Trib HSSN don’t miss high school football playoff matchups for 2023 Week 10

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Thursday, November 2, 2023 | 8:50 PM


Welcome to opening night of the 2023 WPIAL football playoffs.

While the Class 6A postseason takes the week off, there are 27 WPIAL quarterfinals or first-round contests from Class A up to 5A on Friday.

Here are preview capsules on 13 of the 27 games. The other 14 district postseason previews are elsewhere on Trib HSSN:

Deer Lakes, Southmoreland each chasing 1st WPIAL playoff victory

A-K Valley high school football playoff matchups

Led by do-it-all QBs, 1st-round foes Latrobe, West Allegheny are mirror images

Westmoreland County high school football playoff matchups

Don’t forget after the games on Friday to tune in to the WPIAL football scoreboard show for all the results and plenty of recaps at TribHSSN.TribLive.com.

Class 5A quarterfinals

No. 5 Moon (5-5) at No. 4 Gateway (5-5)

7 p.m. Friday, Pete Antimarino Stadium at Gateway

Coaches: Ryan Linn, Moon; Don Holl, Gateway

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Moon did not qualify; Gateway lost to Upper St. Clair in the 5A quarterfinals

Last week: Moon 42, Baldwin 16; Central Catholic 51, Gateway 7

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals next week against the winner of No. 8 Franklin Regional at No. 1 Peters Township

Players to watch: Josh Bladel, Moon (Sr., 5-9, 175, RB/LB); Brad Birch, Gateway (Sr., 6-1, 185, QB)

Team notes

Moon: Following a 0-3 start, which was on the heels of a 1-9 record last year, the Tigers finished the hunt strong, winning five of their last seven games, including a playoff-clinching victory over Baldwin last week. The strong running attack was on display as eight runners combined for nearly 300 yards rushing, led by Josh Bladel with 87 yards and a TD and Nazir Brookins 63 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Gateway: These Gators fed off conference games this season. Gateway was a perfect 5-0 in winning the 5A Big East Conference, but they were 0-5 out of conference, including a loss last week to Central Catholic. Senior quarterback Brad Birch overcame injuries and has thrown for 1,960 yards and 19 TDs. He is trying to win a second WPIAL title after leading Jeannette to gold his freshman season.

Historic factoids

• This is the fourth meeting between Moon and Gateway. The Gators won the previous three.

• The Gators beat the Tigers in three consecutive seasons: 1969, 1970 and 1971. The combined score of the three victories was 110-21.

• This is the 25th anniversary of the first and only Moon district football crown. The Tigers rolled past Blackhawk, 34-7, in the 1998 Class A title game. This is the 54th anniversary of Gateway’s first football championship. The Gators beat Altoona, 22-15, to win Class 3A gold in 1969.

No. 6 Bethel Park (4-6) at No. 3 Pine-Richland (7-3)

7 p.m. Friday, Pine-Richland Stadium

Coaches: Phil Peckich, Bethel Park; Jon LeDonne, Pine-Richland

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Bethel Park defeated North Hills and then lost to Upper St. Clair in semifinals; Pine-Richland defeated Penn-Trafford, Woodland Hills and Upper St. Clair to win 5A championship

Last week: Peters Township 68, Bethel Park 28; Pine-Richland 43, North Hills 0

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals next week against the winner of Penn-Trafford at Penn Hills

Players to watch: Taner Pfeuffer, Bethel Park (Jr., 6-4, 200, QB); Ethen Pillar, Pine-Richland (Sr., 5-11, 200, RB/LB)

Team notes

• Bethel Park: The Black Hawks were trying to win two straight games for the first time this season last week but dropped the de facto Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference championship game to Peters Township by 40 points. Bethel Park junior quarterback Tanner Pfeuffer threw for 232 yards and four touchdowns, but the Hawks defense allowed 42 points in the first half alone.

Pine-Richland: As they did a year ago, the Rams started slow, losing two of their first three and splitting their first six games before winning four straight in convincing fashion. Senior running back Ethan Pillar has been a big spark, rushing for over 1,200 yards and scoring 21 touchdowns, including three against North Hills last week.

Historic factoids

• For all the success these programs have had, this is only the third meeting between Bethel Park and Pine-Richland.

• The Rams won the two previous games over the Black Hawks, winning 31-24 in 2016 and 54-20 the following season.

• This is the 15th anniversary of Bethel Park beating Gateway to win the 2008 Class 4A championship, 10-6. This is the 20th anniversary of Pine-Richland beating Thomas Jefferson, 21-7, to win the 2003 Class 3A title.

Class 4A first round

No. 13 Chartiers Valley (3-7) at No. 4 Mars (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Planet Stadium at the Mars Athletic Complex

Coaches: Aaron Fitzpatrick, Chartiers Valley; Eric Kasperowicz, Mars

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Chartiers Valley did not qualify; Mars lost to McKeesport in the first round

Last week: Chartiers Valley 41, Ambridge 31; Mars 17, North Catholic 14

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals next week against the winner of Highlands at Central Valley

Players to watch: Austin Efthimiades, Chartiers Valley (Sr., 5-11, 170, RB/MLB); Evan Wright, Mars (Sr., 5-9, 185, RB)

Team notes

Chartiers Valley: The Colts lost their first four games but then split their final six games overall and beat Ambridge by 10 points last week to clinch fifth place in the 4A Parkway Conference and secure a playoff berth. Senior running back Austin Efthimiades had a big game for Chartiers Valley, rushing for 276 yards on 26 carries and scoring four touchdowns.

Mars: In his second year as head coach, Eric Kasperowicz guided the Fightin’ Planets to the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference championship thanks to a three-point win over North Catholic last week. Senior running back Evan Wright continues to run wild as he rushed for 172 yards but was limited to one touchdown. He is tied for the lead in scoring in the WPIAL with 27 touchdowns.

Historic factoids

• This is only the second meeting between Chartiers Valley and Mars and both have come in the WPIAL playoffs.

• The only other meeting was 15 years ago when No. 11 Mars upset No. 6 Chartiers Valley, 15-6, in a 2008 first-round game. The Fightin’ Planets’ Austin Miele rushed for 173 yards and a touchdown while the lone Colts score came on a Wayne Capers 1-yard run.

• Neither school has won a WPIAL football title. Mars lost twice in the Class 2A finals in a span of seven years, falling to Aliquippa in 1996 and Seton LaSalle in 2002. While Chartiers Valley has never won gridiron gold, the district was dominant in the 1940s with Bridgeville winning Class A crowns in 1942, 1948 and 1949.

No. 10 Trinity (6-4) at No. 7 North Catholic (5-5)

7 p.m. Friday, South Fayette Stadium

Coaches: Dan Knause, Trinity; Chris Rizzo, North Catholic

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Trinity and North Catholic did not qualify

Last week: Trinity 61, Ringgold 21; Mars 17, North Catholic 14

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals next week against No. 2 seed McKeesport

Players to watch: Jonah Williamson, Trinity (Soph., 6-3, 190, QB/FS); Jack Fennell, North Catholic (Sr., 5-10, 180, RB/DB)

Team notes

Trinity: After tiebreaker points and head to head, the Hillers ended up as the No. 4 team out of the Class 4A Big Seven Conference as they finished in a three-way tie for second place with Thomas Jefferson and Latrobe. Trinity has won three of its last four games, including one of the stunners of the season, a Week 7 victory over TJ. Sophomore QB Jonah Williamson leads the team in passing, rushing and scoring.

North Catholic: The Trojans had a chance to earn a share of the 4A Greater Allegheny Conference and be the No. 1 team out of the GAC with a win last week, but they fell to Mars by three points. Senior Jack Fennell had both NC touchdowns, one on a 54-yard scoring run, the other on a 71-yard pass from quarterback Kaden Sarver.

Historic factoids

• This is the first meeting between Trinity and North Catholic.

• The Hillers won their first WPIAL playoff game 37 years ago. Trinity beat Derry, 10-7, before losing in the next round to Kiski Area, 28-20, in the 1986 WPIAL playoffs.

• The Trojans’ first WPIAL football playoff victory was 43 years ago. North Catholic edged Center, 14-9, before falling to Thomas Jefferson a week later, 34-6, in the 1980 district postseason.

Class 3A first round

No. 10 Shady Side Academy (5-5) at No. 7 Beaver (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Gypsy Glen Stadium at Beaver

Coaches: Chuck DiNardo, Shady Side Academy; Cort Rowse, Beaver

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Shady Side Academy defeated South Park then upset Elizabeth Forward in the quarterfinals before losing to Avonworth in the semifinals; Beaver defeated Deer Lakes then lost to Avonworth in the quarterfinals

Last week: East Allegheny 41, Shady Side Academy 34; Beaver 58, Hopewell 14

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals next week against No. 2 seed Avonworth

Players to watch: Devin Harris, Shady Side Academy (Soph., 6-0, 150, QB/ATH); Amari Jackson, Beaver (Jr., 6-1, 165, WR/DB)

Team Notes

Shady Side Academy: As September came to an end, the Bulldogs were 4-2 overall heading into a battle for first place in the Class 3A Allegheny 6 Conference. However, a health scare on the team forced SSA to forfeit and the team finished the season losing three of its last four games to finish in fourth place. Devin Harris has been explosive this season in his first year as the Bulldogs starting quarterback.

Beaver: Unlike Shady Side Academy, the Bobcats started well with four wins but finished strong with three straight victories. A couple of midseason hiccups to 3A Western Hills Conference foes Avonworth and West Mifflin dropped the team to third place. Junior Amari Jackson has been a weapon all season.

Historic factoids

• This is the fourth meeting between Shady Side Academy and Beaver.

• Two of the three previous meetings were also in the postseason. In the first round of the 2013 playoffs, Beaver eliminated Shady Side Academy, 42-21, thanks to Bobcats quarterback Alex Rowse’s three touchdown passes and a scoring run. Two years earlier in 2011, the Bulldogs knocked out the Bobcats, 35-21, with quarterback Reggie Mitchell leading the way.

• The only regular season meeting between the teams was nearly 80 years ago when Shady Side Academy defeated Beaver, 20-13, in 1945.

Class 2A first round

No. 9 Western Beaver (6-4) at No. 8 Serra Catholic (4-5)

7 p.m. Friday, Norwin Knights Stadium at Norwin

Coaches: Ron Busby, Western Beaver; Jose Regus, Serra Catholic

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Western Beaver lost to Ligonier Valley in the first round; No. 5 seed Serra Catholic was upset in the opening round by Washington

Last week: Western Beaver 26, Beaver Falls 6; Steel Valley 54, Serra Catholic 14

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals next week against No. 1 seed Steel Valley

Players to watch: Jaivin Peel, Western Beaver (Fr., 6-0, 160, QB); Quadir Stribling, Serra Catholic (Jr., 6-2, 175, QB)

Team notes

Western Beaver: The Golden Beavers defeated Beaver Falls last week by 20 points to secure third place in the Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference. Western Beaver has scored the second-most points in 2A thanks an incredible freshman season by quarterback Jaivin Peel. He is third in the WPIAL in passing with 2,434 yards and has thrown for 27 touchdowns. WB has won five of its last six games.

Serra Catholic: The Eagles had a chance with a win last week to earn a share of the Class 2A Allegheny Conference championship, but they lost big at defending champion Steel Valley by 40 points. Serra Catholic also has an outstanding young quarterback in junior Quadir Stribling, who is fifth in the WPIAL in passing with 2,076 yards and 24 touchdowns. Serra had a four-game winning streak end in Week 9.

Historic factoids

• This is the third meeting between Western Beaver and Serra Catholic. The Golden Beavers won the previous two contests, 46-0 in 1975 and 48-7 in 1976.

• Serra Catholic won its third and most recent WPIAL football championship two years ago when it beat Beaver Falls in the finals. The Eagles also won gold in 2007, beating Springdale in the title game, and in 1981 with a shutout victory over rival Clairton.

• Western Beaver has won two district football crowns, with its most recent championship nearly 30 years ago. The Golden Beavers shut out Riverview to win the Class A title in 1994. Nearly 20 years earlier, Western Beaver beat Avella to win football gold in 1976.

No. 13 Waynesburg (7-3) at No. 4 Imani Christian (7-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Historic UPMC Graham Field in Wilkinsburg

Coaches: Aaron Giorgi, Waynesburg; LaRoi Johnson, Imani Christian

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Waynesburg and Imani Christian did not qualify

Last week: Waynesburg 45, Charleroi 27; Imani Christian 45, Yough 7

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals next week to play the winner of No. 12 Burrell at No. 5 Mohawk

Players to watch: Breydon Woods, Waynesburg (Sr., 5-11, 180, RB/FS); Dayshaun Burnett, Imani Christian (Jr., 6-4, 220, QB/TE/LB)

Team notes

Waynesburg: The Raiders were one of several sudden turnaround teams from last year to this season. In 2022, Waynesburg finished 0-10 and improved by seven games this fall. The Raiders have won three of their last four, including a win over Charleroi last week that clinched a playoff berth. Senior running back Breydon Woods rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns in the Week 9 win.

Imani Christian: While not as spectacular, the Saints are marching into the postseason after improving from four wins a year ago to seven victories this season. Junior Dayshaun Burnett has done everything on offense, ranking first on the team in scoring, third in rushing and receiving and last week, he was 18 of 25 passing for 318 yards and four touchdown tosses.

Historic factoids

• This is the first meeting between Waynesburg and Imani Christian.

• Waynesburg won its first ever WPIAL football playoff game 27 years ago when it beat Elizabeth Forward, 21-7, in the opening round of the 1996 playoffs. The Raiders reached the finals three years later and beat Washington, 30-3, to win gold in 1999. A year later, they fell in the 2A title game to Aliquippa, 14-6.

• Imani Christian won its first WPIAL football playoff game seven years ago when it upset OLSH, 44-13. The Saints lost to Rochester in the next round, 32-6. A year later, Imani Christian defeated Sto-Rox, OLSH and California to reach the 2017 Class A title game, where it lost to Jeannette, 35-34.

No. 10 Beaver Falls (5-5) at No. 7 Keystone Oaks (6-4)

7 p.m. Friday, Dormont Stadium

Coaches: Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls; Steve McCormick, Keystone Oaks

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Beaver Falls had a first-round bye and defeated Ligonier Valley in the quarterfinals and Sto-Rox in the semifinals before falling to Steel Valley in the 2A championship game; Keystone Oaks defeated Apollo-Ridge before falling to Sto-Rox in the quarterfinals

Last week: Western Beaver 26, Beaver Falls 6; Keystone Oaks 36, Brentwood 0

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals next week to play No. 2 Neshannock

Players to watch: Da’talian Beauford, Beaver Falls (Sr., 6-0, 180, RB/MLB); Dimajio Locante, Keystone Oaks (Sr., 5-8, 165, QB/RB/DB)

Team notes

Beaver Falls: It has been an up-and-down season for the Tigers, whose longest win streak was two games and longest losing skid was two. Beaver Falls had a chance to finish in third place in the Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference but fell by 20 points in Week 9 at Western Beaver. Senior running back Da’Talian Beauford is 22 yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing for the season and has a team high 14 TDs.

Keystone Oaks: The Golden Eagles have been flying high following a 1-3 start, winning two straight and five of their last six to finish in third place in the 2A Century Conference. Their biggest win was a Week 8 shocker of Washington. Senior Dimajio Locante threw for 158 yards and ran for 119 yards last week.

Historic factoids

• This is the ninth meeting between Beaver Falls and Keystone Oaks with the Tigers winning seven of the previous eight.

• BF won the first meeting nearly 30 years ago, 30-6, in the 1994 season. A year later, KO won its first and only game against the orange and black, 21-12. The Tigers have won six straight since 1995.

• This is the third meeting between the two in the WPIAL playoffs with Beaver Falls beating Keystone Oaks in the previous postseason clashes. The Tigers beat the Golden Eagles, 28-0, in 2010, and then BF knocked out KO in the 2016 quarterfinals, 28-21.

No. 14 Ellwood City (5-5) at No. 3 Washington (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Washington HS Stadium

Coaches: Dan Bradley, Ellwood City; Mike Bosnic, Washington

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Ellwood City did not qualify for the playoffs; Washington upset Serra Catholic in the first round then lost to Neshannock in the 2A quarterfinals

Last week: Ellwood City 41, Riverside 0; Washington 13, McGuffey 7

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals next week to play the winner of No. 11 Derry at No. 6 McGuffey

Players to watch: Chris Smiley, Ellwood City (Jr., 6-0, 160, QB/OLB); Tristan Reed, Washington (Soph., 6-4, 155, QB/WR/S)

Team notes

Ellwood City: For the first time in a dozen years, the Wolverines are WPIAL playoff bound after a fifth-place finish in the Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference thanks to a shutout win in Week 9 over Riverside. Junior quarterback Chris Smiley connected on 9 of 14 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown pass while junior Elijah Palmer-McCane rushed for 154 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Panthers.

Washington: Following their first loss of the season to Keystone Oaks in Week 8, the Little Prexies earned a share of the 2A Century Conference crown and the top seed out of the section with a win over McGuffey in Week 9. Sophomore quarterback Tristan Reed was 11 of 19 passing for 181 yards and touchdown tosses to Zxavian Willis and Elijah Thomas.

Historic factoids

• This is the first meeting between Ellwood City and Washington.

• Ellwood City is 3-8 all-time in WPIAL playoff games. The team’s first playoff victory came in 1986 when it beat East Allegheny, 14-6. The Wolverines then lost to Beth-Center following week. A year later, they beat Burrell and Charleroi before falling to Sto-Rox in the 2A finals, 19-0.

• The first playoff win for Washington came 103 years ago. The Little Prexies defeated Pittsburgh Fifth Avenue, 14-7, to win the 1920 WPIAL championship. The team’s first playoff game was three years earlier when it played Johnstown to a scoreless tie in the 1917 title game. The Little Prexies later won district gold 100 years ago in 1923, 1926, 30 years ago in 1993, 2001 and 2017.

Class A first round

No. 13 Laurel (4-6) at No. 4 Clairton (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Neil Brown Stadium in Clairton

Coaches: Brian Cooper, Laurel; Wayne Wade, Clairton

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Laurel defeated Carmichaels in the first round then were upset by eventual champion Union in the quarterfinals; Clairton defeated OLSH in the opening round then fell to Bishop Canevin in the Class A quarterfinals

Last week: Laurel 22, Shenango 7; Clairton 60, Jeannette 14

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals next week to play the winner of No. 12 Burgettstown at No. 5 Union

Players to watch: Luca Santini, Laurel (Soph., 5-11, 150, QB); Michael Wright, Clairton (Sr., 5-10, 180, QB)

Team notes

Laurel: The Spartans were 1-5 at the start of October but won three of their final four games, including a win-and-in game in Week 9 at Shenango to finish tied for third place in the Class A Big 7 Conference. Sophomore quarterback Luca Santini only completed six passes, but they went for 220 yards and two long touchdowns of 69 and 79 yards.

Clairton: Bears Nation was grumbling following a second straight 0-2 start to the season; however, Clairton turned it around and has won eight straight to win the Eastern Conference championship. The Bears clinched the conference crown with a rout of rival Jeannette behind senior quarterback Michael Wright throwing for 174 yards and three TDs and 204 yards rushing and two scores from Drahcir Jones.

Historic factoids

• This is the eighth meeting between Laurel and Clairton and the Bears hold the advantage with five wins to the Spartans’ two victories.

• This is the fourth time these programs will meet in the WPIAL playoffs with the first two clashes in the district title game. Laurel beat Clairton in the 1980 Class A finals, 14-12. Nine years later, the Bears bested the Spartans, 27-20, in the 1989 championship game. Thirty years later, Clairton blanked Laurel in the 2009 playoffs, 33-0.

• Clairton has won the last three meetings, including victories in 2018 and 2019. The only regular season win in this series for Laurel was a significant one. The Spartans upset the Bears, 15-8, in the opening game of the 2009 season. Clairton went on to win its next 66 games, a WPIAL and PIAA record.

No. 12 Burgettstown (5-4) at No. 5 Union (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Socs Roussos Stadium at Union

Coaches: Mark Druga, Burgettstown; Kim Niedbala, Union

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Burgettstown lost to Union in the first round; Union defeated Burgettstown in the opening round, Laurel in the quarterfinals, Rochester in the semifinals and 2021 champion Bishop Canevin in the WPIAL Class A title game

Last week: Fort Cherry 55, Burgettstown 22; Union 49, Summit Academy 22

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals next week to play the winner of No. 13 Laurel at No. 4 Clairton

Players to watch: Brodie Kuzior, Burgettstown (Sr., 6-2, 210, QB/ILB); Braylon Thomas, Union (Sr., 6-1, 190, QB/DB)

Team notes

Burgettstown: The Blue Devils had won three in a row before losing to undefeated Fort Cherry last week, dropping them to fourth place in the Class A Black Hills Conference. The 22 points were the second most given up by the Rangers all season. Senior quarterback Brodie Kuzior had 150 yards passing and 42 yards on the ground, while teammate Rudy Brown led the Blue Devils with 93 yards and 3 TDs.

Union: A No. 5 seed for the Scotties is a step up from last year, when they made a surprising run to District 7 gold as a No. 10 seed. A Week 8 loss to South Side dropped Union to second place in the Big 7 Conference. Senior quarterback Braylon Thomas made history this season, becoming the first Lawrence County quarterback to throw and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He had 1,709 passing and 1,038 rushing.

Historic factoids

• This is the fourth meeting between Burgettstown and Laurel with all four games played in the last four seasons. Union has won two of the three previous contests.

• The teams split their regular season matchups with Union winning in 2020, 36-22, then Burgettstown picking up a victory in 2021, 12-8. The Scotties eliminated the Blue Devils in the first round of the Class A playoffs a year ago, 32-7. Braylon Thomas completed 7 of 12 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown toss while rushing for 138 yards and scoring three TDs. Brodie Kuzior scored on a 1-yard run for the lone Blue Devils score.

• Union won its first WPIAL championship by beating Bishop Canevin in the 2022 Class A title game, 26-0. Nearly 80 years earlier, Burgettstown claimed gold, beating Crafton, 34-7, to win the 1941 Class 2A crown.

No. 15 Jefferson-Morgan (6-4) at No. 2 Fort Cherry (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Jim Garry Stadium at Fort Cherry

Coaches: Shane Ziats, Jefferson-Morgan; Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Jefferson-Morgan did not qualify; Fort Cherry defeated Monessen in the opening round then lost to Rochester in the Class A quarterfinals

Last week: Jefferson-Morgan 42, Carmichaels 14; Fort Cherry 55, Burgettstown 12

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals next week to play the winner of No. 10 Rochester at No. 7 Cornell

Players to watch: Houston Guseman, Jefferson-Morgan (Jr., 5-10, 160, QB/DB); Matt Sieg, Fort Cherry (Soph., 6-1, 170, QB)

Team notes

• Jefferson-Morgan: The Rockets took off this fall and finished in third place in the Class A Tri-County South Conference, qualifying for the districts playoffs for the first time since 2012. Last year, J-M started strong, struggled in the second half and finished fifth. This season, they were 1-3 out of the gates but have won five of six. Junior quarterback Houston Guseman has 859 yards passing and 668 rushing.

Fort Cherry: It has been a perfect season for the Rangers as they won the Black Hills Conference championship with an offense that was tops in Class A, averaging nearly 47 points a game. The leader of the high-octane offense is sophomore quarterback Matt Sieg. He is sixth in the district in rushing with 1,335 yards and 27 touchdowns, plus he has 1,011 yards passing with 15 scoring tosses.

Historic factoids

• This is the eighth meeting between Jefferson-Morgan and Fort Cherry. The Rangers have won six of seven.

• The Rangers won the first four games played between the teams, including the first clash in 1982, 35-8. Fort Cherry won the two most recent meetings in 2016 and 2017 by a combined score of 90-35.

• The lone Rockets victory in this series came in a 2006 WPIAL first-round playoff game, 14-6. Jefferson-Morgan went on to beat Duquesne in the district quarterfinals, 47-37, before falling to Rochester in the semifinals, 14-6.

No. 10 Rochester (5-4) at No. 7 Cornell (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Frank Letteri Stadium at Cornell

Coaches: Gene Matsook, Rochester; Ed Dawson, Cornell

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Rochester defeated Greensburg Central Catholic in the first round and Fort Cherry in the quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Union in the semifinals; Cornell did not qualify

Last week: Cornell 40, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 9; South Side 33, Rochester 7

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals next week to play the winner of No. 15 Jefferson-Morgan at No. 2 Fort Cherry

Players to watch: Dom Guido, Rochester (Sr., 5-11, 165, RB/CB); Khylil Johnson, Cornell (Soph., 5-7, 150, RB/DB)

Team notes

Rochester: The Rams were 4-1 at the end of September, but the autumn wind of October was not kind as Rochester finished with losses in three of its final four games, dropping the Rams to third place in the Big 7 Conference. They spread the wealth last week in their running attack with 10 players carrying the pigskin. Senior Dom Guido had 68 yards rushing while Jason Clinton had 73 yards and a touchdown.

Cornell: The Raiders were victorious in their first six games this season before losing back-to-back Black Hills Conference games to Fort Cherry and Bishop Canevin. Cornell won its final two games, including an elimination win over rival OLSH last week as sophomore Khylil Johnson rushed for 120 yards.

Historic factoids

• These old Big 7 Conference foes have played each other 22 times over the years with Rochester winning 18 and Cornell four.

• The Rams and Raiders split their first four meetings between 1972-1986, and they are 2-2 in their four most recent matchups between 2018-2021. In between, Rochester won 14 in a row.

• This is the second time Rochester and Cornell have locked horns in a WPIAL playoff game. On their way to a WPIAL championship, the Rams crushed the Raiders, 60-6, in a 1998 postseason game.

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