Trib HSSN don’t miss high school football matchups for Week 4

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Thursday, October 1, 2020 | 5:08 PM


Class 6A

No. 2 Central Catholic (2-1, 2-1) at No. 3 Seneca Valley (2-0, 2-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Nextier Stadium at Seneca Valley

Coaches: Terry Totten, Central Catholic; Ron Butschle, Seneca Valley

Players to watch: Eddy Tillman, Central Catholic (Sr., 5-8, 165, RB); Ethan West, Seneca Valley (Sr., 6-2, 200, RB)

Last week: North Allegheny 35, Central Catholic 21; Seneca Valley 35, Norwin 3

Four downs

1. After beating Canon-McMillan and Norwin, Central Catholic was knocked off of its top-ranked perch by North Allegheny in Week 3. Only down 14-7 at halftime, the Vikings were outscored 14-0 in the third quarter as the Tigers took control. Even a switch at quarterback to Adam Obrin didn’t help. The senior ended up 8 of 11 passing for 129 yards and an interception.

2. After rushing for 407 yards in the first two Vikings victories, senior running back Eddy Tillman was kept in check by the North Allegheny defense, limited to only 17 yards rushing on 15 carries. As a team, Central Catholic ended up with 10 yards rushing on 21 attempts.

3. Seneca Valley had its scheduled opener against North Allegheny postponed due to covid-19 issues. However, once they hit the field, it was the Raiders causing all the issues. SV has outscored Hempfield and Norwin by a combined score of 73-3.

4. Senior running back Ethan West ran wild in the team’s home opener against Norwin last week. He carried the ball 25 times for 160 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 51, 7 and 29 yards. Junior teammate Nolan Dworek also had a big game on the ground with 135 yards and two touchdowns.

Extra point: These teams played in the first WPIAL Class 6A football championship game as Central Catholic rolled past Seneca Valley, 42-7. Since that game, the teams have met four times in three years with the average margin of victory being only 4.5 points. The Vikings are 3-1 in those close, low-scoring games, including a 10-7 triumph in 2019. The Raiders’ lone win came in the 2018 6A quarterfinals, 15-14.

Class 5A Northeast Conference

No. 1 Pine-Richland (2-0, 1-0) at Penn Hills (1-2, 1-0)

7 p.m. Saturday, Yuhas-McGinley Stadium at Penn Hills HS

On the air: Video at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland; Jon LeDonne, Penn Hills

Players to watch: Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland (Sr., 5-10, 180, QB); Julian Dugger, Penn Hills (Fr., 6-1, 175, QB)

Last week: Pine-Richland at Gateway, ppd; Penn Hills 31, Kiski Area 13

Four downs

1. Having dispatched Fox Chapel in its Week 1 conference opener and ranked Upper St. Clair in a Week 2 nonconference game, No. 1 Pine-Richland was ready for one of the biggest nonconference games in recent WPIAL history against No. 2 and defending champion Gateway. However, the Rams officially found out seven hours before kickoff the Gateway had to postpone due to covid-19 concerns.

2. The Rams hope the unexpected week off doesn’t slow down white-hot senior quarterback Cole Spencer. Through two weeks, Spencer has connected on 36 of 51 passes for 609 yards and eight touchdowns. He has spread the wealth as three wide receivers — Alex Gochis, Eli Jochem and Jeremiah Hasley — each have over 100 receiving yards.

3. Penn Hills dropped a pair of nonconference games in the first two weeks to 6A top-ranked North Allegheny and undefeated rival Woodland Hills. However, the Northeast Conference opener went well for the Indians as senior Dontae Pollard rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown in a 31-13 win over Kiski Area.

4. The Indians may have found something special in freshman quarterback Julian Dugger. He threw for 198 yards and tossed touchdowns passes of 62 and 16 yards to Noel Roach, giving him 379 yards passing for the season.

Extra point: North Hills might disagree, but the winner of this game becomes the team to beat in the Northeast Conference. Pine-Richland is the only one of the six NE Conference teams with an overall winning record. Pine-Richland shut out Penn Hills, 21-0, in a season opening nonconference game last fall. The last time these teams met in a conference game was a 6A Northern Seven matchup in 2017 when the Rams rolled past the Indians, 43-6.

Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference

Mars (2-1, 2-1) vs. Armstrong (2-1, 2-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Armstrong Stadium at Armstrong HS

Coaches: Scott Heinauer, Mars; Frank Fabian, Armstrong

Players to watch: Teddy Rufner, Mars (Sr., 6-0, 195, RB); Cadin Olsen, Armstrong (Soph., 6-3, 200, QB)

Last week: Plum 49, Mars 21; Armstrong 34, Knoch 7

Four downs

1. How will Mars react after losing its first game of the season? Mars beat Hampton and Highlands before falling at home to Plum, 49-21. The Fightin’ Planets only trailed 20-13 at halftime before the Mustangs scored twice in the third to take control and outscored Mars 28-8 in the second half.

2. Even though the Fightin’ Planets lost, senior running back Teddy Ruffner still enjoyed a big game with 186 yards rushing and three touchdowns on runs of 1, 2 and 4 yards. Ruffner now has 509 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in three games.

3. Armstrong enjoyed a nice bounce-back effort in Week 3. One week after begin shut out by Hampton, 17-0, the River Hawks surged on offense with 20 second-quarter points on their way to a 27-point triumph over Knoch.

4. Sophomore quarterback Cadin Olsen is starting to turn heads for the River Hawks. He was 17 of 31 passing for 327 yards and four touchdowns against Knoch. Through three weeks, Olsen has thrown for 835 yards and seven touchdowns.

Extra point: Both of these teams along with Hampton are hoping to have success in the Greater Allegheny Conference in Class 4A after dropping down from the Northern Conference in 5A. In fact, those three teams are all tied for second place with 2-1 records, one game behind front-running Plum. This is the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools. Mars has won all three, winning at home in 2015, 31-27, beating visiting Armstrong in 2018, 42-15, and then winning last year in the first meeting at the home of the Hawks, 42-21.

Class 3A Interstate Conference

No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (2-0, 1-0) vs. No. 4 South Park (3-0, 3-0)

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

On the air: Audio at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Mike Collodi, Elizabeth Forward; Marty Rieck, South Park

Players to watch: DaVontay Brownfield, Elizabeth Forward (Jr., 6-0, 200, RB); Harper Conroy, South Park (Soph., 6-5, 182, QB)

Last week: South Park 41, Brownsville 6; Elizabeth Forward 42, Beth-Center 6

Four downs

1. After missing opening weekend due to covid-19 restrictions, Elizabeth Forward has won two straight in impressive fashion, outscoring its opponents, 87-6. Last week in a nonconference win at Beth-Center, EF used a 21-point third quarter to blow out the Bulldogs, 42-6.

2. Warriors junior running back DaVontay Brownfield rushed for 162 yards and scored on a pair of short touchdown runs. He now has 255 yards and has scored seven touchdowns in only two games this season.

3. While EF has played only one Interstate Conference game, South Park sits atop the standings with a perfect 3-0 conference record. The Eagles’ latest win was a 41-6 wipeout of host Brownsville last week when they scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to blow the game open.

4. Eagles quarterback Harper Conroy is tall at 6-foot-5. The sophomore is also putting up some big numbers, throwing for 138 yards and a touchdown pass to go along with a scoring run in the win over the Falcons. Conroy has thrown for 341 yards and four touchdowns this season.

Extra point: This is the 15th anniversary of South Park’s second and most recent football championship season. The Eagles beat Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class AA finals and Wilson in the PIAA championship to win district and state gold in 2005. Elizabeth Forward has qualified for the WPIAL playoffs three straight years after missing out the three previous years. This is the fifth meeting between the schools this century and South Park is a perfect 4-0, having defeated Elizabeth Forward in 2010, 2011, 2016 and the most recent meeting in 2017 when the Eagles prevailed, 18-14.

Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference

No. 5 New Brighton (3-0, 3-0) vs. No. 1 Beaver Falls (3-0, 3-0)

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

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

Coaches: Joe Greco, New Brighton; Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls

Players to watch: Nyasanu Greene, New Brighton (Sr., 6-3, 230, RB); Josh Hough, Beaver Falls (Sr., 6-3, 230, RB)

Last week: New Brighton 27, Mohawk 14; Beaver Falls 54, Ellwood City 26

Four downs

1. New Brighton used a 14-point second quarter to take control and cruise to a third straight Midwestern Athletic Conference win by 13 points at Mohawk. The Lions have only allowed 20 points in three games.

2. Senior running back Nyasanu Greene led the way on the ground for the Lions last week, rushing for 104 yards and scoring on a 9-yard run. Greene showed off his versatility as well with a pair of touchdown receptions of 22 and 30 yards from New Brighton junior quarterback Gabe Haddox.

3. Beaver Falls continued to pile up the points last week as it crushed Ellwood City, 54-26, to improve to 3-0 in the MAC. The Tigers are now third in Class 2A in offense with an average of 43.3 points per game.

4. He’s going to Hough and Puff and blow through your defense. No, it’s not the big bad wolf. It’s Tigers senior running back Josh Hough. The Syracuse recruit had another big night in Week 3, rushing for 243 yards and scoring three touchdowns. He now has 575 yards on the ground with eight touchdowns through three weeks.

Extra point: Both teams are led by big backs that are very familiar with each other. Greene and Hough are cousins. After a two-year hiatus, one of the longest rivalries in the WPIAL is renewed with the winner receiving the Little Brown Jug, a trophy that has gone to the winners of this game since the 1950s. The last meeting between these old MAC rivals was in September of 2017 when New Brighton won on the road, 27-20. The previous year was Beaver Falls’ most recent win in the series, a 66-7 mauling of the Lions at New Brighton.

Class A Tri-County South Conference

No. 5 California (2-0, 2-0) vs. Avella (3-0, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Avella Football Field at Avella HS

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

Coaches: Ed Woods, California; Ryan Cecchini, Avella

Players to watch: Jaeden Zuzak, California (Sr., 5-10, 206, RB); K.J. Rush, Avella (Jr., 6-2, 225, QB)

Last week: California 49, Mapletown 18; Avella 21, West Greene 20

Four downs

1. California improved to 2-0 in the Tri-County South with a Week 3 victory at Mapletown by 31 points. The Trojans had not played since a 27-7 win in Week 1 at Bentworth because their Week 2 game was postponed due to covid-related issues for their opponent, West Greene. There is no word on if that game will be made up.

2. In the win over the Maples, running back Jaeden Zuzak rushed for 234 yards and five touchdowns for the Trojans. For the season, the senior is five yards shy of 400 for the season with eight of California’s 11 touchdowns scored.

3. Avella continues to be one of the top stories around the district in 2020. After edging two-time Tri-County South Conference champion West Greene in Week 3 by one point, the Eagles are off to their best start in seven years and have already won as many games this season than they did in the 2018 and 2019 seasons combined.

4. Leading the way for the Eagles is quarterback K.J. Rush. While he can live up to his surname with 166 yards on the ground and three touchdowns, he has made Avella dangerous through the air. In the win at West Greene, he threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 419 yards and five touchdowns through three weeks.

Extra point: California has yet to play a home game. This is their third straight road contest. The last time Avella beat California on the football field was in September of 2014 by a score of 33-24. Since that win, Trojans have won the last five meetings by a combined score of 286-61 with two shutouts. One of those wins was an 86-13 thrashing in 2017. Last year the Trojans won, 47-0.

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