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Breaking down Week 7 in Western Pennsylvania high school football

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Top high school sports
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 10:15 p.m.
 

Below is a look at some of the top matchups for Week 7 of high school football in Western Pennsylvania:

Class AAAA

Quad Central

6-AAAA Bethel Park (5-1, 5-1) at 2-AAAA Upper St. Clair (6-0, 5-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Bethel Park won at Penn Hills, 21-19. Upper St. Clair beat Butler, 37-0.

The buzz: This is the last legitimate conference hurdle for USC, which is at Plum and Mt. Lebanon the last two weeks. Bethel Park pulled off a 24-17 win last year.

Key players: Black Hawks QB Levi Metheny passed for 113 yards and accounted for a pair of touchdowns last week. Panthers QB Joe Repischak and RB Trevor Morrow are two of the best athletes on a team loaded with them.

About the Black Hawks: Their lone loss came against Woodland Hills in Week 3. Three first downs and 107 total yards turned out to be enough for last season's upset.

About the Panthers: Five players scored touchdowns last week. USC hasn't been scored on since Week 1. Morrow has 533 yards and seven touchdowns. USC has 16 sacks in six games, including four by Pitt recruit Rori Blair.

Prediction: Upper St. Clair, 24-7.

Quad Central

Plum (0-6, 0-6) at 9-AAAA Penn Hills (4-2, 3-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Plum lost to Peters Township, 35-3. Penn Hills lost to Bethel Park, 21-19.

The buzz: Penn Hills owns a 13-game winning streak against the Mustangs that dates back to 1998. Plum beat Penn Hills in 1997, 34-13.

Key players: Plum sophomore Jacob Chapla kicked his first field goal of the season, a 22-yarder, last week. Penn Hills QB Billy Kisner, a first-year starter, can challenge defenses with his arm and his legs.

About the Mustangs: They must improve run defense after allowing 248 yards last week. Coach Matt Morgan is a former Penn Hills assistant.

About the Indians: Kisner and RB Isaiah Jones both rushed for more than 100 yards last week. Penn Hills has lost its last two conference games (Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair).

Prediction: Penn Hills, 26-7.

5-AAAA Woodland Hills (4-2, 4-1) at Canon-McMillan (1-5, 1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Woodland Hills defeated Baldwin, 42-21. Canon-McMillan lost to Mt. Lebanon, 49-7.

The buzz: Woodland Hills is seeking its fifth consecutive victory.

Key players: Woodland Hills sophomore RB Miles Sanders rushed for 247 yards in the victory over Baldwin. Wolverines QB Harry Randall has thrown for 327 yards and rushed for 267. Canon-McMillan kicker Luke Starcevic, with two field goals and five extra points, is a scoring threat for a team having trouble producing points.

About the Wolverines: Third-place Woodland Hills is in the Quad Central title hunt with Upper St. Clair (5-0) and Bethel Park (5-1).

About the Highlanders: Canon-McMillan is averaging just 6.8 points per game but does have a 17-7 victory over Plum.

Prediction: Woodland Hills, 55-10.

Quad East

3-AAAA Gateway (6-0, 5-0)

at Norwin (1-5, 1-5)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Gateway edged North Allegheny, while Norwin fell to Kiski Area, 24-7.

The buzz: Gateway has dominated Norwin over the last five games of the series. The Gators outscored the Knights, 299-35, in those meetings.

Key players: Gateway senior Delvon Randall scored three touchdowns — one receiving and two rushing — and finished with 115 yards on 13 carries in the win over North Allegheny. Norwin QB Nick Amendola threw for 158 yards and a TD in the loss to Kiski Area.

About the Gators: Gateway begins a three-game conference stretch with Penn-Trafford and undefeated McKeesport looming. Freshman Jordan Washington, who took over the kicking job only a few weeks ago, kicked a 21-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter against NA.

About the Knights: Norwin ranks 23rd out of 26 teams in WPIAL Quad-A in scoring offense. The Knights have allowed 23.8 ppg.

Prediction: Gateway, 28-14.

Latrobe (1-5, 0-5) at

Altoona (1-5, 1-5)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Latrobe lost to McKeesport, 25-0. Altoona lost at Hempfield, 37-14.

The buzz: Neither team's season has gone the way they hoped, especially Latrobe, which lost to Gateway by two in Week 1. Altoona has lost five straight since opening with a win over Norwin. Altoona won this game, 34-23, last year en route to the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.

Key players: Latrobe QB Logan Carns will play after what was feared to be a fractured pinky finger on his non-throwing hand turned out to be just a bruise. Eli Mencer and Kevin Givens ran for touchdowns last week for Altoona, which scored multiple touchdowns for the first time since Week 1.

About the Wildcats: Carns completed 7 of 13 passes for 110 yards against McKeesport.

About the Mountain Lions: Altoona yielded 334 rushing yards and 515 total yards to Hempfield last week.

Prediction: Altoona, 21-14.

McKeesport (6-0, 5-0) at Connellsville (1-5, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: McKeesport beat Latrobe, 25-0. Connellsville lost to Penn-Trafford, 21-15.

The buzz: McKeesport is one of two undefeated teams in the Quad East and is looking to keep pace with Gateway in the race for the top spot in the conference. The Falcons likely need to win out in order to have a shot at qualifying for the postseason.

Key players: Tywann Smith is one of the top scoring threats for the Tigers and he had a rushing and receiving score in the win over the Wildcats. Quarterback Jade Maher runs the Connellsville offense and threw for a pair of scores last week.

About the Tigers: The Tigers were one and done in the playoffs last season but have their sights set much higher this year, especially after six straight wins to start the season. QB David Queen, injured during the victory over Latrobe, is questionable for Friday's game with a sprained ankle.

About the Falcons: An 0-4 start has put Connellsville in jeopardy of missing the postseason for the second straight year. Connellsville lost to McKeesport, 40-27, last year.

Prediction: McKeesport, 31-14.

Penn-Trafford (5-1, 4-1) at

Kiski Area (3-3, 3-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn-Trafford beat Connellsville, 21-15. Kiski beat

Norwin, 24-7.

The buzz: Penn-Trafford, which already clinched its spot in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs, will try to keep pace with conference leaders Gateway and McKeesport. Kiski can clinch a spot in the postseason with a victory.

Key players: Penn-Trafford QB Brett Laffoon has passed for 723 yards and seven touchdowns. Kiski Area freshman Justice Evans rushed for 79 yards and a TD and set up two more scores with long punt returns against Norwin.

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford would clinch its third straight winning season with a victory. ... At 18.8 ppg, P-T ranks 18th in Class AAAA in scoring.

About the Cavaliers: They sacked Knights QB Nick Amendola five times. ... The Cavaliers boast balance in their rushing attack, with four players having between 165 and 297 yards on the season.

Prediction: Penn-Trafford, 17-14.

Quad North

North Hills (4-2, 3-1) at

7-AAAA Seneca Valley (5-1, 4-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last Week: North Hills survived a scare from Fox Chapel, 21-17. Seneca Valley rolled past Shaler, 54-14.

The buzz: With both teams' only conference loss coming against Central Catholic, this game will be critical to the playoff chase in the Quad North Conference. Seneca Valley has a hold on second, and North Hills is tied with NA in third.

Key players: Seneca Valley quarterback T.J. Holl is a threat to score or create a score with every snap. North Hills will lean on the running attack with Kindhal Taylor and Montae Frank.

About the Raiders: Seneca Valley has a balanced attack with Holl and running back Mason Dehart. Receiver Eric Mrkonja is a big-play threat.

About the Indians: North Hills' defense is as stout as ever, not allowing more than 24 points in any game this season. The Indians are giving up just 13.7 ppg.

Prediction: Seneca Valley, 23-17.

Nonconference

Fox Chapel (1-5, 1-4) at Baldwin (2-4, 2-4)

7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Fox Chapel lost to North Hills, 21-17. Baldwin lost to Woodland Hills, 42-21.

The buzz: Baldwin rallied past Fox Chapel last season, 27-20, and also won in 2010 and 2011. Both teams need a win to provide a late-season spark.

Key players: Fox Chapel QB Billy Urso has completed 72 of 152 passes for 888 yards and seven touchdowns. Baldwin WR Luke Smorey has 34 catches for 646 yards and nine touchdowns.

About the Foxes: They're allowing 32.5 points per game defensively and averaging 15.7 on offense.

About the Highlanders: Led by 1,000-yard passer QB Doug Altavilla, they're averaging 21.3 points per game and have wins over Plum and Mt. Lebanon. They allow 30.2 points per game.

Prediction: Baldwin, 17-9.

Class AAA

Big 9

Belle Vernon (2-4, 2-3) at 2-AAA Thomas Jefferson (6-0, 5-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Belle Vernon defeated Trinity, 28-0. Thomas Jefferson defeated Laurel Highlands, 58-21.

The buzz: TJ beat Belle Vernon last season 57-20,and has won 12 consecutive games versus the Leopards since ‘01.

Key players: Belle Vernon's QB is freshman Mike Fine, who has stepped in for injured Travis Snyder. Thomas Jefferson junior RB Austin Kemp scored four touchdowns while rushing for 159 yards on 12 carries last week.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon has been outscored by a 173-116 margin and is allowing an average of 28.8 ppg.

About the Jaguars: Thomas Jefferson has outscored the opposition 269-50 this year, and is averaging 44.8 ppg — behind only West Mifflin's 45.5 ppg average in Class AAA. The Jaguars have given up just one first-quarter touchdown and have not allowed a point in the third quarter of any game.

Prediction: TJ, 45-7.

BIG 9

9-AAA Eliz. Forward (4-2, 4-2) at 10-AAA Ringgold (4-2, 4-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Elizabeth Forward lost to West Mifflin, 40-16. Ringgold defeated Albert Gallatin, 42-7.

The buzz: With identical records, both teams' losses have come to the same opponents — No. 2 Thomas Jefferson and No. 3 West Mifflin.

Key players: EF has relied on the big-play tandem of QB JaQuan Davidson, who recently gave Pitt a verbal commitment, and WR/KR Matt Bernadowski, who leads the Warriors with 15 touchdowns in a variety of ways. Ringgold QB Nico Law has combined for more than 1,700 total yards this year.

About the Warriors: EF has outscored its opponents by an average of 12 ppg despite a 34-point loss to West Mifflin.

About the Rams: Ringgold's offense is averaging nearly 40 points. The Rams scored 60 in a victory over Uniontown on Sept. 20.

Prediction: EF, 31-28.

Laurel Highlands (0-6, 0-5) at Albert Gallatin (2-4, 1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Laurel Highlands lost to Thomas Jefferson, 58-21. Albert Gallatin lost to Ringgold, 42-7.

The buzz: Fayette County pride is on the line as the two rivals meet up for a conference clash.

Key players: The Mustangs' Jason Leone has a nose for the end zone and scored two rushing touchdowns in last week's loss to the Jaguars. Colin Smith is a player to keep an eye on in the Albert Gallatin backfield.

About the Mustangs: It's been another tough season for the Mustangs, but players like sophomore quarterback Jimmy Pierce are gaining valuable experience. Laurel Highlands beat Albert Gallatin last year, 14-8.

About the Colonials: Points have been tough to come by for Albert Gallatin in recent weeks. The Colonials have scored just 19 points in their last three games.

Prediction: Albert Gallatin, 21-14.

Uniontown (1-5, 1-4) at Trinity (1-5, 1-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Uniontown lost to Mars, 42-0. Trinity lost to Belle Vernon, 42-0.

The buzz: Both teams are looking to get their offense on track after enduring shutout losses a week ago.

Key players: Doug Lewis will try to give the Red Raiders a jump start out of the backfield. Quarterback Forrest Cullings will try to do the same for the Hillers.

About the Red Raiders: The aerial connection between quarterback Xavier Ellis and receiver Lyric Ellis has been a bright spot.

About the Hillers: Nicholas Moretti has shown he can rip off big runs if given the opportunity. Trinity beat Uniontown, 26-13, in 2012.

Prediction: Uniontown, 35-30.

Greater Allegheny

Derry (0-6, 0-5) at

Hampton (3-3, 2-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Hampton lost a tough game against Hollidaysburg, 17-13. Derry lost to Highlands, 57-7.

The buzz: Hampton looks to stay in the playoff chase, and Derry looks for a win in conference play to get into the victory column.

Key players: Hampton quarterback Nick Grabowski is improving every game and has built a rapport with star receivers Jon Floss and Eddie Edwards. For Derry, senior quarterback Kyle Holmes will try to connect with tight end Clint Beeman and hope the line can give running back Josh Flack some room to run.

About the Trojans: Derry lost several starters from a team that went 1-8 last year. It has allowed an average of 57.3 points per game, while scoring less than six.

About the Talbots: Hampton needs a win this week to keep hope of a playoff dream alive. It enters the game tied with Knoch for fifth place in the conference.

Prediction: Hampton, 24-7.

Greater Allegheny

Franklin Regional (5-1, 4-1)

at Hollidaysburg (3-3, 3-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Franklin Regional beat Knoch, 28-0. Hollidaysburg beat Hampton, 17-13.

The buzz: Franklin Regional looks to keep its hopes of a conference championship alive, while Hollidaysburg fights to stay in playoff position.

Key players: Franklin Regional QB Charan Singh threw two TD passes and returned an interception for another score in the victory over Knoch. Hollidaysburg QB Josh Bickley passed for 242 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 87 yards and another score last week.

About the Panthers: Since allowing 20 points through three quarters at Greensburg Salem, they have blanked opponents. The Panthers are allowing 8.3 ppg, tied for third-best in Class AAA.

About the Golden Tigers: Hollidaysburg has already equaled its wins total from 2012, when it went 3-7. ... First-year coach Homer DeLattre spent 11 seasons at District 10 Corry and is also the Hollidaysburg athletic director.

Prediction: Franklin Regional, 28-17.

Greensburg Salem (2-4, 2-4) at 8-AAA Highlands (5-1, 5-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg Salem beat Indiana, 28-21. Highlands beat Derry, 57-7.

The buzz: The Golden Lions must either figure out Highlands' defense, which allows 13.5 ppg, or ask more of their own, which surrenders 30.2.

Key players: Senior WR Simeon Stevens (5-foot-10, 163 pounds) gives Greensburg Salem a big-play threat in a smallish package. Golden Rams freshman RB Dominic Martinka has emerged as an explosive ball carrier (9.13 yards per carry).

About the Golden Lions: RB Dom McKinley finished with 228 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries last week to help Greensburg Salem score more than 20 points for the first time this season.

About the Golden Rams: Martinka adds another element to Highlands' strong ground game, which is led by Elijah Jackson, who gained 195 yards on 15 rushes last week.

Prediction: Highlands, 22-21.

Parkway

Blackhawk (1-5, 1-4) at

Montour (4-2, 3-2)

7 p.m. Thursday

Last week: Blackhawk lost to New Castle, 46-42. Montour beat Chartiers Valley, 38-21.

The buzz: Televised by Root Sports, the winner helps its playoff chances. Montour sits fifth in the Parkway, two games ahead of Blackhawk, Ambridge and Chartiers Valley, which are tied for sixth. The top five (and possibly a wild card) make the playoffs.

Key players: Montour senior RB Cole Macek had three touchdowns last Friday. Blackhawk senior QB Chandler Kincade threw two touchdowns and rushed for another.

About the Cougars: Last week's 42 points were a season high, but only six came before halftime. A quick start would help an offense averaging just 16.8 points.

About the Spartans: A seventh straight trip to the playoffs is within reach, but they'll need a win or two. After this, they face Moon (4-2) and West Allegheny (5-0).

Prediction: Montour, 35-34.

Parkway

1-AAA West Allegheny (6-0, 5-0) at 6-AAA New Castle (5-1, 4-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: West Allegheny beat Steel Valley, 55-14. New Castle won at Blackhawk, 46-42.

The buzz: New Castle (35.8 ppg) has been the surprise of the conference, but West Allegheny is the reigning WPIAL Class AAA champion for a reason. The Indians average 41.3 ppg.

Key players: RB Chayse Dillon leads the Indians' run-based offense with 660 yards and six touchdowns. Tory Delmonico gets equal carries and has scored eight touchdowns. New Castle WR Malik Hooker is an Ohio State recruit.

About the Indians: They held Central Valley to a single touchdown two weeks ago. QB Andrew Koester has given West Allegheny a reliable passing threat, having thrown for 658 yards and seven touchdowns.

Red Hurricanes: Hooker rushed for a pair of TDs during the win over Blackhawk, including an 83-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: West Allegheny, 28-14.

NONCONFERENCE

3-AAA West Mifflin (6-0) at Indiana (2-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: West Mifflin defeated Elizabeth Forward, 40-16. Indiana lost to Greensburg Salem, 28-21.

The buzz: West Mifflin RB Jimmy Wheeler is on pace to challenge the WPIAL's regular-season rushing mark of 2,149 yards by Delrece Williams of Steel Valley in 2010. Wheeler leads the WPIAL with 1,569.

Key players: Wheeler gained 257 yards on 30 carries and scored six touchdowns against Elizabeth Forward. Indiana WR Riley Stapleton leads the Little Indians with four TDs.

About the Titans: Unbeaten West Mifflin has outscored its opponents by an average of just more than 35 points per game.

About the Little Indians: QB Jacob Zilinskas completed 9 of 16 passes for 145 yards, including an 8-yard scoring pass to Stapleton, in Indiana's Greater Allegheny Conference loss to Greensburg Salem.

Prediction: West Mifflin, 46-12.

Class AA

Allegheny

Deer Lakes (0-6, 0-5) at 9-AA Kittanning (6-0, 5-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Deer Lakes lost to Summit Academy, 46-8. Kittanning beat Ford City, 62-27.

The buzz: Kittanning, which still must play two of the conference's top three teams, must resist looking past the Lancers.

Key players: Deer Lakes QB Josh Plocki has 595 total yards. Kittanning RB Zane Dudek had 137 yards and two touchdowns in one half of action last week.

About the Lancers: RB Hunter Burns has 165 rushing yards but also averages more than 10 yards per reception. Deer Lakes is on a nine-game losing streak.

About the Wildcats: QB Braydon Toy needs just 70 yards passing to go over 1,000 for the season. The Kittanning offense is averaging 361 yards and more than 39 points per game.

Prediction: Kittanning, 30-10.

East Allegheny (2-4, 2-4) at Freeport (2-4, 2-4)

7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: East Allegheny lost to Shady Side Academy, 52-14. Freeport beat Burrell, 12-10.

The buzz: Both teams are on the periphery of the playoff picture, as they're tied for fifth in the conference. Freeport won this matchup, 36-20, last season.

Key players: East Allegheny RB Praise Garner averages almost 8 yards per rush and 30 yards per reception. Freeport QB Andrew Romanchak does the most damage with his legs.

About the Wildcats: Senior QB Kyle Whipple hopes to ignite an offense that has averaged just 13 points the last two weeks.

About the Yellowjackets: Romanchak, who rushed for 111 yards last week, has turned to a multitude of RBs to help sustain long drives during their two wins. Mitchell O'Shell had a key touchdown last week.

Prediction: East Allegheny, 20-12.

Ford City (2-4, 1-4) at Burrell (2-4, 1-4)

7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Ford City lost to Kittanning, 62-27. Burrell lost to Freeport, 12-10.

The buzz: Such frustrating seasons likely have surprised both perennially strong teams.

Key players: Sabers senior Cody Peppler can turn short passes into big pickups and also has shown promise as a kick returner. Junior RB Ryan Sowol remains the Bucs' most productive ball carrier.

About the Sabers: Prior to last week, they averaged just seven points per game in their losses. Senior RB Chantz Schrecengost, who had 164 yards of offense last week, is critical to their success.

About the Bucs: They've lost three in a row. But the rest of their schedule includes games against conference opponents who also face slim or no chance of making the playoffs.

Prediction: Burrell, 22-21.

8-AA Valley (5-1, 4-1) at Summit Academy (3-3, 3-2)

12:30 p.m., Saturday

Last week: Valley beat Yough, 48-32. Summit Academy beat Deer Lakes, 46-8.

The buzz: Each of the last three weeks, Valley scored at least 42 points. Summit Academy's offense also is surging, as it has scored at least 38 each of the past two games.

Key players: Valley QB Ty Matthews rushed for three touchdowns last week. Elijah Hardy gained 195 yards and scored four times on 24 carries last week for the Knights.

About the Vikings: Valley continues to diversify its offense, as seven players carried the ball last week to help the team gain 248 yards on the ground.

About the Knights: The compact Hardy (5-6, 145) has helped put Summit Academy in position for its first WPIAL playoff berth.

Prediction: Valley, 38-28.

Century

Keystone Oaks (0-5, 0-6) at South Allegheny (1-4, 1-5)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Keystone Oaks lost to South Park, 20-18. South Allegheny lost to McGuffey, 50-7.

The buzz: Both teams have struggled to find consistency this season. The Golden Eagles have won two of the last three games in the series.

Key players: Keystone Oaks receiver Braydon Griffiths has more than 400 yards and five touchdowns. Gladiators quarterback Ty Cook has nearly 900 all-purpose yards.

About the Golden Eagles: Quarterback Kobe Phillippi has seven touchdowns. Defensive back Brandon Carroll leads the defense with 36 tackles. The defense is allowing more than 45 ppg.

About the Gladiators: Kordell Thompson has more than 300 receiving yards and three touchdowns. DaVonte Johnson and Curtis Moore provide a 1-2 punch at running back. The offense is averaging 14 ppg.

Prediction: South Allegheny, 21-14.

7-AA Seton-La Salle (5-1, 5-1) at 10-AA Quaker Valley (5-1, 5-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Seton-La Salle beat Burgettstown, 46-7; Quaker Valley lost to South Fayette, 49-15.

The buzz: Both are looking to clinch a home game in the opening round of the playoffs. The Rebels have won five straight in the series.

Key players: Seton-La Salle QB Tyler Perone has thrown for 1,041 yards and 12 TDs. Quakers QB Dane Jackson has more than 1,100 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns.

About the Rebels: Daniel McKinley-Lewis is Perone's top target with 347 receiving yards and seven TDs. … The offense is averaging 33 ppg, and the defense has held four teams to a TD or less.

About the Quakers: RBs Trewon Marshall, Gennaro Trovato and Aaron Cunningham have combined for 18 touchdowns. … Chris Conlan is team's top receiver with 243 yards and four TDs. … The defense is surrendering 22 ppg.

Prediction: Quaker Valley, 34-28.

South Park (4-2, 4-1) at Steel Valley (2-4, 2-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: South Park defeated Keystone Oaks, 20-18. Steel Valley lost to West Allegheny, 55-14.

The buzz: Steel Valley is enduring a disappointing season and could have trouble against a revitalized South Park team. The Eagles, after years of struggles, appear well on their way back into the Class AA playoff picture.

Key players: Nick Scholle is a big piece of the picture for South Park, as his ability to go downfield has opened up every aspect of the Eagles' offense. Steel Valley's D'Andre Pickens is a gifted running back with home-run ability and power.

About the Ironmen: Steel Valley hasn't been able to hang around with the big boys of Class AA. A victory against South Park would certainly make for a significant statement.

About the Eagles: South Park has been especially balanced this season, showcasing a number of solid contributors on both sides of the ball.

Prediction: South Park, 23-14.

Interstate

Brownsville (0-6, 0-5) at Southmoreland (1-5, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday (Cal Pa.)

Last week: Brownsville lost to Washington, 50-14. Southmoreland lost to Greensburg Central Catholic, 21-20.

The buzz: Both teams like to run the ball and can do it effectively. It could shape up to be a battle of the backs.

Key players: Byron Meyers and Shane Roebuck are tough ground-gainers for the Falcons. Both rushed for more than 100 yards in last week's loss to Washington. Jake Pisula can grind out the yards and Aaron Bailey is a home-run threat out of the backfield for the Scotties. Both topped the century mark in rushing yards in last week's loss to GCC.

About the Falcons: The Falcons are out of the playoff chase, but remain hungry for their first win of the season.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland's playoff hopes hang by a thread, especially after a heartbreaking loss to GCC. The Scotties likely have to win out and hope for help if they want to sneak into the postseason.

Prediction: Southmoreland, 35-14.

3-AA Mt. Pleasant (6-0, 6-0) at 5-AA Washington (6-0, 6-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mt. Pleasant beat Jeannette, 35-21. Washington beat Brownsville, 50-14.

The buzz: The winner is guaranteed a portion of the Interstate title, which Washington secured with a

34-14 win in 2012.

Key players: With Shai McKenzie out for the year with a torn ACL, Jordan West (288 yards, eight TDs) and Malik Wells (333 and four) have picked up the slack. Tyler Mellors ran for a season-high 259 yards and three touchdowns for the Vikings last week.

About the Vikings: Mellors is the feature back. Gumbita is not only a strong passer but a running threat. The defense has given up 21 points each of the past two weeks after allowing a total of 23 the first four.

About the Prexies: Jonathan Spina is a first-year starter at QB and has improved dramatically. Chase Caldwell and Quorteze Levy are athletes.

Prediction: Washington, 35-21.

Yough (2-3, 2-4) at Waynesburg (2-4, 3-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Yough lost to Valley, 46-32. Waynesburg defeated Charleroi, 46-21.

The buzz: Both teams have playoff aspirations, but only one will have a legitimate shot at the postseason following this game.

Key players: Quarterback Colby Collins leads the way in Waynesburg's offense, which relies heavily on the run. Juniors John Glenn Davis and Hunter Cenname see the bulk of the carries. Yough relies on quarterback Tyler Donahue to move the ball through the air and on the ground.

About Waynesburg: Waynesburg is one of the WPIAL's younger teams but has improved following a one-win season in 2012. Expect a heavy dose of the running game to complement an improving defense.

About Yough: The Cougars are at their best when they're throwing the ball. This is the biggest game in many seasons for Yough; a wn could pave the way for a playoff berth.

Prediction: Yough, 21-20.

NONCONFERENCE

6-AA S.S. Academy (6-0, 6-0) at Jeannette (4-2, 4-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Shady Side rolled past East Allegheny, 52-14. Jeannette fell at Mt. Pleasant, 35-21.

The buzz: Jeannette is trying to avoid a three-game losing streak. Jeannette pulled away for a 31-26 win at Shady Side Academy in 2012.

Key players: The Indians are led by RB Dennis Briggs, who scored three TDs, including an 85-yard kickoff return against East Allegheny. Jeannette QB Julian Batts threw TD passes of 71 and 60 yards.

About the Indians: The Indians have not been tested this season. RB Jarred Brevard rushed for 133 yards and two scores last week.

About the Jayhawks: Jeannette allowed 10 sacks last week, but Batts still managed to throw for 238 yards and two scores. The defense showed some signs of improvement, holding the Vikings scoreless for two quarters after allowing 21 points in the first quarter.

Prediction: S.S. Academy, 28-21.

Class A

Black Hills

Bishop Canevin (2-5, 1-5) at 5-A Clairton (5-1, 5-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Bishop Canevin lost to Fort Cherry, 42-6. Clairton beat Brentwood, 37-13.

The buzz: The Bears are in the hunt for a share of the Black Hills title. The Crusaders have lost five straight games for the first time since 2007.

Key players: Bishop Canevin QB Reed Relosky has thrown for 727 yards and six TDs. Lamont Wade has more than 800 all-purpose yards for Clairton with nine touchdowns.

About the Crusaders: Zach Cortese and Sean Fitzgerald are biggest receiving threats. Tyler Reddy is averaging more than 9 yards per carry. LB Austin Libero leads team in tackles with 36. They have the lowest-scoring offense in the conference (11 ppg).

About the Bears: James Hines has stepped up as top receiver with more than 200 yards and four touchdowns. The team has the best points-allowed average in the conference (15 ppg).

Prediction: Clairton, 49-7.

6-A Fort Cherry (5-1, 5-1) at Serra Catholic (1-6, 1-5)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Fort Cherry defeated Bishop Canevin, 42-6. Serra Catholic lost to Monessen, 55-19.

The buzz: Fort Cherry relies on a rushing attack led by senior Koltan Kobrys, while Serra Catholic's strength revolves around versatile QB Zac Quattrone.

Key players: Kobrys is averaging 10.8 yards per carry and has 1,278 yards rushing for Fort Cherry. Rangers QB Matt Heslin has completed 39 passes, including 19 for touchdowns. For Serra Catholic, Quattrone has passed for 623 yards and rushed for 608.

About the Rangers: Kobrys gained 311 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns to power Fort Cherry's win over Bishop Canevin. The Rangers entered the week in a three-way tie with Clairton and Monessen for the lead in the Black Hills Conference.

About the Eagles: Serra Catholic was victimized by big plays from Monessen: five covered more than 52 yards.

Prediction: Fort Cherry, 48-14.

Eastern

7-A Avonworth (5-1, 4-1) at Springdale (2-4, 2-3)

7 p.m., Friday

Last week: Avonworth lost to North Catholic, 21-12. Springdale lost to Apollo-Ridge, 42-0.

The buzz: Avonworth will focus on staying in second in the conference. Springdale is on the brink of missing the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

Key players: WR Jesse Zubik is a speedy, sure-handed threat for the Antelopes. Springdale RB Matt Mikus is one of the top options in the backfield.

About the Antelopes: They held each of their first four opponents to seven points or fewer but cracked a bit in recent weeks against better competition. RB Moses Giles paces an offense that's averaging 35.7 points per game.

About the Dynamos: They'll hope to follow their first shutout loss of the season with a better showing.

Prediction: Avonworth, 42-7.

Northgate (1-5, 1-4) at 9-A Apollo-Ridge (4-2, 3-2)

7 p.m., Friday

Last week: Northgate lost to Leechburg, 35-14. Apollo-Ridge beat Springdale, 42-0.

The buzz: The Flames reached a double-digit point total for the first time since Week 2. They'll need another one to hang with Apollo-Ridge, which averages 38.5 points per game.

Key players: Northgate's Rodney Burrows returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown last week. Senior RB Ben Gemballa averages 8.1 yards per carry and has a team-high five rushing touchdowns.

About the Flames: They've allowed at least 35 points in four of their last five games. QB Johnny Camello can score with his arm or his feet.

About the Vikings: They have two shutout wins and are in position to secure a third. Apollo-Ridge beat Northgate, 20-19, a year ago.

Prediction: Apollo-Ridge, 38-8.

Riverview (1-5, 1-4) at Leechburg (1-5, 1-4)

7 p.m., Friday

Last week: Riverview lost to Shenango, 35-14. Leechburg beat Northgate, 35-14.

The buzz: When these teams met under comparable circumstances a year ago, Riverview won, 27-19. Leechburg last beat the Raiders in 2003.

Key players: Senior Zach Hanus, a transfer from Florida, started the year at WR but has become more involved in Riverview's run and passing game. Leechburg QB Alex Sipolino completed seven of 11 pass attempts for 85 yards and one touchdown last week.

About the Raiders: They're allowing more than 34 points per game.

About the Blue Devils: They exceeded their previous season-high score by 22 points last week.

Prediction: Leechburg, 15-13.

Tri-County South

8-A Beth-Center (6-0, 6-0) at

Frazier (5-1, 5-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Beth-Center beat Jefferson-Morgan, 54-7. Frazier beat Avella, 33-9.

The buzz: First place is on the line as the top two teams in the Tri-County South square off.

Key players: Anthony Welsh leads a strong Beth-Center rushing attack. Last week, Welsh ran for 173 yards and four TDs. Frazier QB Charles Manack continues to make big plays at critical times for the Commodores. Zach Mastowski and Nicholas Smalich have been main components in the ground game.

About the Bulldogs: Not only is Beth-Center the highest-scoring team in the conference, it is also the toughest to score against. Beth-Center has surrendered just 29 points all season.

About the Commodores: Since a Week 2 loss to Carmichaels, they have rattled off four straight victories. Frazier beat Beth-Center a year ago 21-14.

Prediction: Beth-Center, 27-21.

Bentworth (0-6, 0-5) at Geibel (0-6, 0-5)

1 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Bentworth lost to Mapletown, 42-14. Geibel lost to Carmichaels, 48-0.

The buzz: Each team is looking for its first victory as the Gators enjoy homecoming weekend.

Key players: Angelo Rios-Lopez runs Bentworth's offense, and threw a touchdown pass in the loss to the Maples. Quarterback Brandon Kushnar is Geibel's main offensive threat.

About the Bearcats: Bentworth has lost eight in a row dating to last season. The Bearcats' last victory was a 50-12 triumph over Geibel in 2012.

About the Gators: The last win for Geibel was a Week 3 victory over West Greene in 2011, a span of 21 games.

Prediction: Bentworth, 20-10.

Nonconference

South Side Beaver (0-6) at West Shamokin (4-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: South Side Beaver lost to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 26-18. West Shamokin beat Wilkinsburg, 27-8.

The buzz: While the game has no bearing on the playoff race, a win would lock up the first winning regular season in the Wolves' 14-year history.

Key players: South Side RB-turned-QB Nathan Block leads the team with 433 rushing yards and 197 passing yards. Wolves RB Zac Horner made a return to the lineup last week and ran for a team-high 103 yards.

About the Rams: Despite a shifting QB position, WR Cameron Smith has remained the top receiving threat with 199 yards this season. The Rams are on an eight-game losing streak, and their last win was against the Wolves last year, 40-18.

About the Wolves: The backfield trio of Horner, Andrew Wingard and Alex Lasslo is averaging 5.92 yards per carry. Senior WR Brady Cornman made his first visit to the end zone last week on an 81-yard reception.

Prediction: West Shamokin, 27-16.

DISTRICT 6 HERITAGE

Penns Manor (6-0, 5-0)

at Ligonier Valley (6-0, 5-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penns Manor defeated Blairsville, 34-7. Ligonier Valley smothered Saltsburg, 50-14.

The buzz: First place is on the line in the Heritage Conference. Both also have games against unbeaten Homer-Center in the coming weeks.

Key players: Penns Manor RB Louie Tate rushed for 93 yards against Blairsville. Ligonier Valley QB Scott Fennell completed 14 of 20 passes for 294 yards and produced four scores against Saltsburg.

About the Comets: Penns Manor relied on QB Danny Ferens in 2012. This season the defense has been standing tall. It held an opponent to less than 10 points for the third consecutive game and limited Blairsville to 10 yards rushing.

About the Rams: TE Alec Bloom caught five passes for 135 yards and a touchdown against Saltsburg. The Rams haven't lost a home game since Sept. 30, 2011 against Fort Hill, Md., a 10-0 stretch. They are going for the program's 400th win.

Prediction: Ligonier Valley, 20-14.

 

 
 


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