A-K Valley high school football don’t-miss matchups for Week 8

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018 | 6:03 PM


Class 5A Northern

Fox Chapel (2-6, 1-4) at Armstrong (3-5, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday at ESS/NexTier Stadium, Kittanning

Last week: Mars 49, Fox Chapel 14; North Hills 20, Armstrong 9

Coaches: Tom Loughran, Fox Chapel; Frank Fabian, Armstrong

Top players: Shane Susnak, Fox Chapel (Jr., 5-11, 175, QB); Isaac Ridinger, Armstrong (Jr., 5-7, 190, RB/CB)

Keep an eye on: Sam Brown, Fox Chapel (Jr., 6-1, 175, WR/DB)

Momentum: Both teams have the motivation of still being alive for a playoff spot despite several tough outcomes in conference play.

Four downs: 1. Armstrong has lost four straight after a 3-1 start. 2. Susnak is 4 passing yards away from 1,000 for the season. He tallied 385 yards and four touchdowns the past two weeks. 3. Ridinger and quarterback Jalen Price have combined to lead Armstrong with more than 1,100 yards rushing this season. 4. Senior linebacker Graham Childs led the Foxes with 10 tackles against Mars. He has 37 on the season, good for a tie for fourth.

Extra point: This is the first meeting between Fox Chapel and Armstrong. The River Hawks first played football in 2015 after the merger or Kittanning and Ford City.

Class 4A Northwest Eight

Highlands (2-6, 2-4) at New Castle (3-5, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday at New Castle’s Taggart Stadium

On the air: 1200 AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: South Fayette 54, Highlands 21; Knoch 24, New Castle 21

Coaches: Dom Girardi, Highlands; Joe Cowart, New Castle

Top players: Cam Taylor, Highlands (Sr., 5-10, 232, RB/LB); Demetris McKnight, New Castle (Jr., 6-1, 190, QB/RB/CB)

Keep an eye on: Noah Gillette, Highlands (Sr., 5-10, 182, FB/LB)

Momentum: Both New Castle and Highlands need a win and some help to remain alive for a WPIAL playoff berth.

Four downs: 1. Highlands surrendered an average of 51 points in losses the past two weeks after averaging 48 over a two-game winning streak. 2. New Castle also has lost two straight after winning two in a row. 3. Highlands quarterback Seth Cohen surpassed 1,500 passing yards and reached 19 touchdowns thrown last week against South Fayette. He also has 541 rushing yards and six scores. 4. Knight is a dual threat on offense for New Castle and leads the team in touchdowns through Week 8. He tallied a defensive score last week against Knoch with a 95-yard interception return.

Extra point: New Castle won a wild 48-47 matchup in double overtime last year. One of the highlights of the game was Cohen’s 412 yards passing and seven touchdowns, both Highlands school records.

Class 3A Big East

Deer Lakes (3-4, 3-3) at No. 2 Derry (7-1, 5-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Trojan Stadium, Derry

Last week: Keystone Oaks 50, Deer Lakes 0; Derry 63, Yough 20

Coaches: Tim Burk, Deer Lakes; Tim Sweeney, Derry

Top players: Aris Hasley, Deer Lakes (Jr., 5-10, 175, QB); Justin Flack, Derry (Sr., 5-8, 160, RB)

Keep an eye on: Dom DeLuca, Derry (Sr., 6-5, 225, RB/LB)

Momentum: Derry. The Trojans powered their way to another ground-and-pound victory and are a win away from clinching a playoff berth for the third straight season.

Four downs: 1. Flack scored eight touchdowns last week — six via rush, a kickoff return and a pick-6. He had a five-TD game against Mt. Pleasant. 2. Deer Lakes is hanging around teams just about every week under first-year coach Burk, a former assistant who took over for former NFL lineman Steve Sciullo. The Lancers stayed close with No. 4 Elizabeth Forward in their opener and only lost to Freeport by a 14-10 score. 3. DeLuca is not only a tremendous defensive presence for the Trojans, but he also is a dangerous ball-carrier and downfield blocker. Onreey Stewart is another weapon. He ran for 124 yards last week. 4. Deer Lakes has been up and down against Westmoreland teams. Hasley threw for 259 yards and three scores against Mt. Pleasant. But the Lancers defense allowed Yough’s Dustin Shoaf to run for 401 yards.

Extra point: Deer Lakes managed just 88 total yards last week against Keystone Oaks in nonconference play.

Mt. Pleasant (1-7, 1-5) at Freeport (4-3, 4-3)

7 p.m. Friday at Freeport Area Athletic Field, Sarver

Last week: Elizabeth Forward 55, Mt. Pleasant 13; Freeport 48, Burrell 3

Coaches: Jason Fazekas, Mt. Pleasant; John Gaillot, Freeport

Top players: Austin Romanchak, Freeport (Sr., 5-9, 160, QB/DB); Lucas Pieszak, Mt. Pleasant (Sr., 6-5, 190, QB/DB)

Keep an eye on: Isiah Bauman, Freeport (Jr., 6-0, 170, WR/DB)

Momentum: Freeport has won four straight after an 0-3 start to put it firmly in fourth place in the Big East playoff race.

Four downs: 1. The math is pretty simple for Freeport. The Yellowjackets beat Mt. Pleasant and they are in the WPIAL playoffs. 2. Mt. Pleasant was eliminated with last week’s loss to Elizabeth Forward. 3. Freeport’s defense has surrendered 13 combined points the past three weeks. Conor Selinger (50), Bauman (46), Patrick Keeley (43) and Ricky Hunter (42) lead the team in tackles through seven games. 4. Pieszak is the heart of the Vikings offense with 955 yards passing, nine TDs and seven interceptions.

Extra point: The Yellowjackets hope to cut down on penalties this week. They were flagged 12 times for 85 yards against Burrell.

Class A Eastern

Springdale (1-6, 0-4) at No. 2 Clairton (7-0, 4-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Clairton’s Neil Brown Stadium

Last week: Riverview 18, Springdale 0; Clairton 33, West Greene 14

Coaches: Seth Napierkowski, Springdale; Wayne Wade, Clairton

Top players: Josh Jones, Springdale (Sr., 6-0, 180, QB/CB); Taevon Thompson, Clairton (Sr., 5-8, 136, RB/DB)

Keep an eye on: Brendan Parsons, Clairton (Jr., 5-11, 170, QB)

Momentum: Clairton is undefeated through seven games and is averaging 33.4 points per game.

Four downs: 1. Springdale suffered its fourth shutout in seven games this season as visiting Riverview forced five Dynamos turnovers. 2. Parsons led Clairton with two passing touchdowns and one rushing score against West Greene. 3. Springdale’s leading rusher, Christian Vokes, missed last Friday’s game against Riverview because of injury. 4. The Bears scored all of their points last week in the second half as they rallied from a 6-0 halftime deficit.

Extra point: Clairton took last year’s meeting 32-16. Springdale is 3-27 all-time against the Bears. It last won in the 2007 WPIAL semifinals, 22-21.

No. 1 Jeannette (8-0, 4-0) at Riverview (2-5, 1-4)

Noon Saturday at Riverside Park, Oakmont

Last week: Jeannette 40, Greensburg Central Catholic 14; Riverview 18, Springdale 0

Coaches: Roy Hall, Jeannette; Todd Massack, Riverview

Top players: Seth Howard, Jeannette (Sr., 6-1, 165, QB); Devon Binz, Riverview (Sr., 5-9, 160, RB/DB)

Keep an eye on: Jaden Crosby, Jeannette (Jr., 5-11, 192, RB/DB)

Momentum: Jeannette, the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class A champion, has won 14 straight after a loss to Clairton in last year’s regular-season finale

Four downs: 1. Jeannette is averaging 40.4 points, second only to OLSH (43.0) and just ahead of Sto-Rox (40.0) in Class A. The Jayhawks topped OLSH, the Big Seven Conference leader, 28-13, two weeks ago. 2. The Riverview defense stood tall last week, forcing five Springdale turnovers. Nick Palmiere returned an interception for a touchdown. 3. Howard threw for 264 yards and a touchdown last week against GCC, putting him at 1,159 passing yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. 4. The Raiders won two straight games for the first time since Weeks 6 and 7 of the 2016 season. Devin Binz was the workhorse against the rival Dynamos with 127 yards on 26 carries.

Extra point: Riverview and Jeannette’s most recent conference series began in 2014. The Jayhawks won all four games with the Raiders.

Nonconference

Apollo-Ridge (2-6) at Freedom (7-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday at Freedom High School

Last week: Steel Valley 64, Apollo-Ridge 21; Freedom 28, Neshannock 7

Coaches: John Skiba, Apollo-Ridge; Russ Barley, Freedom

Top players: Alex Gamble, Apollo-Ridge (Sr., 5-7, 160, RB/LB); Jake Pail, Freedom (Sr., 5-9, 155, RB/CB)

Keep an eye on: Zach Rosa, Freedom (Sr., 5-11, 155, QB/CB)

Momentum: Freedom has won four straight games since a six-point loss to conference rival Mohawk in Week 3

Four downs: 1. Freedom and Mohawk are tied for the top spot in the Northwestern Conference (2A). Mohawk can clinch a share of the title against Ellwood City this Friday. 2. Last Friday’s loss to Steel Valley eliminated Apollo-Ridge from the playoff race in the Allegheny Conference. 3. Pail caught a pass and ran for another to pace the Bulldogs against Neshannock. He has a team-best 12 total touchdowns through Week 7. 4. Apollo-Ridge’s Keighton Reese caught eight passes for 70 yards and a touchdown last Friday. Reese leads the Vikings in receiving yards (310) and also total tackles (53).

Extra point: Apollo-Ridge’s final two opponents, including Charleroi next week, have a combined record of 13-2.

Leechburg (3-5) at Bentworth (4-4)

7 p.m. Friday at Bentworth Football Stadium, Ellsworth

Last week: Imani Christian 46, Leechburg 10; California 55, Bentworth 21

Coaches: Mark George, Leechburg; Ron Skiles, Bentworth

Top players: Jake Blumer, Leechburg (Jr., 6-2, 190, RB/LB); Trent Cavanaugh, Bentworth (So., 5-10, 170, RB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Dylan Cook, Leechburg (So., 6-1, 160, QB/DB)

Momentum: Leechburg is hoping to reach four wins in a season for the first time since 2000.

Four downs: 1. Leechburg is 2-1 in nonconference games with wins over Apollo-Ridge and Frazier. 2. Cavanaugh leads Bentworth with 954 yards rushing on 135 carries (7.1 average) and has 13 total touchdowns. 3. Blumer leads Leechburg with six total touchdowns scored through eight games. 4. There still are scenarios that have Bentworth alive for a playoff spot in the Class A Tri-County South when it returns to conference play next week at Jefferson-Morgan.

Extra point: This is the first meeting between Leechburg and Bentworth. The Blue Devils have played games this season in five counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Westmoreland and now Washington.

Plum (2-6) at Class 4A No. 3 Belle Vernon (6-1)

7 p.m. Friday at James Weir Stadium, Rostraver

Last week: Latrobe 28, Plum 6; Belle Vernon 28, Plum 12

Coaches: Matt Morgan, Plum; Matt Humbert, Belle Vernon

Top players: Hunter Linhart, Plum (Sr., 6-1, 190, QB); Mason Pascoe, Belle Vernon (Sr., 5-7, 170, RB/DB)

Keep an eye on: Nolan Labuda, Belle Vernon (Jr., 5-7, 160, QB/DB)

Momentum: Belle Vernon is riding a five-game winning streak since a loss to Thomas Jefferson in Week 2. Pascoe leads the team with 1,315 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.

Four downs: 1. Belle Vernon will be without standout junior quarterback Jared Hartman for the rest of the season after he suffered a knee injury last Friday against West Mifflin. Labuda is Hartman’s replacement. 2. Plum was eliminated from playoff contention with last week’s loss to Latrobe. 3. Leopards junior kicker/punter Cameron Guess is a Division I prospect who has an offer from Toledo and has drawn interest from Pitt and Syracuse among others. 4. Plum’s Linhart threw for 184 yards and a touchdown against Latrobe. He has 887 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions through eight games.

Extra point: This is the first meeting between the Plum and Belle Vernon football teams.

Riverside (5-2) at Valley (3-5)

7 p.m. Friday at Valley High Memorial Stadium, New Kensington

Last week: Riverside 21, Ellwood City 7; Valley 22, Summit Acad. 20

Coaches: Ron Sciarro, Riverside; Muzzy Colosimo, Valley

Top players: LeMarcus Cleckley, Riverside (Sr., 5-9, 160, RB/LB); Tyler Green, Valley (Sr., 6-0, 220, QB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Malique Richardson, Valley (Sr., 6-0, 150, WR/DB)

Momentum: Valley kept its Class 2A playoff hopes alive with its win at home last Friday.

Four downs: 1. The passing game came alive for Valley against Summit Academy as Green tossed a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner to Noah Hutcherson, and finished with 121 yards through the air. 2. Riverside clinched a Class 2A playoff spot with its win over Ellwood City. 3. The winner of next week’s Allegheny Conference clash between Valley and East Allegheny will earn a playoff berth. 4. Cleckley was a workhorse for Riverside against Ellwood City with 127 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

Extra point: This is the first meeting between the Riverside and Valley football teams.

Trinity (1-6) at Knoch (3-5)

7 p.m. at Knoch Knight Stadium , Saxonburg

On the air: 680AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Penn-Trafford 42, Trinity 6; Knoch 24, New Castle 21

Coaches: Frank Whalen, Knoch; Jon Miller, Trinity

Top players: Micah Finley, Trinity (So., 5-8, 165, RB/DB); Chase Mullen, Knoch (Sr., 5-10, 160, QB/CB)

Keep an eye on: Jarrett Bricker, Knoch (Sr., 5-10, 205, C/LB)

Momentum: Knoch stayed alive in the hunt for a WPIAL 4A playoff berth with its win over New Castle last Friday.

Four downs: 1. Josh Goldscheitter was the hero for Knoch against New Castle with three field goals, including the winner in the fourth quarter. He was the first Knights kicker with three field goals in a game since 1994. 2. The Hillers have lost four straight since their lone victory, a 47-6 Week 3 win over Ringgold. 3. Mullen and junior running back Matt Goodlin each rushed for scores against New Castle as Knoch snapped a seven-game road losing streak. 4. Finley leads Trinity with four total touchdowns scored.

Extra point: Bricker leads the Knights in tackles from his linebacker spot. He also anchors the offensive line at center.

Waynesburg (1-7) at Burrell (2-6)

7 p.m. Friday at Buccaneer Stadium , Lower Burrell

Last week: Beaver Falls 48, Waynesburg 10; Freeport 48, Burrell 3

Coaches: Chad Coss, Waynesburg; Shawn Liotta, Burrell

Top players: Nate Stephenson, Waynesburg (So., 5-6, 135, RB/CB); Seth Fischbach, Burrell (Jr., 6-1, 190, WR/DB)

Keep an eye on: Mike Scherer, Burrell (Jr., 6-0, 185, RB/LB)

Momentum: Burrell hopes to regain a measure of it after last week’s loss to Freeport. The Bucs had scored a win over Mt. Pleasant the week before.

Four downs: 1. The Burrell offense hopes to get back on track after it was held under 100 total yards last week at Freeport. 2. Waynesburg has lost seven straight since a Week Zero drubbing of Jefferson-Morgan. 3. The Bucs close out their season next week with a game at Big East (3A) co-leader Derry. 4. Waynesburg has given up an average of 44 points over its past four games.

Extra point: This is the first meeting between the Burrell and Waynesburg football teams.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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