2014 Big Game Hunting – The Football Fourpack for Week 10

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Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 4:11 PM


We live for the Highway to Heinz at Big Game Hunting. A short week of preparation for a do or die game puts coaches, players and yes, broadcasters to the test. But the accepting the challenge is enough! Teddy Roosevelt put it best – “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Man I would have loved to go Big Game Hunting with Teddy! I get the feeling he would have loved four 8 v 9 games, “Bully!”

AAAA:  # 8 Altoona Mountain Lions (7-2) vs  # 9 Bethel Park Black Hawks (6-3) Friday October 31st at 7:30 pm @ Mansion Park in Altoona, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network AND WFBG 1290 AM by Charlie Weston and Jim Abbott

The Hawks have rattled off three straight and six out of seven since starting the season with a two game losing streak. The health of junior quarterback Levi Metheny is a big issue for the Hawks going into this game he has missed the past game and a half for the Hawks with an ankle injury. Also Jacob Dixon has been dinged up, missing time. Both of those players have had a full two weeks to recuperate, the Hawks will hope to have them as they make the long ride to Altoona.

Metheny has been the heart of the Hawks offense the last couple seasons. The junior this year has completed 78 of 135 passes for 958 yards and eight touchdowns while throwing three interceptions. He is great at throwing on the run and a big strong kid who is hard to get to the ground. If Metheny is still out, sophomore Cole Rogers will take over at quarterback. In limited duty Rogers has completed 5 of 15 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

If the Hawks have to focus more on the ground the extra lifting will come from senior running back Alex Minton who has already carried 205 times for 1109 yards while scoring 15 touchdowns.

Jake Lewis, Jake Dixon and Charlie Davis are the playmakers from a receiving standpoint for Bethel Park. The trio has combined for 37 catches and 563 yards in the passing game, and has scored nine touchdowns.

Defensively linebackers Connor McGinnis and Alex Minton anchor a very strong front seven.

Altoona will be hosting a WPIAL playoff game for the first time ever in Mansion Park. The Mountain Lions ride a five game winning streak into the game.

Senior quarterback Devin Miller has been steady completing 56 of 107 passes for 712 yards and six scores, he has thrown five interceptions and will need to be aware of a very athletic Bethel secondary.

The kid who might make a drive to Altoona important for a lot of college football coaches is senior running back Eli Mencer. Mencer, has all the right measurables at 6’2” and 200 pounds, and he has piled up the numbers in his senior year rushing 174 times for 1315 yards and also making nine catches for 151 yards. He has scored 19 touchdowns on the year.

Senior fullback Kevin Givens has chipped in with 279 yards and six touchdowns on the year and he has carried the lead blocker role out to perfection for head coach John Franco.

AAA:  # 8 Indiana Little Indians (6-3) vs # 9 West Mifflin Titans (6-3) Friday October 31st at 7:30 pm @ Indiana Area High School Football Field on the campus of Indiana high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WDAD AM 1450 by Jack Benedict, Bill Otto and Bruce Weber

This is a great match-up featuting one of the best running teams in the WPIAL against one of the best passing teams. The Little Indians wwant to throw it all over the lot and the Titans will keep it on the ground Friday night.

The Little Indians feature the top passer in AAA and the top-two receivers in the classification. Junior quarterback Jake Zilinskas has completed 100 of 181 passes for 1494 yards and 21 touchdowns on the year and he has only thrown four interceptions.

Zilinskas is very choosy and he cooses the Stapleton brothers, of his 100 completions 90 are to the duo of Riley and Dylan Stapleton. Senior Riley has caught 59 passes and junior Dylan has hauled in 31. Riley has accounted for 866 yards and 11 touchdowns while Dylan has chipped in with 427 yards and nine score sof his own.

The Little Indians will throw it a lot, Dylan Stapleton is their leading rusher on the season with 11, yes 11 attempts for 146 yards.

Indiana’s defense has struggled at times this season allowing more than 20 points per game, it will be tested by the ground game of the Titans.

The Titans defense has had their own problems this year and they will also have their hands full facing by far the most prolific passing game they have seen.

The Titans will try to keep the Indiana offense off the field with a ground game featuring the top rusher in AAA, in fact the top rusher in all of the WPIAL in senior DiAngelo Mitchell. Mitchell has carried the ball 187 times for a league-high 1595 yards and has scored 24 touchdowns on the season.

Junior quarterback Karlyn Garner also chips in on the Titan rush attack with 436 yards and six touchdowns.

The Titans will pass the ball a little more than the Indians will run it. Garner has completed 39 of 87 passes for 608 yards and five touchdowns on the year to go along with four interceptions.

Senior wide out Kevin Garback is the leading receiver for the Titans with 11 catches for 242 yards.

AA:  # 8 Beaver Bobcats (7-2) vs # 9 South Park Eagles (7-2) Friday October 31st at 7:30 pm @ Pat Tarquinio Field on the campus of Beaver high school broadacst on the MSA Sports Network

The depth of the field in AA is impressive, once you get past the top two seeds really it appears that every other game features the possibiity of some sort of upset. That only serves to emphasize how evenly matched this 8 v 9 game looks to be on paper. This is apair of very good football teams.

The Bocats have won three in a row and one of their two losses came against two seed Aliquippa. The Eagles have won six straight since starting 1-2 and one of their losses is to the one seed South Fayette.

South Park has a great dual threat at quarterback in senior Nick Scholle, Scholle has rushed for 803 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 32 of 71 passes for 434 yards and another four scores.

Harry Zaremba is the favorite target for Scholle with a dozen catches on the season for a pair of scores, he is also a ball-hawk in the South Park secondary.

Adam Staudt and Ty Washington round out the rushing game for Tom Loughran. Staudt has 492 yards and five touchdowns in 74 carries. Wahington has emerged as a big-play threat anytime he can get his hands on the ball. The junior has 350 yards rushing in just 48 attempts and has scored four times. He is also a special teams nightmare that opponents have to watch out for.

The Eagles a huge up front and will try to grind out the game behind 6’6” 270 pound Ryan Podgorski and Stefan Savic, 6’2” 260 pounds.

The Bobcats will counter with a pretty balanced attack. Zach Royba, senior quarterback has been very good, completing 62 of 141 passes for 1099 yards and 13 touchdowns all without throwing an interception.

Sophomore Darius Wise is on his way to becoming a big-time star, Wise has caught 11 passes for 263 yards, an average of almost 24 yards per catch. He has scored a team-high 21 touchdowns and also rushed for 699 yards.

Pat Hannigan is a great receiver as well with a team-high 17 catches for 216 yards and four scores.

A:  # 8 Frazier Commodores (8-1) vs # 9 South Side Rams (6-3) Friday October 31st at 7:30 pm @ Frazier Stadium in Perryopolis Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network

Second place in the Tri-County South carries a little bit of stigma. The conference has struggled going 0-4 three straight seasons in the playoffs. Frazier and TCS Champion Beth-Center are the conference’s best hope to get off that slide.

The Commodores are mostly a run-oriented team with sophomore Alvin Ross leading the way on the ground. Ross has 94 times for 974 yards on the year and has scored 12 touchdowns. Frazier has three other plays above or near 200 yards rushing on the season including junior quarterback Hunter Patterson.

Patterson has rushed for 201 yards and a dozen scores. He has also completed 45 of 78 passes, a nearly 60% completion rate for 873 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The Commodores have a pair of solid receivers in Tim Carson and Ethan Weiser, the duo has combined for 35 catches, 692 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

South Side has been a great story in 2014, the Rams were 0-9 in 2013 and have spun that ugly year completely around here in 2014. They had a winning streak of four in a row after an opening week loss to Neshannock and have impressive victories over Fort Cherry, Western Beaver and Riverside on their resume.

The future looks bright for the Rams as well, sophomore quarterback Robert Heberle has completed 42 of 92 passes for six scores and 771 yards on the year.

Junior Cameron Smith is their best receiver with 25 catches for 452 yards, he has scored a pair of touchdowns.

The running game is anchored by Nathan Block who has been dominant at times with 1451 yards and 19 touchdowns on the year. Block is backed-up by a junior in Quae’Shawn Thompson who has rushed for almost 400 yards as well.

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