We head into the stretch run and, as with every other year, it feels to me as if the season has only just started two weeks ago. Some fantastic performances last week have set up some amazing match-ups for this coming Week Seven. Hopefully, none of you suffer from triskaidekaphobia, as we make our way to Friday the 13th. Heck, every team in 1 A and 2 A is hoping to use this Friday the 13th to launch them on a path that will carry them all the way to the 13th Friday of the 2017 WPIAL football season. Friday the 13th has been dubbed “Showdown Friday” by the boss, Don Rebel, and as we here at BGH learned so well early in our career, never argue with the boss. Let’s go Big Game Hunting.
6 A Southeastern Conference:
#5 Mount Lebanon Blue Devils (5-2)(4-0) vs #7 Peters Township Indians (5-2)(3-1) Friday October 13th @ 7:30 PM at Peters Township High School, broadcast on the TribLiveHSSN by Sean Saputo and Justin McCauley
Peters had its three-game winning streak snapped by Pine-Richland last week; there can be no shame in that non-section loss. Mount Lebanon bounced back from a Week Five loss to North Allegheny to handle Norwin at home 35-20.
There will be three really good quarterbacks in this football game. Lebo has a pair, and Peters has one.
The Indians’ Jake Cortes is, like so many these days, a dual-threat quarterback with the run and the pass. Cortes is very different than what you might be used to seeing in your dual-threat quarterbacks, though. He’s not so much a ‘hurt you with his speed, get to the edge and make people miss in space’ guy, as he is just a ‘hurt you’ guy. When Cortes scrambles and runs, he is looking to run through defenders, rather than around them. Yet he still manages to keep his eyes up-field and make big plays in the passing game.
Josh Casilli and Luke Mary will be the top targets for Cortes in the passing game, and they give the Indians the speed on the outside that so many teams desire.
On the ground, Ryan Magiske and Adrian Williams will help Cortes carrying the football.
Defensively for Peters, keep your eyes on Angelo Quarture – his last name rhymes with torture, and he has done that to opposing offenses all season long. Quarture leads a Peters’ defense that is allowing the second-fewest points in the conference per game.
Lebo, meanwhile, continues to have a two-headed monster at quarterback, as James Stocker and Seth Morgan have combined for 1,974 yards passing, and 18 touchdowns. Combined, they have completed 135 of 219 passes.
Senior wide out Aiden Cain doesn’t care if it’s Stocker, Morgan, me, or the opposing team’s bus driver, if someone throws the ball, he has decided he would like to catch it. Most of the time, he does. Cain has a WPIAL-tops 66 catches for a WPIAL-tops 1,195 yards. He has also scored a team-high 12 touchdowns this year.
On the ground Lebo has a duo at work, as well. Antonio LaSota has team-highs in rushes, 91, and yards, 461. John Naylor has 74 carries for 344 yards; that duo has combined for 11 scores.
The Blue Devils defense is allowing 25 points per game.
5 A Allegheny Nine Conference:
Moon Tigers (3-4)(2-3) vs #6 Woodland Hills (4-3)(4-1) Friday October 13th @ 7:00 PM at George Novak Field at the Wolvarena, broadcast on the Woodland Hills Sports Network and the TribLiveHSSN by Adam Gusky and Bob Orkwis
Moon dropped its second straight last week, falling to Char Valley – not only damaging its playoff hopes, but knocking it out of the TribLiveHSSN Top Ten. The Wolverines have won three in a row, and appear to be hitting their stride after losing three of four to start the 2017 campaign.
The Tigers are looking to shore up a leaky defense that is allowing the second-worst mark in the conference, 29.1 points per game, and get back into the playoff hunt for these next two weeks. A road win would be a huge step in that direction.
Moon quarterback, Cole Konieczka has hooked up on 94 of 186 passes for 1,094 yards and nine touchdowns, but he has tossed nine interceptions, as well. He will need to improve on that ratio for the Tigers to accomplish their season goals.
Anthony Panucci is the leading receiver for Moon with 31 catches for 409 yards and a pair of scores.
On the ground, the Tigers have not had a lot of success running the football. Brady Sunday leads them with 200 yards on 81 carries, and he has scored three touchdowns. Konieczka is their second leading rusher, with 118 yards on the season.
Woodland Hills Sports Network’s own Bob Orkwis becomes the guest writer now in BGH to explain the Wolverines recent success –
“The RB trio of senior’s Rodney Dennard and Jayquan Smith, along with junior Anthony Merideth, have combined for 1,025 yards rushing on 181 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. They have totaled 16 rushing TD’s and each has a 100-yard performance to his name, with Dennard leading the way with two.
Dennard was injured vs. North Hills, so his status is questionable against Moon.
Senior lineman Devega Byrd’s return from an off-season knee injury has solidified the offensive line, and helped the Wolverines run game lead the way to three consecutive victories.
Senior wide receiver Nazhir Taylor leads the team with 12 receptions and a 19.8 yard per catch average. Taylor leads the team in interceptions and has scored touchdowns receiving, rushing and via a punt return.
Junior placekicker Chuckie Hanchett has converted all 21 extra point attempts and has connected on 4-of-5 field goals on the season.”
Thank you, Robert, and the excellence of this information has me thinking that we may need more guest writers in BGH in the future.
4 A Big Nine Conference:
#1 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (6-0)(5-0) vs #3 Belle Vernon Leopards (6-0)(6-0) Friday October 13th @ 7:00 PM at Belle Vernon High School, broadcast on 1320 AM WJAS and the TribLiveHSSN by Lanny Frattare and Sean Meyers
There has not been a lot of talk about the Jags this season, likely because they have yet to be involved in a competitive football game. Last week versus Mars was the first time they haven’t mercy-ruled an opponent – they have three shutouts and are outscoring their opponents 49.5 to 3.3 on average this year; both of those numbers are tops in the classification. Belle Vernon got its first real test of the 2017 season as well last week, sneaking by rival Trinity 28-21. In recent years, the Big Nine title has come down to three and sometimes four contenders at this point in the season. That is not the case this year, as this is clearly the de facto title game this week.
Shane Stump is the quarterback for the Jags. Stump has completed 36 of 78 passes for 773 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season.
Stump’s top target has been Garrett Fairman with 16 catches for 438 yards on the year; he has scored eight touchdowns as well.
In the rushing game, Justin Vigna has 103 carries for 917 yards for the Jags in the 2017 season; Vigna has scored a team-high 13 touchdowns. This 2017 version of the Jags appears to be a vintage Bill Cherpak.
Meanwhile for the Leopards, quarterback Jared Hartman has completed just about 50 percent of his passes on the year for nearly 600 yards and 10 scores.
Logan Pfrogner and Derek Thomas are each up around 200 yards receiving on the year, with a combined 25 catches. That duo has also combined for nine touchdowns.
On the ground is where the Leps prefer to play their football, with six players who have rushed for more than 100 yards on the season, led by Derrick Cesovski with over 300 yards.
This game has been that hurdle that the Belle Vernon Leopards have so desperately wanted to get over for years. They get another crack at the Jags, the game they circle every season, and it will be on the Vegas Gold Friday night.
3 A Allegheny Conference:
#5 Freeport Yellow Jackets (5-1)(4-0) vs #3 Seton-LaSalle Rebels (6-0)(5-0) Friday October 13th @ 7:00 PM at Jaguar Stadium on the campus of Thomas Jefferson High School, the Chick-Fil-A Robinson Game of the Week broadcast on the TribLiveHSSN by Sam Hall and Eddie Troup
This game certainly appears to be another de facto title game, as we go big game hunting in the Allegheny Conference. The Rebels continued their perfect season with a 45-7 win at Deer Lakes last week. Freeport rattled off its third-straight win with the convincing 49-7 victory against Apollo-Ridge.
Freeport will rely heavily on dual-threat quarterback Austin Romanchak; he has completed 27 of 46 passes on the year for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He is also the leading rusher for the Yellow Jackets with 512 yards rushing on 67 carries and a team-high 12 touchdowns scored.
Romanchak’s top passing target is Jake Sarver, who has nine catches for 122 yards, and has scored two touchdowns.
On the ground, Connor Selinger has 71 carries for 441 yards and has scored six touchdowns for Freeport.
The Yellow Jackets defense is allowing a conference-low 13.7 points per game.
The Rebels have quarterback Matt Banbury, who has compiled 70 passes completed in 121 attempts for 927 yards and nine touchdowns.
Nick Vari is their leading receiver with 22 catches for 223 yards and four touchdowns.
Make no mistake, the Rebels are all about the rush attack, as well. Lionel Deanes has 159 carries and 1,277 yards rushing on the year to go with a team-high 17 touchdowns for the “L train”. Seton will go as far as the “L train” takes them. It is hoping that final stop is in Heinz Field.
The Rebels’ defense has been solid as well – it is just one point behind Freeport in terms of points allowed in the conference, at 14.7 per game. This will be a dandy Chick-Fil-A Robinson game of the week coming up Friday night.
2 A Midwestern Athletic Conference:
#5 Riverside Panthers (5-1)(5-0) vs #6 Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (5-2)(4-0) Friday October 13th @ 7:00 PM at J.C. Stone Field in North Park, broadcast on the TribLiveHSSN by Cory Campano and Brandon Showers
Yes, you guessed it – most likely, this is another de facto title game, although Cody Ross and the Freedom Bulldogs are still hanging around with a crack at CWNC in Week Nine if the Trojans win this one.
CWNC has won three in a row, including a convincing 48-14 win over Laurel last week. Riverside has rattled off five in a row, after losing in Week One to Steel Valley. The Panthers beat Neshannock 34-14 last Friday.
Panthers quarterback Ben Hughes has completed 37 of 69 passes for 781 yards and has an impressive 11 touchdowns to two interceptions ratio.
Hughes’ favorite target has been Austin Dambach, who leads Riverside with 15 catches for 385 yards. Dambach has also rushed for 156 yards and scored a team-high nine touchdowns. Kyle Marweg will contribute as a receiver, as well, with 11 catches for 157 yards coming into this game.
The rushing game for the Panthers is very balanced between LeMarcus Cleckley and Noah Harris – the duo has combined for 1,070 yards rushing and a dozen touchdowns.
The Panthers defense has been the best in the conference, allowing just 13.5 points per game.
CWNC has been attacking most teams through the air behind sophomore quarterback Zack Rocco, who has completed 103 of 165 passes for 1,377 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Three Trojan receivers have 20 catches or more, and five players have reached double digits in catches.
Ryan Maziarz has a team-high 25 catches for 224 yards, while Joe Meinert has the lead in receiving yards with 284 via his 20 catches. Cam Branch is a solid second in both categories – with his 23 catches for 259 yards, the trio has combined for 16 touchdowns on the season.
On the ground Meinert, leads the Trojans with 84 carries for 537 yards on the season.
1 A Big Seven Conference:
#4 OLSH Chargers (5-2)(4-1) vs #8 Union Scotties (6-1)(4-1) Friday October 13th @ 7:00 PM at Union High School
OLSH has won five-straight contests since dropping two in a row to start the year. That fifth win came last week against previously-unbeaten Rochester, 16-13, and has created a log-jam of one-loss teams near the top of the Big Seven. Union has won two in a row, but had to sneak by Cornell last week, 22-20. It might have gotten caught sneaking a peak ahead to this week’s match-up.
Tyler Bradley has completed 112 of 166 passes for the Chargers for 1,629 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Richard Banks is a kid the Chargers will try to get the ball to in any way they can – he has 34 catches and 72 rushes on the season. Banks has a total of 943 offensive yards, and has a team-high 14 touchdowns for OLSH.
Andrew Schnarre and Ricco Tate have combined for 46 catches and 762 receiving yards, as well as seven touchdowns on the season.
Jack Graff has been solid for the OLSH rush attack, too, with 435 yards and five scores amongst his 87 carries.
The Scotties have a solid quarterback of their own in Evan Pinkerton, who will throw to his brother Seth Pinkerton, along with Tre Charles and Dylan Brown.
On the ground, look for Charles to get the bulk of the carries, with some spell time for Eddie Stoddard.
The Union defense is allowing a conference-low 11 points per game, and has pitched a pair of shutouts on the season.