Week 3’s don’t-miss high school football matchups in Westmoreland County

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017 | 8:48 PM


Class 5ABig East Conference

4-5A Franklin Regional (2-0, 2-0) at Plum (1-2, 1-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Franklin Regional topped Kiski Area, 19-14, while Plum suffered a 48-0 loss against state-ranked Penn-Trafford.

The buzz: The neighboring rivals clash as the Panthers hope to keep pace in 5A. The Mustangs will attempt to bounce back from the P-T loss and spring an upset.

Key players: First-year starting quarterback Adam Rudzinski, a junior, threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns last week to help lead the Panthers over Kiski Area. Plum coach Matt Morgan said junior Hunter Linhart and sophomore Anthony Little will compete for the starting quarterback job this week to replace senior Corey Thomas, who was injured last week against Penn-Trafford.

About the Panthers: The Franklin Regional defense stood tall against Kiski Area, stopping the Cavaliers four times inside their own 5 with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. The Panthers averaged 10.5 points given up over the first two weeks.

About the Mustangs: Plum hopes to get in the end zone this week after not scoring a touchdown over its first three games. Its nine points against Kiski Area in Week 1 — after being shut out by Penn Hills in its opener — came on a trio of field goals from Jackson Gildea.

class 5a big east conference

Latrobe (1-2, 0-1) at Kiski Area (0-3, 0-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Latrobe picked up its first win of the season and snapped a 13-game home losing streak with a 48-26 win over Chartiers Valley. Kiski Area stayed with No. 4 Franklin Regional before falling 19-14.

The buzz: Kiski Area is desperate to get first-year coach Sam Albert his first win, but Latrobe has momentum as it also seeks its first conference win.

Key players: Shifty senior running back Iven Ettiene has good field vision and can get the offense churning for Latrobe. Ross Greece is looking to get going after rushing for more than 1,000 yards last season for Kiski Area.

About the Wildcats: The 48-point outburst last week was the most they have scored at home since scoring 50 against Kiski Area in 2014.

About the Cavaliers: Like Latrobe, the school has a new turf field on campus but plays at Davis Field, a longtime venue in downtown Vandergrift.

Class 4ABig 9 Conference

Ringgold (1-1, 1-1) at 3-4A Belle Vernon (2-0, 2-0)

7 p.m., Friday

Last week: Ringgold knocked off Albert Gallatin, 17-8, and Belle Vernon pasted Uniontown, 49-2.

The buzz: This rivalry goes back many years. They started playing one another in 1969 after Donora and Monongahela merged the athletic teams to become Ringgold.

Key players: Ringgold senior running back Brenden Small rushed for 126 yards last week at Albert Gallatin. Belle Vernon senior wide receiver Derek Thomas had eight catches for 143 yards and four touchdowns against Uniontown.

About the Rams: Ringgold rebounded well after being flattened by an improved Greensburg Salem squad in Week 1. If they get things straightened out, the Rams can still make noise in the conference after a 1-1 start.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon has feasted on two winless teams in Albert Gallatin and Uniontown. It is still breaking in a young quarterback, Jared Hartman.

Class 4ABig 9 Conference

1-4A Thomas Jefferson (2-0, 2-0) at Greensburg Salem (2-1, 2-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Thomas Jefferson trounced Trinity, 35-9, and Greensburg Salem took down Laurel Highlands, 32-15.

The buzz: A battle for the top spot in the Class 4A Big 9 Conference takes place at Offutt Field. This is Greensburg Salem's first home game of the season after playing its first three games on the road.

Key players: Thomas Jefferson sophomore quarterback Shane Stump has thrown for 311 yards and six touchdowns. Greensburg Salem senior quarterback Jake Hoyle has thrown for 416 yards and rushed for 231.

About the Jaguars: Two Pitt recruits — DE Noah Palmer and DT Devin Danielson — anchor the defensive line. Running back Justin Vigna has rushed for 263 yards and five touchdowns.

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem faces its toughest test of the season in the top-ranked Jaguars. Running back Aaren Putt rushed for a career-high 171 yards against Laurel Highlands.

Class 3AInterstate Conference

Derry (2-1, 1-1) at Southmoreland (0-2, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Derry rolled past Yough, 47-8. Charleroi handled Southmoreland, 54-7.

The buzz: Derry continues to show it is building off last season's magical run, overcoming nagging injuries and getting newcomers more comfortable on both sides of the ball. This will be tuneup for next week's clash with first-place South Park at Baldwin.

Key players: Justin Huss took his turn in a revolving backfield last week, scoring the first two touchdowns for the Trojans. QB Jaden Datz is the key to the Scotties offense but needs time to operate.

About the Trojans: They have won 11 games in a row at Trojan Stadium dating to 2015.

About the Scotties: Points have been hard to come by as they have just 14, while allowing 96.

Class 3AInterstate Conference

McGuffey (2-1, 1-0) at Mt. Pleasant (1-2, 1-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: McGuffey wiped out Waynesburg, 35-0. Mt. Pleasant was clipped by No. 4 South Park, 14-9.

The buzz: Mt. Pleasant gave first-place South Park all it could handle and returns home to face the highest-scoring team in the conference (tied with Derry).

Key players: Marshall Whipkey threw for three touchdowns and piled up more than 200 yards of total offense for McGuffey last week. Michael Govern took control of the rushing duties for Mt. Pleasant last week, running for 109 yards on 16 carries.

About the Highlanders: A power-running team, they rushed for 402 yards last week.

About the Vikings: Despite allowing South Park running back Damon Smith to run for 136 yards, they honored their defensive assignments.

Class AEastern Conference

1-A Clairton (2-0, 2-0) at Greensburg Central Catholic (1-2, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Clairton shook off a slow start and downed Springdale, 32-16. Greensburg Central went to overtime with Fort Cherry before falling 33-30.

The buzz: Clairton isn't the team it was last season, but the Bears still have firepower and will test a young GCC team that allowed 70 points against athletic Imani Christian two weeks ago.

Key players: There was talk of Tre'Sean Howard playing quarterback for the Bears, but he has been a pass-catching threat at wideout, and a dangerous and heady defensive back. QB Max Pisula has dropped back quite a bit for GCC but has had to improvise with little time to throw. Brando Ciccarelli had a pick-six last week for GCC.

About the Bears: They won last year's game at Clairton, 84-0.

About the Centurions: First-year coach Aaron Smetanka has his young players energetic and eager to learn.

Class AEastern Conference

2-A Jeannette (3-0, 1-0) at Riverview (1-1, 1-1)

Noon Saturday

Last week: Jeannette eased past Leechburg, 46-6. Riverview lost to Imani Christian, 66-6.

The buzz: Jeannette isn't fond of Saturday afternoon games but this will be the first of back-to-back Saturday games. This game will be Jeannette's tuneup for next week's game at Imani Christian.

Key players: Robert Kennedy has been a scoring machine for the Jayhawks. Last week, he threw for three scores, ran for two more and scored on a punt return. QB Jared Massack, son of former Raiders coach Todd Massack, threw a TD last week against Imani Christian.

About the Jayhawks: They are averaging 45 points, second in the conference to Imani (62.0).

About the Raiders: Two of their three wins last season came at Riverside Park, their longtime home that sits along the Allegheny River.

Tri-County South Conference

Monessen (1-2, 1-1) at Fort Cherry (1-1, 0-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Monessen edged past Jefferson-Morgan, 14-12. Fort Cherry topped Greensburg Central Catholic, 33-30, in overtime.

The buzz: Monessen snapped a six-game conference losing streak last week and will try to build on the momentum against a Fort Cherry team that made the WPIAL quarterfinals last season.

Key players: Justin Towler scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter last week for Monessen. Fort Cherry QB Ryhan Culberson (6-4, 210) scored the winning touchdown in overtime against GCC. He rushed for 181 yards and scored five TDs.

About the Greyhounds: One more win and they will surpass last year's total.

About the Rangers: They are giving up 39.5 points, second in the conference to Avella (60.7).

Nonconference

2-6A Central Catholic (2-1) at Hempfield (1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Central Catholic defeated rival North Allegheny, 14-7, in the Northern Seven Conference. Mt. Lebanon shut out Hempfield, 31-0 in Southeastern play.

The buzz: Central Catholic has won two in a row after being embarrassed by Erie Cathedral Prep in Week Zero. Hempfield is reeling after losing starting quarterback Justin Sliwoski to a shoulder injury.

Key players: Central Catholic senior quarterback Troy Fisher is a three-year starter. He completed 11 of 19 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown last week at NA. Hempfield senior tight end Braden Brose has 18 catches for 284 yards and four touchdowns.

About the Vikings: After allowing 40 points in the opener, Central Catholic has allowed a single score the past two games. Defensive tackle David Green is a Pitt recruit.

About the Spartans: Sliwoski is listed week-to-week. His return would give Hempfield a boost.

Nonconference

Hopewell (2-1) at Yough (0-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Hopewell edged Ellwood City, 16-14; Derry defeated Yough, 47-8

The buzz: Samantha Hysong booted a 32-yard field goal, her second of the season, to lift Hopewell to a late win last week. Yough has struggled to stop opposing offenses.

Key players: Hopewell running back DeShaun Sanders rushed for 147 of his 200 yards against Burrell. He's scored two touchdowns. Yough junior running back Dustin Shoaf motors the Cougars offense. He's rushed for 404 yards and three scores.

About the Vikings: Hopewell has allowed just 27 points.

About the Cougars: Yough has been outscored 111-20 and is working to develop a consistent passing game.

Nonconference

2-5A Penn-Trafford (3-0) at Woodland Hills (1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn-Trafford handled Plum, 48-0, in its home opener. Woodland Hills was stunned by Fox Chapel, 22-21.

The buzz: Penn-Trafford has flexed its muscles and is showing it means business as a clear contender in 5A. The Warriors have only allowed seven points and will face a road test against the Wolverines, who lost last year to P-T, 26-7.

Key players: QB Cam Laffoon is beginning to be more threatening as a passer for Penn-Trafford. He threw for 158 yards and a score last week, finding seven receivers. Woodland Hills is led by RB Rodney Dennard, who ran for 103 yards and a TD last week.

About the Warriors: No team has scored in the first half against them in three games. Senior John Gay and sophomore Caleb Lisbon each had two TDs last week.

About the Wolverines: They are reeling after losing to Fox Chapel, which had not beaten the Wolverines since 1994.

District 6 Heritage Conference

Ligonier Valley (3-0, 3-0) at Penns Manor (1-2, 1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Ligonier Valley shut out Northern Cambria, 44-0, and Penns Manor fell to United 28-22.

The buzz: Ligonier Valley is on a roll again. The defense allowed just 34 yards, and sophomore quarterback Sam Sheeder tossed three touchdown passes and ran for another last week.

Key players: Ligonier Valley senior wide receiver Aaron Tutino is coming off a six-catch, 116-yard, four-TD performance against Northern Cambria. Penns Manor senior quarterback Adam Dumm returned a kickoff for a score and ran for another last week.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley showed Northern Cambria coach Sam Shutty the way to the conference title still runs through Ligonier.

About the Comets: The lack of a running game forces Penns Manor to be one-dimensional. They were beaten by Northern Cambria, 41-12, in Week Zero.

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