Week 11: High School Football Breakdown
An in-depth look at Week 11 of the high school football season with players to watch, top games and more ...
Week 11 Players to watch
JORDAN MADDOX — KEYSTONE OAKS
Junior, RB/DB — 5-8, 191
When you talk about Keystone Oaks' success this season, you point to the ground where Jordan Maddox has made a significant name for himself. Maddox is the other half of one of the best rushing tandems in the WPIAL. He and teammate Matt McCann were the first running back duo to each reach 1,000 yards rushing this season, and they will lead Keystone Oaks into the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals Friday against Mt. Pleasant.
DAN PASTORE — THOMAS JEFFERSON
Senior OL/DL — 6-4, 255
Pastore's impressive size has attracted the attention of many opposing offensive linemen this season. "He has the ability to draw blockers in for double-teams, which opens up a lot more playmaking opportunities for our linebacking corps," Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak said. "Not to mention, he's a big and strong kid that clogs up the middle effectively for us."
ANTHONY NIXON — CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Sophomore WR — 6-2, 185
Nixon helped his team eliminate Seneca Valley in the first-round of the Class AAAA playoffs by making a 14-yard touchdown reception last Friday. He hopes to keep up that positive play against this year's Quad East regular-season champion and rival Woodland Hills in the quarterfinals this Friday night.
Week 11 Q&A
MT. PLEASANT WR ERIC WAGNER
The Buzz: Wagner, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound receiver at Mt. Pleasant, scored two touchdowns in last week's WPIAL playoff victory. The senior returned a kickoff 87 yards and later caught a 28-yard touchdown pass.
What made you join the football team as a senior?
I started running track two years ago, and some of the coaches were looking at me and they were telling me I should come out for the football team. A lot of the players also told me I should come out. I last played football as a freshman, and before that I played Midget Football. I've played backyard football almost every day since then and I do well there, so I decided to join the team.
Have you always been one of the fastest kids in your class?
(When I was in) elementary school, I was distance running and I was the fastest in the mile, but after that I didn't run much until I came back to track a couple years ago. I didn't really realize my speed until this year. Now I run the 200, 400, 4-by-400 relay and then do the long jump and high jump.
What was the hardest part of transitioning to football?
The physical part was tough; I hadn't been hitting and I had to get back into that. But just quickly memorizing all of the plays might have been the toughest part.
What's something most people don't know about you?
I'd like to get into boxing or some type of fighting like UFC. My dad doesn't let me box, but I'm thinking that between football and track I might start karate to keep me in shape.
Can you describe your team's emotions after Friday's win?
I don't think we expected to blow the team out (45-6 over Kittanning). I think some of us thought it would be a close game, being the playoffs. We were all proud of ourselves.
What is your favorite play?
The belly-post pass. It uses play-action to fake a run and then the ball is thrown downfield. There are only two pass routes on that play, so I have a better chance of getting the ball. I scored on that against Kittanning.
What is your favorite football memory?
When we beat Greensburg Central Catholic by two points in overtime. I had a 97-yard kick return to tie it up, 14-14.
What are your plans after you finish high school?
I want to get a scholarship and I want to play football in college. If that doesn't happen, I'd still like to become a chiropractor.
If your team held a talent show, who would win?
Chad Blatney has a band. He's a tight end and linebacker. He probably has the best chance. He's a singer and he plays a guitar. His whole band, Meteor Road, is pretty good.
BETHEL PARK QB MATT BLISS
The Buzz: Quarterback Matt Bliss has Bethel Park (9-1) into the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals as a first-year starter after the Blackhawks won the 2008 championship.
Did you feel added pressure taking over a team that had just won the WPIAL championship?
Yes, I did, because we had a really good quarterback for the last two years and I wanted to live up to him. I just tried to prepare like he did every week. I watch film and prepare for each opponent separately. He was very smart and he taught me so much.
How high are the expectations right now•
We have very high expectations. We know we have a target on our backs against every team because we went 15-1 last year and we beat every team we played in the WPIAL. We knew we had to prepare twice as hard for this year. We have the same expectations as last year. We know we could get back to the state championship.
Were you mostly a receiver before this year•
I played quarterback all my life, except last year. They said they needed another receiver, so I decided to step in. That was the first time I'd ever played receiver. But I was still the backup quarterback and I knew I'd be the starting quarterback my senior year.
Did that year at receiver help you as a quarterback?
I don't know if it helped my knowledge, but it did help me understand the speed of the game at the varsity level. I knew what I was coming into this year.
What's something most people don't know about you?
I am a DECA champion. It's a competition that has to do with marketing. I came in second in the state last year and a bunch of us went to Hershey. I had to write a paper about logistics.
What have you learned about your team?
We're well-coached, we listen and we're very smart football players. We might not have the biggest or the fastest, but we play as a team.
What is your favorite play?
Any home run pass where we have a chance to make a big play and score. We have a couple really good receivers. I can get any of them the ball and they'll always make plays. We also have a good line that gives me time to go through my reads on that play.
What are your plans for after high school?
I want to go to college, major in business and, hopefully, play football. I've looked at a couple smaller schools.
If your team held a talent show, who would win?
Probably receiver Alex Baroffio. He's a real good dancer. He'll dance when we have music in the locker room.
Week 11 Game to watch
NO. 2 WOODLAND HILLS (9-1) vs. NO. 7 CENTRAL CATHOLIC (8-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday — at West Mifflin
Woodland Hills has not lost to a WPIAL opponent this year — and that includes Quad East rival Central Catholic. Woodland Hills beat Central, 27-3, in their regularly scheduled meeting Oct. 2.
This game — a Quad-A quarterfinal — won't be played at the Wolvarena and home field is not an issue, but Central Catholic still must deal with some of the same problems it had in the first game. The Vikings could not stop Woodland Hills running back Dom Timbers, who ran for 162 yards and three touchdowns.
Timbers, who was at Central Catholic for his freshman and sophomore years, has been the catalyst for the Woodland Hills offense. With his 123 yards last week in the first-round playoff victory against Baldwin, he jas 1,115 yards and 19 touchdowns. Central Catholic has a solid back of its own in Damion Jones-Moore, who gained 1,359 yards during the regular season, but was held out of the Vikings' game last Friday against Seneca Valley because of an injury.
Jones-Moore is expected to play this week. He carried 18 times for 81 yards and no touchdowns in the first game against a tough Woodland Hills defense that has allowed more than 10 points to only two WPIAL teams, Bethel Park and Plum..
Central Catholic and Woodland Hills have split their past four regular-season meetings, but the most recent time they met in the playoffs, Woodland Hills pulled off a 28-7 upset in the 2005 WPIAL semifinals.
Week 11 game capsules
All games will be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted
No. 4 North Allegheny (9-1) vs. No. 12 North Hills (5-5)
Although these teams only played two weeks ago, this will be a different North Hills team than the one the Tigers defeated, 28-3, at Newman Stadium. ... North Hills is coming off one of the biggest upsets of the playoffs, a 19-7 victory against McKeesport, a team that was ranked No. 2 by the Tribune-Review for most of the season and was expected to cruise into the semifinals for a rematch with Gateway. ... North Hills is riding high after that shocker, but it still has the same problems it had two weeks ago — finding a way to control North Allegheny's running backs. ... Tigers leading rusher Alex Papson had two touchdowns on the ground and Grant Huckestein caught a scoring pass in the victory against the Indians. ... North Hills' victory against McKeesport was its first against a team with a winning record. ... Last week, North Allegheny showed it was ready for the playoffs as its 47 points against Latrobe were the most since the opening week against Altoona. ... The Tigers are allowing an average of only 6.4 points per game, the best defensive number in Class AAAA.
No. 3 Bethel Park (9-1) vs. No. 6 Shaler (9-1)
Though these schools have been in Class AAAA since its inception in 1980, they never have met in the playoffs. ... The last time they played each other was 2005 when they were in the Quad North Conference and Bethel Park won, 23-13. ... This time, Bethel Park isn't attempting to just qualify for the postseason, but to continue its quest to repeat as WPIAL Class AAAA champion. ... The Black Hawks played like a team ready for a title defense in a 41-7 running-clock victory last week against Baldwin. Quarterback Matt Bliss threw for two touchdowns and Bre' Ford ran for two more. ... Shaler has been a consistent team offensively and defensively — a trademark of a Neil Gordon-coached team. The Titans have scored no fewer than 20 points in each victory, and it allowed no more than 17 before beating Mt. Lebanon in the first round last week, 23-21. ... Shaler running back Jesse Della Valle has been a multi-purpose threat the past two years and will be a focal point for the Bethel Park defense.
No. 1 Thomas Jefferson (10-0) vs. 8 Franklin Regional (8-2)
at Elizabeth Forward
This is a rematch of the 2005 WPIAL Class AAA championship game that was won by Franklin Regional, the most recent WPIAL team to defeat Thomas Jefferson. They also met in the 2006 playoffs, and TJ got its revenge with a 30-9 victory that ended the Panthers' hopes of repeating as WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA champions. ... Thomas Jefferson has won three consecutive WPIAL titles and four of the past five since losing to Franklin Regional and has won 47 consecutive games against WPIAL opponents. ... This year's Thomas Jefferson team has played a few close games, including a 26-20 victory against Belle Vernon and 20-0 against Chartiers Valley.
No. 2 Hopewell (10-0) vs. No. 7 Mars (7-3)
Mars showed it can shut down a good running back when it defeated Franklin Regional and limited Chad Bowman to 109 yards on 20 carries, but Hopewell sophomore Rushel Shell is on another level, with 2,043 yards in nine games. ... Shell was suspended for Hopewell's 28-14 victory against Derry for a school-related violation, but he will play against Mars, coach Dave Vestal said. ... In Shell's absence, Malcom Lay ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns. ... This game will showcase two of the top backs in the WPIAL, including Mars fullback Austin Miele, who has eclipsed 1,000 yards and is a breakaway threat. ... Teams have found it difficult to defense the Mars Wing-T offense, and Hopewell has allowed a total of 63 points in its past four games.
No. 14 Hampton (6-4) vs. 6 Uniontown (7-3)
Hampton is the lowest-seeded team remaining in the playoffs, thanks to a 19-7 victory against No. 3 Chartiers Valley. ... The Talbots had not won a postseason game since 2006 when it upset sixth-seeded Keystone Oaks in the first round. ... Uniontown became the first Keystone Conference team to win a postseason game since Greensburg Salem in 2000, ending a 0-32 skid. It was the Red Raiders' first playoff victory since 1965. ... The most recent time these teams met in the playoffs was in the opening round in 2005 when Hampton took a 35-7 decision before losing to eventual state champion Franklin Regional. ... Uniontown must find a way to stop Hampton running back Andrew Bly, who has more than 1,000 yards after recording 206 and three touchdowns last week. ... Uniontown has a good running back of its own in Arnold Walker, who had a touchdown last week and has 14 scores on the ground this season.
No. 1 South Fayette (10-0) vs. 9 Aliquippa (9-1)
at Chartiers Valley — FSN Pittsburgh
South Fayette has played its share of close games this season and still came out of the Century Conference unscathed, but may face its toughest challenge taking on the defending WPIAL champion. ... The Quips came close to winning the tough Midwestern Conference, losing to Beaver Falls, 21-14, but they have won seven consecutive games and have allowed only 16 points in the past four. ... Aliquippa always finds a way to fit into the championship mix. It has some tremendous athletes who can make throwing the football difficult for South Fayette's Christian Brumbaugh, who is one of the best quarterbacks in the WPIAL. ... Brumbaugh added three touchdowns and 263 yards to his totals last week against Beaver to give him 1,856 and a WPIAL-leading 26 touchdown passes. ... Aliquippa does not have one dominant offensive skill player, but has several key weapons, including Darius Walker, Rasheen Jones and Tyriq Dorsett.
No. 4 Beaver Falls (9-1) vs. No. 12 Sto-Rox (8-2)
at Seneca Valley
This game features some of the most dynamic players in Class AA, with Sto-Rox quarterback and Penn State recruit Paul Jones against Beaver Falls running back Cody Cook. ... Beaver Falls has rebounded nicely from a late-season loss to Center by scoring 91 points in its past two games. ... Sto-Rox hasn't been an offensive slouch either and has scored at least 20 points in every game with a season-high 51 against Northgate. ... Like Beaver Falls, the Vikings also lost a key game in Week 8, but have rebounded with 83 points in their past two. ... Surprisingly, this will be the first playoff meeting between the schools and both have long championship droughts. Sto-Rox has not won a title since 1987, and Beaver Falls since 1984. ... Beaver Falls has made it at least to the semifinals the past two years.
No. 3 Center (9-1) vs. 11 Greensburg Central Catholic (8-2)
at Fox Chapel
Both teams' losses have been by single-digit margins. ... Center lost a one-point heartbreaker to Aliquippa and Greensburg Central Catholic lost in a 6-0 shutout to McGuffey and, 36-35 in overtime, to Mount Pleasant. ... Both teams have devastating running games. Greensburg Central Catholic brings the WPIAL's two-time scoring champion David Miller and his 63 touchdowns the past two seasons into the game against Center's two-pronged attack, featuring Preston Dawson and Ben Cobb. ... Center had its highest scoring output in six games last week when it scored 27 against Washington, but Centurions have scored at least that many in each of their past eight games. ... Greensburg Central Catholic has an underrated defense that has four shutouts and, outside of the Mount Pleasant game, has allowed an average of only 5.6 points per game. ... Greensburg Central Catholic also had a top-flight quarterback in Bowling Green recruit Trent Hurley, who can manage the game as well as anybody and is a top weapon in his own right with wide receivers Ross DeGlau, Ed Day and Evan Marshall.
No. 3 Clairton (9-1) vs. No. 6 Avonworth (8-2)
Here is an example of how productive Clairton's offense has become: The Bears scored a WPIAL playoff-high 61 points last week in shutout victory against South Side Beaver, without wide receiver and Pitt recruit Kevin Weatherspoon, who was serving a one-game suspension for being ejected in the regular-season finale. Plus, senior running back Deontae Howard, one of the leading scorers in the WPIAL, only had one touchdown. ... Clairton will be without lineman Chanze James, who was ejected last week after receiving two personal fouls for taunting. ... Avonworth also had a shutout win last week, thanks to three touchdowns from running back Jimmy Zubik, who had more than 100 yards both rushing and receiving. ... The last time the two faced each other in the playoffs, Clairton won, 14-9, in the opening round in 1982.
No. 4 North Catholic (8-2) vs. No. 12 Springdale (8-2)
at Deer Lakes
There won't be much mystery between these teams. They played each other Sept. 18 when North Catholic came away with a 20-14 victory at J.C. Stone Field in North Park. ... It was the first victory of the season for the Trojans and started their current eight-game winning streak. ... In that first game, Springdale held a 7-6 lead at halftime before North Catholic answered with a 14-point third quarter. ... Springdale had a tough time last week with Tri-County South champion Monessen, but that was to be expected in a road playoff game against a favored team. ... Since the WPIAL expanded to 16 teams in each classification in 2000, a No. 12 seed never has ever made it to the Class A semifinals. ... North Catholic quarterback Martin Long surpassed 1,000 yards passing in last week's victory against Jefferson-Morgan.
Beth-Center (8-2) vs. Laurel (9-1)
Beth-Center is the only team from the Tri-County South Conference to post a victory during the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs. The Bulldogs used a 21-point third quarter to break open a close game on their way to a 38-17 victory against Serra Catholic. Quarterback Sal Faieta completed 11 of 17 passes for 144 yards. He rushed for one score and passed for two others, and running back Josh Kinder rushed for two scores. ... Running back Dylan Jones scored three times and rushed for 163 yards as Laurel beat Burgettstown, 55-7. Jake Dando scored twice, including a 58-yard punt return, and quarterback Tyler Forbes ran for a touchdown and threw for another. Laurel defeated Clairton in Week 1, but lost to Rochester. ... The winner gets the Clairton/Avonworth victor.
No. 2 Oliver (8-1) vs. 1 Schenley (8-1)
7 p.m. — Cupples Stadium
Oliver's only loss this season was a 6-0 shutout against Schenley on Sept. 26. ... Though this game will be for the City League championship and bragging rights, there is also a spot in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs at stake. ... The winner will play Nov. 20 against the District 9 champion in a play-in game to earn a spot on the bracket. If it wins there, the City League representative will play the District 10 champion the following week. ... Oliver does not generally win by large margins, but it does find a way to move the football. ... The Bears have scored an average of 19.3 points per game, but 46 came in a victory against Langley in the season opener. ... Oliver has scored 78 in its past five games (15.6). ... Schenley avenged its only loss of the season last week when it knocked Brashear out of the playoffs.
Ligonier Valley (7-3) at Tyrone (8-2)
7 p.m. Saturday
Ligonier Valley prepped for its playoff game with a 54-21 victory against North Star. Running backs Russell Markosky and Jackson Corcoran combined for 336 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Markosky rushed for 163 and Corcoran 173. ... Ligonier Valley is riding a three-game winning streak, its longest of the season. ... Tyrone is coming off a 14-7 loss to Central-Martinsburg that snapped an eight-game winning streak. Tyrone lost to Class A Bellwood-Antis in Week 1, 31-16. ... Wide receivers Eric Desch and Nick Patton are big-play threats. Patton averages 40 yards per catch. Tyrone has won seven District 6 titles since 1985.