Trib HSSN don’t-miss high school football matchups for 2022 Week 7

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Friday, October 14, 2022 | 12:21 AM


We begin the stretch run of the regular season, where games seem to mean more with conference championships up for grabs, home-field advantage and playoff positioning in the mix and teams fighting to continue their seasons into November and the WPIAL playoffs.

A friendly reminder that the new district playoff format has four teams in Class 6A, eight in 5A, 13 in 4A, 12 in 3A, 14 in 2A and 16 in Class A.

Here are previews of six games in Week 7, five of which are conference clashes and five that can be watched here on Trib HSSN.

Nonconference

Class 6A 3-Mt. Lebanon (1-2, 2-5) at Class 5A 5-Peters Township (3-1, 6-1)

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

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

Coaches: Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon; T.J. Plack, Peters Township

Last week: North Allegheny 20, Mt. Lebanon 6; Peters Township 48, Moon 8

Players to watch: David Shields, Mt. Lebanon (Soph., 6-1, 190, QB); Chris Cibrone, Peters Township (Jr., 5-10, 165, QB)

Four downs

1. Mt. Lebanon suffered a season-high third straight loss last week, falling at North Allegheny in a Class 6A Conference game. The loss drops the defending champions to 1-2 in 6A with one more conference game coming up in two weeks against Canon-McMillan. A second-quarter touchdown pass from senior quarterback Alex Gevaudan to senior wide receiver Michael Beiersdorf provided the only points for the Blue Devils last week.

2. The Blue Devils continue using both Gevaudan and sophomore David Shields at quarterback. Against NA, Gevaudan completed 3 of 14 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown while Shields was 3 of 9 passing for 13 yards. Shields did lead Mt. Lebanon in rushing with 47 yards on 13 carries.

3. Like Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township only has one conference game remaining and that comes in two weeks with a big showdown at first-place Bethel Park. The Indians improved to 3-1 in the 5A Allegheny Six Conference with a win over Moon in Week 6. Peters has outscored Baldwin and Moon, 98-21, in their back-to-back wins.

4. Indians junior quarterback Chris Cibrone isn’t putting up the eye-popping numbers he was earlier in the season, but he is still doing what he needs to do for both himself and the Indians to have success. Against Moon, Cibrone connected on 7 of 12 passes for 149 yards and touchdown tosses of 8 yards to junior wide receiver Thomas Aspinall and 47 yards to junior wide receiver Nate Miller.

Historic factoids: Mt. Lebanon has dominated this series in the South Hills, winning 10 of the 11 all-time matchups. The schools played every year since 2008 except for a three-year span from 2018-2020. When the series resumed last year, the Blue Devils resumed their winning ways, 31-0. It was the second shutout in the series and the fifth straight win for Mt. Lebanon. The only Peters Township victory came in 2013 in an offensive thriller, 39-35. Offense has been the key to success for the Blue Devils over the Indians. In their 10 wins, Mt. Lebanon has outscored Peters Township, 372-139.

Class 5A Northeast Conference

3-Pine-Richland (1-1, 4-3) at Shaler (1-1, 4-3)

7 p.m. Friday, Mount Royal Stadium, Glenshaw

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

Coaches: Jon LeDonne, Pine-Richland; Jim Ryan, Shaler

Last week: Pine-Richland 35, Central Catholic 13; North Hills 35, Shaler 23

Players to watch: Ryan Palmeiri, Pine-Richland (Sr., 5-11, 175, QB/S); Keegan Smetanka, Shaler (Jr., 5-11, 170, QB)

Four downs

1. After struggling to a 1-3 start, Pine-Richland has found the on switch with three straight wins, including impressive victories over Class 6A powers North Allegheny and Central Catholic. Last week, junior Ethan Pillar rushed for a game-high 179 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 8 and 68 yards as the Rams took down the Vikings at CMU.

2. Week 6 was another big week for Rams quarterback Ryan Palmeiri. The senior was a near-perfect 9 of 10 passing for 90 yards, plus he rushed for 74 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 6 and 2 yards as Pine-Richland is over .500 for the first time this season with all remaining games in the 5A Northeast Conference.

3. Shaler saw its brief run on top of the 5A Northeast Conference come to an end last week, along with its two-game winning streak. Two weeks ago, Shaler made history by beating Woodland Hills for the first time. However, its run of bucking recent historic trends ended when it lost at North Hills in Week 6. The Titans have now lost 11 straight games to the rival Indians.

4. Titans quarterback Keegan Smetanka enjoyed another good game despite the loss. The junior connected on 14 of 23 passes for 188 yards and three touchdown tosses, all to junior wide receiver Joey DeSabato of 43, 12 and 3 yards.

Historic factoids: For a third straight week, Shaler faces an opponent against whom it has had zero success in recent years. Pine-Richland leads the all-time series 10-2 with win No. 10 coming last fall, 35-0. In the 10 straight wins, the Rams have outscored the Titans, 455-63, an average of 45-6. The only two Shaler wins over Pine-Richland came in the first two games in 2008-2009. In’08, the Titans won 14-7 and a year later in ’09, the blue, red and white beat the green and white 29-7.

Class 4A Parkway Conference

Blackhawk (2-2, 3-4) at No. 5 West Allegheny (3-1, 6-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Joe Pe DeMichela Stadium, West Allegheny

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

Coaches: Zack Hayward, Blackhawk; Dave Schoppe, West Allegheny

Last week: Aliquippa 54, Blackhawk 3; West Allegheny 40, Ambridge 0

Players to watch: Stephen Knallay, Blackhawk (Soph., 6-3, 180, QB); Nodin Tracey, West Allegheny (Sr., 5-11, 175, RB/DB)

Four downs

1. After winning three straight games, including its first two Class 4A Parkway Conference contests, Blackhawk has come crashing back to earth the last two weeks with losses to a pair of defending district and state champions and two of the top 4A teams in the state in Central Valley and Aliquippa. No shame for the Cougars in losing to the Warriors and Quips, as long as they can bounce back from the humbling losses that came by a combined score of 96-3.

2. The Cougars have turned to sophomore quarterback Stephen Knallay this season. While Blackhawk had little success on the ground or in the air against Aliquippa in Week 6, Knallay hit on 6 of 16 passes for 85 yards. One more win in the final three weeks should be enough to get Blackhawk back into the postseason

3. West Allegheny continues to be one of the great stories of the 2022 season. After missing the playoffs by finishing in fifth place in the Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference last year, the Indians have won six of seven games this fall and can clinch a return trip to the district postseason for the first time since 2019 with a win over Blackhawk.

4. The Indians picked up their second straight win last week after falling to Aliquippa in Week 4. West A senior running back Nodin Tracy rushed for 80 yards on eight carries and scored on a 2-yard first-quarter run, plus he had four receptions for 37 yards and caught a 5-yard scoring pass in the second quarter from senior quarterback Gage Upton.

Historic factoids: West Allegheny and Blackhawk resume their old Class 3A Parkway Conference rivalry for the first time since 2015. The Indians beat the Cougars seven years ago, 41-14. West Allegheny has won the last eight meetings against Blackhawk and holds an overall lead in the series, 15-10. The last time the Cougars beat the Indians was in 2007, 21-7. The first meeting between the schools was in 1982 with Blackhawk prevailing, 35-14. These schools have met once in the WPIAL playoffs. West Allegheny defeated Blackhawk, 20-12, in the 1997 3A playoffs.

Class 3A Western Hills Conference

Hopewell (2-1, 3-4) at South Park (2-2, 3-4)

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

On the air: No broadcast

Coaches: Matt Weiss, Hopewell; Marty Rieck, South Park

Last week: Keystone Oaks 26, Hopewell 0; South Park 44, Quaker Valley 0

Players to watch: Dayveon Jackson, Hopewell (Sr., 5-10, 170, RB); Eric Doerue, South Park (Soph., 6-0, 190, RB)

Four downs

1. It was an empty feeling for Hopewell at home in Week 6. The Vikings offense had just scored 60 points in back-to-back wins over Seton LaSalle and Quaker Valley but came up empty in a nonconference game against Keystone Oaks. It was the third time in four losses this season that Hopewell had been kept off the scoreboard.

2. Despite having little to show on offense in their Week 6 loss to KO, the Vikings hope to turn to senior running back Dayveon Jackson for success on the ground against South Park. In conference wins in Week 4 and Week 5, Jackson rushed for a combined 285 yards and scored three touchdowns.

3. South Park is back in the playoff picture after a season-high two-game win streak, with both victories coming in the Class 3A Western Hills Conference over Seton LaSalle and Quaker Valley. In Week 6, the Eagles flew out to a big lead by halftime with 23 first-quarter points and 21 more in the second quarter against the Quakers.

4. Eagles running back Eric Doerue enjoyed another big evening on the ground. After running for 209 yards and three touchdowns against the Rebels in Week 5, the sophomore rushed for 159 yards on 14 carries and scored four touchdowns on runs of 21, 15, 2 and 9 yards as South Park looks to take a big step toward a playoff berth with a third straight win in Week 7.

Historic factoids: This is only the third meeting between the longtime successful programs with both previous encounters coming in the last couple of years. South Park beat Hopewell, 34-17, in the first contest in 2018. The next season, the Eagles defeated the Vikings again, 41-23. The Vikings and Eagles could clinch a playoff berth with a win, depending what happens elsewhere in the Western Hills Conference in Week 7; however, both will be in trouble for a postseason spot with a loss.

Class 2A Century Conference

Keystone Oaks (2-1, 5-2) at McGuffey (3-1, 5-2)

7 p.m. Friday, McGuffey Highlanders Stadium, McGuffey

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

Coaches: Steve McCormick, Keystone Oaks; Ed Dalton, McGuffey

Last week: Keystone Oaks 26, Hopewell 0; McGuffey 43, Charleroi 0

Players to watch: Nick Buckley, Keystone Oaks (Sr., 6-2 170, QB); Philip McCuen, McGuffey (Sr, 6-0, 185, QB/S)

Four downs

1. After losing big to Sto-Rox in Week 4, Keystone Oaks has won two in a row by registering back-to-back shutout victories. In a nonconference whitewash of host Hopewell last week, senior running back Shawn Reick was flying high with 133 yards rushing on 16 carriers and touchdown runs of 5, 5 and 9 yards for KO’s fifth win of the season.

2. Golden Eagles quarterback Nick Buckley also had a solid performance in the Week 6 win over the Vikings. The senior connected on 19 of 24 passes for 252 yards. Buckley is closing in on 1,000 yards passing this season with 821 yards through the air and six touchdown passes through the Golden Eagls first seven games.

3. McGuffey suffered a tough Week 5 loss at home to Sto-Rox, 6-0, but Ed Dalton’s squad showed nice bounce-back ability in Week 6 with a 36-point Class 2A Century Conference victory on the road at Charleroi. The Highlanders spread the scoring wealth around last week with touchdowns runs by senior Kyle Brookman, senior Eric Donnelly and sophomore Malachai Ealy, as well as receiving touchdowns by seniors Tristan McAdoo and Ethan Deitrich.

4. The Highlanders were led at Charleroi by quarterback Philip McCuen and his success through the air and on the ground. The senior completed all three of his passes for 49 yards with two of them going for touchdowns of 32 and 16 yards, plus he rushed twice for 14 yards, including a 10-yard TD run as the Highlanders can clinch a playoff spot with a win in Week 7.

Historic factoids: If Friday’s game is anything like the last meeting between the two schools, buckle up. This is the first meeting since McGuffey edged Keystone Oaks, 41-40, in 2013. The previous season, the Golden Eagles claimed a close win over the Highlanders, 28-21. Keystone Oaks leads the all-time series 7-6 thanks to five straight wins from 2000-2012. McGuffey won four out of five from KO from 1993-1997. The Highlanders won the first meeting in 1990, 7-0.

Class A Big 7 Conference

3-South Side (3-0, 7-0) at 4-Laurel (3-0, 5-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Spartans Stadium at the Leonard S. Rich Athletic Complex, Laurel

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

Coaches: Luke Travelplace, South Side; Brian Cooper, Laurel

Last week: South Side 15, Shenango 13; Laurel 58, Northgate 14

Players to watch: Parker Statler, South Side (Sr., 5-11, 185, RB); Landon Smith (Sr, 5-8, 150, RB)

Four downs

1. South Side’s magical season nearly took a detour in Week 6. Winners of its first six games this season and tied for the top spot in the Class A Big 7 Conference, the Rams scored 15 second-quarter points last week, including a safety, then held on for a hair-raising two-point victory over visiting Shenango, a team that had just won its first game of the season the previous week.

2. Rams running back Parker Statler continued his strong season in the win over the Wildcats. With the South Side rushing attack kept in check, the senior Statler rushed for 72 yards and scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on a 4-yard run, plus he added three receptions for 42 yards for the Rams.

3. After losing a heartbreaker in overtime to Class 2A Neshannock in Week 1, Laurel has now won four in a row and three straight Big 7 Conference games. Senior quarterback Chase Tinstman threw for 93 yards and four touchdowns in the win at Northgate while junior Ben Hennon rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown.

4. Spartans running back Landon Smith didn’t put up monster numbers against the Flames last week but did enough damage to add to his impressive senior resume. Smith rushed for 74 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 10, 8 and 20 yards, plus he caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Tinstman as Laurel won easily ahead of its big showdown against South Side in Week 7.

Historic factoids: The winner of this game takes over sole possession of first place and takes a big step toward the Big 7 Conference crown. Laurel leads the all-time series against South Side, 10-3-1. The Spartans won the last meeting in 2017, 35-7, and have won seven straight against the Rams. The last win for South Side over Laurel was 18 years ago in the 2004 season, 19-13. The Rams’ other two wins came in 1998 and 1999, the year they won WPIAL and PIAA gold. The first meeting between the programs was 60 years ago when the Spartans and Rams played to a tie, 13-13, in 1962.

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