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What to watch in Week 6 of high school football: USC's Render, West A's Palko to face off

Chris Harlan
| Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, 4:06 p.m.
Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render walks to the field with his players before the start of a game against Peters Township Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, at Upper St. Clair.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render walks to the field with his players before the start of a game against Peters Township Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, at Upper St. Clair.
Upper St. Clair's head coach Jim Render on Monday, August 1, 2016.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Upper St. Clair's head coach Jim Render on Monday, August 1, 2016.
West Allegheny head coach Bob Palko on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
West Allegheny head coach Bob Palko on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016.
West Allegheny coach Bob Palko doesn’t mind the WPIAL’s six-classification alignment. “Gone are the really cool rivalries we’ve had for years, but that’s OK,” he said. “I don’t mind going on vacation to the same place every year, but it’s nice to go different places. So we’re kind of looking forward to it.”
Tony Pinnneri | For Trib Total Media
West Allegheny coach Bob Palko doesn’t mind the WPIAL’s six-classification alignment. “Gone are the really cool rivalries we’ve had for years, but that’s OK,” he said. “I don’t mind going on vacation to the same place every year, but it’s nice to go different places. So we’re kind of looking forward to it.”
New Castle's Marcus Hooker catches a pass Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, in New Castle.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
New Castle's Marcus Hooker catches a pass Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, in New Castle.
Penn-Trafford's John Gay is tackled by Gateway defense  Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 during WPIAL football at Penn-Trafford High School.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's John Gay is tackled by Gateway defense Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 during WPIAL football at Penn-Trafford High School.
Penn Hills' Hollis Mathis looks to pass during their game against Plum on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 at Newman Stadium in McCandless.Penn Hills won 26-0.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Penn Hills' Hollis Mathis looks to pass during their game against Plum on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 at Newman Stadium in McCandless.Penn Hills won 26-0.

The WPIAL coach with the most wins faces the coach with the most WPIAL titles.

Upper St. Clair's Jim Render and West Allegheny's Bob Palko will share the field Friday night in North Fayette for a well-coached matchup that could decide the Allegheny Nine title. Both teams are undefeated in the conference.

Render, the only active member of the WPIAL's exclusive 300-wins club, needs five more for 400. His career record is 395-134-6. After stints in Carrollton (Ohio) and Uniontown, Render has coached USC since 1979.

Palko, hired by West A in 1995, owns a record eight WPIAL titles after winning Class 5A last season.

That championship pushed Palko past New Castle coach Phil Bridenbaugh, who won the WPIAL seven times from 1922-55.

West Allegheny (5-0, 4-0) and Upper St. Clair (5-1, 5-0) are WPIAL contenders again this season. West A is ranked first in Class 5A and USC is third.

Another upset brewing?

In a two-year span, South Fayette has won 16 of 17 games.

The Lions' only loss was to New Castle, 51-43, in the WPIAL playoffs last fall.

When the two Northwest Nine contenders meet again Friday in New Castle, could the Red Hurricanes pull another upset?

South Fayette (6-0, 4-0), ranked first in WPIAL Class 4A, has outscored opponents 243-33.

But New Castle (4-2, 4-1), ranked fifth, has won four games in a row behind Ohio State commit Marcus Hooker. The senior running back has shifted to quarterback and scored three times last week. His older brother, Malik, is a rookie for the Indianapolis Colts.

South Fayette quarterback Drew Saxton needs 55 passing yards to reach 6,000 for his career. The senior would be the 10th in WPIAL history to reach the milestone.

Aliquippa ‘D' dominant

Could Clairton be the first team to score a touchdown against Aliquippa's defense?

Clairton's offense scored seven times a year ago and won this nonconference matchup 52-16. Aliquippa has not allowed an offensive touchdown in its first six games this season.

Clairton's star last year was Lamont Wade, who rushed for 247 yards and four touchdowns against the Quips as heavy rain turned Neil C. Brown Stadium's sod into mud. Wade is now a Penn State freshman.

This nonconference matchup lost some luster when Imani Christian upset Clairton last week. The loss dropped Clairton (4-1) from first to fifth in Class A. Aliquippa (6-0) is ranked No. 1 in WPIAL Class 3A.

Penn-Trafford, Penn Hills could avenge key losses

Penn-Trafford and Penn Hills are trying to take care of business a little earlier this season, a year after each narrowly missed the playoffs.

Penn-Trafford (6-0, 4-0) leads the Class 5A Big East Conference, and Penn Hills (5-1, 3-1) is second in the Class 6A Northern Seven. Both are squarely in the WPIAL playoff picture, but each has a chance Friday to earn some insurance.

Penn-Trafford visits Franklin Regional (4-1, 4-1), and Penn Hills visits North Allegheny (4-2, 2-1). Each could avenge a close loss from last season. Franklin Regional defeated Penn-Trafford, 21-16. North Allegheny defeated Penn Hills, 28-21.

Teams will move forward after last Friday's fight

Valley and Ellwood City will be short-handed after last week's game-ending fight. The two teams scuffled at midfield with 1 minute, 41 seconds left last Friday, a fight that saw four Valley players and three from Ellwood City ejected. PIAA rules prohibit them from participating this week. Valley (1-4) visits Shady Side Academy on Saturday. Ellwood City (2-3) hosts Beaver on Friday.

The WPIAL also wants Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo suspended for one game, but it's not known how the school's administration will respond. Valley can appeal the WPIAL's discipline and let Colosimo coach in the meantime.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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