A-K Valley high school football matchups for 2023 Week 4

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Wednesday, September 20, 2023 | 6:23 PM


Class 5A Big East Conference

Gateway (1-3, 1-0) at Plum (2-2, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Mustangs Stadium, Plum Borough

Last week: Gateway 44, Franklin Regional 24; Norwin 30, Plum 23

Last year’s result: Gateway 28, Plum 26

These neighborhood rivals are looking for a boost in the Big East standings, but this series has gone decidedly in the Gators’ favor. Gateway leads 13-1-1, with Plum’s lone win coming in 1990. … Gateway QB Brad Birch, who missed two weeks while recovering from a car accident, returned and ran for a TD and threw for 270 yards and three scores — all to Steven Jenkins — last Friday. … The Mustangs average 24.75 points behind a run-heavy offense led by Nick Odom, who had 110 yards last week. Darian Nelson ran for two scores, and Sean Franzi added a touchdown run last week. Last season, Plum rallied from a 28-7 halftime deficit but fell just short.

Class 5A Northeast Conference

Fox Chapel (0-4, 0-0) at Pine-Richland (2-2, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Pine-Richland Stadium, Gibsonia

Last week: Upper St. Clair 34, Fox Chapel 0; Pine-Richland 35, Seneca Valley 13

Last year’s result: Pine-Richland 61, Fox Chapel 14

Fox Chapel will try to get its offense on track in Week 4 as both teams try for their first conference victory. … The Foxes have looked to Max Melocchi under center. He threw for 54 yards and ran for 45 in last week’s loss. They spread the ball around in the backfield, using 10 ballcarriers in Week 3. … Pine-Richland holds a 9-1 lead in the series. The Rams have found another steady runner in Ethan Pillar, who scored on three TD runs last week and has six this season. Pine-Richland lost its conference opener to Penn Hills, 26-20, in Week 2.

Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference

Indiana (2-2, 0-1) at Highlands (3-1, 0-1)

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

Last week: Mars 42, Indiana 6; North Catholic 19, Highlands 0

Last year’s result: Highlands 31, Indiana 0

Both teams hope to put a disappointing start to conference play in the past and avoid falling into an 0-2 hole. … Indiana, which holds a 9-8 lead in the series, got off to a 2-1 start with impressive wins over Freeport and Shady Side Academy. QB Trevor Smith is a dual threat who scored on a 6-yard run last week. … Highlands played without injured quarterback Aaran Randolph last week. Menage Lucas threw for 23 yards and ran for 55 in a shutout loss. RB Luke Bombalski, who has run for 422 yards and eight TDs, will be a focal point against an Indiana defense that allows 26.75 points per game.

North Catholic (2-2, 1-0) at Kiski Area (1-3, 0-1)

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

Last week: North Catholic 19, Highlands 0; Hampton 35, Kiski Area 26

Last year’s result: North Catholic 33, Kiski Area 21

North Catholic’s balanced offensive attack will test a Kiski Area defense that has allowed 33.75 points per game. … The Trojans used a power rushing attack and big plays through the air in last week’s shutout win. Jason Siket threw for 122 yards, including a 27-yard TD to Jack White and a 75-yard TD to Division I prospect Brady O’Hara. Jack Fennell ran for 134 yards and a TD. … Kiski Area hung with Hampton last week before dropping its conference opener. Carson Heinle threw for 173 yards, 162 of which went to Andrew Finney, who had three TD grabs. After scoring 18 points over the first two weeks, Kiski Area has averaged 27 points the past two weeks.

Class 2A Allegheny Conference

Burrell (1-0, 2-2) at Yough (0-1, 1-3)

7 p.m. Friday, Cougar Mountain, Herminie

Last week: Burrell 8, Serra Catholic 7; Derry 22, Yough 21

Last year’s result: Burrell 42, Yough 6

This game could go a long way to decide conference playoff positioning. … Burrell opened conference play with a thrilling one-point victory against Serra Catholic. Tyler Maglisco scored on a 5-yard run, and Devin Beattie caught a 2-point conversion from Steve Hasson. The defense made two goal-line stands at the 1-yard line in the game. … The Cougars gave up a late score and 2-point conversion and fell at Derry. Quarterback Raidon Kuroda ran for two scores. Kuroda has completed 29 of 59 passes for 343 yards and rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns. Ryan Sarver has 13 catches for 143 yards.

Derry (2-2, 1-0) at Apollo-Ridge (1-3, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Owens Field, Apollo

Last week: Derry 22, Yough 21; Ligonier Valley 34, Apollo-Ridge 34

Last year’s result: Apollo-Ridge 49, Derry 14

A couple of power running teams probably will settle their score on the front lines. … If nothing else, Derry has been daring at times but also improved in previously challenging situations. The Trojans went for 2 last week when they scored with just less than two minutes to play to edge past Yough. Ahmad Ward is one of the top backs in 2A. … Despite 156 yards rushing and a 68-yard touchdown by Karter Schrock, Apollo-Ridge could not rally from a 19-7 deficit after three quarters vs. Ligonier Valley. Both teams are allowing more than 29 points a game.

Class A Eastern Conference

Frazier (0-4, 0-1) at Riverview (2-2, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Riverside Park, Oakmont

Last week: Jeannette 54, Frazier 0; Clairton 35, Riverview 3

Last year’s result: Riverview 18, Frazier 6

Riverview will push its running game against a Frazier team that has allowed 41.75 points per game this season. … The annual night game at Riverside Park will feature Riverview runners Landon Johnson (526 yards, 5 TDs), Carlo Buzzatto (533 yards, 4 TDs) and Rio Stotts (244 yards, TD). The Raiders lead the series 5-0. … Frazier has been shut out in three of its four games. Chase Fulmer scored three touchdowns in a 48-19 loss to Monessen, including two TD passes from Dailan McManus.

Springdale (1-3, 0-1) at Greensburg Central Catholic (2-2, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Centurion Stadium, Carbon

Last week: Leechburg 48, Springdale 25; Washington 31, Greensburg Central Catholic 7

Last year’s result: Greensburg Central Catholic 69, Springdale 6

An old-school Eastern Conference matchup will reveal how much a tough nonconference schedule prepared GCC for games that count in its fourth home game in five weeks. … GCC was roughed up by Class 2A No. 1 Washington, allowing the Little Prexies to run and pass while also giving up a 90-yard kickoff return TD. Samir Crosby continued to be active for the Centurions with 102 yards rushing and a touchdown catch. … Springdale showed some moxie after falling behind early but could not keep up with Leechburg in the second half. Chase Weihrauch threw for 126 yards and two scores in the loss. The Dynamos have allowed 132 points.

Nonconference

Deer Lakes (3-1) at Southmoreland (3-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Russ Grimm Field, Alverton

Last week: Deer Lakes 48, Greensburg Salem 14; Knoch 27, Southmoreland 0

Last year’s result: Deer Lakes 9, Southmoreland 0

Can a pair of high-powered offenses prove their worth after one sputtered last week? … Deer Lakes rallied from a 7-0 deficit to race past Greensburg Salem for its third straight victory. The Lancers, led by mobile, dual-threat quarterback Derek Burk, are averaging 34 points. … Knoch blanked Southmoreland in a marquee game that flamed out. The Knights went up 20-0 at the half. They limited Scotties tailback Da’sjon Craggette to 17 yards on 19 carries and held the team to 3 yards on the ground.

Freeport (2-2) at Mt. Pleasant (3-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Mt. Pleasant Area Stadium, Mt. Pleasant

Last week: Armstrong 52, Freeport 16; Mt. Pleasant 25, Valley 6

Last year’s result: Freeport 24, Mt. Pleasant 6

These teams reached the playoffs in Class 3A a year ago, and both have aspirations to do the same in 2023. … Freeport reached the semifinals with a senior-laden team that fell to Belle Vernon. Sophomore Drew Ross is handling quarterback duties with Colten Otterman at running back. Watch out for wide receiver Brady Sullivan, who has eight catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns. He scored twice in a loss to Armstrong. … Mt. Pleasant junior quarterback Cole Chatfield has completed 25 of 47 passes for 522 yards and six touchdowns. Luke Nicotera is his main target with 13 grabs for 230 yards and three scores. Running backs Garrett Eicher and Jackson Hutter each have rushed for more than 230 yards and combined on eight rushing touchdowns.

Knoch (4-0) at Elizabeth Forward (4-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Warrior Stadium, Elizabeth

Last week: Knoch 27, Southmoreland 0; Elizabeth Forward 42, Shady Side Academy 14

Last year’s result: Elizabeth Forward 42, Knoch 0

These unbeaten teams will get a quality final tuneup before opening conference play next week. … Knoch has been the surprise of the WPIAL this season behind a steady defense (21.5 ppg) and dual-threat QB Codi Mullen, who threw for 99 yards and ran for 102 and two scores last week. … Elizabeth Forward, which has qualified for the playoffs in six straight seasons, has continued to roll under first-year coach John DeMarco. The Warriors defense has allowed just 36 points this season. Krystian Kennedy had a 30-yard interception return in Week 3. Charlie Nigut ran for 90 yards and three TDs last week and has eight scores this season.

Uniontown (2-2) at Valley (1-3)

7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, New Kensington

Last week: Albert Gallatin 36, Uniontown 0; Mt. Pleasant 25, Valley 6

Last year’s result: Valley 20, Uniontown 13

With Allegheny 6 Conference play looming, Valley is looking to snap a two-game skid and gain some momentum. … Uniontown is playing an independent schedule for the third straight season. Running back Cameron Jackson has guided the offense with 367 yards and seven touchdowns this season. The Red Raiders allow 27 points per game. … Valley will try to get its offense on track after struggling to eight points against Burrell and six against Mt. Pleasant the past two weeks. Mason Simmons and Tristan Goodwin combined to throw for 214 yards and a TD last week but also three interceptions.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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