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Breaking down Week 5 in Western Pennsylvania high school football

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 11:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Quaker Valley's Dane Jackson. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Daily News
South Fayette running back Grant Fetchet attempts to outmaneuver Steel Valley's DeWayne Murray on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, at Steel Valley.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin's Reed Relosky works out at practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Bishop Canevin.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
West Shamokin running back Andrew Wingard (1) finishes off a run during his team's practice Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, at West Shamokin High School.

Below are previews of some of the top matchups for Week 5 in Western Pennsylvania high school football:

Class AAAA

Quad Central

Canon-McMillan (0-4, 0-3) at Plum (0-4, 0-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Plum lost to Woodland Hills, 51-0. Canon-McMillan lost to Bethel Park, 31-0.

The buzz: Canon-McMillan won last year's meeting, 16-13, to secure its only victory. The teams have scored 23 points combined this year.

Key players: Zach Nolan, Plum's punter, has emerged as a top receiving target; he's a 6-foot-3, 230-pound tight end. Senior Jules Gdovic and Justin Mattolla are the top two rushers and receivers for the Big Macs this season.

About the Big Macs: Ron Coder, who played football at Penn State and was drafted by the Steelers in 1976, is in his first season as coach.

About the Mustangs: They've lost 20 games in a row. Junior Zach Martin had a team best 40 yards on eight carries last week.

Prediction: Canon-McMillan, 7-6.

6-AAAA Woodland Hills (2-2, 2-1) at Mt. Lebanon (1-3, 1-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Woodland Hills beat Plum, 51-0. Mt. Lebanon lost to Baldwin, 20-19, in overtime.

The buzz: This was considered a marquee matchup before both teams endured 0-2 starts. Woodland Hills recovered, but Mt. Lebanon hasn't quite yet.

Key players: An 83-yard punt return helped Woodland Hills senior Harry Randall reach the end zone twice last week. Mt. Lebanon junior QB Kellan Stout threw two TDs, including a 45-yarder to senior WR Troy Apke.

About the Blue Devils: Apke made 11 catches for 273 yards and three TDs against Woodland Hills last season in a 39-36 overtime victory that broke school records for passing yards.

About the Wolverines: Randall had 159 yards rushing and three touchdowns in this matchup last season before sustaining a knee injury that ended his junior season.

Prediction: Woodland Hills, 28-14.

2-AAAA Upper St. Clair (4-0, 4-0) at Baldwin (2-2, 2-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Upper St. Clair beat Penn Hills, 35-0. Baldwin beat Mt. Lebanon, 20-19.

The buzz: Baldwin is coming off an overtime win over Mt. Lebanon but plays the Panthers and Woodland Hills in successive weeks. USC hasn't allowed a point since Week 1.

Key players: Doug Altavilla threw three TD passes last week for Baldwin, two to Luke Smorey, who's approaching 500 yards receiving. Upper St. Clair QB Joe Repischak is a strong runner and had three rushing touchdowns last week.

About the Panthers: USC piled up 315 rushing yards against Penn Hills, 114 by RB Trevor Morrow. Three of USC's final four games are against teams with losing records.

About the Highlanders: Tailback Nick Barca is a converted receiver and has plenty of speed. Altavilla, who completed 12 of 27 passes against the Blue Devils, is a capable passer and has nine TDs.

Prediction: Upper St. Clair, 42-0.

Quad East


Altoona (1-3, 1-3) at

4-AAAA McKeesport (4-0, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Altoona lost to Gateway, 21-0. McKeesport defeated Penn-Trafford, 34-14.

The buzz: In the midst of an impressive start, McKeesport is guarding against a letdown against an Altoona team that has scored just one touchdown in the past three games.

Key players: Altoona RB Kevin Givens, who leads the Mountain Lions with 191 yards rushing on 47 carries (4.1 average), is a threat to catch the ball, too. McKeesport's flexbone offense is led by QB David Queen, who has rushed for 122 yards, third on the team behind Mikell Moore (366) and Seanlou Gilmore (138).

About the Mountain Lions: Altoona opened the fourth season of its second stint in the WPIAL with a 21-0 victory over Norwin. Since then, the Mountain Lions have been shut out twice in three losses.

About the Tigers: McKeesport has ascended to No. 4 in the Trib Total Media rankings in legendary coach George Smith's return to the sidelines after a three-year absence.

Prediction: McKeesport, 27-7.

Hempfield (3-1, 3-1) at 3-AAAA Gateway (4-0, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Hempfield defeated Kiski Area, 27-0. Gateway upended Altoona, 21-0.

The buzz: Last year's game at Hempfield went to Gateway, 41-13. The teams began the current conference series in 2007, and the Gators won the first four games a combined, 166-0.

Key players: Hempfield senior Joey DeFloria, who missed last year's game because of an injury, scored on an 80-yard run against Kiski Area last week and finished with 17 carries for 117 yards. Gateway DE Brenon Thrift leads the team with nine quarterback sacks.

About the Spartans: DeFloria has caught eight passes for 146 yards. He has eight total touchdowns. The Spartans defense forced five Kiski Area turnovers last week, including four in the first half.

About the Gators: Gateway held Altoona to 125 yards of total offense. Sophomore RB Adam White has 181 rushing yards.

Prediction: Gateway, 28-12.

Latrobe (1-3, 0-3) at

Penn-Trafford (2-2, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Latrobe lost to Norwin, 21-13. Penn-Trafford lost to McKeesport, 34-14.

The buzz: Penn-Trafford looks to bounce back from its first conference loss and stay in the race for a title as Latrobe looks to avoid falling out of the playoff race entirely.

Key players: Latrobe QB Logan Carns rushed for 137 yards against Norwin, including a 61-yard TD in the first quarter. Penn-Trafford WR Timmy Vecchio is the Warriors' leading receiver with 15 receptions and three touchdowns.

About the Wildcats: Turnovers killed Latrobe against Norwin. A Wildcats fumble was recovered for a touchdown, and an interception set up another score. ... Latrobe will need to find some complementary pieces for Carns, who had 137 of 163 rushing yards last week.

About the Warriors: The Warriors are scoring just 16 ppg. ... RB Devin Austin has 574 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and two TDs.

Prediction: Penn-Trafford, 26-14.

Norwin (1-3, 1-3) at

Connellsville (0-4, 0-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Norwin defeated Latrobe, 21-13. Connellsville lost to Seneca Valley, 36-0.

The buzz: Fresh off its first victory, Norwin will look to nail down its first two-game winning streak since October 2010.

Key players: Sophomore RB Peyton Deri led Norwin with 101 yards and a TD last week. Connellsville QB Jade Maher has passed for four TDs and run for one.

About the Knights: After scoring 10 points in its first three games, Norwin's offense had its best performance against Latrobe. The Knights rushed for more than 200 yards. ... The defense stood tall last week, scoring once on a fumble recovery and setting up another with an interception.

About the Falcons: The Falcons are allowing 43 ppg, and last week's game marked the first time they held an opponent below 40. ... They defeated Norwin the past two seasons, including 44-29 last season.

Prediction: Connellsville, 20-17.

Quad North

Fox Chapel (0-3, 0-4)

at Shaler (0-3, 0-4)

1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last Week: Fox Chapel lost to Central Catholic, 49-10. Shaler lost to Peters Township, 48-7.

The buzz: The Titans would like to give head coach Chris Siegle his first win during the homecoming festivities. Fox Chapel's only win in 2012 came against Shaler.

Key players: The Foxes will follow quarterback Billy Urso, while Shaler will counter with Josh Crawford.

About the Foxes: Fox Chapel has a solid quarterback in Urso, who directed the first touchdown drive surrendered by Central Catholic this season with a throw to Brandon Mitchell.

About the Titans: Crawford's increased rapport with WR Robbie Reinheimer and the running of Tim Nickel could lead to a breakout game.

Prediction: Fox Chapel, 10-9.


Pine-Richland (2-2)

at Kiski Area (2-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last Week: Kiski Area lost to Hempfield, 27-0. Pine-Richland lost to North Allegheny, 29-28.

The buzz: Special teams breakdowns cost Pine-Richland dearly in last week's loss, while Kiski Area struggled with turnovers that were returned for touchdowns.

Key players: Pine-Richland QB Ben DiNucci runs as well as he throws. Kiski Area leans on RB Lincoln Clayton, who gained more than 100 yards last week.

About the Cavaliers: Clayton and freshman Justice Evans are an explosive tandem out of the backfield.

About the Rams: Connor Slomka paces the ground game, and WRs Mike Merhut and D'ondre Gastion give DiNucci multiple options.

Prediction: Pine-Richland, 28-14.

Class AAA

Big 9

Elizabeth Forward (3-1, 3-1)

at Uniontown (1-3, 1-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Elizabeth Forward beat Belle Vernon, 35-13. Uniontown lost to Ringgold, 60-21.

The buzz: The Warriors look to strengthen their grip on a playoff position as they travel to Fayette County for a key conference matchup against the Red Raiders, a team in danger of falling out of the race altogether with a loss.

Key players: Uniontown would be wise to keep an eye on Elizabeth Forward wide receiver Matthew Bernadowski, who scored four touchdowns four different ways (punt return, kickoff return, run, reception) in last week's win. The Red Raiders' Doug Lewis continues to run hard. Lewis had 10 carries for 160 yards and a score in last week's loss to the Rams.

About the Warriors: Quarterback JaQuan Davidson can throw the ball, but is perhaps more dangerous in the running game.

About the Red Raiders: Quarterback Xavier Ellis will try to take some pressure off the Uniontown defense by putting together some lengthy drives.

Prediction: EF, 42-14.

Laurel Highlands (0-4, 0-3)

at Trinity (0-4, 0-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Laurel Highlands lost to Hampton, 47-0. Trinity lost to Thomas Jefferson, 44-7.

The buzz: Something has to give as the Mustangs and Hillers each search for their first victory of the season.

Key players: Quarterback Jimmy Pierce leads the Mustangs and completed just five passes in last week's loss to the Talbots. Forrest Cullings is the signal-caller for Trinity.

About the Mustangs: Running back Jason Leone caught two passes last week and also had 11 carries out of the backfield. Laurel Highlands has been outscored this season, 200-21.

About the Hillers: Trinity is scoring an average of seven points per game. The Hillers beat the Mustangs, 50-14 last season.

Prediction: Trinity, 37-37.

9-AAA Ringgold (3-1, 3-1) at

4-AAA West Mifflin (4-0, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Ringgold beat Uniontown, 60-21. West Mifflin defeated Albert Gallatin, 56-12.

The buzz: Is Ringgold's 3-1 start more than a mirage? We'll find out Friday. West Mifflin has scored 191 points, most in Class AAA. West Mifflin won by 28 points last year.

Key players: Ringgold QB Nico Law has passed for 681 yards, rushed for 469 more and has scored 12 TDs. West Mifflin RB Jimmy Wheeler leads the WPIAL with 946 yards and nine TDs.

About the Rams: Nico Law is the younger brother of another former Ringgold star, Quad Law. The Rams are averaging 42.3 ppg, up from 23.1 in 2012. Law's favorite target is Dayshore Majors, who has 11 catches for 214 yards and four TDs.

About the Titans: West Mifflin's closest game was a 35-0 rout at Uniontown in Week 3. This could be a trap game for West Mifflin, which plays Elizabeth Forward next week.

Prediction: West Mifflin, 35-21.


2-AAA Thomas Jefferson (4-0, 3-0) at Albert Gallatin (2-2, 1-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Thomas Jefferson beat Trinity, 44-7. Albert Gallatin lost to West Mifflin, 56-12.

The buzz: Thomas Jefferson has dispatched its four previous opponents by a whopping average of 33 points, while Albert Gallatin is hoping to avoid a three-game skid.

Key players: TJ's Dalton Dietrich has caught five TD passes among his 13 receptions from the QB tandem of Christian Breisinger and Chase Winovich. RB Austin Kemp leads the Jaguars with 485 yards rushing and six TDs. Albert Gallatin RB Collin Smith has rushed for 604 yards and five TDs.

About the Jaguars: We know Thomas Jefferson can win at home — the Jaguars have not lost there since 2004, a string of 48 games — but it's been a similar story this year on the road, where TJ has handled a pair of opponents with ease.

About the Colonials: They got 172 yards rushing from Collin Smith in their loss to West Mifflin on Friday.

Prediction: Thomas Jefferson, 49-13.

Greater Allegheny

Greensburg Salem (1-3, 1-3) at 5-AAA Mars (3-1, 3-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg Salem lost to Franklin Regional, 42-20. Mars beat Highlands, 39-0.

The buzz: Talk about opposite trajectories. Greensburg Salem has lost three straight by a combined score of 108-35. Mars has won three straight by an aggregate 141-22.

Key players: Mars RB Josh Schultheis ran for 71 yards and scored three times against Highlands. Greensburg Salem's Simeon Stevens had five catches for 122 yards against Franklin Regional.

About the Lions: They allowed two 100-yard rushers last week, which is good news for Mars considering the Planets are averaging 272 rushing yards per game.

About the Planets: Schultheis (83-596-10TD) is a workhorse and one of the WPIAL's best backs. Mars dealt Highlands its first shutout loss since 2010 and actually could've racked up more rushing yards if not for penalties.

Prediction: Mars, 34-20.

Hampton (2-2, 2-2)

at Knoch (3-1, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last Week: Hampton beat Laurel Highlands, 47-0. Knoch beat Hollidaysburg, 22-17.

The buzz: Four of the last five games between these teams were decided by five points or fewer. Hampton contained Knoch's high-scoring offense to win, 20-17, a year ago.

Key players: Hampton QB Nick Grabowski pushed the Hampton offense to new heights the past two weeks. WR James Larrimer averages almost 22 yards per catch and has four touchdown receptions.

About the Talbots: Hampton has a good duo at receiver with Eddie Edwards and Jon Floss, but the return of RB C.J. Arch has provided the biggest spark.

About the Knights: RB Cody Milsom continues to crank out 100-yard games behind a line anchored by seniors Kraig King and Connor Shinsky.

Prediction: Knoch, 28-20

10-AAA Highlands (3-1, 3-1)

at Indiana (2-2, 2-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Highlands lost to Mars, 39-0. Indiana knocked off Derry, 56-6.

The buzz: Indiana has won three of the last four meetings between the conference rivals, but Highlands prevailed, 28-17, last year.

Key players: Highlands quarterback Blake Leri's mobility makes defenses respect him as a running threat. Riley Stapleton (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) wins jump balls in the secondary with regularity for Indiana.

About the Golden Rams: Senior LB Allan Cratsenberg leads a defense that had allowed 72 rushing yards during the first three weeks but struggled to stop Mars' Wing-T attack.

About the Little Indians: Stapleton and Darrious Carter (6-5, 205), a Temple University recruit, provide talented quarterback Sean Thompson two tall, athletic targets.

Prediction: Highlands, 20-14.


3-AAA Central Valley (4-0, 4-0) at 1-AAA W. Allegheny (4-0, 4-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Central Valley beat Blackhawk, 41-0. West Allegheny shut out Hopewell, 55-0.

The buzz: This is likely a de facto championship game for the Parkway Conference. Central Valley will be without coach Mark Lyons, who's serving a two-game suspension.

Key players: Central Valley got three TDs from Preston Johnson and two from Jordan Whitehead last week. West Allegheny's Andrew Koester threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns last week.

About the Warriors: Central Valley has given up six points in 2013, all to New Castle in Week 1. Whitehead has several Division I offers and has rushed for nine TDs already.

About the Indians: The defending WPIAL Class AAA champion rotates backs Chayse Dillon, Armand Dellovade and Tory Delmonico. Dillon had 142 yards and a touchdown last week.

Prediction: West Allegheny, 21-13.

Class AA


East Allegheny (2-2, 2-2)

at 10-AA Valley (3-1, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: East Allegheny beat Deer Lakes, 35-6. Valley beat Freeport, 42-0.

The buzz: An improved defense has helped East Allegheny win the last two weeks, but the Wildcats must ready themselves for Valley's daunting ground game.

Key players: Octavian Owens averages more than 20 yards per catch for East Allegheny. Valley lineman Terrell Fields' grasp of leverage stems from wrestling, where he placed sixth in the PIAA last winter.

About the Wildcats: They allowed 91 points in their first two games but just 13 the last two weeks. Taizjon Brown fuels their rushing attack.

About the Vikings: After a relatively quiet Week 3, RB Demetrius Houser returned to dominance against Deer Lakes with a 130-yard performance.

Prediction: Valley, 30-19.

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

Summit Academy (1-3, 1-2)

12:30 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Ford City beat Southmoreland, 9-6. Summit Academy lost to Kittanning, 15-6.

The buzz: Both teams likely are eyeing the conference's last playoff spot.

Key players: Sabers QB Mike Bartosiewicz is coming off his first career 100-yard passing game. Summit's top offensive threat is RB Elijah Hardy.

About the Sabers: RB Chantz Schrecengost leads Ford City with 369 yards. RB Cody Peppler has just four catches, but two are for touchdowns of over 50 yards. Tyler Blaniar hit a game-winning 24-yard field goal last week.

About the Knights: DB Nathaniel Cofer scored the team's only touchdown against Kittanning on a fumble return. Summit hasn't scored more than one touchdown in a game since its season-opening win over East Allegheny.

Prediction: Summit, 16-6.

Freeport (1-3, 1-3) at

6-AA S.S. Academy (4-0, 4-0)

2:30 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Freeport lost to Valley, 42-0. Shady Side Academy beat Burrell, 49-14.

The buzz: The Yellowjackets' three-game win streak versus Shady Side Academy is in jeopardy. The Indians enter the contest with one of Class AA's stingiest defenses.

Key players: Junior QB Andrew Romanchak keys Freeport's multi-threat run game. Shady Side Academy RB Dennis Briggs committed to Pitt this summer.

About the Yellowjackets: The offense, which has 10 first-year starters, must regroup after enduring the team's first shutout loss since 2010. Senior RBs Mike Troup and Steve Lassinger have the speed to excel in space.

About the Indians: They've allowed just 22 points in four games. They're trying to claim their first outright conference title since 2008.

Prediction: SSA, 33-6.

Kittanning (4-0, 3-0)

at Burrell (2-2, 1-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Kittanning beat Summit Academy, 15-6. Burrell lost to Shady Side Academy, 49-14.

The buzz: Kittanning hopes to go 5-0 for the first time since 1997 by avenging last year's loss to the Bucs.

Key players: Wildcats senior WR/DB Alek Schaffer, who grabbed interceptions the last two weeks, has been a welcome addition to the team after starring in basketball. Bucs sophomore Jason David can line up in the backfield and out wide.

About the Wildcats: Even as their scoring average dropped from 48 to 32.3 points per game, they kept winning thanks to a defense that allowed 19 points the past two weeks.

About the Bucs: RB Ryan Sowol continues to shoulder much of the offensive production. QB Cody Wolfe has completed 56.8 percent of his 44 pass attempts.

Prediction: Kittanning, 24-14.


9-AA Quaker Valley (4-0, 4-0)

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

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: QV beat Keystone Oaks, 52-0. Steel Valley lost to Seton-La Salle, 28-7.

The buzz: Quaker Valley is off to its first 4-0 start since 1983. Steel Valley has won three of the last four games in the series including last season, 40-36.

Key players: Quakers QB Dane Jackson is the team's playmaker with more than 700 all-purpose yards and nine TDs. Steel Valley freshman Duane Murray has 545 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

About the Quakers: Trewon Marshall and Gennaro Trovato are averaging more than 9 yards a carry. … Chris Conlan is a top receiving threat with 216 yards and four touchdowns. ... The team is looking for its first playoff berth since 1999.

About the Ironmen: Leading rusher D'Andre Pickens suffered a sprained ankle in Week 3 and the team is 0-2 since. ... The defense is surrendering 21.5 ppg but hasn't lost three regular season games in a row since 2008.

Prediction: Quaker Valley, 42-28.

7-AA Seton-La Salle (4-0, 4-0) at 2-AA South Fayette (4-0, 4-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Seton-La Salle beat Keystone Oaks, 28-7. South Fayette beat Burgettstown, 74-7.

The buzz: Neither team has been tested, especially South Fayette, which has outscored its opponents 216-28. No Brumbaugh Bowl this season; Brett's still quarterbacking South Fayette, but Luke went from Seton-La Salle to Robert Morris.

Key players: Tyler Perone heads Seton-La Salle's passing attack with 837 yards and nine touchdowns. Brett Brumbaugh has thrown for 681 and nine. Lions WR Justin Watson is a Penn recruit.

About the Rebels: Seton-La Salle will target WR Danzel McKinley-Lewis (14-309-4TD). The Rebels have given up just 26 points, second-best in AA.

About the Lions: Everybody knows about the passing attack that averaged 238 yards per game last season, but RB Grant Fetchet is averaging 117 yards and two touchdowns per game.

Prediction: South Fayette, 38-14.

South Allegheny (0-4, 0-3) at Burgettstown (0-4, 0-3)

1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last week: South Allegheny lost to South Park, 14-3. Burgettstown fell to South Fayette, 74-7.

The buzz: South Allegheny entered the season with exceptional confidence following last season's rare playoff berth. This season, however, hasn't seen anything go right for head coach Pat Monroe's team.

Key players: The man who makes South Allegheny's offense go is running back Davonte Johnson. A talented running back, he has been held in check so far this season. Burgettstown could use a big game from quarterback Robert Dubain, who has thrown for 200 yards so far this season.

About the Glads: SA possesses plenty of offensive talent but hasn't played well defensively in 2013.

About Blue Devils: Burgettstown has been outscored 208-23.

Prediction: South Allegheny, 31-10.


Greensburg C.C. (1-3, 1-2)

at Brownsville (0-4, 0-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg C.C. beat Waynesburg, 35-20. Brownsville fell at Jeannette, 47-20.

The buzz: GCC looks to get on a roll after posting its first win of the season. Brownsville, which scored first against Jeannette, is looking for its first win of the season.

Key players: GCC running back Tyler Balla had a highlight-reel one-handed catch against Waynesburg. He also scored four times and threw a TD pass. Brownsville RB Byron Mayer rushed for 189 yards and three TDs against Jeannette.

About the Centurions: WR Eddie Kilkeary caught a halfback-option pass from Balla for a TD last week. … GCC has been playing without starting QB Chase Keller, who injured his left shoulder vs. Mt. Pleasant.

About the Falcons: Brownsville got up early against Jeannette when Mayer raced 71 yards for a TD. But Jeannette scored the next 47 points, including two scores on punt returns.

Prediction: GCC, 36-20.

3-AA Mt. Pleasant (4-0, 4-0)

at Yough (2-2, 2-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mt. Pleasant rolled over Charleroi, 74-7. Yough fell to Washington, 35-13.

The buzz: Mt. Pleasant, which still has key battles with Jeannette (Oct. 4) and Washington (Oct. 11) looming, got four touchdowns from Tyler Mellors and three from Jake Adamrovich against Charleroi. Yough tries to rebound after consecutive losses.

Key players: Mt. Pleasant relies on the running of Mellors, Ryan Ballew and Brett Fess to wear down opponents. QB Tyler Donahue and RB Clayton Waldron are key offensive weapons for Yough.

About the Vikings: QB Ryan Gumbita threw a touchdown pass to Trevor Salopek against Charleroi. Mt. Pleasant's defense will have its hands full with Donahue.

About the Cougars: Yough plays its third consecutive game against one of the top teams in the conference. The defense needs to slow the Vikings' running game.

Prediction: Mt. Pleasant, 28-21.

Southmoreland (0-4, 0-3) at Waynesburg (2-2, 1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Southmoreland lost to Ford City, 9-6. Waynesburg lost to Greensburg Central Catholic, 35-20.

The buzz: The Scotties have endured the toughest part of their schedule and will try to get back into the playoff picture with a win. Waynesburg also is fighting to stay in the playoff race and could move into one of the top four spots with a victory.

Key players: The Scotties' Jake Pisula continues to rip it up on the ground, rushing for 141 yards on 33 carries in last week's loss. John Glen Davis does the heavy lifting for the Raiders. He rushed for 108 yards and a score on 15 carries against Greensburg Central Catholic.

About the Scotties: Brennan Bunner stepped under center last week and delivered a scoring drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to Justin Livengood.

About the Raiders: While Davis is the workhorse out of the backfield, Hunter Cenname also has a nose for the end zone, and he scored two rushing touchdowns last week.

Prediction: Waynesburg, 21-19.


Deer Lakes (0-4)

at Charleroi (0-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Deer Lakes lost to East Allegheny, 35-6. Charleroi lost to Mt. Pleasant, 74-7.

The buzz: This is a much-needed reprieve from conference play for both teams. Deer Lakes won, 40-21, when these teams met last year.

Key players: Senior RB/LB Brandon Newmaster has made an impact in Deer Lakes' passing game. Small but speedy sophomore RB Jimmy Smith (5-foot-6, 132 pounds) has averaged more than 6 yards per carry.

About the Lancers: They've lost seven in a row dating back to last season. Junior LB Ryan McGrath has paced the defense.

About the Cougars: While their offense has had bright spots, their defense is a source of discouragement, as they allowed 60-plus points the last three weeks.

Prediction: Deer Lakes, 28-21.

Class A

Black Hills

Bishop Canevin (2-3, 1-3)

at 6-A Monessen (3-1, 3-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Bishop Canevin lost to California, 28-14. Monessen beat Clairton, 42-24.

The buzz: The Greyhounds ended Clairton's 66-game win streak last week while the Crusaders are looking to avoid four losses in a row for the first time since 2007.

Key players: Bishop Canevin QB Reed Relosky has thrown for 423 yards and four TDs. Monessen's Clintell Gillaspie has nearly 700 all-purpose yards with seven TDs.

About the Crusaders: WR Zach Cortese has 200 yards and two TDs. … Tyler Reddy is averaging 9.5 yards per carry. … The team lost starting MLB/FB Mark DeSchon to a season-ending injury in Week 3.

About the Greyhounds: QB Noah Rullo has 656 yards with seven TDs. … The offense is scoring 37 ppg., second best in the conference. … The line is led by Jonathon Kravets, Justice Tartt and Raelo Davis.

Prediction: Monessen, 42-14.


California (1-3, 1-3) at

Serra Catholic (1-4, 1-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: California beat Bishop Canevin, 28-14. Serra Catholic lost to Carlynton, 42-0.

The buzz: California earned its first victory Friday. Serra is winless on the field but owns a forfeit over Imani Christian.

Key players: California RB Demetri Clements is coming off a 132-yard rushing performance against Bishop Canevin. Serra Catholic QB Zac Quattrone rushed for 104 yards on 21 carries against Carlynton.

About the Trojans: California is hoping for another fast start after racing to a 28-7 halftime lead against Canevin.

About the Eagles: Turnovers have plagued Serra all year, and coach Tony St. Angelo has challenged his team to improve its play after the lopsided loss to Carlynton. “They were more physical than us,” he said of the Cougars.

Prediction: California, 34-13.

Clairton (3-1, 3-1) at Fort Cherry (4-0, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Clairton lost to Monessen, 42-24. Fort Cherry defeated Brentwood, 35-14.

The buzz: Clairton, an underdog? Well, maybe. The Bears are coming off their first loss in more than four years and are playing a team in Fort Cherry that recently defeated a Monessen squad that beat Clairton last week. Clairton hasn't dropped two games in the same season since 2007.

Key players: RB Koltan Kobrys scored five touchdowns when Fort Cherry stunned Monessen, and Clairton's run defense has been well below its standard. For Clairton, QB Aaron Mathews injured his ankle against California and wasn't himself against Monessen.

About the Bears: Clairton responded to its last loss by winning 66 straight games. But this is a different, much younger team. Talent remains, but how will the Bears respond?

About the Rangers: Fort Cherry is, on paper, a good matchup against Clairton. Monessen's success came via a physical rushing attack, which is something Fort Cherry does well.

Prediction: Fort Cherry, 28-27.


4-A Apollo-Ridge (3-1, 2-1)

at 8-A Avonworth (4-0, 3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Apollo-Ridge defeated Leechburg, 58-13. Avonworth shut out West Shamokin, 48-0.

The buzz: Apollo-Ridge edged Avonworth, 28-21, with a goal-line stand in overtime in a similarly high-stakes matchup last year at Apollo-Ridge.

Key players: Senior QB Jesse Zelonka has passed for almost 500 yards and rushed for a team-high 258. Sophomore RB Tyson Kirk broke away for a 95-yard touchdown run last week.

About the Vikings: They set a school record for points in a game a week ago. Zelonka, Ben Gemballa, Jonah Casella, Duane Brown and Gareth Dilick all average more than 5 yards per carry.

About the Antelopes: QB Matt Donovan and WR Jesse Zubik are an explosive duo. Zubik had a 66-yard touchdown reception and an 85-yard run in Week 4.

Prediction: Apollo-Ridge, 35-34.

Springdale (1-3, 1-2)

at Leechburg (0-4, 0-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Springdale lost to Laurel, 34-7. Leechburg lost to Apollo-Ridge, 58-13.

The buzz: Points have been scarce for both teams, as Springdale averages 5.75 per game, and Leechburg 11.5.

Key players: Senior LB Billy Barker leads a scrappy Dynamos defense that has allowed 20.3 points per game. Junior TE/DE Robert Rich (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) has a nice combination of size and speed.

About the Dynamos: They beat Leechburg, 22-0, last year to start a strong second half of the season.

About the Blue Devils: Leechburg's defense has not denied much, as it allows 36.75 points per game. But it's offense has scored 13 points three times. RB Kris Smith has sparked the offense in the past.

Prediction: Springdale, 20-14.

3-A North Catholic (4-0, 4-0)

at West Shamokin (3-1, 3-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: North Catholic beat Riverview, 56-7. West Shamokin lost to Avonworth, 48-0.

The buzz: What looked like a marquee matchup a week ago lost some of its luster when the Wolves fell from the list unbeatens.

Key players: Dual-threat QB Adam Sharlow has more than 300 yards passing and rushing this year for North Catholic. RB Andrew Wingard is going to have to carry a heavy load for the Wolves with backfield mates Zac Horner and Brandon Stover dealing with injuries.

About the Trojans: RB Jerome Turner is averaging 10.8 yards per carry on his way to a team-high 466 yards. The defense has allowed just 16 points since its season-opening win in OT over Apollo-Ridge.

About the Wolves: QB Alex Lasslo had little time to throw in a 2 of 10 performance last week. The loss to Avonworth snapped a school-record four-game win streak.

Prediction: North Catholic, 28-14.

Wilkinsburg (2-2, 2-2)

at Riverview (0-4, 0-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Wilkinsburg beat Northgate, 16-0. Riverview lost to North Catholic, 56-7.

The buzz: One of Wilkinsburg's better teams in recent history looks to keep rolling against Riverview, which won last year's matchup, 15-12.

Key players: Junior Marcus Williams is a reliable ball carrier in Wilkinsburg's power ground game. Riverview RB Keir Barber averages almost 7 yards per carry.

About the Tigers: They won five of their last eight games to change their reputation as a perennial non-factor in the conference.

About the Raiders: They used last season's game against Wilkinsburg to end a winless stretch. They've allowed at least 41 points in their last three games.

Prediction: Riverview, 18-15.

Tri-County South

Geibel (0-4, 0-3)

at Avella (4-0, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Geibel lost to Mapletown, 36-14. Avella beat Jefferson-Morgan, 27-26.

The buzz: The Eagles and the Gators are two teams on opposite ends of the Tri-County South spectrum. The Eagles are trying to stay at the top of the conference while the Gators will look to build on last week's two-touchdown effort in the loss to the Maples.

Key players: Geibel quarterback Brandon Kushnar continues to try to lead his team, and threw his first touchdown pass of the season last week. The Eagles can run the ball effectively and will likely try to do so with Jake Temple, who had three rushing scores in the win over Jefferson-Morgan.

About the Gators: Brent Plisko emerged as a red zone target for Kushnar in last week's game, while Dawson McIntyre scored Geibel's first rushing touchdown of the season.

About the Eagles: The Avella offense is sound, and so is the defense. The Eagles are giving up an average of just 10 points per game.

Prediction: Avella, 56-7.

Frazier (3-1, 3-1) at

Jefferson-Morgan (2-2, 2-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Frazier defeated West Greene, 48-6. Jefferson-Morgan lost to Avella, 27-26.

The buzz: It's a big conference game for both of these teams. The Commodores are looking to gain a little separation from the middle of the conference pack while the Rockets are trying to stay in playoff position.

Key players: Frazier QB Charles Manack threw three touchdown passes in last week's victory. Jefferson-Morgan QB Rece Henneman threw a pair of TDs in the one-point loss to the Eagles.

About the Commodores: After suffering a Week 2 setback to Carmichaels, the Commodores have bounced back with two straight conference wins. Michael Luce grabbed two of Manack's TD tosses in last week's win.

About the Rockets: The loss to Avella was a tough one to digest, but the Rockets beat Frazier, 20-13 last season.

Prediction: Frazier, 33-20.


Blairsville (3-1, 3-1) at

Homer-Center (4-0, 4-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Blairsville defeated Northern Cambria, 24-19. Homer-Center smashed Purchase Line, 37-14.

The buzz: Banged up Blairsville won a game last week without its quarterback, top offensive lineman and wide receiver. Homer-Center rushed for 331 yards and grounded out an easy victory to stay unbeaten in the conference.

Key players: Blairsville RB Deion Robinson rushed for 182 yards and two TDs against Northern Cambria. Homer-Center RBs Ean Lee and Mike Newhouse rushed for 85 and 94 yards, respectively, last week.

About the Bobcats: QB Scott Thompson missed last week's game after injuring his right knee in chemistry class. Jaylin Rydbom replaced him. Robinson has rushed for a conference high 527 yards.

About the Wildcats: RBs Lee, Newhouse and Matt McAdoo (69 yards) keep opposing defenses guessing who has the ball.

Prediction: Homer-Center, 27-14.

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