Fox Chapel will try to outfox No. 2 Penn-Trafford in WPIAL quarterfinals

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Wednesday, November 10, 2021 | 4:37 PM


Fox Chapel has already pulled off a playoff upset this season, but can it outfox Penn-Trafford in the quarterfinals Friday?

The No. 10-seeded Foxes (5-6) opened the WPIAL Class 5A first round by defeating seventh-seeded Upper St. Clair, 13-10, last Friday.

Now they face well-rested Penn-Trafford (8-2), which is seeded second, at 7 p.m. Friday at Warrior Stadium.

“No one expected us to defeat Upper St. Clair,” Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran said. “Fewer people expect us to win this week.

“Our record is what it is. We’ve played well in games, and we’ve played poorly in games. I was extremely pleased how we played against Upper St. Clair. Hopefully, we can continue to play well.”

Penn-Trafford, along with top-seeded Moon, No. 3 Pine-Richland and No. 4 Gateway received first-round byes.

Fox Chapel won its first playoff game since 1997 when it defeated North Allegheny, 35-6, in the first round. It fell to Penn-Trafford, 21-19, the following week.

Penn-Trafford is 5-0 all-time against Fox Chapel, with four of those wins coming in the WPIAL playoffs (2019, 2017, 2014 and 1997). The Warriors won 49-7 in 2019.

Fox Chapel scored on a touchdown pass and touchdown run by Khi’Lee Patterson, who stepped in at quarterback against Upper St. Clair. Patterson tossed a 25-yard scoring strike to Colin Kwiatkowski in the first quarter and scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

Starting quarterback Collin Dietz, who has completed 87 of 190 passes for 1,296 yards and 12 touchdowns, did not play because of a knee injury. He was injured against Pine-Richland on Oct. 29.

Zidane Thomas, who has rushed for 947 yards this season, ran for 97 yards against Upper St. Clair.

Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said he and his staff watched Fox Chapel’s game last week, and he came away impressed, especially with the Foxes’ defense.

“They played fast and physical on defense,” Ruane said. “They were impressive. They’re an excited bunch. We’ll have our hands full.”

Ruane said Patterson stood out on defense.

“He’s everywhere,” Ruane said. “Their two inside linebackers (Thomas and Jack Visco) also played well. They’re a good, solid group.”

Thomas has 103 tackles (90 solo) and four sacks this season, Visco has 67 (49 solo) and Patterson 74 (60 solo).

Defensive back Christian Gaston has 31 tackles and three interceptions.

“We bent a little against Upper St. Clair, but we didn’t break,” Loughran said. “We were able to adjust against Upper St. Clair’s multiple looks and make proper checks. Penn-Trafford is similar with numerous formations, but my concern is the size of its offensive line.

“They have a good running game, but they’re capable of throwing the ball, too. They’re the biggest line we’ll face this season.

Loughran said he cannot replace Dietz as a quarterback. Patterson was inserted because he was used in wildcat formations during the season.

“We only had a handful of plays for Khi’Lee,” Loughran said. “Now we’ve had two weeks to add more plays. The more time he plays quarterback, the better he’ll get. He made the throws we needed against Upper St. Clair.”

Penn-Trafford’s running game centers around Wisconsin commit Cade Yacamelli at running back and quarterback Carter Green.

Yacamelli has rushed for 1,150 yards and 16 touchdowns, and Green has gained 815 yards with 12 touchdowns.

Green also has completed 60 of 102 passes for 927 yards and eight touchdowns. Liam Hileman is the leading receiver with 13 catches for 187 yards, and Yacamelli has 11 grabs for 149. Tommy Kalkstein has eight catches for a team-high 216 yards and four touchdowns.

Another offensive weapon for the Warriors is kicker Nathan Schlessinger, who has 43 extra points and six field goals.

Ruane said the week off allowed his team to heal.

“We’re healthier now that we’ve been all season,” Ruane said. “We were able to get a jump start on our preparation for this week.”

The teams have played three common opponents, each falling to Peters Township and defeating Franklin Regional and Shaler.

Fox Chapel fell 37-0 to Peters Township and defeated Shaler, 28-14, and Franklin Regional, 13-9

Penn-Trafford lost to Peters Township, 28-14, but hammered Shaler, 54-14, and Franklin Regional, 49-7.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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