Big Game Hunting: The Football Fourpack for Championship Saturday

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Wondering what the big games are this week in WPIAL football action? Well if so, we cannot help you, but; if you want to just be better informed once you get to the Party on The Patio with the MSA gang we can do that for you. This Championship Saturday has it all, grizzled vets, newcomers, traditional rivalries, great defenses, and unstoppable offenses, mix in a little time with Mike Azadian at Heinz Field and you have a perfect Saturday to go Big Game Hunting.

WPIAL Class AAAA Championship
#4 North Allegheny Tigers (11-1) versus #7 Woodland Hills Wolverines (9-3) @ Heinz Field Saturday November 27th @ 7:30pm Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1320 WJAS AM by Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis

Folks in attendance Saturday night at Heinz Field for the AAAA championship game will be treated to a very talented pair of running backs, hopefully the field conditions will allow for both of them to showcase their talents on the big stage.

North Allegheny senior running back Alex Papson has rushed for 2360 yards here in the 2010 football season on 290 carries, he has scored 31 touchdowns and maybe most impressive he has only put the ball on the ground four times all season long. Papson has rushed for more than 4000 yards in his high school career but is still searching for a college scholarship because he has a perceived "lack of size" at 5'8'' 180 pounds, we think college scouts should check in with some WPIAL AAAA defensive backs about Papson's size after the way he finishes some of his runs, this kid has it all, speed, quicks, moves and even power.

North Allegheny can throw the ball as well although they certainly would prefer to keep it on the ground. Senior quarterback Mike Buchert has thrown it 103 times on the season completing 48 passes for 862 yards and nine touchdowns, all nice numbers. The not nice number comes in the column under the word interceptions, Buchert has tossed eight picks on the year, not good news heading into a championship game against a very deep, athletic, tremendously ball skilled secondary for the Woody High Wolverines. The Tigers got a boost in their passing and running game in the semifinals when 6'4'' senior tight end returned from an injury to play against the Vikings. Kugler is a difference maker on both sides of the ball up front. Senior wide receiver Dan Slivka is the leading receiver for the Tigers with 22 catches on the year for 494 yards and five touchdowns, Slivka is averaging an impressive 22.46 yards per catch.

The Tigers real mainstay is their defensive prowess; they allow just over seven points per game on average, which is the lowest number in AAAA. Senior linebacker Kevin Cope leads the team with 121 tackles on the year. Cope leads a very athletic linebacking corps for Art Walker that will need to cover the entire field against Woodland Hills running back Lafayette Pitts. The Tigers have 39 sacks on the year led by junior defensive lineman Nate Nachazel and senior defensive lineman Vince Czerniewski with eight each.

Woodland Hills is a lot like North Allegheny in fact really looking at these teams you will see almost mirror images. The Wolverines want to run the ball as well and they also have one of the top backs in the WPIAL in senior Lafayette Pitts, Pitts is a Pitt recruit and will play in the secondary for the Panthers on Saturdays in the fall but he looks right at home in the backfield on Friday nights.

Pitts, nicknamed "The Worm", squirmed his way for 267 yards last Friday night in the Wolverines 24-14 semifinal win over the North Hills Indians; on the year Pitts has now rushed for 1705 yards and 25 touchdowns. The win over North Hills was the eighth straight for George Novak's team that started out 1-3 on the year before righting the ship and starting the winning streak. Part of getting things going was making Lafayette Pitts a fulltime running back and not a defender, and also making his cousin Jevonte Pitts a full time defensive back and not a quarterback. Junior Pat Menifee has done a great job since taking over at quarterback for Jevonte Pitts completing well over 55% of his passes for nearly 700 yards. Meanwhile; Jevonte Pitts has blossomed as one of the best cover corners and hardest hitting defensive backs in the WPIAL.

The Wolverines are beasts defensively as well, allowing only eight points per game in their eight game winning streak. Their defensive front led by Jonathan Johnson, Justin Littlejohn and Quinton Jefferson is very strong and very big and athletic. Their linebackers are great including Juan Price and junior Mike Caprara who leads them in tackles for a second straight year with well over 100.

The Wolverines will be looking for their sixth WPIAL AAAA championship, should they get it they will become the only team in WPIAL history to accomplish that. They won their championships in 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2009. They have been runners-up twice losing to Mount Lebanon in 2000 and McKeesport in 2005.

North Allegheny meanwhile will be looking for their second WPIAL AAAA championship in school history with the first one coming back in 1990 when they beat Butler 9-0. The Tigers have been runners-up four times, most recently in 1998 losing to New Castle 14-7. They were also the victims when Woodland Hills won their first championship in 1996 losing to the Wolverines 22-15.

WPIAL Class AAA Championship
#1 Montour Spartans (12-0) versus #14 Central Valley Warriors (9-3) @ Heinz Field Saturday November 27th @ 4:30 pm Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1320 WJAS AM by
Adam Hoerner and Greg Kuntz

The Central Valley Warriors knocked out the Thomas Jefferson Jaguars last week in the semifinals to continue a remarkable post season run in their first year of existence. The combination of the now defunct Center and Monaca football programs has turned out a very strong club for head coach Mark Lyons, who led his team to through the toughest, deepest section in all of the WPIAL to reach the championship game.

The Warriors prefer to run they have averaged over 200 yards rushing per game and less than 100 yards per game throwing the football. Senior running back Lukas Turley, who began the season as a tight end, now leads the team in rushing with 773 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. Junior quarterback Matt Bradford has completed 37 of 78 passes on the year for 672 yards and 11 touchdowns. Sophomore Robert Foster is a dual threat. Foster has 35 carries for 321 yards and a pair of touchdowns rushing the football. He also has 21 catches on the year for 471 yards and seven more touchdowns, the Spartans will have to account for Foster on every play.

Defensively the Warriors allowed just a skoosh over 12 points per game on the season and have posted a pair of shutouts. As a team they have piled up 57 sacks on the season with Turley leading the way with a team-high eleven. Their leading tackler on the season is senior defensive back Mike Kupper with 109 tackles.

The Montour Spartans are one of the most balanced teams remaining in the WPIAL playoffs the Spartans have tremendous skill guys on offense, led by junior quarterback Dillon Buechel.

Buechel on the year has completed 140 of 227 passes for 2085 yards and 24 touchdowns, but by far the stat that makes head coach Lou Cerro the happiest is a tiny miniscule number, and that number is three, the number of interceptions that Beuchel has thrown on the year.

Buechel has a tremendous corps of receivers to throw to including Devin Wilson (50 catches, 711 yards and 12 touchdowns) , Darren Massey (41 catches 693 yards and nine touchdowns), Arron McGee (16 catches) and Aaron Reed (14 catches).

One of the best weapons Beuchel has at his disposal is junior running back Julian Durden. Durden has caught 13 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield, but where he really helps the Spartans is running the football, he has 239 carries for 1870 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground.

In the defensive backfield Sherrod Naylor and Darren Massey have combined for seven interceptions on the year for the Spartans. The Spartans' defense has 43 quarterback sacks on the season led by Austin Heter with nine and Evan Pass with six. Pass a senior outside linebacker leads the Spartans with 127 total tackles on the season.

Montour won the AA football championship in 1963 and 1964, The Spartans played for the 2007 WPIAL AAA Championship but lost to Thomas Jefferson 34-0. Central Valley in their first year of existence is playing for their first ever shot at a title.

WPIAL Class AA Championship
#1 Aliquippa Quips (12-0) versus #3 South Fayette Lions (12-0) at Heinz Field on Saturday November 27th @ 1:00 pm Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and KDKA FM 93.7 by Paul Paterra and Dan Zangrilli

This match up of unbeaten teams is one a lot of people thought they might see at Heinz Field this season and it appears to have everything anyone could ever want in a football game. The tradition of the Quips and, a team in South Fayette with eye-popping offensive numbers on the season that came oh so close to the "promised land" last year only to be knocked out by…the Quips in the quarterfinals.

Aliquippa has some pretty nice numbers themselves, the Quips on the year have been wracking up over 315 total yards per game on offense.

Quarterback Mikal Hall has completed 75of 117 passes for 1404 yards and 19 touchdowns on the year. His favorite receiver is one of the best athletes in the WPIAL senior Haetaun Mathis who has 27 catches for 591 yards and ten touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Davion Hall has 13 catches for almost 300 yards and six touchdowns.

The best story for the Quips this 2010 season though might be a freshman in Dravon Henry who leads them in rushing with 789 yards on 85 carries, he has also rushed for a dozen touchdowns on the year.

Aliquippa's defense has been very solid in going unbeaten so far in 2010, the Quips are allowing just 7.75 points per game defensively, their defense has allowed only 867 yards through the air all season and they have picked off 13 passes led by Davion Hall and Haetaun Mathis with three picks each. The defense has wracked up 32 sacks led by Richard Lowe and Kalil Seaburn with six each, it is that defense that will be tested by Brumbaugh and company at Heinz Field Saturday.

The Lions have tremendous offensive firepower and also a great defense of their own that sometimes gets overlooked because of the gaudy offensive numbers.

Senior quarterback Christian Brumbaugh has enjoyed a great season at the helm of the Lions, he has passed for 2,723 yards and 37 touchdowns on the year, throwing to a tremendous variety of talented receivers. The receiving corps consists of senior Tyler Challingsworth, his younger brother, junior Zach Challingsworth, junior Tyler Patterson, a very good tight end in Eric Myers and outstanding running back Jeff Davis who has nearly 600 yards receiving on the year.

Davis is also a monster in the running game, he has rushed for 1237 yards on the season and has a combined touchdown number of 22 for the year.

The Lions defense is very good as well allowing just under 16 points per game on the year. Defensive ends Tanner Courtad and Eric Myers really cause opponents offenses tremendous match-up troubles on the edge.

The Quips are searching for their 14th overall title and their sixth in AA. South Fayette is trying for their first AA championship they were champions in single A in 1936 and 1964.

WPIAL Class A Championship
#1 Clairton Bears (12-0) versus #2 Rochester Rams (12-0) @ Heinz Field Saturday November 27th @ 9:37 am Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and KDKA-FM 93.7 by Ken Laird and Lee Mohn

This is the game that everyone has been waiting for since last year when Rochester went for two and the win late in the game against the Bears in Heinz Field only to come up short and watch Clairton celebrate their third championship in the last four years in single A.

How about these stats for the Clairton Bears on the season, in the semifinals against Springdale the Bears had their first victory of the year where they did not get their opponent into the mercy rule rolling clock situation. That is impressive but more impressive than that might be the 196 rushing yards the Dynamos managed to wrack up against the Bears defense, a defense that had allowed, sit down for this, 17, yes 17 rushing yards on the year, let me write that out for you so you can take a moment to digest it. Prior to last week in the semifinals the Clairton Bears had allowed seventeen rushing yards on the SEASON.

That Bears defense has allowed a WPIAL low 26 points on the year which calculates out to just barely over two points per game, they have pitched eight shutouts and never allowed more than seven points in a single game. The Bears have won 27 straight games overall.

Senior quarterback Desimon Green can hurt you with his arm or his feet, the Pitt recruit ran for three touchdowns and hooked up with junior wide receiver Trenton Coles for a 36 yard touchdown pass in the Bears 26-7 semifinal victory over Springdale.

Sophomore running back Karvonn Coles rushed for over a hundred yards in the win. Coles, along with Green, Tyler Boyd and Brandon Small are all over 400 yards rushing on the season for Tom Nola's team.

5'7" 178 pound senior wide receiver Josh Page is the leading receiver for the Bears, heading into the semis he had 37 catches, he is also one of the best defensive backs in the WPIAL with a handful of interceptions.

Rochester plays a little defense of their own, Geno Matsook's defense has allowed a paltry seven points per game on offense and has posted six shutouts on the year. The Rams have made no secret of their desire to get a re-match with Clairton, in fact, they hung picture of the Bears hoisting the 2009 trophy and celebrating in their locker room to motivate them throughout the 2010 season.

Quarterback Jason Adamson has enjoyed a very productive season with over 1000 yards passing on the year. He is joined in the backfield by a trio of tremendous running backs in Nick Tapia, Devon Glass and DeAndre Moon, Moon has missed the last couple games with an injury if he is able to return it would mean a big boost to the Rams' offense. Glass rushed for 154 yards last week in the Rams semifinal win over the Avonworth Antelopes. As of press time Moon remains a day-to-day situation.

Up front is where the Rams hope to control this football game on the offensive and defensive line where they are big and experienced including senior Jesse Battaglia 6'4" 275 pounds. Rochester has been able to run the ball with great success behind that offensive line to the tune of nearly 7 yards per carry, and with most of the same guys playing on the defensive side of the ball they have held opponents to under three yards per rush.

The tradition is here in a big way for both of these teams, Rochester has won a WPIAL single A record seven Championships and Clairton has won four in this classification including three of the last four played.

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