A-K Valley high school football don’t-miss matchups for Week 1

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019 | 8:09 PM


Class 5A Big East

Franklin Regional (0-0) at Plum (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Mustang Stadium, Plum

Coaches: Greg Botta, Franklin Regional; Matt Morgan, Plum

Players to watch: Anthony Bonacci, Franklin Regional (Sr., 6-1, 260, C/DT); Reid Martin, Plum (Jr., 5-9, 170, WR/DB)

Last week: Franklin Regional (DNP); Plum 28, Highlands 6

Four downs: 1. Franklin Regional couldn’t convince Bethel Park to play game in Week Zero, so the squads conducted their second scrimmage. 2. Four players scored touchdowns for Plum in the opener including a 70-yard punt return by Martin. 3. This will be the first start for Franklin Regional junior quarterback Trevor Brncic, who steps in for the graduated Adam Rudzenski. 4. Plum junior quarterback Ryan Hubner threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score in the victory against Highlands.

Class 5A Northern

Fox Chapel (0-1) at North Hills (1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Martorelli Stadium, Ross Township

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Players to watch: Caleb Kulikowski, Fox Chapel (So., 6-2, 205, OG/NG); Curtis Foskey, North Hills (Jr., 5-9, 192, RB/LB)

Last week: Peters Township 45, Fox Chapel 0; North Hills 46, Butler 21

Four downs: As Peters Township is one of the stronger passing offenses in the WPIAL, North Hills owns more of a ground game. Foskey (108) and Tommy McDonough (101) each rushed for 100-plus yards and a touchdown against Butler. 2. Fox Chapel couldn’t get on track against a stingy Peters Township defense and finished with 14 yards of total offense (13 pass, 1 rush). 3. Loughran said senior all-conference performer Alex Wecht, who missed Week Zero while recovering from injury, is expected to be in the lineup this week at defensive back and wide receiver. 4. North Hills begins conference play with eyes on making the WPIAL playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.

Kiski Area (1-0) at Shaler (0-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Lou Martig Field at Titans Stadium, Shaler

Players to watch: Thomas Burke, Kiski Area (So., 5-10, 160, QB/FS); Darin Mizgorski, Shaler (Sr., 6-2, 215, QB/FS)

Last week: Kiski Area 13, Allderdice 12; New Castle 34, Shaler 27

Four downs: 1. Burke, in his Cavaliers varsity debut Friday, was clutch in the fourth quarter with a 6-yard scoring strike to Jason Baker for the winning touchdown. 2. The Titans lost to New Castle in heartbreaking fashion as the Hurricanes executed a 42-yard pass play with 8 seconds left to break a 27-27 tie. 3. Peyton McCann delivered a strong running performance for the Cavaliers in the season opener as he collected 138 yards and a touchdown. 4. Mizgorski threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two others to pace the Titans against New Castle. He threw for 1,623 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.

Class 3A Big East

Burrell (1-0) at No. 2 North Catholic (0-0)

7 p.m. Friday, JC Stone Field, North Park

Players to watch: Mike Scherer, Burrell (Sr., 6-0, 190, RB/LB); Zack Rocco, North Catholic (Sr., 6-3, 235, QB/SS)

Last week: Burrell 20, Valley 0; North Catholic (DNP)

Four downs: 1. North Catholic has fallen in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals the past two seasons. Last year, Derry rallied past the Trojans, 36-29. Two years ago, Washington scored a 19-14 win. 2. Burrell used a balanced offensive attack — 124 rushing yards and a touchdown from Mike Scherer and 204 passing yards and two touchdowns from Alex Arledge — in the rivalry win over Valley. 3. Rocco, a three-year starter at quarterback for North Catholic, threw for 1,964 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. 4. Burrell, which snapped a six-game losing streak to Valley in the Battle of the Bypass, shut out an opponent for the first time since 2011 when it blanked Deer Lakes, 42-0.

Elizabeth Forward (0-0) at Deer Lakes (0-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Lancers Stadium

Players to watch: Nico Mrvos, Elizabeth Forward (Jr., 6-0, 150, QB); Trey Darrah, Deer Lakes (Sr., 5-11, 155, WR/CB)

Last week: Springdale 29, Deer Lakes 27; Elizabeth Forward (DNP)

Four downs: 1. Mrvos gets the call as the new Elizabeth Forward quarterback. The junior takes over for graduate Zach Benedek, a three-year starter who now is playing at St. Francis (Pa.). 2. Darrah was a top receiving target in the close loss to Springdale as he caught touchdown passes from Aris Hasley of 30, 28 and 3 yards. 3. The Warriors won their 400th game in school history with last year’s 25-22 victory over Derry that helped clinch a three-way tie for first in the conference with the Trojans and North Catholic. 4. Hasley accounted for all four scores against Springdale. In addition to his 269 passing yards and three touchdowns, he also recovered and returned a fumble 40 yards for a score in the third quarter that gave the Lancers a 21-15 lead.

Class 2A Allegheny

Summit Academy (0-1) at Apollo-Ridge (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Owens Field, Apollo

Coaches: Joe Marak, Summit Academy; John Skiba, Apollo-Ridge

Players to watch: 1. Nick Curci, Apollo-Ridge (Fr., 6-0, 180, RB/LB); Cameer Curry (Sr., 6-2, 180, QB)

Last week: Western Beaver 48, Summit Academy 16; Apollo-Ridge 28, Leechburg 12

Four downs: 1. Behind an experienced offensive line, Apollo-Ridge totaled 262 rushing yards against Leechburg. Logan Harmon led the way with 180 yards and three scores, and Jake Fello added 52 yards on 10 attempts. 2. Summit, with all new starters on both sides of the ball, hopes to bounce back after its 32-point loss to Western Beaver in its season opener. It faces five of the top six teams in the Class 2A playoffs from last year — Steel Valley, Shady Side Academy, Burgettstown, Mohawk and Washington. 3. Apollo-Ridge freshman Jacob Mull was 4 for 4 on extra points last week. 4. Harmon was a key factor on defense for the Vikings against Leechburg with a team-best six tackles, a sack and a 96-yard fumble return for a score. Senior Brady Reilly added a sack, and Curci made four tackles and recorded a sack in his varsity debut.

Valley (0-1) at Avonworth (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Lenzner Stadium, Ohio Township

Players to watch: Cayden Quinn, Valley (Jr., 5-9, 160, QB); Park Penrod, Avonworth (Sr., 6-3, 180, QB/MLB)

Last week: Burrell 20, Valley 0; Avonworth 21, Neshannock 7

Four downs: 1. The Vikings will have to avoid turnovers against an aggressive and opportunistic Antelopes defense. Avonworth forced four Neshannock turnovers and held the Lancers to just 2.7 yards per play. 2. Penrod made his varsity debut last Friday and completed 20 of 32 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. 3. The Valley defense held Burrell off the scoreboard in the second half after the Bucs grabbed an 18-0 lead at the break. 4. Tailback Jax Miller complemented the Avonworth passing game against Neshannock with 177 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Class A Eastern

Greensburg C.C. (1-0) at Riverview (0-0)

Noon Saturday at Riverside Park, Oakmont

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Greensburg C.C. 21, Monessen 18; Riverview (DNP)

Players to watch: Brandon Brown, Greensburg C.C. (Sr., 5-10, 165, WR/CB); Justyn Slebrich (Sr., 6-0, 160, RB/DB)

Four downs: 1. Centurions junior quarterback David Altimore earned Trib HSSN Football Player of the Week honorable-mention recognition after Week Zero as he completed 7 of 9 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns against the Greyhounds. 2. Ryan Aber, a 5-11, 190-pound junior, is set to make the start under center for Riverview. 3. Brown’s two receiving scores last Friday against Monessen adds to the six he had as a junior in 2018. 4. Saturday’s game at Riverside Park is one of four home games for the Raiders this season. The Oct. 11 game against conference rival Springdale will be the annual Friday night game under the lights.

Imani Christian (0-1) at Springdale (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Veterans Memorial Field, Springdale

Players to watch: Pharaoh Fisher, Imani Christian (So., 6-0, 165, QB/CB); Dmitri Fritch, Springdale (Jr., 6-2, 160, WR/DB)

Last week: National Christian Academy (Md.) 70, Imani Christian 6; Springdale 29, Deer Lakes 27

Four downs: 1. Springdale’s dramatic victory over Class 3A Deer Lakes was its first win over the Lancers since 1980. Sophomore Legend Ausk, making his first varsity start at quarterback, threw the winning TD to Fritch with less than a minute remaining. 2. Imani Christian, which dressed just 19 players in its opener Saturday, scored first against National Christian Academy (Md.), but the Eagles, with 11 Division I recruits, scored on nine straight possessions in the first half. 3. Brandon Green led the Dynamos with 11 tackles against Deer Lakes. Calvin Kindler added 10 stops, two sacks and an interception. Fritch recorded an interception, and Gage Howard contributed two sacks. 4. Springdale had the running game going against the Lancers with 41 total attempts for 241 yards, a 5.9 average. Christian Vokes led the way with 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Leechburg (0-1) at No. 2 Jeannette (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, McKee Stadium, Jeannette

Players to watch: Dylan Cook, Leechburg (Jr., 6-1, 160, QB/DB); Imani Sanders, Jeannette (Sr., 5-6, 170, RB/DB)

Last week: Apollo-Ridge 28, Leechburg 12; Jeannette 34, East Allegheny 12

Four downs: 1. Jeannette will play its first game on its new artificial turf field. The team has played on natural grass at McKee Stadium since 1927. 2. Leechburg aired it out against Apollo-Ridge but could not stop the run, which could be a problem this week against the Jayhawks. Cook passed for 311 yards (18 of 28) and two scores, both to Jake Blumer. 3. Roberto Smith Jr. had a breakthrough game in the opener for Jeannette with a 50-yard interception return for a score and a rushing touchdown. 4. The Jayhawks have 12 straight home wins and have not lost a conference game since 2017.

Nonconference

Keystone Oaks (1-0) at Highlands (0-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Golden Rams Stadium, Natrona Heights

Coaches: Greg Perry, Keystone Oaks; Dom Girardi, Highlands

Players to watch: Logan Shrubb, Keystone Oaks (Jr., 6-0, 190, QB); Brock White, Highlands (So., 5-11, 170, RB/LB)

Last week: Keystone Oaks 26, Brentwood 21; Plum 28, Highlands 6

Four downs: 1. Keystone Oaks is relying on several young players as only four starters returned on each side of the ball from last year’s 6-4 team. 2. Despite a pair of fumbles, White ran well for Highlands against Plum with 152 yards on 29 carries. 3. Shrubb, who threw for 1,532 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, got off to a strong start against Brentwood with 150 passing yards and a touchdown and 150 rushing yards and another score. 4. Roman Wahkeem, a 6-5, 286-pound defensive lineman, recorded a team-best nine tackles and a sack for the Golden Rams last Friday.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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