Alle-Kiski football notebook: Valley-SSA features clash of running backs
Shady Side Academy-Valley had plenty of appeal when the schedule came out months ago. Many expected the teams to wrangle for the Allegheny Conference title, and it appears they're well on their way to doing just that.
But Friday's first-place clash of 2-0 teams in New Kensington isn't just a matchup of two of the conference's best teams; it's a showcase of its top running backs.
Valley has been led by senior tailback Demetrius Houser (6-foot-1, 180 pounds), who has rushed for an Alle-Kiski-best 357 yards and six touchdowns in two games. He's done that on only 30 carries, which translates to 11.9 yards per carry.
Shady Side has the senior tandem of Jarred Brevard (5-8, 185) and Pitt recruit Dennis Briggs (5-11, 195), both of whom were first-team all-conference picks as juniors. Both have been relatively quiet through two games as the Indians have outscored their opponents, 84-0.
Last season, they combined for 1,127 yards and 12 TDs.
Briggs said the matchup is not about the running backs.
“It will be one of the best and most even matchups,” Briggs said. “There's a lot of speed and athleticism on both sides. I think it will come down to physicality and discipline.”
Shady Side sophomore Eric Harris ran for 112 yards and three scores on nine carries against Deer Lakes.
Valley, though, also has other weapons. Last week against Burrell, senior Devin Houser, Demetrius' cousin, showed some elusiveness.
What about us?
Kittanning has received little attention WPIAL-wide, but the Wildcats quietly have started 2-0 behind a high-scoring offense.
Kittanning is averaging an Allegheny Conference-leading 48 points per game.
In last week's 56-39 win over East Allegheny, 6-4, 220-pound junior Nick Bowers scored five touchdowns three different ways: two rushing, two receiving and one on a 96-yard interception return.
Kittanning will see several players with local ties on the opposite sideline when it plays Greensburg Central Catholic on Friday.
Senior running back Tyler Balla transferred from Valley, sophomore quarterback Phil Petit is from New Kensington and junior wideout Joey Tritschler is from Lower Burrell.
Knoch standout lineman Connor Shinsky has added a fourth Division I college scholarship offer. Bucknell is the latest to offer the 6-5, 255-pound tackle, joining Kent State, Texas-El Paso and St. Francis (Pa.).
Singh-ing his praises
Last season, if you asked any coach in the Greater Allegheny who was the best receiver in the conference, they'd probably have said Franklin Regional's Charan Singh. But as Highlands (2-0) will find out Friday when it visits the Panthers (2-0), Singh has become an effective quarterback.
Not only is he an accurate passer, but his on-the-fly decision-making can keep defenses guessing.
Burrell senior receiver Andrew Fisher let everyone know Saturday via Twitter that he was fine after taking a jarring hit from Valley's D'Aundre Johnson last Friday night. Fisher was a good sport about the head-turning play that has more than 2,500 hits on YouTube.
He tweeted, “I'm alive, I know my name and everything just to clear that up for anyone that thought I died ... nice hit I'm being serious but I'm not dead.”
Burrell's 26-0 loss to Valley was the Bucs' first shutout loss since Oct. 29, 2010. ... Comcast's Bob Tatrn is broadcasting his 50th season of high school football. He was honored last week at Valley. ... Springdale will have a post-9/11 tribute before Friday's game.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.