Big Game Hunting for Week Nine 2016

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Thursday, October 27, 2016 | 1:27 AM


The final week of the regular season arrives and things are still a bit murky around the WPIAL, but as always the “Boss” has made it clear and precise, if you have questions about your team and their post season needs or desires, it is laid out here, http://www.msasports.net/articles/2016-wpial-football-playoff-picture. That amount of work can only be a labor of love, and when the boss is doing a labor of love, the worker-bees will almost always do the same. Like the famous line in Remember the Titans, “Attitude reflects leadership”. So, this opening paragraph is dedicated to my colleagues, each of them I know, doing this job because they love it. I have tremendous respect and admiration for them all. I hope our love is coming through to you the fan, in our coverage, and I sincerely believe it is, every week. Let’s go Big Game Hunting!

6 A Southeastern Conference:
#4 Mount Lebanon Blue Devils (4-1)(6-3) vs #6 Bethel Park Black Hawks (5-0)(5-3) Friday October 28th @ 7:30 PM at Black Hawk Stadium on the campus of Bethel Park high school broadcast on WJAS AM 1320 by Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis

The Hawks have won three of four and remain perfect in conference play after last week’s white-washing of Altoona 35-0. The Blue Devils have won five of six and just thrashed Penn Hills last week 56-26.

This game is for the Southwestern title, Bethel wins it outright with a win, Lebo gets a share with a win. Ironically that matters little if at all for these teams. If they were both looking for their first win of the year, this would still be in the running for Big Game Hunting.

The Hawks and senior quarterback Cole Rogers are averaging nearly 30 points per game. Rogers has completed 70 of 111 passes for 1252 yards and nine touchdowns. Rogers’ efforts on the defensive side of the ball for Bethel are huge as well.

Wide out Zachary Taylor has 26 catches for 434 yards and three scores. Jeremy Wodarek and Terron Murphy are a big part of the passing attack as well for the Hawks, the duo has combined for 28 catches and 540 yards on the season.

Murphy is the rusher of the football for the most part with 115 carries for 914 yards and he has scored a team-high eight touchdowns on the year.

The Hawks defense is the best in the conference allowing just 10.6 points per game in conference play.

That defense will be tested by the best offense in the conference.

The Blue Devils are scoring 39 points per game in conference play. James Stocker loves to chuck it for Mike Melnyk’s offense. Stocker has completed 120 of 206 passes for 1653 yards and 14 scores while tossing just five interceptions.

Lebo has a terrific trio of receivers in Jack Young (48 catches 719 yards seven scores), Edgar Parilla (30 catches, 390 yards and six scores), and Patrick Moeller (27 catches, 287 yards and two scores) present a very difficult problem for opposing defenses to solve.

Pay too much attention to the passing game though and the Blue Devils rush game will eat you alive. David Harvey has rushed for 1161 yards and 15 touchdowns in his 164 carries on the year, all of those statistics are team-highs.

5 A Big East Conference:
#6 Franklin Regional Panthers (5-2)(6-2) vs #7 Gateway Gators (5-2)(6-3) Friday October 28th @ 7:00 PM at Pete Antimarino Stadium on the campus of Gateway high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Greg Warnock and Steve Nagler

* Gateway Gators have clinched a playoff berth and can clinch third place with a win over Franklin Regional on Friday. Even if Gateway loses, they have earned a playoff berth by virtue of head-to-head wins over both Kiski Area and Penn-Trafford.

* Franklin Regional Panthers can clinch a playoff spot and third place with a win Friday at Gateway. Franklin Regional can clinch even with a loss IF Kiski Area loses to Armstrong by virtue of head-to-head victory over Penn-Trafford.

I am never above a little copy and paste action when it comes down to explaining the import of a game, the info above is stolen from Don Rebel.

The Panthers started the 2016 campaign with two losses and apparently they did not like it at all. They have responded with six straight wins, and if they make it seven they will be a team on the proverbial roll heading into the playoffs.

The Gators had their four-game winning streak snapped last week falling to McKeesport 34-19.

The Panthers have Simon Behr touching the ball as much as possible. The senior quarterback has completed 46 of 100 passes for 876 yards and 10 scores, he is also their leading rusher with 669 yards and eight scores on the ground this season.

Zane Flynn leads Franklin Regional with 15 catches for 295 yards, he has scored six times.

In addition to Behr on the ground look for these three guys running the ball for Greg Botta, Stephen Johns (65 carries 228 yards), Nick Leopold (45 carries 219 yards), and Tyrese Kohlman (49 carries 163 yards), altogether they have scored nine touchdowns.

The Gators Brady Walker has completed 86 of 152 passes for 1589 yards and 14 scores on the season, he has also thrown just four interceptions.

Jujaun Brisker and Raushaun Tarrant are big-play threats in the passing game for the Gators.

Gateway is scoring 33.7 points per game on the year and allowing just 16.9 points per game.

Senior Dylan Urban is a huge contributor on both sides of the football for the Gators as a runner of the football and one of the team leaders in tackles.

4 A Northwest Nine Conference:
#9 New Castle Red Hurricane (5-2)(5-4) vs #8 Blackhawk Cougars (4-3)(5-3) Friday October 28th at 7:00 PM at Black high school broadcast on WKST AM 1200 and the MSA Sports Network by Mark Schaas and Rob Gregory 

* New Castle Red Hurricane (5-2) can earn a playoff spot with a win at Blackhawk on Friday OR a Montour loss at South Fayette.

* Blackhawk Cougars (4-3) can earn a playoff spot with a win over New Castle on Friday.

So barring a major upset New Castle is in, I believe, despite the fact that Montour is playing very well, South Fayette is just head and shoulders above every other team in this conference this year.

That said nobody wants to back into the playoffs, and make no mistake if the Red Hurricane lose this game and get in, that is what they will be doing. New Castle has lost three of their last four games, including last week’s non-conference tilt to Ringgold 41-27.

Blackhawk saw their two-game win streak snapped last week at Montour 38-14. Now their backs are firmly against the wall heading into this game.

The Cougars have a nice dual threat in senior quarterback Mike Savilisky. Savilisky, listed at just 5’7’’ and 130 pounds on the roster, has completed 65 of 105 passes for 764 yards and rushed for 442 yards on the season. He has accounted for seven touchdowns altogether.

Tyler Hill is the main threat in the passing game for the Cougars with 25 catches for 416 yards, he too has scored seven touchdowns.

The leading rusher for Blackhawk is Kyle Peterson with 565 yards and two scores on 108 attempts for the year.

New Castle has a dual threat at quarterback in Geno Stone he is the leading rusher, and the leading passer for the Red Hurricane. Stone has rushed for 10 scores and nearly 500 yards while passing for another 11 scores and nearly 1000 yards.

Marcus Hooker and Garrett Farah will be the go-to receivers for Stone.

Hooker is also a threat in the rush game, on the season he has scored a team-high 13 touchdowns.

3 A Beaver Valley Conference:
#2 Beaver Falls Tigers (4-1)(7-1) vs #1 Beaver Bobcats (4-1)(7-1) Friday October 28th @ 7:00 PM at Gypsy Glen Stadium on the campus of Beaver high school broadcast on WBVP AM 1230 and the MSA Sports Network by Bob Barrickman and Kerry Lacey

There are a ridiculous amount of scenarios involving this game and this conference and much of that has already been discussed over and over again. Here is the bottom line for this particular football game. Win and you are in the playoffs.

The clarity of it is not lost on either team or either head coach.

Darius Wise and the insane things he is doing on the football field are worth the price of admission for this one alone. Wise, the Bobcats senior quarterback has been nothing short of amazing all season long. He has completed 50 of 69 passes for 741 yards and eight touchdowns.

He has also rushed for 1363 yards and 24 touchdowns, yes he is averaging 38.9 yards per rush attempt for the year, and we are in week nine!!

Christian Hyrb and Micah Weaver have combined for 20 catches for 292 yards and 2 scores.

Tay Williams has 54 carries for 435 yards and five touchdowns on the season for the Bobcats.

Beaver is scoring 44.6 and allowing 19 points per game.

Beaver Falls signal-caller Austin French has completed 45 of 85 passes for 785 yards and nine touchdowns.

Tigers’ leading receiver Derrell Carter has 13 catches for 155 yards.

Make no mistake though, the Tigers want to run the ball and they have been very successful doing it. Beaver Falls has six different rushers who have rushed for more than 100 yards on the year. They are led by Neshaud Akins, who has 82 carries for 657 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns on the year.

Malik Shepherd has chipped in 38 carries for 491 yards and seven more scores.

The Tigers are scoring 37.6 points per game and allowing a conference-lowest, 16 points per game.

2 A Three Rivers Conference:
#1 Steel Valley Ironmen (6-0)(8-0) vs #5 Brentwood Spartans (5-1)(7-1) Friday October 28th @ 7:00 PM on the campus of Brentwood high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sean Saputo and Lou Rood 

* Steel Valley Ironmen (6-0) have clinched a share of the conference championship and can win it outright and finish first with a win at Brentwood on Friday.

* Brentwood Spartans (5-1) have clinched a playoff berth and can earn a share of the conference championship with a win over Steel Valley on Friday.

The Ironmen have been so dominant as to have people asking if anyone can even hang around with them for a half of football. They have mercy-ruled every opponent, they have three shutouts, and their average margin of victory is over 50 points for the season, yikes!

Dewayne Murray has rushed for 1126 yards and 26 touchdowns on the year for the Ironmen and Paris Ford has scored nine touchdowns. Ryan Harper has been solid in getting the ball to his playmakers and not turning the ball over for Steel Valley.

The Spartans have been rock-solid since a week two loss to East Allegheny, winning six games in a row. The problem that may loom for them in their heads is the week seven match-up between East A and Steel Valley in which Steel Valley won 66-0.

Brentwood quarterback Michael Trent has completed 55 of 103 passes for 911 yards and eight scores.

Dorian Bowie leads the Spartans in both receiving and rushing yards. Bowie has 30 catches for 449 yards and has carried the ball 51 times for 440 yards, he has scored a team-high 13 touchdowns on the year.

Evan Vickless has 435 yards rushing and has scored eight touchdowns.

1 A Eastern Conference:
#1 Clairton Bears (6-0)(8-0) vs #2 Jeannette Jayhawks Friday October 28th @ 7:00 PM at McKee Stadium in Jeannette, PA. broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Matt Vandriak and Donny Chedrick

Weirdly for me this game has had some of the luster taken off of it by the way that Clairton manhandled Aliquippa a few weeks ago. I don’t know for sure why that is but it is. I was not shocked at all that Clairton won that game but to do so in such a brutally convincing fashion really stunned me.

Nonetheless it is here a battle for the Eastern conference title, and the top-seed in 1 A heading into the playoffs. On paper the numbers look fairly similar in the way these teams have reached this point, both are unbeaten, both have been very dominant all year long. Clairton’s average margin of victory is 50.4 points per game, Jeannette’s average margin of victory is 45.6 points per game. The Jayhawks defense is the best in the game at 2.7 points per game allowed, they have not allowed a single point since a week two field goal to Leechburg, not a single point!! Clairton’s defense has allowed only 5.1 points per game, they have four shutouts on the season. Yet I don’t think this will be a defensive battle. But thankfully as I have proven in these very pages over and over again, I have no idea what I am talking about.

Noah Hamlin has passed for over 500 yards and rushed for over 500 yards for the Bears this year at quarterback. He has scored 15 touchdowns.

Lamont Wade just keeps Lamont Wadeing, he has rushed for 1410 yards and 20 touchdowns on the year, and continues to be a dominant force in the dominant Bears defense.

Tre Howard is a threat catching and running for Clairton with 177 receiving yards, 313 rushing yards and six scores on the year.

Gio Vonne Sanders is a very good dual threat for the Jayhawks, he has completed 49 of 75 passes for 1143 yards and 18 scores on the year. He has a great presence and awareness of where he and his teammates are on the football field.

Ryan Swinton leads the Jayhawks in receiving with 14 catches for 382 yards he has scored nine touchdowns.

Kareem Hall leads Jeannette in rushing with 62 carries for 751 yards, he is their second leading receiver with 11 catches for 220 yards and has scored 13 touchdowns.

Robert Kennedy is another big time playmaker for the ‘Hawks with 590 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns on the year.

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