A-K Valley’s don’t-miss high school football matchups for Week 5
By: Michael Love
Wednesday, September 26, 2018 | 4:48 PM
Class 5A Big East Conference
Penn-Trafford (3-2, 3-1) at Plum (1-4, 0-4)
7 p.m. Friday, Mustangs Stadium, Plum
Last week: Penn-Trafford 70, Albert Gallatin 0; McKeesport 54, Plum 0
Coaches: John Ruane, Penn-Trafford; Matt Morgan, Plum
Top players: Niko Rosso, Penn-Trafford (Sr., 6-1, 210, RB/LB); Billy Guzzi, Plum (So., 5-7, 155, RB/DB)
Keep an eye on: Dimitri George, Penn-Trafford (Sr., 5-10, 175, WR/DB)
Momentum: Penn-Trafford. After an 0-2 start, the Warriors have been on a tear, winning 57-3 over Connellsville, upsetting No. 3 McKeesport, 20-9, and trampling Albert Gallatin, 70-0.
Four downs: 1. The Warriors took a 56-0 lead into halftime last week. Running backs Caleb Lisbon and Sam Fanelli each scored two touchdowns. 2. Rosso had a 12-yard interception return for a score in the rout of the Colonials. The Warriors’ defense has been impressive. 3. Plum opened with a 32-14 win over Highlands but has struggled since, with lopsided defeats against conference powers Gateway and Franklin Regional, and also Connellsville. 4. The Warriors have platooned two quarterbacks at times in junior Gabe Dunlap and sophomore Ethan Carr.
Extra point: The 70 points were the most scored by the Warriors under Ruane.
Class 5A Northern Conference
Hampton (1-4, 0-4) at Kiski Area (3-2, 2-2)
7 p.m. Friday at Kiski Area’s Richard J. Dilts Field
On the air: Hampton Talbots Sports Network; TribHSSN.triblive.com
Last week: Fox Chapel 27, Hampton 6; Penn Hills 64, Kiski Area 28
Coaches: Jacque DeMatteo, Hampton; Sam Albert, Kiski Area
Top players: Max Obenrader, Hampton (Sr., 5-10, 180, QB); Ryne Wallace, Kiski Area (Sr., 6-5, 205, QB)
Keep an eye on: Garrett Polka, Kiski Area (Jr., 6-0, 190, WR/S)
Momentum: Despite the loss to No. 2 Penn Hills last Friday, the Cavaliers hope to move back above .500 in conference play. The Cavaliers are in third place in the Northern Conference behind Penn Hills and North Hills.
Four downs: 1. Wallace, with his 214 passing yards and two touchdowns last week now has 1,229 yards for the season to go along with 11 TDs. He is fourth in the WPIAL in total passing yards. 2. Hampton has six combined points the past two weeks after averaging 23.7 over the first three. 3. The Cavaliers hope to move to 4-0 in games at their new home field. 4. Jack Colecchi ranks eighth in the WPIAL in receiving yards with 416 to go along with three touchdowns.
Extra point: Kiski Area and Hampton played from 1984-89 as members of the Greater Allegheny Conference. The Cavaliers won five of the six games.
Class 4A Northwest Eight Conference
Highlands (1-4, 1-2) at Ambridge (1-4, 0-2)
7 p.m. Friday at Moe Rubenstein Stadium, Ambridge
Last week: Highlands 40, Beaver 19; Knoch 56, Ambridge 0
Coaches: Dom Girardi, Highlands; Terry George, Ambridge
Top players: Seth Cohen, Highlands (Sr., 6-2, 194, QB/S); Mason Osborn, Ambridge (Jr., 6-4, 205, QB/OLB)
Keep an eye on: Cam Taylor, Highlands (Sr., 5-10, 132, RB/LB)
Momentum: The Golden Rams got into the win column for the first time last Friday, and they hope to make it two in a row both overall and in conference play.
Four downs: 1. With his 279 passing yards last week against Beaver, Seth Cohen surpassed 1,000 yards (1,077) for the season to go along with 10 touchdowns. 2. Ambridge wasn’t able to get anything going against Knoch and trailed 41-0 at halftime. The Bridgers have scored just six points in their four losses. 3. The 40 points scored last Friday wasn’t Highlands’ biggest output of the season. The Golden Rams tallied 42 in a 49-42 Week 1 loss at Keystone Oaks. 4. Ambridge is hoping to snap an 18-game conference losing streak that dates back to Week 1 of the 2016 season. The streak started with a 56-6 loss at Highlands.
Extra point: The Golden Rams won last year’s meeting, 28-14. It was the most points the Bridgers scored in any of their 10 games in 2017.
Knoch (2-3, 2-2) at Montour (0-5, 0-2)
7 p.m. Friday at Montour’s Thomas J. Birko Memorial Stadium
Last week: Knoch 56, Ambridge 0; Blackhawk 28, Montour 0
On the air: 680 AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com
Coaches: Frank Whelan, Knoch; Lou Cerro, Montour
Top players: Matt Goodlin, Knoch (Jr., 5-9, 180, RB, LB); Luke Persinger, Montour (So., 6-2, 175, QB)
Keep an eye on: Noah Cetnar, Knoch (Sr., 5-8, 165, RB/LB)
Momentum: The Knights averaged 42 points the past two games, both wins after an 0-3 start.
Four downs: 1. Goodlin ran for 140 yards and four touchdowns against Ambridge, and he has seven rushing scores on the season. 2. Montour hasn’t scored a point since the third quarter of a Week 1 loss to New Castle. 3. Knoch is tied for third place with Beaver in the Northwest Eight Conference standings. The top four teams in each of the two 4A conferences qualify for the playoffs. 4. Junior Dom Magliocco leads the Spartans’ defense with 40 tackles and two interceptions.
Extra point: Montour won last year’s meeting 24-14, but Knoch captured the 2016 matchup 12-10.
Class 3A Big East Conference
Yough (3-2, 3-1) at Freeport (1-3, 1-3)
7 p.m. Friday, Freeport Area Athletic Stadium, Freeport
Last week: Yough 35, Burrell 6; Freeport 55, Uniontown 16
Coaches: Scott Wood, Yough; John Gaillot, Freeport
Top players: Dustin Shoaf, Yough (Sr., 6-2, 215, RB/DB); Austin Romanchak, Freeport (Sr., 5-10, 175, QB/DB)
Keep an eye on: Gamal Marballie, Yough (So., 5-11, 170, WR/DB)
Momentum: Yough. Led by Shoaf, the WPIAL rushing leader, the Cougars put up their second straight win to climb into the playoff race.
Four downs: 1. Shoaf, who has 1,216 yards and 14 touchdowns, ran for 401 yards two weeks ago at Deer Lakes. He is has 4,300 career yards. 2. Quarterback Jake Sever threw two touchdowns last week, one to the up-and-coming Marballie, who also ran for a score. 3. Romanchak, a shifty runner for the Yellowjackets, has rushed and passed for more than 400 yards. Last week, he ran for 157 and four touchdowns, and also scored on a 22-yard pick-6. 4. Yough’s defense forced three turnovers against Burrell, including two interceptions. Senior Mason Brunson grabbed his second interception of the season. Junior Russell Pytlak leads the Cougars with eight sacks.
Extra point: Freeport dodged its first 0-4 start since 1994 with a victory last week.
Class A Eastern Conference
Greensburg Central Catholic (3-2, 2-2) at Springdale (0-4, 0-2)
7 p.m. Friday at Veterans Memorial Field, Springdale
Last week: Imani 36, GCC 21; Jeannette 58, Springdale 0
Coaches: Aaron Smetanka, GCC; Seth Napierkowski, Springdale
Top players: Max Pisula, GCC (Sr., 6-2, 212, QB/LB); Josh Jones, Springdale (Sr., 6-0, 180, QB/DB)
Keep an eye on: Tom Voelker, GCC (Jr., 5-9, 175, RB/LB)
Momentum: GCC took Imani, ranked No. 2 in Class A, to the limit last week before suffering the conference setback. The Centurions led 21-20 in the fourth quarter.
Four downs: 1. Voelker scored a rushing and receiving touchdown in the fourth quarter against Imani as GCC rallied from a 20-7 deficit. 2. Three of Springdale’s first four opponents, including Imani in Week 1 and Monessen in Week 2, have spent time in the Class A rankings this season. 3. Pisula left last Friday’s game in the fourth quarter with a bone bruise in his leg, but Smetanka said Monday he is sore but will be good to go for Friday. 4. Christian Vokes, a junior running back, has scored all three Dynamos touchdowns this season.
Extra point: This is the fifth meeting between the two teams in the current conference series. Springdale won three of the first four, including last year’s matchup, 42-25.
Leechburg (2-3, 1-2) at No. 3 Clairton (4-0, 2-0)
7 p.m. Friday at Neil Brown Stadium, Clairton
Last week: Leechburg 41, Riverview 12; Clairton 25, Laurel 12
Coaches: Mark George, Leechburg; Wayne Wade, Clairton
Top players: Jake Blumer, Leechburg (Jr., 6-2, 190, RB/LB); Brendan Parsons, Clairton (Jr., 6-1, 150, QB)
Keep an eye on: Andress Wiggins, Clairton (Sr., 5-10, 155, WR/DB)
Momentum: Clairton has won its first three games by a combined 119-12, and Leechburg got back on track against rival Riverview after losing three straight, including games against Class A No. 1 Jeannette and No. 5 Rochester.
Four downs: 1. Clairton, after shutting out its first two opponents, gave up 12 first-half points to Laurel and led only 13-12 at halftime. But the Bears tallied two second-half scores to pull away. 2. Bret Kardos was a workhorse for Leechburg against Riverview with 16 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Jake Blumer added two rushing scores. 3. Clairton was whistled for 20 penalties for 150 yards against Laurel. 4. The Leechburg defense forced four Riverview turnovers and held the Raiders to 175 yards of total offense.
Extra point: Wiggins leads the Bears with four total touchdowns through Week 4. He caught three passes for 44 yards and a touchdown against Laurel.
Class 5A Nonconference
Upper St. Clair (4-1, 3-1) at Fox Chapel (1-4, 1-3)
7 p.m. Friday at James Burk Athletic Complex, Fox Chapel
Last week: West Allegheny 29, Upper St. Clair 12; Fox Chapel 27, Hampton 6
Coaches: Jim Render, Upper St. Clair; Tom Loughran, Fox Chapel
Top players: Jason Sweeney, USC (Sr., 6-1, 180, QB/DB); Sam Brown, Fox Chapel (Jr., 6-1, 175, RB/WR/DB)
Keep an eye on: Antonio Orsini, USC (Sr., 6-0, 195, RB/LB)
Momentum: The Panthers are tied with West Allegheny atop the Allegheny Eight Conference with 3-1 records, while Fox Chapel broke through last Friday after losses to Baldwin, North Hills, Penn Hills and Kiski Area.
Four downs: 1. Brown helped give the Foxes a boost against Hampton as he carried the ball 19 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. 2. Sweeney has thrown for 585 yards and eight touchdowns and also has one rushing TD. 3. Fox Chapel’s 27 points last Friday was only four less than it had scored over its first four games. The Foxes had been shut out the previous two weeks. 4. Render became the first head coach in WPIAL history to reach 400 wins as the Panthers topped Peters Township, 16-14, on Aug. 31.
Extra point: This is the third straight season USC and Fox Chapel will battle. The Panthers won both last year (28-24) and in 2016 (35-0).
Class 2A Nonconference
Valley (1-4, 0-3) at Freedom (4-1, 3-1)
7 p.m. Friday at Freedom’s Bulldog Stadium
Last week: Steel Valley 42, Valley 0; Freedom 35, Ellwood City 13
Coaches: Muzzy Colosimo, Valley; Russ Barley, Freedom
Top players: Deonte Ross, Valley (Sr., 6-0, 225, RB/LB); Zach Rosa, Freedom (Sr., 5-11, 155, QB/CB)
Keep an eye on: Cody Ross, Freedom (Sr., 5-11, 215, FB/MLB)
Momentum: Freedom bounced back last Friday from its only loss of the season as Rosa threw five touchdown passes, including two to leading receiver Noah Yeck.
Four downs: 1. Rosa has completed 32 of 54 passes for 620 yards and 11 touchdowns against only one interception. 2. Valley has lost four in a row, but the combined record of the four opponents is 15-3. 3. Freedom is limiting opponents to 82.2 rushing yards per game. Ross hopes to change that narrative this week. 4. The last time Valley was shut out was by Apollo-Ridge, 49-0, in Week 2 of the 2014 season, a span of 38 games.
Extra point: This is the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Class 2A Allegheny Conference
Apollo-Ridge (2-3, 1-2) at No. 1 Shady Side Academy (4-0, 2-0)
2:30 p.m. Saturday at Michael J. Farrell Stadium, Fox Chapel
Last week: Avonworth 42, Apollo-Ridge 6; Shady Side Academy 56, Neshannock 14
Coaches: John Skiba, Apollo-Ridge; Chuck DiNardo, Shady Side Academy
Top players: Klay Fitzroy, Apollo-Ridge (So., 6-3, 185, WR/DB); Skyy Moore, Shady Side Academy (Sr., 5-11, 180, QB/CB)
Keep an eye on: Michael “Dino” Tomlin, Shady Side Academy (Sr., 6-0, 175, WR/RB/CB)
Momentum: Shady Side Academy keeps rolling as the No. 1 team in Class 2A.
Four downs: 1. The Indians averaged 53.3 points in their four games, but they are not the highest-scoring team in 2A. Charleroi has that honor at 59.3 per contest. 2. Apollo-Ridge’s remaining schedule, starting Friday, features matchups against three of the top four teams (No. 4 Steel Valley, No. 2 Charleroi) in the WPIAL rankings. The Vikings also play 4-1 Freedom in Week 8. 3. Moore leads the Indians with 732 passing yards and eight touchdowns with 476 rush yards and a score. Tomlin has eight total touchdowns from his skill positions. 4. Apollo-Ridge’s leading rusher and tackler, Logan Harmon, missed Friday’s game against Avonworth with a leg injury. Skiba said they are taking a cautious approach to his return.
Extra point: The all-time series between the teams is tied 8-8.
Class A Eastern Conference
Riverview (0-4, 0-3) at No. 2 Imani Christian (4-1, 2-1)
1:30 p.m. Saturday at Graham Field, Wilkinsburg
Last week: Leechburg 41, Riverview 12; Imani Christian 36, Greensburg Central Catholic 21
Coaches: Todd Massack, Riverview; Ronnell Heard, Imani Christian
Top players: Israel Reed, Imani Christian (Sr., 6-2, 205, QB/LB); Ben Blacksmith, Riverview (Sr., 5-11, 150, WR/CB)
Keep an eye on: Rahmon Hart Jr., Imani Christian (Sr., 6-3, 210, WR/DB)
Momentum: Imani scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns against GCC to turn a 21-20 deficit into a victory, its second close victory after its Week 2 loss to No. 1 Jeannette.
Four downs: 1. Hart Jr., a Ball State verbal commit, hauled in six passes for 156 yards and two scores, including the game winner, against GCC. 2. Riverview was limited to 175 yards of total offense by Leechburg last Friday. 3. Through five games, Reed has thrown for 1,198 yards and 14 touchdowns; 4. Ben Blacksmith’s 12-yard TD reception from Jared Massack in the second quarter against Leechburg ended a seven-quarter scoring drought.
Extra point: Imani Christian won last year’s meeting 66-6. It was a lot closer in 2016 with the Saints coming out on top 30-21.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-388-5825, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.
Tags: Ambridge, Apollo Ridge, Clairton, Fox Chapel, Freedom, Freeport, Greensburg C.C., Hampton, Highlands, Imani Christian, Kiski Area, Knoch, Leechburg, Montour, Penn-Trafford, Plum, Riverview, Shady Side Academy, Springdale, Upper St. Clair, Valley, Yough