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Predicting area football winners

| Thursday, Sept. 11, 2003

Taking a look at this weekend's area football games after a 6-2 showing upped my season record to 11-5:

FRAZIER AT MONESSEN

Monessen's Joe Fischer and Frazier's Larry Wilson have gone against each other twice and it hasn't been close. The Greyhounds have outscored the Commodores, 95-0, in the last two outings, including 41-0 last year. A year ago, Frazier couldn't contain Monessen's ground game which accounted for 411 yards with Robert Youngblood (138) and Quintin Martin (125) com-bining for 263 yards and three touchdowns. The Commodores are coming off a 28-14 win over Serra Catholic. Monessen, which is ranked fifth in the state, could have a letdown after its big win over Sto-Rox. It shouldn't make a difference. Go with Monessen by 20 points in Tri-County South opener.

GATEWAY AT RINGGOLD

Some home opener for Ringgold. Gateway stole last Friday's spotlight by dumping two-time defending WPIAL Class AAAA champion Woodland Hills, 26-12. The Gators feature two of Class AAAA's premier players in junior tailback Justin King and senior quarterback Mortty Ivy. King, stepson of Gateway coach Terry Smith, ran through Woodland Hills for 222 yards and three touchdowns. Ivy, who's headed to West Virginia University, ran and passed for over 1,400 yards in 2002. King is averaging 175 yards a game and eight yards a carry. The Gators opened with a 32-26 loss in overtime to top-ranked North Hills after blowing a 26-15 fourth quarter lead. Last year Gateway blanked Ringgold, 28-0. It won't help Ringgold with linebacker Darnell Hawkins sitting out after last week's ejection. This could be ugly. The pick is Gateway by 35.

LAUREL HIGHLANDS AT BELLE VERNON AREA

Home opener for Belle Vernon Area. Second year in Keystone Conference for Laurel Highlands, which had their debut ruined by the Leps, 31-0. The Mustangs, however, rebounded to finish fourth and make the playoffs for the first time since 1989. Laurel Highlands is coming off a bad 30-0 loss to South Park after losing 20-18 to Huntingdon. The Mustangs are quarterbacked by converted wide receiver Andre Ramsey, whose half-brother is former Lep standout Jason Murray. Murray will be on hand as one of the new BVA Football Hall of Fame inductees. Ramsey has completed 19 of 42 for 314 yards. His favorite target is Ken Riddell with seven receptions for 130 yards. The Leps have been struggling offensively and are scoreless in the first half. In a close one, go with BVA by six points.

CHARLEROI AT PETERS TOWNSHIP

Homecoming for second year Charleroi coach Nick Milchovich, a former Indians' assistant who still teaches in the Peters Township School District. The Class AAA Indians are off to a 2-0 start with wins over South Park (14-10) and Knoch (21-6) after going 4-6 last year, including a 23-22 defeat at Charleroi. Peters Township quarterback Jim Gallagher threw for more than 1,100 yards last year while senior tailback Joe Kurnal has accounted for all of the Indians' five touchdowns in the two victories. Gallagher, who's 21 of 31 for 273 yards, has signed with Duke to play baseball. It's payback time for the Indians by two touchdowns.

CARMICHAELS AT CALIFORNIA

Tri-County South opener. Mike Bosnic, whose younger brother Nick is a California University gridder, is off to a 2-0 start as John Menhart's successor with wins over Class AA Burgettstown (20-12) and Bentworth (42-7). The Lapkowicz twins , quarterback Jeff and tailback Jared, and Donnie Hewitt have the job of following 1,000-yard rushers Bobby Hathaway and Colby Giles and quarterback Jono Menhart. Steve Penich, a 6-3, 270 pound tackle, is the player to watch up front. Last year Carmichaels led 26-0 in the third quarter en route to a 39-15 romp. Carmichaels spoils California's early Homecoming by two touchdowns.

YOUGH AT UNIONTOWN

First of three straight road games for Yough, which opened with contrasting home losses to Class AA Southmorelandd (31-0) and Keystone rival Belle Vernon Area (13-6) at home. Uniontown is making its home debut after losing at West Mifflin (24-14) and winning at Derry Area (19-6). Last year the Red Raiders pulled out a wild 30-22 win at Cougar Mountain with two fourth quarter touchdowns. Go with Uniontown by 13 points.

CHARTIERS-HOUSTON AT BENTWORTH

Black Hills Conference opener. Chartiers-Houston is coming off a 40-16 home loss to Duquesne after winning 14-6 at Brentwood. The next win for Bucs' coach John Haught will be No. 145 in 28 seasons. Junior quarterback Zac Burt passed for 193 yards against the Dukes. Burt has thrown for 306 yards and four scores. C-H avenges last year's 23-6 loss to the Bearcats by 21 points.

ELIZABETH FORWARD AT CHARTIERS VALLEY

Big Seven Conference opener. Chartiers Valley lost at home to Hampton (23-7) after starting out with an impressive 31-13 triumph at Montour. The Colts are led by Nick Hursky, who's run for 152 yards. Elizabeth's Steve Collage has completed 20 of 48 passes for 259 yards with Kyle Rodibaugh catching 12 for 68 yards. Their last two meetings have been decided by one point with the home team winning. Go with Chartiers Valley by a touchdown.

FAIRMONT STATE AT CALIFORNIA UNIVERSITY

Home opener for California which had a week off after losing at Eastern Illinois the previous Saturday. Fairmont started with a 32-10 romp over Charleston as freshman Joe Parker ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns. The Falcons' strength is a veteran offensive line with four returning starters including tackles Shane Davis (6-5, 305) and Steve tritapoe (6-5, 325) and guard Carl Dorr (6-3, 300). The Vulcans own three straight wins over the Falcons and lead the all-time series, 20-10-4. The Falcons are seeking their third 2-0 start since 1981 with the others being in 1997 and 1999. Cal's offense has to be better than it showed at Eastern Illinois with only one first down and 61 total offense yards. In a mild upset, California gets the nod by two points.

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