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Week 9 high school football preview

| Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 4:22 p.m.
Blackhawk quarterback Chandler Kincade.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Blackhawk quarterback Chandler Kincade. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Mt. Lebanon's Troy Apke on Monday August 13, 2012.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Mt. Lebanon's Troy Apke on Monday August 13, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
McKeesport quarterback Eddie Stockett
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
McKeesport quarterback Eddie Stockett Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich is back to direct the football team's offense for the 2012 season.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich is back to direct the football team's offense for the 2012 season. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Jon Nigro (1) throws a pass against Knoch during their game at Hampton High School on Friday, September 28, 2012.
Jason Bridge  |  Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Jon Nigro (1) throws a pass against Knoch during their game at Hampton High School on Friday, September 28, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Shavonta Craft, a senior for the Jayhawks, has been playing football most of his life.
Kristie Linden | Jeannette Spirit
Jeannette Spirit
Shavonta Craft, a senior for the Jayhawks, has been playing football most of his life. Kristie Linden | Jeannette Spirit
Beaver's Darian Bradley.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Beaver's Darian Bradley. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Rochester running back Dante Marsick.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Rochester running back Dante Marsick. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Here is a breakdown of some of the top Week 9 games throughout Western Pennsylvania:

Class AAAA

Quad Central

(3-AAAA) Mt. Lebanon (7-1, 7-0) at (4-AAAA) Upper St. Clair (7-1, 6-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Both teams enter the regular season finale and battle for the Quad Central crown coming off lopsided Week 8 victories. Mt. Lebanon downed Penn Hills, 35-7, and Upper St. Clair blanked Plum, 31-0. Upper St. Clair has won four of the previous five showdowns in the rivalry series.

The X-factor: Mt. Lebanon senior quarterback Tyler Roth has thrown for more than 1,700 yards with 23 touchdowns and one interception. His top target has been senior receiver Troy Apke, who has recorded 812 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

Keys to victory: MTL: The defense will need to keep Panthers quarterback Pete Coughlin – who has more than 1,200 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns – one dimensional. USC: The home squad will need to find a way to disrupt the Blue Devils' passing attack. This will start with sack leaders Kyle Page, a linebacker, and defensive end Robert Plummer getting pressure on Roth.

Prediction: Mt. Lebanon, 28-21.

Quad Central

Penn Hills (3-5, 3-4) at (6-AAAA) Woodland Hills (6-2, 5-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Both teams have a lot riding on this rivalry game – and others — as far as the playoffs are concerned. Woodland Hills needs to win by 10 and have Upper St. Clair lose to Mt. Lebanon by at least seven and have Bethel Park beat Baldwin to finish in second place and earn a home playoff game. Penn Hills needs a win and Peters Township loss to Canon-McMillan to lock up a postseason slot, or a win and some help to qualify as the wild card. Woodland Hills has been able to do a lot of damage to teams through the air with senior quarterback Cody McClelland and Penn Hills has struggled against the pass.

The X-factor: Penn Hills quarterback Darius Holloway has the most passing yards of any quarterback in the WPIAL (764) without a touchdown pass.

Keys to victory: WH: D-Money. Aside from a first quarter touchdown against Peters Township the Wolverines defense has been solid since allowing 39 to Mt. Lebanon. The team is opportunistic and can convert turnovers into touchdowns. PH: Grind it out. The Indians aren't going to attack much through the air, so they have to establish the line of scrimmage and use the running game led by Holloway on the option.

Prediction: Woodland Hills, 30-13.

Quad East

Connellsville (2-6, 2-5) at Altoona (3-5, 3-4)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Altoona can qualify for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs with a win over the Falcons and a Kiski loss to Latrobe. Altoona is coming off a 30-0 nonconference loss to Central Catholic. The Falcons still have a shot at qualifying for the playoffs as the WPIAL's Class AAAA wild card team. Connellsville needs to win and have several tiebreakers fall their way, including a Penn Hills loss to Woodland Hills and a Baldwin loss to Bethel Park.

The X-factor: If the Falcons can continue to move the ball and avoid big mistakes, they stand a chance of ruining Altoona's playoff hopes.

Keys to victory: C: Quarterback Jade Maher and running back Jordan McCrae will likely need to have a big game for the Falcons to pull off the road win. A: Quarterback Brennan Luciano has thrown five touchdown passes and is the key to the Mountain Lions' offense.

Prediction: Altoona, 20-19.

Quad East

Kiski Area (3-5, 3-4) at Latrobe (2-6, 1-6)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Kiski Area needs a win to secure a playoff berth. The Cavaliers began the season with wins against Connellsville and Altoona, but they're 1-4 in the conference since. Latrobe hurt Connellsville's chances at making the playoffs with a win on the road. Can the Wildcats damage Kiski Area's chances?

The X-factor: Latrobe quarterback Logan Carns has passed for 548 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-winner to Robert Vasinko last week at Connellsville. He's also the team's leading rusher with 542 yards.

Keys to victory: KA: Allow quarterback Ricardo Carter to make plays. He has passed 690 yards and seven touchdowns. Running back Lincoln Clayton has rushed for 515 yards and three touchdowns. L: Carns is the key, but he will need help from Vasinko, who has scored five touchdowns, and Adam Drake, the team's leading receiver.

Prediction: Kiski Area, 27-21.

Quad East

(2-AAAA) Gateway (7-1, 7-0) at McKeesport (5-3, 5-2)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Conference rivals will meet for bragging rights in the regular-season finale. The Gators will be gunning to cap a perfect conference record and solidify their chances for the No. 2 seed, while the Tigers know a signature win over Gateway would move them up the seeding ladder for the postseason. The Gators won last year's meeting, 38-0, so McKeesport is out for a little revenge.

The X-factor: Tigers senior quarterback Eddie Stockett has run and thrown for 15 touchdowns and more than 1,100 yards. Eleven of those scores have come on the ground in the flex-option offense.

Keys to victory: G: Keeping Stockett in the pocket and bottled up will be important. Gators head coach Terry Smith stressed the importance of assignment football and being disciplined against McKeesport's deceptive option offense. M: As is often the case when facing Gateway, slowing down the Gators passing attack is crucial, but not easy. Quarterback Thomas Woodson has 1,688 yards passing, 18 touchdowns and only one interception through eight games.

Prediction: Gateway, 34-14.

Quad East

(10-AAAA) Penn-Trafford (6-2, 6-1) at Hempfield (4-4, 4-3)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Penn-Trafford has clinched the second spot in the conference, but will want to bounce back from a loss to Gateway against a Hempfield team that could greatly improve its playoff seeding with a quality win.

The X-factor: De'Lorian Day and D.J. Gearhart both posted more than 100 yards rushing for Hempfield last week, and the driving force behind that is a big offensive line that will need to get physical with the Warriors.

Keys to victory: PT: After being shut out by Gateway, the Warriors' backfield trio of Dorian Stevens, Tom Stinelli and Devin Austin will need to reestablish the running game that has powered the team this year. H: With the Spartans sticking to a quarterback rotation of Ty George and Day, both players will need to be effective and efficient against an aggressive P-T defense.

Prediction: Penn-Trafford, 24-14.

Quad North

(8-AAAA) North Hills (6-2, 4-2) at (1-AAAA) North Allegheny (8-7, 7-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: The Tigers want nothing more than to secure the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Quad A playoffs and will do so by defeating their biggest rival. North Hills also has locked up a playoff berth but could drastically improve its seeding with an upset victory.

The X-factor: The balance of the North Allegheny offense. With Alex DiCantis running and Mack Leftwich throwing, the Tigers keep defenses guessing.

Keys to victory: NA: Don't look past the Indians. North Allegheny surrendered a touchdown for the first time in five games last week, but the offense tallied a season-high 55 points on the other side of the ball. NH: The Indians are a gritty team that has shown they can win in any fashion. North Hills can't be intimidated by the Tigers perfect mark or recent history of success in the Quad North Conference.

Prediction: North Allegheny, 24-13.

Quad North

(5-AAAA) Seneca Valley (7-1, 6-1) at Fox Chapel (1-7, 1-6)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Seneca Valley wants to secure at least the No. 2 position in the conference heading into the playoffs, which would lock up a home game in the first round. The Raiders are coming off a 35-14 nonconference win over Bethel Park. The Foxes dropped a 49-7 decision at Butler.

The X-factor: Seneca Valley running back Forrest Barnes has run over almost every defense this season and has gained more than 1,000 yards. He scored three times against Bethel Park last week.

Keys to victory: SV: Get Barnes going early. There is little proof to show the Foxes will be able to contain the speedy tailback. FC: Control the clock. The best way to keep Barnes from torching the defense is to have the offense sustain a couple of drives with the help of Nigel Garnett, who scored on an 82-yard run last week.

Prediction: Seneca Valley, 35-7.

Class AAA

Big 9

Trinity (4-4, 4-3) at Ringgold (4-4, 4-3)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Ringgold has already qualified for the playoffs, but Trinity still needs to win to get in. Belle Vernon will be rooting for rival Ringgold to pull off a victory. If the Rams win and Belle Vernon defeats Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon qualifies for the playoffs. Ringgold has lost three of its past four games. Trinity hasn't won or lost two games in a row this season. Since it lost last week, does that mean a win this week?

The X-factor: Ringgold running back Demetrius Louis leads the team in rushing with 734 yards and touchdowns with 10. Louis has been sidelined with an injury for a couple games, but he is expected to play this week.

Keys to victory: T: If Louis plays, find a way to slow him down. Hillers running back Patrick Frey has rushed for 640 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Wide receiver Corey Hunsberger has scored nine touchdowns. R: Allow QB Nico Law to make plays. He has rushed for 323 yards and passed for 447 yards and three touchdowns. A Law to wide receiver Joey Wall connection can help, too. Wall has scored seven touchdowns.

Prediction: Ringgold, 24-21.

Big 9

Uniontown (1-7, 1-6) at Laurel Highlands (1-7, 1-6)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: The Red Raiders and Mustangs meet in their annual Fayette County rivalry. However, neither team has a shot at the playoffs. Last week, Uniontown lost to Thomas Jefferson, 49-8, while Laurel Highlands was beaten by Belle Vernon, 44-6. Each team's lone victory this season has come against Albert Gallatin.

The X-factor: Both teams have struggled defensively, but the team that can make one or two big plays on that side of the ball stands a good chance of emerging with the win.

Keys to victory: U: Doug Lewis has been steady on the ground and will try to punish the Mustangs' defensive front. LH: Raphael Cannon has had a solid season as the Mustangs' quarterback and he'll be looking for another big effort in a game that could produce a lot of points.

Prediction: Laurel Highlands, 44-40.

Greater Allegheny

Derry (1-7, 0-7) at (8-AAA) Franklin Regional (6-2, 5-2)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Franklin Regional is likely to secure a home playoff game with a win, while Derry is looking to claim a high-profile win to wrap up a disappointing season.

The X-factor: Derry's defense has given up a Class AAA-worst 42 points per game, and against a team that has yet to allow more than 21 in a game, the Trojans will have to scheme a way to keep Franklin Regional off the scoreboard.

Keys to victory: D: Josh Wannamaker is the leading rusher and receiver for Derry, and to go out with a win, the senior running back will need to produce a star performance. FR: Turnovers, including a trio of interceptions thrown by quarterback Nico Lodovico, hampered the Panthers in a loss to Hampton last week. More giveaways this week will let Derry stick around and make this a game.

Prediction: Franklin Regional, 42-21.

Greater Allegheny

(6-AAA) Mars (7-1, 6-1) at (7-AAA) Hampton (7-1, 6-1)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: This game will decide the conference champion in the Greater Allegheny. Hampton is coming off a victory over then No. 5 Franklin Regional, while Mars bounced back from a Week 7 loss to Knoch with a 20-14 win over Indiana last week.

The X-factor: Handling the moment. Both teams are deep, experienced and play a balanced style of offense and defense. The game could be decided on who handles the pressure better.

Keys to victory: H: Quarterback Jon Nigro played his best game of the season last week according to head coach Jacque DeMatteo. He will need a similar performance this week. M: Pound away with the run. Running back Josh Schulthes piled up 400 rushing yards the last two weeks and found the end zone 21 times so far this season.

Prediction: Hampton, 17-15.


Blackhawk (2-6, 2-5) at Ambridge (3-5, 3-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Both teams enter the regular season final needing a victory to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs. New Castle and Hopewell also are playing each other for a shot to advance to the postseason. Central Valley, Montour and West Allegheny have locked up spots already, leaving the fourth and fifth positions up for grabs, as well as a possible wild card berth for Class AAA's 16th seed.

The X-factor: Blackhawk running back Cole Chiappialle ran for 404 yards and six touchdowns in last week's 48-25 win over Chartiers Valley. That performance might be tough to duplicate, but he could play a key role again this week.

Keys to victory: B: Be balanced on offense. Ambridge is likely to load the box against Chiappialle and the running game, but the Cougars also have Pitt recruit Chandler Kincaide under center. A: Blackhawk has struggled defensively this season, allowing 32 ppg. Ambridge QB Nick Santiago and tailbacks Kennell Washington, Stephan McGinnis and Kody Nichi need to attack early and often.

Prediction: Blackhawk, 21-14.

Class AA


Deer Lakes (3-5, 2-5) at (10-AA) Burrell (7-1, 6-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Burrell has secured a playoff berth, and can capture at least a share of the conference crown with a victory. Burrell leads the all-time series with Deer Lakes, 18-4, but they've split the past four meetings. Burrell rolled to a 42-0 win in last season's game. Deer Lakes, which has been eliminated from the playoff picture, is dealing with several devastating injuries.

The X-factor: Burrell senior running back Cole Bush needs 156 rushing yards and two touchdowns to break the school's single-season records in those categories.

Keys to victory: B: Burrell can chew up yards with its strong offensive line and stable of ball carriers, led by Bush. DL: The Lancers must stop the run first and need a stellar outing from their defensive linemen and linebackers.

Prediction: Burrell, 27-12.


Shady Side Academy (5-3, 5-2) at Kittanning (4-4, 4-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Shady Side Academy is in a tie with Valley for third place in the conference and holds the head-to-head advantage. A win punches the Indians' ticket to the playoffs. But Kittanning hopes to knock off Shady Side Academy and create a two-way tie for fourth place, which the Wildcats would break with the head-to-head edge. A Valley loss and Kittanning win would create a three-way tie, which would turn the focus to Gardner points.

The X-factor: Injuries slowed Shady Side Academy running backs Jared Brevard and Dennis Briggs earlier this season. But based on last week's 15-0 win at Summit Academy, the junior duo is back to full strength. Briggs had two interceptions, a blocked punt, 66 rushing yards and one touchdown. Brevard gained 84 yards on the ground and scored once.

Keys to victory: SSA: Hold Kittanning to 20 points or fewer. The Indians, averaging 19.6 points per game, are 1-3 in games in which their opponent scores at least 20. K: Shake off last week's last-minute loss to Valley. The Wildcats will not win if they're hung up on a missed opportunity.

Prediction: Shady Side Academy, 23-20.


Summit Academy (2-6, 1-6) at Freeport (6-2, 6-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Freeport has clinched a playoff berth and is tied with Burrell for first place in the nine-team conference. If both teams win this week, they'll be considered co-champs, but Freeport could be seeded higher in the postseason because the Yellowjackets defeated Burrell, 26-7. Summit Academy has been eliminated from playoff contention, but the Knights could avoid tying for last place in the conference with a win.

The X-factor: The difference in this contest could be motivation. Freeport's playing for playoff positioning, while Summit Academy will have to wait at least another year for its first trip to the postseason.

Keys to victory: F: The Yellowjackets must continue to remold their rushing attack after losing standout senior running back Damon Smith to a season-ending injury in Week 6. SA: The Knights, averaging only 11.5 points per game, need a spark on offense.

Prediction: Freeport, 26-14.


Valley (6-2, 5-2) at Ford City (3-5, 2-5)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Valley earned its first playoff berth since 2008 by completing its fourth home comeback of the season to stun Kittanning, 20-17. But the Vikings cannot afford to ease up, as their place in the conference standings remains undetermined. Ford City snapped a three-game losing streak with last week's 48-13 home win over Deer Lakes. The Sabers last lost to Valley in 2005.

The X-factor: In his first two varsity starts, Valley sophomore quarterback Dan Farinelli led the Vikings to comeback victories. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Chaz Cheatham with less than a minute left last week. If Farinelli starts in place of injured junior Ty Matthews (appendix) again, will he continue to perform at a level that exceeds his experience?

Keys to victory: V: Control the clock with running backs Demetrius Houser and Jaden Walker as well as a defense that denies the big play. Houser and Walker thrived in Valley's “Beast” package a week ago. FC: Sustain the momentum generated a week ago, when running back Devan Willyard surpassed the 200-yard mark rushing and fullback Ben Young went over 100.

Prediction: Valley, 22-21.


McGuffey (3-5, 2-5) at Steel Valley (4-4, 4-3)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Steel Valley has locked up the fourth and final playoff berth from the conferenc, while McGuffey has already been eliminated. Steel Valley, though, could use a little momentum heading into the postseason after a disappointing loss to South Allegheny last week. The Ironmen have been dealing with injuries all season – much like they did in 2011 – yet still found a way to make the playoffs. A win would also assure the Ironmen of a non-losing season for the fourth consecutive year.

The X-factor: Steel Valley running back D'Andre Pickens is still closing in on a 1,000-yard season.

Keys to victory: M: Finish drives. One of the big reasons why the Highlanders have struggled is their inability to put the ball in the end zone after doing everything else right. SV: Air Pat. Ironmen quarterback Patrick O'Malley has quietly put together an outstanding season that has him among the top 20 passers in the WPIAL.

Prediction: Steel Valley, 20-19.


(9-AA) South Allegheny (7-1, 6-1) at (2-AA) South Fayette (7-0, 6-0)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: South Allegheny downed Steel Valley, 14-6, last week as it prepares to enter the WPIAL postseason for the first time since 1986. South Fayette is coming off a 42-0 win over South Park – its third straight shutout. If the Gladiators get the win, it will share the Century Conference crown with the Lions

The X-factor: Lions sophomore quarterback Brett Brumbaugh has thrown for 1,944 yards with 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The offensive line has done its job and has given up only two sacks.

Keys to victory: SA: South Allegheny's bend-but-not break defense last week held Steel Valley to a single score. It will need a similar performance Friday. SF: The Lions defense has dominated the competition, giving up only 24 points. If it shows up big against Friday, South Fayette could claim its third undefeated regular season in four years.

Prediction: South Fayette, 42-14.


Greensburg Central Catholic (6-2, 5-2) at (4-AA) Jeannette (7-1, 6-1)

7 p.m. Thursday

The rundown: While these teams have already locked up playoff spots, seeding is still up for grabs in the Interstate Conference. If Jeannette wins, it will finish second, Mt. Pleasant third and Greensburg Central Catholic fourth. If Greensburg Central Catholic defeats Jeannette, which will create a three-way tie for second place, by 8 points or more, Mt. Pleasant would be second on tiebreaker points, and GCC would be third based on head-to-head competition.

The X-factor: GCC linebacker/fullback Nate Stone is a leader on defense and a touchdown machine on offense. GCC's strength is its linebackers and secondary. Stone, however, is the man GCC gets the ball to around the end zone, evidenced by his six TDs.

Keys to victory: GCC: Play strong defense and make Jeannette's offense drive the ball. GCC QB Chase Keller is a threat running and throwing. P.J. Biros has caught seven touchdown passes. J: Take control of the line of scrimmage, play error free and don't commit penalties. Running backs Jordan Edmunds and Shavonta Craft make a solid one-two running tandem.

Prediction: Jeannette, 27-14.


Yough (3-5, 3-4) at Southmoreland (3-5, 3-4)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: The Cougars and the Scotties will each miss the playoffs, but they are fighting for fifth place in the conference. Southmoreland is coming off a 42-22 win over Charleroi. Yough dropped a narrow 14-12 decision to Greensburg Central Catholic.

The X-factor: The Scotties have won three of four, and if the offense can continue to rack up the points, Southmoreland has a chance to make it four out of five.

Keys to victory: Y: Quarterback Tyler Donahue is a capable signal-caller that will test the Southmoreland secondary. S: Receiver Kevin Bundridge and quarterback Dakota Datz have shown big-play chemistry and will look for more downfield success this week.

Prediction: Yough, 35-20.


(5-AA) Beaver (8-0, 6-0) at (1-AA) Aliquippa (8-0, 6-0)

7 p.m. Friday

The rundown: Both teams have locked up playoff berths, but there will still be plenty on the line Friday night in the de facto Midwestern Conference championship game. Aliquippa, which averages nearly 54 ppg and allows less than 4, is coming off a dominating 66-7 win over Beaver Falls. Beaver scored 35 or more points for the sixth time this season in a 35-13 win over Ellwood City.

The X-factor: The Aliquippa running game. Tailbacks Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson provide one of the most lethal backfields in the entire WPIAL and have combined for more than 1,500 yards.

Keys to victory: B: Get ahead early. Anyone who tuned in to Root Sports last week saw Aliquippa can score fast and in bunches. Taking advantage of each possession will be key for Beaver. A: Darian Bradley has scored 23 times this season for Beaver, so slowing his production will be crucial for the Quips.

Prediction: Redbank Valley, 14-12.

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