Trib HSSN high school football don’t-miss matchups for Week 9

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Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 6:16 PM


Class 6A

Central Catholic (6-1, 8-1) at Mt. Lebanon (5-2, 6-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Mt. Lebanon Stadium

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

Last week: Central Catholic 44, Canon-McMillan 0; Mt. Lebanon 45, Norwin 16

Coaches: Terry Totten, Central Catholic; Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon

Players to watch: Edward Tillman, Central Catholic (Jr., 5-8, 165, RB); Mason Ventrone, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-1, 185, RB)

Four downs: 1. Central Catholic could finish in a three-way tie for the conference championship and be the No. 1 seed in Class 6A via tiebreakers with a win on Friday and a North Allegheny loss, or the Vikings could fall as far down as fourth place if they lose and Pine-Richland wins.

2. Junior running back Edward Tillman had a big night against the Big Macs in Week 8. Tillman rushed for 175 yards on only 10 carries and scored four touchdowns on lengthy runs of 57, 18, 42 and 16 yards in the Vikings 44-point win over Canon-McMillan.

3. There is little wiggle room for Mt. Lebanon in the 6A standings. With a win and a North Allegheny victory, the Blue Devils would finish in a tie for second place with Central Catholic and Pine-Richland, however they could not win the tiebreaker to finish second. The best they could do is finish third and the worst is finish fourth. Either way, they will host a quarterfinals playoff game.

4. Senior running back Mason Ventrone led the way on a big night for the Mt. Lebanon ground game last week against Norwin. Ventrone rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown while teammate Vishawn Pennix gained 100 yards and also scored in the Blue Devils 29-point victory over the Knights.

Extra point: Mt. Lebanon beat Central Catholic last year, 17-7. However, the Vikings won the previous meeting between the teams 31-14 in a 2011 Class AAAA quarterfinals playoff game.

Class 5A Big East Conference

Gateway (4-1, 7-2) at McKeesport (4-1, 7-2)

7 p.m. Friday, George Smith Field at Weigle-Schaeffer Stadium

Last week: Gateway 48, Connellsville 7; McKeesport 31, Franklin Regional 14

Coaches: Don Holl, Gateway; Matt Miller, McKeesport

Players to watch: Derrick Davis, Gateway (Sr., 6-1, 190, RB); Devari Robinson, McKeesport (Sr., 5-11, 185, QB)

Four downs:

1. Gateway allowed a total of 76 points in their Week 1 loss to Penn-Trafford and their Week 7 loss to Ohio power Massillon Washington. However, in their seven wins, the Gators defense has yielded a total of 34 points with four shutouts. Twenty of those points came in a Week Zero win over Mt. Lebanon.

2. Gators star junior running back Derrick Davis gained 124 yards and scored five touchdowns last week in a rout of visiting Connellsville. The top recruit from the Class of 2021 in the WPIAL has 1,153 yards rushing and is averaging over 11 yards per carry and has scored 22 touchdowns.

3. McKeesport began the season with a 2-2 record, but has won the last five games by a combined score of 223-68. The Tigers’ back-to-back losses in Week 2 and Week 3 were to Penn-Trafford, currently ranked No. 1 in the state in 5A, and Erie Cathedral Prep, currently ranked No. 2 in 4A in the state.

4. Senior quarterback Devari Robinson rushed for 186 yards and had three touchdown runs in a 17-point win for McKeesport over Franklin Regional last week. Robinson has thrown for 257 yards and six touchdowns and has rushed for 1,014 yards and 25 touchdowns to lead the Tigers.

Extra point: The winner of this game will finish second behind Penn-Trafford in the Big East and could earn a share of the conference title if the Warriors lose to Franklin Regional. The loser of this game finishes in third place, but will still earn a first-round home playoff game.

Class 4A Northwest Eight Conference

Montour (4-2, 5-4) at South Fayette (6-0, 8-1)

7 p.m. Friday, South Fayette Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Montour 46, Beaver 7; South Fayette 61, Ambridge 6

Coaches: Lou Cerro, Montour; Joe Rossi, South Fayette

Players to watch: Dom Magliocco, Montour (Sr., 6-1, 180, RB/WR); Naman Alemada, South Fayette (Jr., 6-5, 200, QB)

Four downs:

1. After losing four of their first five games, Montour has ripped off four consecutive Northwest Eight Conference wins to clinch a return to the postseason after a rare miss of the playoffs in 2018. The Spartans could finish second and earn a home quarterfinal game or fall as low as fourth place.

2. In the absence of starting quarterback Luke Persinger, who is out with a collarbone injury, senior Dom Magliocco has moved from wide receiver to running back in the Spartans’ wildcat offense. Last week he rushed for 107 yards and a pair of touchdown runs in a rout of Beaver.

3. South Fayette looks to seal the deal on another perfect conference record. The Lions have won 63 straight conference games since a 33-10 loss to Seton LaSalle on Oct. 21, 2011. If they beat Montour, South Fayette would be five off the record.

4. Junior quarterback Naman Alemada continues to enjoy a great ‘rookie’ season. Last week, he was a near perfect 7 of 8 passing for 114 yards and a touchdown in a 55-point victory over Ambridge. He has connected on 149 of 222 passes for 2,303 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.

Extra point: Montour ended a forgettable 2018 campaign with a 31-0 loss to South Fayette last year. The previous time these teams met, though, the outcome was quite different. The Spartans stunned the Lions 35-27 in the 2017 Class 4A semifinals.

Class 3A Tri-County West Conference

Central Valley (6-0, 8-1) at Aliquippa (6-0, 9-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Carl A. Aschman Stadium

On the air: WBVP-AM 1230, WBVP-FM 99.3, WMBA-AM 1460, WKPL-FM 92.1 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Central Valley 48, South Park 13; Aliquippa 55, Keystone Oaks 7

Coaches: Mark Lyons, Central Valley; Mike Warfield, Aliquippa

Players to watch: Ameer Dudley, Central Valley (Jr., 6-1, 178, QB); Antonio Quinn, Aliquippa (Sr., 5-9, 190, RB)

Four downs:

1. Central Valley is second in Class 3A in points scored with an average of 39.4 per game. The Warriors have allowed only 116 points this season, which is fourth-lowest total in the classification.

2. Central Valley quarterback Ameer Dudley had a monster game in a Week 8 victory over playoff-bound South Park. The junior connected on 14 of 17 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns with a scoring run as well in a 35-point victory.

3. Aliquippa is one of six WPIAL teams looking to close out a perfect regular season. With the nine wins this season and the five victories in the 2018 postseason, the Quips have the longest current district winning streak at 14 in a row.

4. The Quips continue to run the ball well, led by Antonio Quinn. The senior running back rushed for 159 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 48-point triumph over Keystone Oaks last week. Quinn has rushed for 1,010 yards while running mate Vernon Redd has 492 yard on the ground. The two have 12 touchdowns each.

Extra point: Both teams will host 3A quarterfinals playoff games next week. The winner of the game will finish first and the loser will be second in the Tri-County West Conference. There is also a good chance that these teams will be the two top seeds when the football playoff brackets come out Monday. Aliquippa’s last loss came in Week 9 last year when Central Valley pulled off the upset at home, 14-8.

Class 2A Century Conference

Washington (6-0, 9-0) at McGuffey (6-0, 8-1)

7 p.m. Friday, McGuffey Stadium

On the air: WJPA-FM 95.3 and McGuffey Sports Network on TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Washington 44, Southmoreland 16; Avonworth 34, McGuffey 20

Coaches: Mike Bosnic, Washington; Ed Dalton, McGuffey

Players to watch: Zack Swartz, Washington (Sr., 6-2, 195, QB); Marshall Whipkey, McGuffey (Sr., 5-10, 175, QB)

Four downs:

1. Washington heads into this Century Conference championship game having dominated their competition. They have outscored their opponents by an average of 50-13 and the closest margin of victory was a 26-point nonconference win over Class A California.

2. Senior quarterback Zach Swartz has been as good as advertised as he closes out a stellar career at Wash High. Last week, he hit on only 5 of 8 passes for 148 yards and two touchdown passes, a scoring run and a pick six in a 28-point win over playoff-bound Southmoreland. The senior QB has 1,334 yards passing and 20 touchdowns in the air to go along with 760 yards rushing (tops on the team) and 19 touchdowns on the ground.

3. McGuffey is hoping 2019 isn’t going to follow in the same direction of 2018 with a lot of sizzle until a late-season fizzle. The Highlanders were 7-0 last year before losing three of their final four games, including a first-round playoff loss to South Side.

4. Senior quarterback Marshall Whipkey has not only thrown for over 1,000 yards, he is also second on the team in rushing behind his brother, junior running back McKinley Whipkey.

Extra point: Washington won at home in an offensive shootout, 42-36 over McGuffey, to win another Century Conference championship. The Little Prexies have won three straight in this on-again, off-again series since the Highlanders last win 10 years ago Oct. 30, 2009 by a score of 14-12.

Class A Big 7 Conference

Cornell (5-1, 7-1) at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (5-1, 7-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Moon Tigers Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Cornell 8, Greensburg Central Catholic 0 in Overtime; OLSH 34, Union 0

Coaches: Ed Dawson, Cornell; Dan Bradley, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

Players to watch: Zaier Harrison, Cornell (Sr., 5-11, 180, QB); Jaymar Pearson, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Soph., 5-10, 185, QB)

Four downs:

1. When was the last time a WPIAL football game not affected by bad weather or terrible field conditions ended regulation in a scoreless deadlock? That was the case between Cornell and Greensburg Central Catholic in a nonconference tilt in Week 8. Zaire Harrison scored on a 10-yard run in overtime and then hit Ameer Hibbler on a pass for the 2-point conversion in an 8-0 throwback victory for the playoff-bound Raiders.

2. Speaking of Harrison, he has been a beast all season for Cornell. The senior has thrown for 1,749 yards and 21 touchdowns, plus he leads the team in rushing with 521 yards and is first for the Raiders in scoring with 12 touchdowns on the ground. He has kicked four extra-points to boot.

3. A year after winning the school’s first conference title (leading to a first district championship), OLSH kept its hopes alive for a share of first place with a shutout win over Union last week. Since losing to Jeannette, the Chargers have outscored their last two opponents by a combined score of 94-0

4. Quarterback Jaymar Pearson has been the key to the OLSH offense. Taking over for record-setting QB Tyler Bradley, Pearson has hurt opponents with his arm and his legs. The sophomore has thrown for over 1,000 yards and is the Chargers’ leading rusher with 656 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns.

Extra point: The winner of this game will finish as co-champions with Sto-Rox in the Big 7 Conference, but will be seeded second since both teams lost to the Vikings earlier this season. If Clairton beats Jeannette, the winner will host a quarterfinal game. The loser of this contest will finish third but will earn one of two Class A third-place wild cards.

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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