Big Game Hunting – The Football Fourpack for Championship Saturday

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 | 1:33 PM

So Saturday is your chance to come to Heinz Field and meet the MSA Sports crew. Find the guy who mispronounced your son or daughter’s name and let him have it. Find the guy or girl who left your club out of Big Game Hunting or Chix Picks and let them have it. Find the guy who completely credited someone else with your kid’s touchdown run, or tackle, and let them have it. Find the person who completely messed up the stats and flip-flopped the years when they were talking about your team in the playoff pairings show or on the round table and let them have it! Find the guy who clearly missed the fact that the ball had touched the ground and you saw it with your own eyes and let him have it. Find the guy who was so insane as to drop your club down in the top-ten after a close loss. Come loaded with your questions and your righteous indignation and your accusations. Be ready to let it fly, but also be ready to meet about thirty of the most dedicated, intelligent, funny, caring people you will ever meet. People whose only reason to be doing what they are doing with their Friday nights and Saturday afternoons and lunch breaks is, to get it right because they love it. Thirty people who will be wearing their red MSA jackets, and black MSA t-shirts with as much pride as the kids they are covering have when they wear their game jersey to school on Fridays. They will be easy to find. Letting them have it once you actually meet them might not come so easy. If it is me your find, or are looking for, be gentle, I am getting old, my vision is lacking, and the memory fades fast, things get jumbled quickly in there. I am looking forward to the memories we will make on Saturday and hoping they will last. Let’s Go Big Game Hunting, I know I won’t get a single “Hey you picked the wrong game this week” email.

#4 Woodland Hills Wolverines (10-2) vs. #2 Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings (12-0) Saturday November 23rd at 2:00 PM @ Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Lanny Fratarre, Lou Rood, Dan Zangrilli, Lee Mohn and Brandon Showers, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and the Woodland Hills Sports Network by Bob Orkwis and Fred Guy

George Novak takes his club to Heinz Field in search of their sixth WPIAL Championship and their first since 2009. The Wolverines were runners-up last year falling to North Allegheny in this game. Woody High has surged since losing their first two games of the regular season and they got two big touchdowns from Trevon Mathis in their semis victory over USC. Mathis caught an 80 yard touchdown pass from Harry Randall and returned the 2nd half kickoff 96 yards for another Woody score.

The Wolverines were buoyed emotionally by the return of Miles Sanders to their backfield Friday. Against a tough USC defense he rushed 17 times for 55 yards and a touchdown. For the season Sanders now has 120 carries for 1071 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Harry Randall at quarterback for the Wolverines is a very solid dual threat and picked up a lot of slack while Sanders dealt with that injury. Randall has completed 47 of 97 passes for 816 yards and nine touchdowns. He has also rushed for 727 yards and a dozen scores.

Woody High won their five WPIAL championships in 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002 and, 2009.

Central rolled in the semis over Penn-Trafford but lost senior running back Luigi Lista-Brinza again to an injury, no word yet on how he is progressing and his chances of playing at Heinz Field on Saturday. Riley Redman has been fabulous when called upon to fill for Lista-Brinza in the past. Redman has compiled 1016 yards on the ground in 103 carries and scored 13 touchdowns so there is not much drop-off when he is called upon to replace List-Brinza who has 1274 yards on 154 carries and has scored 15 touchdowns.

Florida State recruit and Central senior quarterback, J.J. Cosentino does not throw it a lot, five times all-told in the semis. He has completed 36 of just 74 passes for the 2013 campaign for 655 yards and a dozen touchdowns.

Fullback Devin Fallon is a hardnosed runner who pounds it for the Vikings in short yardage spots and this kid really fits the style of head coach Terry Totten.

The Vikings are in search of their fourth WPIAL title and their first since 2007. Central’s defense is one of the best I have seen in my 10 years of doing high school football games, and linebacker Nikko Thorpe leads the charge for the Vikes on that side.

Central Catholic took home WPIAL gold in 2003, 2004, and 2007.

This game is a rematch of the 2001 WPIAL Championship in AAAA won by Woody High 41-6.

#3 Central Valley Warriors (11-1) vs. #1 West Allegheny Indians (12-0) Saturday November 23rd at 8:00 PM @ Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Matt Vandriak , Greg Warnock, Bob Orkwis, Paul Paterra and Mike Krcil, also Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA-FM 95.3 by Bob Gregg and Nate Regotti, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP-AM 1230 and WMBA-AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman, Tom Hays and Bruce Frey, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WKPL-FM 92.1 by Sam Hall and Mark Schaas

These teams met in week five of the regular season with West Allegheny eeking out a hard-fought 13-7 win over the Warriors. Chayse Dillon ran for 103 yards and a touchdown in the win for the Indians. The wise Bob Palko told the gathered media masses after the win “You have to tip your hat to Central Valley we will probably see them again.” As usual, Bob Palko was right.

 These are two very evenly matched teams, since Central was born they have both won a WPIAL championship in AAA, Central Valley in 2010 after losing to West Allegheny in the regular season, and West Allegheny in 2012 after losing to Central Valley in the regular season. The series is tied at two wins each with Central Valley holding a slight scoring edge at 75-66, the games have been low scoring and hard-fought, expect more of the same come Saturday.

Central Valley will play for their 2nd WPIAL championship in just their fourth year of existence. Central Valley has reached at least the semis in every year since the school opened.

The Warriors added an impressive win over the 2nd seed Thomas Jefferson Jaguars to their 2013 resume in the semi-finals with quarterback John George throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another in the win.

West Allegheny meanwhile will be in search of their 7th WPIAL Championship and their third in a five year span. The Indians won their WPIAL championships in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2009, and 2012.

They are also similar in their style of play. Hard, tough defense is the hallmark of both these teams as well as fabulous running attacks. They will bring two of the top three scoring defenses in AAA to Heinz Field in this game with Central leading the classification allowing just 7.3 points per game and West Allegheny third allowing ten points per game exactly.

The running attack for the Warriors is three pronged with JaQuan Pennington, Jordan Whitehead and quarterback John George combining for nearly 2000 yards on the ground and 38 touchdowns.

Ryan Roberson and George are key defensive players for Central Valley, Roberson’s interception return for a touchdown was the only Warrior score in the week five loss in Imperial, and George has had a pair of key, late game-deciding interceptions here in the 2013 playoff run for Central Valley.

West Allegheny has not lost to a WPIAL team since losing to Central Valley in week five of the 2012 season, a string of 20 straight WPIAL wins is on the line for Bob Palko’s team Saturday.

Quarterback Andrew Koester has completed 82 of 129 passes for 1363 yards and 19 touchdowns, while only tossing a single interception on the season.

Chayse Dillon and Tory Delmonico will share time at the wildcat quarterback position for the Indians, the duo has combined to rush for 1838 yards and 31 touchdowns. Dillon leads the way in yardage with 1146, while Delmonico has the bulk of the touchdowns with 18.

#2 South Fayette Lions (12-0) vs. #1 Aliquippa Quips (12-0) Saturday November 23rd at 5:00 PM @ Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Mike Sackley, Adam Hoerner, Dan Zangrilli, Gero Von Dahn and Mike Azadian, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA-FM 95.3 by Bob Gregg and Nate Regotti also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP-AM 1230 and WMBA-AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman, Tom Hays and Bruce Frey, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WKPL-FM 92.1 by Rob Matzie and Johnny Lee

The Aliquippa Quips return to Heinz Field for a sixth straight time, now in an effort to extend their record for WPIAL championships to 16, against a team that beat them in this venue in 2010. Interestingly both teams have exactly 12 players on their team that were dressed for this game back in 2010, but for Aliquippa those 12 are from an original freshman class in 2010 that had 13 kids in it, for South Fayette there were 23 kids in the class freshman class back in 2010 and just 12 remain. I guess it is possible that is only interesting to me, but I am sometimes an over-sharer.

Both of these teams have been incredibly dominant during this season. The Quips outscored their opponents by an average margin of 37 points while the Lions won by an average of 42 points per game. South Fayette sports the best points allowed per game average in the WPIAL this season at five. The Lions have 17 interceptions as a team.

Aliquippa gets it down on the ground with a pair of the best running backs in the WPIAL in Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson, Henry scored the Quips only touchdown in the 2010 loss to South Fayette. Henry and Swanson have both contributed greatly to the Aliquippa tradition in their four years. Both are over 4000 yards rushing for their career. This season Henry has rushed for 1135 yards and 26 touchdowns while carrying 79 times. Swanson has rushed it 117 times for 1540 yards and 20 touchdowns on the year. Gaudy stats for guys splitting time and, frankly not playing a lot in any fourth quarters, gaudy stats indeed.

Through the air the Quips will look to quarterback Darrien Fields who went over 1000 yards for the season in their semi- finals romp over the Beaver Bobcats. Fields has now completed 66 of 94 passes for 1113 yards and 16 touchdowns all while only throwing a single interception, in a run-centered offense.

Nayo Seaburn and Jaleel Fields were freshmen on the 2010 Quips team that lost to South Fayette, they were big parts of the battle in the trenches in that game, they have become even bigger parts of the battle that will take place in the trenches this Saturday at Heinz Field.

South Fayette is going to throw the football, and whether or not the Quips can get to Brumbaugh will have a huge amount to do with the outcome of this football game. Brumbaugh got sacked by Beaver Falls once last week, it was the fourth time he was sacked all season long. The offensive line for the Lions has been nothing short of fantastic.

The same can be said of Brumbaugh who has completed 172 of 267 passes for 2781 yards and 31 touchdowns and thrown five interceptions, pretty good ratio if you like 6’5’’ quarterbacks with a rocket-like arm.

Brumbaugh has great weapons and vision, his two favorite receivers are Conner Beck and Justin Watson. The senior duo has combined to catch 111 balls for 1957 yards and score 24 touchdowns on the year.

Running back Grant Fetchet is tough as well, despite carrying just five times in the semi-finals Fetchet has 136 carries and 1103 yards on the season and has scored a team-high 19 touchdowns.

#2 Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans (12-0) vs. #1 Sto-Rox Vikings (12-0) Saturday November 23rd at 11:00 AM @ Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Josh Rowntree, Lee Mohn, Don Rebel,Troy Clardy and Pete Blais

Championship Saturday kicks-off with a battle of unbeaten teams in single A. For the first time since 2008 we know the champion will not be the Clairton Bears.

The Vikings dethroned the champions in the semi-finals with a come from behind win 24-19 Lenny Williams rushed for a touchdown and returned an interception for a touchdown in the win.

Sto-Rox will be searching for their third WPIAL football championship with the first two coming in 1966 and 1987, the Vikings reach the championship game for a third straight season falling here in 2011 and 2012 to the Clairton Bears.

The Vikings now have the WPIAL’s all-time leading passer in Lenny Williams guiding them and Williams has been everything we expected coming into this 2013 campaign. Williams has complete 12 of 183 passes for 2506 yards and 34 touchdowns. He can hurt you with his feet as well as his arm he has rushed it 104 times for 535 yards and a dozen touchdowns.

Williams spreads it around, there are six Vikings with double-digits in catches for the season led by Mallory Claybourne with 39 catches for 985 yards and 16 touchdowns.

On the ground the Vikes will rely heavily on senior Brendan Blair who has amassed 747 yards on the ground as well as scoring a team-high 17 touchdowns. Blair is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield where he has 17 catches for 239 yards.

North Catholic has ratcheted the defense up in a big way this season for head coach Bob Ravenstahl. The Trojans are the only team in our championship Saturday in search of their first ever WPIAL football championship. The Trojans in fact are playing in the title game for the first time in school history. They had reached the semi-finals twice before this season under eighth year head coach Bob Ravenstahl.

In week eight the Trojans lost their starting quarterback Adam Sharlow for the season, Sharlow was one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the WPIAL. P.J. Fulmore has stepped in and really taken the bull by the horns. Fulmore a tailback, (and a great one by trade), has been tremendous in quarterbacking the Trojans since the third quarter of that week eight game against Neshannock. He was dominant in the Trojans semis win over the same lancers team rushing for 202 yards and four touchdowns in that game.

Despite missing the better part of half the season with his own injury Fulmore has rushed for 831 yards and scored 13 touchdowns on the 2013 campaign. The Trojans will pound and pound and pound then Fulmore will hit tight end Ronnie Meder or wide receiver Ryan Kirby for a big pass after you have stacked 10 guys in the box to try and stop the run.

Jared Fragapane and Jerome Turner and Eric Timbers will get touches on the ground behind what Bob Ravenstahl says is “just a fantastic high school offensive line”.

The key to this game will be on the defensive side for both teams, can the Vikings stop the Trojans running game without committing 9 or 10 to the box? If they can they will have an edge. Can the Trojans contain Williams’ arm or his legs? If they can find a way to make Sto-Rox one-dimensional, the Trojans will have the edge. Either way this game sets up as a fabulous way to get championship Saturday started.

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