Big Game Hunting for Week Ten

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Thursday, November 3, 2016 | 11:16 AM


As we embark on the ‘Highway to Heinz’ or the Road to RMU I feel like we should all wear helmet decals in the postseason to honor the Beaver Bobcats, who in one Friday night; go from the number one team in the state of Pennsylvania in 3 A, to not in the playoffs. We need to keep a “Captain’s pick” spot open like they do in golf for the Ryder Cup team. Now we make our way towards the championships on the MSA Sports Network, huge games every week, as always send your complaints about those not included in BGH to @JohnnyLee@msasports.net as he takes over the complaint department for all playoff moaning. So with that out of the way we can get set to go postseason Big Game Hunting.

6 A Quarterfinals:
#5 Pine-Richland Rams (6-4) vs #4 Bethel Park Black Hawks (5-4) Friday November 4th @ 7:30 PM at Black Hawk Stadium on the campus of Bethel Park high school broadcast on WJAS AM 1320 and the MSA Sports Network by Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis

The Rams are still getting over the loss of Notre Dame recruit, and all-world quarterback Phil Jurkovec, but they did win two of their final three games of the regular season. It is possible they are missing Jurkovec more on the defensive side of the football as they are allowing over 26 points per game for the season. They will need to improve on that number to make it deep into a postseason run.

For sure the play at quarterback has been pretty solid for the Rams, Max DeVinney in his four weeks of filling in has completed 68 of 134 passes for 1045 yards and six touchdowns. That is rock-solid.

Ray Falcone continues to be the leading receiver for the Rams with 48 catches for 1043 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

Jordan Crawford bridges the gap in P-R’s rush and pass attack with 34 catches for 434 yards and 123 rushes for 700 yards, he has scored a team-high 16 touchdowns on the year.

Bethel will need to rebound from a disappointing home-loss to Mount Lebanon that cost them sole-possession of the Southeastern Conference title.

Cole Rogers at quarterback has been great all season completing 87 of 144 passes for 1438 yards and 11 scores. He is also the second leading rusher on the season for Jeff Metheny’s Hawks with 296 yards and seven scores on the season.

Zach Taylor is the main target for Rogers’ throws, Taylor has caught 32 passes for 499 yards and three socres on the year. Jeremy Wodarek is a big part of the passing game as well for BP with 17 catches for 369 yards and four touchdowns.

Terron Murphy is the dual threat guy for Bethel, he is their leading rusher with 134 carries for 990 yards and also has 15 catches for 202 yards and has scored a team-high eight touchdowns.

The Hawks defensively are allowing over 18 points per game on the season. Winner moves into the semi-finals on the MSA Sports Network.

5 A Quarterfinals:
#5 Franklin Regional Panthers (7-2) vs #4 Woodland Hills Wolverines (8-2) Friday November 4th @ 7:30 PM at The Wolvarena in Turtle Creek, PA broadcast on the Woodland Hills Sports Network and the MSA Sports Network by Adam Gusky and Fred Guy

The Panthers are one of the hottest teams in the WPIAL with a seven-game winning streak coming into the playoffs including a week nine 24-19 win over Gateway. Woody High rebounded from a thumping in week eight by West Allegheny to get a week nine win over Upper Saint Clair 28-21.

The Panthers’ Simon Behr has amassed 1,777 all-purpose yards and is responsible for 20 touchdowns on the year. Behr has completed 52 of 111 passes for 1,021 yards and 12 scores, while also being the leading rusher for Franklin Regional with 756 yards on the ground.

Zane Flynn has 18 catches for 351 yards and six scores, Bennett Verona has 10 catches for 258 yards and three scores.

Aside from Behr look for Nicholas Leopold and Stephen Johns to contribute in the rush attack for the Panthers. The duo has combined for 550 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

The Wolverines have used two quarterbacks very well on the season. Daniel Jones and Mike Whiteherse have combined to complete 44 of 108 passes through week eight for 851 yards and three scores.

Avram Abramovitz is the leading receiver for Woody High with 15 catches for 392 yards he has scored a total of five touchdowns on the year.

On the ground Ja’Jaun Hill is the workhorse with 98 carries for 696 yards and 11 touchdowns. Saeed Holt is a playmaker who has 75 carries for 557 yards and a team-high 14 scores on the season through week eight.

The Panthers allow 15.4 points per game on the season while the Wolverines have given up 19.4 points per game on the year.

4 A Quarterfinals:
#6 Ringgold Rams (7-2) vs #3 Mars Planets (8-2) Friday November 4th @ 7:30 PM at Mars Athletic Complex on the campus of Mars Area high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Scott Briggs and Dave Bacon

The Planets finished on a three-game winning streak in the regular season topping the 40-point mark in all those games and enter the postseason on the proverbial roll.

Ringgold won their final four games of the regular season including a tough win over West Mifflin and they too appear to be clicking on all cylinders.

Ringoold quarterback George Martin has had a fantastic year throwing the football, the senior has completed 106 of 183 passes for 1,805 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is big, strong and possesses both great vision and a big arm.

Max Maciejewski leads the Rams with 42 catches for 727 yards and five scores receiving. Also look for Dalton Holt to catch a bunch of balls, Holt has 35 catches for 547 yards and has scored four touchdowns.

On the ground for Ringgold it’s the Branden Small show, Small has 102 rushes for 825 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.

The Rams defense allowed nearly 23 points per game on the year but they have trimmed that number to 18.5 points per game during their four-game win streak.

The Planets will stick on the ground for the most part. Quarterback Noah Wright has completed 14 of 51 passes for 383 yards and three scores, but throwing is not what Mars wants to do.

Isaiah Johnson and Garrett Reinke on the ground behind a confusing rushing attack and a big, strong experienced offensive line is the strength of the Mars offense.

Johnson has 184 carries for 1264 yards and 18 touchdowns. Reinke adds 119 carries for 926 yards and nine more touchdowns. It’s not a grind you down rushing attack it’s a big-play rushing attack, with both players averaging nearly seven yards every time they touch the ball.

Scott Heinauer’s defense has been stout all season allowing a second-best in the Northwest Nine conference 16.1 points per game.

3 A Quarterfinals:
#6 Apollo-Ridge Vikings (7-3) vs #3 Keystone Oaks Golden Eagles (8-1) Friday November 4th @ 7:30 PM at Dormont Stadium in Dormont, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Dan Zangrilli and Johnny Lee

Our first rematch of the season in Big Game Hunting features two of the most talented players in the WPIAL.

Duane Brown of Apollo-Ridge and Alex Smith of Keystone Oaks will meet again and once again each of them will be the focal point for their opponent’s defensive game-planning.

K.O. handled Apollo-Ridge in week seven at Apollo-Ridge 49-21. Smith threw for 287 yards and five touchdowns in the Eagles winning effort. Brown rushed for 112 yards and caught five passes for 49 yards and pair of scores in the loss for Apollo-Ridge.

Neither team has lost since that game, the Eagles have won now five in a row and the Vikings have a two-game win streak.

For the season Smith has completed 159 of 247 passes for 2628 yards and 28 touchdowns. He now has 44 touchdown passes for his career, the all-time record at Keystone Oaks. He has also rushed for a team-high 824 yards and 15 touchdowns on the year.

Nick Hrivnak is the top receiver for the Eagles, and not just this season with his 56 catches for 801 yards for eight touchdowns in 2016, Hrivnak is now the all-time record holder for receptions and receiving yardage at K.O..

Quran Powe has been a great addition to the Eagles offense in four weeks since being declared eligible he has 21 catches for 489 yards and four scores. Dylan Knorr in the slot is a very difficult match-up for defensive secondaries already dealing with Hrivnak and Powe. Knorr has tremendous speed and toughness, he has 39 catches for 648 yards and six scores.

Devin Thomas is a dual threat running and catching the ball out of the backfield, he has 570 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns on the year.

The Vikings quarterback Kyle Fitzroy has hooked up on 99 of his 182 passes for 1714yards and 21 touchdowns.

Despite not playing until week four Brown is by far the leading receiver for the Vikings with 30 catches for 570 yards, he has also rushed for 446 yards and scored a total of 18 touchdowns.

Brett Coleman is the leading rusher for the year for the Vikings with 116 carries for 644 yards and he has scored seven touchdowns.

Look for Coleman and Brown, and Kyle Fitzroy to be the keys to this game for the Vikes. They’ll need long time-consuming drives to keep that potent K.O. offense off the field if they hope to avenge that week seven loss.

2 A First Round:
#9 Laurel Spartans (7-3) vs #8 Chartiers-Houston Buccaneers (7-3) Friday November 4th @ 7:30 PM at Chartiers-Houston high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Jason Kern and Zach Waters

While I sympathize with the tremendously difficult job the football playoff steering committee has, and salute the amazing job I believe they do year in and year out, this one has me stuck. The Bucs were two games better than Burgettstown in the Century conference and beat the Blue Devils head-up during the season as well, how they are seeded an eight and Burgettstown a six just mystifies me. But it matters not what I or even what Chartiers-Houston thinks, what matters is how they respond to the adversity.

Laurel sails into the playoffs on a three-game win streak. The Bucs snapped a two-game slide with a 14-6 win over Frazier in week nine.

The Spartans are pretty balanced in their offensive attack, quarterback Will Shaffer has completed 69 of 161 passes for 1136 yards and 10 touchdowns. He will need to be more careful with the football though as the Bucs have a strong secondary, and linebacking corps and he has thrown 13 interceptions on the season.

Jordan Dantico and Isici Layne are the go-to receivers for Shaffer, Dantico has caught 34 passes for 579 yards and scored six touchdowns. Layne has chipped in with 21 catches for 324 yards and a pair of scores.

On the ground Spencer Jones gets the bulk of the work for Laurel with 165 carries for 630 yards and seven scores.

The Spartans defense gave up 19.1 points per game on the season up in the Midwestern conference.

The Bucs defense allowed just 16.9 points per game on the season in the Century conference.

Senior quarterback T.J. Johnston has completed 88 of his 180 passes for 1354 yards and a dozen touchdowns.

Johnston’s top target is another senior A.J. Meyers, Meyers has 33 catches on the year for 662 yards and nine touchdowns. He will also run the ball occasionally he is the 2nd leading rusher for the Bucs with 120 yards on the ground.

The Bucs will get the ball into the hands of four-year starter at tailback Spencer Terling as much as possible. Terling has rushed 142 times on the year for 815 yards, and scored a team-high 10 touchdowns.

Fullback Matt Whitfield has 119 yards rushing for the season. Whitfield and Terling anchor a very strong linebacking corps for Terry Fetsko’s Bucs.

1 A First Round:
#9 Sto-Rox Vikings (6-4) vs #8 Fort Cherry Rangers (8-1) Friday Noverber 4th @ 7:30 PM at Fort Cherry high school broadcast on WJPA FM 95.3 and the MSA Sports Network by Mark Uriah and Bill Dukett

The Rangers lone loss of the entire season came in week eight on the road at Carmichaels and it cost them in the seeding of the playoff bracket for 1 A. The Vikings had their three-game win streak snapped in week nine falling to OLSH 27-18.

Sto-Rox quarterback Brady Doubt is a big strong tough kid and having a great year. The senior has completed 72 of 117 passes for 1190 yards and 11 touchdowns, he has also rushed for 161 yards and a pair of scores.

Doubt has a pair of favorite targets in Amir Austin and LaVaughn Hawkins both have 23 catches for the year, Austins have resulted in 490 yards and seven scores, Hawkins for 375 and nine touchdowns.

Davonte Williams leads the Vikes in rushing yards with 294 and four touchdowns.

Fort Cherry has made the most of junior quarterback Rhyan Culberson this season. The Junior is a tremendous dual threat. He has rushed for 867 yards and 19 touchdowns while throwing for another 617 yards and 12 scores.

Scott Miller (15 catches 448 yards 10 touchdowns) and Devon Brown (13 catches 167 yards and three touchdowns) are the meat of the receiving corps for Fort Cherry.

If Culberson doesn’t run it himself look for Zach Vincente to take the handoff, he has 48 carries for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

The Ranger defense allowed a TCS low 13.1 points per game on the year. Sto-Rox playing in a tougher Big Seven conference allowed just over 24 points per game.

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