Jaguars seeking 50th consecutive win at home
Thomas Jefferson (7-0, 6-0) has one more game on its Big Nine Conference slate before it's annual showdown with arch-rival West Mifflin.
The Jaguars, who posted their third shutout of the season via a 35-0 win over Belle Vernon last week, host Uniontown (2-5, 2-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Jaguars, ranked No. 2 in Class AAA in the Trib Total Media football rankings, are seeking their 50th consecutive win at TJ Stadium, a streak dating back to 2004.
Uniontown rallied from a 17-7 halftime deficit to edge Trinity last week, 29-24.
The Red Raiders were sparked by senior quarterback Xavier Ellis, who hit on 8 of 13 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns; and senior running back Doug Lewis, who rushed for 166 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.
Ellis has hit on 25 of 53 passes for 558 yards and six touchdowns this season. He has not thrown an interception.
His favorite target is junior wideout Lyric Ellis, with 12 receptions for 292 yards and four touchdowns.
Lewis has rushed for 803 yards and scored five times on 93 carries.
“They are athletic at the skill positions with excellent speed. They are very capable of breaking a big play at any moment,” Bill Cherpak, TJ's head coach, said. “They also have some size on their line. We need to play much better on defense than we did last week to avoid the big play.”
Five different players — 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) — scored touchdowns for the Jaguars against Belle Vernon.
Five players also combined for 220 yards on 25 rushing attempts — Kemp (5-35); sophomore RBs Ricky Daley (7-53), Braden Pahanish (4-45) and Ryan Scanlon (8-41); and Winovich (1-46).
Kemp, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior running back/linebacker, leads the Jaguars in rushing with 816 yards on 91 carries (8.97 ypc average) and 12 touchdowns.
Dietrich, a senior wideout/defensive back, had six receptions for 107 yards last week, boosting his season totals to 29 catches for 580 yards, and seven scores.
Senior QB Christian Breisinger connected on 7 of 10 tosses for 116 yards and two touchdowns for the Jaguars.
The TJ defensive unit was led by Winovich from his linebacking post. Winovich, the team's leading tackler on the year, was credited with seven tackles including one sack versus the Leopards.
Other defensive catalysts included senior linebacker Luke Deanovich, Kemp, senior lineman Mat Nagy, sophomore linebacker Dillon Finley and Dietrich, who had an interception.
Thomas Jefferson is averaging a Class AAA-best 43.4 ppg, while allowing 7.1 ppg. The Red Raiders are giving up 41.4 ppg.
“Their defense has given up a lot of points, but they do have some pretty good players,” Cherpak said.
TJ defeated Uniontown last season, 49-8.
CANON-McMILLAN at BALDWIN 7:30 p.m. Friday
Baldwin (3-4, 2-4) remains in WPIAL playoff contention with two games to go.
But the Fighting Highlanders must win both contests — against Canon-McMillan (1-6, 1-5) Friday and at Bethel Park (5-2, 5-2) next week — to advance to the Class AAAA playoffs as the fifth-place team in the Quad Central Conference.
Baldwin rolled past Fox Chapel last week, 63-48, while Canon-McMillan was being blanked by Woodland Hills, 34-0, in a Quad Central Conference game.
The Big Macs have been shut out four times this season, and have managed just 41 points (5.9 ppg) on the year. Defensively, they are surrendering 37.6 ppg.
“Canon-Mac is always a physical team in the trenches,” Pete Wagner, Baldwin's head coach, said. “We are anticipating a physical game; it will be important for us to win our individual battles up front.”
With last week's offensive explosion, Baldwin now is averaging 27.3 ppg.
The Fighting Highlanders defeated Canon-McMillan last year, 31-7, and have won the past three games in the series.
C-M is 3-32 in the past four seasons.
MOHAWK at SETON-LA SALLE 7 p.m. Friday
Quaker Valley stunned Seton-La Salle last week to the tune of 40-14, while Mohawk (3-4, 3-3), the Midwestern Conference's fifth-place team, lost to Beaver, 49-7.
“Mohawk is vastly improved this season. They took Montour down to the wire earlier,” Greg Perry, Seton-La Salle's head coach, said. “They like to run the dive option which can create problems for defenses. Not facing an option team all season also creates a problem.
“No matter what they do, we need to play better in every facet of the game. Quaker Valley really came out an attacked us and they were impressive. We made too many mistakes and penalties, which put us behind the eight ball.”
Seton-La Salle (5-2, 5-2) tumbled into fourth place in the Century Conference with last week's loss.
Junior QB Tyler Perone hit on 22 of 36 passes for 242 yards for the Rebels, including six to junior WR Danzel McKinley-Lewis for 89 yards, and five apiece to junior RB Rick Mellick (5-60) and senior WR Kevin Curran (5-47, 1 TD).
On the season, Perone has thrown for 1,289 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Mohawk's leading rusher is senior RB Shane McFarland, who has accounted for 435 yards on the ground.
The Warriors are allowing 30.6 points per game defensively, while Seton-La Salle is scoring at a 30.6 ppg clip.
“We just need to clean up our mistakes and come ready to play,” Perry said.
Seton shut out Mohawk last season, 35-0.
BRENTWOOD at BISHOP CANEVIN 7 p.m. Saturday
Brentwood is playing in a rare Saturday night game against host Bishop Canevin.
The Spartans (4-4, 4-3) trail fourth-place Chartiers-Houston (6-2, 5-2) by one game in the Black Hills Conference standings.
Brentwood, which zipped past Carlynton last week, 35-13, plays both Bishop Canevin (2-6, 1-6) and California (3-4, 3-4) on the road in its final two games.
The Buccaneers will tangle with Monessen (6-1, 5-1) and Fort Cherry (6-1, 6-1).
Sophomore running back Pat Carr rushed for 128 yards and scored twice on 12 carries last week for Brentwood.
Junior QB Connor McWilliams hit on 7 of 12 passes for 222 yards. McWilliams has thrown for 1,299 yards in 2013.
The team's top receiver last week was senior wideout Jack Murano, with four catches for 150 yards and one touchdown.
Brentwood's “blue wall” defense, propelled by senior lineman Josh Gallagher, nearly posted its first shutout of the year.
Gallagher, a 6-3, 240-pound two-way starter, finished with a team-high 13 tackles for the Spartans.
He was complemented by junior defensive back Bill Madeja and senior linebacker Ryan Shortley, who registered 7 tackles apiece; junior linebacker Tyler Paranzino and junior lineman Cody Conroy, with 6 tackles apiece; plus Carr, who was credited with 5 tackles from his (cornerback) post.
Bishop Canevin hasn't won a game since the first week of the season. The Crusaders lost at Clairton last week, 42-7.
The Crusaders are led by junior QB Reed Relosky, who has passed for 727 yards. Brentwood hammered the Bishop Canevin last season, 42-7.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or email@example.com.