Big Game Hunting: The Football Fourpack for Week 12

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Week 12 is upon us and, other than down in single A it is genuinely difficult to say there is a clear cut favorite to win WPIAL gold in any classification. A trip to Heinz Field is on the line here in the Semifinals, the limited amount of games makes the choice easier now… but the casual listener will be challenged in choosing where to click Friday night, that is why everything is archived @ www.msasports.net so you can go back and take in anything you missed. Here are the big games in each classification for week twelve.

WPIAL Class AAAA Semifinals:
#3 North Hills Indians (10-1) versus #7 Woodland Hills Wolverines (8-3) @ Pine-Richland High School Friday November 19th @ 7:30pm Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1320 WJAS AM by Sam Hall and Justin McKim also broadcast on MSA and the WHSN by Adam Gusky, also broadcast on MSA and RZM by Alex Panormios and Rick Smith

This is a re-match of a week two game that the Indians found a way to win 7-0, looking back now that seems like such a long time ago. That week two loss was one of three losses George Novak's team suffered in the first four weeks of the season. Since then, they have rattled off seven straight wins including last week's thrilling overtime victory over the two seed in AAAA Mount Lebanon 29-22.

North Hills meanwhile played a thriller of their own in the quarterfinals hanging on late to defeat the Upper Saint Clair Panthers 16-14. The Indians made a dramatic run as a twelve seed to the semifinals in 2009 before being ousted by Gateway 42-20. This year is different as the third seeded Indians are not sneaking up anyone.

Taylor Schmidt (44 of 69 for 533 yards and five touchdowns) and Steve Dutkowski (57 of 101 for 903 yards and seven touchdowns) have combined to make a very impressive tandem at quarterback for the Indians. Schmidt is also a tremendous attribute running the football, in fact he is the Indians leading rusher with 607 yards on 93 carries plus ten touchdowns, The combined offensive yards for Schmidt and Dutkowski totals 2048 for the year.

The Indians also have a pair of special receivers in Mark Devita and Brody Zangaro, both have 33 catches on the year, Devita for 661 yards and eight touchdowns and, Zangaro for 347 yards and a pair of scores.

Defensively Zangaro is a huge contributor as well for the Indians with 92 tackles, 12 passes defensed and five interceptions on the year. Bill Sommers has 91 tackles on the year including 11 for a loss for a very tough Indian's defense that shut out Woody High in week two.

The Wolverines are not that same team from nine week ago Lafayette Pitts has overcome some early season nagging injuries and appears back at 100%, the same thing has occurred for a couple of other playmakers for Woody High on both sides of the football.

Junior Pat Menifee has stepped in late in the season at quarterback for the Wolverines freeing up senior Javonte Pitts to focus on the defensive side of the football where he does his best work in the secondary for the Wolverines, along with his cousin Lafayette.

The defense is very impressive on paper and in real life. In their six game winning streak leading to the quarterfinals the Wolverines had allowed only 28 points total. They have by my count five division one talent kids playing for that defense.

Jevonte and Lafayette Pitts in the defensive backfield will both play on the next level. Then in their front seven, Quinton Jefferson, Ejaun Price and junior Mike Caprara will be big time Saturday players in the future as well.

WPIAL Class AAA Semifinals:
#2 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (10-1) versus #14 Central Valley Warriors (8-3) @ North Allegheny High School Friday November 19th @ 7:30pm Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA FM 95.3 by Bob Gregg and Mark Uriah also broadcast on MSA and WMBA AM 1460 by Jim Frederick and Bruce Frey

For the 13th straight year the Thomas Jefferson Jaguars will play in the WPIAL semifinal round of the playoffs. The Jags are the two seed in this post season, but oddly since a week one loss to Cocoa high school from Florida they have been kind of "flying under the radar". But make no mistake they are very, very good.

Senior quarterback Ryan Crouse has split time at quarterback for much of the season with junior Dom Presto but played the entire quarterfinal game against Hopewell and was fantastic, completing 9 of 15 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns in the 38-28 win. On the season Crouse now is 46 for 81 for 819 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.

When head coach Bill Cherpak wants to hurry up he may go to left handed junior Dom Presto who has completed 40 of 67 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns on the year, and has thrown only one interception.

Thomas Jefferson can keep it on the ground to beat you as well, junior Ryan Ruffing has carried the football 133 time for 840 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Senior T.J. Matrascia has been splendid rushing the football as well, rolling up 668 yards and 13 touchdowns on 120 carries on the year.

Defensively the Jags are as stout as ever. As a team they have accumulated an impressive 32 sacks on the year led by senior defensive end Jake Bronder's eight. Junior linebacker Bruno Natter is the leading tackler for Thomas Jefferson with 51 tackles on the year.

Central Valley is the Cinderella story in these semifinals as a 14 seed but a closer look reveals that the Warriors were the fourth place team in easily the best conference in the entire WPIAL, the Parkway so it is not too shocking that Mark Lyons' team finds themselves with a shot at reaching Heinz Field.

The Warriors do it on the ground since getting Lukas Turley in at running back, Turley a senior has rushed for 702 yards and seven touchdowns, but he is not the only threat to rush the football for Central Valley. Junior Aaron Law has carried it 96 times for 360 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore Robert Foster has also been a big part of the running game with 230 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Foster doesn't stop there, he is also the leading receiver for Central Valley on the year with 18 catches for 414 yards and four touchdowns to his credit.

Since losing quarterback Curtis Lewis to injury on October 15th, the Warriors have relied on junior Matt Bradford to handle the quarterbacking duties, Bradford has completed 31 of 69 passes for 559 yards and eight touchdowns.

Defensively the Warriors allowed just a skosh over 12 points per game on the season and have posted a pair of shutouts. As a team they have piled up 51 sacks on the season with Turley leading the way with a team-high ten. Their leading tackler on the season is senior defensive back Mike Kupper with 101 tackles.

WPIAL Class AA Semifinals:
#1 Aliquippa Quips (11-0) versus #4 Ford City Sabers (11-0) at Seneca Valley High School Friday November 19th @ 7:30pm Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Kenny Laird and Matt Steinhiser

The Ford City Sabers got a tremendous statement win in the quarterfinals forcing six Seton-LaSalle turnovers and advancing to face the top seed Aliquippa in the semifinals.

Ford City is averaging over 214 yards rushing per game on offense and that might be the best way to try and counteract the outstanding quick-strike capability of the Quips juggernaut.

The Sabers have tremendous diversity in their offensive attack three solid running backs and another big time playmaker in senior quarterback Cody Gispanski. Gispanski has completed 54 of 89 passes for 838 yards and nine touchdowns, but he is also a contributor with his legs rushing for 413 yards and seven touchdowns.

The three running backs in the mix for the Sabers include a pair of seniors in Mike Krochta (125 carries, 501 yards and 12 touchdowns) and Kent Commodore (77 carries for 631 yards and 11 touchdowns), as well as a sophomore in Devan Willyard who has rushed for 611 yards and nine touchdowns on 119 carries.

The Sabers defense has amassed 23 sacks on the year with Beriah Good leading the way with six and a half of those. They have also done a nice job in the secondary coming up with 17 interceptions on the year with Cody Gispanski grabbing six.

Junior quarterback Mike Hall has been fantastic for the Quips on the season including three touchdown passes in the quarterfinal win over Beaver, in which he threw three touchdown passes. On the year Hall has completed 74 of 112 passes for 1393 yards and 19 touchdowns.

There are plenty more playmakers for the Quips both young and old, freshman running back Dravon Henry rushed for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Aliquippa's 41-0 opening round win over Shady Side Academy. Senior running back Ben Cobb is one of the best running backs in the WPIAL.

The list of playmakers for the Quips on either side of the football seems to never end. Davion Hall, Darius Walker, Haetaun Mathis, on and on… all of them are capable of burning you and turning a football game in a completely different direction at anytime from any where on the field a single touch is all they need to do so.

The Quips defense has come to life her in the post season as well after not posting a single shutout through the entire regular season, Aliquippa has put up back-to-back clean sheets to begin their 2010 playoff push.

WPIAL Class A Semifinals:
#1 Clairton Bears (11-0) versus #5 Springdale Dynamos (10-1) @ Yough High School Friday November 19th @ 7:30pm Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Matt Vandriak and Jonathan Whaley

The Bears are officially the scary monster of the WPIAL, can anyone give them any kind of contest?
Clairton is on a 26 game winning streak. The defending WPIAL and PIAA Champions are the number one team offensively for the season in the WPIAL scoring an impressive 52 points per game on average.

They counter that statistic by being the number one defensive team in the WPIAL on the season allowing an astonishingly low 1.7 points per game. Put the calculators away I did the math for you the Bears allowed 19 points all season long, including never more than 7 in a single game and eight shutouts.

More than one opposing coach has said they are the best single A football team they have ever had the chance to witness.

The playmakers are plenty for Tom Nola including senior quarterback Desimon Green who is averaging over 24 yards every time he completes a pass. For the regular season Green was 50 of 79 for 1168 yards and 19 touchdowns his favorite target is Josh Page.

Tyler Boyd scored 14 touchdowns on the regular season for the Bears with Josh Page reaching pay dirt 13 times, Page caught 32 passes for over 700 yards in the regular season.

Springdale meanwhile has quietly rolled along since a week two loss to Avonworth 26-10 the Dynamos have rattled off nine impressive wins in a row to reach the semifinals. The Dynamos are in the midst of their ninth straight playoff appearance under head coach Chuck Wagner, but they may be facing one of their toughest challenges ever as well.

Make no mistake, Springdale has played impressive football on both sides this season. They are averaging allowing just 10.5 points per game on defense and they are the tri-champs of the toughest conference in single A the Eastern.

The Dynamos have been tough for opposing teams to stop offensively with a four headed monster rushing the football out of the "Wing-T". Springdale rolled up a lot of points on the year in fact 36.3 points per game which is the fourth best number in single A. Junior quarterback Joe Killian, senior wingback Bill Arch and running backs, junior Chris Liberto and sophomore Sean Dugan are running all over the place on every play for the Dynamos. Finding out which one has the ball and the way to stop him should be a bit more of a challenge for the Bears than they have faced all season long.

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