Penn-Trafford ready for battle with Penn Hills
TribLIVE Sports Videos
On a hunch, Penn-Trafford football coach John Ruane spent some time last weekend preparing for a potential playoff game against Penn Hills.
With his team locked into a home playoff game, Ruane thought his team would likely get a first-round playoff matchup against Penn Hills, North Hills or North Allegheny. And because the Warriors scrimmaged North Allegheny during the preseason and played North Hills in Week 1, Ruane decided to focus his efforts on Penn Hills.
They're the only ones we didn't see this year, since we scrimmaged (North Allegheny) and played North Hills,” Ruane said. “They were the most foreign to us, so we spent some time looking at them.”
It turned out to be time well-spent, as Penn-Trafford, the No. 6 seed in WPIAL Class AAAA, will welcome No. 11 Penn Hills to Warrior Stadium on Friday night in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m.
“It's going to be difficult,” Ruane said. “Penn Hills is a very athletic team, very fast and physical, and (they) run a very diverse offense that you don't see too often. It's going to be difficult to prepare for, on a short week especially. We've got our work cut out for us in the next few days to get ready for it.”
Penn Hills (5-4) finished tied for fourth in the Quad Central with Peters Township but won a tiebreaker based on a head-to-head victory.
The Indians are led by a strong running attack. Quarterback Billy Kisner rushed for 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season, averaging more than 7 yards per carry, while running back Isaiah Jones rushed for 853 yards and five touchdowns, averaging nearly 9 ypc.
“They're good,” Ruane said. “They have some athletes. Their quarterback is a player. I hope it's a good game. I hope we show up and play. Hopefully, we ride some momentum from the last couple weeks and come out playing hard.”
Penn-Trafford (6-3) finished as the second-place team in the Quad East thanks to a strong final two weeks that saw the Warriors upset Gateway, 35-34, and pound playoff-bound Hempfield, 42-14.
“We're definitely peaking at the right time,” said senior running back Tom Stinelli, who rushed for three touchdowns against Hempfield. “We had a great win over Gateway, and then we fixed our mistakes from last week and had a big win (over Hempfield).”
“Through practices, through film sessions, everyone's giving 110 percent,” said senior Josh McElrone, who set up Penn-Trafford's first touchdown with a key first-quarter interception. “It's been great. I haven't seen this in a long time.”
The Warriors had their most complete performance of the season against Hempfield. The offense scored a season-high 42 points, thanks to 220 rushing yards. Junior Devin Austin rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown, while Stinelli added 80 yards and his three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Brett Laffoon, meanwhile, threw for 112 yards and a key touchdown to Timmy Vecchio late in the second quarter that gave Penn-Trafford a 21-7 halftime lead.
Defensively, Penn-Trafford limited Hempfield's star running back, Joey DeFloria, to 85 yards rushing. Much of that came on a 53-yard touchdown run in the first half.
“I thought we were capable of this,” Ruane said. “We never really panicked as a coaching staff. We knew what we had as far as kids. This was a big game. This was a playoff game. You lose this one, you're probably the bottom seed in the tournament. Instead, we're a (No.) 2 seed and we've got a home game.”
This marks the third straight year with a home playoff game. Penn-Trafford will look to avoid the fate it suffered last year, when Pittsburgh Central Catholic emerged from Warrior Stadium with a three-point win in the first round of the playoffs.
These Warriors have aspirations of winning a WPIAL title, and Ruane knows the process begins Friday night.
“Every team you play is good,” Ruane said. “You can't look ahead. Penn Hills is going to be the only thing we eat, sleep or drink over the next three or four days. It's going to be a really tough football game, and we've got to try our best to come out on top.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Gorman: McKeesport’s Hudson has name brand
- Highlands WR serves as speedy complement to his RB brother
- HSFB preview by position: WPIAL is stacked at last line of defense
- Chartiers Valley has playoffs on mind despite youthful roster
- Gateway football preparing for a season of change
- Perry looking to return success to Keystone Oaks football
- Plum football ready to defy skeptics, start winning tradition
- Different foes dot gridiron slate for Southmoreland football team
- Penn-Trafford football has championship expectations
- Senior TE/DE hoping for a pain-free senior season with Thomas Jefferson
- HSFB preview by position: Central Valley’s Whitehead among nation’s best defensive backs