Trib HSSN don’t-miss high school football matchups for 2021 Week 8

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Thursday, October 21, 2021 | 5:49 PM


Welcome to Week 8, as the “stretch run” of the WPIAL football season continues.

Twenty-eight district football teams have punched their ticket to the 2021 WPIAL playoffs with many more expected to clinch this weekend.

Don’t miss the latest WPIAL football playoff picture article on Trib HSSN on Sunday as we break down which teams are in and what needs to happen for others to clinch in full detail.

A postponement update: There are two Week 8 games that have been postponed. The Class 2A Century Conference game between Frazier and Washington is a 1-0 forfeit victory for the Little Prexies, while a decision has not been rendered between forfeit or no contest in the Class A Big 7 Conference postponement between Fort Cherry and Cornell.

These contests are worth checking out Friday in Week 8, with five of them seen or heard here on HSSN.

Class 6A

No. 4 Seneca Valley (6-2, 4-1) at No. 1 Mt. Lebanon (8-0, 5-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Blue Devils Stadium, Mt. Lebanon

On the air: Audio stream on KDKA-AM 1020 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Ron Butschle, Seneca Valley; Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon

Last week: Seneca Valley defeated Baldwin, 49-12; Mt. Lebanon defeated Norwin, 35-7

Players to watch: Sean O’Shea, Seneca Valley (Soph., 5-11, 160, QB); Alex Tecza, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-1, 195, RB/DB)

Four downs

1. Following a loss two weeks ago and a double overtime thriller in Week 6, Seneca Valley jumped out to a big early lead and was able to cruise to a sixth victory in eight games. Senior running back Nolan Dworek had two touchdown runs while fellow senior Brandon Ross had two touchdown catches for the Raiders.

2. With the Raiders playing without Graham Hancox, quarterback Sean O’Shea shined brightly in his first start of the season. The sophomore connected on 12 of 17 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns, plus he ran for 86 yards and two scores as Seneca Valley won on the road to remain tied for second place in Class 6A.

3. What many thought would be a laugher turned into a struggle for top-ranked Mt. Lebanon in Week 7. The Blue Devils trailed in the second quarter, were tied with host Norwin at halftime and led by only one touchdown through three quarters before pulling away in the fourth to a 28-point victory.

4. A week after being named HSSN Player of the Week, Blue Devils running back Alex Tecza continued his big season. The senior rushed for 207 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 5 and 34 yards as Mt. Lebanon remained the only Class 6A team with a perfect record through Week 7.

Extra point: Both teams have clinched a 6A playoff berth. In a thriller last season, Mt. Lebanon won at Seneca Valley, 28-27 in overtime. The difference in the game was a blocked extra point in OT. Alex Tecza rushed for 158 yards and scored twice for the Blue Devils. Seneca Valley trails in the all-time series 10-5 with the teams splitting six playoff meetings. The Blue Devils, who have won the last three meetings, beat the Raiders in the postseason in 2019, 1999 and 1991. Seneca Valley owns playoffs wins over Mt. Lebanon in 2016, 2012 and 1997.

Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference

South Fayette (4-4, 0-3) at Upper St. Clair (4-4, 2-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Panthers Stadium, Upper St. Clair

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Joe Rossi, South Fayette; Mike Junko, Upper St. Clair

Last week: South Fayette lost to West Allegheny, 28-0; Upper St. Clair lost to Moon, 16-13

Players to watch: Nate Deanes, South Fayette (So., 5-9, 165, RB/WR/DB); Mateo Cepullio, Upper St. Clair (Sr., 5-9, 155, WR/CB)

Four downs

1. Could the green machine be showing signs of wear and tear? Joe Rossi has been the head coach at South Fayette for 15 years, and this is the first time his teams have ever been shut out. The Lions were blanked in Week 2 by Thomas Jefferson, 27-0, and last week by West Allegheny, 28-0. The last time SF was shut out in a football game before this season was by Brentwood in October of 2006.

2. The Lions’ versatile Nate Deanes has averaged nearly five yards per carry and almost 14 yards per reception this season, but even he was limited in Week 7 by West Allegheny. The South Fayette sophomore had two catches for 19 yards and 16 carries for 68 yards to lead the team.

3. Upper St. Clair had its two-game winning streak end at the hands of top-ranked and undefeated Moon last week. The Panthers’ lone touchdown came on a fumble recovery, and their other points came on a pair of field goals by sophomore kicker Bennett Henderson.

4. The Panthers could not manage much on offense against the Tigers in Week 7, but wide receiver Mateo Cepullio tried a little bit of everything to do so. The senior rushed for 36 yards, had two catches for 14 yards and even threw a 16-yard pass in an effort to spark USC.

Extra point: Upper St. Clair can clinch a 5A playoff berth with a win. South Fayette needs a victory to stay alive. This is only the sixth gridiron battle between the schools with the Panthers holding a 4-1 edge over the Lions. The teams have met the last three years with USC winning three close games: 34-33 in 2018, 27-13 in 2019 and 36-32 last year. The two previous meetings were in the 1960s with South Fayette winning the first meeting, 13-12, in ’66 and Upper St. Clair prevailing a year later, 7-6.

Class 4A Big Eight Conference

No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (5-1, 3-1) at No. 4 McKeesport (7-1, 4-0)

7 p.m. Friday, George Smith Field at Weigle-Schaeffer Stadium, McKeesport

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com with audio broadcast on WJAS-AM 1320

Coaches: Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson; Matt Miller, McKeesport

Last week: Thomas Jefferson defeated Ringgold, 42-6; McKeesport defeated Laurel Highlands, 42-7

Players to watch: Elias Lippincott, Thomas Jefferson (Soph., 6-2, 210, RB); Bobby Boyd, McKeesport (Jr., 5-7, 170, RB)

Four downs

1. Since falling to Belle Vernon by a touchdown in Week 4, Thomas Jefferson has righted the ship with back-to-back wins over Laurel Highlands and Ringgold by a combined score of 84-9. The Jaguars led 35-0 by halftime against Ringgold last week with senior quarterback Joe Lekse a perfect 6 of 6 passing for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

2. The Jaguars running attack didn’t miss a beat, even without leading rusher Conner Murga. Sophomore running back Elias Lippincott rushed for 112 yards on 14 carries and scored three touchdowns on runs of 4, 20 and 20 yards in TJ’s 36-point home win.

3. McKeesport began its tough three-game season-ending stretch in Week 7 with a convincing win at Laurel Highlands. With a showdown against unbeaten Belle Vernon looming next week, the Tigers can’t get caught looking ahead as the defending district and state champs come to the Mon Valley on Friday.

4. The Tigers have found a gem in running back Bobby Boyd. The junior led the way again with 177 yards on only 10 carries last week, scoring on a 14-yard run. Boyd only needs 43 yards rushing to eclipse 1,000 for the season, and he leads McKeesport with nine touchdowns.

Extra point: Both Thomas Jefferson and McKeesport have clinched Class 4A playoff berths and are still alive for at least a share of the Big Eight Conference championship. The Tigers stunned the Jaguars in the regular season finale last year, 20-14. It was TJ’s only loss of the season. It’s hard to believe, but Friday’s game will be only the second meeting between this WPIAL football powers.

Class 3A Northwestern Six Conference

No. 1 Central Valley (8-0, 3-0) at No. 3 Avonworth (7-1, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Lenzner Field, Avonworth

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com with audio on WBVP-AM 1230, WBVP-FM 99.3

Coaches: Mark Lyons, Central Valley; Duke Johncour, Avonworth

Last week: Central Valley defeated Ambridge, 44-0; Avonworth defeated Hopewell, 50-0

Players to watch: Landon Alexander, Central Valley (Sr., 6-1, 180, RB/CB); Nate Harper, Avonworth (Jr., 5-10, 180, QB)

Four downs

1. Central Valley continued its dominance in Week 7 with a 44-0 shutout of visiting Ambridge. The Warriors led 37-0 by halftime thanks to the play of junior quarterback Antwon Johnson, who connected on 6 of 7 passes for 178 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses.

2. Last week was just another day at the office for Warriors star running back Landon Alexander. The senior rushed for 91 yards on only 10 carries and scored on runs of 2 and 45 yards. Alexander the Great now has 1,111 yards rushing with 18 touchdowns for the undefeated and defending WPIAL and PIAA champs.

3. There was no getting caught looking ahead to this week’s showdown for Avonworth. The Antelopes led 34-0 after one quarter as they cruised to a 50-point victory. Sophomore Luke Hollywood wrote the ground script as he rushed for a team high 85 yards and a touchdown for the first place ‘Lopes.

4. Antelopes quarterback Nate Harper enjoyed a perfect night against the Vikings last week. He completed all five of his passes for 85 yards, with three of those completions going to the house. Harper threw touchdown passes of 12, 33 and 7 yards with two scoring passes going to junior Austin Johncour.

Extra point: Both Central Valley and Avonworth have clinched playoff berths and are playing for at least a share of the Northwestern Six Conference championship. Last year, this showdown game was postponed due to covid-19 issues. Thus, this will be the first meeting between the Warriors and the Antelopes. Avonworth did beat Monaca in the 2009 Class A first round playoffs, 27-0. It was the Indians’ final game before merging with Center to form Central Valley the next year.

Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference

Beaver Falls (4-3, 4-1) at Neshannock (7-1, 4-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Bob Bleggi Stadium, Neshannock

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls; Fred Mozzoccio, Neshannock

Last week: Beaver Falls defeated Freedom, 41-8; Neshannock defeated New Brighton, 40-27

Players to watch: Jaren Brickner, Beaver Falls (Sr., 6-0, 175, QB); Peyton Weaver, Neshannock (Jr., 5-8, 175, RB)

Four downs

1. After losing its first three games, the turnaround continued last week for defending WPIAL Class 2A champion Beaver Falls. Junior running back Isaiah Aeschbacher rushed for 182 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 5 and 62 yards as the Tigers roared past Freedom, 41-8.

2. Quarterback Jaren Brickner was huge in the Tigers’ fourth straight win. He connected on 11 of 17 passes for 230 yards and he threw touchdown passes of 24, 4 and 67 yards with two of those scoring strikes going to fellow junior Trey Singleton.

3. The Neshannock offense was keeping the scoreboard lit up in Week 7. The Lancers have scored at least 40 points in six of their eight games this season. Lancers senior quarterback Kurt Sommerfeld threw for two touchdowns and also rushed for 83 yards in the team’s fourth straight win.

4. The Lancers leaned heavily on running back Peyton Weaver to erase a 13-point early deficit at New Brighton last week. The junior carried the ball 26 times and gained 155 yards, plus he scored on touchdown runs of 5 and 15 yards as Neshannock kept its conference title hopes alive with a 13-point win.

Extra point: Beaver Falls and Neshannock have clinched playoff berths and are still alive at least for a share of the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship. Last year was the first meeting in football between the two schools. The Lancers led 20-16 at the half, but the unbeaten Tigers prevailed by outscoring Neshannock 30-7 in the second half. Beaver Falls running back Josh Hough rushed for 169 yards and three touchdowns.

Class A Big 7 Conference

No. 5 Rochester (5-2, 3-2) at Shenango (3-4, 3-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Frank Bongivengo Field at Glenn ‘Pop’ Johnston Stadium, Shenango HS

Coaches: Gene Matsook, Rochester; Jimmy Graham, Shenango

Last week: Rochester lost to Cornell, 14-7; Shenango defeated Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 14-7

Players to watch: J.D. Azulay, Rochester (Sr., 6-0, 175, QB); C.J. Miller, Shenango (Jr., 5-9, 175, RB)

Four downs

1. In its four wins on the field, Rochester has averaged 32.5 points per game. In their two losses, the Rams have scored a total of seven points. Last week, Rochester moved the ball against Cornell as senior Sal Laure rushed for 117 yards, but it could only crack the end zone once.

2. The Rams’ only points in the Week 7 loss at home to the Raiders came on a 57-yard touchdown run in the second quarter by quarterback J.D. Azulay. The senior threw for only 21 yards and ended up with 87 yards rushing.

3. After losing its first four games, Shenango has turned it around with three straight Big 7 Conference victories. The Wildcats’ most recent victory was a Week 7 Saturday night stunner as they upset Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 14-7.

4. While Wildcats senior running back Aaron Martin scored a pair of touchdowns on a run and scoring reception, junior running back C.J. Miller did the heavy lifting for the ‘Cats. He carried the ball 23 times and rushed for 149 yards to boost Shenango’s playoff hopes.

Extra point: Both Rochester and Shenango are one win away from clinching a playoff berth or qualifying by getting some help. The Rams have dominated the series, winning 16 of the 18 meetings, including the last three in a row. Last year, Rochester handed Shenango its first loss in the regular season finale, 13-0. The Wildcats’ only two wins against the Rams were in 2014 and 2015.

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