Trib HSSN don’t-miss high school football matchups for Week 2 2023

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Thursday, September 7, 2023 | 7:00 PM


The avalanche of conference openers is coming for most WPIAL football teams next week. However, here in Week 2, we triple the amount of conference games from last week, going from one to three.

Three weeks into the season and after Friday, Canon-McMillan will be halfway through its four-game Class 6A schedule. On Friday, the Bic Macs host Seneca Valley.

Also on Friday, two Class 5A conference openers add to the importance of Week 2.

Undefeated Penn Hills visits defending district and state champion Pine-Richland in a Northeast Conference lid-lifter while South Hills rival collide when Baldwin hosts unbeaten Upper St. Clair in a Allegheny Six Conference opener.

Once again, we preview one of the top games in each classification.

Here is a look at some of the top district high school football contests slated for Week 2.

Class 6A

No. 5 Seneca Valley (0-2, 0-0) at No. 4 Canon-McMillan (1-1, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Big Mac Stadium, Canonsburg

Coaches: Ron Butschle, Seneca Valley; Mike Evans, Canon-McMillan

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

Last week: Peters Township 48, Seneca Valley 7; North Allegheny 30, Canon-McMillan 6

Players to watch: Kai West (Sr., 5-10, 175, RB/DB); Michael Evans, Canon-McMillan (Sr., 6-1, 210, QB)

Team notes

• Seneca Valley: The road has not been kind to the Raiders as they have lost back-to-back games to start the season against Class 5A powers Penn Hills and Peters Township. After scoring 20 points in a season-opening 13-point loss at Penn Hills, Seneca Valley was shut down and nearly shut out at Peters Township, scoring a late touchdown on a 35-yard scoring pass from Parker Brugos to DaJaun Webb in a 41-point loss. The Raiders only returned five starters from last year’s senior-heavy squad.

• Canon-McMillan: It’s only Week 2, but this might come as close as you can get this early in the season to a must-win for the Big Macs. In Class 6A, there are only four conference games and Canon-McMillan lost its conference opener to North Allegheny last week by 24 points. The blue and gold can’t afford to start 0-2 in 6A. Senior quarterback Michael Evans has thrown for 160 yards in the first two weeks while senior running back Zach Walsh has 127 yards rushing and has scored two of the team’s three touchdowns.

Historic factoids

The Big Macs ended a four-game losing streak in this series with a 33-21 win over the Raiders in Week 2 last season. Jake Kasper ran for 153 yards and scored four touchdowns for Canon-McMillan. Graham Hancox threw for 248 yards and a touchdown and ran for two scores in the loss for Seneca Valley.

Seneca Valley is 6-4 in the all-time series against Canon-McMillan, including four straight wins between 2018-2021 in which the Raiders outscored the Big Macs, 113-41.

The Big Macs and Raiders met for the first time 41 years ago when Canon-McMillan crushed Seneca Valley, 44-0, in 1982. Canon-Mac’s last win in the series before last year was 20 years ago, a 35-14 triumph in 2003.

Class 5A vs 6A

Class 5A No. 4 Bethel Park (1-1) at Class 6A No. 2 Central Catholic (2-0)

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

Coaches: Phil Pekich, Bethel Park; Ryan Lehmeier, Central Catholic

Last week: Mt. Lebanon 19, Bethel Park 16 (OT); Central Catholic 47, St. Ignatius (Ohio) 6

Players to watch: Ryan Petras, Bethel Park (Jr., 5-10, 180,WR/DB); Payton Wehner, Central Catholic (Sr., 6-1, 170, QB);

Team notes

Bethel Park: The Black Hawks rolled past North Hills in Week Zero but tasted defeat for the first time in Week 1, falling at home in overtime to rival Mt. Lebanon, 19-16. Following a touchdown by Ryan Petras in the fourth quarter to tie the game, the Black Hawks could not convert on the extra point. In OT, BP kicked a 27-yard field goal by Kaden Wetsel, but Lebo scored the game-winning touchdown. Bethel Park junior quarterback Tanner Pfeuffer hit on 15 of 29 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown while junior Ryan Petras had a receiving touchdown and a 48-yard punt return for a score.

Central Catholic: The Vikings made the trek to Cleveland in Week 1 to take on Ohio scholastic power St. Ignatius and returned home with a 2-0 record. The Vikings dominated the Wildcats on the ground, outrushing the hosts 229-1. Central Catholic senior quarterback Payton Wehner was 11 of 17 passing for 244 yards and three touchdown tosses plus a scoring run. In two weeks, Wehner has thrown for 556 yards and eight touchdowns and the Vikings have outscored Woodland Hills and St. Ignatius by a combined score of 90-13.

Historic factoids

In Week 1 last season, Central Catholic won at Bethel Park, 31-22. The Black Hawks outgained the Vikings 356-311, but turnovers hurt BP. Tanner Pfeuffer completed 21 of 31 passes for 271 yards for Bethel Park while Payton Wehner was 14 of 19 for 201 yards.

Central Catholic and Bethel Park have squared off 15 previous times, with the Vikings holding a 13-2 edge. The last Black Hawks victory in the series came 21 years ago when the black and orange edged the blue and gold, 13-5, in the 2002 regular season.

These programs have met four times in the WPIAL playoffs with the Vikings winning in 2001, 2004 and 2007. The lone Black Hawks postseason victory came in 1984.

Class 5A vs. 4A

South Fayette (2-0) at Montour (2-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Thomas J. Birko Memorial Stadium, Montour

Coaches: Joe Rossi, South Fayette; Lou Cerro, Montour

Last week: South Fayette 31, West Allegheny 14; Montour 35, Moon 21

Players to watch: Nico Lamonde, South Fayette (Sr., 6-1, 180, QB); Jake Wolfe, Montour (Sr., 6-1, 185, QB/DB)

Team notes

• South Fayette: The Lions were tied 14-14 with visiting West Allegheny at halftime last week before taking control in the second half. South Fayette outscored West A 17-0 in the final two quarters to win by 17 points. Senior running back Nate Deanes rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns while senior quarterback Nico Lamonde was 9 of 16 passing for 156 yards and a touchdown pass to Dom Monz. Through two weeks, Lamonde has thrown for 292 yards and three touchdowns.

Montour: The Spartans have been the road warriors thus far in 2023, picking up win at Mars in Week Zero and at Moon in Week 1. Montour led 20-0 at halftime last week then salted the game away with 15 third-quarter points against the host Tigers. Quarterback Jake Wolfe has led the way for the Spartans offense, last week completing 11 of 17 passes for 207 yards and four touchdown tosses. The senior signal caller has thrown for 587 yards in two games with five touchdown passes.

Historic factoids

Last year, South Fayette and Montour played a thriller in Week 2 that came down to the final seconds. Nate Deanes scored on a 6-yard run with only 34 second remaining in the game to give the Lions the win, 20-19. Tyler Nicholson booted a pair of field goals for South Fayette, including a 45-yarder right before halftime.

In 2010, both of these teams played for championships at then-Heinz Field. Montour lost to Central Valley in the Triple-A title game, 24-7, while South Fayette stunned Aliquippa, 19-6, in the Double-A finals. The Spartans won district gold in 2011 while the Lions won three more titles in 2013, 2014 and 2018.

South Fayette leads the all-time series 9-3 over Montour. The Lions have won five straight regular season meetings going back to 2017. South Fayette also won the first meeting between the two schools, 32-7, in 1952. The Spartans, however, won the only postseason meeting between the two teams, upsetting the Lions in the 2017 playoffs, 35-27.

Class 3A vs. 4A

Shady Side Academy (2-0) at Indiana (1-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Andy Kuzneski Field, Indiana

Coaches: Chuck DiNardo, Shady Side Academy; Brad Wright, Indiana

Last week: Shady Side Academy 34, North Catholic 28 (OT); Knoch 30, Indiana 24

Players to watch: Devin Harris, Shady Side Academy (Soph., 6-0, 146, QB/ATH); Trevor Smith, Indiana (Sr., 5-10, 170, QB/DB)

Team notes

• Shady Side Academy: The Bulldogs have opened some eyes with their quick 2-0 start, averaging 44.5 points per game in wins over Summit Academy and North Catholic. Sophomore quarterback Devin Harris is becoming a player to watch. Last week, Harris connected on 24 of 42 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns, with two scoring passes going to Carter Bonner, including the game-winning score on a 10-yard hookup in overtime in the victory over the Trojans.

Indiana: Following an impressive 14-point win over Freeport in Week Zero, the Little Indians stumbled, falling to Knoch last week by six points. The Indiana offense has been solid, averaging 26 points per game in two outings. Last week against the Knights, Little Indians senior quarterback Trevor Smith had a part in all three touchdowns, with a scoring run of 7 yards and touchdown passes to Anthony Cowchuck of 20 yards and Levi Porter on a short 2-yard score.

Historic factoids

The 2022 matchup between these teams was a donnybrook, as Indiana came back to beat host Shady Side Academy, 23-22. The Bulldogs led 13-7 at halftime and 22-14 after three quarters before the Little Indians scored nine unanswered points in the final quarter, including the game-winning field goal.

Last year’s thriller was the first meeting in football between Shady Side Academy and Indiana.

Both of these programs have rebounded from forgettable season within the last seven years. Shady Side Academy was winless in 2016, finishing 0-9. Indiana ended up with a 1-9 season in 2019.

It was 25 years ago that Shady Side Academy captured its only WPIAL football championship. Then known as the Indians, they defeated Washington at Three River Stadium, 30-12, to win the Double-A championship. SSA reached the state title game in 1998, losing to Mount Carmel, 44-7.

Class 3A at 2A

Class 3A No. 3 Avonworth (2-0) at Sto-Rox (0-1)

7 p.m. Friday, The Activities Field at Sto-Rox

Coaches: Duke Johncour, Avonworth; Marvin Mills, Sto-Rox

Last week: Avonworth 28, Central Valley 20; Steel Valley 35, Sto-Rox 0

Players to watch: Brandon Biagiarelli, Avonworth (Sr., 6-2, 225, RB/LB); Eric McGuire, Sto-Rox (Sr, 5-7, 180, WR/DB)

Team notes

• Avonworth: Some eyebrows were raised in Week 1 after Avonworth knocked off Central Valley by eight points. It was the Warriors’ first loss to a WPIAL team not named Aliquippa since Oct. 4, 2019 when they fell to Thomas Jefferson. The Antelopes were consistent last week in improving to 2-0 by scoring seven points in each quarter. ‘Lopes quarterback Carson Bellinger threw for 105 yards and a touchdown while running back Brandon Biagiarelli rushed for 47 yards and scored on runs of 2 and 6 yards.

• Sto-Rox: In the season opener for both teams last week, Steel Valley did something no team has been able to do in five years: shut out Sto-Rox. The defending champion Ironmen took advantage of an offense returning only five starters by blanking the Vikings for the first time since Imani Christian shut out Sto-Rox in a 2017 Class A first round playoff game, 52-0.

Historic factoids

In the Week 2 meeting between these teams last year, Avonworth came back to edge Sto-Rox, 21-18. Luke Hilyard led the Antelopes with 151 yards and a touchdown while Josh Jenkins threw for 323 yards but was picked off twice in the end zone, including one by Brandon Biagiarelli.

This is only the fifth meeting between the schools, although four of them have come in the last four seasons. Sto-Rox won the first three, 19-16 in 2021, 28-13 in 2020, and in the first meeting in 2003, 42-30.

Avonworth lost to McKees Rocks, 20-9, 106 years ago.

These schools combined for four straight WPIAL Class A runner-up trophies between 2011-2014. The Antelopes lost to Clairton in 2014 while the Vikings lost to the Bears in 2011 and 2012 and fell to North Catholic in 2013.

Class A vs. 2A

Class A No. 2 Bishop Canevin (1-0) at Keystone Oaks (1-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Dormont Stadium

Coaches: Richard Johnson, Bishop Canevin; Steve McCormick, Keystone Oaks

Last week: Bishop Canevin 26, Greensburg Central Catholic 6; South Park 15. Keystone Oaks 10

Players to watch: Marquis Carter, Bishop Canevin (Sr., 5-11, 170, RB/LB); Dimajio Locante, Keystone Oaks (Sr., 5-8, 165, QB/RB/DB)

Team notes

• Bishop Canevin: The Crusaders did not play in Week Zero, so their Week 1 game at Greensburg Central Catholic was their season opener. Bishop Canevin began the season with high expecations and a win, beating the Centurions by 20 points. Quarterback Cole Olsewski hit on 10 of 19 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns while running back Marquis Carter enjoyed a big game on the ground with 158 yards rushing and an 8.8 yards-per-carry average.

• Keystone Oaks: The Golden Eagles have struggled on offense early on but have been good on the defensive side of things. In splitting its first two games against Deer Lakes and South Park, KO has only scored 17 points, but it has held the Lancers and Eagles to 21 points. Senior Dimajio Locante has done it all for the Golden Eagles early on, leading the team in passing with 55 yards, rushing with 279 yards and scoring with two touchdowns.

Historic factoids

In last year’s battle between Dormont Stadium tenants, Bishop Canevin beat Keystone Oaks, 20-7. Xavier Nelson returned the kickoff to open the second half for a score while Jason Cross and Marquis Carter also scored for BC. A Nick Buckley to Clinton Robinson scoring pass was the only touchdown of the first half and on the night for KO.

The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series with the Crusaders, 2-1. Before last year, the only two games played between these teams came in 2009 when Keystone Oaks won, 23-3, then again in 2010 with KO delivering the knockout punch, 42-3.

It was 80 years ago when old Dormont HS won the third of its four WPIAL titles when it was named co-champ after tying Glassport, 13-13. It was 33 years ago when Bishop Canevin won its first WPIAL football crown, upsetting Washington, 21-20. The Crusaders’ second title was two years ago.

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