5 things to watch in Week 4 of high school football

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Friday, September 23, 2022 | 7:30 AM


It wasn’t too long ago that West Allegheny was the team to beat in the Parkway Conference, back before the Indians made the jump to 5A.

Remember, they went 29-3 in that conference during their last four seasons there (ending in 2015), reached the WPIAL finals three times in that span and won two titles.

Now, they’re back.

And in some ways, it might feels like they never left, since West A is back to its old winning ways. The Indians are 4-0 this season under coach Dave Schoppe and have outscored opponents 182-28.

However, a huge test awaits Friday.

West Allegheny (4-0, 1-0) faces Aliquippa (3-0, 1-0), the new team to beat in the Parkway. The Quips haven’t lost a conference game since joining the Parkway in 2020. They’re 11-0.

It’s a home game for Aliquippa but Aschman Stadium is undergoing a major reconstruction, so the Quips are instead using Freedom’s field this season.

Undefeated vs. undefeated

The Parkway clash isn’t the only game that pairs two undefeated teams.

Upper St. Clair (4-0, 1-0) hosts Peters Township (4-0, 1-0) Friday for first place in the Allegheny Six. The teams have identical records, but they’ve gotten there with very different strategies at quarterback.

Peters Township has the WPIAL’s leading passer in junior Chris Cibrone, who has attempted a WPIAL-high 122 passes. Cibrone has almost twice as many completions (70) as USC quarterback Julian Dahlem has attempts (37).

Yet, the two QBs have thrown a similar number of touchdown passes, which is a credit to Dahlem’s efficiency. Cibrone has 12. Dahlem has 10.

A 5-foot-10 sophomore, Dahlem is the brother of Ethan Dahlem, a former standout quarterback for Upper St. Clair who graduated in 2021. The younger Dahlem has topped 100 yards passing just once in four games, but has completed 27 of 37 passes for 460 yards and no interceptions.

The Panthers have outscored their four opponents 181-34, so they’ve had little need to throw. As a team, USC has averaged 246 rushing yards per game.

One week at a time

The WPIAL schedule makers didn’t take it easy on Belle Vernon.

The Leopards dropped to 3A this season and joined a new conference, but they sure have seen a lot of familiar faces on their nonconference schedule. The latest is a matchup Friday with former conference rival Thomas Jefferson.

This is the third team from their old conference — the Class 4A Big Eight — that Belle Vernon must face in nonconference play this season. The Leopards defeated Laurel Highlands, 41-20, in Week 1 and lost to McKeesport, 14-6, in Week 2.

In Week 3, they stepped up two classifications and lost 14-13 to Penn-Trafford, the defending WPIAL and PIAA 5A champion.

They’ll now visit Thomas Jefferson on Friday. The Leopards defeated TJ twice last season and finished as the WPIAL Class 4A runners-up. They won 28-21 in the regular season and 21-7 in the WPIAL semifinals.

Maples RB piles up TDs

Mapletown is enjoying its first 4-0 start since 1997, thanks to a running back who leads the WPIAL in touchdowns.

Landan Stevenson, a 5-foot-11 senior who recently topped 4,000 career years, leads all WPIAL scorers with 16 TDs. Stevenson had 222 yards and scored three times in last week’s win over Beth-Center, 43-14.

The Maples’ schedule could quickly get tougher with games against Carmichaels (3-1, 1-0) on Friday and California (4-0, 1-0) in Week 5. Both were playoff teams a year ago and finished ahead of Mapletown in the Tri-County South standings.

The Maples have outscored their first four opponents 183-22 in a stretch that included two matchups with Avella. The teams played one another in Week Zero and Week 2. The Maples won 42-0 and 49-0.

Their other win was 49-8 over Frazier, when Stevenson scored six times.

Sorting out 6A

There could be some separation in the Class 6A standings after Friday’s games. Or, maybe just as likely, Week 4 could end with all five teams tied at 1-1.

That’s because this week’s schedule matches two 1-0 teams vs. two 0-1 teams. Central Catholic (0-1) hosts North Allegheny (1-0) at West Mifflin. Seneca Valley (0-1) visits Mt. Lebanon (1-0).

Canon-McMillan (1-1) has a nonconference game.

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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