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

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Thursday, September 17, 2020 | 9:06 PM


Class 6A

No. 4 Mt. Lebanon (0-0) at Canon-McMillan (0-1)

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

Coaches: Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon; Mike Evans, Canon-McMillan

Players to watch: Cooper Austin, Mt. Lebanon (Jr., 6-2, 255, OL/DL); Ryan Angott, Canon-McMillan (Jr., 5-10, 185, RB)

Last week: Mt. Lebanon did not play; Central Catholic 45, Canon-McMillan 17

Four downs

1. This is the season opener for Mt. Lebanon after its scheduled game last week against Baldwin was canceled because of covid-19 related concerns. With Class 6A teams playing conference games each week in the regular season, at this point, it is unlikely that game will be made up.

2. The Blue Devils have a strong junior class as 14 sophomores earned varsity letters last fall. Second-year head coach Bob Palko is excited about his strong junior class led by 6-2, 255-pound lineman Cooper Austin.

3. After leading the team in rushing last year with 896 yards, junior running back Ryan Angott led Canon-McMillan on the ground in its season opener with 111 yards on 15 carries in an opening-night loss to Central Catholic.

4. Even though the Big Macs lost by 28 points to Class 6A top-ranked Vikings last week, it is a step in the right direction for Canon-McMillan after it lost to Central Catholic by a combined score of 79-7 the two previous years.

Extra point: Defenses have not fared well when these teams have met in recent years. Last year, Mt. Lebanon held on to beat Canon-McMillan, 49-21. The Blue Devils also won the two previous regular season meetings by scores of 43-29 in 2018 and 24-17 in 2017. These teams met in a Class 6A quarterfinal playoff game two years ago with the Blue Devils outscoring the Big Macs, 38-31.

Class 5A

Nonconference

No. 1 Pine-Richland (1-0) at No. 4 Upper St. Clair (1-0)

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

On the air: Audio on WJAS-AM 1320 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland; Mike Junko, Upper St. Clair

Players to watch: Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland (Sr., 5-10, 180, QB); Ethan Dahlem, Upper St. Clair (Sr., 5-10, 180, QB)

Last week: Pine-Richland 53, Fox Chapel 7; Upper St. Clair 34, Bethel Park 7

Four downs

1. Pine-Richland began its first season in Class 5A with a bang in rolling past Fox Chapel by 46 points in a Northeast Conference opener. The Rams led 28-0 after one quarter and called off the dogs after taking a 47-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

2. Rams quarterback Cole Spencer was named Trib HSSN Athlete of the Year after his junior season and looks ready to defend his title. The senior connected on 15 of 17 passes for 338 yards and five touchdown tosses last week against the Foxes.

3. Playing rival Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair showed why it is among the teams to beat in Class 5A with a convincing win in its Allegheny Six Conference opener. Two third-quarter touchdowns after Bethel Park pulled to within 15-7 helped ice the win for host USC.

4. Panthers quarterback Ethan Dahlem got the season rolling by hitting on 16 of 25 passes for 154 yards. While he did not throw any touchdown passes, he did run for scores of 15 and 10 yards in the third quarter that broke the game open.

Extra point: While these traditional powers haven’t played in the same class since 2015, this classic north-south matchup hasn’t taken place in over a decade. The Rams and Panthers last met in September 2009 when USC won at home, 43-14. In mentioning the quarterbacks for both of teams, it’s important to give some love to their top targets. Eli Jochem had five receptions for 200 yards and three touchdowns last week while the Panthers’ David Pantelis opened the season with a seven-catch performance for 50 yards.

Class 4A

Big Eight Conference

No. 1 Thomas Jefferson (10-0) vs. Trinity (1-01)

7 p.m. Friday, Hillers Stadium

On the air: Video on TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Players to watch: Jake Pugh, Thomas Jefferson (Sr., 5-9, 160, QB); Drew Cain, Trinity (Jr., 5-9, 170, ATH)

Last Week: Thomas Jefferson 52, West Mifflin 0; Trinity 49, Ringgold 26

Four downs

1. What Thomas Jefferson usually does in Week 9 they did on opening night in 2020 as they rolled past host West Mifflin by 52 points. The win marks the ninth straight year the Jaguars have defeated the rival Titans.

2. Jaguars quarterback Jake Pugh had a sensational debut as he threw five touchdown passes against the Titans while senior running back DeRon Van Bibber added a 12-yard scoring run in a busy first half for TJ.

3. Trinity scored the game’s first 21 points and never looked back in cruising to a 23-point home win over Ringgold. The Hillers led 28-6 after one quarter and 49-12 by halftime thanks in part to Connor Roberts’ 110 yards passing and two touchdown passes.

4. The Hillers showed off a strong running game in their opening night win as well as the combination of junior Drew Cain and senior Micah Finley, which combined for 255 yards on the ground. Cain rushed for 129 yards and scored two touchdowns while Finley gained 126 yards and scored three times, including on a scoring reception.

Extra point: This marks the 15th straight year that Thomas Jefferson and Trinity have been rivals in the Big Eight Conference. To say this matchup has been one-sided is a huge understatement. The Jaguars are a perfect 14-0 and have outscored the Hillers in those wins, 544-69. In fact, Trinity hasn’t scored on Thomas Jefferson since Sept. 9, 2016 in a 56-14 loss to the Jags. The Hillers have been shut out in three straight games since then by a combined score of 123-0.

Class 4A vs. Class 3A

Nonconference

4A No. 5 Blackhawk (1-0) vs. 3A No. 1 Central Valley (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Sarge Albert Stadium at Central Valley HS

On the air: Audio on WBVP-AM 1230, WBVP-FM 99.3, WKPL-FM 92.1 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Zach Hayward, Blackhawk; Mark Lyons, Central Valley

Players to watch: Carson Heckathorn, Blackhawk (Jr., 6-4, 195, WR); Ameer Dudley, Central Valley (Sr., 6-2, 196, QB)

Last Week: Blackhawk 22, Beaver 7; Central Valley 51, Hopewell 2

Four downs

1. With high expectations in a tough conference, Blackhawk got the ball rolling on the 2020 campaign with a 15-point win over visiting Beaver in a 4A Parkway Conference opener last week. Senior running back Josh Hathaway scored as he replaces the team’s leading rusher, Marques Watson-Trent.

2. The Cougars have a Carson combo that is going to cause headaches for Parkway Conference coaches this season and next fall as well. Junior quarterback Carson Davidson and his 6-4 junior wide receiver target Carson Heckathorn are off to a good start as they connected on a 4-yard pass play that proved to be the winning score. Davidson finished with 11 of 21 passing for 99 yards.

3. Class 3A top-ranked Central Valley flexed its muscles of opening night by scoring 51 unanswered points after falling behind 2-0 to host Hopewell. Quarterback Ameer Dudley had a short night, but put the Warriors up for good on a 30-yard touchdown pass to Justin Thompson in a Class 3A Northwestern Six Conference opener.

4. The Week 1 victory was a “special” one for the Warriors. Myles Walker returned two punts for touchdowns of 64 and 67 yards while teammate Stephon Hall returned a kickoff 83 yards for another CV touchdown.

Extra point: These programs have both enjoyed dominating a decade in their history. Blackhawk was the team of the 90s after winning WPIAL Class AAA championships in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1996. In its only decade of existence, Central Valley won WPIAL Class AA gold in 2010 and 2014 and added a 3A district championship in 2019. Both the Cougars and Warriors opened the last two years against each other in nonconference games. Blackhawk won, 21-7, to kick off the 2018 campaign while Central Valley prevailed last year, 32-15.

Class 2A

Century Conference

Laurel (1-0) vs. No. 1 Beaver Falls (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Reeves Field at Geneva College

On the air: Audio on TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Brian Cooper, Laurel; Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls

Players to watch: Logan Ayres, Laurel (Jr., 5-9, 180, QB); Josh Hough, Beaver Falls (Sr., 6-3, 230, RB)

Four downs

1. Laurel’s win in Week 1 at Neshannock was rare on several fronts. Under Coach Frank Mozzocio, the Lancers were 19-1 against fellow Lawrence County opponents and 34-3 overall at home. It was the first win for the Spartans over the Lancers since 2009.

2. Spartans quarterback Logan Ayres put his skill set on display in the opener last week. The junior was 4 of 7 passing for 47 yards and led the team with 38 yards rushing and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard dive in the fourth quarter.

3. Beaver Falls was very impressive in winning on the road against a good Riverside squad last week in the team’s return to the Midwestern Athletic Conference after four years in Class 3A. The Tigers scored the game’s first 20 points in building a 33-7 lead by halftime. BF added two more touchdowns in the third quarter.

4. It’s tough not to gravitate toward Josh Hough when he’s in the backfield. The 6-3, 230-pound senior carried the ball eight times for 132 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 5, 76 and 16 yards in the Tigers mauling of the Panthers.

Extra point: These teams have been reunited in the MAC after both programs were conference foes in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Beaver Falls won both meetings, winning a tight one at Geneva College in 2014, 39-27, while the Tigers cruised to a win over the host Spartans in 2015, 42-7.

Class A

Big 7 Conference

No. 4 Burgettstown (1-0) vs. No. 5 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Moon Tigers Stadium

On the air: Audio at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Mark Druga, Burgettstown; Dan Bradley, OLSH

Players to watch: Shane Kemper, Burgettstown (Sr., 6-1, 180, RB); Nehemiah Azeem, OLSH (Soph., 5-9, 165, QB)

Last week: Burgettstown 27, Fort Cherry 22; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 34, Cornell 26

Four downs

1. Coming off back-to-back undefeated Class 2A Three Rivers Conference championships, Burgettstown’s drop to Class A and the Big Seven Conference was a success, albeit with a struggle. The Blue Devils beat Fort Cherry by a combined 83-0 the last two years, but had to hold on as the Rangers scored the game’s final nine points in a five-point victory for host Burgettstown.

2. Senior Blue Devils running back Shane Kemper had a solid start to the new season as he scored three touchdowns on runs of 2, 7 and 2 yards. Senior Cole Shergi scored the other Burgettstown touchdown on a 5-yard run.

3. Last year, they played for a share of the Big Seven Conference championship in Week 9. This season, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart opened up against rival Cornell and again, it was tight. This year though, the Chargers got the first laugh as they held on to defeat the Raiders, 34-26.

4. The Chargers got a jolt from sophomore quarterback Nehemiah Azeem, who was 15 of 25 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown toss along with a scoring run against Cornell. A pair of junior running backs also shined for OLSH in Steven Greer, who led all backs with 189 yards rushing, and Jaymar Pearson had touchdown runs of 5 and 3 yards.

Extra point: Burgettstown has reached the WPIAL football playoffs five straight years while the streak of consecutive postseasons for Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is now four. This is the first meeting on the football field between the Blue Devils and the Chargers.

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