Central Catholic, North Allegheny meet in rematch of WPIAL Class 6A championship

Friday, September 24, 2021 | 3:44 PM

North Allegheny maybe isn’t the trendy pick in WPIAL championship talk, but the next few weeks could change that discussion.

At least, the Tigers hope so.

Central Catholic and Mt. Lebanon remain the top teams in Class 6A, but NA faces them in back-to-back weeks.

“The way we look at it is, if they’re not talking about us, we’ve just got to keep working hard and put ourselves in the conversation,” NA coach Art Walker said.

The Class 6A race will take shape in the next three weeks starting Friday when third-ranked North Allegheny hosts No. 1 Central Catholic at 7:30 p.m. It’s a rematch of last year’s championship game that Central Catholic won 38-24. However, NA has won three straight over the Vikings in the regular season.

“It is a big one,” Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said. “It will be a good atmosphere. It’ll be a slugfest. We’re expecting a great challenge.”

It’s not the only big game on the schedule ahead. Next week, North Allegheny visits No. 2 Mt. Lebanon. The following week, Mt. Lebanon hosts Central Catholic.

Of course, No. 4 Seneca Valley or someone else could provide a surprise before the regular season ends, but the three top-ranked teams will square off first.

“We’ll just worry about us,” Walker said, “control what we can control and take care of things from our end.”

Both Central Catholic and North Allegheny are coming off lopsided conference-opening wins in Week 3. Central Catholic (3-1, 1-0) defeated Norwin, 50-0. North Allegheny (3-1, 1-0) topped Baldwin, 61-14.

The two coaches, Totten and Walker, have won over the years with similar philosophies: Play good defense and establish the run. If given the chance, they’ll lean on a power-running game, but this season, both have opened up their offenses a little more.

“You see it at every level and every team you watch,” Totten said. “It’s part of the game now.”

Central Catholic showed its versatility in a high-scoring Week 2 win over Pine-Richland. Sophomore quarterback Payton Wehner threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more as the Vikings won, 49-35.

Running back Gannon Carothers, who has become a big-play weapon for the team, scored four times in that game. He reached the end zone on a 90-yard kickoff return, runs of 75 and 59 yards and a 58-yard catch.

“They’re doing different things offensively,” Walker said. “They’re spreading it out more and giving the ball to guys in space.”

Central Catholic averages 38 points per game, which ranks first in WPIAL 6A, but North Allegheny isn’t far behind at 32 points. The Tigers have found success rotating two quarterbacks, senior Tanner Potts and sophomore Logan Kushner.

The two QBs attempted only 13 passes in the lopsided win over Baldwin, but three of Kushner’s throws went for touchdowns. Kyrell Hutcherson caught two.

J.R. Burton leads NA with 157 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Potts has rushed for 140.

“North Allegheny is spreading the ball around a little more as well,” Totten said. “We’ll see their ‘A’ game. We’re sure of that.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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