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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | 6:39 PM


Allderdice at Kiski Area

7 p.m. Friday at Richard J. Dilts Stadium, Allegheny Township

Last year: Allderdice, 6-5, 4-1 City League; Kiski Area, 3-8, 2-5 Class 5A Northern Conference

Coaches: Jerry Haslett, Allderdice; Sam Albert, Kiski Area

Players to watch: Solomon Johnston, Allderdice (Jr., 6-4, 325, OL/DL); Justin Hessom, Kiski Area (Sr., 5-10, 180, OL/NT).

Four downs: 1. Hessom, a three-year starter, led the Cavaliers defense with seven sacks last season. 2. The Dragons come into the season as the two-time defending City League champions. They defeated Westinghouse last year in a title game rescheduled after the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. 3. Several new starters will take the field for the Cavaliers on Friday after the graduation of 17 seniors from 2018. 4. Allderdice features a new signal-caller under center in 5-foot-7 junior Shakur Pack, the backup last year to starter Dalen Dugger.

Extra point: Kiski Area defeated Allderdice, 24-9, in Week Zero last year and started 3-1 before losing its last seven games, including a Class 5A first-round playoff contest at Gateway.

Apollo-Ridge at Leechburg

7 p.m. Friday at Veterans Memorial Field, Leechburg

Last year: Apollo-Ridge, 2-8, 1-5 Class 3A Allegheny Conference; Leechburg, 5-5, 2-4 Class A Eastern Conference

Coaches: John Skiba, Apollo-Ridge; Mark George, Leechburg

Players to watch: Jake Fello, Apollo-Ridge (Jr., 6-1, 190, QB/WR/DB); Dylan Cook, Leechburg (Jr., 6-1, 160, QB/DB)

Four downs: 1. Fello and fellow junior Klay Fitzroy shared time at quarterback for the Vikings last season, and Fello threw for a team-best eight touchdowns. Fitzroy threw for five scores and caught five more at receiver. 2. Cook returns for his third season as Leechburg’s starting quarterback. He will have Chace Wadsworth and Anthony Mangee as the leading targets at wide receiver. 3. The Blue Devils won three of their final four games last year to finish at .500 for the first time since 1991. 4. Despite missing four games last year because of injury, Logan Harmon led Apollo-Ridge in rushing with 400 yards and six touchdowns and was second in total tackles (52).

Extra point: Leechburg defeated Apollo-Ridge, 28-13, in Week Zero last year, avenging losses to the Vikings in the opener in both 2016 and ‘17 and snapping an eight-game losing streak in the series dating to 2004.

Deer Lakes at Springdale

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

Last season: Deer Lakes, 3-6, 3-5 Class 3A Big East; Springdale, 2-8, 1-6 Class A Eastern Conference

Coaches: Tim Burk, Deer Lakes; Seth Napierkowski, Springdale

Players to watch: Aris Hasley, Deer Lakes (Sr., 5-10, 175, QB/FS); Legend Ausk, Springdale (So., 6-1, 160, QB/DB

Four downs: 1. Deer Lakes and Springdale play for the first time since 1993 when the Lancers scored a 20-6 victory. Deer Lakes leads the all-time series 17-3-2. 2. Dynamos senior running back Christian Vokes hopes to stay healthy after missing time with an injury last year. He rushed for 377 yards and five touchdowns. 3. Hasley led the Lancers in both passing (1,622 yards, 15 touchdowns) and rushing (441 yards, five scores) last season. 4. Both the Lancers and Dynamos are 2-3 in their past five openers. Deer Lakes last won a season-opener in 2016, and Springdale hopes to snap a three-game losing streak in games to kick off a campaign.

Extra point: Neither team played a Week Zero game last year. Deer Lakes suffered a 33-14 loss to Elizabeth Forward in Week 1, and Springdale was shut out in a Week 1 conference matchup against Imani Christian. Friday’s game also is the 900th in the history of the Springdale football program.

Fox Chapel at Peters Township

7 p.m. Friday at ClearEdge Stadium, McMurray

Last season: Fox Chapel, 2-8, 1-6 Class 5A Northern Conference; Peters Township, 10-3, 6-1 Class 5A Allegheny 8

Coaches: T.J. Plack, Peters Township; Tom Loughran, Fox Chapel

Players to watch: Josh Casilli (Sr., 6-0, 170, WR/SB); Shane Susnak, Fox Chapel (Sr., 5-10, 170, QB)

Four downs: 1. Peters Township returns its top receiving target in Casilli, a Penn commit, and starting quarterback Logan Pfeuffer (2,045 yards, 24 touchdowns) from last year’s WPIAL Class 5A semifinal squad. 2. Susnak is back under center for the Foxes after throwing for 1,128 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018. 3. Peters Township finished tied with West Allegheny for last year’s Allegheny 8 title, its first such championship since 1975. 4. Foxes senior Sam Brown, who led the team in rushing last year with 530 yards and seven touchdowns, received his first Division I offer, from Dayton, earlier this month.

Extra point: Last year, the Foxes opened in Week Zero against Baldwin and suffered a 34-7 loss. The Indians played West Toronto Prep from Canada at the Wolvarena and won 43-7.

Hampton at Knoch

7 p.m. Friday at Knoch Knight Stadium, Saxonburg

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

Last season: Hampton, 2-8, 1-6 Class 5A Northern Conference; Knoch, 5-5, 3-4 Class 4A Northwest 8

Coaches: Jacques DeMatteo, Hampton; Brandon Mowry, Knoch

Players to watch: Ian Andersson, Hampton (Sr., 6-0, 165, QB/FS); Cole Lassinger, Knoch (Sr., 6-4, 285, OG/DE)

Four downs: 1. Andersson takes over at quarterback for the graduated Max Obenrader, the team’s passing and rushing leader in 2018. 2. Knoch senior Matt Goodlin returns after setting a school record with 1,461 rushing yards to go with 15 touchdowns last season. 3. Hampton, which runs the uncommon wing-T offense, is hoping to increase its win total this season. The Talbots have four total victories in three seasons since the six-class realignment of 2016. 4. Mowry, a 2002 Knoch graduate, will make his head-coaching debut Friday after 15 years as an assistant in the Knights program.

Extra point: Knoch and Hampton, former conference rivals in the old Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference, played in Week Zero last year, and the Talbots scored a 28-8 victory.

Plum at Highlands

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

Last year: Plum, 2-8, 1-6 Class 5A Big East; Highlands, 2-8, 2-5 Class 4A Northwest 8

Coaches: Dom Girardi, Highlands; Matt Morgan, Plum

Players to watch: Billy Guzzi, Plum (Jr., 5-8, 155, RB/DB); Johnny Crise, Highlands (Sr., 6-6, 200, WR/LB)

Four downs: 1. Highlands and Plum will have new quarterbacks under center Friday after the graduation of Seth Cohen and Hunter Linhart, respectively. Camp competitions continued into this week. 2. The Golden Rams and Mustangs both hope to return to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2015. 3. Crise has Division I offers in both football and basketball. His football offers include Robert Morris, Duquesne, Lehigh, Albany and Maine. 4. Guzzi paced the Plum rushing attack last year with 563 yards on 114 carries (4.9 ypg.).

Extra point: Plum captured last year’s Week Zero matchup, 32-14. It was the first meeting between the teams since 2011 and was a 35-0 Golden Rams victory.

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

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