2022 WPIAL 3A football championship breakdown: Belle Vernon vs. Avonworth

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Thursday, November 24, 2022 | 10:52 PM


WPIAL Class 3A football championship

No. 1 Belle Vernon vs. No. 2 Avonworth

5 p.m. Friday, Acrisure Stadium

Video stream: tribhssn.triblive.com

Radio: KDKA (1020 AM, 100.1 FM), WJPA (95.3 FM), WHJB (107.1 FM)

Winner plays: District 10 champion Grove City (9-3) or District 6 champion Central Martinsburg (11-2) in a PIAA semifinal Dec. 2 or 3.

WPIAL titles: Belle Vernon 1 (1995), Avonworth 2 (1959, 2019)

Belle Vernon (9-2)

Player to watch: Quinton Martin

Martin is the state’s top-ranked college prospect in the 2024 graduating class, according to Rivals.com. The defensive back and running back lists 20 FBS offers, including Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia, along with Ohio State, Florida State, Texas, Tennessee and others. He scored twice last week in the semifinals on a 45-yard catch and a 26-yard run.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Braden Laux 60-107, 901 yards, 9 TDs, 4 INTs

Rushing: Quinton Martin 111-1,099 yards, 21 TDs

Receiving: Quinton Martin 24-362 yards, 4 TDs; Chase Ruokonen 17-308 yards, 3 TDs

How they got here: After a first-round bye, No. 1 Belle Vernon defeated No. 9 East Allegheny, 55-7, in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Freeport, 42-0, in the semifinals.

Probable starting lineup

Coach: Matt Humbert

Offense

LT, 52, Jake Heckle, 6-0, 260, jr.

LG, 70, Dane Levi, 6-3, 260, jr.

C, 53, Luke Bryer, 5-10, 220, jr.

RG, 50, Dylan Dewitt, 6-0, 235, jr.

RT, 58, Steve Macheska, 6-4, 240, sr.

TE, 88, Aiden Johnson, 6-2, 215, jr.

WR, 6, Alonzo Wade, 6-2, 180, so.

WR, 17, Chase Ruokonen, 6-0, 175, sr.

WR, 2, Colton Lee, 6-2, 160, jr.

QB, 14, Braden Laux, 6-5, 215, jr.

FB, 32, Zach Zelenski, 5-10, 195, jr.

RB, 25, Quinton Martin, 6-3, 200, jr.

Defense

DE, 14, Braden Laux, 6-5, 215, jr.

DE, 70, Dane Levi, 6-3, 260, jr.

DL, 58, Steve Macheska, 6-4, 240, sr.

DL, 50, Dylan Dewitt, 6-0, 235, jr.

OLB, 17, Chase Ruokonen, 6-0, 175, sr.

OLB, 10, Jake Gedekoh, 6-0, 205, jr.

ILB, 22, Tanner Moody, 5-10, 170, jr.

ILB, 4, Parker Jewell, 5-11, 195, sr.

CB, 25, Quinton Martin, 6-3, 200, jr.

CB, 5, Anthony Crews, 5-10, 165, so.

S, 19, Adam LaCarte, 6-1, 185, jr.

Special teams

K/P, 86, Willie Schwerha, 6-0, 180, jr.

Notable: Belle Vernon was the WPIAL Class 4A runner-up two of the past three seasons. Updated PIAA enrollment numbers let the Leopards drop to Class 3A for this two-year cycle. They lost to the Quips, 28-13, in the 2021 finals, and fell to Thomas Jefferson, 41-7, in 2019. … Coach Matt Humbert is 76-19 in nine seasons at Belle Vernon. His overall record is 107-32, including four seasons at Ringgold. … The Leopards lost two of their first three games to McKeesport and Penn-Trafford but have won eight in a row since. During that stretch, they’ve outscored opponents 370-42. … The team’s offense averages 39.1 ppg and its defense allows 8.2 ppg. … Quinton Martin leads the team with 27 total touchdowns and Jake Gedekoh has 15. … The Leopards have eight defenders with at least one interception led by Alonzo Wade with four. The team has returned three INTs for touchdowns.

Avonworth (11-1)

Player to watch: Luke Hilyard

The senior running back has scored four times in Avonworth’s two playoff wins, including on runs of 2, 8 and 33 yards last week in the semifinals. Hilyard has averaged better than 7 yards per carry on his 189 attempts. He forms a solid tandem with fullback Brandon Biagiarelli. The two have combined for 27 touchdowns.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Nate Harper 104-178, 1,373 yards, 18 TDs, 5 INTs

Rushing: Luke Hilyard 189-1,357 yards, 16 TDs

Receiving: Peyton Faulkner 25-347 yards, 7 TDs; Andrew Kuban 23-368 yards, 4 TDs

How they got here: After a first-round bye, No. 2 Avonworth defeated No. 7 Beaver, 28-7, in the quarterfinals; and No. 6 Shady Side Academy, 35-0, in the semifinals.

Probable starting lineup

Coach: Duke Johncour

Offense

LT, 55, Cole Hansen, 6-4, 230, sr.

LG, 73, Aiden Ezar, 6-2, 230, sr.

C, 54, Mason Metz, 6-0, 210, so.

RG, 51, Zach Dimtroff, 5-11, 190, jr.

RT, 63, Ben Fenters, 6-1, 220, sr.

TE, 4, Peyton Faulkner, 6-4, 230, sr.

WR, 7, Austin Johncour, 6-8, 210, sr.

WR, 5, Andrew Kuban, 5-10, 190, jr.

WR, 2, Colin Crawford, 6-0, 170, sr.

QB, 9, Nate Harper, 6-0, 180, sr.

FB, 6, Brandon Biagiarelli, 6-2, 220, jr

RB, 3, Luke Hilyard, 5-10, 205, sr.

Defense

DE, 14, Gabe Bonnet, 6-3, 205, sr.

DE, 13, Ben Barnes, 6-1, 220, jr.

DL, 63, Ben Fenters, 6-1, 220, sr.

DL, 52, Nick Fenters, 6-0, 220, jr.

LB, 11, Hunter Blackson, 6-0, 195, jr

LB, 6, Brandon Biagiarelli, 6-2, 220, jr

LB, 17, Nico Neal, 5-10, 195, so.

LB, 5, Andrew Kuban, 5-10, 190, jr.

CB, 1, Jackson Vogt, 5-9, 175, jr.

CB, 12, Elvin Le, 5-9, 165, sr.

S, 2, Colin Crawford, 6-0, 170, sr.

S, 4, Peyton Faulkner, 6-4, 230, sr.

Special teams

K, 31, Mike Osekowski, 5-11, 180, sr.

P, 9, Nate Harper, 6-0, 180, sr.

LS, 69, Hunter Darabant, 6-3, 195, sr.

Notable: Avonworth is seeking its third WPIAL title. The Antelopes were co-champions in 1959 when they tied Union, 13-13, in the Class A final. They won their first outright title in 2019 by defeating Washington, 28-6, in the Class 2A championship. … Coach Duke Johncour is 97-36 in 12 seasons at Avonworth. … The team’s offense averages 34.1 ppg and the defense allows 9.3. … The Antelopes’ only loss this season was to Class 4A finalist Central Valley, 37-22, in Week 1. … TE/S Peyton Faulkner has more than a dozen Division I offers, including a number from the Patriot League. … Faulkner and Austin Johncour were also part of an Avonworth boys basketball team that finished as the WPIAL Class 3A runner-up last winter and reached the state quarterfinals.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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