A-K Valley don’t-miss high school football matchups for Week 1

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Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 9:51 PM


Here’s a look at some don’t-miss matchups in the A-K Valley for Week 1:

Class 5A northeast

Fox Chapel at No. 1 Pine-Richland

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

The Foxes and Rams meet for the first time since 2015 when both were members of the Northern Eight Conference in the old Quad-A classification. … Pine-Richland made the move from class 6A in the offseason. The Rams went 10-2 overall and lost to Central Catholic in the WPIAL final at Heinz Field. Pine-Richland has a large senior class led by quarterback Cole Spencer and 1,000-yard receiver Eli Jochem. … Fox Chapel is gunning for back-to-back WPIAL playoff appearances, and veteran players such as juniors Justin Rice, Zidane Thomas and Lorenzo Jenkins lead the way. Jenkins caught 36 passes for 511 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago.

Class 4A Greater Allegheny

Highlands at Knoch

7 p.m. Friday, Knights Stadium, Saxonburg

Knoch has won three of the last four meetings with Class 4A conference rival Highlands since the PIAA went to six classifications before the 2016 season. The Knights won 24-0 last year. … Sophomore Chandler Thimons is back at quarterback to lead Highlands, which finished one game out of a WPIAL playoff spot last year. Running back Brock White collected 809 yards as a sophomore. … Knoch hopes for a return to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Knights were kept out of the postseason on a tiebreaker the past two years. The Knights have six starters back on offense and five back on defense. Look for senior Keith Washington and junior Keagan Fraser to be big names in the triple-option offense. Washington rushed 82 times for 458 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Plum at Greensburg Salem

7 p.m. Friday, Offutt Field, Greensburg

Plum moves down a class and is looking to improve on a three-win season. First-team all-conference linebacker Max Matolcsy, a Penn recruit, leads the Mustangs. He had 138 tackles last season. Also back is quarterback Jake Miller (810 yards), who suffered a knee injury against Latrobe late last season. … Lineman Evan Azzara (6-foot-6, 290 pounds) is a Miami (Ohio) commit, and Reed Martin is one to watch at receiver and defensive back. … Holding steady at 699 wins, Greensburg Salem is itching to play well and achieve the program’s long-anticipated 700th victory. Only four other programs (Jeannette, New Castle, Aliquippa and Washington) have reached the milestone. … Leading rusher Alex Briggs returns after gaining 621 yards on 108 carries. Left guard Billy McChesney helps anchor a mostly experienced line, and new quarterback Hayden Teska will lead the offense.

Class 3A Allegheny Seven

Deer Lakes at Freeport

7 p.m. Friday, Freeport Area Athletic Stadium, Sarver

The conference rivals meet with Freeport hoping to extend a nine-game winning streak in the series. Deer Lakes last won in 2010. … The Lancers have new faces at several positions this year. Senior Bruce Allman and junior Cody Scarantine will handle the rushing duties, and junior Fletcher Hammond and freshman Derek Burk have competed to take over at quarterback for the graduated Aris Hasley, the Alle-Kiski Valley’s all-time passing leader. … Sophomore Zach Clark will start at quarterback for Freeport. He replaces junior Garrett King, who will miss the 2020 season (medical reasons). Sophomore Ben Lane is the team’s top returning rusher and receiver from. … The Yellowjackets, with a young roster, hope to return to the WPIAL playoffs after missing by one game in the Big East standings last year.

Class 2A Allegheny

Ligonier Valley at Apollo-Ridge

7 p.m. Friday, Owens Field, Apollo

Ligonier Valley makes its much-anticipated return to the WPIAL at the home of a veteran Vikings squad that hosted a WPIAL Class 2A first-round playoff game last year. … The Rams, who spent the past five decades in District 6, won 96 games the past 10 seasons, went 51-4 the past four years and captured district Class 2A titles in 2016 and ’17. … Ligonier Valley graduated 16 seniors from last year’s 12-1 squad. Junior wide receiver Matt Marinchak (26 catches, 453 yards, 8 TDs in 2019) is a key returning starter. … Apollo-Ridge owns depth at several positions. Experience is found with seniors Jake Fello at quarterback, Klay Fitzroy and Keighton Reese at wide receiver and Logan Harmon at running back. Harmon tallied 1,415 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last year.

Class A Eastern

Greensburg C.C. at Leechburg

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

The Centurions and Blue Devils played one of the wildest games of the 2019 season. GCC came out on top 42-41 in triple overtime. Leechburg rallied from a 21-7 deficit in the fourth quarter. … Leechburg is expected to unveil a high-octane, pass-based offense led by senior quarterback Dylan Cook (949 passing yards, 8 TDs in 2019). … The Blue Devils finished 5-5 last year, its second non-losing season in a row after a streak of losing seasons dating to 1991. Leechburg averaged 27.4 points a game last year. … Greensburg Central Catholic will pass and run behind an offensive line that averages 255 pounds. David Altimore brings experience at quarterback. Last season, he completed 108 of 185 passes for 1,118 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Riverview at Springdale

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

The conference rivals meet in a rare season opener. The teams originally were scheduled to close the regular season. The Dynamos blanked the Raiders, 33-0, last year to clinch a winning season (6-4). … Springdale junior quarterback Legend Ausk returns to the field after missing the majority of the 2019 season with a collarbone injury. Multi-faceted senior Dmitri Fritch led the team in passing last year (433 yards, 7 TDs). Fellow senior Cavin Kinder and juniors John Utiss and Logan Dexter hope to be factors on both sides of the ball for the Dynamos. Kinder led the team in tackles last year (84). … Trevor George makes his head-coaching debut for Riverview. The Carlynton graduate spent last year as an assistant at Blackhawk. The Raiders, who boast 40 on their roster after having just 23 last year, last qualified for the WPIAL Class A playoffs in 2016. Junior Dean Cecare tallied 70 carries for 288 yards last year.

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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