Trib HSSN don’t-miss high school football matchups for 2022 Week 3

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Thursday, September 15, 2022 | 7:25 PM


If the district playoffs are Christmas for high school football fans, then Week 3 is like Thanksgiving Day.

Sure, you eat plenty of meals over the course of a year, but there is something special about that one meal in late November. Hours and hours of prep time in the kitchen are usually spent by many because this is the dinner that counts.

It’s much like the start of conference play around District 7 for many teams this weekend. We have seen some great football these first three weeks, but conference games are the ones that count toward earning a spot under the postseason tree.

Below are six of the standout matchups around the WPIAL on Friday in Week 3, all of them conference lid-lifters. Five of the six can be viewed or heard here on Trib HSSN.

Class 6A

No. 4 Mt. Lebanon (1-2) at No. 1 Central Catholic (2-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Gesling Stadium, Carnegie Mellon University

On the air: Audio stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com and on KDKA-AM 1020, KDKA-FM 100.1

Coaches: Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon; Terry Totten, Central Catholic

Last week: Mt. Lebanon 40, Moon 9; Central Catholic 31, Bethel Park 22

Players to watch: David Shields, Mt. Lebanon (Soph., 6-1, 190, QB/LB); Payton Wehner, Central Catholic (Jr., 6-1, 165, QB)

Four downs

1. After losing to Gateway and Bethel Park in its first two games, defending district and state 6A champion Mt. Lebanon picked up its first win of the season in Week 2 with a convincing victory over Moon. Senior Michael Beiersdorf returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown and scooped up a fumble and raced 19 yards to the end zone to help seal the victory.

2. A standout on the baseball diamond, the Blue Devils’ David Shields enjoyed slinging the pigskin instead of the horsehide against Moon. The sophomore threw for 185 yards and three touchdowns of 12, 16 and 5 yards in the Lebo victory.

3. Central Catholic used a big 17-point second quarter to rally and take the lead for good in a quality road win at previously undefeated Bethel Park in Week 2. Sophomore Amir Shields was once again the workhorse in the Vikings ground game, rushing for 92 yards on 22 carries.

4. Vikings junior quarterback Payton Wehner had success through the air when the Black Hawks defense slowed down the Central Catholic ground game at times. Wehner connected on 13 of 18 passes for 204 yards and a pair of long touchdown tosses of 63 and 48 yards, plus he scored on a 2-yard run in the Vikings second straight win.

Historic factoids: This is a rematch of the 2021 WPIAL 6A championship game won by Mt. Lebanon, 47-7. The Blue Devils also scored a victory over the Vikings in the regular season, 35-14. Central Catholic leads the all-time series, 9-8. Since expansion to six classes, these teams have met seven times, including three playoff games. In the postseason, the Vikings are 3-2 with wins in 2011, 2019 and 2020. The Blue Devils two wins in the playoffs over Central were in 1997 and 2022.

Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference

South Fayette (2-1) at Peters Township (3-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Confluence Financial Partners Stadium, Peters Township MS

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

Coaches: Joe Rossi, South Fayette; T.J. Plack, Peters Township

Last week: South Fayette 20, Montour 19, Peters Township 38, Trinity 14

Players to watch: Nico Lamonde, South Fayette (Jr., 6-2, 175, QB); Chris Cibrone, Peters Township (Sr., 5-9, 150, QB)

Four downs

1. South Fayette got defensive in picking up its second win of the season in Week 2. Montour scored late in the game to pull to within one point of the Lions; however, Spartans coach Lou Cerro went for the lead, and a two-point conversion pass attempt was incomplete, giving the green and white a second win.

2. The Lions under Joe Rossi are well known for producing top-notch quarterbacks. Nico Lamonde might be next. The junior connected on 11 of 17 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown, plus he rushed for 87 yards in the hard-fought win over Montour.

3. Despite losing key players to graduation, Peters Township is flying out of the gates with a perfect 3-0 start. Last week against Trinity, the Indians scored 14 points in both the second and fourth quarters to cruise to the 24-point victory. Senior running back Rich Woods led PT on the ground with 128 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

4. One of the great stories in the WPIAL this season is the early success of Indians quarterback Chris Cibrone. He enjoyed another big night in Week 2 against the Hillers, hitting on 19 of 37 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns. Cibrone is second in the district in passing with 884 yards in three games and 10 touchdowns.

Historic factoids: This is only the fifth meeting between South Fayette and Peters Township. The Indians have won the last two years — 35-7 a year ago and 17-3 in 2020. The Lions’ two wins also came in back-to-back years. South Fayette beat Peters Township in 1988, 7-0, then again in 1989, 7-6. The Lions have never scored more than seven points in a game against the Indians.

Class 4A Big Seven Conference

No. 2 McKeesport (3-0) at Laurel Highlands (2-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Mustangs Stadium, Laurel Highlands

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com with audio on WMBS-AM 590, WMBS-FM 101.1

Coaches: Matt Miller, McKeesport; Richard Kolesar, Laurel Highlands

Last week: McKeesport 14, Belle Vernon 6; Laurel Highlands 37, Kiski Area 7

Players to watch: Bobbie Boyd, McKeesport (Sr., 5-8, 175, RB/DB); Rodney Gallagher, Laurel Highlands (Sr., 6-0, 175, QB/WR/DB)

Four downs

1. If you didn’t think McKeesport was among the heavy hitters in Class 4A at the start of the season, the Tigers have opened up plenty of eyes with an impressive 3-0 start. A week after beating defending 5A champion Penn-Trafford on the road, the Tigers defense was outstanding in a home victory against the No. 1 team in 3A, Belle Vernon.

2. Bobbie Boyd started making a name for himself as a junior last season and his hard play on both sides of the ball has continued in 2022. Last week against the Leopards, Boyd rushed for 164 yards and scored both of the Tigers touchdowns. He has 439 yards and seven touchdowns heading into the Big Seven Conference opener.

3. Following a 41-30 Week 1 loss to Belle Vernon, Laurel Highlands enjoyed a nice bounce-back performance to improve to 2-1 heading into its Big Seven Conference opener. Antwan Black had a team-high 85 yards rushing on only seven carries, plus he scored a touchdown in the Mustangs’ 30-point win over Kiski Area.

4. Mr. do-it-all for the Mustangs is senior Rodney Gallagher. He has played wide receiver, running back and quarterback this early season and he plays them all well. Gallagher threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns, plus he rushed for 75 yards and two more scores in the Laurel Highlands win last week.

Historic factoids: This is only the third meeting between McKeesport and Laurel Highlands with the previous two encounters coming in the last two seasons. The Tigers beat the Mustangs, 35-20, in 2020. Then last fall, McKeesport scored 28 unanswered first half points and cruised to a win, 42-7, over Laurel Highlands in a Big Seven Conference fray. Boyd rushed for 173 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown for the Tigers while Gallagher was held to 46 yards rushing on 14 attempts for the Mustangs.

Class 3A Western Hills Conference

Beaver (2-1) at South Park (1-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Eagles Stadium, South Park HS

On the air: None

Coaches: Cort Rowse, Beaver; Marty Rieck, South Park

Last week: Beaver 28, Freedom 18; South Park 35, Brentwood 7

Players to watch: Isaac Pupi, Beaver (Sr., 5-11, 165, QB/FS); Eric Doerue, South Park (Soph., 6-0, 190, RB/LB)

Four downs

1. There was no letdown for Beaver following its big Week 1 stunner of Beaver Falls. The Bobcats took care of business at home against Freedom. Senior wide receiver Josiah Santiago had five catches for 77 yards with two of those receptions ending up as a pair of 12-yard touchdown catches.

2. The Bobcats leaned on another senior, quarterback Isaac Pupi, in their 10-point win over the Bulldogs last week. Pupi came through, connecting on 12 of 14 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns, including a 52-yard pass to senior wide receiver Gerrell Leeper in the third quarter to help seal the deal on the win.

3. South Park had a tough time scoring in road losses to East Allegheny and Keystone Oaks in the first two weeks of the season, but the Eagles enjoyed some home cooking to the tune of 35 points in a Week 2 win over Brentwood. Both senior Harper Conroy and junior Zach Ludwig threw touchdown passes for South Park.

4. The Eagles leaned heavily on their ground attack in picking up their first win of the season, led by running back Eric Doerue. The sophomore rushed for 228 yards on 19 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 28 and 69 yards, plus he caught a scoring pass from Conroy that covered 65 yards to end the South Park losing streak at seven straight.

Historic factoids: This is only the fourth meeting between Beaver and South Park with the Eagles holding a 2-1 edge. The most recent meeting was in the first round of the 2014 2A playoffs as South Park won a thriller, 21-20. The Eagles also won in 1993, 17-14. The lone Bobcats triumph in the series came 30 years ago, a shutout for Beaver in the 1992 season, 23-0.

Class 2A Allegheny Conference

Imani Christian (2-1) at No. 1 Steel Valley (2-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Campbell Field, Munhall

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

Coaches: LaRoi Johnson, Imani Christian; Ray Braszo, Steel Valley

Last week: Imani Christian 22, South Allegheny 7; Steel Valley 62, Seton LaSalle 7

Players to watch: David Davis, Imani Christian (Fr, 5-10, 165, RB/DB); Cruce Brookins, Steel Valley (Sr., 6-1 180, QB/DB)

Four downs

1. Imani Christian was blanked in Week Zero by visiting Linsly School out of West Virginia, 43-0. However, the Saints have proven that to be a distant bad memory the last two weeks, scoring 58 points in back-to-back wins over Brentwood and South Allegheny. Last week against the Gladiators, sophomore Dayshaun Burnett had 81 yards total from scrimmage as Imani matched its win total from 2021 at two.

2. The Saints can no longer keep their freshman sensation at running back a secret. For the second straight week, David Davis rushed for well over 200 yards to lead Imani Christian of offense. Davis finished with 293 yards on the ground on 19 carries with three touchdowns.

3. Underrated Steel Valley coach Ray Brazo made sure his team would not ease up after an emotional season opening victory at Sto-Rox in Week 1. The Ironmen cruised to a 55-point win. Junior running back Quaron Pierce rushed for 133 yards for the maroon and gold.

4. Cruce Brookins continues to dominate through two games in his senior season. The Ironmen quarterback threw for 94 yards and a touchdown, plus he ran for 110 yards on only five carries, three of which ended up as touchdowns in the Steel Valley rout of the Rebels.

Historic factoids: This is the first meeting between Imani Christian and Steel Valley. The Saints moved up to 2A thanks to a co-op with Propel Braddock Hills this offseason. Both coaches have returned “home.” LaRoi Johnson is in his first year as Imani Christian head coach after four successful seasons at Sto-Rox. Johnson was offensive coordinator for the Saints for two years, including for the 2017 team that lost to Jeannette in the WPIAL Class A finals. Braszo is in his second stint at his alma mater, Steel Valley, following two successful runs as head coach at neighboring West Mifflin.

Class A Black Hills Conference

Chartiers-Houston (3-0) at Fort Cherry (2-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Jim Garry Stadium, Fort Cherry

On the air: Audio stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com and on WJPA-FM 95.3

Coaches: Terry Fetsko, Chartiers-Houston; Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry

Last week: Chartiers-Houston 27, Carmichaels 12; Fort Cherry 48, Beth-Center 22

Players to watch: Zeke Watkins, Chartiers-Houston (Fr., 5-9, 160, RB); Matt Sieg (Fr, 6-0, 155, QB)

Four downs

1. Chartiers-Houston is off to a 3-0 start for a second straight season. The previous time the Buccaneers won their first three was in 2011. Last week, the Bucs only led by one point at halftime, but a big 75-yard kickoff return by senior wide receiver Jake Mele to begin the third quarter was the spark Chartiers-Houston needed to pull away from Carmichaels in a battle of 2-0 teams.

2. The Buccaneers saw their ninth-grade sensation at running back put up big numbers again. Freshman Zeke Watkins gained 173 yards on 22 carries and scored on a pair of touchdown runs of 28 and 5 yards. He now has 321 yards and four touchdowns in his early scholastic career.

3. Fort Cherry picked up a bounce-back win in Week 2, defeating visiting Beth-Center by 26 points. Sophomore Nathan Heirendt eclipsed the century mark on the ground, rushing for 101 yards on 12 carries and scoring on an 11-yard jaunt.

4. Chartiers-Houston isn’t the only team in the Black Hills Conference with a fabulous freshman shining bright in 2022. Fort Cherry quarterback Matt Sieg hit on 17 of 23 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns, plus he rushed for a team-high 125 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns in the Rangers’ second win of the season.

Historic factoids: These Washington County rivals have played every year since 1990 except for three seasons: 2016 and 2017 and their game in 2020 was postponed due to covid-19. Fort Cherry leads the all-time series, 23-17; however, Chartiers-Houston has won two straight and four of the last five meeting, including last fall, 27-6. There was a 24-year period where the Rangers and Buccaneers only met five times in the late 60s, 70s and 80s. Chartiers-Houston won the first clash between the two schools in 1959, 7-0.

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