A-K Valley high school football playoff matchups for 2023 Week 10

Wednesday, November 1, 2023 | 5:52 PM

Class 4A first round

12-Highlands (6-4) at 5-Central Valley (7-3)

7 p.m. Friday, Sarge Alberts Stadium, Monaca

Last week: Highlands 42, Hampton 26; Aliquippa 27, Central Valley 17

Winner plays: Winner of 4-Mars (8-2)/13-Chartiers Valley (3-7) in quarterfinals Nov. 10 (time, site TBD)

Highlands’ roller-coaster regular season ended with two straight wins, while Central Valley lost to No. 3 Montour and No. 1 Aliquippa in the last four weeks. … Highlands running back Luke Bombalski ran for 166 yards and three TDs and reached 3,000 career rushing yards in Week 9, joining assistant coach Elijah Jackson as the only Golden Rams to hit that mark. Bombalski also had 11 tackles to set a school record with 117 tackles in a season. The Golden Rams finished tied for third in the Greater Allegheny Conference. They averaged 24.6 ppg and allowed 24.9. … Central Valley relies on quarterback Steven Rutherford (1,171 yards, 9 TDs) and the backfield duo of Jance Henry (950 yards) and Mason Dixon (717 yards). The pair has combined for 25 touchdowns. The Warriors finished third in the Parkway Conference. They averaged 35.1 points and allowed 17.1.


Playoff seasons: 24

WPIAL playoff record: 10-23

Last playoff game won: 2014 first round, 24-19 over New Brighton

Championships won: none

Fun fact: When Highlands opened the 2001 playoffs with a win at Uniontown, it was only the second time a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed in WPIAL history and hasn’t been done since.


Playoff seasons: 13

WPIAL playoff record: 29-7

Last playoff game won: 2022 semifinals, 19-0 over Thomas Jefferson

Championships won: 5 (2010, ’14, 2019-21)

Fun fact: When Central Valley won the WPIAL title in its inaugural 2010 season, it marked the first time a first-year school pulled off the feat since Sto-Rox in 1966.

11-Kiski Area (5-5) at 6-Thomas Jefferson (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Thomas Jefferson High School Stadium, Jefferson Hills

Last week: Kiski Area 42, Armstrong 34; McKeesport 28, Thomas Jefferson 7

Winner plays: At 3-Montour (9-1) in quarterfinals Nov. 10, 7 p.m.

Kiski Area appears to be getting hot at the right time, riding a three-game winning streak into the playoffs while perennial power Thomas Jefferson is looking to bounce back after last week’s loss to the rival Tigers. … Kiski Area senior defensive lineman Tavian Wilson had 1.5 sacks, four tackles, a blocked extra-point and recovered a fumble for a TD in Friday’s must-win game against Armstrong. It was an impact game on senior night for a player who missed time the past two years with injuries. The Cavaliers finished tied for third in the Greater Allegheny Conference at 3-3. They averaged 23.8 points while allowing 28.9. QB Carson Heinle has thrown for 1,585 yards and 17 TDs and run for 468 yards and four scores. Running back Landon Kucic has 826 rushing yards and 11 TDs. … Thomas Jefferson has used a two-QB system with Brody Evans (1,116 yards, 10 TDs) and Luke Kosko (836 yards, 7 TDs). A balanced group of running backs have combined for more than 1,500 yards for an offense that averages 38.5 points per game. The Jaguars’ defense allows just 11.4 points per game.


Playoff seasons: 22

WPIAL playoff record: 6-20

Last playoff game won: 1990 first round, 29-13 over Armstrong Central

Championships won: 1 (1971)

Fun fact: Kiski Area defeated Thomas Jefferson, 16-8, for the 1971 Class 3A title at Pitt Stadium. It was their only meeting.


Playoff seasons: 35

WPIAL playoff record: 69-24

Last playoff game won: 2022 quarterfinals, 21-6 over Latrobe

Championships won: 10 (1980, 2004, 2006-08, 2015-17, 2019-20)

Fun fact: TJ has made the playoffs 29 straight years, a WPIAL record it shares with Aliquippa.

Class 3A first round

12-South Park (6-4) at 5-Knoch (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Knoch Knights Stadium, Saxonburg

Last week: West Mifflin 35, South Park 0; Knoch 40, Valley 0

Winner plays: At 4-East Allegheny (8-2) in quarterfinals Nov. 10, 7 p.m.

Both teams are looking for long-awaited playoff victories. … South Park finished fourth in the Western Hills Conference at 3-3 under first-year coach head Brian Abbey. The Eagles are led by Zach Ludwig, a Michigan commit who has thrown for more than 800 yards and leads the team in tackles. Running back Eric Doerue has gained more than 1,300 yards and scored 11 TDs. The Eagles average 21.7 points and allow 22.0. … Knoch rebounded from a 1-9 season to finish second in the Allegheny 6 Conference at 4-1. The Knights averaged 24.4 points behind QB Codi Mullen, who threw for 213 yards and three scores last week. Ethan Alwine added 68 rushing yards and three scores against Valley.


Playoff seasons: 21

WPIAL playoff record: 18-19

Last playoff game won: 2011 semifinals, 9-7 over Franklin Regional

Championships won: 1 (1978)

Fun fact: Knoch and South Park have never played.


Playoff seasons: 21

WPIAL playoff record: 14-18

Last playoff game won: 2019 first round, 32-27 over North Catholic

Championships won: 3 (1955, ’97, 2005)

Fun fact: South Park was known as Snowden Township High School until 1966.

Class 2A first round

12-Burrell (4-6) at 5-Mohawk (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Mohawk Stadium, New Castle

Last week: Apollo-Ridge 37, Burrell 33; Neshannock 13, Mohawk 7

Winner plays: Winner of 4-Imani Christian (7-2)/13-Waynesburg (7-3) in quarterfinals Nov. 10 (time, site TBD)

This game will be a contrast of Burrell’s run-based offense and Mohawk’s passing attack. … The Bucs rode the legs of running Devin Beattie this season. The senior has gained 1,140 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Tyler Maglisco, Stephen Hasson and Cooper Hornack have also helped carry the load for the Bucs, who finished fifth in the Allegheny Conference after averaging 18.9 points and allowing 23.9. They enter the playoffs on a three-game losing skid. … Mohawk had a eight-game winning streak snapped last week at Neshannock. The Warriors finished second in the Midwestern Athletic Conference at 6-1. They averaged 33.5 points behind QB Jay Wrona, who completed 113 of 193 passes for 1,875 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. He is among the WPIAL’s top 10 passers. His top targets are Bobby Fadden (604 yards, 15 TDs) and Daunte Retort (460 yards, 6 TDs). Running back Justin Boston has gained nearly 800 yards on the ground.


Playoff seasons: 21

WPIAL playoff record: 16-16

Last playoff game won: 2005 first round, 26-7 over Mars

Championships won: 4 (1967, ’68,’86, ’95)

Fun fact: Mohawk will be the 81st different school that Burrell has played.


Playoff seasons: 9

WPIAL playoff record: 3-7

Last playoff game won: 2021 first round, 34-12 over Chartiers-Houston

Championships won: none

Fun fact: Mohawk was formed in 1958 with a merger of Bessemer and Mount Jackson.

Class A first round

14-Leechburg (6-4) vs. 3-Bishop Canevin (8-1)

7 p.m. Friday, North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium, McCandless

Last week: Greensburg C.C. 42, Leechburg 7; Bishop Canevin 48, Carlynton 0

Winner plays: Winner of 6-California (9-1)/11-Jeannette (7-3) in quarterfinals Nov. 10 (time, site TBD)

Leechburg will try to upset a third-seeded Bishop Canevin team that has WPIAL championship aspirations after winning the 2021 title and finishing as runner-up last year. … The Blue Devils finished fourth in the Eastern Conference at 3-3 after falling to GCC last week. They average 31.8 points offensively but have also allowed 26.7 ppg. The offense is led by QB Jayden Floyd, who has thrown for 1,357 yards and eight scores and also run for 1,096 yards and 18 TDs. RB Tim Andrassy and TE Jake Cummings are other top weapons on offense. Cummings has scored 12 touchdowns. … Bishop Canevin has won four straight since a 48-41 loss to Fort Cherry. The Crusaders average 32.8 points with an offense led by QB Kole Olszewski (1,680 yards, 27 TDs). WVU recruit Jason Cross has caught 25 passes for 484 yards and nine scores. Jayden Lindsey and Az’Jaun Marshall are other key pass catchers, and Marquis Carter has run for nearly 700 yards.


Playoff seasons: 9

WPIAL playoff record: 5-5

Last playoff game won: 2021 first round, 28-7 over California

Championships won: 3 (1953, ’65, ’66)

Fun fact: Leechburg is the only Armstrong County school to win a WPIAL football title.


Playoff seasons: 20

WPIAL playoff record: 25-18

Last playoff game won: 2022 semifinals, 49-21 over South Side

Championships won: 2 (1990, 2021)

Fun fact: Canevin won the 1969 title in the old Pittsburgh Area Catholic League.

Freelance writer George Guido contributed.

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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