Previewing some of the top matchups for the WPIAL quarterfinals
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Here's a look at some of the top matchups for the WPIAL quarterfinals:
2-Central Catholic (10-0) vs. 7-Gateway (8-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Fox Chapel
Winner gets: No. 3 McKeesport or No. 6 Penn-Trafford.
The buzz: This is the ninth meeting between the Gators and Vikings since 2004 and fifth playoff matchup between the schools. Central Catholic has won 10 games in row overall against Gateway, including the 2004 and 2007 WPIAL championships.
Key players: Central Catholic QB J.J. Cosentino scored two rushing TDs last week and was one of three Vikings runners to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark in a 56-10 win over Baldwin. Gateway QB Jimmy Moore threw four TDs in last week's 33-21 win over North Hills.
About the Gators: Senior Delvon Randall returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 72 yards for a TD last week.
About the Vikings: They rushed for more than 400 yards against Baldwin. Luigi Lista-Brinza went over 1,000 yards, and Riley Redman eclipsed the 900-yard mark.
Prediction: Central Catholic, 27-20
6-Penn-Trafford (7-3) vs. 3-McKeesport (10-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Norwin
Winner gets: No. 2 Central Catholic or No. 7 Gateway.
The buzz: Quad East Conference rivals meet with a berth in the WPIAL semifinals on the line. McKeesport beat Penn-Trafford, 34-14, in September.
Key players: Timmy Vecchio leads Penn-Trafford with seven receiving TDs and caught the winning score with 27 seconds left last week against Penn Hills. RB Mikell Moore leads McKeesport in rushing with 943 yards and 14 TDs, but QB David Queen (592 yards, 12 TDs) is the conductor of the flexbone attack.
About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford's 22-16 victory over Penn Hills last week was its second playoff victory since 2000. The Warriors haven't advanced to the semifinals since 1997.
About the Tigers: McKeesport's offense scored TDs on its first eight possessions last week and tallied 103 points over the past two games.
Prediction: McKeesport, 41-21.
4-Woodland Hills (8-2) vs 5-Seneca Valley (9-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday at N. Allegheny
Winner gets: No. 1 Upper St. Clair or No. 9 North Allegheny.
The buzz: It will be the high-octane offense of Seneca Valley versus the stingy defense of Woodland Hills.
Key players: Seneca Valley's T.J. Holl continues to be one of the more exciting players on both sides of the ball. Woodland Hills will lean on quarterback Harry Randall and receiver Trevon Mathis.
About the Raiders: Seneca Valley's quest to get back to the WPIAL semifinals will hinge on Holl's passing and running. Linebacker TuckerVan Dyke and the defense will try to exploit Woodland Hills' offensive line which starts three sophomores.
About the Wolverines: The Randall to Mathis combination allows the Wolverines to keep pace with anyone. He key will be the young offensive line and how it holds up to the Raiders' scheme.
Prediction: Woodland Hills, 24-21.
3-Central Valley (9-1) vs. 6-Mars (9-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Ambridge
Winner gets: No. 2 Thomas Jefferson or No. 7 Highlands.
The buzz: These football powers have never met. Together they average 568 rushing yards per game but go about it different ways: Central Valley by-committee, Josh Schultheis does the heavy lifting for Mars.
Key players: JaQuan Pennington and Jordan Whitehead have combined for 1,282 rushing yards and 17 TDs for Central Valley. Schultheis ranks third in the WPIAL with 1,561 yards and 23TDs.
About the Warriors: The Warriors won a WPIAL Class AAA title in 2010 and have reached the semifinals in 2011 and '12. Central Valley has 16 interceptions and allows a Class AAA-best 5.3 ppg.
About the Planets: Mars is trying to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2010. QB Owen Nearhoof has thrown for 814 yards and six scores.
Prediction: Central Valley, 28-21.
1-West Allegheny (10-0) vs. 9-Indiana (5-5)
7:30 p.m. Friday at North Hills
Winner gets: No. 4 Franklin Regional or No. 5 West Mifflin
The buzz: Indiana is trying to make a rare semifinal trip. West Allegheny hopes to reach the semifinals for the fifth time in the past 10 years after winning WPIAL titles in 2009 and '12.
Key players: DeQuan West is Indiana's best running back, but he injured his shoulder piling up 153 yards and two scores last week. West Allegheny splits carries between senior Tory Delmonico (93-629-14TD) and junior Chayse Dillon (79-800-7TD)
About the Indians: Andrew Koester has completed 61 of 94 passes for 1,085 yards and 14 TDs against only one interception. Delmonico (72 tackles), Armonde Dellovade (73 tackles) and Sean Orsini (90 tackles) are the defensive leaders.
About the Little Indians: Indiana had to beat Knoch and Hollidaysburg down the stretch to nullify a three-game losing streak and get into the playoffs. Sean Thompson threw for 164 yards last week.
Prediction: West Allegheny, 35-28.
5-West Mifflin (9-1) vs. 4-Franklin Regional (9-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday at E. Allegheny
Winner gets: No. 1 West Allegheny or No. 9 Indiana.
The buzz: Two powerful rushing attacks meet in a rematch of the 2005 WPIAL semifinals, when Franklin Regional beat West Mifflin, 24-21, on the way to winning WPIAL and PIAA titles.
Key players: West Mifflin RB Jimmy Wheeler needs 360 yards to break Rushel Shell's WPIAL single-season rushing record. He rushed for 359 yards and six touchdowns in last week's 47-42 win over Moon. Franklin Regional QB Charan Singh accounted for four TDs in the a 42-21 win over Montour last week.
About the Titans: West Mifflin faces a potential rematch with West Allegheny in the semifinals. The Indians beat the Titans in the WPIAL championship last year.
About the Panthers: They rushed for 338 yards against Montour, the fourth time this season they exceeded 300 yards on the ground.
Prediction: Franklin Reg., 35-28.
4-Mt. Pleasant (10-0) vs. 12-Beaver (7-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Plum
Winner gets: No. 1 Aliquippa or No. 8 Quaker Valley.
The buzz: Both teams are looking to make the semifinals, something neither did during the 2012 season in which Mt. Pleasant lost to Aliquippa and Beaver fell to Jeannette.
Key players: RB Tyler Mellors is the focal point of Mt. Pleasant's offense, but Ryan Ballew and Brett Fess have been playmakers out of the backfield. Darius Wise is counted on heavily in the passing game for Beaver, but so are WRs Dylan Goff and Kresten Wallace.
About the Vikings: Mt. Pleasant scored seven rushing touchdowns in a first-round victory over Valley. Mellors scored four times and broke his own school record for TDs in a single season with 26.
About the Bobcats: QB Alex Rowse threw for 294 yards and three scores in last week's first-round win over Shady Side Academy.
Prediction: Mt. Pleasant, 28-21.
2-South Fayette (10-0) vs. 10-Seton-La Salle (8-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Peters Twp.
Winner gets: No. 6 Beaver Falls or No. 14 Yough.
The buzz: South Fayette, which hasn't scored less than 41 points in any game this season, defeated Seton-La Salle, 45-3, in a Century Conference game in Week 5.
Key players: South Fayette QB Brett Brumbaugh has passed for 2,066 yards and 26 TDs. Conner Beck (43-526) and Justin Watson (35-885) are the Lions' leading receivers. Seton's Tyler Perone has passed for 2,172 yards and 23 touchdowns. His favorite targets are Danzel McKinley-Lewis (39-759) and Kevin Curran (28-354).
About the Lions: South Fayette is averaging a WPIAL-best 49.8 ppg while allowing a Class AA-best 4.6 ppg. The Lions have shut out their last four opponents by an overall margin of 188-0.
About the Rebels: Seton-La Salle is scoring at a 31.4 ppg clip while allowing 18.0 ppg.
Prediction: South Fayette, 35-14.
14-Yough (6-4) vs. 6-Beaver Falls (8-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Canon-McMillan
Winner gets: No. 2 South Fayette or No. 10 Seton-La Salle
The buzz: Beaver Falls defeated 11th-seeded Summit Academy, 50-26, in a Class AA first-round game. Yough, after losing in all seven of its previous first-round appearances, registered its first postseason victory, outlasting Kittanning, 57-42.
Key players: Yough RB Clay Waldron has combined for 1,270 yards. QB Tyler Donahue has completed 115 of 195 attempts for 1,514 yards. Beaver Falls QB Dan Stratton is 72 of 118 for 1,159 yards, while RB Damian Rawl has gained 1,105 yards rushing.
About the Cougars: Yough endured a four-game losing streak during the regular season to earn a spot in the playoffs.
About the Tigers: Six players scored touchdowns last week, while Stratton passed for 145 yards and a TD.
Prediction: Beaver Falls, 42-20.
9-Apollo-Ridge (8-2) vs. 1-Sto-Rox (10-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Deer Lakes
Winner plays: No. 4 Clairton or No. 12 Fort Cherry.
The buzz: Apollo-Ridge secured just its second playoff win last week, as it thumped Beth-Center, 42-28. Sto-Rox has made trips to the Class A finals the last two seasons.
Key players: Apollo-Ridge senior QB Jesse Zelonka has thrown for 1,466 yards and needs just 258 more to reach 1,000 rushing for the season. Sto-Rox senior QB Lenny Williams, who became the WPIAL career leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, also has rushed for six touchdowns this fall.
About Apollo-Ridge: Zelonka's receiver options include junior Tre Tipton (37 catches, 610 yards, 12 TDs) and junior Alex Smith (26 catches, 550 yards, 7 TDs).
About Sto-Rox: It's averaging a Class A-high 45.9 ppg. Brendan Blair, a 6-foot, 175-pound RB/LB, has received an offer from Temple.
Prediction: Sto-Rox, 35-21.
2-Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (10-0) vs. 7-Avonworth (9-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Hampton
Winner gets:No. 3 Monessen or No. 6 Neshannock
The buzz: Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic defeated Avonworth, 21-12, in Week 6. North Catholic is trying to reach the semifinals for the second straight year, Avonworth for the first time since 2010.
Key players:Converted QB P.J. Fulmore completed 7 of 9 passes for 101 yards and a TD, as the Trojans topped No. 15 Western Beaver, 24-0, in the first round. Matt Donovan completed 15 of 28 passes for 229 yards and two scores last week for the Antelopes, who beat No. 10 Laurel, 34-16.
About the Trojans:Fulmore, who rushed for more than 1,800 yards last season, returned midseason from an ankle injury.
About the Antelopes:Avonworth is allowing 8.3 ppg, tops in Class A. Avonworth posted three consecutive shutouts.
Prediction:North Catholic, 21-17.
4-Clairton (9-1) vs. 12-Fort Cherry (10-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Eliz. Forward
Winner gets:No. 1 Sto-Rox or No. 9 Apollo-Ridge.
The buzz:Fort Cherry's only setback is to Clairton, 36-28, on Sept. 27. Since then, the Rangers have won six in a row, including 13-12 over No. 5 Carmichaels. Clairton, since having its 66-game winning streak stopped on Sept. 20 by Monessen, 42-24, has won six straight.
Key players:QB Aaron Mathews has rushed for 968 yards and passed for 434 for Clairton. Fort Cherry RB Koltan Kobrys has 2,086 yards, and QB Matt Heslin has thrown for 1,430 yards and 30 TDs.
About the Bears:Harrison Dreher rushed for 146 yards and Mathews added 132 in Clairton's first-round victory over Frazier, the Bears' 20th consecutive postseason win.
About the Rangers:Kolbrys gained 204 yards in Fort Cherry's one-point victory over Carmichaels last week.
3-Monessen (10-1) vs
7:30 p.m. Friday at Char-Houston
Winner gets: No. 2 North Catholc or No. 7 Avonworth
The buzz: These teams played in the quarterfinals last season and Neshannock won, 24-21, on a 1-yard run by Ernie Burkes with four seconds to play.
Key players: Monessen RB Clintell Gillaspie has 1,169 yards rushing and 514 yards receiving with 30 TDs. Fellow RB Javon Brown has 745 yards rushing and 285 receiving and 12 TDs. Burkes has passed for 967 yards and 14 TDs and also rushed for 945 yards and 16 TDs.
About the Greyhounds: QB Noah Rullo completed just four passes for 19 yards last week in a 37-14 win over West Shamokin. He has 1,276 yards passing and 19 TDs. Monessen has been in the playoffs nine of coach Andy Pacak's 10 years but reached the semifinals only once.
About the Lancers: Neshannock's only losses are to No. 1 Sto-Rox (34-31) and No. 2 North Catholic (21-14). In every win, the Lancers have scored at least 34 points and hit 40 or more six times.
Prediction: Monessen, 28-27.
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