Big Game Hunting – Week Fifteen

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 | 5:23 PM

The WPIAL Champions avoided any talk of a “WPIAL Championship Hangover” by taking care of business in the state quarter-finals. A perfect 56-0 mark for the District 7 Champions collectively heading into the state semi-finals, congratulations to all the teams that have reached the final-four in the state of Pennsylvania. It is a remarkable accomplishment. Winners head to Hershey now, so there is chocolate on the line. That means; in addition to opposing defenses every player must now watch out for Mike Azadian as well. See how tough things get, as you get deeper into the playoffs?

PINE-RICHLAND RAMS (14-0) vs West Lawn Wilson Bulldogs (14-0) AT Mansion Park in Altoona on Saturday, December 6th at 1:00pm broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Josh Rowntree and Rob Longo

The Rams trudged through an ugly 49-29 win over State College in the quarterfinals behind three touchdown passes for Ben DiNucci. DiNucci though, tossed a pair of interceptions after entering the game having only thrown three all season long. The Rams defense coughed up some yards to the Little Lions as well, allowing State College to amass over 500 yards on offense. Pine-Richland will need to play better if they hope to get pummeled by people throwing Chocolate kisses at them at the end of this game.

West Lawn throttled Central Dauphin 21-10 in Hershey to win the District Three championship. Senior quarterback Jake Templin completed 15 of 24 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in the win. For the season Templin has completed 117 of 227 passes for 1678 yards and 28 touchdowns while tossing 11 interceptions. He has also rushed for 337 yards and another six scores.

On the ground junior Shane Dantzler leads the Bulldogs with 1568 yards and 12 scores amongst his 225 carries. Dantzler also has 18 catches for 222 yards and five touchdowns.

The Bulldogs have played tremendously on defense all season long totaling 44 sacks and 17 interceptions as a team.

Senior defensive end Austin Rosa has been unstoppable with a team-high 10.5 sacks on the year. The Rams will have to keep him off of DiNucci who was hit a lot in the win over State College last week.

Ten different Bulldogs have come up with interceptions on the year led by junior Jon Fox with four.

This game definitely appears to shape up as one of the best offense in the state against one of the best defenses in the state.

DiNucci, now has completed 225 of 316 passes for 3713 yards and 38 touchdowns on the year. He is 238 yards away from the all-time state of Pennsylvania prep record for passing yards in a season of 3951 set by Matt Bodamer of Port Allegany in 2012.

Connor Slomka rushed for 151 yards in the win over State College eclipsing the century mark for the seventh time this season. Slomka has now rushed for 1436 yards and 34 touchdowns on the year.

The Rams also bring a pair of 1,000 yard receivers into the game in D’Ondre Gastion (52 catches, 1058 yards) and Mike Merhaut (87 catches 1375 yards) each of them has caught 13 touchdown passes.

CENTRAL VALLEY WARRIORS (14-0) vs Bishop McDevitt Crusaders (14-0) AT Mansion Park in Altoona on Friday, December 5th at 7:00pm broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and the Pickle WKPL FM 92.1 by Adam Gusky and Sean Meyers

McDevitt won their fifth straight District Three championship in convincing fashion rolling Cocalico 41-0 in Hershey last Friday. The Biship McDevitt Crusaders are loaded with size, speed and talent across the board.

Senior quarterback Nick Marsilio is averaging over 255 yards per game throwing the ball. He has tossed 41 touchdown passes including a D-3 Championship record five in the win over Cocalico.

On the ground a pair of seniors have been enjoying running behind one of the biggest most athletic offensive lines in Pennsylvania. Senior Que’Shawn Jenkins has over 100 yards and 11 scores on the year. The Crusaders best player though is Penn State recruit Andre Robinson who has piled up over 1500 yards and nearly 20 touchdowns rushing on the season.

McDevitt also has a fantastic pair of junior receivers in Kobay White (64 catches 1136 yards 14 scores going into the D-3 Championship game) and Bryce Hall (50 catches 917 yards and 11 touchdowns through 13 weeks).

Senior safety Brandon Stanback leads the defense with 92 tackles he also has 3.5 sacks and an interception on the season. Junior corner Joe Joe Headen, he of the name so nice you gotta say it twice, is amongst the leaders in the state with seven interceptions on the year. The Crusaders are in search of their second championship

The Warriors rolled over Conneaut in the quarters 53-23 behind Jordan Whitehead’s four touchdown runs, Whitehead rushed for over 200 yards in less than a half of football for Central Valley.

The Pitt recruit has now rushed for 1724 yards, caught 20 passes for 387 yards and scored a combined 30 touchdowns. He also has five interceptions.

The Warriors quarterbacks, John George and Chris Callaghan have combined to complete 135 of 208 passes for 2469 yards and 27 touchdowns.

B.J. Powell and Kurt Reinstadler have been the go-to receivers not named Whitehead for a Warriors club that is very balanced and has a ferocious defense.

Rocco Martini and Preston Johnson are both over 100 tackles on the defensive side of the ball for Mark Lyons.

SOUTH FAYETTE LIONS (14-0) vs Hickory Hornets (11-2) AT Slippery Rock University on Saturday, December 6th at 1:00pm broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA FM 95.3 by Bob Gregg and George Lammay

This was a great game last year won 23-20 by South Fayette. The Hornets forced four South Fayette turnovers in that game and stopped Brett Brumbaugh from throwing a touchdown pass by dropping extra players into pass coverage. They could not stop the Lions’ ground game though as Grant Fetchet rolled them in the second half including the game winning touchdown. Hickory head coach Bill Brest said afterward that the Hornets knew the Lions were going to run as they had stolen their signals but still could not stop it.

South Fayette, looking to go back-to-back with state titles does not have Fetchet anymore but, they do have a great runner in Hunter Hayes. Hayes rushed for 183 yards and four touchdowns in South Fayette’s quarterfinal thumping of Karns City 42-15. On the year Hayes has rushed for 1572 yards and 33 touchdowns.

They also still have Brett Brumbaugh at quarterback, chasing the state record for career passing yards. Brumbaugh on the season has completed 199 of 333 passes for 3478 yards and 39 touchdowns. He needs just 105 yards to pass Port Allegany’s Matt Bodamer for the all-time state record in passing yards, Bodamer tossed for 10948 yards between 2009 and 2012.

Nick Ponikvar, Logan Sharp, Dan Trimbur and Ryan Smider are a fantastic corps of receivers for Brumbaugh to throw the ball to, their talent makes it very difficult for opposing defenses. It becomes very much a “pick your poison” situation.

The Hornets return from District 10 after rolling Tyrone 28-0 in the state quarterfinals last week.

Hickory’s defense has pitched five shutouts on the season.

Freshman quarterback Luke Brennan has completed 66 of 116 passes for 938 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.

Sophomore running back Chuck Carr has piled up 1302 yards and 20 touchdowns on the year. The youth of Hickory leads you to believe they have an excellent chance of being in this same spot next season.

They have a pair of junior receivers in Joey Dejulia and Andrew Pryts that have combined for 82 catches for 1143 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Pryts is also the team’s leading tackler with 58. Senior defensive end Jordan Wombacher has 11 sacks on the year. The Lions will need to keep him off of Brumbaugh as much as possible to get the Hershey bus ride they desire.

CLAIRTON BEARS (14-0) vs Sharpsville Blue Devils (11-3) AT North Allegheny High School on Friday, December 5th at 7:00pm broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and Sports Radio 96.7 and NewsTalk 790 WPIC by Mark Slezak and Bob Greenburg.

I will be up front with you, loyal reader, as I always am. I would have been rooting for the Bears one way or another going into this game as I am a WPIAL guy through and through no doubt. But, add to that, the fact that in all my years of doing this Sharpsville is the only team to not respond to multiple requests by me for information on their team and I will be sporting my orange sweater in a big way for this game! I am just truthin’!

The Blue Devils come out of District 10 and had no trouble with Kane in the quarterfinals 50-14. Greg Popatak scored on the ground and off a blocked punt return for a touchdown in the win.

The Blue Devils seem to have several solid running backs and are led by sophomore quarterback Luke Henwood whose top receiver, (best I can tell) is his older brother Nick.

Clairton just keeps rolling. The Bears got a magical night from Ryan Williams in their quarterfinal win over Berlin Brothersvalley 52-24 last week. Williams completed 20 of 30 passes for 346 yards and SIX touchdown passes in the win. For good measure he also ran for a score.

On the year Williams is 142 of 246 for 2859 yards and 38 touchdowns while only throwing it to the other team four times.

Wide receivers Aaron Matthews and Jamie Hines continue to make huge plays on the receiving end of Williams passes. They have combined for 73 catches, 1599 yards and 28 touchdowns on the season in total.

Lamont Wade is on the other end of a lot of Williams throws as well with 19 catches for 367 yards. Wade does the big damage with his legs, rushing for 2385 yards including 155 last week. The sophomore has scored a team and WPIAL-high 43 touchdowns on the season.

The 2014 Bears are now the top-scoring football team in the history of the state of Pennsylvania with 886 points scored on the season, knocking the 2007 Jeannette Jayhawks off of the top of that mountain.

Don’t let the numbers fool you though the Bears defense is still stout allowing just 8.8 points per game on the season.

Clairton will be trying to make it five state championships in six years after winning four straight titles from 2009-2012.

The Bears fans travel well and Newman Stadium should be full and rocking for this game Friday night. Bring your umbrellas, your warm hats, and your Hershey Kisses!

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