Big Game Hunting for Week Three 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 9:38 PM

In my time doing Big Game Hunting I cannot recall any other regular season week in which the top games were so obvious. Week three has it all, consistent Top-Ten battles across five of the six classifications, the two leading passers in the WPIAL, the leading rusher and scorer in the WPIAL, and three of the top six receivers in the WPIAL. All of this saves me the trouble of having to come up with an engaging and interesting opening paragraph, and let’s be honest I was only hitting about .250 at that to begin with so, without further ado, let’s go Big Game Hunting!

6 A Northern Seven
#2 Pine-Richland Rams (1-0)(2-1) vs #3 Penn Hills Indians (1-0)(2-1) Friday September 16th at 7:00 PM @ Yuhas-McGinley Stadium on the campus of Penn Hills high school broadcast on WJAS-AM 1320 and the MSA Sports Network by Bob Orkwis and Johnny Lee

So far both of these teams has had to go outside the state of Pennsylvania for find a team that could beat them. The Indians loss came in week zero to Canada Prep Academy. The Rams also  lost in week zero falling to St. Edward of Ohio.

Since returning to WPIAL competition both are perfect Pine-Richland with victories over Mount Lebanon and Seneca Valley under their belt while the Indians have handled Butler and Canon-Mac.

This game determines which of these teams is most likely to challenge Central for the Northern Seven title.

There will be a lot of footballs flying around the Bill Fralic Center Friday. The starting quarterbacks in this game through three weeks of football have attempted already 179 passes. A little perspective is what we always like to add here at BGH so, that 179 is the exact same amount of passes McKeesport has attempted since 2012! Yes, that includes this year and yes that number also  includes one year when Eddie Stockett was flinging balls for the Tigers.

Pine-Richland is scoring 40 points per game behind Notre Dame recruit Phil Jurkovec. Jurkovec has completed 58 of 87 passes for 1004 yards and nine scores on the season while tossing just a single interception. He is also the leading rusher for the Rams with 254 yards and five scores on the ground.

Junior wide receiver Ray Falcone has 16 catches for 396 yards on the season for the Rams and he has scored five touchdowns. Junior running back Jordan Crawford also has 16 catches, his total 199 yards, he has also rushed for 149 yards and he has scored a pair of touchdowns.

Cam Tarrant, the Indians’ junior signal-caller has completed 67 of his 92 passes for 1078 yards and 17 scores, he has tossed just four interceptions on the year. Tarrant is also a threat to run he is the 2nd leading rusher for the Indians with 98 yards on the ground.

Junior wide out Julian Major has 18 catches for 282 yards and six scores, he leads the Penn Hills Indians in each of those categories.

Cam Jeffries and Davion Stephens have combined for 23 catches, 385 yards and three touchdowns in the Penn Hills passing attack.

Terry Smith gets the bulk of the work in the Indians running attack. The 5’10’’ 175 sophomore has 33 carries for 160 yards and has scored five touchdowns.

Maybe the team that comes up with the best rushing attack that keeps the other offense off the field for long periods of time has an edge in winning this aerial battle.

5 A Big East
#6 Gateway Gators (2-0)(2-1) vs #5 Armstrong Riverhawks (1-0)(3-0) Friday September 16th at 7:00 PM @ Armstrong high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sean Meyers and Don Chedrick

The Riverhawks played an instant classic with McKeesport  winning 43-42 in overtime last week and it is available to watch anytime on the MSA Sports Network as an archived Spotlight Game of The Week. Running back Zane Dudek rushed for 301 yards and four touchdowns and also scored the game winning two-point conversion in overtime to keep the Riverhawks perfect. Making it even more remarkable, Dudek did all of that with a cast on his broken, yes broken, right arm.

Dudek actually thought he was out for the season with the broken arm but has not missed anytime yet. The 5’10’’ 195 pound senior leads the entire WPIAL in rushing with 841 yards in 91 carries he also leads the WPIAL in scoring with 14 touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Mike Lohte has completed 19 of 39 passes for Frank Fabian’s Armstrong club. Lohte has thrown four interceptions and a touchdown.

Senior wide receiver Shawn Giddings leads the Riverhawks in receptions with nine for 114 yards and a score, his touchdown in overtime set up Dudek’s heroic two-point conversion moment against McKeesport.

Gateway seems to have figured some things out after losing in the debut of new head coach Don Holl the Gators have rattled of two impressive wins. Rolling Latrobe and Connellsville by a combined score of 104-7.

Junior quarterback Brady Walker has completed 24 of 41 passes for 444 yards and four scores on the season.

Walker has plenty of playmakers to try and get the ball to including Dylan Urban who has a pair of touchdown catches and is averaging nearly 50 yards per catch for the season. Urban and Walker will also be big parts of the rushing attack for the Gators. Also keep an eye on senior Ahman Wilson as Gateway will try to get him into open space with the ball any way they can.

The Gator defense is second in the Big East in terms of points allowed giving up just 14.3 points per game so far in 2016.

4 A Big Nine
#4 Belle Vernon Leopards (2-0)(2-0) vs #3 Ringgold Rams (2-0)(2-0) Friday September 16th at 7:00 PM @ Joe Montana Stadium on the campus of Ringgold high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Kyle Dawson and Sean Saputo

The Leps and Rams get set to go at it Friday night winner will join Thomas Jefferson and now it seems the West Mifflin Titans in the hunt for that Big Nine Title.

Belle Vernon has been in cruise control through the first two weeks of their 2016 campaign with mercy-rule wins over Albert Gallatin and Uniontown. Average margin of victory for the Leopards so far is 44-7.

Senior quarterback Mike Fine is a solid dual-threat player. Fine has completed 11 of 22 passing attempts for 152 yards and is still looking for his first touchdown pass of 2016. He has rushed the ball 13 times for 117 yards and scored five touchdowns.

Senior Timmy Labuda is Fine’s number one target he has caught 6 passes for 73 yards on the season.

The Leps will run it with a nice one-two punch in senior Nick Hall (14 carries, 116 yards and three scores), as well as junior Derek Cevoski (9 carries for 169 yards).

Defensively, Belle Vernon comes after the football, they have turned it over to their offense six times in two games. Junior Derek Thomas has two of their five fumble recoveries.

Ringgold has a dual-threat quarterback of their own in senior George Martin. Martin has completed 15 of 24 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns without throwing a pick. He has also rushed for nearly 100 yards and scored a touchdown as well.

Max Maciejewski and Dalton Holt have combined for 15 catches for 180 yards and together they have scored four times.

On the ground Brenden Small is having a big year the junior has 33 carries for 426 yards and six touchdowns, leading the Rams in all of those categories.

3 A Beaver Valley
#7 Quaker Valley Quakers (0-0)(2-0)  vs #1 Beaver Bobcats (1-0)(2-0) Friday September 16th at 7:30 PM @ Gypsy Glen Stadium on Pat Tarquinio Field on the campus of Beaver high school broadcast on WMBA AM 1460 and the MSA Sports Network by Tom Hays and Bruce Frey

The Bobcats shook up everybody last week when they knocked off Aliquippa ending the Quips 62 game regular season winning streak. This is no week to have an emotional let down though because the Quakers are for real.

Junior Rick Guss was great in filling in at quarterback for Amos Luptak who missed week two due to injury. Guss threw for more than a hundred yards and also rushed for a score and returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in a win over a very, very good Neshannock Lancers team.

No update on the status of Luptak may mean the Quakers will turn back to Guss again here in a Beaver Valley battle with the new number one team in AAA.

The Quakers will rely on a strong experienced defensive line to try and keep this a low scoring close football game.

The Bobcats enter this game coming off the biggest victory in recent memory for what has been a very solid program over the last decade plus. The win over the Quips has changed the talk from, ‘Yes Beaver is very good again but…’ to ‘The Bobcats have a chance to be WPIAL Champions this year’.

Senior quarterback Darius Wise is a difference-maker for Beaver. Wise is the definition of dual-threat. He has completed 10 of 21 passes for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns, he is also the leading rusher for the Bobcats with 303 yards rushing and five touchdowns through two games.

Senior running back Te’Vierre Williams is a playmaker both running and catching the ball for the Bobcats he is averaging 39 yards per catch and has scored a pair of touchdowns.

Micah Weaver leads Beaver in catches  with four. Other than Wise running the football look for Dante Anzevino to get a bunch of carries as well he is second on the team in attempts with 17 carries on the year for 55 yards and a score.

2 A Century
Charleroi Cougars (0-1)(2-1) vs Frazier Commodores (1-1)(1-2) Friday September 16th at 7:00 PM @ Frazier high school broadcast on WMBS AM 590 and the MSA Sports Network by Brian Mroziak and Steve Superick

I know exactly how early it is, but I also know exactly how fast these weeks fly by and the way I have it going in my mind the winner of this game makes the playoffs and the loser is hoping for that wild card in AA and getting involved in the Garner Point System. That’s crazy and nobody wants to be part of it let alone be trying to figure it out. I’m reasonably sure that Don Rebel is the only person in America that understands it, so that makes this a very big game.

Charleroi knocked off their big rival Monessen in week zero, lost to Washington in week one before rebounding big over Southmoreland last week.

The Cougars Geno Pelligrini has completed 15 of 38 passes for 138 yards but hasn’t tossed a touchdown pass, he has rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Dakota Romatino leads the Cougars in receiving with eight catches for 84 yards.

The run game in addition to Pelligrini will feature both Eric Tedrow (31 carries, 154 yards one touchdown) and, Brayden Milhalcin (20 attempts, 145 yards two touchdowns).

The Commodores dropped their first two games to McGuffey and Burgettstown but responded when they had to with a big section win over Beth-Center in week two, 21-14.

Senior quarterback Chris Pierce throws it a lot, he has completed 53 of 83 passes for 634 yards and a score and he has not thrown a pick. He is not much for rushing with just eight yards on the season but he has made them count scoring five touchdowns.

Josh Cox has 17 catches for 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns. At 6’1’’ and 170 pounds his size and speed create some match-up problems for AA teams.

Brenna Raygor will be the focus of the Commodores rushing attack with 35 carries for 244 yards and a score.

A Big Seven
#3 Rochester Rams (2-0)(2-0) vs #4 Sto-Rox Vikings (2-0)(3-0) Friday September 16th at 7:00 PM @ Sto-Rox high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Matt Vandriak and Cory Campano

Gene Matsook says the Rams are back and so far he looks right on the money as the Rochy has knocked off Shenango and Summit Academy by a combined score of 77-39 to start the 2016 campaign.

The Vikes have left no doubt that they are a contender for the Big Seven title starting off 3-0 and outscoring their opponents by an average of almost 23 points per game.

Yes I went for the doubt pun very early, wanted to get it out of the way so we can move on and talk about the football teams.

Senior quarterback Brady Doubt is off to an incredible season completing 39 of 58 passes for 717 yards and seven touchhdowns and zero interceptions.

Amir Austin and and LaVaughn Hawkins each have 10 catches for the year, Austin has 279 yards and five touchdowns, while Hawkins has 163 yards and three scores.

They will put a lot of pressure on the Rams secondary.

Davonte Williams and Vincent Eggleton will do the load of the work in the rush game for the Vikes. The duo has combined for 177 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Jason Ruscitto’s defense is allowing just over 15 points per game on the season.

The Rams have, like so many do nowadays a dual-threat quarterback in senior Ian Kouba. Kouba has over 500 combined yards on the season. He has completed 10 of 20 passes for 298 yards and four scores. Very impressive average yards per completion there at nearly 30 yards per hook-up.

Kouba also has a team high in rushing attempts with 29, rushing yards with 209 and touchdowns with five.

Caleb Collins is averaging 35 yards per catch in the passing game for the Rams. Chrish Hays is the second leading rusher for Rochester with 122 yards and a touchdown so far.

The Rams are giving up almost 20 points per game on defense a number Coach Matsook knows they need to improve upon if they hope to win a conference title. Big test coming up this Friday on the road, no doubt about that. Yeah that was one for the road!

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