Trib HSSN high school football don’t-miss matchups for Week 6
Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 7:40 PM
Class 6A vs 5A nonconference
Mt. Lebanon (4-1, 4-2) at Upper St. Clair (3-1, 5-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Upper St. Clair Stadium
On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Coaches: Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon; Mike Junko, Upper St. Clair
Players to watch: Joey Daniels, Mt. Lebanon (Soph., 5-9, 175, QB); Ethan Dahlem, Upper St. Clair (Jr., 5-10, 173, QB)
Last week: Mt. Lebanon 31, Hempfield 17; Upper St. Clair 42, Fox Chapel 0
Four downs: 1. With its win last week over Hempfield, Mt. Lebanon joined North Allegheny as Class 6A teams that have clinched a WPIAL playoff berth before the start of the second half of the regular season. 2. Blue Devils sophomore Joey Daniels continues to shine at quarterback. In Week 5, Daniels hit on 14 of 26 passes for 226 yards and a pair of touchdown passes in the two-touchdown win over the Spartans. 3. Upper St. Clair continues to pile up the points. They have scored the second-most points in Class 5A, trailing only Penn-Trafford, 208-205. USC has scored over 20 points in all six games and over 30 points in four of its five wins. 4. A big part of the Panthers offensive success is the breakout season for quarterback Ethan Dahlem. The junior connected on 11 of 15 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in the 5A nonconference whitewash of Fox Chapel. For the season, Dahlem has thrown for 1,662 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Extra point: These South Hills neighbors were conference rivals for decades before expansion moved the Blue Devils into 6A and the Panthers to 5A. After not playing each other in 2016 and 2017, the rivalry was restarted in nonconference form last fall when USC won at Mt. Lebanon, 28-7.
Class 5A Allegheny Eight Conference
Peters Township (3-0, 6-0) at Moon (2-1, 4-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Tiger Stadium
On the air: WMBA-AM 1460 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Coaches: T.J. Plack, Peters Township; Ryan Linn, Moon
Players to watch: Logan Pfeuffer, Peters Township (Jr., 6-1, 170, QB); Jamal Littlejohn, Moon (Sr., 5-9, 195, RB)
Last week: Peters Township 35, Canon-McMillan 3; Bethel Park 23, Moon 16 (OT)
Four downs: 1. While Peters Township has been strong on offense during its perfect 2019 campaign, the PT defense has been dominant. They have allowed only 45 points all year and their 7.5 points per game allowed is tops in Class 5A and fourth in the WPIAL heading into Week 6. 2. Indians junior quarterback Logan Pfeuffer had another strong game last week as he was 11 of 19 passing for 228 yards and three long touchdown passes. He has 1,164 passing yards and 16 scoring passes this season. 3. Moon jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the second quarter last week in a key conference game at Bethel Park and led 16-13 late in the contest, only to have the Black Hawks tie it on a 23-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in regulation. Bethel Park scored first before a Moon turnover gave the Tigers their first conference loss of the season. 4. Diminutive senior running back Jamal Littlejohn scored both Tigers touchdowns last week on runs of 1 and 3 yards. Moon played the second half without starting quarterback Dante Clay due to a hip injury. Clay is expected to play against Peters Township.
Extra point: Last year, Peters Township beat Moon, 33-21, in the first meeting between the two schools since the Tigers edged the Indians, 21-17, in 2005.
Class 4A Northwest Eight Conference
Blackhawk (3-2, 3-3) at New Castle (2-1, 4-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Taggart Stadium in New Castle
On the air: WKST-AM 1200 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Coaches: Zack Hayward, Blackhawk; Joe Cowart, New Castle
Players to watch: Marques Watson-Trent, Blackhawk (Sr., 6-0, 190, RB); Michael Wells, New Castle (Soph., 6-3, 200, QB)
Last week: South Fayette 34, Blackhawk 14, New Castle 36, South Park 14
Four downs: 1. Time is running out on Blackhawk, which finds itself tied for the fourth and final playoff spot in the loss column with Highlands and Montour in the 4A Northwest Eight Conference. After Friday night, the Cougars have only one more conference game left, at Beaver in Week 9. 2. Blackhawk did not score an offensive touchdown in last week’s loss to South Fayette. Both Cougars touchdowns came on a pair of Marques Watson-Trent interception returns, one of 77 yards and a second of 24 yards. 3. After back-to-back nonconference games, New Castle will close out the regular season in total control of its own destiny with conference games against Blackhawk, Knoch, Highlands and Ambridge. 4. Red Hurricane sophomore quarterback Michael Wells had a big week last Friday, completing 10 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns in the 22-point victory.
Extra point: Neither program has won a WPIAL football championship this century, but both Blackhawk and New Castle were golden in the 90s. The Cougars won three straight Class AAA titles from 1991-93 and added another in 1996. Two years later, New Castle captured its latest district title in 1998. Blackhawk beat New Castle in last year’s meeting, 42-17.
Class 3A Big East Conference
Elizabeth Forward (3-1, 4-1) at North Catholic (4-0, 4-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Mars Athletic Complex
On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Coaches: Mike Collodi, Elizabeth Forward; Pat O’Shea, North Catholic
Players to watch: Nico Mrvos, Elizabeth Forward (Jr., 6-1, 178, QB); Zach Rocco, North Catholic (Sr., 6-3, 240, QB)
Last week: Derry 26, Elizabeth Forward 17; North Catholic 42, Mt. Pleasant 28
Four downs: 1. After winning its first four games of the season, Elizabeth Forward saw its run at perfection end at Derry. EF had a 14-0 lead in the second quarter before Derry scored 26 of the final 29 points. 2. The Warriors struggled offensively, only scoring three points against Derry. EF’s two touchdowns came on a pick six by Nico Mrvos of 57 yards and a Zach Boyd 18-yard interception return for a score. 3. North Catholic can take control of the 3A Big East Conference with a win. A win would all but clinch a playoff berth and put them in front of both Elizabeth Forward and Derry, the two teams they ended up tied with for the conference crown last year. 4. Trojans senior quarterback Zach Rocco hit on 17 of 26 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns last week, plus he ran for a score in a 14-point win over Mt. Pleasant. Rocco has thrown for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games.
Extra point: There is a good chance if Elizabeth Forward wins on Friday that we could see tri-champions in the Class 3A Big East Conference for a third straight year. Last year, the tiebreaker put the order for those three at Derry, North Catholic and Elizabeth Forward. Going into Week 6, here are the tiebreaker points for these three teams: North Catholic +38, Elizabeth Forward +17, Derry +14.
Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference
New Brighton (3-0, 5-1) at Freedom (4-0, 6-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Freedom Stadium
On the air: WBVP-AM 1230, WBVP-FM 99.3, WKPL-FM 92.1 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Coaches: Joe Greco, New Brighton; Greg Toney, Freedom
Players to watch: Jacob Francona, New Brighton (Sr., 6-3, 180, WR); Cole Beck, Freedom (Jr., 6-1, 180, QB)
Last week: New Brighton 31, Neshannock 18; Freedom 14, Valley 10
Four downs: 1. New Brighton can take control of the Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference with a win, a week after handing Neshannock its first conference loss of the season. 2. Senior wide receiver Jacob Francona continues to shine whether catching the ball or running with the pigskin. Last week, he had touchdown receptions of 17 and 49 yards from Lions quarterback Jackson Hall. 3. The next two weeks will determine if Freedom can capture two straight MAC championships. After hosting New Brighton on Friday, the Bulldogs hit the road for their final three games including a trip to Neshannock next Friday. 4. With two huge conference games in a row, Freedom almost fell into a trap last week. They traveled to Valley for a nonconference game against the 1-5 Vikings and needed a Cole Beck 2-yard scoring run to come back and pull out a four-point road win.
Extra point: What a difference 10 years makes. In 2009, New Brighton and Freedom combined to finish 2-16. Last year, the Bulldogs edged the Lions, 16-14, for a fourth straight victory in the series. New Brighton last beat Freedom by a score of 41-14 in 2015.
Class A Tri-County South Conference
California (3-0, 4-2) at West Greene (5-0, 6-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Kennedy Field
On the air: WMBS-AM 590, WMBS-FM 101.1 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Coaches: Ed Woods, California; Brian Hanson, West Greene
Players to watch: Cochise Ryan, California (Sr., 5-11, 180, QB); Ben Jackson, West Greene (Sr., 6-1, 220, RB)
Last week: California 69, Jefferson-Morgan 21; West Greene 55, Avella 0
Four downs: 1. After back-to-back nonconference losses to Laurel and Washington, California got back on the winning track last week to improve to 3-0 in the TCS in a rout of Jefferson-Morgan. 2. Trojans senior quarterback Cochise Ryan has thrown for 497 yards and rushed for 533 yards this season, including 149 yards and three touchdowns last week. 3. Washington has the second highest point-per-game average in the WPIAL at 50.3 ppg. West Greene has the highest with an average of 56.5 points per game in racking up six straight wins. 4. Senior running back Ben Jackson has been a huge part of the Pioneers’ offensive explosion in the first half. He already has 1,575 yards and 29 touchdowns following his 219 yards and five-score performance last week in a one-sided win over Avella.
Extra point: California beat West Greene, 24-14, last year to set the stage for what turned out to be a three-way tie for the Tri-County South Conference championship. The tie with the Trojans, Pioneers and Monessen turned out to be unusual in that all the tiebreakers did not settle a thing and the three schools were forced to flip coins to determine the order and home field in the TCS.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.