Trib HSSN don’t-miss high school football matchups for 2021 Week 3

Thursday, September 16, 2021 | 4:53 PM

Finally, conference games have arrived in the WPIAL.

For decades, district football teams would have two nonconference games in the first two weeks and Week 3 would mark the official start of conference play around the WPIAL.

However, that changed in the last 10 years, with many teams opening up conference play in Week 1, with nonconference games sprinkled throughout the other eight weeks.

Now we go old school with all nonconference games in the first two weeks. Note however, only 10 of the 17 WPIAL conferences begin section play this week. The other seven smaller conferences will have to wait until Week 5 to begin the games that will determine the 2021 playoff field.

A postponement update: Only one WPIAL football game this weekend has been canceled because of issues related to covid-19 protocols. There will be no Freeport at Apollo-Ridge nonconference game Friday.

However, this sweet six-pack of games is set to go for Friday as we showcase some of the top matchups in Week 3. Four of the six can be seen or heard on HSSN.

Class 6A Conference

No. 5 Canon-McMillan (2-1) at No. 2 Mt. Lebanon (3-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Mt. Lebanon Stadium

On the air: None

Coaches: Mike Evans, Canon-McMillan; Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon

Last week: Canon-McMillan defeated Bethel Park, 34-27; Mt. Lebanon defeated Peters Township, 31-0

Players to watch: Michael Evans, Canon-McMillan (Soph., 6-1, 190, QB); Joey Daniels, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-1, 185, QB)

Four downs

1. Canon-McMillan fell behind Bethel Park in a Week 2 nonconference game, 20-7, before getting defensive. Senior Anthony Finney returned an interception 100 yards and sophomore Geno Calgaro scored on a 30-yard fumble return as the Big Macs came back to win on the road, 34-27.

2. The Big Macs coach’s son, Michael Evans, continues to improve at quarterback. He connected on 10 of 17 passes for 107 yards and scored on a pair of 1-yard runs, the second coming with 1:27 left in the game to help Canon-Mac improve to 2-1.

3. A big third quarter last week helped Mt. Lebanon remain the only undefeated team in Class 6A. Leading 10-0 at halftime, the Blue Devils scored three third-quarter touchdowns and cruised to a 31-0 shutout of host Peters Township.

4. Blue Devils quarterback Joey Daniels was 7 of 13 passing for 172 yards and tossed touchdown passes of 17 yards to senior Jack Smith, 32 yards to junior Michael Beiersdorf and 4 yards to senior Eli Heidenriech, plus he scored on a 1-yard run.

Extra point: Mt. Lebanon has outscored its three opponents 95-13 while Canon-McMillan’s point totals are 89-56. Canon-McMillan stunned Mt. Lebanon a year ago, 24-17, after trailing by 17 at the half. That Big Macs win snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Blue Devils with the previous C-M win coming in 2008. Mt. Lebanon is 43-7 lifetime against Canon-McMillan.

Class 5A nonconference

Shaler (2-1) at West Allegheny (2-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Joe P. DeMichela Stadium at West Allegheny

On the air: Video stream at

Coaches: Jim Ryan, Shaler; Dave Schoppe, West Allegheny

Last week: Shaler lost to Hampton in overtime, 41-38; West Allegheny defeated Montour, 38-13

Players to watch: Josh Miller, Shaler (Sr., 5-11, 185, RB/LB); Nodin Tracy, West Allegheny (Jr., 5-10, 175, RB/LB)

Four downs

1. After a 2-0 start, Shaler tasted defeat for the first time in Week 2 in a tough overtime loss at Hampton. Titans sophomore quarterback Keegan Smetanka connected on 25 of 31 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns of 9, 15 and 17 yards.

2. Titans running back Josh Miller carried the ball 20 times and gained 183 yards on the ground for Shaler, plus he scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter and ripped off a 70-yard fourth-quarter scoring run to help send the game into overtime.

3. West Allegheny and visiting Montour were deadlocked 13-13 heading into the fourth quarter last week when the Indians took over. West A scored once on offense, twice on defense (its third defensive touchdown of the night) and once on special teams for a 25-point fourth quarter and a 38-13 win.

4. Junior running back Nodin Tracy scored two touchdowns, one as a running back on a 42-yard run and one on special teams on a punt return for a score. Tracy carried the ball six times for 85 yards and had four receptions for 18 yards.

Extra point: Shaler had lost eight straight games, including all seven a year ago, before starting this season with two victories. One of those losses in 2020 was a 40-7 defeat by visiting West Allegheny. That meeting a year ago is believed to be the first ever between the two schools in the regular season. The two met in the 2018 Class 5A first round when the Indians blanked the Titans, 37-0.

Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference

Armstrong (2-1) at No. 5 Hampton (3-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Fridley Field at Hampton

On the air: Audio stream at

Coaches: Frank Fabian, Armstrong; Jacque DeMatteo, Hampton

Last week: Armstrong lost to McKeesport, 24-14; Hampton defeated Shaler in overtime, 41-38

Players to watch: Cadin Olsen, Armstrong (Jr., 6-3, 200, QB); Christian Liberto, Hampton (Sr., 5-10, 180, RB)

Four downs

1. In its final pre-conference tune-up, Armstrong was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten by visiting McKeesport. The River Hawks led 14-10 at halftime, but the Tigers scored 14 unanswered in the second half to pick up the win.

2. Armstrong junior quarterback Cadin Olsen supplied most of the offense. He was 13 for 26 passing for 146 yards and threw touchdown passes of 22 yards to sophomore Jack Valasek and 4 yards to junior Dozick Zablocki. Olsen was also the River Hawks’ leading rusher with 51 yards on 12 carries.

3. It required overtime in Week 2, but the perfect start to the season continued for Hampton. Trailing at home, 35-21 in the fourth quarter, the Talbots rallied and tied the score when sophomore Brock Borgo scored his second touchdown of the game.

4. Talbots running back Christian Liberto knows how to send a crowd home happy. The senior rushed for 196 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns, including the 20-yard game-winning score, to keep Hampton unbeaten in three games.

Extra point: Hampton won its first game of the season a year ago when it traveled to Armstrong and blanked the River Hawks, 17-0. It was only the second time in the River Hawks’ six years of existence that they were shut out. The Talbots have won the last two games and lead the all-time series, 3-1.

Class 2A vs 3A nonconference

Steel Valley (2-0) at No. 4 Keystone Oaks (2-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Dormont Stadium

On the air: Video stream at

Coaches: Ray Braszo, Steel Valley; Greg Perry, Keystone Oaks

Last week: Steel Valley defeated East Allegheny, 34-0; Keystone Oaks lost to Chartiers Valley in overtime, 35-34

Players to watch: Nijhay Burt, Steel Valley (Sr., 5-10, 160, RB/DB); Nick Buckley, Keystone Oaks (Sr., 6-1, 150, QB)

Four downs

1. Fresh off a come-from-behind victory over Clairton in Week 1, Steel Valley crushed East Allegheny in the home opener for the Ironmen. Junior quarterback Cruce Brookins threw for 61 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 67 yards and a score.

2. Ironmen running back Nijhay Burt continued his strong season against EA. He carried the ball 15 times and gained 171 yards. He also had two receptions for 19 yards as Steel Valley cruised to a 34-point victory.

3. It was a heartbreaking first loss of the season for host Keystone Oaks in Week 2. Senior Kevin Drew was a workhorse for the Golden Eagles with 27 carries for 156 yards and three touchdowns, two of them coming in the fourth quarter to put KO up before a Chartiers Valley rally and a stopped 2-point conversion in overtime was the difference in a one-point loss.

4. Golden Eagles quarterback Nick Buckley connected on 27 of 36 passes for 281 yards; however, all five KO touchdowns came on the ground from Drew and senior Tyler Perry, the head coach’s grandson. Trailing 35-28 in OT, Perry scored on a 1-yard run and the Golden Eagles went for the 2-point conversion and the win, but their attempt was stopped.

Extra point: These teams played a wild game last year at Campbell Field in Munhall with Keystone Oaks prevailing, 44-36. That victory snapped a six-game winning streak for SV over KO. The Ironmen last beat the Golden Eagles, 54-7, in 2015. Overall, Steel Valley has won 13 of the 19 meetings between the two teams.

Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference

Beaver Falls (0-2) at Laurel (3-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Spartans Stadium at Laurel

On the air: Video stream at

Coaches: Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls; Brian Cooper, Laurel

Last week: Beaver Falls at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was cancelled; Laurel defeated Ambridge, 35-6

Players to watch: Jaren Brickner, Beaver Falls (Jr., 5-11, 167, QB); Luke McCoy, Laurel (Sr., 5-9, 179, RB/LB)

Four downs

1. Defending WPIAL 2A champion Beaver Falls got an unexpected week off in Week 2 after losing its first two games to Blackhawk and Aliquippa. The Tigers’ game against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was postponed due to covid concerns with OLSH.

2. Through two weeks this season, junior quarterback Jaren Brickner leads the Tigers in passing and in rushing. He is 23 of 44 passing for 426 yards and four touchdowns in the air, plus he has 17 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown.

3. Laurel is quietly off to a 3-0 start heading into MAC conference play after rolling past Ambridge last week, 35-6. Senior quarterback Kobe DeRosa threw for 66 yards and connected with fellow senior Michael Pasquarello on a 35-yard touchdown pass, part of a 21-point second quarter for the Spartans.

4. The Spartans offense was once again led by the running of senior Luke McCoy. He gained 223 yards on 17 carries against the Bridgers and scored four touchdowns on runs of 15, 81, 14 and 25 yards.

Extra point: On their way to a perfect Midwestern Athletic Conference record, Beaver Falls won at home over Laurel, 29-14. The Tigers are 10-1 against the Spartans and have won 10 in a row. The lone Laurel win in this series came in their first meeting, 10-6, in 1990.

Class A Big 7 Conference

Rochester (2-0) at Union (2-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Socs Russos Stadium at Union

On the air: None

Coaches: Gene Matsook, Rochester; Stacy Robinson, Union

Last week: Rochester defeated Mohawk, 34-3; Union lost to Neshannock, 40-6

Players to watch: Sal Laure, Rochester (Jr., 5-10, 170, RB/LB); Tyler Staub, Union (Sr., 5-11, 167, QB)

Four downs

1. Rochester scored the game’s first 22 points and won at Mohawk last week, 34-3 to improve to 2-0 overall. Senior quarterback J.D. Azulay only threw for 46 yards but did toss two touchdown passes to junior Jerome Mullins and senior Conner Martin.

2. Rams junior running back Sal Laure carried the ball 18 times for 209 yards and scored on first-quarter runs of 28 and 24 yards. Through two games, Laure scored four touchdowns.

3. After wins over Mohawk and Ellwood City in which Union racked up 80 points, the Scotties could only manage one score in a road loss at Neshannock last week. The Scotties scored the game’s first points on a 1-yard run by sophomore Mike Gunn before the Lancers scored the final 40 points of the nonconference matchup.

4. Scotties senior signal caller Tyler Staub was held in check, connecting on only 9 of 19 passes for 92 yards and three interceptions. The senior quarterback was coming off a 151-yard, two-touchdown performance against Ellwood City in Week 1.

Extra point: This has been a one-sided series between Rochester and Union. The Rams won last year, 54-24, and are 25-4 all-time against the Scotties. However, Rochester won the first 21 in a row and the two teams have split since, going 4-4 against each other in the last eight years, with the Scotties winning in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2019.

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