Familiar foes Plum, McKeesport set for marquee opening-round matchup

Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 2:29 PM

The playoffs are a time when some teams are meeting for the first time, but when No. 3 Plum and No. 6 McKeesport face off in the opening round of the WPIAL Class 4A football playoffs Friday, that won’t be the case.

Although they haven’t played this season, the Mustangs (7-0) and Tigers (6-1) are familiar with one other. In the past 10 years, Plum and McKeesport have played seven times. The Tigers have won all seven games, including twice in 2014, when they won in the regular season and playoffs.

However, the Mustangs are coming off an undefeated regular season for the first time since 1977, and they are motivated to finish this season differently than in years past.

“They are extremely focused, and obviously their accomplishments are really high, probably the highest it’s ever been here at Plum with the success we’ve had so far this year. But they aren’t satisfied,” Plum coach Matt Morgan said.

McKeesport coach Matt Miller, whose team is coming off an upset of defending state champion Thomas Jefferson, also has noticed something different about Plum entering their 7 p.m. matchup Friday.

“They look really athletic. They have a lot of good speed, and I think a lot of their guys have just matured,” Miller said. “I think they were pretty young last year. There are a lot of familiar faces, but they’ve gotten a little bit bigger and a little bit faster. Matt Morgan has done a great job with them and getting them ready for the season. They are always a difficult matchup, and sometimes the record doesn’t show that.”

The Mustangs have been led by a multitude of players. Quarterback Ryan Hubner has thrown for 1,133 yards and 12 touchdowns. Freshman running back Eryck Moore has 618 yards and nine touchdowns, and the receiving corps includes Reed Martin, Logan Brooks and Max Matolcsy.

Last season, McKeesport beat Plum, 62-40. It was the closest outcome since the teams met in the 2014 playoffs.

The Mustangs know they have to improve defensively if they want to advance to the semifinals.

“We hope to have a similar type of success offensively, but we also hope to stop them a lot better than we did last year. They kind of scored on us at will,” Morgan said. “We just have to capitalize on field positioning and have some type of offensive success like we have in the past. But again, it’s one of the better defenses in 4A, and we saw how physical they played last week. But our offense is definitely looking forward to the challenge.”

The Tigers haven’t lost since Week 1, and the victory over Thomas Jefferson could be a perfect springboard.

“That was exactly what you want. You want to be running into the playoffs, not rolling in,” Miller said. “We are really excited, and I think the kids are pretty excited they are getting a lot of positivity in the community and it’s resonating in the locker room.”

McKeesport’s only loss came against Belle Vernon in Week 1, and they’ve been taking down opponents handily since while only allowing 13.6 points per game.

The run-heavy Tigers are led by Terrance Glenn (684 yards, eight TDs), Caleb Reist (322 yards, four TDs), Kenneth Thompson (196 yards, five TDs) and Keyshawn Humphries (187 yards).

The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals to face the winner of No. 2 Thomas Jefferson and No. 7 Mars on Nov. 6.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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