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Schoolboy pick of the week: Hounds

| Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, 12:17 a.m.
Eric Schmadel/Trib Total Media
California wide receivers Trey Johnson (left) and Mike Williams celebrate Johnson's first touchdown of the game versus Hillsdale last season. Williams and Johnson each caught two touchdown passes and Johnson's second proved to be the game-winner in the Vulcans' 30-22 victory over the Chargers.
Rich Downer/For The Valley Independent
Belle Vernon Area's Zach Cicchini watches his drive on the first tee at Willowbrook during the Leps' match with Elizabeth Forward.
Rich Downer/For The Valley Independent
Rnggold's Noah Brown kicks the ball past McKeesport's Ryan Jacobs.

Will he play or won't he?

That seemed to be a popular question this week when it comes to the availability of Brentwood's outstanding running back, Justin Vickless. His Spartans visit Monessen tonight in a showdown of two of the Black Hills Conference's top teams.

Vickless, who ran over the Greyhounds for nearly 200 yards in last year's 35-28 Monessen win, hurt his knee during summer camp. The senior running back tweaked it in last week's romp over Serra. He came out of the game after a handful of carries and never went back in.

Vickless tweeted earlier in the week that he has a partially torn ACL. However, coach Kevin Kissel said this week that his star player will play against the Greyhounds.

Meanwhile, Monessen coach Andy Pacak said it is business as usual this week as he fully expects the Spartans (1-0, 1-0) to have their top weapon in the lineup.

“They really didn't need him last week, but on tape when he played he looked pretty good to me,” Pacak said.

If Vickless is less than 100 percent, it certainly hurts Brentwood, but it doesn't take away from the importance of the game as the conference foes are both ranked among the Top 10 in WPIAL Class A.

The winner will stay in the hunt for a future showdown with unbeaten Clairton. The loser will pick up a costly loss in a conference top-heavy with talented teams.

The Greyhounds have an offense that has the ability to strike from anywhere on the field, as evidenced by the long TDs the team scored in last week's 40-0 win over California.

Pacak said he thinks his team's best defense will be to control the ball and keep it away from the Spartans.

However, I think the Greyhounds may have to do what they did last in last year's game — win a shootout.

This could be a track meet at Memorial Stadium.

The pick: Monessen, 28-26.

Best of the rest

• BV Area at West Mifflin. The Leps were impressive in pounding Uniontown last week. Uniontown is not West Mifflin. Pick: West Mifflin, 34-14.

• Laurel Highlands at Ringgold. The Rams will rediscover their offense against the Mustangs. Pick: Ringgold, 27-7.

• Charleroi at Jeannette. The going doesn't get any easier for the Cougars after last week's loss. Pick: Jeannette, 35-7.

• California at Fort Cherry. Bo Teets tastes victory for the first time as a head coach. Pick: California, 21-18.

• Carmichaels at Frazier. I have a feeling Frazier's starters will play a little longer this week. Pick: Frazier, 34-20.

• Yough at Brownsville. The Cougars pick up their second blowout win before the Interstate Conference schedule heats up dramatically with back-to-back games against Jeannette and Washington. Pick: Yough, 35-14.

• Elizabeth Forward at Thomas Jefferson. This one will be worth seeing as EF's explosive offense meets TJ's rock-solid defense. A year ago, TJ escaped with a 21-19 win. Pick: TJ, 21-17.

• Bentworth at Jeff-Morgan. Bearcats will wilt under the Rockets' red glare. Pick: Jeff-Morgan, 26-13.

Last week: 7-0. Season record, 7-0.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or joliver@tribweb.com.

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