Week 1’s don’t miss matchups for Westmoreland County

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | 6:45 PM


ALTOONA (1-0, 0-0) at NORWIN (0-1, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Altoona rallied in the fourth quarter to edge past Allderdice, 35-34. Norwin moved the ball well but could not score in a 3-0 loss to rival Penn-Trafford.

The buzz: This is the conference opener for both teams after each played Week Zero games.

Key players: Quarterback Braden Burchfield completed 17 of 27 passes for 295 yards and the winning score last week for Altoona. Norwin's Tevin Thrift showed potential in the Knights backfield, rushing for 67 yards, 38 on a fourth-quarter burst.

About the Mountain Lions: Burchfield found Tyler Wagner for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter last week to cap a 16-play, 93-yard drive and give the Mountain Lions a win.

About the Knights: Norwin had a first-half, fourth-down touchdown pass negated by penalty against Penn-Trafford and struggled to get into the red zone after that in a season-opening loss.


HEMPFIELD (1-0, 0-0) at CANON-MCMILLAN (1-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Hempfield defeated rival Greensburg Salem, 49-21. Canon-McMillan defeated Kiski Area, 17-10.

The buzz: The Spartans looked impressive in Week Zero, but now hope to continue their success in the conference opener. Quarterback Justin Sliwoski and tight end Braden Brose combined for three touchdowns last week. Canon-McMillan scored a late touchdown, a 14-yard pass to Drew Engel, to beat Kiski Area.

Key players: Hempfield running back Colin Critchfield rushed for 113 yards on nine carries, including an 82-yard touchdown in Week Zero. Canon-McMillan's Cuyler Rancher used his speed while returning a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.

About the Spartans: Hempfield used a balanced offensive attack to overpower Greensburg Salem. Sliwoski threw for 281 yards and four TDs, and four running backs combined to rush for more than 175 yards.

About the Big Macs: Canon-McMillan needed a kickoff return and a late touchdown pass to upend Kiski Area. The Big Macs offense combined for fewer than 150 yards.Class 5ABIG EAST CONFERENCE

LATROBE (0-1, 0-0) at 4-5A GATEWAY (1-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Latrobe lost its second straight in the series to Derry, 29-14. Gateway won at Woodland Hills, 35-23.

The buzz: Gateway is expected to be one of the top teams in the Big East, but Latrobe is looking to sneak up on some teams with an improved offense.

Key players: Isaiah Cameron scored three touchdowns for the Gators, two via run and another on a catch, in last week's win. Jason Armstrong, who moved from tight end to quarterback for Latrobe, was 16 of 34 for 158 yards in his debut last week at Derry.

About the Gators: Fast starts often fuel Gateway wins and the opener was no different as a 95-yard kickoff return by Courtney Jackson set the tone for a 21-0 halftime lead.

About the Wildcats: Latrobe has not won a conference opener since 2014.


3-5A PENN-TRAFFORD (1-0, 0-0) at CONNELLSVILLE (1-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn-Trafford won a defensive struggle against rival Norwin, 3-0, for its seventh straight win over the Knights. Connellsville retained the Coal Bucket Trophy with a 46-33 win over Uniontown in coach Marko Thomas' debut on the Falcons' sideline.

The buzz: Thomas is a Penn-Trafford graduate and was a standout wide receiver in the late 1990s. He opens conference play against his alma mater.

Key players: Quarterback Cam Laffoon rushed for 130 yards and running back John Gay IV added 110 for Penn-Trafford, which got a 20-yard field goal from Nick Tarabrella to hold off Norwin. Luke White ran for 67 yards and a score on 11 carries for Connellsville in Week Zero.

About the Warriors: A nasty pass rush kept Norwin at bay, led by linemen Logan Hawkins, Will Mayr and Cameron Elma. Defense is the driving force.

About the Falcons: They scored 31 consecutive points in the opener to take an 18-point lead but only led 31-27 at halftime.


ALBERT GALLATIN (0-0, 0-0) at BELLE VERNON (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Both teams opted to play a second scrimmage rather than a game last week.

The buzz: Belle Vernon welcomes Albert Gallatin for its season and home opener on the gold-colored turf at James Weir Stadium.

Key players: Blake Zubovic leads Belle Vernon up front. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound senior is a Pitt recruit. Although he is a newcomer, senior receiver Nate Bricker (6-3, 175) could be a playmaker for Albert Gallatin.

About the Colonials: Seven starters return from a 1-8 team.

About the Leopards: After starting 6-0 last season and then sputtering to finish 7-3, the Leopards are looking to sustain momentum this season. The Leopards won the matchup 48-14 last season.


GREENSBURG SALEM (0-1, 0-0) at RINGGOLD (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg Salem dropped a 49-21 decision to Hempfield. Ringgold scrimmaged South Park.

The buzz: The Golden Lions look to rebound after a disappointing showing against Hempfield. They had trouble with the Spartans at the line of scrimmage and need to tackle better on defense.

Key players: Greensburg Salem QB Jacob Hoyle rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another in the opener. He combined for more than 200 yards, 131 through the air. Ringgold RB Brenden Small rushed for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016.

About the Golden Lions: Coach Dave Keefer will be looking for a better effort, especially defensively, from his team after falling at Hempfield.

About the Rams: The Rams graduated 20 seniors from a playoff team that reached the WPIAL semifinals.


DERRY (1-0, 0-0) at ELIZABETH FORWARD (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Derry toppled Class 5A Latrobe, 29-14. Elizabeth Forward scrimmaged at Belle Vernon.

The buzz: Derry looks to keep momentum going as the Trojans begin defense of their conference title. Elizabeth Forward opens the regular season at home after two scrimmages.

Key players: Junior Shawn Broadway ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns for Derry in the season opener. Broadway appears to be the next workhorse back for the Trojans. Senior QB Zack Benedict threw for 828 yards and 14 TDs last season for Elizabeth Forward.

About the Trojans: After winning their ninth straight game at home, they hit the road for the Interstate opener. Derry won last year's meeting 27-15.

About the Warriors: A run-first team returns seven starters, including three offensive linemen. Senior offensive tackle AJ Ackerman (6-5, 270) was first-team all-conference.


MT. PLEASANT (0-1, 0-0) at WAYNESBURG (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mt. Pleasant was not able to get a win in coach Jason Fazekas' debut, falling at Laurel Highlands, 21-14. Waynesburg did not play a game in Week Zero but hosted Carmichaels in a scrimmage.

The buzz: Mt. Pleasant needs a bounce-back win and the conference opener would be the ideal place to do so.

Key players: Quarterback Lucas Pieszak threw for 191 yards, including touchdowns of 62 yards to Cody Reese and 75 yards to Ryan Quinn, for Mt. Pleasant in Week Zero. Senior Dylan Scritchfield is the quarterback for Waynesburg and also is a valuable cornerback.

About the Vikings: With only two full-time starters back, Mt. Pleasant has several newcomers learning new positions.

About the Raiders: They finished 0-9 last season but return eight starters on defense.


4-3A SOUTH PARK (0-0, 0-0) at SOUTHMORELAND (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Both teams played scrimmages, South Park against Ringgold and Southmoreland vs. Valley.

The buzz: A wild-card playoff team last year, South Park is the conference favorite after reaching the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals.

Key players: Senior Isaiah Mack is a returning first-team all-conference player for South Park. Senior quarterback Jaden Datz is a key leader for Southmoreland and threw for 490 yards a season ago.

About the Eagles: South Park rolled to a 42-8 win over Southmoreland in last season's opener. The Eagles' stadium is undergoing renovations, and the team will play its first four home games at nearby stadiums.

About the Scotties: Hindered by low roster numbers in recent years, the team begins the season with 30 players. They have not had a winning season in 14 years.


MONESSEN (0-1, 0-0) at CARMICHAELS (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Monessen lost at rival Charleroi, 35-13, spoiling the debut of coach Mikey Blainefield. Carmichaels scrimmaged Waynesburg.

The buzz: Monessen is trying to turn around a program that once was a can't-miss playoff team.

Key players: Nate Simms and Elijah Davis returned kickoffs for touchdowns against Charleroi.

About the Greyhounds: Monessen gave up 560 yards last week (282 passing) and is looking to limit big plays.

About the Mikes: Carmichaels won the conference title last season, going 7-0 and averaging 31 points.



7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Chartiers-Houston opened with 7-6 defeat against Jefferson-Morgan at home. Jeannette went on the road and posted a 28-26 win at East Allegheny that went down to the wire.

The buzz: Jeannette gets one more nonconference test in its home opener before beginning Eastern Conference play next week against Leechburg.

Key players: Quarterback Robert Kennedy showed his playmaking ability last week in a back-and-forth win. He threw for 121 yards and three touchdowns, ran for 131 yards and a score, intercepted a pass and made a key break-up of a late two-point conversion attempt. Quarterback Matt Whitfield rushed for 124 yards on 34 carries in Week Zero for Chartiers-Houston.

About the Buccaneers: A missed extra point cost the team in the opener as they gave up a second-quarter score to Jefferson-Morgan, whose own point-after was the difference.

About the Jayhawks: Despite showing big-play potential in the passing game, Jeannette's defense gave up more than 240 yards and three scores through the air to East Allegheny.


YOUGH (0-1) at BETH-CENTER (1-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Yough lost at Freeport, 43-6. Beth-Center scored late to clip Sto-Rox, 32-26.

The buzz: Yough opted to play a Week Zero game this season after playing two scrimmages last season. Now the Cougars get two nonconference games before opening Interstate Conference play.

Key players: Junior tailback Dustin Shoaf leads the Yough offense as he runs behind a big front line. Shoaf rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown last week. Sophomore Dylan Dingled scored the winning TD last week on a 4-yard run.

About the Cougars: Yough has three players over 6-foot-4, 285 pounds on its line.

About the Bulldogs: Junior tailback Dominic Fundy is the main ball carrier. He ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns in Week Zero.


LIGONIER VALLEY (1-0, 1-0) at SALTSBURG (0-1, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Ligonier Valley rolled over Marion Center, 62-2, in the Heritage Conference opener. Saltsburg fell to United, 36-24.

The buzz: The Rams began the season with an impressive rout of the Stingers.

Key players: Ligonier Valley wide receiver Aaron Tutino scored three times, three different ways against Marion Center. He caught a touchdown pass, ran for one and returned an interception for a score. Saltsburg sophomore quarterback Josh Gibbons returns after throwing for 610 yards as a freshman. He threw for 249 yards in the opener.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley is loaded again. The defense scored twice in the opener.

About the Trojans: Saltsburg jumped out to a quick lead on United in the opener, but allowed 22 consecutive points in the loss.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More High School Football

Experienced Seneca Valley squad ready to make a run for gold in Class 6A
Perfection in the past, Mt. Lebanon starts new season with lots of fresh faces
Central Catholic looking to regain championship swagger
New football coach Eric Kasperowicz wants to repeat Pine-Richland success at Mars
Canon-McMillan looks to join elite in shrinking Class 6A