Trib HSSN high school football don’t-miss matchups for Week 10
Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 6:40 PM
Class 6A Quarterfinals
Seneca Valley (4-6) at Mt. Lebanon (6-4)
7 p.m. Friday, Mt. Lebanon Stadium
On the air: WJAS-AM 1320 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Last week: Seneca Valley 28, Norwin 7; Central Catholic 45, Mt. Lebanon 7
Coaches: Ron Butschle, Seneca Valley; Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon
Players to watch: Matt Stanger, Seneca Valley (Sr., 6-0, 200, RB); Mason Ventrone, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-1, 185, RB)
Four downs: 1. Seneca Valley finished in fifth place in Class 6A, the same spot the Raiders finished last season when they went on their 6A postseason revenge tour that carried them past Central Catholic and North Allegheny into the WPIAL title game where they lost to Pine-Richland. 2. Raiders senior running back Matt Stanger had a huge night in the regular season finale last week as he rushed for 226 yards and scored on a 5-yard run. SV quarterback Gabe Lawson threw for 120 yards and scored on a pair of touchdowns runs in the Raiders’ three-touchdown victory over Norwin. 3. In the first year under Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon improved record-wise, but fell in the 6A standings. Last year, the Blue Devils were 5-5 in the regular season and finished in third place. This year, Lebo finished 6-4, but fell to fourth place behind the three-way tie for the top between Central Catholic, Pine-Richland and North Allegheny. 4. The Blue Devils lost two of their final three games to Pine-Richland in Week 7 and Central Catholic last week by a combined score of 86-7. In the regular season finale, senior running back Mason Ventrone was held to 60 yards rushing, but he did score the only touchdown for Mt. Lebanon on a second-quarter 55-yard run that at the time, tied the game with the Vikings at 7-7.
Extra point: Mt. Lebanon beat Seneca Valley 26-20 in their Week 3 regular season meeting earlier this year. Blue Devils quarterback Joey Daniels threw for 166 yards and two touchdowns as Lebo rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit. The last time these teams met in the postseason was a Class 6A quarterfinal in 2016 when the Raiders rolled to a wild 49-43 win at Mt. Lebanon.
Class 5A First Round
Baldwin (5-5) at McKeesport (7-3)
7 p.m. Friday, George Smith Field at Weigle-Schaeffer Stadium
On the air: WEDO-FM 93.3 and WEDO-AM 810 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Last week: Peters Township 38, Baldwin 0; Gateway 36, McKeesport 7
Coaches: Loran Cooley, Baldwin; Matt Miller, McKeesport
Players to watch: Angelo Priore, Baldwin (Sr., 5-11, 220, RB); Devari Robinson, McKeesport (Sr., 5-11, 185, QB)
Four downs: 1. Baldwin was riding high into Week 8 with a rare four-game win streak and knocking on the door of first place in the tough Allegheny Eight Conference. However the Highlanders limp into the postseason after back-to-back losses to Penn Hills and Peters Township by a combined score of 58-7. 2. The Highlanders’ offensive struggles may be linked directly to leading rusher Angelo Priore. The senior had 777 yards after Week 6 and seemed like a sure bet to go over the 1,000 mark this season. But after missing a game with an injury, he has only 76 yards on 27 carries the last two weeks. 3. McKeesport had a five-game winning streak snapped in a loss to Gateway last week that knocked the Tigers from a tie for second into third place in the Big East Conference. This is the third straight year McKeesport has finished third in the Big East. 4. After rushing for 186 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Franklin Regional in Week 8, senior quarterback Devari Robinson was held to 105 yards on the ground against the Gators last week, with most of those coming on an 80-yard touchdown run for the Tigers’ only score of the game.
Extra point: Baldwin is in the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2012. The last time the Highlanders won a postseason game was in 1991. Two years ago, Baldwin finished 0-9. McKeesport has won at least one postseason game for six straight years. The last meeting between these two teams was in Oct. of 2007 when McKeesport edged Baldwin, 28-21.
Class 4A Quarterfinals
West Mifflin (5-5) at South Fayette (9-1)
7 p.m. Friday, South Fayette Stadium
On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Last week: Thomas Jefferson 53, West Mifflin 0; South Fayette 31, Montour 24
Coaches: Rod Steele, West Mifflin; Joe Rossi, South Fayette
Players to watch: Jacob Davis, West Mifflin (Sr., 5-10, 175, QB); Naman Alemada, South Fayette (Jr., 6-5, 200, QB)
Four downs: 1. Even with the coaching change from Ray Braszo to Rod Steele, West Mifflin finished in fourth place in the Big Eight Conference with a record of 5-5 for the second straight season after losing big last week to rival Thomas Jefferson. 2. What a year Jacob Davis has had. He is the Titans’ leading passer since taking over at quarterback, leads the team in rushing and is still third on the squad in receiving after starting the year at running back. 3. South Fayette now has eight straight undefeated conference championships after finishing 7-0 to win the Northwest Eight Conference. The Lions have won 64 straight conference games since a 33-10 loss to Seton LaSalle on Oct. 21, 2011, four away from the WPIAL record. 4. Junior quarterback Naman Alemada continued his big season last week against Montour by hitting on 27 of 39 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns. In his first year as a starter, he has connected on 176 of 261 passes for 2,574 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Extra point: Rod Steele has won WPIAL championships in two of the last three years at Steel Valley. South Fayette is reigning district champion, beating Greensburg Salem, Belle Vernon and Thomas Jefferson to claim the Lions fourth crown in the last nine years.
Class 3A Quarterfinals
South Park (4-5) at North Catholic (8-1)
7 p.m. Friday, J.C. Stone Field in North Park
On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Last week: South Park 35, Quaker Valley 14; North Catholic 42, Deer Lakes 21
Coaches: Marty Rieck, South Park; Pat O’Shea, North Catholic
Players to watch: Rudy Mihoces, South Park (Sr., 5-11, 190, RB); Anthony Serventi, North Catholic (Sr., 5-10, 205, RB)
Four downs: 1. South Park enjoyed a bounce-back season to return to the district playoffs. Last year, the Eagles finished 2-7 in sixth place in the Tri-County West Conference. Even though they are a game under .500 this season at 4-5, the Eagles were 4-3 in conference and finished fourth thanks to a 21-point win last week over Quaker Valley that ended a two-game skid. 2. Eagles senior running back Rudy Mihoces has led the South Park attack on the ground. He is 84 yards shy of 1,000 for the season after gaining 151 yards and scoring two touchdowns against the Quakers in Week 9. 3. North Catholic has won three straight conference championships. In 2017, the Trojans won the Midwestern Athletic Conference crown. Last year, North Catholic finished in a three-way tie for the Big East Conference championship along with Derry and Elizabeth Forward. This season, the Trojans were a perfect 8-0 in conference play. 4. Trojans senior running back Anthony Serventi ran wild on Deer Lakes in the regular season finale last week, rushing for 218 yards and two touchdowns. His nearly 700 yards rushing to lead North Catholic is a nice compliment to the 1,759 yards passing by senior quarterback Zach Rocco.
Extra point: Since winning the WPIAL and the PIAA Class A championship in 2013, North Catholic is a combined 8-5 in the district postseason and has won two games in three of the five years. The last time the Trojans did not win at least one playoff game was when they missed the postseason in 2011. This is the 14-year anniversary of the last WPIAL football championship won by South Park in 2005. The Eagles also won district gold in 1997. The last time these teams were in the same playoff bracket was when both advanced to the quarterfinals in the 2001 WPIAL Class AA playoff tournament.
Class 2A First Round
Charleroi (7-2) at Freedom (7-3)
7 p.m. Friday, Freedom Bulldogs Stadium
On the air: WMBA-AM 1460 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Last week: Charleroi 43, Apollo-Ridge 33; Western Beaver 13, Freedom 3
Coaches: Lance Getsy, Charleroi; Greg Toney, Freedom
Players to watch: Alex Conrad, Charleroi (Sr., 5-11, 170, QB); Cole Beck, Freedom (Jr., 6-1, 180, QB)
Four downs: 1. After earning a share of the Class 2A Century Conference championship last year with Washington, Charleroi settled for a third-place finish in the conference with the Cougars’ only two losses coming at the hands of Washington and McGuffey. They have won 7 of 8 heading into the postseason. 2. Last week, senior quarterback Alex Conrad was nearly perfect, hitting on 10 of 12 passes for 176 yards with a touchdown pass and two scoring runs in the Cougars’ 10-point win in a nonconference game against Apollo-Ridge, the No. 7 seed in the 2A playoffs. Conrad has thrown for 1,068 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. 3. It has been a see-saw first season for Freedom coach Greg Toney. The Bulldogs were sitting pretty atop the Midwestern Athletic Conference with a 7-0 record overall before losing three straight to close out the regular season, two of which were conference games that dropped them from first to second in the MAC. 4. Freedom junior quarterback Cole Beck struggled last week in the rain at Western Beaver, hitting on only 4 of 15 passes for 29 yards as the team was held without a touchdown for only the second time in two years. For the season, Beck has thrown for 1,021 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Extra point: Charleroi has qualified for the playoffs three straight years after missing out of the postseason the 12 previous seasons. Freedom is making a fourth consecutive postseason trip but has made the playoffs only seven times in the last 19 years. Both teams reached the semifinals last year and lost. Charleroi fell to South Side, 26-21, while Freedom was blanked by eventual champion Steel Valley, 40-0. What a difference five years makes. In 2014, Freedom finished 2-7 overall while Charleroi was 0-9.
Class A Quarterfinals
California (7-3) at Cornell (8-1)
7 p.m. Friday, DeMichela Stadium at West Allegheny HS
On the air: WMBS-AM 590, WMBS-FM 101.1 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Last week: California 41, Mapletown 6; Cornell 22, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 14
Coaches: Ed Woods, California; Ed Dawson, Cornell
Players to watch: Cochise Ryan, California (Sr., 5-11, 188, QB); Zaier Harrison, Cornell (Sr., 5-11, 180, QB)
Four downs: 1. A year ago this week, California officials were involved in a rare coin flip for WPIAL football tiebreaker purposes. California lost the coin flip for the top team out of the Tri-County South Conference, hit the road and lost in the quarterfinals of the Class A playoffs to Clairton. With a Week 9 win over Mapletown, the Trojans earned second place and will hit the road again for their playoff opener. 2. Dual-threat senior quarterback Cochise Ryan has been a big part of a California offense that was sixth in Class A with an average of over 35 points per game. He has thrown for 640 yards and eight touchdowns and he leads the Trojans in rushing with 741 yards and 17 touchdowns. However, Ryan was hurt in the Week 8 loss to West Greene and did not play against Mapletown. 3. Four years ago, Cornell didn’t even have a football team. Now they are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011 after earning a share of the Big 7 Conference championship with Sto-Rox after beating OLSH in Week 9. As the top second-place team in Gardner Points, the Trojans earned just the second “home” playoff game in school history and first since 1983. However, weather has forced the game to be moved from the natural surface at Cornell to the turf field at West Allegheny. 4. In the eight-point win over OLSH last week, senior quarterback Zaire Harrison connected on 15 of 24 passes for 223 yards with a touchdown pass and two scoring runs. For the season, he has passed for 1,973 yards and 22 touchdowns, plus he leads the Raiders in rushing with 590 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Extra point: Cornell’s most recent football playoff game was not a memorable one, as the Raiders lost to eventual champion Clairton, 54-0 in a Class A first-round game eight years ago. The only playoff success California has enjoyed in the last decade came when the Trojans beat Bishop Canevin and Union in the first two rounds before losing to Imani Christian, 30-24 in a Class A semifinal. It was the only loss in a 12-1 season for Cal. Cornell did not have a football team in 2014 and 2015, but California wasn’t much better, finishing a combined 3-16 in those two years.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.