Week 5’s don’t-miss high school matchups in Westmoreland County

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017 | 11:00 PM


Class 6A Southeastern Conference

5-6A Bethel Park (3-1, 2-0) at Hempfield (1-4, 0-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Bethel Park lost to No. 1 Pine-Richland, 54-20. Hempfield lost to Peters Township, 23-15.

The buzz: Hempfield welcomed back senior quarterback Justin Sliwoski from a shoulder injury last week. The Spartans hope he can help lead them to an upset and bring an end to a four-game losing streak. Bethel Park held Norwin to seven points two weeks ago.

Key players: Senior tight end Braden Brose has been a valuable target for whoever is throwing the ball. He has 31 catches for 439 yards and five touchdowns. Jehvon Lewis ran for 107 yards on nine carries last week for the Black Hawks.

About the Black Hawks: They are known for having one of the top rushing attacks in the WPIAL, averaging more than 260 yards per game. But they gave up 449 yards to Pine-Richland.

About the Spartans: They lost this game last year 48-13, but bounced back to make the WPIAL playoffs. Hempfield is looking for more production in the running game.

Class 6A Southeastern Conference

Peters Township (4-1, 2-1) at Norwin (3-2, 2-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Peters Township topped Hempfield, 23-15. Norwin defeated Canon-McMillan, 34-14.

The buzz: Still in the thick of the conference title chase, Norwin has three wins in four weeks and has been strong at home, allowing just 17 points in three games.

Key players: Quarterback Jack Salopek completed 10 of 20 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns for Norwin last week. He has made a steady progression as the starter, and the team has followed. Freshman Ryan Magiske is the main tailback for Peters Township. He ran for 101 yards against Hempfield.

About the Indians: Senior quarterback Jake Cortes has been a steady leader for a young group.

About the Knights: They have surrendered the fewest points in the conference with 51.

Class 5A Big East Conference

Franklin Regional (3-1, 3-1) at Connellsville (1-4, 0-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Franklin Regional defeated Armstrong, 26-23, in overtime. Connellsville fell to Kiski Area, 42-7.

The buzz: Banged-up Franklin Regional tries to get healthy against struggling Connellsville. The Panthers needed overtime to defeat Armstrong last week. New Connellsville coach Marko Thomas is trying to rebuild a program that has not been the same since coach Dan Spanish (199-111-8) was let go in 2003.

Key players: Franklin Regional senior linebacker Bryce Lauer has 81 tackles this season and is a force in the middle of the defense. Bodee Stonebraker and Luke White have been the primary ball-carriers for Connellsville.

About the Panthers: Versatile Nate Leopold played quarterback for the injured Adam Rudzenski last week. He completed 11 of 21 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown.

About the Falcons: After opening the season with a 46-33 win against Uniontown, Connellsville has scored only 27 points the past four games.

Class 5A Big East Conference

Latrobe (2-3, 1-2) at 5-5A McKeesport (3-1, 3-1)

1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Latrobe lost to Penn-Trafford at home, 42-16. McKeesport rolled past Plum, 48-14.

The buzz: Latrobe has made significant improvements this season, winning two of its past three games. But the Wildcats face a fast Tigers team on homecoming afternoon. McKeesport won last year's game 54-20.

Key players: Jason Armstrong has been a leader for Latrobe on offense, defense and special teams — as a dual-threat quarterback, linebacker and punter. For McKeesport, quarterback John Harper is a dangerous runner. Layton Jordan ran for 284 yards against Plum.

About the Wildcats: They did not turn the ball over last week against Penn-Trafford and are plus-13 in turnovers for the season.

About the Tigers: Outscoring their opponents 129-28, they have cruised to three straight wins following an upset loss to Franklin Regional.

Class 4A Big 9 Conference

West Mifflin (3-1, 3-1) at Greensburg Salem (2-3, 2-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: West Mifflin blanked Uniontown, 42-0. Greensburg Salem was beaten by Belle Vernon, 34-7.

The buzz: This is a huge game for both squads as a playoff berth could be in the line for the winner. West Mifflin's loss to Albert Gallatin was a shocker. This will be Greensburg Salem's 1,100th game in school history.

Key players: West Mifflin running back Howard Reid has rushed for 431 yards and six touchdowns. Greensburg Salem wide receiver Joe Williams has eight catches for 105 yards.

About the Titans: Running back Parrish Parker has rushed for 404 yards and six touchdowns to guide a strong Titans rushing attack.

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem is coming off tough losses against two of the top teams in the conference, Thomas Jefferson and Belle Vernon. Running back Aaren Putt has scored five touchdowns.

Class 3A Interstate Conference

Southmoreland (0-4, 0-2) at Waynesburg (0-4, 0-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Southmoreland fell behind early and lost to Beaver Falls, 49-7. Waynesburg lost to Yough, 21-6.

The buzz: After playing two nonconference games in three weeks, Southmoreland settles back into conference play with a legitimate shot at a victory.

Key players: Quarterback Jaden Datz has been a bright spot for the Scotties, who also have depended on running back Ronnie Robinson. Caleb Shriver leads the Waynesburg offense with 393 yards on 81 carries.

About the Scotties: They are looking to break an eight-game losing streak that began after last year's win over Waynesburg.

About the Raiders: They have scored the second-fewest points in the WPIAL this season, 19, tied with Chartiers-Houston.

Class 3A Interstate Conference

Mt. Pleasant (2-3, 2-2) at Elizabeth Forward (3-1, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mt. Pleasant drubbed Brownsville, 44-7. Elizabeth Forward outscored McGuffey, 56-21.

The buzz: This is a must-win for the Vikings, as a third loss in the conference will hurt their playoff hopes. Elizabeth Forward is on a roll following a convincing victory over McGuffey.

Key players: Mt. Pleasant running back Mike Govern has rushed for 446 yards and six touchdowns. Elizabeth Forward wide receiver Gavin Martik has 24 catches for 463 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has scored 12 touchdowns and has caught four touchdowns in a game twice.

About the Vikings: Mt. Pleasant has found success in the passing game behind quarterback Lucas Pieszak, who has completed 43 of 74 passes for 661 yards.

About the Warriors: Elizabeth Forward quarterback Zach Benedek has completed 33 of 54 passes for 668 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Class 3A Interstate Conference

Yough (1-4, 1-1) at McGuffey (3-2, 2-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Yough broke a five-game losing streak with a 21-6 win over Waynesburg. McGuffey fell to Elizabeth Forward, 56-21.

The buzz: Yough is looking to climb back into the playoff chase. The Cougars beat Waynesburg and McGuffey back-to-back last year.

Key players: Yough running back Dustin Shoaf is the second-leading rusher in the WPIAL with 885 yards as well as nine touchdowns. He ran for 277 yards last week. McGuffey is led by tailback Christian Clutter, who ran for 159 yards last week, including a 75-yard burst.

About the Cougars: Yough has one of the largest lines in Class 3A and is picking up momentum with the ground game.

About the Highlanders: Defense is a question mark, particularly against the pass. Last week, they allowed Elizabeth Forward's Zach Benedek to throw for 346 yards and five touchdowns. McGuffey edged Mt. Pleasant in overtime two weeks ago.

Class A Eastern Conference

Bishop Canevin (2-2, 2-1) at 2-A Jeannette (5-0, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Bishop Canevin rolled past Riverview, 35-12. Jeannette toppled Imani Christian, 54-36.

The buzz: Jeannette continues to add to its resume as it builds toward a late-season clash at Clairton. The Jayhawks overcame a tough and trying game last week at Imani Christian, their first test since Week Zero against East Allegheny. The game had 37 penalties for 310 yards. It was stopped with four minutes to play after altercations between fans and players prompted a long delay and called for extra security.

Key players: Wide receivers Tre Cunningham and Marcus Barnes have been key targets for quarterback Robert Kennedy, who has thrown 13 touchdown passes. Kennedy scored via rush, pass, interception return and punt return against Imani. Zach Trusky and Robert Goodnight have led the Crusaders' rushing attack, combining for 463 yards and five scores.

About the Crusaders: Several players transferred just before the season, including Maleik Hemingway, leaving vacancies in the lineup.

About the Jayhawks: They cruised past Bishop Canevin last year, 40-0. Kennedy ran for a score in the win and Jeannette forced a pair of turnovers.

Class A Eastern Conference

Greensburg C.C. (1-4, 0-2) at Leechburg (0-5, 0-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: GCC lost to nonconference Charleroi, 50-3. Leechburg fell, 53-13, to conference foe Springdale.

The buzz: Something has to give this week as both teams are looking for their first conference victory.

Key players: Tom Voelker has helped carry the load in the backfield for the Centurians. Blue Devils RB Jake Blumer continues to be a bright spot as he carried the ball 25 times for 89 yards and a TD against Springdale.

About the Blue Devils: Leechburg's defense hopes to make an early stop to gain momentum this week. The Blue Devils surrendered TDs on Springdale's first seven drives last week.

About the Centurions: Greensburg Central Catholic averaged the third-most points given up in Class A through Week 4 at 40.8. Only Cornell (42.5) and Avella (55.4) have surrendered more. The Centurions won last year's meeting with Leechburg, 28-21.

Class A Tri-County South Conference

California (5-0, 3-0) at Monessen (1-4, 1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: California beat Mapletown, 63-8. Monessen lost to Clairton, 52-13.

The buzz: High-scoring California has simply run over its opponents and is averaging 61.2 points. Monessen is still trying to find the old magic that once made the Greyhounds a traditional power in the Mon Valley.

Key players: California junior running back Jelani Stafford has rushed for 739 yards and 12 touchdowns. Monessen running back Vaughn Taylor has rushed for three touchdowns.

About the Trojans: California rarely throws the ball, but it has six runners who have gained at least 161 yards.

About the Greyhounds: Monessen has lost to four playoff contenders with a combined record of 14-2. Its win came against Jefferson-Morgan.

Nonconference

Frazier (0-5) at Derry (4-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Washington blanked Frazier, 12-0. Derry rolled over South Park, 43-0.

The buzz: Derry is looking for its fourth consecutive win after a tough loss at Elizabeth Forward. Winless Frazier held No. 2 Washington to 12 points last week.

Key players: Frazier wide receiver Brandon Lovis has 15 catches for 191 yards. Derry running back Justin Huss has scored five touchdowns.

About the Commodores: Frazier is starting numerous sophomores as it tries to rebuild. Running back George Smallich has rushed for 180 yards.

About the Trojans: Derry is sitting comfortably in second place in the conference behind Elizabeth Forward. It has tough conference games at Mt. Pleasant and home to McGuffey during the final five games.

District 6 Heritage Conference

Ligonier Valley (5-0, 5-0) at West Shamokin (2-3, 2-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Ligonier Valley toppled United, 65-0. West Shamokin ran over Marion Center, 31-8.

The buzz: Ligonier Valley has posted four consecutive shutouts and continues to dominate the Heritage Conference. West Shamokin is averaging 42 points the last two weeks.

Key players: Ligonier Valley has used four quarterbacks; the latest is senior Jackson Daugherty, who completed 3 of 5 passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns, all to Aaron Tutino, last week. West Shamokin senior fullback Jacob Szul has rushed for 346 yards and caught nine passes for 171 yards. He has scored three touchdowns.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley has outscored opponents 269-6. Tutino has 19 catches for 479 yards and nine touchdowns.

About the Wolves: West Shamokin is riding a two-game winning streak. The Wolves have a strong ground attack with Szul, Don Goldstrohm (304 yards) and Brendan Mondi (221).

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