Big Game Hunting – The Football Fourpack for Week 16

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 | 8:34 PM

The final Big Game Hunting of the 2013 season is here, and we are delighted that we still have three teams to talk about in week sixteen. For the 11th time in the history of the state playoffs District 7 will be represented by three teams. The WPIAL will be looking to add to their lead in the chase for state championships, the WPIAL enters this weekend with 33 state championships, districts 3 and 4 are tied for second place with 11 championships each. MSA Sports will have you covered from Hershey for all three district teams vying for titles.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic (15-0) vs. St. Joe’s Prep (12-3) Sunday December 15th at 6:00 PM @ Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Mark Schaas and Brandon Showers.

Central Catholic goes in search of their fourth state championship and their first since 2007. St. Joe’s Prep is in search of their first ever state championship in football. The Hawks are the champions of district 12. The Hawks arrive after wins in the state tournament over Frankford, Parkland and Neshaminy. The Hawks play in the Philadelphia Catholic League which last year was named the 6th toughest conference in the United States, in other words the PCL is Philly’s version of our Parkway conference, which is to say, St. Joe’s is battle-tested.

St. Joe’s senior quarterback Chris Martin is the prototypical high-school quarterback we have been seeing the last couple of years. Martin has completed 139 of 213 passes for 2013 yards and rushed for 455 on the year. He has thrown for 24 touchdowns on the year.  

The Hawks do not have a 1000 yards rusher for the year, they are led on the ground by Olamide Zaccheaus who has rushed for 855 yards and caught 29 passes for 387 yards. For the season he has scored 15 touchdowns.

The Hawks bring five players to the party with more than 20 catches on the season, the task for Central will be deciding to cover or get to Martin with the rush before he can check down his impressive list of  receivers. John Reid leads the Hawks in receptions with 37 catches for 615 yards on the year, including 11 touchdowns.

Reid and Rob DiSanto lead a fantastic secondary for the Hawks which has amassed 24 interceptions on the year. Central as we will see momentarily does not throw much. The Hawks did have trouble against the run this year including giving up well over 200 yards on the ground against Neshaminy in the semi-finals.

The Vikes threw the ball 11 times last week, one toss shy of their season-high for 2013. Senior quarterback J.J. Cosentino averages throwing 6.27 passes per game on the year. He has completed 42 of 94 passes for 771 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. Cosentino is a threat to run as well, with 256 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground this season.

Luigi Lista-Brinza has carried 220 times this year for 1606 yards and 21 touchdowns, Riley Redman is a great back in his own right with 1136 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground this year.

Central, make no mistake is all about the defense and it seems to only be getting better as the season wears on. The Vikings shut-out Lower Dauphin last week and allowed just 21 total yards to the Falcons in the win. The Vikings defense is allowing just 5.5 points per game for the season, when you put up that number you are going to win a lot of football games, all of them in fact.

South Fayette Lions (15-0) vs. Imhotep Panthers (12-2) Sunday December 15th at 1:00 PM @ Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA-AM 1450 by Bob Gregg and Mark Uriah

Both of these teams are in search of their first ever PIAA Championship in football. For a second straight week South Fayette is in a match-up with a team that does almost exactly the opposite of what the Lions like to do offensively. Imhotep, the district 12 champions likes to grind it out on the ground they have a ratio of almost three to one rushing yards versus passing yards on the season.

The Panthers will throw, junior quarterback Andre Dreuitt has completed 76 of 137 passes for 1485 yards and 22 scores on the year.

As a team the Panthers have rushed for 4237 yards on the season, led by junior Nasir Bonner with 1149 yards and 15 touchdowns. Sophomore Tyliek Raynor has carried it 95 times for 902 yards and 13 touchdowns, while yet another sophomore, Mike Waters has 892 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing as well.

The Panthers will try to do to the Lions what they have done to every team this season, get after the quarterback. Imhotep has recorded 38 sacks on the season led by Shaka Toney and Tyrone Barge with seven sacks each. South Fayette has been great at keeping Brumbaugh upright all season, they will need to do it one more time to win the state championship.

Brumbaugh is so close to placing his name in the record books on a lot of levels. He is 108 yards shy of the all-time WPIAL single season passing mark of 3726 yards set by his brother in 2010, and 333 yards shy of the all-time state record for passing yards in a season of 3951 yards set by Matt Bodamer of Port Allegany last season. Brumbaugh has completed 242 of 354 passes for 3618 yards and 38 touchdowns. With three touchdown passes in this game he could tie Dillon Buechel of Montour for 2nd on the WPIAL list of touchdown passes in a season at 41. Mack Leftwich’s 45 touchdown passes seems safe for another year.

Brumbaugh is not the only Lion with a shot at pinning his name in the WPIAL record book in this game, wide out Justin Watson enters this game with 1442 yards receiving on 57 catches, he needs 104 yards to become the all-time single season receiving yardage getter in the history of the WPIAL. If he is able to do that it will only make it sweeter that the guy he knocks out of that position will be Carmen Connolly from rival Seton LaSalle who gained 1545 yards receiving in 2004. Connor Beck leads the Lions in receptions with 78 for the season for 1057 yards and together Watson and Beck have accounted for  30 touchdowns on the year.

The ground game can and occasionally does come up big for South Fayette as well, Grant Fetchet has rushed for 1331 yards on the year including 155 last week in the semi-finals. Hunter Hayes and J.J. Walker have also been big time contributors to the Lions’ ground game.

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans (15-0) vs. Old Forge Blue Devils (14-1) Friday December 13th at 1:00 PM @ Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Josh Rowntree and Mark Schaas

Again two teams who have never won a title will play in the single A state championship game. Old Forge comes out of district two as the champion. Both of these teams have really played splendid defense in the state playoffs. North has allowed a total of 19 points in the state tournament, while the Blue Devils of Old Forge have allowed just 21.

The Blue Devils have allowed opponents less than 3 yards per carry on the ground here in the 2013 post season. The Old Forge defense has forged 16 interceptions on the season led by Jake Manetti with a total of eight picks.

Old Forge running back senior Brandon Yecavage has had a monster year on the ground with 2597 yards and 45 touchdowns on the season.

Senior quarterback Jake Manetti has completed 62 of 114 passes for 1176 yards and 13 touchdowns.

North has been as dominant on defense stuffing all-comers to the tune of only allowing 10.4 points per game on the year.

The trio of guys running the ball for North Catholic has developed at an almost perfect time for head coach Bob Ravenstahl. P.J. Fulmore at quarterback was getting a ton of carries through the end of the regular season and most of the WPIAL playoffs. Jerome Turner and freshman Mario Latronica have picked up a bunch more carries as the Trojans have gotten deeper and deeper into this playoff run. Latronica has been a revelation in the last couple weeks with 284 yards rushing for North.

Fulmore is still the heart of the North Catholic offense with 204 carries and 1104 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. Turner has been solid all season long first in relief of Fulmore as the feature back and now in conjunction with Fulmore as the quarterback. Turner has amassed 1125 yards rushing and scored a team-high 23 touchdowns for the year.

The offensive and defensive lines for North have been nothing short of dominating all season long and they are largely responsible for North Catholic playing for their first ever PIAA championship. Up front Ryan Long, Josh Churchin, Mike Blackwell, Ronnie Meder, Nick Nyman and Dylan Greico have been nothing short of splendid and they deserve a big-time shout out from the Big game Hunting crew.

Thanks to you loyal reader for bearing with me through another year of Big Game Hunting. It is truly my pleasure. Training camp opens in 34 short weeks!

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