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Breaking down Week 6 in Western Pennsylvania high school football

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 10:54 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Baldwin's Doug Altavilla makes a play during practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Baldwin.
Alex Oltmanns | For the Tribune-Review
Central Valley's Jaquan Pennington
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Dane Jackson (2) looks to make a pass while Aaron Cunningham (1) blocks during a game against South Park on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Mt. Pleasant's Marcus Malara gains yardage past Greensburg Salem's Nate Sweeney during a 7 on 7 passing tournament at Mt. Pleasant High School on July 12, 2013, in Mt. Pleasant.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Clairton's players Aaron Mathews (left) and Jojuan Bray are proud to be a part of the city's 100th season of high school football.

Here's a look at some of the top high school football matchups for Week 6 in Western Pennsylvania:

Class AAAA


Baldwin (2-3, 2-3) at 5-AAAA Woodland Hills (3-2, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Baldwin lost to Upper St. Clair, 44-0. Woodland Hills defeated Mt. Lebanon, 49-10.

The buzz: Woodland Hills, which opened the season with back-to-back losses to USC and McKeesport, is riding a three-game winning streak. One week after edging Mt. Lebanon in overtime, Baldwin was overpowered by an undefeated USC.

Key players: Miles Sanders, a sophomore RB, has rushed for 755 yards and nine TDs for Woodland Hills. He is averaging 9.2 yards per carry. Baldwin WR Luke Smorey ranks among the WPIAL's leading receivers and QB Doug Altavilla also is one of the leading passers.

About the Fighting Highlanders: They have followed their two previous losses with wins.

About the Wolverines: They defeated Baldwin last season, 35-7. ... They are averaging 33.6 ppg — second-best in the conference.

Prediction: Woodland Hills, 28-14.

Plum (0-5, 0-5) at

Peters Township (2-3, 1-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Plum lost to Canon-McMillan, 17-7. Peters Township lost to Bethel Park, 24-0.

The buzz: Plum, coming off its closest loss of the season, visits Peters Township, which dealt the Mustangs their most lopsided defeat (42-0) a season ago.

Key players: Plum QB Will Fuhrer had his highest passing total of the season against Canon-McMillan (185 yards). Peters Township QB Corey Owen threw for 87 yards and ran for 48 last week.

About the Indians: RB Marcus Ubinger has a team-high 422 yards on 97 carries.

About the Mustangs: Junior RB Nathan Turchick's 1-yard touchdown run in the final quarter against Canon-McMillan ended Plum's 13-quarter scoreless streak. Plum has scored 13 points this season.

Prediction: Peters Township, 19-9.

Quad East

Altoona (1-4, 1-4) at

Hempfield (3-2, 3-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Altoona lost at

McKeesport, 34-7. Hempfield lost at Gateway, 22-16.

The buzz: Altoona will try to snap a four-game losing streak. Hempfield had won three straight before falling to Gateway last week. Altoona won, 17-14, last year.

Key players: Hempfield RB Joey DeFloria had 143 yards on 33 carries against Gateway, giving him 791 on 111 for the season. Christian Toohey brought a kickoff back for a TD last week for Altoona's only points.

About the Mountain Lions: Altoona rushed for 0 yards on 17 carries against McKeesport and finished with just 18 total yards. The Mountain Lions are averaging seven points per game.

About the Spartans: Hempfield kept it close against Gateway, and that's after it had a touchdown called back because of a penalty and a missed field goal. QB Ty George has accounted for 648 total yards and five touchdowns.

Prediction: Hempfield, 23-14.

Connellsville (1-4, 1-3) at

Penn-Trafford (3-2, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Connellsville beat Norwin, 40-14. Penn-Trafford beat Latrobe, 28-8.

The buzz: Coming off blowout victories, the Falcons and Warriors will try to keep their momentum going and pick up an important conference win.

Key players: Connellsville RB Christopher Russell rushed for 119 yards and four TDs against Norwin. Penn-Trafford WR Ryan Marasti caught four passes for 93 yards.

About the Falcons: Connellsville's offense is led by QB Jade Maher, a four-year starter who has six passing TDs. ... The defense had its best performance of the season against Norwin, holding the Knights to 14 points. Previously, the Falcons were allowing 43 points per game.

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford achieved a season high in points last week. The previous best was 19. ... The Warriors boast a strong one-two punch at running back (Devin Austin and Tom Stinelli) and wide receiver (Marasti and Timmy Vecchio).

Prediction: Penn-Trafford, 27-14.

Kiski Area (2-3, 2-2) at

Norwin (1-4, 1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Kiski lost to Pine-Richland, 56-28. Norwin lost to Connellsville, 40-14.

The buzz: Fifth-place Kiski will look to keep its playoff hopes going in the right direction, while Norwin hopes to stave off postseason elimination.

Key players: Kiski QB Chad Kuhn threw three TD passes last week and has eight on the season. Norwin QB Nick Amendola threw for 211 yards and also added 66 rushing yards and a touchdown.

About the Cavaliers: After winning its first two games, Kiski has dropped three straight, surrendering 126 points in the process. ... The team boasts three players with Division I hopes: TE Shane Kuhn, WR Joe Brungo and K/P Adam Mitcheson.

About the Knights: The 40 points allowed were a season high, as Norwin previously hadn't surrendered more than 28. ... Anthony Schiavone caught six passes, while Zeke Kljucaric and Logan Deri caught five.

Prediction: Kiski Area, 28-14.

4-AAAA McKeesport (5-0, 4-0) at Latrobe (1-4, 0-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: McKeesport defeated Altoona, 34-7. Latrobe lost to Penn-Trafford, 28-8.

The buzz: Can anyone stop McKeesport's option offense? The Tigers have cut down their first five opponents by running the ball on nearly every play. Latrobe is only being outscored by about a touchdown per game.

Key players: McKeesport is led by the two-pronged rushing attack of RB Mikell Moore (509 yards) and QB David Queen (178). Latrobe's Logan Carns hasn't had much help in fighting his way to 273 yards on 46 carries, an average of 5.9 yards.

About the Tigers: Queen has only attempted eight passes, completing two. The Tigers have simply lined up and plowed their way to forward, averaging 30.6 points per game.

About the Wildcats: Since beating Fox Chapel on Sept. 13, Latrobe has dropped a pair of games. The Wildcats have not yielded more than 28 points in any contest and nearly beat No. 3 Gateway in the opener before losing, 22-20.

Prediction: McKeesport, 21-7.


1-AAAA Central Cath. (5-0, 4-0) at 10-AAAA Pine-Richland (3-2, 2-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last Week: Central Catholic beat Seneca Valley, 42-0. Pine-Richland beat Kiski, 56-28.

The buzz: No team has even come close to beating Central Catholic. The smallest margin of victory was a 24-0 defeat of North Hills.

Key players: The Rams offense continues to be the strength of the team. QB Ben DiNucci threw three more TD passes against Kiski and RB Connor Slomka added 219 yards and a pair of scores. Central Catholic QB J.J. Cosentino engineers an offense that has scored 42 or more points four times. Cosentino has several weapons, including RB Luigi Lista-Brinza and WR Shafer Swann.

About the Vikings: They have allowed one touchdown all season and just 13 points through five games, including three shutouts.

About the Rams: Pine-Richland continues to be balanced on offense, but the defense has to step up to slow down Central Catholic.

Prediction: Central Catholic, 35-23.

North Hills (3-2, 2-1) at

Fox Chapel (1-4, 1-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: North Hills lost to Penn Hills, 21-17. Fox Chapel beat Shaler, 34-14.

The buzz: The Indians, who won this matchup, 31-7, last year, want to avoid an upset against the steadily improving Foxes.

Key players: North Hills junior Kindhal Taylor has shined at QB and WR as he has more than 100 yards receiving and passing. Senior RB Chad Garnett averages 4.4 yards per rush and 10 per reception.

About the Indians: RBs Montae Frank and Kevin Koch pace a multiback offense that has rushed for more than 1,000 yards. North Hills has allowed just 13 points per game.

About the Foxes: Since joining the Quad North last year, they've only beaten Shaler (twice) and want a win against someone different.

Prediction: North Hills, 24-13.

Class AAA


3-AAA West Mifflin (5-0, 5-0) at 7-AAA Eliz. Forward (4-1, 4-1)

7 p.m. Thursday

Last week: West Mifflin beat Ringgold, 42-28. EF beat Uniontown, 56-20.

The buzz: This key conference game, televised by Root Sports, will help define the Big 9 standings. At the top are unbeaten West Mifflin and TJ, with Elizabeth Forward close behind.

Key players: West Mifflin senior RB Jimmy Wheeler had six rushing TDs against Ringgold. Elizabeth Forward WR Matt Bernadowski caught three TDs from senior QB JaQuan Davidson last week, including 41- and 51-yarders.

About the Titans: With 1,312 rushing yards, Wheeler has established a record-setting pace. He could challenge the regular-season mark of 2,149 set by Steel Valley's Delrece Williams in 2010.

About the Warriors: A tough 42-0 loss to Thomas Jefferson four weeks ago was troubling, but now EF gets another shot at a highly ranked team with thoughts of doing better.

Prediction: West Mifflin, 35-21.

2-AAA Thomas Jefferson (5-0, 4-0) at Laurel Highlands (0-5, 0-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Thomas Jefferson beat Albert Gallatin, 49-0. Laurel Highlands lost to Trinity, 10-8.

The buzz: The Jaguars are at polar opposites in the Big 9 standings. Thomas Jefferson is looking to maintain at least a share of the top spot in the conference while the Mustangs are hoping to get out of the basement.

Key players: The Jaguars can effectively utilize the ground game with Chase Winovich and Austin Kemp in the backfield. Quarterback Jimmy Pierce is trying to get it done through the air and on the ground for Laurel Highlands.

About the Jaguars: Quarterback Christian Breisinger has big-play potential.

About the Mustangs: Laurel Highlands has scored just 29 points through the first five games of the season.

Prediction: TJ, 47-14

Greater Allegheny

9-AAA Highlands (4-1, 4-1) at Derry (0-5, 0-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Highlands beat Indiana, 21-14. Derry lost to Hollidaysburg, 57-7.

The buzz: Back on track after a Week 4 blowout loss, Highlands takes on the conference's last-place team.

Key players: Senior Julian Flenory leads a young but effective Highlands lineman corps. Derry WR Jaymie Howe leads the team in receptions and averages 14 yards per catch.

About the Golden Rams: Their defense stood tall in the final seconds of last week's key win. They are tied with Mars atop the conference standings but lack the head-to-head edge.

About the Trojans: Derry has allowed 52 points or more in every game this season, and it's yet to score more than one touchdown.

Prediction: Highlands, 26-7.

Indiana (2-3, 2-3) at

Greensburg Salem (1-4, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Indiana lost to Highlands, 21-14. Greensburg Salem lost at Mars, 38-13.

The buzz: Making the playoffs will be a near-impossible task for the loser of this matchup. Indiana cruised, 41-23, last year.

Key players: Indiana QB Sean Thompson threw for 175 yards and a touchdown last week. WR/DE Darrious Carter is a Temple recruit. Greensburg Salem got 27 carries, 142 yards and a touchdown out of RB Dom McKinley last Friday.

About the Little Indians: Ian Scott, one of the team's best skill players, was ejected from last week's game and will serve a WPIAL-mandated one-game suspension. Mars stopped Indiana five times on fourth down.

About the Golden Lions: Mars rung up two safeties on Greensburg Salem last week. The Golden Lions have lost four straight by an average of 24.5 points since a season-opening victory over Knoch.

Prediction: Indiana, 20-14.

Knoch (3-2, 2-2) at 8-AAA Franklin Regional (4-1, 3-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Knoch lost to Hampton, 20-9. Franklin Regional defeated Belle Vernon, 35-0.

The buzz: The race for the Greater Allegheny crown looks to be a three-team bid between Franklin Regional, Highlands and Mars, but Knoch can assert itself with a win.

Key players: Knoch RB Cody Milsom has rushed for 475 yards and seven touchdowns. Franklin Regional's Brett Zanotto leads the Panthers on offense (seven TDs) and on defense.

About the Knights: Outside of a 58-7 win over Derry, Knoch has struggled to put up points, totaling 64 in its other four games. On the other hand, the defense hasn't allowed more than 20 points in a game this season. ... Jim Larrimer is averaging 22 yards per reception.

About the Panthers: They are holding opponents to 10 points per game but are struggling with injuries.

Prediction: Franklin Regional, 27-7.


4-AAA Central Valley (4-1, 4-1) at Moon (4-1, 4-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Central Valley lost, 13-7, at West Allegheny. Moon won, 40-14, at Hopewell.

The buzz: The Warriors are trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since Weeks 6-7 of 2010. Moon is enjoying its first 4-1 start since ‘06. Central Valley won, 42-9, last year.

Key players: Moon RB Cole Blake ran for 139 yards and two TDs on 21 carries last week. Ian Kelly caught and ran for scores. Jordan Whitehead (39-380-8TD) and JaQuan Pennington (55-320-2TD) form Central Valley's backfield duo.

About the Warriors: Central Valley will be without head coach Mark Lyons, who's serving the second half of a two-game suspension. The Warriors are allowing 3.8 points per game, third-fewest in the WPIAL.

About the Tigers: Moon has scored 40 or more points three times in five weeks. ... Moon's first five opponents were a combined 7-18. Its final four are 15-5.

Prediction: Central Valley, 28-7.


5-AAA Mars (4-1) at Uniontown (1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mars beat Greensburg Salem, 38-13. Uniontown lost to Elizabeth Forward, 56-20.

The buzz: The teams take a break from conference play to fine-tune their games for a tough stretch run.

Key players: Mars' Jason Lozzi is a big-play threat out of the backfield while Joshua Schultheis can grind out big numbers in the ground game. Wide receiver Lyric Ellis and quarterback Xavier Ellis continue to be productive for Uniontown.

About the Fighting Planets: Mars has won four in a row and is tied for first with Highlands in the Greater Allegheny Conference.

About the Red Raiders: Uniontown has lost three in a row and sits in eighth place in the Big 9 Conference.

Prediction: Mars, 44-8


Steel Valley (2-3, 2-3) at 1-AAA West Allegheny (5-0, 5-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Steel Valley lost to Quaker Valley, 14-7. West Allegheny defeated Central Valley, 13-7.

The buzz: West Allegheny, the defending WPIAL champion, showed why it is atop the Trib Total Media rankings by handcuffing No. 4 Central Valley's potent offense, limiting the Warriors to a touchdown that was actually scored by the defense on an interception return.

Key players: Steel Valley RBs Duane Murray (631) and D'Andre Pickens (611) are waging a personal rushing battle, combining for more than 1,200 yards. West Allegheny's Chayse Dillon leads the Indians with 514 yards rushing, while QB Andrew Koester has completed 62.5 percent of his passes (25 for 40) for 461 yards with five touchdowns.

About the Ironmen: Steel Valley's high-powered running game will face another stiff test against West Allegheny after the Ironmen were nearly shut down in their loss to Quaker Valley, despite Murray's 145 yards rushing.

About the Indians: Top-ranked West Allegheny survived a defensive struggle in handing Central Valley its first loss. The Indians rank among the WPIAL leaders in scoring defense (6.6 ppg.).

Prediction: West Allegheny, 41-13.

Class AA


Burrell (2-3, 1-3) at

Freeport (1-4, 1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Burrell lost to Kittanning, 48-14. Freeport lost to Shady Side Academy, 28-0.

The buzz: Two perennially strong teams in the midst of humbling years try to keep their playoff hopes alive. Burrell's only regular-season loss last year came against Freeport, which won 26-7.

Key players: Bucs senior QB Cody Wolfe heads a balanced spread-option offense. Freeport junior QB Andrew Romanchak also is a true dual threat.

About the Bucs: Each of Burrell's games has been decided by at least 26 points. The Bucs have scored 81 points in its wins and 28 in its losses.

About the Yellowjackets: Held scoreless the last two weeks, they're averaging 9.4 points per game. They made the playoffs each season under sixth-year coach John Gaillot.

Prediction: Burrell, 21-12.

Shady Side Academy (5-0, 5-0) at East Allegheny (2-3, 2-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Shady Side Academy beat Freeport, 28-0. East Allegheny lost to Valley, 47-12.

The buzz: Shady Side Academy has been one of Class AA's best teams this season and is particularly dominant defensively. East Allegheny possesses an offense that has been potent at times this season. Still, on paper, Shady Side Academy is a clear favorite.

Key players: East Allegheny quarterback Kyle Whipple has thrown for 600 yards this season and is also a threat to run. Shady Side Academy is loaded with talent as quarterback Charles Calabrese (five touchdown passes) and running back Jarred Brevard (400 yards rushing) lead the way.

About the Wildcats: East Allegheny has won two of its past three games after a slow start but is looking for a signature win. An upset victory against Shady Side Academy would certainly qualify. Whipple is the player who makes this team go.

About Shady Side Academy: While Shady Side Academy's offense has been plenty productive this season, its defense is especially dominant. The defensive unit has allowed 22 points all season and has recorded a shutout in three of its five games.

Prediction: Shady Side Academy, 28-7.

Summit Academy (2-3, 2-2) at Deer Lakes (0-5, 0-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Summit Academy beat Ford City, 38-14. Deer Lakes lost to Charleroi, 21-13.

The buzz: Hopes are high for Summit Academy, which has never made the WPIAL playoffs. Deer Lakes beat the Knights, 18-14, a year ago.

Key players: Summit Academy RB Elijah Hardy gained 169 yards and scored three times in last week's win over Ford City. Hunter Burns (40 carries, 155 yards) is one of several key ball carriers for the Lancers.

About the Knights: Summit Academy last had a winning season in 2007, when it went 5-4 overall and 5-3 in the

Tri-County North.

About the Lancers: They're averaging just nine points a game and allowing 35 per contest. Deer Lakes has not gone winless in the past decade.

Prediction: Summit, 28-20.


South Allegheny (1-4, 1-4) at McGuffey (1-4, 0-4)

7 p.m., Friday

Last week: South Allegheny beat Burgettstown, 28-6. McGuffey lost to South Park, 36-14.

The buzz: Two teams with faint playoff hopes meet in the Class AA encounter at McGuffey. Both teams have been struck by major injuries this season, which has tempered any aspirations of the postseason. South Allegheny started 0-4 but will be shooting for its second consecutive win.

Key players: McGuffey will rely heavily on freshman quarterback Marcus Czulewicz, who runs his team's triple option attack. Meanwhile, South Allegheny will be hoping for a big game from dual-threat quarterback Ty Cook, who has passed for more than 600 yards and rushed for nearly 300.

About the Gladiators: South Allegheny entered the season with huge expectations but has seen its playoff hopes derailed by injuries. Head coach Pat Monroe led SA to a rare playoff berth last season and had high hopes for this team, but nothing has gone right through five games.

About the Rangers: McGuffey has received decent production from its freshman quarterback but has struggled mightily on defense. In particular, McGuffey's pass defense has been susceptible to giving up yards in bunches.

Prediction: South Allegheny, 28-20

2-AA South Fayette (5-0, 5-0) at 7-AA Quaker Valley (5-0, 5-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: South Fayette defeated Seton-La Salle, 45-3. Quaker Valley beat Steel Valley, 14-7.

The buzz: The Quakers clinched their first playoff berth since 1999 last week and are in the hunt for a conference title but the Lions have won three of the last four titles.

Key players: South Fayette's leading receiver and Penn commit Justin Watson has 469 yards and seven TDs. Quaker Valley QB Dane Jackson has more than 1,000 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns.

About the Lions: Quarterback Brett Brumbaugh has 986 passing yards and 12 TDs. … The defense is surrendering only 6.2 ppg.

About the Quakers: The trio of running backs — Trewon Marshall, Gennaro Trovato and Aaron Cunningham — have combined for 13 TDs. … The defense has held its last two opponents to a combined seven points. … QV hasn't won a conference title since 1983.

Prediction: South Fayette, 49-14.


Greensburg C.C. (2-3, 2-2) at Southmoreland (1-4, 1-3)

7 p.m. Friday, California (Pa.)

Last week: Greensburg Central Catholic beat Brownsville, 35-6. Southmoreland beat Waynesburg, 14-13.

The buzz: The Centurions look to remain in the thick of the playoff mix while the Scotties can keep their postseason hopes alive.

Key players: The Centurions' Tyler Balla rushed for 221 yards and three TDs last week. Aaron Bailey scored twice and had a game-saving interception in the Scotties' road win.

About the Centurions: After starting with three straight losses, GCC is looking for its third win in a row. QB Tommy Pellis completed 5-of-10 passes for 136 yards and two TDs last week. GCC beat Southmoreland last season, 39-0.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland has made some improvements defensively. In their first three games, the Scotties gave up 135 points. In their last two games, the Scotties have surrendered just 22 points.

Prediction: GCC, 22-15.

Jeannette (4-1, 4-1) at

3-AA Mt. Pleasant (5-0, 5-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Jeannette fell to Washington, 48-14. Mt. Pleasant beat Yough, 50-21.

The buzz: Jeannette wants to prove it was better than it played against Washington on TV. Mt. Pleasant looks to secure home field in the first round and set up first-place showdown with Washington in Week 7.

Key players: Jeannette QB Julian Batts has been a consistent player on offense. He can hurt teams with his arm and legs. Mt. Pleasant LBs Marcus Malara and Luke Liprando will try to contain the quick Jayhawks.

About the Jayhawks: If they don't improve their tackling and play as a team, trying to outscore teams will be tough. … Damone Morton and Terrell Canady have returned kicks for TDs.

About the Vikings: Mt. Pleasant RB Tyler Mellors rushed for 226 yards and three TDs against Yough last week. ... QB Ryan Gumbita added two TDs and Ryan Ballew rushed for 101 yards.

Prediction: Mt. Pleasant, 28-14.


New Brighton (4-1, 3-1) at

4-AA Beaver Falls (5-0, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Geneva College

Last week: New Brighton defeated Freedom, 42-7. Beaver Falls beat Keystone Oaks, 54-15.

The buzz: The last time New Brighton played a top-tier team — Aliquippa — things didn't go well; the Quips rolled, 43-0. Lions QB Gabe Greco (ankle) missed last week, but Payton Fath (6-9-157-4TD) shined.

Key players: New Brighton WR Craig Thompson caught four TD passes last week and has 19-490-8TD this season. Kahlil Caracter ran for three TD against Keystone Oaks, Marcus Cleckley two.

About the Lions: New Brighton, which hasn't won five games in a season since going 5-4 in 2004, has enjoyed a resurgence due to an uptempo offense averaging 40 ppg.

About the Tigers: Lineman Brock Boxen and WR/DB Elijah Cottrill are Akron recruits, though Cottrill remains out with a knee injury. RB Sage Curry will play LB at WVU.

Prediction: Beaver Falls, 40-21.


Yough (2-3) at

9-AA Valley (4-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Yough lost to Mt. Pleasant, 50-21. Valley beat East Allegheny, 47-12.

The buzz: A shootout might ensue when these two teams meet, as Valley averages 33 points per game, and Yough, 27.6.

Key players: Yough senior quarterback Tyler Donahue has piled up passing and rushing yardage at a torrid pace even while battling a shoulder injury early this season. Sophomore wide receiver Tyson Hill had 108 receiving yards on five catches last week for Valley.

About the Cougars: They've lost three in a row, all against the Interstate Conference's best. Mt. Pleasant gained 454 rushing yards on them last week. They also lost to Jeannette and Washington in that span but opened with dominating wins over Charleroi and Brownsville.

About the Vikings: They're allowing just 7.6 points per game. They held East Allegheny to 119 yards last week.

Prediction: Valley, 27-20.

Class A


Brentwood (3-3, 3-2) at 5-A Clairton (4-1, 4-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Brentwood defeated Chartiers-Houston, 47-21. Clairton defeated Fort Cherry, 36-28.

The buzz: Last week, Brentwood's offense exploded for 36 first-half points. Clairton bounced back from its first loss in four years.

Key players: Brentwood QB Connor McWilliams passed for a career-best 288 yards and three TDs last week. Clairton RB Lamont Wade rushed for 149 yards against Fort Cherry, including an 80-yard TD dash. He is averaging 11.7 yards per carry.

About the Spartans: Brentwood has dropped its past four decisions to the Bears, including a pair of defeats last year — 42-7 in the regular season, and 39-0 in the WPIAL playoffs.

About the Bears: The Bears haven't lost two games in a season since 2007. JoJuan Bray had TD receptions of 53 and 20 yards last week.

Prediction: Clairton, 35-14.

Serra Catholic (1-5, 1-4) at No. 4 Monessen (4-1, 4-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Serra Catholic lost to California, 56-28. Monessen defeated Bishop Canevin, 40-6.

The buzz: Monessen, the team that ended Clairton's record 66-game winning streak in September, shouldn't look past Serra Catholic and dangerous QB Zac Quattrone. The Greyhounds are in a three-way tie for first place in the heated Black Hills race.

Key players: Serra Catholic's Quattrone passed for 175 yards against California and also is a threat to run, piling up more than 500 yards rushing so far. Monessen RB Clintell Gillaspie rushed for 136 yards against Bishop Canevin to increase his season total to 474. He has scored 10 touchdowns rushing and three receiving, where he has caught 14 passes for 328 yards. QB Noah Rullo has completed 32 of 60 passes for 685 yards and seven touchdowns.

About the Eagles: Serra Catholic has yet to get untracked. The Eagles have been outscored by an average of nearly four touchdowns per game.

About the Greyhounds: Only Fort Cherry has scored more points than Monessen among teams in the Black Hills.

Prediction: Monessen, 52-13.


9-A Apollo-Ridge (3-2, 2-2) at Springdale (2-3, 2-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Apollo-Ridge lost to Avonworth, 35-27. Springdale beat Leechburg, 26-13.

The buzz: When they met a year ago, Springdale shut out Apollo-Ridge, 24-0, to secure its best win of the year.

Key players: Apollo-Ridge freshman RB Duane Brown has 21 carries for 130 yards and seven receptions for 96 yards. Dynamos junior Michael Banachoski splits time with Daniel Franskousky at QB.

About the Vikings: They've lost two games by a total of nine points. Led by senior QB Jesse Zelonka, they're averaging 37.8 points per game.

About the Dynamos: They scored 23 points through four weeks and finally found a rhythm last week. Their defense allows just 18.8 points per game.

Prediction: Apollo-Ridge, 28-7.

Leechburg (0-5, 0-4) at Northgate (1-4, 1-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Leechburg lost to Springdale, 26-13. Northgate lost to Sto-Rox, 58-0.

The buzz: Each of the past three games between these teams resulted in a shutout. Northgate won the last two, and Leechburg prevailed 2-0 in 2010.

Key players: Leechburg senior WR Taylor Oberdorf finished with 101 receiving yards last week. RB Alex Marusic scored with 11 seconds left in Northgate's only win.

About the Blue Devils: They've already scored more points this year (59) than they did in each of the last two seasons. They hope to end a 13-game losing streak.

About the Flames: After averaging 19 points through two weeks, Northgate scored six points in its last three games combined.

Prediction: Leechburg, 15-8.

2-A North Catholic (5-0, 5-0)

at 6-A Avonworth (5-0, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: North Catholic won, 60-27, at West Shamokin. Avonworth beat Apollo-Ridge, 35-27.

The buzz: Avonworth has won four of the past six meetings but lost, 19-15, last year. A win will all but decide the conference; neither team plays a conference opponent with a winning record the rest of the way.

Key players: Jerome Turner rushed for five TDs to lead North Catholic. Antelopes QB Matt Donovan was 14 of 25 for 228 yards and three TDs.

About the Trojans: RB P.J. Fulmore has been sidelined for much of the season with an ankle injury. Adam Sharlow threw for 248 yards and a score last week. Andrew Wingard ran for two scores and brought a kick back for a TD.

About the Antelopes: They haven't been undefeated this late since 2008, when it started 11-0 and reached the semifinals. Moses Giles ran for 150 yards and two TDs last week.

Prediction: Avonworth, 34-27.

West Shamokin (3-2, 3-2) at Wilkinsburg (2-3, 2-3)

1 p.m. Saturday

Last week: West Shamokin lost to North Catholic, 60-27. Wilkinsburg lost to Riverview, 19-12.

The buzz: The Wolves could clinching a first-ever playoff berth with a win.

Top players: Wolves junior RB Andrew Wingard was the offensive star against North Catholic with a 95-yard run and a kickoff return touchdown. Senior RB Montay Clancy is the Tigers' leading scorer.

About the Wolves: West Shamokin hopes to have 290-yard rusher Zac Horner back after he missed the game against North Catholic. Sophomore FB Andrew Cline has been getting more carries.

About the Tigers: Dual-threat QB Ryan Cox has thrown for three TDs and run for another this season. A program with plenty of history and 508 wins all time, this year's Tigers roster has just 22 players.

Prediction: West Shamokin, 40-22.

Tri-County South

Avella (5-0, 4-0) at

Frazier (4-1, 4-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Avella beat Geibel, 54-12. Frazier beat Jefferson-Morgan, 21-6.

The buzz: Both teams, along with Beth-Center, have their sights set on a conference championship and the winner will take a major step toward accomplishing that.

Key players: QB Paris Santino runs the Avella offense and threw for four touchdowns in last week's win. Frazier's Dakota Hixson continues to make plays each week. In the win over the Rockets, Hixson had a critical interception return for a touchdown.

About the Eagles: Wide receiver Zach Thompson is showing versatility, scoring a rushing and receiving touchdown as the Eagles picked up their fifth straight victory.

About the Commodores: Charles Manack and the Frazier offense have looked good all season and the Commodores are looking for their fourth straight victory. Frazier beat Avella last season, 20-13.

Prediction: Frazier, 20-14.

Geibel (0-5, 0-4)

at Carmichaels (4-1, 3-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Geibel lost to Avella, 54-12. Carmichaels beat Mapletown, 44-12.

The buzz: The Gators are focused on improvement while the Mikes continue to build toward the playoffs. A Mikes win, coupled with Avella and Beth-Center losses, would create a four-way tie for first with Carmichaels, Frazier, Beth-Center and Avella.

Key players: Geibel quarterback Brandon Kushnar had a rushing touchdown and also scored on a kickoff return in the loss to Avella. Quarterback Brandon Lawless completed 21 of 28 for 274 yards and a pair of scores in the Mikes' win over the Maples.

About the Gators: Geibel scored multiple touchdowns for the second week in a row after being shut out in their previous two games. Geibel also forfeited to Beth-Center in Week 2.

About the Mikes: Tyler Aeschbacher has developed a strong connection with Lawless. Aeschbacher caught 15 passes for 190 yards in last week's win.

Prediction: Carmichaels, 51-13


Riverview (1-4, 1-4) at Shenango (1-4, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Riverview beat Wilkinsburg, 19-12. Shenango lost to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 14-7.

The buzz: The Raiders enter the game on a tide of confidence. But Shenango is a few breaks away from a winning record, as it's lost games by five and seven points.

Key players: Riverview sophomore DB Will Medved excels in the secondary, where he has three interceptions. WR Ryley Ferrari averages more than 20 yards per catch for the Wildcats.

About the Raiders: Keir Barber and Raymar McCombs provide Riverview a one-two punch in the backfield. They've combined for more than 600 yards.

About the Wildcats: Tyler Welsh and Anthony Prestopine split carries at RB.

Prediction: Shenango, 22-15.


USO (4-0, 2-0) at

Allderdice (2-3, 2-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Cupples Stadium

Last week: USO was idle last week. Allderdice lost to the Linsly School (W.Va.), 26-7.

The buzz: USO's high-flying offense has been the talk of the City, and it has averaged 49.3 ppg the first four weeks, all victories. USO won, 35-15, last year en route to a berth in the City League championship game.

Key players: QB Ronald Brown keys the USO passing attack. He's completed 62 of 94 passes for 1,677 yards and 10 touchdowns with just one interception. His primary target is Marcus Johnson (14-392-6TD). Timothy Jackson gives ‘Dice an elite receiver.

About the Panthers: USO isn't all that big, but the passing game has been a problem for teams to defend.

About the Dragons: Trevon Williams carried 14 times for 86 yards and a first-quarter TD Saturday. ... The Dragons have given up an average of 26.6 ppg.

Prediction: USO, 47-21.


Penns Manor (5-0, 4-0) at

Blairsville (3-2, 3-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penns Manor defeated Marion Center, 35-6. Blairsville fell, 41-16, to Homer-Center.

The buzz: Penns Manor outrushed Marion Center, 298-9, last week. The Comets had a huge advantage on the offensive and defensive lines and are showing opponents they have good replacements for the graduated Danny Ferens. Blairsville, which has lost two games, had trouble slowing down the Wildcats' offense.

Key players: Penns Manor QB Luke Kowalski ran for 100 yards on 12 carries. Blairsville RB Deion Robinson was held to 44 yards, but he rushed for 182 yards a week before.

About the Comets: Penns Manor relies on a balanced running attack led by Kowalski. … RB/LB Ethan Marshall is a two-way starter, while linemen Luke Ruddock and Steven Drum are back.

About the Bobcats: Jaylin Rydbom completed 6-of-21 passes for 98 yards last week. He is replacing the injured Scott Thompson.

Prediction: Penns Manor, 20-14.

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