Big Game Hunting – The Football Fourpack for Week 9

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 | 5:09 PM

Although much has already been decided week nine of the 2013 WPIAL football season brings us all the sweetness you might expect with regard to conference championship tilts. It also has a fair share of win and you are in games. It also has some games that will have a huge impact come seeding time for the football steering committee. The stretch run winds down and we get set for the Highway to Heinz.

AAAA Foothills Conference:
#3 McKeesport Tigers (8-0)(7-0) at #6 Gateway Gators (7-1)(6-1) Thursday October 24th at 7:00 PM @ Antimarino Stadium on the campus of Gateway high school. Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Paul Paterra and Lou Rood

If McKeesport wins at Gateway on Thursday, they will win the conference championship outright. If the Tigers lose, they will be co-conference champions and finish as the second seed in the conference. If Gateway beats McKeesport, they will be co-conference champions and finish as the first-seed out of the conference.If the Gators lose, they will finish second if Penn-Trafford loses and they will be third if Penn-Trafford wins. Penn-Trafford hosts Hempfield.

Gateway’s week eight loss to Penn-Trafford may have taken a little of the shine off of this game but it still looms as THE game in AAAA this weekend.

The remarkable return for George Smith continues to be one of the top stories in the WPIAL this season. The Tigers are perfect and it is about more than just the flex-bone offense. The Tigers defensively have been in the upper-echelon allowing only 82 points all season long. Only Central and USC have allowed fewer in AAAA.

The Flex-bone is doing its’ thing offensively though, senior fullback Mikell Moore has rushed for 702 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Quarterback, David Queen has rushed for over 300 yards, as has Allen Wright.

The Gators meanwhile cannot spend any time licking their wounds from last week’s loss at home to Penn-Trafford because the top-seed in the Foothills is on the line Thursday night. Gateway first year head coach Donnie Militizer is curious to see how his team responds to their first loss.

The Gators have gotten it done with an emphasis on the passing game this season offensively.  Senior quarterback Jimmy Moore has been in the top ten of the league all season long. He has completed 103 of 205 passes for 1721 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year. The receiving corps for Moore is actually a pretty small one numbers wise. Really four players make up almost the entire amount of catches Montae Nicholson, Delvon Randall, Ricky Rogers and Anthony Davis have over 98% of the catches made by the Gators this year. It is a matter of quality over quantity for sure as this group, albeit small; is amongst the top in all of the WPIAL, with Randall leading the way.

It seems like year after year the Foothills has come down to these two teams and this game sets up for the exciting finish everyone has been hoping for, the high-flying Gators offense against the Tigers conference best defense.

AAA Big Nine Conference:
#2 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (8-0)(7-0) at #3 West Mifflin Titans (8-0)(7-0) Friday October 25th at 7:30 PM @ Titan Stadium on the campus of West Mifflin high school. Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1410 AM KQV by Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis  

 The Jags and the Titans meet again, with the conference on the line again it is a familiar story but one that never gets old.

Jimmy Wheeler, West Mifflin senior, is the leading rusher in the WPIAL for the 2013 season.  Wheeler has rushed 218 times for 2008 yards and 29 touchdowns heading into week nine Wheeler is one of just five players to rush for more than 2000 yards in a regular season in the WPIAL.

Wheeler’s numbers take the pressure off of sophomore quarterback Karlyn Garner who has responded by completing 33 of 49 passes for 734 yards and seven touchdowns without throwing an interception. Junior Kevin Garbark is the leading receiver for Coach Ray Braszo’s team. Garbark has nine catches for 402 yards and eight touchdowns scored on the season.

The Jags counter with a very solid defense and a great run game of their own. Bill Cherpak’s team has tossed three shutouts defensively for the season and they have allowed just seven points per game on average to their opponents.

Junior Austin Kemp is the leading rusher for the Jags on the season rolling up 816 yards and a dozen touchdowns on 91 attempts for the year. Ricky Daley, a sophomore has also rushed for 355 yards and scored ten touchdowns as part of the attack.

The Jags use a pair of quarterbacks with seniors Chase Winovich and Christian Breisinger each bringing their own brand of football to the table. WInovich is more of a runner who has 335 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He has completed 11 of 26 passes for 184 yards and three scores. The leading thrower for the Jags is Breisinger who has completed 31 of 55 passes for 618 yards nine touchdowns.

When it comes to receiving there has been one guy for the Jags all season long, Winovich and Breisinger have completed 42 passes combined, a phenomenal 33 of those completions have been to Dalton Dietrich. Yes 79% of the Jaguars completed passes for the year have been to one person. Think you should double cover him? Dietrich has accounted for 674 yards, that number is even more of a percentage of the total pass offense for Thomas Jefferson at 84%, and he has scored nine touchdowns.

Two great programs getting together for a championship tilt in the regular season finale good times Friday night from Titan Stadium for Lanny and Bob and you on the MSA Sports Network.

AA Allegheny Conference:
#5 Kittanning Wildcats (8-0)(7-0) at #4 Shady Side Academy Indians (8-0)(7-0) Friday October 25th at 7:30 PM @ McKelvey Stadium on the campus of Shady Side Academy. Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Ken Laird and Brandon Showers

A lot of folks have been pointing at this game for a while and wondering if both of these teams would make their way here unbeaten to set up the Allegheny Conference title game. They did and they did in style, the style each of them has become accustomed to, Kittanning with one of the best offenses in the league averaging over 40 points per game and Shady Side with one of the best defenses in the league allowing barely over eight points per game. Yes, something will have to give in this game this is the proverbial unstoppable force against the immovable object game.

The Wildcats not only have been putting up points but doing it with big plays. Last week alone they got a 75 yard punt return for a touchdown, an 82 yard touchdown run and an 80 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Braydon Toy in a big win over Valley 36-21.

Toy has completed 63 of 93 passes for 1268 yards and 18 touchdowns on the year. He has also rushed for almost 700 yards and seven more scores. Freshman running back Zane Dudek has contributed greatly in the run game as well scoring ten touchdowns and rushing for over 500 yards on the year.

Junior wide receiver Nick Bowers is a beast at 6’4’’ 220 pounds for Kittanning, he has 33 catches for 635 yards and seven touchdowns.

To give you an idea of the different styles these two teams like to play, they have both beaten a pretty good Valley team this year, Kittanning by the aforementioned 36-21 score while Shady Side beat them in week three 10-8.

The Indians have pitched three shutouts on the season and only allowed three teams they have face to reach double digits in the scoring column.

The Indians have used a pair of guys at quarterback this year with Chuck Calabrese taking a bunch of snaps as well as Tucker Gillman. The pair have combined to complete less than 30 passes for about 700 yards. On the ground Jarred Brevard leads the charge for Dave Havern’s team. Through six weeks of this season Brevard had rushed for 524 yards and nine touchdowns he has added to that total in wins over Jeannette and Summit Academy. Maybe this most impressive stat though for the senior running back is a 3.55 GPA and a 1780 on the SAT, those are Don Rebel-like numbers right there.

A Black Hills Conference:
Brentwood Spartans (5-4)(5-3) at California Trojans (4-4)(4-4) Friday October 25th at 7:00 PM at Trojan Field on the campus of California Area high school. Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Mike Sackley and Greg Kuntz

I could try and explain the importance of this game and all the scenarios that surround it but a much smarter man that I has already done it, so I will copy and paste from Don Rebel’s Playoff Picture article (still on the website with a breakdown for all teams with hope).

Brentwood Spartans (Brentwood can clinch a playoff spot with a win at California OR a Chartiers-Houston loss and a loss to California by 9 or less points) (Tiebreaker Points: +20)

California Trojans (California can clinch with a win over Brentwood by 10 or more points AND a Chartiers-Houston loss) (Tiebreaker Points: 0)

In the case of a three-way tie for fourth place between Brentwood, Chartiers-Houston and California, head-to-head would not break the tie. It would come down to tiebreaker points where Brentwood is +10, Chartiers-Houston +6 and California 0

It’s as simple as that, boils down to this for both of these teams, you want in? You gotta win. If you are California you need to win by ten or more points and hope Ft. Cherry knocks off Chartiers-Houston.

I saw Brentwood Saturday night and they are a very capable football team. I can only imagine how good they would have been had Justin Vickless been able to go for them all season.

As it is Connor McWilliams is winging it all over the lot for the Spartans. The 6’2’’ 200 pound junior has very nice footwork and an great arm. He has completed well over 50% of his passes for 11 touchdowns and close to 1500 yards while only tossing three interceptions for the year.

Bill Madeja is a special player on both sides of the ball for the Spartans, a big-play receiver approaching 30 catches who has scored 10 touchdowns on the year, and a ball hawk in the secondary who returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown against Bishop Canevin Saturday night. Pat Carr and Dallas Bowie are both excellent running back doing a great job of filling in for the injured Vickless. Jack Murano is a football player, on both sides, great speed and vision, and a nose for the ball. He returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown on Saturday.

California is in must win mode and they beat a pretty tough Carlynton team at Honus Wagner Friday 26-13. Senior quarterback Austin Hunter is one of the dual threat quarterbacks that seem to have become all the rage in the WPIAL over the last couple years.

Numbers are an issue for California they only have 27 kids on their roster, mix in injuries and attrition, and they find themselves behind the eight-ball against teams who can run fresh legs onto the gridiron in the second halves of football games. Keep an eye on Lester McGriff and Demetri Clements they are playmakers for head coach Bo Teets.

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