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Breaking down Week 8 high school football matchups

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Top high school sports
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 10:12 p.m.
 

Here's a look at some of the top matchups for Week 8 in Western Pennsylvania.

Class AAAA

QUAD CENTRAL

8-AAAA Penn Hills (5-2, 4-2) at Mt. Lebanon (2-5, 2-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn Hills beat Plum, 33-10. Mt. Lebanon lost at Peters Township, 39-35.

The buzz: Mt. Lebanon needs to win out against Penn Hills and No. 2 Upper St. Clair to give itself a shot at a playoff spot. Penn Hills is trying to keep pace with Bethel Park (5-2, 5-2) for third place. Mt. Lebanon won, 35-7, last year.

Key players: Penn Hills QB Billy Kisner rushed for 245 yards and two TDs last week. He also threw a TD pass to Mike Anthony. Mt. Lebanon QB Eddie Jenkins threw for 235 yards and a pair of TD passes to Penn State recruit Troy Apke.

About the Indians: Penn Hills hasn't won more than five games in a season since 2008, when the Indians went 8-4. Kisner has rushed for 1,014 yards and seven TDs.

About the Blue Devils: Few had them pegged as a 2-5 team at this point. Mt. Lebanon's two wins have come against Plum and Canon-McMillan, who are a combined 1-13.

Prediction: Penn Hills, 27-21.

Peters Twp. (4-3, 3-3) at 5-AAAA Woodland Hills (5-2, 5-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Peters Township defeated Mt. Lebanon, 39-35. Woodland Hills defeated Canon-McMillan, 34-0.

The buzz: After an uncharacteristic 0-2 start, Woodland Hills goes after its sixth consecutive victory, while Peters Township, still alive in the WPIAL playoff hunt, seeks its third victory in a row and fourth in the past five games.

Key players: Peters Township's 1-2 punch of RB Marcus Ubinger and QB Cory Owen helped to carry the Indians to another victory on Friday. Ubinger gained 194 yards rushing and has 538 for the season and Owen added 176 to run his total to 523 on just 46 carries. On the Woodland Hills side, RB Miles Sanders has gained 863 yards on 86 carries.

About the Indians: Owen scored four touchdowns in the victory over Mt. Lebanon, finding the end zone on runs of 1, 9, 38 and 32 yards as Peters Township built a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead.

About the Wolverines: QB Jeremiah Jones stepped in nicely, completing completed 9 of 13 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown to power Woodland Hills' shutout of Canon-McMillan on Friday.

Prediction: Woodland Hills, 35-13.

2-AAAA Upper St. Clair

(7-0, 6-0) at Plum (0-7, 0-7)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Plum lost to Penn Hills, 33-10. Upper St. Clair beat Bethel Park, 28-13.

The buzz: The Panthers want to keep pace with undefeated Central Catholic, Gateway and McKeesport at the top of the Class AAAA rankings.

Key players: Andrew Soxman paced Plum with 87 yards on 26 carries out of a wildcat formation last week. Stephen MacKowick rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on only five carries for Upper St. Clair

About the Mustangs: Plum recorded a season-high 206 yards rushing on 58 carries against Penn Hills.

About the Panthers: Upper St. Clair scored all four of its touchdowns last week by way of the run. Veteran coach Jim Render continues to pile up the victories. He has 371 in his career.

Prediction: USC, 35-6.

Quad East

Connellsville (1-6, 1-5) at

Latrobe (2-5, 1-5)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Connellsville lost to McKeesport, 47-12. Latrobe beat Altoona, 20-14.

The buzz: Both teams are still technically in the running for the one wild card playoff spot in Quad-A. The loser of this game will be eliminated from playoff contention. Both teams are in a position where they must win out and hope for help to gain entry into the postseason.

Key players: Wide receiver Darrell Ross was a featured target for quarterback Jade Maher in Connellsville's loss to the Tigers. Quarterback Logan Carns is a rushing and passing threat for the Wildcats. He ran for 104 yards and three touchdowns last week.

About the Falcons: Christopher Russell and Michael Parlak are the two primary carriers out of the backfield.

About the Wildcats: Jacob Puleo is a featured target in the Latrobe passing game. Latrobe beat Connellsville last season, 21-14.

Prediction: Latrobe, 17-14.

Kiski Area (4-3, 4-2) at 4-AAAA McKeesport (7-0, 6-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Kiski Area beat Penn-Trafford, 34-14. McKeesport beat Connellsville, 47-12.

The buzz: McKeesport cannot afford a setback if it wants a conference title. Kiski Area can improve its playoff pairing with an upset.

Key players: RB Patrick Turner leads Kiski Area in yards per carry at 7.9, and he's tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with four. McKeesport RB/DB Allen Wright gains more than 10 yards per carry on offense and has a team-high 52 tackles.

About the Cavaliers: They've rededicated themselves to defense to win two straight. QB Chad Kuhn rushed for 90 yards and threw for 160 last week.

About the Tigers: They lead the conference in both scoring offense (32.1 ppg) and scoring defense (10 ppg). Mikell Moore is a two-way stud, as he leads the team in rushing and sacks. He scored on a 6-yard run last week.

Prediction: McKeesport, 34-17.

Norwin (1-6, 1-6) at

Hempfield (5-2, 4-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Norwin lost to Gateway, 13-6. Hempfield beat Butler, 42-7.

The buzz: After coming within a touchdown of shocking Gateway, Norwin will look to finish off an upset bid against playoff-bound Hempfield.

Key players: Norwin RB Zack Tinsley rushed for 123 yards and scored the Knights' lone touchdown against Gateway. Hempfield RB Joey DeFloria leads the Spartans with more than 1,100 yards rushing and eight TDs.

About the Knights: Norwin was stopped at the goal line once and had another touchdown called back by penalty last week. ... Norwin has scored 58 points in seven games.

About the Spartans: QB Ty George is one of the top playmakers in the conference, with more than 1,000 combined passing and rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns. ... Hempfield enters the game locked in a third-place tie in the conference with Kiski Area and Penn-Trafford.

Prediction: Hempfield, 20-14.

Penn-Trafford (4-3, 4-2) at 3-AAAA Gateway (7-0, 6-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn-Trafford lost to Kiski, 34-14. Gateway edged Norwin, 13-6.

The buzz: Fresh off another close call last week, Gateway will try to keep its unbeaten season intact — and try to avoid looking ahead to next week's game against undefeated McKeesport.

Key players: Penn-Trafford QB Brett Laffoon is in his first year as a starter but has passed for 858 yards and seven touchdowns. Gateway WR Montae Nicholson, a Division I recruit, scored both of the Gators' touchdowns last week.

About the Warriors: They have scored fewer than 20 points in five games. ... Laffoon and RBs Devin Austin and Tom Stinelli all completed passes last week.

About the Gators: Last week's slow start against Norwin — scoreless through three quarters — was just the latest for Gateway. The team also struggled against Latrobe, Altoona and Hempfield.

Prediction: Gateway, 27-14.

QUAD NORTH

Butler (1-6, 1-4) at

Fox Chapel (1-6, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Butler lost to Hempfield, 42-7. Fox Chapel lost to Baldwin, 63-48.

The buzz: Fox Chapel endured its most lopsided loss of the 2012 season against Butler, which won, 49-7. The Foxes want payback.

Key players: Senior QB Tom Jendesky, who runs more than he throws, averages 5.1 yards per carry for Butler. Fox Chapel WR Greg Yaksich has four touchdowns and 15 catches.

About the Golden Tornado: They've scored just 10 points in the last four weeks combined. Aside from ranking second in rushing, RB Robert Burdine leads the team in receptions and receiving yards (15 for 86).

About the Foxes: They had a season-high point total in last week's loss. QB Billy Urso threw for 363 yards and five touchdowns to raise his season totals to 1,251 and 12.

Prediction: Fox Chapel, 21-14.

10-AAAA Pine-Richland (4-3, 3-3) at North Hills (4-3, 3-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: North Hills lost in double overtime to Seneca Valley, 24-17. Pine-Richland defeated Shaler, 44-14.

The buzz: Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz returns to face the team he led to WPIAL and PIAA titles in 1993.

Key players: Pine-Richland quarterback Ben DiNucci has a big-play receiver in D'ondre Gastion and two solid runners in Connor Slomka and Brendan Burnham. Slomka ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns last week. North Hills likes to play lockdown defense and run the ball with Kevin Koch, who scored on a 7-yard run in last week's loss.

About the Rams: The defense is improving, but Kasperowicz said he wants to see the offense be more consistent. DiNucci threw for 223 yards last week but had two picks.

About the Indians: North Hills has slowed down some of the best offenses in Central Catholic and Seneca Valley.

Prediction: Pine-Richland, 17-16.

QUAD EAST

Penn-Trafford (4-3, 4-2) at 3-AAAA Gateway (7-0, 6-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn-Trafford lost to Kiski, 34-14. Gateway edged Norwin, 13-6.

The buzz: Fresh off another close call last week, Gateway will try to keep its unbeaten season intact — and try to avoid looking ahead to next week's game against undefeated McKeesport.

Key players: Penn-Trafford QB Brett Laffoon is in his first year as a starter but has passed for 858 yards and seven touchdowns. Gateway WR Montae Nicholson, a Division I recruit, scored both of the Gators' touchdowns last week.

About the Warriors: They have scored fewer than 20 points in five games. ... Laffoon and RBs Devin Austin and Tom Stinelli all completed passes last week.

About the Gators: Last week's slow start against Norwin — scoreless through three quarters — was just the latest for Gateway. The team also struggled against Latrobe, Altoona and Hempfield.

Prediction: Gateway, 28-14.

NONCONFERENCE

6-AAAA Seneca Valley (6-1, 5-1) at 7-AAAA Bethel Park (5-2, 5-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Bethel Park lost to Upper St. Clair, 28-13. Seneca Valley beat North Hills, 24-17, in double overtime.

The buzz: With the playoffs two weeks away, both teams want to stay sharp. Seneca Valley is second in the Quad North, and Bethel Park is third in the Quad Central.

Key players: Seneca Valley's T.J. Holl has emerged as a top-tier playmaker at quarterback. He threw for 173 yards and a score in last week's win. Holl also scored on 13- and 3-yard runs. Bethel Park likes to run the ball with Gary Gerst, who also serves as a good receiver out of the backfield.

About the Black Hawks: Bethel Park wants to build momentum for a possible playoff run. They will play host to Baldwin next week.

About the Raiders: Seneca Valley still is in position for a share of the Quad North title.

Prediction: Seneca Valley, 21-17.

Class AAA

Big 9

Albert Gallatin (2-5, 1-5) at 10-AAA Elizabeth Forward (4-3, 4-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Albert Gallatin lost to Laurel Highlands, 33-21. Elizabeth Forward lost to Ringgold, 52-36.

The buzz: Elizabeth Forward is hoping to end a two-game losing streak.

Key players: Albert Gallatin is led by RB Collin Smith, with 771 yards on 129 carries. Elizabeth Forward QB JaQuan Davidson has thrown for nine touchdown passes and scored on five others. WR/KR Matt Bernadowski leads the Warriors with 15 TDs.

About the Colonials: Albert Gallatin is coming off an emotional 12-point loss to neighboring Laurel Highlands. After leading early, they fell behind at halftime, then closed within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

About the Warriors: It's been the Law and Bernadowski show for much of the season for Elizabeth Forward, which controls its playoff fate, but the two were not enough to overcome Ringgold on Friday, despite a pair of touchdown passes of 33 and 39 yards between them.

Prediction: EF, 42-14.

Belle Vernon (2-5, 2-4)

at Laurel Highlands (1-6, 1-5)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Belle Vernon lost to Thomas Jefferson, 35-0. Laurel Highlands beat Albert Gallatin, 33-21.

The buzz: The Leopards are trying to maintain their hold on the fifth playoff spot in the conference. The Mustangs hope to make it two wins in a row after knocking off the Colonials last week.

Key players: Luke Durigon can grind out the yards in the Belle Vernon ground game. Jason Leone has become a rushing and receiving threat within the Laurel Highlands offense.

About the Leopards: After an opening-week win, Belle Vernon has won just once in its past six games. The Leopards beat Laurel Highlands, 44-6, a season ago.

About the Mustangs: Last week's win over the Colonials snapped a nine-game losing streak, dating to Week 7 of last season.

Prediction: Belle Vernon, 21-10.

Trinity (1-6, 1-5) at West Mifflin (7-0, 6-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Trinity lost to Uniontown, 29-24. West Mifflin beat Indiana, 21-14.

The buzz: Trinity is playing for pride. West Mifflin is playing for much more. The Titans are one victory away from setting up an undefeated showdown with Thomas Jefferson next week. West Mifflin enters this game as the clear favorite.

Key players: Like most West Mifflin games, this game is all about one guy: Jimmy Wheeler. The running back leads the WPIAL in rushing and is only 212 yards from eclipsing the 2,000-yard mark. If he runs well, a West Mifflin victory seems quite likely.

About the Titans: Coach Ray Braszo's teams look the same from year to year, and this one is no different. West Mifflin runs the ball brilliantly because of its tailback, Wheeler, and has quietly put together a strong defensive squad, which was a concern of the coach's before the season.

About the Hillers: Trinity has a promising future but is one of the younger teams in Class AAA. The Hillers have been particularly ineffective offensively, averaging fewer than 10 points per game this season.

Prediction: West Mifflin, 35-10.

Uniontown (2-5, 2-4) at Thomas Jefferson (7-0, 5-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Uniontown defeated Trinity, 29-24. Thomas Jefferson defeated Belle Vernon, 35-0.

The buzz: Perennial power Thomas Jefferson is seeking its 50th consecutive win at Jaguar Stadium, a streak dating back to 2004. Thomas Jefferson rolled past Uniontown last season, 49-8.

Key players: Uniontown was sparked last week by QB Xavier Elllis, who completed 8 of 13 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns, and RB Doug Lewis, who rushed for 166 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries. Five different players scored touchdowns for Thomas Jefferson last week — Austin Kemp (3-yard run), Dalton Dietrich (20-yard pass), Russell Siess (49-yard pass), Chase Winovich (46-yard run) and Frankie Langan (9-yard pass).

About the Red Raiders: Uniontown snapped a four-game losing streak with its come-from-behind win against Trinity. The Red Raiders' leading receiver is Lyric Ellis, with 12 catches for 292 yards.

About the Jaguars: Thomas Jefferson is averaging a Class AAA-best 43.4 ppg while allowing only 7.1 ppg. The Jaguars have held four opponents to one touchdown or less, and have three shutouts. The team's defensive catalyst is senior linebacker Chase Winovich, a Michigan recruit.

Prediction: Thomas Jefferson, 40-15.

GREATER ALLEGHENY

Greensburg Salem (2-5, 2-5)

at Derry (0-7, 0-6)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg Salem was humbled by Highlands, 59-7. Derry Area fell to Hampton, 58-13.

The buzz: Greensburg Salem tries to bounce back after a nightmare of a first half at Highlands. The Golden Lions turned the ball over numerous times and were down 52-0 at halftime. Derry has allowed 57.4 ppg.

Key players: RB Dom McKinley and WR Simeon Stevens are the Golden Lions' main offensive threats. McKinley has rushed for 842 yards and Stevens has 12 catches for 249 yards. QB Kyle Holmes has been Derry's main threat.

About the Golden Lions: First year coach Dave Keefer said last week's loss was a huge learning experience. The first half started with Highlands recovering an onsides kick and they never recovered.

About the Trojans: The Trojans scored two touchdowns in a game for the first time this season thanks to runs by Holmes and Josh Flack.

Prediction: Greensburg Salem, 34-14.

Hampton (4-3, 3-3) at

6-AAA Franklin Regional (6-1, 5-1)

7 p.m. Thursday

Last week: Hampton throttled Derry, 58-13. Franklin Regional beat Hollidaysburg, 54-7.

The buzz: After clinching a playoff berth for the 10th straight season, Franklin Regional will look to keep its conference title hopes alive against a team it lost to last season.

Key players: Hampton QB Nick Grabowski has passed for 1,106 yards and 12 TDs. Franklin Regional QB Charan Singh can make plays with his arm (465 yards, five TDs) and legs (428 yards, three TDs).

About the Talbots: They have a difficult two-game stretch with Mars (6-1, 5-1) up next. ... Last week's victory over Derry snapped a two-game losing streak.

About the Panthers: Before allowing a TD in the second quarter against Hollidaysburg, the defense hadn't allowed a point in 10 quarters. ... The Panthers rushed for nearly 400 yards against Hollidaysburg, with five different players scoring.

Prediction: Franklin Reg., 28-14.

Knoch (3-4, 2-4) at

Indiana (2-5, 2-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Knoch lost to Mars, 40-7. Indiana lost to West Mifflin, 21-14.

The buzz: Both teams are on the brink of elimination from playoff contention. Knoch topped Indiana, 20-14, a year ago.

Key players: RB Ben Lowery has done well when he spells Knoch standout ball carrier Cody Milsom. QB Jacob Zilinskas completed 9-of-23 pass attempts for 176 yards and two touchdowns in his first full varsity game last week.

About the Knights: Their offense has grinded to a halt, scoring just 16 points in the last three games. They've allowed season-high point totals each of the last two weeks.

About the Little Indians: They've lost three in a row, with each loss decided by seven points. Zilinskas, a sophomore, is the coach's son.

Prediction: Knoch, 23-17.

PARKWAY

8-AAA New Castle (5-2, 4-2) at Moon (5-2, 4-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: New Castle lost to West Allegheny, 37-31. Moon beat New Brighton, 42-28.

The buzz: Both teams have clinched playoff spots, but the winner holds the inside track for third place in the Parkway and a potential home game in the first round of the playoffs. Each lost to No. 1 West Allegheny and No. 4 Central Valley.

Key players: New Castle senior QB Julian Cox ran for three touchdowns (53, 36 and 1 yard) and threw for another last Friday. Moon RB Cole Blake scored four TDs a week ago, including an interception return.

About the Red Hurricanes: New Castle held a 19-10 halftime lead last Friday, but West Allegheny scored the next three TDs. The Canes haven't reached the playoffs since 2009.

About the Tigers: Moon hasn't reached the playoffs since 2005. That also was the team's most recent winning season. A year ago, the Tigers had one conference win (1-7).

Prediction: New Castle, 28-21.

Nonconference

9-AAA Ringgold (5-2, 5-2) at 7-AAA Highlands (6-1, 6-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Ringgold beat Elizabeth Forward, 52-36. Highlands beat Greensburg Salem, 59-7.

The buzz: Ringgold's high-scoring offense, which averages 41.6 points, will test a Highlands defense that surrenders just 12.6 points per contest.

Key players: Ringgold quarterback Nico Law has surpassed 1,000 yards passing and is closing in on 1,000 rushing. Highlands FB/LB Wes Bernath is one of the team's fiercest hitters.

About the Rams: Ringgold is certain to place third in the Big Nine. It lost to Highlands, 14-7, last season, and Law suffered a neck injury late in the game.

About the Golden Rams: Highlands is in the thick of a three-team race for the Greater Allegheny title. It has a Week 9 game against Knoch and plans to limit its starters' injury risks. Elijah Jackson leads the offensive attack. He rushed for 135 yards last week.

Prediction: Highlands, 27-20.

Class AA

Allegheny

Burrell (3-4, 2-4) at

East Allegheny (3-4, 3-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Burrell beat Ford City, 24-15. East Allegheny beat Freeport, 38-14.

The buzz: Burrell must win out and receive help to qualify for the playoffs. East Allegheny lacks the head-to-head tiebreakers, so it's out.

Key players: Bucs RB Ryan Sowol needs 286 yards to reach 1,000 for the year. East Allegheny QB Kyle Whipple needs 6 passing yards to hit 1,000 for the year.

About the Bucs: They snapped a three-game skid last week. Sowol and QB Cody Wolfe propel the run-heavy offense.

About the Wildcats: Led by dual-threat QB Kyle Whipple, they scored 31 points in the first half of last week's win. They have three explosive receivers in Rocco Dunn, Praise Garner and Octavian Owens.

Prediction: East Allegheny, 22-15.

Deer Lakes (0-7, 0-6) at

Ford City (2-5, 1-5)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Deer Lakes lost to Kittanning, 50-14. Ford City lost to Burrell, 24-15.

The buzz: Both teams are out of playoff contention. The Lancers want out of last place.

Key players: Deer Lakes QB Josh Plocki continues to be the team's offensive leader after scoring both touchdowns against Kittanning. Ford City RB Chantz Schrecengost has 627 rushing yards on 92 carries this season.

About the Lancers: RB Ryan McGrath got his most extensive work of the year with 16 carries for 48 yards last week.

About the Sabers: TE Zeke Walker returned to the lineup to catch both of his team's touchdowns last week. Ford City was 2-5 at this point last season but beat the Lancers (48-13) and Valley (22-21) to close the schedule.

Prediction: Ford City, 20-14.

CENTURY

South Allegheny (1-6, 1-5) at Steel Valley (2-5, 2-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: South Allegheny lost to Keystone Oaks, 26-24. Steel Valley lost to South Park, 22-0.

The buzz: Neither team is headed to the WPIAL playoffs, so this game is more for pride than anything.

Key players: South Allegheny QB Ty Cook has passed for 632 yards and rushed for 267. He also leads the Gladiators with five TDs. RB Duane Murray leads Steel Valley with 932 yards on 91 carries (10.2 average).

About the Gladiators: South Allegheny narrowly missed picking up its second victory in the two-point loss to Keystone Oaks on Friday. Cook rushed for one score and passed for another.

About the Ironmen: Steel Valley, played South Park tough, trailing 8-0 before yielding two fourth-quarter TDs. D'Andre Pickens returned to the lineup from an ankle injury but his playing time was limited when he reinjured it in the first half.

Prediction: Steel Valley, 20-18.

INTERSTATE

Greensburg C.C. (4-3, 4-2)

at Yough (3-4, 3-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg Central Catholic rallied to defeat Charleroi, 33-14. Yough got a 52-29 victory at Waynesburg.

The buzz: A playoff berth is at stake for the winner. Both teams have some dynamic players, including GCC LB Nate Stone and Yough NT Tom Sever.

Key players: GCC running back Tyler Balla scored a touchdown and rushed for 306 yards in Week 7. Yough RB Clay Waldron scored four times against Waynesburg, and QB Tyler Donahue threw a touchdown and rushed for two others.

About the Centurions: Stone and Eddie Kilkeary each scored twice against Charleroi. QB Chase Keller hopes to play before the season is over after injuring his left shoulder in Week 2 against Mt. Pleasant.

About the Cougars: Donahue and Waldron each rushed for more than 100 yards against Waynesburg. Yough ended a four-game losing streak.

Prediction: Yough, 27-20.

Mt. Pleasant (7-0, 7-0)

at Brownsville (0-7, 0-6)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mt. Pleasant beat Washington, 47-22. Brownsville lost to Southmoreland, 23-6.

The buzz: The Vikings can clinch a perfect record in conference play with a win at the Falcons. Brownsville is still looking for its first win of the season.

Key players: Tyler Mellors continues to pile up yards and points out of the Mt. Pleasant backfield. Byron Mayers leads the Brownsville rushing attack.

About the Vikings: Mt. Pleasant has a balanced attack with quarterback Ryan Gumbita making big plays in the passing game. Mt. Pleasant beat Brownsville, 48-0, in 2012.

About the Falcons: Brownsville is riding a 16-game losing streak. The Falcons' last win was against Waynesburg in the last week of the 2011 season.

Prediction: Mt. Pleasant, 42-14.

Southmoreland (2-5, 2-4) at Charleroi (1-6, 0-6)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Southmoreland beat Brownsville, 23-6. Charleroi lost to Greensburg Central Catholic, 33-14.

The buzz: Pride is on the line as the Scotties look to make it two wins in a row. The Cougars, meanwhile, are searching for their first conference victory.

Key players: Southmoreland running back Jake Pisula has eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. He ran for 248 yards and two scores on 23 carries last week. Dakota Moorer has shown big-play ability for the Cougars.

About the Scotties: Brennan Bunner has been able to make some big plays since taking over as the team's signal-caller. Southmoreland beat Charleroi, 42-22, in last season's matchup.

About the Cougars: Charleroi has struggled on defense. The Cougars have given up 336 points in the first seven games.

Prediction: Southmorelnad, 22-14.

Waynesburg (3-4, 2-4) at

Jeannette (4-3, 4-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Waynesburg lost to Yough, 52-29. Jeannette lost to Shady Side Academy, 28-21.

The buzz: Losers of three straight, Jeannette is looking for a win. Waynesburg's eying a playoff spot, though the Raiders will likely need to win out.

Key players: John Glen Davis ran for 115 yards and two TDs last week. Zack Altieri had 122 rushing yards and a pair of scores last week. Julian Batts is a playmaker at QB.

About the Raiders: Davis leads Waynesburg's rushing attack with 766 yards and nine TDs. He's averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Waynesburg allowed Yough's Tyler Donahue and Clayton Waldron to rush for more than 100 yards apiece last week.

About the Jayhawks: They have allowed more than 20 points each game, including 111 during the three-game losing streak. ... Batts has four interceptions. ... The Jayhawks RBs include Altieri, Damone Morton, Terell Canady and Quentin Rickard.

Prediction: Jeannette, 27-14.

Nonconference

Freeport (2-5) at 6-AA Washington (6-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Freeport lost to East Allegheny, 38-14. Washington lost to Mt. Pleasant, 47-22.

The buzz: Washington will look to rebound from its first loss of the season by beating Freeport, which lost to the Prexies, 60-6, last season.

Key players: RB Michael Troup gained 81 yards on 12 carries last week for Freeport. WR/DB Quorteze Levy is a speedster with sure hands, as he has two interceptions and three catches for 157 yards.

About the Yellowjackets: Out of the playoff race, they'll focus on finishing the season strong.

About the Prexies: During last week's loss, they scored fewer than 35 points for just the second time this season. RBs Malik Wells and Jordon West have stepped up to replace injured standout Shai McKenzie.

Prediction: Washington, 42-7.

Class A

BLACK HILLS

Brentwood (4-4, 4-3) at

Bishop Canevin (2-6, 1-6)

7 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Brentwood defeated Carlynton, 35-13. Canevin lost to Clairton, 42-7.

The buzz: Brentwood trails fourth-place Chartiers-Houston by one game in the conference standings. Bishop Canevin hasn't won a game since the first week of the season. The Spartans won last year's matchup, 42-7.

Key players: Brentwood QB Connor McWilliams has passed for 1,299 yards. RB Pat Carr rushed for 128 yards and scored twice on 12 carries last week. Carlynton QB Reed Relosky has passed for 727 yards.

About the Spartans: Brentwood needs wins in its final two games to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs. RB Justin Vickless is sidelined with a nagging knee injury.

About the Crusaders: Bishop Canevin has managed just one TD in four defeats this season. The Crusaders are averaging 10.4 ppg while allowing 25.1 ppg.

Prediction: Brentwood, 28-14.

Clairton (6-1, 6-1) at Serra Catholic (0-7, 0-6)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Clairton defeated Bishop Canevin, 42-0. Serra Catholic lost to Fort Cherry, 86-19.

The buzz: This game should be elementary for a Clairton team that is four weeks removed from seeing its nation-long 66-game winning streak end. Serra has struggled mightily and hasn't played a competitive game with Clairton in many years.

Key players: Clairton is clearly a different team with a healthy Aaron Mathews in the lineup. The physically imposing sophomore gives the Bears a dual threat at quarterback. He'll be joined in the backfield by Lamont Wade, a freshman running back with the poise and patience of a much older player.

About the Bears: Clairton was not itself in the first four weeks of the season but has been dominant in its past three games. This isn't the powerful Clairton team of previous seasons because of an abundance of freshmen and sophomores, but the Bears' team speed remains.

About the Eagles: Serra has struggled to play competitive football with any team during the past three seasons and figures to have its hands full against the Bears.

Prediction: Clairton, 50-0.

Eastern

9-A Apollo-Ridge (5-2, 4-2) at Riverview (1-6, 1-5)

Noon Saturday

Last week: Apollo-Ridge beat Northgate, 46-6. Riverview lost to Leechburg, 31-22.

The buzz: Avoiding an upset is imperative for Apollo-Ridge, which is tied for third in the conference.

Key players: Apollo-Ridge RBs Ben Gemballa and Jonah Casella have combined for 630 yards and nine rushing touchdowns on 75 carries. Riverview RB Keir Barber, the team's top rusher, averages more than 7 yards per carry.

About the Vikings: They're tied with North Catholic for the conference's top scoring offense (39.6 ppg), and their defense has allowed just six points in the last two weeks.

About the Raiders: They've allowed at least 31 points in five of their six losses. Former WR Zach Hanus has breathed life into the passing game since moving to quarterback.

Prediction: Apollo-Ridge, 36-9.

Leechburg (2-5, 2-4) at

West Shamokin (5-2, 4-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Leechburg beat Riverview, 31-22. West Shamokin beat South Side Beaver, 32-14.

The buzz: West Shamokin clinches its first playoff berth with a win. The Blue Devils still are in the playoff mix, too.

Key players: RBs Alex Kalmar and Kris Smith need just 18 rushing yards to go over 1,000 as a tandem this season. Wolves QB Alex Lasslo had a career game last week by going 9-for-12 passing for 208 yards and two scores.

About the Blue Devils: Alex Sipolino is Leechburg's QB, but he has also terrorized opposing passers on defense with four interceptions.

About the Wolves: RB Andrew Wingard showed his versatility last week with three touchdowns (two receiving, one on a fumble return).

Prediction: West Shamokin, 26-15.

Springdale (2-5, 2-4) at Northgate (1-6, 1-5)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Springdale lost to Avonworth, 39-0. Northgate lost to Apollo-Ridge, 46-6.

The buzz: Springdale's ailing offense, which averages just seven points per game, might find a spark against Northgate, which allows 36.6 per contest.

Key players: Springdale TE/DE Adam Lock (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) provides athleticism and a big body. QB Johnny Camello ran for Northgate's only touchdown last week.

About the Dynamos: A far-fetched tiebreaker scenario is all that stands in the way of the end of Springdale's 11-season playoff-qualifying streak. The Dynamos failed to score the last two weeks.

About the Flames: Since winning their season opener, they've struggled. Two of their last three touchdowns have been runs by Camello.

Tri-County South

Geibel (0-7, 0-6)

at West Greene (1-6, 1-5)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Geibel lost to Bentworth, 43-6. West Greene lost to Mapletown, 38-12.

The buzz: It's been a struggle for each of these teams, but they'll both look to finish strong down the stretch.

Key players: Quarterback Brandon Kushnar is the primary scoring threat for the Gators. Dalton Wildman is a hard runner who can put up the yards for the Pioneers.

About the Gators: Geibel's small roster continues to battle, despite overwhelming odds each week.

About the Pioneers: West Greene has lost six in a row since beating Bentworth in its season opener. The Pioneers beat the Gators, 70-14, last year.

Prediction: West Greene, 28-14.

Prediction: Springdale, 18-15.

NONCONFERENCE

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

2-A North Catholic (7-0, 7-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Neshannock beat OLSH, 53-7. North Catholic topped Wilkinsburg, 41-12.

The buzz: Though North Catholic has clinched the Eastern title, these two meet in a playoff preview at J.C. Stone Field. Neshannock cruised to a 42-7 win last year.

Key players: North Catholic RB P.J. Fulmore appears fully recovered from an early-season ankle injury and scored three times against the Tigers. Lancers QB Ernie Burkes threw for 246 yards and three TDs while adding 133 yards and three more scores on the ground.

About the Lancers: Neshannock reached the Class A semifinals last season before losing to Clairton. Neshannock has scored 50-plus points each of the past three weeks.

About the Trojans: QB Adam Sharlow is an underrated playmaker, and Jerome Turner gives them an excellent 1-2 punch at RB. Ryan Kirby is a converted QB excelling at WR.

Prediction: Neshannock, 35-31.

Vincentian (3-4)

at Frazier (5-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Vincentian lost to Jefferson-Morgan, 34-0. Frazier lost to Beth-Center, 39-28.

The buzz: After missing out on a chance to gain a share of first place in the Tri-County South, the Commodores will look to regroup against the Royals.

Key players: Quarterback Michael Tappe runs the Vincentian offense. Nathaniel Zurich and Dakota Hixson are favorite targets for Frazier quarterback Charles Manack.

About the Royals: Vincentian's three victories this season are all on the road against teams from the Tri-County South. The Royals play an independent schedule.

About the Commodores: Frazier had its four-game winning streak snapped last week and appears headed for a third-place finish in the Tri-County South.

Prediction: Frazier, 28-14.

CITY LEAGUE

Brashear (4-3, 3-1) at Allderdice (3-4, 3-1), Cupples Stadium

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Brashear beat Perry, 19-6. Allderdice beat Carrick, 28-26.

The buzz: Brashear and Allderdice are tied for second place. USO is undefeated at 6-0, 4-0, but a Thursday night game against Perry awaits. If the Panthers lose, two teams would be 4-1 — though USO has the head-to-head over both Brashear and Allderdice.

Key players: Bulls RB Ty Powe had 127 yards and two TDs last week. Twins James and Tim Jackson are a talented QB-WR combination.

About the Bulls: Brashear has won three in a row following a 1-3 start, averaging 31.7 ppg during that stretch. QB Angelo Reed has a strong arm and is athletic but has been prone to forcing throws.

About the Dragons: James Jackson passed for 167 yards and two TDs to help Allderdice down Carrick. The Dragons haven't won a City League title since 1967.

Prediction: Brashear, 20-13.

 

 
 


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