PIAA Class AA quarterfinals preview: Karns City vs. South Fayette
PIAA AA Quarterfinals
Karns City (12-1) vs. South Fayette (13-0) 1 p.m. Saturday at Clarion University
District 9 champ Karns City set a goal of getting a rematch with Aliquippa, the team it lost to in last year's state quarterfinals. The Gremlins did their part, but South Fayette had other ideas about who would be the WPIAL team in the state's final eight.
The matchup between Karns City and South Fayette pits the Gremlins' versatile running attack against the aerial prowess of the Lions, but neither team's attack is one-dimensional.
Karns City has three running backs — Tristan Rhoades, Wyatt Everetts and Zach Moore — with more than 650 yards rushing this season, but quarterback Tyler Kepple has thrown for 1,688 yards and 28 scores.
“They've got a tremendous running game and good athletes starting with the quarterback,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “I've enjoyed watching him on film. He's done a great job running their offense, both with their option (runs) and throwing the ball downfield.”
South Fayette is equally diverse. The Lions have 3,000-yard passer Brett Brumbaugh leading the offense, but its run game also has an 1,100-yard performer in Grant Fetchet.
“They throw the ball so darn well, but at the same time, they have a rushing attack, too,” Karns City coach Ed Conto said. “You have to be real balanced with how you try to defend them.”
Karns City lost to Aliquippa last year 51-15, but many of the same players from that team are back this year, and getting a better result is on their mind.
“It takes a special team to get to play 13, 14 or more games in a season,” Conto said. “When it gets to this point, every team is going to be good.”
Though South Fayette's seniors were freshmen the last time the Lions played in a state quarterfinal, Rossi said he expects his team to handle the moment well.
“For us, it's another week,” Rossi said. “This group has met every challenge so far, and I think this week will be the same. We're going to come out to play well and give our best effort.”
— Matt Grubba