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Breaking down Week 4 high school football matchups in Western Pennsylvania

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 10:48 p.m.

Here's a look at some of the top matchups in Western Pennsylvania high school football for Week 4.

Class AAAA

Quad Central

Plum (0-3, 0-3) at 6-AAAA Woodland Hills (1-2, 1-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Plum lost to Mt. Lebanon, 29-0. Woodland Hills beat Bethel Park, 38-23.

The buzz: Woodland Hills has controlled the overall series with Plum, winning 15 of the 17 meetings, including the last 10.

Key players: Miles Sanders, last year's rushing leader, had 180 yards in Week 3 for the Wolverines. At 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, Plum senior OL/DL Nick Zezza is difficult to push around.

About the Wolverines: Quarterback Harry Randall, injured for much of last year, scored three rushing touchdowns against Bethel Park.

About the Mustangs: Plum's offense was held to 63 total yards last week. Senior Nathan Turchick led the way on the ground with 53 yards on 12 carries.

Prediction: Woodland Hills, 26-6.

Quad East

Hempfield (2-1, 2-1) at

Kiski Area (2-1, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Hempfield beat Connellsville, 42-28. Kiski Area lost to Gateway, 43-25.

The buzz: The winner will stay in the hunt for a conference title, while the loser will drop to the middle of the Quad East standings.

Key players: The Spartans' Joe DeFloria has rushed for more than 500 yards through three weeks; he gained 262 last week. RB Patrick Turner provides Kiski Area a capable blocker, ball carrier and pass catcher.

About the Spartans: DeFloria brings big-play abilities to Hempfield, which beat Kiski Area, 42-21, last year with DeFloria injured for much of the game. Quarterback Ty George ran for four scores in the win.

About the Cavaliers: Troubled by turnovers and special teams breakdowns, they endured their first loss last week. Freshman Justice Evans' 18-yard touchdown run had powerhouse Gateway on the ropes early, though.

Prediction: Kiski Area, 28-27.

Norwin (0-3, 0-3) at

Latrobe (1-2, 0-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Norwin lost to McKeesport, 28-7. Latrobe beat Fox Chapel, 20-8.

The buzz: A loss would severely damage each team's playoff chances.

Key players: Norwin WR/DB Kyle Baum is a three-year starter and scored the team's first TD of the season last week. Latrobe QB Logan Carns threw for more than 100 yards against Fox Chapel and can give teams trouble with his mobility.

About the Knights: Their 27-14 win over the Wildcats last season marked their only conference victory and ended a 13-game losing streak. ... Coach Art Tragesser said the defense has been a strength, allowing 22 points per game.

About the Wildcats: While Latrobe is 0-2 in conference play, it nearly upset No. 3 Gateway in Week 1. ... Latrobe posted back-to-back winning seasons in 2010 and ‘11 but hasn't made the playoffs since ‘09. ... Lucas Monteparte rushed for two TDs last week against Fox Chapel.

Prediction: Latrobe, 21-13.

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

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: McKeesport defeated Norwin, 28-7. Penn-Trafford blanked Altoona, 19-7.

The buzz: The return of coach George Smith has gone better than expected at McKeesport. The Tigers opened the season 3-0, including a victory against preseason favorite Woodland Hills. Defensively-sound P-T has rebounded after an opening loss to North Hills.

Key players: P-T's running game is manned by Devin Austin and Tom Stinelli. Austin has rushed for 474 yards and two scores and Stinelli 214 and two scores. McKeesport QB David Queen has adapted well to the flexbone.

About the Warriors: Sophomore QB Brett Laffoon is 23 for 41 for 326 yards. One of his top targets is sophomore Timmy Vecchio, who has eight catches for 171 yards.

About the Tigers: RB Mikell Moore leads the ground attack with 366 yards and two scores.

Prediction: McKeesport, 26-21.

Quad North

Fox Chapel (0-3, 0-2) at 1-AAAA Central Catholic (3-0, 2-0)

7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Fox Chapel lost to Latrobe, 20-8. Central Catholic beat Canon-McMillan, 56-0.

The buzz: Fox Chapel, averaging just 11 points per game, meets a Central Catholic defense that has allowed three points this season.

Key players: Richard Giovanetti gave Fox Chapel a bright spot with a sack for a safety last week. Central Catholic lineman Zack DeLuca, an all-conference selection in 2012, leads the defense.

About the Foxes: Because of injuries and inexperience, the troubles continue for Fox Chapel, which has lost its past seven games.

About the Vikings: QB J.J. Cosentino, a Florida State recruit who grew up in the Kiski Area district, commands a multifaceted offense.

Prediction: Central Catholic, 42-7.

Pine-Richland (2-1, 2-1) at

7-AAAA North Allegheny (2-1, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Pine-Richland beat Butler, 49-18. NA was upset by Seneca Valley, 20-6.

The buzz: The Tigers are looking to get back on the winning track after having an 18-game winning streak snapped

Key players: NA will continue to rely on WR Elijah Zeise to stretch the field and make the tough catches. RBs Sean Idowu and Josh Bergman have also aided the offense. Pine-Richland has a ton of talent led by QB Ben DiNucci (602 yards, 5 TDs) and running back Connor Slomka, who has 559 yards and eight touchdowns.

About the Rams: The offense is clicking with DiNucci finding WRs D'Ondre Gaston and Mike Merhut and finding balance with Slomka on the ground.

About the Tigers: After suffering its first loss in more than an entire season, the Tigers will look to the veterans to help the newer players get back on track.

Prediction: North Allegheny, 21-17.

Class AAA

Big Nine

Albert Gallatin (2-1, 2-1) at West Mifflin (3-0, 3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Albert Gallatin beat Trinity, 28-14. West Mifflin toped Uniontown, 35-0.

The buzz: Albert Gallatin enters this game on a roll following last week's impressive upset against Trinity. West Mifflin, meanwhile, has been impressive during its first three games and boasts one of the WPIAL's finest running attacks. The game marks a huge test for improving Albert Gallatin.

Key players: West Mifflin RB Jimmy Wheeler has been unstoppable during most of the past two seasons and has been sensational in his senior campaign. Albert Gallatin RB Collin Smith rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns against Trinity and will be relied upon heavily against West Mifflin's speedy defense.

About the Titans: West Mifflin's defense, a concern entering the season, has been relatively stout through three weeks. The Titans don't throw often, but don't have to because of the speedy Wheeler, who needed only two games to exceed the 500-yard rushing mark.

About the Colonials: Albert Gallatin as been one of the surprises of Class AAA largely because of its two-headed running attack. Branden Dice and Smith each exceeded the 100-yard rushing mark and scored two touchdowns last week.

Prediction: West Mifflin, 28-10.

Belle Vernon (1-2, 1-2) at 7-AAA Elizabeth Forward (2-1, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Belle Vernon lost to Ringgold, 42-21. Elizabeth Forward beat Laurel Highlands, 37-7.

The buzz: Belle Vernon looks to end a two-game losing streak, but containing EF QB JaQuan Davidson will be a task.

Key players: QB Travis Snyder provided Belle Vernon with all three of its touchdowns on scoring passes in the loss to Ringgold, two to Cody Menges, including a 68-yarder. Davidson threw three scoring passes — two to Matt Bernadowski — against Laurel Highlands, and Bernadowski also returned a punt for another TD.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon has relied mainly on its passing game while averaging 25 points per game. Snyder has completed nearly 50 percent of his passes (29 for 60) for 489 yards and nine touchdowns.

About the Warriors: Bernadowski has seven TDs in a number of ways — rushing, receiving and returns. Davidson has 508 yards of offense.

Prediction: EF, 34-20.

Trinity (0-3, 0-2) at Thomas Jefferson (3-0, 2-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Trinity lost to Albert Gallatin, 28-14. Thomas Jefferson defeated Hollidaysburg, 45-12.

The buzz: Thomas Jefferson has won seven consecutive times against the Hillers dating back to the 2006 season. The Jaguars, who won last year's matchup at Trinity, 40-7, are averaging 39.3 ppg., the third-highest average in Class AAA.

Key players: Thomas Jefferson's leading rusher is RB Austin Kemp, with 355 yards and four scores on 51 carries. The Jaguars' leading receiver is Dalton Dietrich, with 12 catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Trinity QB Forrest Cullings accounted for both touchdowns last week.

About the Hillers: Trinity is in a rebuilding mode. ... The Hillers have been outscored, 93-21.

About the Jaguars: The quarterbacking tandem of seniors Chase Winovich and Christian Breisinger has accounted for 402 yards and seven touchdowns. ... Breisinger completed 8 of 13 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns against Hollidaysburg.

Prediction: Thomas Jefferson, 42-7

Uniontown (1-2, 1-2) at Ringgold (2-1, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Uniontown lost to West Mifflin, 35-0. Ringgold beat Belle Vernon, 42-21.

The buzz: It's a big conference game for both teams as the Rams look to maintain a solid hold on playoff position. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders are desperately trying to get back into the hunt with a victory.

Key players: Uniontown has offensive potential with the continued development of quarterback Xavier Ellis. Ringgold quarterback Nico Law threw for three scores and ran for two more in the win over the Leopards.

About the Red Raiders: Tristan Sandrosky and Doug Lewis give the Red Raiders some punch out of the backfield.

About the Rams: Senior wide receiver Dayshore Majors is a reliable target for Law, and the two hooked up for a pair of scoring plays last week.

Prediction: Ringgold, 30-13.

Greater Allegheny

Derry (0-3, 0-2) at

Indiana (1-2, 1-2)

7 P.M. Friday

Last week: Derry fell to Knoch, 58-7. Indiana lost to Mars, 38-15.

The buzz: Derry is in a rebuilding cycle and having trouble scoring points (14). Indiana is trying to snap a two-game losing streak after a win at Hampton.

Key players: Derry QB Kyle Holmes has completed 19 of 65 passes for 227 yards and five interceptions. Ian Scott and Riley Stapleton have each scored two times to lead Indiana.

About the Trojans: Derry has been outscored, 174-14, in three games and has only rushed for 128 yards. Wide receiver Jaymie Howe has caught seven passes for 125 yards and Clint Beeman has six catches for 51 yards.

About the Indians: Indiana was outscored, 21-0, in the third quarter at Mars on Sept. 13 and never recovered. Scott, who scored on a 36-yard run, rushed for 77 yards. Dequan West rushed for 39 yards, but caught three passes for 42 yards.

Prediction: Indiana, 36-7.

Greater Allegheny

9-AAA Franklin Regional (2-1, 2-1) at Greensburg Salem (1-2, 1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Franklin Regional lost to Highlands, 17-0. Greensburg Salem lost to Hampton, 30-9.

The buzz: FR will look for its third road conference victory in the first four weeks of the season.

Key players: Franklin Regional WR/DB Casey Colagrande caught three passes against Highlands and recorded seven tackles, one sack and an interception. Lenny Grebeck scored Greensburg Salem's only TD last week on a 36-yard run.

About the Panthers: They committed 10 penalties for 82 yards against Highlands and managed only 127 yards of total offense, with 59 coming on two long scrambles by QB Charan Singh. ... Marty Novak and Kevin Slezak had 18 and 12 tackles, respectively, last week. ... The Panthers defeated Greensburg Salem, 44-0, last season.

About the Golden Lions: They have scored 25 points in their past two games after scoring 20 in a Week 1 win over Knoch.

Prediction: FR, 35-10.

Knoch (2-1, 1-1) at Hollidaysburg (1-2, 1-1)

7 p.m., Friday

Last week: Knoch beat Derry, 58-7. Hollidaysburg lost to Thomas Jefferson, 45-12.

The buzz: A 35-0 winner a year ago, Knoch enters its rematch with Hollidaysburg just as the Knights appear to have hit their stride.

Key players: Knoch QB Dan Farinelli threw for 203 yards last week. Hollidaysburg quarterback Josh Bickley passed for 100 yards in both Week 1 and 2 and also scrambled well.

About the Knights: RB Cody Milsom has become the star playmaker for an increasingly potent offense. Jim Larrimer changes games at WR.

About the Golden Tigers: First-year coach Homer DeLattre will make his second appearance in front of the home crowd. Ryan Waltz is Bickley's top receiving option.

Prediction: Knoch, 26-16.

5-AAA Mars (2-1, 2-1) at

8-AAA Highlands (3-0, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mars beat Indiana, 38-15. Highlands beat Franklin Regional, 17-0.

The buzz: Highlands' upset of Franklin Regional vaulted the Golden Rams atop the conference, though the Planets can force a three-way tie with a win. Mars cruised to a 55-6 victory last year.

Key players: Mars running back Josh Schultheis had 212 yards last week and has 521 yards and seven touchdowns in three games. Highlands' Elijah Jackson piled up 232 rushing yards last week. He has 514 for the year.

About the Planets: Mars wants to get the ball to Schultheis whenever possible, but QB Owen Nearhoof has playmakers in wideouts Travis Ganter and Nolan Skirtich.

About the Golden Rams: Highlands, which is allowing seven points per game, held Franklin Regional to 124 total yards and five first downs.

Prediction: Mars, 35-17.


6-AAA New Castle (2-1, 1-1) at Montour (2-1, 1-1)

7:10 p.m. Friday

Last week: New Castle beat Ambridge, 37-13. Montour beat Mohawk, 27-26.

The buzz: Central Valley and West Allegheny lead the Parkway at 3-0. These two and Moon are vying for the next few spots. Montour won, 33-14, last year.

Key players: New Castle's Julian Cox threw for 132 yards and ran for a TD last week. D.J. Payne caught seven passes for 72 yards and a touchdown last week for Montour.

About the Hurricanes: Keep an eye out for Ohio State recruit Malik Hooker, one of the WPIAL's best athletes. The Hurricanes have 84 points in two games, both wins, following a 29-6 loss at Central Valley in Week 1.

About the Spartans: Senior Tynen Greer is a dual threat at QB. Senior RB Cole Macek leads the ground attack with 238 yards and two TDs. Montour was down to its third-string quarterback during a 38-0 loss to Central Valley in Week 2.

Prediction: Montour, 28-21.


Hampton (1-2) at Laurel Highlands (0-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Hampton beat Greensburg Salem, 30-9. Laurel Highlands lost to Elizabeth Forward, 37-7.

The buzz: After struggling in three straight Big 9 games, the Mustangs will have the opportunity to make adjustments and fine-tune their game in a nonconference battle at home with the Talbots.

Key players: Quarterback Nick Grabowski is coming off a two-touchdown effort in a Greater Allegheny victory over the Golden Lions. Running back Dontay Jacobs is a threat to break one at any time for the Mustangs.

About the Talbots: Hampton has the ability to put points on the board out of the backfield with C.J. Arch churning out the yards.

About the Mustangs: Running back Coron Mains could be emerging as a threat after catching a touchdown pass last week.

Prediction: Hampton, 37-13.

Class AA


Burrell (2-1, 1-1) at 6-AA Shady Side Academy (3-0, 3-0)

7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Burrell beat Summit Academy, 35-6. Shady Side Academy beat Valley, 10-8.

The buzz: Dominant in its two wins but shut out in its loss, Burrell gets a chance to test itself against the best in the conference.

Key players: Senior Chad Tonks, a returning OL starter, also can serve as a ball carrier in short-yardage situations. At 6-foot, 202 pounds, Indians senior QB Chuck Calabrese runs with the force and fearlessness of a fullback.

About the Bucs: They must prove they can move the ball against top-notch defenses.

About the Indians: Shady Side Academy contained Valley's high-powered rushing attack to earn a key conference win. The team has allowed just eight points all year.

Prediction: SSA, 26-12.

Deer Lakes (0-3, 0-3) at East Allegheny (1-2, 1-2)

7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Deer Lakes lost to Freeport, 14-10. East Allegheny beat Ford City, 14-7.

The buzz: Deer Lakes, which squandered a 10-point lead last week, must stay sharp against East Allegheny, which used a comeback to snap a 10-game losing streak a week ago.

Key players: Senior QB Josh Plocki accounted for 187 of Deer Lakes' 209 yards last week. East Allegheny senior Kyle Whipple is just as adept as a dual-threat QB.

About the Lancers: T.J. Wiley still awaits his first win as Deer Lakes' coach. The Lancers must improve their run defense.

About the Wildcats: Junior FB/LB Taizjon Brown stood out on both sides of the ball during East Allegheny's skid-ending win. He's a bruising ball carrier and blitzer.

Prediction: East Allegheny, 23-14.

Summit Academy (1-2, 1-1) at Kittanning (3-0, 2-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Summit lost to Burrell, 35-6. Kittanning beat Greensburg Central Catholic, 18-13.

The buzz: High-scoring Kittanning can't afford an upset if it wishes to remain in the conference title hunt.

Key players: Summit RB Elijah Hardy is the team's leading rusher and big-play threat. Kittanning QB Braydon Toy averages a combined 120 yards per game rushing and passing.

About the Knights: After scoring 35 points in the season-opener, they've managed just 13 in the last two weeks combined.

About the Wildcats: WR/LB Nick Bowers continues to do it all for the Wildcats as the team's top receiver, second-leading rusher and top scorer.WR Alek Schaffer had three catches for 51 yards and a score against GCC.

Prediction: Kittanning, 31-21.

10-AA Valley (2-1, 2-1) at Freeport (1-2, 1-2)

7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Valley lost to Shady Side Academy, 10-8. Freeport beat Deer Lakes, 14-10.

The buzz: Knocked out of first place, Valley looks to rebound in a big way against a young but improving Freeport.

Key players: Sizable senior QB Ty Matthews adds another threat to Valley's run-oriented offense. Freeport's Steve Lassinger enjoyed a breakout game last week, as he rushed for 110 yards.

About the Vikings: Their 9-8 win over Freeport a year ago caught the attention of everyone in the conference. They must cut down the turnovers, which hurt them in last week's loss.

About the Yellowjackets: Freeport does not hide its offensive intentions; to beat Deer Lakes, it gained all 329 yards of offense on the ground.

Prediction: Valley, 28-14.


South Park (1-1, 1-2) at South Allegheny (0-2, 0-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: South Park beat Burgettstown, 37-13. South Allegheny lost to New Brighton, 52-25.

The buzz: Two struggling teams will try to get a much-needed victory, although South Park managed its first win on Friday after opening with a pair of lopsided losses. South Allegheny has been outscored by an average of 44-16.

Key players: South Park's Ryan Mino has caught seven passes for 148 yards (21.1 average). South Allegheny QB Ty Cook has provided much of the Gladiators' offense, combining for 252 yards, including 136 rushing. Two of WR Kordell Thompson's three receptions have gone for touchdowns.

About the Eagles: The Eagles' defense, which yields an average of 35 points per game, will need to contain the SA passing game, led by QB Mike McLaughlin (13 for 23, 251 yards, 4 TDs).

About the Gladiators: The Gladiators have totaled 45 points in losses to Quaker Valley and New Brighton. Defense has been an issue, though, as South Allegheny has been unable to stop opposing offenses, the latest example giving up 52 points to New Brighton on Friday.

Prediction: South Park, 33-19.

Steel Valley (2-1, 2-1) at

7-AA Seton-La Salle (3-0, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Steel Valley lost to South Fayette, 42-7. Seton-La Salle defeated Keystone Oaks, 42-0.

The buzz: Seton-La Salle, long known for its passing attack, did not surrender a TD against Keystone Oaks and South Allegheny. Steel Valley has dropped four of its past five against the Rebels.

Key players: Steel Valley's D'Andre Pickens sprained an ankle on the game's third play last week. He was the WPIAL's second-leading rusher. Seton-La Salle QB Tyler Perone is the second-leading passer in the WPIAL with 763 yards and nine TDs.

About the Ironmen: Steel Valley is hoping to bounce back following last week's disappointing 35-point loss. ... The Ironmen lost to Seton-La Salle last season, 34-7.

About the Rebels: Perone's favorite targets are Danzel McKinley-Lewis and Tom Rizza, who have 13 catches apiece.

Prediction: Seton-La Salle, 28-14.


Brownsville (0-3, 0-2) at

8-AA Jeannette (3-0, 3-0)

7 P.M. Friday

Last week: Brownsville lost at Waynesburg, 35-6. Jeannette rallied to defeat Yough, 27-22.

The buzz: Brownsville played well in Week 2, but fell behind during a second half comeback by Yough, 30-21. Jeannette hopes to remain unbeaten and healthy as it prepares for Washington in Week 5.

Key players: Brownsville RB Marcellis Grooms has scored three TDs and Bryon Mayes two, including one last week at Waynesburg. Jeannette QB Julian Batts has completed 23 of 31 passes for 316 yards and four TDs.

About the Falcons: Brownsville has been outscored, 111-41, in three games. Coach Von Braddock is working with a small roster.

About the Jayhawks: Other than Batts, no one has put up big offensive numbers. Wide receiver Zack Altieri has six catches for 108 yards and has scored three touchdowns.

Prediction: Jeannette, 40-14.

Charleroi (0-3, 0-3) at

3-AA Mt. Pleasant (3-0, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Charleroi lost to Washington, 66-10. Mt. Pleasant defeated Southmoreland, 38-0.

The buzz: The Vikings have been impressive in all three of their early-season wins and will look to maintain at least a share of the top spot in the conference.

Key players: The Cougars feature RB Greg Arnold, as well as four-year starting offensive lineman Chase McKevitt. Mt. Pleasant QB Ryan Gumbita had a rushing and throwing TD in last week's win.

About the Cougars: Charleroi must find a way to shore up its defense after giving up more than 60 points in its past two games.

About the Vikings: Six different players scored touchdowns in the win over Southmoreland. While the offense was strong, the defense was also tough, as evidenced by the two touchdowns scored on interceptions by Eric Klejka and Nathan Pieszak.

Prediction: Mt. Pleasant, 45-12.

Waynesburg (2-1, 1-1) at Greensburg C.C. (0-3, 0-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Waynesburg beat Brownsville, 35-6. GCC lost to Kittanning, 18-13.

The buzz: This will be the first time GCC plays a team with a loss. The Centurions are 0-3 for the first time since 2002. Waynesburg is 2-1 for the first time since ‘06.

Key players: RB Tyler Balla and Nate Stone ran for scores for GCC last week. Waynesburg's Hunter Cenname and Bo Hampson combined for 227 rushing yards and four TDs last week.

About the Raiders: Coach Russ Moore is re-establishing his program and has Waynesburg competitive again. Cenname and Hampson have combined for 76 carries, 523 yards and seven TDs.

About the Centurions: GCC has been hurt by the injury of quarterback Chase Kellar (shoulder). Tommy Pellis threw for 127 yards last week but was intercepted three times. GCC's 30 points scored rank last in the conference.

Prediction: GCC, 21-17.

Yough (2-1, 2-1) at

5-AA Washington (3-0, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Yough lost to Jeannette, 27-22. Washington beat Charleroi, 66-10.

The buzz: Prexies RB Shai McKenzie learned Monday he has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the year. McKenzie had 647 yards and 11 touchdowns in three games.

Players to watch: Washington's Malik Wells and Jordon West are capable of stepping into the role vacated by McKenzie, whose surgery is Friday morning. Yough's Tyler Donahue threw for three touchdowns last week.

About the Cougars: Donahue was returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him the week prior. Clay Waldron caught a pair of touchdown passes from Donahue.

About the Prexies: McKenzie's injury is actually the second to a Washington starter; expected QB Chase Caldwell is playing wide receiver because of a torn ligament in his elbow. Wells ran for 125 yards and two TDs in relief duty last week.

Prediction: Yough, 24-20.


New Brighton (3-0, 2-0) at

1-AA Aliquippa (3-0, 1-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: New Brighton beat South Allegheny, 52-25. Aliquippa beat Riverside, 49-0.

The buzz: A heavy underdog despite its record, New Brighton could prove itself a conference title contender with another victory. But Aliquippa won this matchup last season, 66-0.

Key players: New Brighton senior QB Gabe Greco threw two TDs and rushed for another a week ago, when six different Lions scored. Aliquippa senior QB Darrien Fields provided two TDs vs. Riverside, including a 60-yard pass to Jyier Turner.

About the Lions: Not since 2004 has New Brighton started 3-0. That also was the most recent winning season (5-4). ... The Lions lead the WPIAL in scoring with 52.7 ppg.

About the Quips: RBs Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson scored two TDs apiece in last year's matchup, when the Quips scored on the first seven possessions.

Prediction: Aliquippa, 35-21.


Springdale (1-2) at Laurel (2-1)

7 p.m., Friday

Last week: Springdale beat Wilkinsburg, 6-0. Laurel beat Our Lady of Sacred Heart, 28-7.

The buzz: Superb defense delivered Springdale a win. It'll need more points to hang with Laurel, which averages 26.7 per game.

Key players: Dynamos RB Austin Kline's 43-yard catch set up the only touchdown in last week's win. Laurel WR Clayton Sharek has averaged more than 20 yards per catch; he had three receptions for 111 yards and two scores last week.

About the Dynamos: Defense will determine whether they can extend their playoff-qualifying streak to 12 seasons. They've scored 16 points in three games.

About the Spartans: Senior QB Josh Dando excels as a runner but has completed a fair share of downfield touchdown strikes.

Prediction: Ford City, 26-10.

Class A

Black Hills

Brentwood (1-2, 1-1) at

8-A Fort Cherry (3-0, 3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Brentwood lost to Windber, its Imani Christian replacement, 35-20. Fort Cherry beat Monessen, 49-33.

The buzz: Fort Cherry is averaging a conference-best 48.3 points per game and trying for its first 4-0 start since 2009. Brentwood won, 35-7, last year.

Key players: Brentwood running back Justin Vickless has been in and out of the lineup with a knee injury. Rangers QB Matt Heslin (433 yards, 12 TDs) has enjoyed a breakout year.

About the Spartans: Brentwood has allowed 30-plus points in back-to-back weeks. Quarterback Connor McWilliams threw for 223 yards last week.

About the Rangers: As good as Heslin has been, running back Koltan Kobrys (507 yards, 4 TDs) makes the offense go. He caught three touchdown passes last week to go along with two rushing TDs.

Prediction: Fort Cherry, 34-28.

9-A Monessen (2-1, 2-1) at

1-A Clairton (3-0, 3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Clairton defeated California, 32-7. Monessen lost to Fort Cherry, 49-33.

The buzz: Since the closing of Duquesne in 2008, Monessen has emerged as Clairton's biggest rival. Of course, the rivalry has been based more on dislike than competitiveness. Clairton is 4-0 against Monessen since 2008, out-scoring the Greyhounds 190-7. The Bears have won 66 straight games, the longest streak in the nation.

Key players: Freshman RB Lamont Wade has exceeded 100 yards in Clairton's past two games. Monessen QB Noah Rullo has orchestrated the spread well.

About the Bears: Clairton coach Tom Nola said it was time for his young team to “grow up” after struggling last week.

About the Greyhounds: The offense has been productive, but the defense has been a problem. Fort Cherry moved the ball at will.

Prediction: Clairton, 29-7.

Serra Catholic (0-2, 0-3) at Carlynton (1-2, 1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Serra Catholic fell to Chartiers-Houston, 42-24. Carlynton defeated Bishop Canevin, 37-12.

The buzz: Both teams will need a win to keep pace with the leaders of the conference. Carlynton has won the past two meetings in the series, including a 65-8 win last season.

Key players: Serra Catholic quarterback Zac Quattrone has the ability to make plays, as he has thrown for nearly 500 yards the last two weeks. Carlynton RB Isiah Canton is small but powerful. The sophomore ran for 189 yards and two scores last week.

About the Eagles: Joe Satira is Quattrone's top target and has two touchdowns this season. … The team is using a new spread offense installed by first-year coach Tony St. Angelo. … The Eagles last win was Oct. 14, 2011.

About the Cougars: Dual-threat QB Freddie McKissick leads the team in touchdowns with five. … The offensive line is comprised of five multi-year starters. … The defense has transitioned into a 4-3 scheme after running a 3-4 the previous two seasons.

Prediction: Carlynton, 35-21.


Leechburg (0-3, 0-2) at 5-A Apollo-Ridge (2-1, 1-1)

7 p.m., Friday

Last week: Leechburg lost to Avonworth, 42-7. Apollo-Ridge beat Western Beaver, 27-0.

The buzz: The Blue Devils must conjure up more offense if they hope to hang with Apollo-Ridge's explosive attack.

Key players: Leechburg junior Quinten Wolfgang, a special teams X-factor, took a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown last week. Junior Alex Smith has speed and size (6-foot-1, 160) at the wide receiver position for Apollo-Ridge.

About the Blue Devils: Their run-oriented attack has struggled to piece together complete drives. Leechburg's defense has shined at times.

About the Vikings: Since its season-opening overtime loss to North Catholic, Apollo-Ridge has ripped through its opponents. The Vikings average 224 rushing yards per game.

Prediction: Apollo-Ridge, 27-7

Riverview (0-3, 0-3) at 3-A North Catholic (3-0, 3-0)

7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Riverview lost to West Shamokin, 41-12. North Catholic beat Northgate, 42-6.

The buzz: A turnaround remains difficult for Riverview as it squares off with the conference frontrunner.

Key players: Raiders junior RB Raymar McCombs complements Keir Barber as a backfield threat. With junior RB Jerome Turner, North Catholic has thrived while standout P.J. Fulmore recovers from a nagging leg injury.

About the Raiders: They've allowed at least 41 points in their past two games. And 445 of their 563 offensive yards have come on the ground.

About the Trojans: They've allowed nine points in their past two games. QB Adam Sharlow joined the team's collection of 100-yard rushers with a 125-yard performance last week.

Prediction: North Catholic, 30-8.

Tri-County South

West Greene (1-2, 1-2) at Frazier (2-1, 2-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: West Greene lost to Jefferson-Morgan, 56-0. Frazier beat Bentworth, 38-0.

The buzz: Shutouts have been the story for these two teams so far this season. The Pioneers have been blanked in two games while the Commodores have two shutout victories.

Key players: The Pioneers will try to ride the legs of running back Dalton Wildman. The Commodores are a high-powered offense that features talented quarterback Charles Manack.

About the Pioneers: West Greene needs to find a way to produce offensively after being shut out in back-to-back weeks.

About the Commodores: Wide receiver Dakota Hixson has become a clutch performer, scoring two touchdowns in last week's victory. Nicholas Smalich ran for a pair of scores and Zachary Mastowski added a rushing touchdown in the win over Bentworth.

Prediction: Frazier, 42-21.

Mapletown (1-2, 0-2) at Geibel (0-3, 0-2)

1 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Mapletown lost to Avella, 41-6. Geibel lost to Vincentian Academy, 65-0.

The buzz: Will they or won't they? That's been a lingering question in regards to whether the Gators will be able to dress enough players to field a team from week to week. As of now, the Gators are a go and will be playing in their home opener.

Key players: Quarterback Ben Boone looks to ignite a Mapletown offense that has scored just 18 points through three games. Quarterback Brandon Kushnar will try to help the Gators put up their first points of the season after two shutout losses and a forfeit.

About the Maples: Despite some early struggles, a win against Geibel will push Mapletown back into the early playoff picture.

About the Gators: Geibel's biggest challenge is staying healthy and being able to compete on a game-to-game basis.

Prediction: Mapletown, 55-7.

City League

Brashear (1-2, 1-0) at

USO (3-0, 1-0), Cupples Stadium

7 p.m. Thursday

Last week: Brashear beat Westinghouse, 16-6. USO beat Carrick, 52-21.

The buzz: USO is averaging 49 points per game. Brashear hasn't scored that many all season. USO cruised, 40-12, last year.

Key players: Brashear quarterback Angelo Reed threw for 103 yards and two touchdowns last week, giving him 438 and three through three games. USO's Ron Brown has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards in the past two weeks combined.

About the Bulls: Ty Powe has turned into a reliable feature back and ran for 121 yards last week. Reed can be a consistent offensive threat but needs to avoid turnovers.

About the Panthers: Brown is putting up Arena League-type numbers: City League records in passing yards with 468 and 594, respectively, the past two weeks. He threw seven touchdowns to beat Carrick, including one by Marcus Johnson.

Prediction: USO, 42-20.

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