' defense stood tall in overtime last week, stopping a two-point conversion try to down Penn Hills, 21-20, in nonconference play. Senior running back Jordan Blackmon scored on a 19-yard run with 1:47 left to force overtime.

The X-factor: North Hills senior running back Josh Hulbert has rushed for more than 300 yards and has five touchdowns. His play has been key to successful drives.

Keys to victory: FC: The Foxes must break big plays against a strong defensive unit and convert third downs. NH: Wrap up the Garnett twins, contain Vaughn and force the Foxes to throw.

Prediction: North Hills, 24-13.

Quad North

Pine-Richland (2-3, 0-3) at (6-AAAA) Central Catholic (4-1, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday at the Wolvarena

The rundown: The Rams are coming off a big win against Kiski, while Central Catholic is trying to rebound from its first loss of the season.

The X-factor: Central Catholic was minus starting running back Luigi Lista-Brinza and two linemen last week, and the offense struggled against Seneca Valley.

Keys to victory: P-R: Connor Slomka rushed for 151 yards last week, and the Vikings got gouged by Seneca Valley's Forrest Barnes for 141 yards. The Rams likely will again offer a heavy dose of the sophomore tailback. CC: The seemingly invincible Vikings got shocked in every phase of the game last week, but it was the inability to get off the field on third down that eventually wore the defense down.

Prediction: Pine-Richland, 20-17.

Class AAA

Big 9

Elizabeth Forward (3-2, 3-2) at (5-AAA) West Mifflin (5-0, 5-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: This could end up being one of the shortest games played in the WPIAL this week. Both teams like to run the football and have outstanding offensive weapons. Elizabeth Forward dual-threat quarterback JaQuan Davidson accounted for four touchdowns, three rushing and one passing, and ran for 100 yards against Uniontown last week, while running back Rex Pearce added a career-best 152 and a score. This is the first three-game winning streak for the Warriors in four seasons and the first time they have been over .500 this late in a season since 1999. West Mifflin has only allowed 28 points this season before the running clock, and 14 came last week in a win over Ringgold.

The X-factor: Elizabeth Forward has not faced a game-breaking running back like the Titans Jimmy Wheeler, who leads the WPIAL with 1,151 yards on 94 carries.

Keys to victory: EF: Containment. The Warriors cannot afford to let Wheeler or multidimensional Titans quarterback Derrick Fulmore get outside or all they will see is the backs of their jerseys. WM: Stay the course. The Titans have decimated opposing defenses and have yet to have their starters in at the end of a game.

Prediction: West Mifflin, 46-21.

Big 9

Laurel Highlands (0-5, 0-5) at (3-AAA) Thomas Jefferson (5-0, 5-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Thomas Jefferson, behind senior quarterback Joe Carroll, made it look easy in a 50-0 conference win against Albert Gallatin last week. Laurel Highlands lost to Trinity, 50-14.

The X-factor: Thomas Jefferson has won 43 consecutive games at TJ Stadium, and has not lost a game at home since the 2004 season. Laurel Highlands has lost six in a row and 11 of its past 14 dating back to last season.

Keys to victory: TJ: Carroll has his pick of four primary targets in the TJ offense -- wide receivers Zach Schademan, Colton Booher, who scored three times last week, Jake Mascaro and Dalton Dietrich. LH: Raphael Cannon, the Mustangs' quarterback, has accounted for more than 1,000 yards offensively, including 728 yards in the passing department.

Prediction: Thomas Jefferson, 49-7.

Greater Allegheny

Derry Area (1-4, 0-4) at Highlands (1-4, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: After a season-opening win over Albert Gallatin, Derry has struggled. The Trojans have been outscored, 173-30, during a four-game losing streak. They have allowed more than 420 yards per game. Highlands, meantime, reversed its course with a somewhat surprising, 28-17 win over Indiana, which lost its standout quarterback to injury early in the game. Highlands sophomore quarterback Blake Leri completed 9 of 12 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown -- a 70-yard bomb to Chris Fick, who made his only catch of the season.

The X-factor: Highlands junior tight end Allan Cratsenberg can be disruptive both sides of the ball.

Keys to victory: D: Force Leri out of the pocket and make the Rams go 80 yards to score. H: Contain the run, apply pressure to the quarterback and mix the run and pass on offense.

Prediction: Highlands, 23-15.

Greater Allegheny

(6-AAA) Franklin Regional (4-1, 3-1) at (9-AAA) Knoch (4-1, 3-1)

7 p.m. Thursday

The rundown: A share of second place in the Greater Allegheny is on the line in this rematch of last year's WPIAL semifinal, which Knoch won, 9-7, on a last-second field goal.

The X-factor: Hampton last week forced Knoch quarterback Dakota Bruggeman to put the ball in the air by slowing the Knights' run game, and Bruggeman might have to do the same for his team to win against a tough Franklin Regional defense.

Keys to victory: FR: With running back Dane Brown back after missing two games with an injury, the Panthers will want to control the tempo of the game with their fast-paced, but largely run-oriented, offense. K: Expecting another defensive battle, the Knights, who had three turnovers last week, can't turn the ball over to a Panthers team that has three defensive touchdowns and a special teams score in its last two games.

Prediction: Franklin Regional, 17-13.

Greater Allegheny

Greensburg Salem (1-4, 1-4) at Indiana (1-4, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: If these teams want to make a run for a WPIAL Class AAA playoff berth, then they must win their remaining Greater Allegheny Conference games. Greensburg Salem is done with the top teams in the conference, and now the young Golden Lions look to be competitive down the stretch. Indiana is coming off a loss to Highlands, which scored twice in the final quarter for a 28-17 victory.

The X-factor: Indiana quarterback Dequan West has been a spark for the Indians offense. He scored on a 33-yard run to open the scoring last week.

Keys to victory: GS: The Golden Lions' defense must find a way to contain West. Offensively, freshman quarterback Daniel Walters continues to grow. He needs to have a solid game and not turn the ball over. I: Indiana needs to get off to a quick start like Franklin Regional and Mars did against Greensburg Salem. If they get the Golden Lions down early, this might be an easy win for Indiana.

Prediction: Greensburg Salem, 28-24.

Parkway

(1-AAA) Montour (5-0, 4-0) at Chartiers Valley (2-3, 1-3)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: The Spartans continued their dominance last week, defeating Ambridge, 45-14, and holding a fourth opponent to 14 points or less. The Colts, meanwhile, were stunned by New Castle, 50-22, and fell into sixth-place in the conference. The squads met twice last season – in the nonconference season opener and in the playoffs – with Montour winning both games and outscoring Chartiers Valley by a combined 104-34.

The X-factor: Montour senior Devin Wilson – who primarily plays the receiver position but also carries the ball – had his first 100-yard rushing performance last week, picking up 130 yards and two touchdowns. He could be in for another big week as the Colts have struggled stopping the run, giving up more than 1,000 yards so far this season.

Keys to victory: M: Get the offense going early. The Colts gave up five touchdowns last week that went more than 30 yards. Making some big plays early will take the home crowd out of it. CV: Find the defense. In its three losses this season, Chartiers Valley has been outscored 45-15 on average. If the Colts hope to stop the top scoring offense in the Parkway Conference, they must make big stops and force turnovers.

Prediction: Montour, 44- 20.

Class AA

Allegheny

Deer Lakes (2-3, 1-3) at Summit Academy (2-3, 1-3)

12:30 p.m. Saturday

The rundown: After a 0-3 start that included two losses by 13 points or less, Deer Lakes has won two games in a row. The Lancers rolled over Charleroi, 40-21, in nonconference action last week. Summit Academy also got a boost by beating Ford City, 20-14, last Friday. Either Deer Lakes or Summit Academy will take a step backward this week.

The X-factor: Deer Lakes' Cody Keenan, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound senior running back/linebacker, has started to emerge as a consistent playmaker. Against Charleroi, he scored on a 98-yard interception return — a big momentum-changer early in the game — and rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Keys to victory: DL: The Lancers need to continue getting crucial stops and turnovers from their defense. Last week, the Lancers returned two interceptions for long touchdowns. SA: Something clicked when the Knights scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to rally past Ford City. They must duplicate that formula.

Prediction: Summit Academy, 25-12.

Allegheny

East Allegheny (1-4, 1-4) at Shady Side Academy (3-2, 3-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: The Wildcats have immense talent with wide receiver Shawn Adair, running back K.J. Marshall, and sophomore quarterback Kyle Whipple has been among the WPIAL's yardage leaders all season, yet they have only won one game. East Allegheny needs to start racking up wins, pull a few upsets and right the ship now if it still has any hope of making the playoffs. Shady Side Academy is also teetering after losses to Burrell and Freeport spoiled a 3-0 start. The Indians' Jarred Brevard and quarterback Matt Grenato will provide the Wildcats with a challenge in stopping the ground game.

The X-factor: Shady Side Academy has not scored more than 27 points in a game all season and could be in trouble if East Allegheny can get its vertical passing game going.

Keys to victory: EA: Score last. The Wildcats have been in some close games but failed to pull them out. If they can get that final meaningful score, they may pull off the upset. SSA: Confusion. If the Indians are able to mix up their offense and be deft with their decision-making in the running game, they could make this a short night.

Prediction: Shady Side Academy, 36-10.

Allegheny

(10-AA) Freeport (4-1, 4-1) at (6-AA) Burrell (5-0, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: This matchup will go a long way toward deciding if Burrell claims sole possession of the conference title or if Freeport grabs a share of the crown. After this week, Burrell's last three and Freeport's last two conference contests are versus teams with losing records. The Bucs are the only undefeated team left in the Allegheny but have played one fewer conference game than Freeport.

The X-factor: Cole Bush. The Burrell 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back/outside linebacker has piled up more than 1,000 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, including a school-record six scores last week, and has been a force on defense.

Keys to victory: F: The Yellowjackets' defense has to figure out a way to contain Bush. If they limit him to about 100 yards and two scores, they'll have a good shot at winning. B: If Freeport concentrates on stopping Bush, the Bucs will need big plays from senior quarterback James Liput and his receivers.

Prediction: Burrell, 27-23.

Allegheny

Ford City (2-3, 1-3) at Kittanning (2-3, 2-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Both of the Armstrong County neighbors need a win to stay in the Allegheny Conference playoff picture. Kittanning has lost 10 of its past 11 games against Ford City. The only win came in 2009, which was the last time the Wildcats belonged in Class AA. This is the first time Ford City and Kittanning meet in a week other than one or nine since 2007.

The X-factor: Health troubles have bedeviled both Ford City and Kittanning. The Sabers operated without linemen Cody Atherton and Seth Frazier as well as fullback/linebacker Ben Young, all of whom were ill earlier this season. And injuries sidelined or severely limited Nick Bowers, Tyler Crissman, Zac Croyle and Mitch Pirhalla last week.

Keys to victory: FC: Win the fourth quarter. Three of the Sabers' past four games went down to the wire, and Ford City lost two of them. K: Start strong. The Wildcats are a formidable second-half team, but they tend to allow too much too early in games.

Prediction: Kittanning, 28-27.

Century

McGuffey (2-3, 1-3) at South Allegheny (4-1, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: When it comes to football, there really hasn't been much to celebrate in Port Vue, Glassport and Liberty Boro over the last, well, 26 years. That was the last time South Allegheny qualified for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. But this week could be the week when it comes together. If the Gladiators win, depending on other factors, they will be within one victory of locking up a postseason berth. McGuffey has a solid tradition of playing teams tough even in bad years and 2012 is no exception. Greg Pantuso was a one-man gang in a close win over South Park last week with a pair of rushing touchdowns and an interception return for another score. South Allegheny, on the other hand, had an easy time with winless Burgettstown as Brandon Murn chipped in three scores to increase his team-leading total to eight. Quarterback Dustin Anderson also doubled his touchdown total last week as he threw for a pair.

The X-factor: South Allegheny is riding a four-game winning streak but has only won five games in a season once (2008) in the last 15 years.

Keys to victory: M: Be aggressive. McGuffey needs to establish the line of scrimmage and assert dominance over the Gladiators. If it's not winning at the point of attack, it will be a long night. SA: Avoid hoopla. The Gladiators have created a buzz in the district for the first time in two decades, and they can't let it distract them when the goal is nearly at hand.

Prediction: South Allegheny, 26-19.

Interstate

Southmoreland (1-4, 1-3) at Greensburg Central Catholic (3-2, 2-2)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: The Scotties finally got in the win column and kept their playoff hopes alive with a 37-13 win over Waynesburg last week. Greensburg Central Catholic is looking to nail down one of the playoff spots in the conference and took a step toward doing so with a 42-8 win over Brownsville in Week 5. Last year, the Centurions beat the Scotties, 48-21.

The X-factor: A lot will depend on which quarterback shines the brightest. Southmoreland's Dakota Datz and Greensburg Central Catholic's Chase Keller each have big-play ability.

Keys to victory: S: Continue to try to run the ball effectively. Last week, the Scotties had five rushing touchdowns. Three came from Datz and two came from Jake Pisula. GCC: Test the Southmoreland secondary. Keller threw for four touchdowns last week and will try to duplicate the feat this week.

Prediction: Greensburg Central Catholic, 49-14.

Class A

Big Seven

(5-A) Neshannock (5-0, 5-0) at (2-A) Rochester (5-0, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Neshannock is riding high after last week's 41-6 win over South Side Beaver brought the Lancers to 5-0 and in the hunt for a Big Seven title, not to mention a playoff berth that has eluded them since 2004. The Lancers also averaged 43 points per game, while allowing just 13.6. Rochester also is unbeaten after last week's 41-6 shellacking of Western Beaver, as Dante Marsick rushed for 154 yards and four touchdowns, and Ben Richko threw for 167 and three scores.

The X-factor: Rochester has controlled this series the past several years, outscoring Neshannock, 152-7, the past four years.

Keys to victory: N: Stick to the plan. This undefeated record hasn't been an accident, and the Lancers need to continue playing consistent regardless of the step up in competition. R: Be prepared. This isn't the same Neshannock team the Rams have faced in the past. Rochester needs to rely on its steady offensive attack and control the time of possession.

Prediction: Rochester, 35-21.

Black Hills

(1-A) Clairton (5-0, 5-0) at Brentwood (3-2, 3-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Clairton crushed Fort Cherry last week, 65-0, and has won a state-record 52 games in a row. The Bears have reeled off 50 or more points in their last four contests. Brentwood edged Chartiers-Houston in an overtime thriller last week, 14-7.

The X-factor: In his latest performance, Tyler Boyd, Clairton's highly decorated senior wide receiver, scored four different ways — on a 57-yard reception, 47-yard interception return, 41-yard run and 40-yard fumble recovery. Brentwood junior running back Justin Vickless has rushed for 708 yards and has scored 12 touchdowns.

Keys to victory: C: Clairton needs to avoid turnovers, and maintain its big-play attack. B: The Spartans, who have some size on the lines, will need a Herculean defensive performance.

Prediction: Clairton, 35-7.

Black Hills

(4-A) Monessen (4-1, 4-1) at Serra Catholic (0-5, 0-5)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: The Eagles have struggled throughout this season, in part because of the lack of turnout – the soccer team has almost as many players on its roster – and a lack of experience running the triple-option. The Eagles are giving up 52.4 points per game, which doesn't bode well against the explosive offense at Monessen, with West Virginia recruit Chavas Rawlins at quarterback.

The X-factor: Despite being blown out with a running clock in every game, Serra Catholic has not been shut out in the last three weeks and has shown improvement in some areas.

Keys to victory: M: Be consistent and fundamentally sound. Serra Catholic doesn't have the horses to keep up with a team that can put up points and play defense as well as the Greyhounds. SC: Continue to improve in all phases of the game and work to keep the ball as long as possible on offense to keep the Greyhounds playmakers off the field.

Prediction: Monessen, 35-7.

Eastern

Avonworth (3-2, 3-1) at (10-A) North Catholic (4-1, 4-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Avonworth fell out of the Tribune-Review rankings this week after falling to Apollo-Ridge, 28-21 in overtime Friday. After Apollo-Ridge scored on its overtime possession, Avonworth running back Anthony Tamasino was stopped just before the goal line on fourth down. North Catholic won its second straight game last week, a dominating 52-7 victory over West Shamokin.

The X-factor: North Catholic sophomore running back P.J. Fulmore rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns last week. Stopping him will be a true test for the Antelopes defense.

Keys to victory: A: The Trojans have outscored opponents 140-49 this season. Avonworth needs to find ways to keep quarterback Ryan Kirby, Fulmore and the North Catholic offense on the sideline. NC: The Trojans need to contain Avonworth's Andrew Broadus, who rushed for 141 yards last week and has more than 600 yards and five scores this season.

Prediction: North Catholic, 21-14.

Eastern

(9-A) Northgate (4-1, 4-0) at Leechburg (1-4, 1-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Northgate fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, losing 35-31 to Sto-Rox in Week 5. The Flames rallied to score three touchdowns in the second half, but had trouble stopping the pass as Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams threw four touchdown passes and accounted for 445 yards of offense. The Flames are averaging more than 200 yards rushing per game. Leechburg has struggled to score points, despite some movement on offense. The Blue Devils have scored just 23 points in five games, the lowest total in the A-K Valley. Sixteen of those came in Week 1.

The X-factor: Northgate senior Cody Walter has been one of the most productive dual-threat quarterbacks in Class A. He's rushed for more than 500 yards and passed for more than 300.

Keys to victory: N: Shut down the running game and force the Blue Devils into third-and-long situations. L: Take shots downfield and improve on last week's total of two first downs.

Prediction: Northgate, 28-8.

Eastern

Springdale (3-2, 3-1) at Apollo-Ridge (3-2, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Springdale starts a tough three-game stretch against opponents that are even with the Dynamos or higher in the conference standings. The Dynamos' defense (10.2 points allowed per game) ranks second in the conference, but their offense (18.8 ppg) ranks fifth. Apollo-Ridge has its best five-game record since 2003, primarily because of its offense (30.0 ppg), which ranks second in the conference.

The X-factor: Apollo-Ridge creates match-up problems with its tandem of sophomore wideouts. Tre Tipton has 24 catches for 430 yards and six touchdowns, while Alex Smith has eight receptions for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Can Springdale effectively cover both players?

Keys to victory: S: Dictate the game's tempo. The Dynamos must deny big plays and sustain drives because they cannot get into a shootout. AR: Force turnovers. Nothing will dampen Springdale's mood quite like a few early giveaways, especially ones that lead to Viking touchdowns.

Prediction: Springdale, 14-13.

Eastern

Wilkinsburg (0-5, 0-5) at West Shamokin (1-4, 1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Wilkinsburg is the only winless team in the conference, but it's no pushover — three of its losses came by a combined 28 points. West Shamokin owns a better record than its opponent for the first time since 2007. The Wolves allow a conference-high 36.2 points per game, though. Neither team had more than one conference win in the last seven years.

The X-factor: Junior running back Matt Johns returned to football after several years away from the sport, and he's become a steady contributor as a ball carrier. Each of West Shamokin's other running backs enjoyed a breakout game already. Could this be Johns' time to shine?

Keys to victory: Wk: Do away with the penalties. Ten flags for 122 yards in the first half contributed to the Tigers' 15-12 loss to Riverview last week. WS: Pound on the ground. The Wolves struggled to get their wing-T run game rolling against conference front-runners the last two weeks. They'll get a chance to generate momentum on Friday.

Prediction: West Shamokin, 21-13.

Tri-County South

Frazier (3-2, 3-2) at Avella (5-0, 4-0)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: After years of struggles, the Eagles are flying high and remain near the top of the conference standings after defeating Geibel, 59-6. The Commodores suffered a disappointing 20-13 loss to Jefferson-Morgan, which dropped them to fourth in the conference.

The X-factor: The Commodores have been an up and down team this season. If the Commodores can avoid mental mistakes, they have a chance to end Avella's undefeated run.

Keys to victory: F: Frazier needs to finish drives. If quarterback Charlie Manack and the offense can put together a couple touchdown drives, the Frazier defense may be able to close the deal. A: Run the ball with Jacob Temple, Nicholas Kusich and Curtis Norman. All reached the 100-yard rushing mark in last week's win.

Prediction: Frazier, 24-21.

Tri-County South

Carmichaels (3-2, 2-2) at Geibel (0-5, 0-4)

1 p.m. Saturday

The rundown: The Mikes sit in fifth place in the conference, but control their own destiny in terms of making the playoffs. Carmichaels beat Mapletown, 36-6, last week. Geibel continues to battle with limited numbers and lost to Avella, 59-6, last week.

The X-factor: Carmichaels can't afford to look past Geibel, a team that is seemingly making a bit of progress each week.

Keys to victory: C: Expect Josh Mundell to carry the load. The Carmichaels quarterback rushed for four touchdowns in last week's win over the Maples. G: Quarterback Brandon Kushnar continues to make strides and will attempt to lead the team to its first win of the season. Last week, Kushnar found Bailey McIntyre on a touchdown strike.

Prediction: Carmichaels, 56-10.

Nonconference

Shenango (2-3, 2-3) at Riverview (1-4, 1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Riverview finally got on track last week, clipping Wilkinsburg, 15-12, on the road for its first win of the season and the end of a school-record 11-game losing streak. The Raiders will play a rare night game at Riverside Park, which will be lit by 10 portable light pods. The custom began in 2006, but the borough has decided against permanent lighting to protect the traditional Saturday afternoon games. Shenango posted a 29-0 shutout over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart as running backs Tyler Welsh and Anthony Prestopine both topped the 100-yard rushing mark.

The X-factor: Riverview senior receiver Tim Wagner scored two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, and also had several long punt returns last week.

Keys to victory: S: Continue to pound the one-two punch of Welsh and Prestopine and keep the ball out of Wagner's hands. R: Continue to move the ball on special teams to set up shorter fields.

Prediction: Shenango, 16-9.

Nonconference

Uniontown (1-4) at (4-AAA) Mars (5-0)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Uniontown's offense has struggled in recent weeks, having scored just 20 points in its last three games, including a 33-0 loss to Elizabeth Forward last week. Mars, on the other hand, has had no trouble lighting up the scoreboard. The Fighting Planets have scored at least 40 points in each of their last four games, including a 49-7 win over Greensburg Salem last week.

The X-factor: Uniontown needs to find a way to prevent the Mars offense from scoring quickly and often. The Red Raiders gave up four touchdowns in eight minutes last week against the Warriors.

Keys to victory: U: Uniontown needs to possess the ball for long stretches. Look for quarterback Xavier Ellis to try to make some big plays downfield as well. M: Pound the ball with running back Joshua Schultheis and let quarterback Owen Nearhoof make some plays in the passing game.

Prediction: Mars, 47-7.

Nonconference

Valley (3-2, 3-2) at Yough (2-3, 2-3)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Valley has won two games in a row for the first time since 2009 and is seeking its first three-game winning streak since the third through fifth contests of that season. Yough has dropped its last three games, but those losses were to Class AA No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Jeannette and No. 7 Mt. Pleasant. The Cougars' losing record could be quite deceiving.

The X-factor: Since senior running back/defensive back Jaden Walker returned to the Valley lineup after missing the first three games for personal reasons, the Vikings have gone 2-0. Last week, Walker rushed for a team-leading 154 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in a 27-12 win over East Allegheny.

Keys to victory: V: The Vikings must avoid overconfidence and continue to play with the same intensity that has them in the hunt for a WPIAL playoff berth after entering the season on a 22-game losing streak. Y: The Cougars must find a way to stop Walker.

Prediction: Valley, 20-14.

Nonconference

(7-AAA) West Allegheny (4-1) at Steel Valley (3-2)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Class AAA West Allegheny is coming off a Parkway Conference loss to Central Valley. The Ironmen have quite a bit of motivation after barely squeaking past Quaker Valley last week to end a two-game skid after losses to South Fayette and Seton-La Salle. Steel Valley quarterback Patrick O'Malley is also coming off a breakout game in which he threw four touchdown passes and returned an interception for another score. West Allegheny will have something to prove after blowing a 14-point first quarter lead last week.

The X-factor: Steel Valley running back D'Andre Pickens had 214 yards in Week 1 but only 244 the last four games.

Keys to victory: WA: Running hot. The Indians have two outstanding backs in Armond Dellovade and dual-threat quarterback Tory Delmonico and will keep it on the ground until Steel Valley shows it can stop it. SV: Air it out. The Ironmen saw what their quarterback is capable of last week. They need to switch things up and use the passing game to open up the running game rather than their normal plan of attack.

Prediction: West Allegheny, 37-7.

Heritage Conference (District 6)

Blairsville (3-2, 3-2) at Penns Manor (4-1, 3-1)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Blairsville ended a two-game losing streak by handing Homer-Center its first loss of the season. The top two quarterbacks in the conference – Blairsville's Scott Thompson and Penn Manor's Danny Ferens – will be matching wits. Penns Manor hasn't lost a game since opening the season with a loss at Northern Cambria.

The X-factor: Ferens is the player Blairsville must stop. The fleet-footed Ferens, a Division I prospect, beats teams with his feet more than his arm.

Keys to victory: B: Try to frustrate Ferens. If they do that, there is a good chance Blairsville can pull off an upset. And, Thompson can't get caught up in any personal battles with Ferens. PM: Let Ferens do his thing. There aren't many teams that have been able to slow him down.

Prediction: Penns Manor, 34-22.

City League (District 8)

Allderdice (2-3, 1-1) at University Prep (2-2, 2-0)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Defending City League champion University Prep is off to a 2-0 start in league play after defeating Carrick, 56-0, and Brashear, 40-12. Allderdice suffered its only loss against Perry, a 12-0 decision, and also has a 32-6 win over Westinghouse.

The X-factor: University Prep was idle last week and is playing its first game since a 40-12 win over Brashear on Sept. 21. The team will either be well rested and pumped to get back on the field or quite rusty early on.

Keys to victory: A: Riding tailback Patrick Ferguson will be key for Allderdice. Ferguson rushed for 155 yards and two scores in last week's 35-20 nonconference loss to Wheeling Central Catholic, W.Va. UP: In his most recent game, University Prep quarterback Akil Young threw for 309 yards and three scores. A duplicate performance would go along way at Cupples Stadium this week.

Prediction: University Prep, 21-20.

District 9

Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference

Non-division

Karns City (3-2) at Keystone (2-3)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Karns City's offense remains its key to success. The Gremlins' 30-22 win over nonconference foe Franklin last week marked the fourth time Karns City allowed at least 20 points. Keystone, meanwhile, averages just 13.6 points per game. It scored its highest point total, 21, twice, and did so against a winless team both times. The Panthers last came within 20 points of beating Karns City in 2006, when they lost, 26-21.

The X-factor: The Gremlins give the ball to so many different ball carriers in their run-heavy spread offense. Running back Wyatt Everetts is the most prominent threat to rip off a big gain, but Zach Moore, Dakota Mohney and Matt Conto also present match-up problems for defenses.

Keys to victory: KC: Make Keystone move the football long distances. The Gremlins usually get in trouble because they commit turnovers that leave opponents with short fields. Key: Seek senior Kyle Servey, a 6-foot, 210-pound tight end, who had four catches for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Prediction: Karns City, 38-15.

District 9

Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference

Non-division

Redbank Valley (0-5) at Moniteau (0-5)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Redbank Valley struggles to slow opponents, who've scored at least 35 points in each of the last three games. It's also searching for a way to solve its stagnant offense, which averages just 7.8 points per game. Both sides might get a boost against Moniteau, which averages 8.6 points per game and allows 31.4 per contest.

The X-factor: Redbank Valley sophomore quarterback Jake Dougherty threw for almost 1,200 yards a season ago. Graduation stripped Dougherty of his favorite targets, but the sophomore still entered the fall with a great set of skills. Somehow, some way, the Bulldogs must build around Dougherty.

Keys to victory: RBV: Look to Dougherty and junior fullback Bam Bailey for big gains. The Bulldogs simply don't have the depth to put together 11- and 12-play drives. M: Diversify the methods of delivering the ball to junior running back Dustin Geagan, the Gremlins' most explosive playmaker.

Prediction: Redbank Valley, 21-20.

 

 
 


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