Five things we learned from Week 4 of high school football
By: Chris Harlan
Saturday, September 30, 2017 | 7:48 PM
This wasn't quite David and Goliath, but Imani Christian coach Ronnell Heard considered Friday's win a godsend.
“I think Friday night was a moment in which God shined on Imani Christian Academy to let the world and the WPIAL and everyone know that we are a Christian school with good Christian children,” Heard said, “and we can also play football.”
Imani won 18-6 at Clairton, the No. 1-ranked team in WPIAL Class A. But it wasn't just the score that had Heard thankful. The celebration gave his team a chance to move beyond last weekend's issues.
The win came a week after officials ejected five Imani players and halted their game with Jeannette for safety reasons, a move that made Heard and Imani administrators answer to the WPIAL.
“We were able to keep our guys focused on the goal, and we were able to pull one out,” Heard said. “Our defense played absolutely spectacular, RJ Hart had a huge game and Sam Fairley stepped up when we needed him.”
The two wideouts each scored a touchdown, and Hart finished with five catches for more than 100 yards. Among the players missing Friday were the starting quarterback, running back and center.
Jeannette (6-0, 4-0) leads the Class A Eastern Conference ahead of Imani Christian (4-2, 3-1), Clairton (4-1, 3-1) and Springdale (3-3, 2-1).
The regular-season loss was just the second in 103 games for Clairton, which faces Aliquippa next. Clairton had won 35 in a row since their last regular-season loss, 42-24 to Monessen on Aug. 20, 2013.
A year ago, Imani lost to Clairton, 48-6.
“This game was very big,” Heard said, “especially with the events of the past week.”
Pine-Richland decides to put it all on the line
The strength of Pine-Richland's quarterback, backfield and receivers was never a question. But for the second week in a row, the Rams showed that their offensive line might be exceptional, as well.
Rams running back Jordan Crawford scored seven touchdowns in Friday night's 47-17 victory, a matchup of No. 1 Pine-Richland (6-0, 3-0) and No. 2 Central Catholic (4-2, 3-1) in WPIAL Class 6A.
Right tackle Andrew Kristofic (6-foot-6, 265 pounds, jr.) is a high-level Division I FBS recruit. But the Rams' four others were unheralded until now: center Michael Dorundo (6-1, 255, jr.), right guard Michael Katic (6-3, 280, jr.), left guard Parker Boyd (6-2, 255, sr.) and left tackle Grant LeMirande (6-0, 215, sr.).
Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz joked Friday that Crawford should take them out for steak or wings.
WPIAL offenses aren't what they used to be
Incredibly, 400-yard passing performances are becoming more frequent in the WPIAL.
Altoona quarterback Braeden Burchfield is the fourth WPIAL passer to reach the mark this season after throwing for 417 yards Friday at Canon-McMillan. The 6-2, 180-pound senior completed 26 of 52 attempts and threw two touchdowns in a rainy 27-23 loss.
But Burchfield's total ranks just third among WPIAL passers this year. Nos. 1 and 2 are Mt. Lebanon's Seth Morgan and Pine-Richland's Phil Jurkovec, who each threw for more than 400 yards in their head-to-head Week 1 matchup. Morgan had 459 and Jurkovec 439.
Highlands quarterback Seth Cohen passed for 412 yards in Week 2 against New Castle.
There's still more than one way to play QB
Fox Chapel quarterback Nick Gizzo and Fort Cherry's Ryhan Culberson also put up lofty yardage numbers, but they used their feet rather than their arms.
Gizzo rushed for 312 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in a 42-6 victory over Moon. Culberson had 264 yards and five TDs on 26 carries to defeat West Greene, 32-6.
Rush, Deanes reach rushing milestones
Seton LaSalle senior Lionel Deanes surpassed 4,000 career rushing yards during a 24-carry, 285-yard, three-touchdown performance at Apollo-Ridge.
Mapletown's Dylan Rush had 113 yards on 26 carries and moved into the top 10 on the WPIAL career rushing list. Rush needed only 97 yards against to pass former North Catholic/Montour running back Julian Durden. Rush has 5,554 yards.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .