Trib HSSN don’t-miss high school football matchups for 2022 Week 6

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Thursday, October 6, 2022 | 5:50 PM


We begin the second half of the 2022 regular season with gray skies, a threat of rain and temps in the 50s … in other words, October football is upon us.

With little margin for error, especially in Class 6A (with a four-team playoff field) and Class 5A (with eight teams), every conference game is huge.

There are five head-to-head matchups between Trib HSSN Top 5 ranked teams in Week 6.

Two of them are in Class 5A as top-ranked Upper St. Clair hosts No. 2 Bethel Park and No. 5 Penn-Trafford visits No. 3 Gateway.

The others include No. 3 Mt. Lebanon at top-ranked North Allegheny in 6A, No. 5 East Allegheny visiting No. 4 Freeport in 3A and No. 5 Sto-Rox hosting No. 4 Washington in 2A.

All five of those showdowns are on HSSN on Friday.

Here are previews of two of those games, plus four other top-notch matchups around the WPIAL on Friday in Week 6, all of which can be heard or viewed here on Trib HSSN.

Class 6A

No. 3 Mt. Lebanon (1-1, 2-4) at No. 1 North Allegheny (2-0, 5-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Newman Stadium, North Allegheny

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

Coaches: Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon; Art Walker, North Allegheny

Last week: Upper St. Clair 17, Mt. Lebanon 10; Pine-Richland 28, North Allegheny 17

Players to watch: Beckham Dee, Mt. Lebanon (Jr., 6-1, 210, RB); Logan Kushner, North Allegheny (Jr., 6-1, 190, QB)

Four downs

1. After a dream season in 2021, Mt. Lebanon has followed up with a see-saw campaign in 2022. The defending WPIAL and PIAA 6A champions lost their first two games, won two in a row and then dropped a second straight game last week in a tough nonconference loss to neighboring Upper St. Clair. The Blue Devils’ four losses have come by a combined 43 points to Gateway, Bethel Park, Seneca Valley and undefeated USC.

2. The Blue Devils were held to under 50 yards passing and just over 100 yards on the ground by a staunch USC defense. Mt. Lebanon junior running back Beckham Dee led the way with 38 yards rushing and scored the team’s only touchdown on a 6-yard run in the opening quarter.

3. After winning its first five games of the season, North Allegheny was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten by a familiar foe. Old rival Pine-Richland scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break a 14-14 tie and win a nonconference game over visiting NA by 11 points.

4. Tigers junior quarterback Logan Kushner didn’t put up big numbers in Week 5, but he was still productive in leading the black and gold offense. Kushner threw for 89 yards and two touchdowns, a 16-yard toss to junior tight end Daniel Sellers in the second quarter and an 18-yard connection to senior wide receiver Anthony Varlotta in the third quarter.

Historic factoids: Two of the most successful coaches in WPIAL history will be manning the sidelines Friday. Bob Palko of Mt. Lebanon has 245 career wins, tying him with Don Yanessa for 11th on the all-time district coaching wins. Palko is tied with Bill Cherpak of Thomas Jefferson for most WPIAL championships with nine each. Walker, now in his 25th season as a head coach, has 225 victories. … The all-time series between Mt. Lebanon and North Allegheny is tied, 17-17. The Tigers won 11 straight from 2006-2020; however, the Blue Devils won twice a year ago, 51-20, in the regular season and in the 6A semifinals, 28-17. Mt. Lebanon shut out North Allegheny, 20-0, in the first meeting in 1979. The two teams have played each other five times in the postseason with the Blue Devils holding a 3-2 edge. Lebo won playoff games in 1983, 1991 and 2021 while NA earned postseason victories over the blue and gold in 2006 and 2017.

Class 5A Northeast Conference

Shaler (1-0, 4-2) at North Hills (2-1, 2-4)

7 p.m. Friday, Martorelli Stadium, West View

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

Coaches: Jim Ryan, Shaler, Pat Carey, North Hills

Last week: Shaler 28, Woodland Hills 21; North Hills 38, Fox Chapel 6

Players to watch: Keegan Smetanka, Shaler (Jr., 5-11, 170, QB); John Green, North Hills (Sr., 5-9, 174, QB/S)

Four downs

1. It took six games, but Shaler finally opened up play in the Class 5A Northeast Conference last week and now sits alone atop of the conference. The Titans picked up their second straight win and fourth in the last five weeks thanks to a pair of touchdowns from junior wide receiver Joey DeSabato, one on a 46-yard scoring catch and the other on a fumble recovery.

2. Titans quarterback Keegan Smetanka had another big game. The junior connected on 26 of 47 passes for 257 yards and three touchdown tosses to DeSabato, junior Brandon London on a 25-yard scoring strike and junior Peyton Planz from 3 yards out. For the season, Smetank has thrown for nearly 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns.

3. North Hills continued its turnaround from an 0-4 start with a second straight conference win to move the red and white into second place in the Northeast Conference. The Indians scored 22 second-quarter points to take a lead into the locker room, 28-0. Sophomore tight end Jake Pollaro had two catches against Fox Chapel, but both went for touchdowns.

4. Indians senior quarterback John Green did damage through the air and on the ground against the Foxes. Green hit on 11 of 15 passes for 177 yards and four touchdowns, a pair to Pollero and one each to sophomore wide receiver John Hoskey and senior wide out Cooper Thompson. Green also led North Hills in rushing with 71 of the team’s 210 yards on the ground.

Historic factoids: Shaler made history last week by defeating Woodland Hills for the first time in program history. Now the Titans try to shake off another demon in North Hills. The Titans have lost 10 straight to their northern neighbors, including a 49-19 Indians victory last fall. The last Shaler win in this longtime series was in 2011, 26-14. North Hills leads the all-time series, 52-30-1, even though Shaler won the first meeting between the two schools in 1937, 14-0. These schools did not play each other in 1943 and 1944, but have played every year since, 78 years running. Fifty years ago, Shaler was awarded a forfeit victory over North Hills in the 1972 season.

Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference

Hampton (1-1, 3-3) at North Catholic (1-2, 3-3)

7 p.m. Friday, J.C. Stone Field, North Park

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

Coaches: Steve Sciullo, Hampton; Pat O’Shea, North Catholic

Last week: Hampton 55, Connellsvile 19; Armstrong 35, North Catholic 19

Players to watch: Michael Morgano, Hampton (Sr., 5-10, 175, RB/LB); Jason Siket, North Catholic (Jr., 6-1, 163, QB/S)

Four downs

1. Hampton evened its overall record at 3-3 last week with a nonconference victory at Connellsville. Leading by seven points after one quarter, the Talbots put the game away with 35 second-quarter points. Senior Eric Weeks led Hampton in rushing with 131 yards on 10 carries and a 26-yard touchdown run. The Talbots split their first two Class 5A Greater Allegheny Conference games but dropped three of four heading into last week.

2. Talbots running back Michael Morgano may not have led the team in rushing in Week 5, but he more than made up for it with his scoring touch. Morgano carried the ball 12 times and gained 123 yards on the ground, plus he scored five touchdowns on runs of 5, 4, 1, 61 and 11 yards. He also returned a blocked punt for a score in the Talbots’ 36-point win.

3. With high hopes in what might be Pat O’Shea’s final year as head coach at North Catholic, the Trojans dropped to 1-2 in the GAC and 3-3 overall with a third loss in the last four weeks. In Week 5, North Catholic held Armstrong to only seven points in the first half, but the River Hawks found their offensive stride and scored 28 second-half points to win the conference battle and keep Armstrong unbeaten in conference play.

4. Trojans quarterback Jason Siket did what he could last week to put the team in the win column. The junior connected on 13 of 24 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown on a 21-yard pass to junior wide receiver Gavin Kamody, plus he led North Catholic on the ground with 71 yards rushing and a 10-yard touchdown run.

Historic factoids: With Highlands (3-0), Armstrong (2-0) and Mars (1-1) tied or ahead of Hampton and North Catholic, this could be a game that eventually decides the fourth playoff spot in the Greater Allegheny Conference. This is the first meeting between these schools in 25 years. North Catholic shut out Hampton in that most recent contest in 1997, 21-0. The Trojans lead the all-time series over the Talbots, 14-3-1, and have won the last six meetings. The last time Hampton beat North Catholic was in 1991, 19-0. The Trojans won the first eight meetings between the two, including the first matchup in 1980, 25-0. The lone tie came in 1990 when the two played to a deadlock of 14-14.

Class 3A Western Hills Conference

Beaver (1-1, 4-2) at No. 2 Avonworth (230, 5-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Lenzner Field, Avonworth

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

Coaches: Cort Rowse, Beaver; Duke Johncour, Avonworth

Last week: Beaver 35, Brentwood 6; Avonworth 14, West Mifflin 8

Players to watch: Liam Gibson, Beaver (Sr., 6-0, 180, RB/S); Luke Hilyard, Avonworth (Sr., 5-10, 205, RB/LB)

Four downs

1. After a tough double overtime conference loss at home to West Mifflin the previous week that snapped a three-game winning streak, Beaver was back on its winning track with a nonconference rout of host Brentwood. Senior quarterback Issac Pupi threw for only 78 yards but did connect with senior wide receiver Dylan Porto on a 23-yard scoring strike in the opening quarter that got the ball rolling for the Bobcats.

2. Running back Liam Gibson was the workhorse for the Bobcats on the ground in Week 5. The senior ran for 115 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 7, 62 and 32 yards as Beaver blew open a tight game at halftime with 14 points each in the third and fourth quarters.

3. Avonworth took control of the Class 3A Western Hills Conference for the time being with a huge one-score victory in Week 5 over up-and-coming West Mifflin. Senior quarterback Nate Harper threw for 77 yards and junior running back Brandon Biagiarelli rushed for 41 yards and scored the ‘Lopes’ go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

4. While he might not have racked up the points, Antelopes running back Luke Hilyard was a monster eating up yards on the ground. The senior carried the ball 34 times for 209 yards and provided insurance with an 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to keep Avonworth perfect and in first place in the Western Hills Conference.

Historic factoids: This is the first meeting between Beaver and Avonworth in 80 years. The last time they met, the Antelopes edged the Bobcats, 7-0, in 1942. The first meeting between the schools was in 1915 with Avonworth winning, 14-13. One-hundred years ago, Beaver was victorious over the ‘Lopes in the 1922 season, 14-6. Avonworth leads the all-times series, 4-3, with the Antelopes winning in 1915, 1920, 1941 and 1942 while the Bobcats were triumphant in 1919, 1922 and 1940.

Class 2A Century Conference

No. 4 Washington (2-0, 5-1) at No. 5 Sto-Rox (3-0, 3-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Sto-Rox Stadium

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com with audio only on WJPA-AM 1450

Coaches: Mike Bosnic, Washington; Marvin Mills, Sto-Rox

Last week: Washington 59, Waynesburg Central 14; Sto-Rox 6, McGuffey 0

Players to watch: Eddie Lewis, Washington (Soph., 5-9 165, RB); Josh Jenkins, Sto-Rox (Sr, 6-1, 180, QB/S)

Four downs

1. Washington wasn’t caught looking ahead as it rolled to a 2A Century Conference victory at home over winless Waynesburg last week. The win was the third straight for the Little Prexies and fifth in six games this season. In its five wins, Wash High has scored 278 points for an average of nearly 56 points per game.

2. Little Prexies running back Eddie Lewis only carried the ball five times in Week 5 against the Raiders but rushed for 125 yards (25 yards per carry) and scored touchdowns on runs of 29, 53 and 29 yards as Washington built a 34-7 lead by halftime and put the game into mercy rule with 19 third-quarter points.

3. On a team known for offense, Week 5 turned into a struggle for Sto-Rox in its Class 2A Century Conference showdown at McGuffey. The Vikings only scored one third-quarter touchdown, but fortunately for the green machine, they picked up their second straight shutout by blanking the Highlanders. Sto-Rox has allowed a total of seven points in its three straight wins.

4. Even though he wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard, Vikings quarterback Josh Jenkins continued his big season with a steady effort at McGuffey. The senior hit on 13 of 21 passes for 245 yards and connected with senior wide receiver Diego Ellis on the game’s only touchdown, a 6-yard scoring pass in the third quarter.

Historic factoids: This is the 13th overall meeting between Washington and Sto-Rox with the Little Prexies leading the all-time series, 9-3. This is the first time these teams have met in five years. Wash High rolled to a win in 2017, 56-16. The last time the Vikings beat the Little Prexies was 25 year ago, 22-12 in 1997. Washington won the first meeting in 1990, 36-16.

Class A Tri-County South Conference

Mapletown (3-0, 6-0) at Jefferson-Morgan (2-1, 4-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Parker Field, Jefferson-Morgan

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

Coaches: George Messich, Mapletown; Shane Ziats, Jefferson-Morgan

Last week: Mapletown 52, California 20; Jefferson-Morgan 28, Bentworth 25

Players to watch: Landan Stevenson, Mapletown (Sr., 5-10, 160, RB/LB); Cole Jones (Sr, 6-0, 190, QB)

Four downs

1. The historic start for Mapletown continued last week with another big win over one of the top teams in the Class A Tri-County South Conference. Following a win two weeks ago over Carmichaels, the Maples hit the road and defeated California by 32 points, lifting Mapletown to 6-0 for the first time since 1968.

2. The Maples continue to be led on offense by running back Landan Stevenson. The senior rushed for 251 yards on 30 carries and scored four touchdowns on runs of 9, 34, 1 and 40 yards, plus he threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Brock Evans. Stevenson is now second in the WPIAL in rushing with 1,119 yards and 23 touchdowns.

3. Jefferson-Morgan continues to enjoy one of its best seasons in a while after winning on the road at Bentworth in Week 5. The four victories overall are as many as the Rockets had in 2020 (three wins) and 2021 (one win) combined. Jefferson-Morgan is trying to make the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2012.

4. Rockets quarterback Cole Jones has been a straight shooter all season in helping his team win four of its six games. Last week against the Bearcats, the senior signal caller threw for 170 yards and three touchdowns on scoring passes of 35 and 43 yards to sophomore slot back Houston Guseman and 12 yards to sophomore wide receiver Ryan Baker.

Historic factoids: These Greene County rivals have met every year since 1957, 65 years and counting. Jefferson-Morgan leads the all-time series, 43-25-4. Last year, the Maples defeated the Rockets, 43-12. That win ended a four-game winning streak for J-M. The first meeting between the teams ended in a scoreless tie in 1928. Twice, the Rockets have won seven straight in this series, from 1994-2000 and from 2006-2012. The longest streak for the Maples was three in a row between 1967-1969.

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