Week 6’s don’t-miss high school football matchups in Westmoreland County

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 | 9:30 PM

Class 6A Southeastern Conference

Hempfield (1-5, 0-4) at Altoona (1-5, 0-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Hempfield lost to Bethel Park, 55-21. Altoona lost to Canon-McMillan, 27-23.

The buzz: Hempfield is out to snap a five-game losing streak. The Spartans face a team that has allowed a conference-worst 38 points a game.

Key players: Isaiah DiAndreth has been a valuable go-to receiver for Hempfield but also has helped in the running game. Altoona quarterback Braeden Burchfield threw the ball 51 times last week and piled up 412 yards.

About the Spartans: Run defense has been an issue. Bethel Park's Tanner Volpatti ran for 238 yards and four touchdowns against Hempfield last week.

About the Mountain Lions: They have given up 45, 35, 63 and 27 points in their last four games.

Class 6A Southeastern Conference

Norwin (3-3, 2-2) at Mt. Lebanon (4-2, 3-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Peters Township held on for a 13-7 victory against Norwin. North Allegheny outscored Mt. Lebanon, 42-27.

The buzz: If Norwin wants to make the WPIAL postseason it needs another victory, either Friday at Mt. Lebanon or Oct. 27 at Hempfield. Mt. Lebanon has three conference games left and is starting to eye the Oct. 27 game against Bethel Park for the conference title.

Key players: Norwin junior defensive back Jayvon Thrift, who has Division I offers, gets a chance to match up against the top wide receiver in the WPIAL, Mt. Lebanon senior Aidan Cain, who has caught 61 passes for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns.

About the Knights: Norwin has been up and down this season. Two weeks ago, it dominated Canon-McMillan and then struggled against Peters Township. The Knights must find a consistent balance.

About the Blue Devils: Mt. Lebanon fell out of the rankings with its loss to No. 5 North Allegheny. There is nothing wrong with the Blue Devils offense, averaging 34.3 points.

Class 5A Big East Conference

Armstrong (3-3, 1-3) at Latrobe (2-4, 1-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Armstrong defeated Plum, 27-14. Latrobe lost to McKeesport, 48-0.

The buzz: Latrobe returns home after a long Saturday afternoon game at McKeesport. The Wildcats need a win to get back in the playoff conversation.

Key players: Senior Jason Armstrong, who recently picked up a scholarship offer from VMI, is a do-it-all player for Latrobe, as a quarterback, linebacker and punter. Speedy Armstrong QB Dawson Porter, who missed the Gateway game two weeks ago with an injury, accounted for 196 yards last week.

About the River Hawks: The school was formed by the merger of Ford City and Kittanning in 2014. They have been outscored 115-70 this season.

About the Wildcats: Four weeks ago, they became just the third Westmoreland County football school to play 1,000 games, joining Greensburg Salem and Jeannette.

Class 5A Big East Conference

2-5A Penn-Trafford (6-0, 4-0) at Franklin Regional (4-1, 4-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn-Trafford blanked No. 3 Gateway, 28-0. Franklin Regional shut out Connellsville, 33-0.

The buzz: Penn-Trafford took over sole possession of first in the conference with a convincing win over Gateway, the Warriors' third shutout of the season. Franklin Regional has won back-to-back games despite a number of injuries.

Key players: Penn-Trafford running back John Gay IV continued his pursuit of a 1,000-yard season. He ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns last week. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season. Nate Leopold has been a multi-dimensional threat for the Panthers. He has played quarterback, rushed for yards and caught passes.

About the Warriors: They have given up a Class 5A-low 31 points in six games. The secondary has been quietly good behind a run-stopping front seven.

About the Panthers: Linebacker Bryce Lauer is one of the best in the WPIAL and will get a test against the Warriors' front line.

Class 4A Big Nine Conference

Greensburg Salem (2-4, 2-3) at Albert Gallatin (1-4, 1-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg Salem lost to visiting West Mifflin, 14-7. Albert Gallatin fell to Highlands, 30-20.

The buzz: Greensburg Salem looks to break a three-game losing streak in which it has been outscored 96-14.

Key players: Defensive back Adam Cuccia has been an active member of the Golden Lions defense, breaking up passes and as a tackler. Albert Gallatin quarterback Domonick Lewellen threw for 220 yards, all in the second half, to lead a comeback against Highlands.

About the Golden Lions: Despite productive drives, the Golden Lions have struggled to score points in the red zone.

About the Colonials: Coach Shawn Liotta was a championship-winning coach on the indoor football circuit and used to be the offensive coordinator at Clairton.

Class 4A Big Nine Conference

Trinity (3-2, 2-2) at 3-4A Belle Vernon (5-0, 5-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Trinity ran over Uniontown, 48-14. Belle Vernon rallied to down Laurel Highlands, 35-7.

The buzz: Trinity has emerged as a playoff contender behind a strong running game. Belle Vernon just continues to find ways to win, but it must find a way to slow down the Hillers' rushing attack.

Key players: Trinity running back Joey Koroly has rushed for 672 yards in five games. Belle Vernon senior lineman Blake Zubovic, a Pitt recruit, has been dominating.

About the Hillers: After opening the season with losses to West Mifflin and Thomas Jefferson, Trinity has rolled off consecutive wins against Laurel Highlands, Blackhawk and Uniontown.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon has three key games ahead, starting with Trinity. With No. 1 Thomas Jefferson looming the following week and West Mifflin after that, the Leopards can't look past the Hillers.

Class 3A Interstate Conference

5-3A Elizabeth Forward (4-1, 4-0) at Yough (1-5, 1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Elizabeth Forward trampled Mt. Pleasant, 50-7. Yough was blanked by McGuffey, 33-0.

The buzz: These rivals are only separated by the Youghiogheny River. But first-place EF wants to continue its march to the Interstate Conference title. Yough is looking to make improvements during a tough season.

Key players: Elizabeth Forward running back Brian Malloy has rushed for 384 yards and eight touchdowns. Yough junior running back Dustin Shoaf has gained 999 yards with nine touchdowns.

About the Warriors: Elizabeth Forward is the 2017 version of the 2016 Derry Trojans. It has come out of nowhere to dominate the Interstate Conference.

About the Cougars: Expectations were high for Yough this season, but an injury to wide receiver Brian Donahue is just one of the misfortunes to derail the season.

Class 3A Interstate Conference

Derry (5-1, 3-1) at Mt. Pleasant (2-4, 1-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Derry dumped Frazier, 42-0. Mt. Pleasant was beaten by Elizabeth Forward, 50-7.

The buzz: One of the best rivalries in Westmoreland County, Derry won last year and could put an end to Mt. Pleasant's playoff hopes with a victory.

Key players: Derry RB Colton Recheck has assumed the bulk of the running duties after Shawn Broadway was injured. He has rushed for 414 yards and six TDs. Mt. Pleasant RB Mike Govern rushed for 114 yards and a score last week at Elizabeth Forward.

About the Trojans: Since giving up 39 points to Elizabeth Forward in Week 2, Derry has allowed 15 points the past four weeks and has posted consecutive shutouts.

About the Vikings: Mt. Pleasant is fighting to keep playoff hopes alive. The Vikings need to upset Derry and then defeat Yough and Southmoreland to have a shot at the postseason.

Class 3A Interstate Conference

Southmoreland (0-5, 0-3) at McGuffey (4-2, 3-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Southmoreland was beaten by Waynesburg, 33-14. McGuffey blanked Yough, 33-0.

The buzz: The Scotties are starting three freshman linemen because injuries have knocked out numerous starters. McGuffey is averaging 27.5 points and in the hunt for a playoff berth with the conference leaders.

Key players: Southmoreland RB Chad Miller rushed for 104 yards on four carries and a 49-yard TD against Waynesburg. McGuffey RB Christian Clutter rushed for 117 yards and scored two TDs against Yough.

About the Scotties: Injuries have forced Southmoreland to become a younger team than coach Mark Adams hoped when the season began.

About the Highlands: McGuffey relies on its strong ground attack. Brendan Crowe also scored two TDs last week, one receiving and one rushing.

Class A Eastern Conference

1-A Jeannette (6-0, 4-0) at Springdale (3-3, 2-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Jeannette rolled past Bishop Canevin, 51-7. Springdale beat rival Riverview, 42-13.

The buzz: Jeannette looks to make it 15 consecutive road conference wins as it faces Springdale, the team it defeated 69-21 in last year's quarterfinals, and 48-0 during the regular season.

Key players: Jeannette QB Robert Kennedy continues to be one of the WPIAL's premier playmakers. Last week, he ran for four touchdowns. He has scored via pass, rush, interception return and punt return. Springdale do-it-all running back Josh Harmon ran for 164 yards and three scores last week.

About the Jayhawks: Jeannette has 727 all-time wins, just four behind New Castle (731) for the WPIAL record.

About the Dynamos: They did not register a single passing yard last week, instead using their power running game to rush for 278 yards and six TDs.

Class A Eastern Conference

Riverview (1-4, 1-4) at Greensburg Central Catholic (2-4, 1-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Riverview fell to Springdale, 42-13. Greensburg Central Catholic topped Leechburg, 36-13.

The buzz: Both teams still are alive in the race for a Class A playoff spot out of the Eastern Conference, but a win is crucial for both team's chances.

Key players: Devon Binz was the workhorse in the backfield last week for the Raiders, and he picked off a pass on defense. GCC's Tom Voelker ran through the Leechburg defense last week to the tune of 259 yards and two touchdowns in 20 carries.

About the Raiders: Riverview's WPIAL playoff appearance last year was made possible with the help of a 13-7 victory over Greensburg Central at Riverside Park.

About the Centurions: Greensburg Central's win over Leechburg last Friday snapped a four-game losing streak. Included in that were setbacks to Imani Christian and Clairton in conference play and a nonconference loss to 5-1 Charleroi.


Monessen (1-5) at Northgate (2-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Monessen fell to California, 53-0. Northgate lost to Rochester, 40-0.

The buzz: Monessen tries to break out of a recent funk in which it has been outscored 138-19 in three games. The Greyhounds finished with negative yardage last week. This game will be played at J.C. Stone Field in North Park.

Key players: Voughn Taylor has been a key ball-carrier for Monessen. He scored in the team's 14-12 win over Jefferson-Morgan. Northgate fullback Paul Morris is a load to bring down at 265 pounds.

About the Greyhounds: Their run defense has been a problem: they gave up 226 yards on the ground last week to California's Jelani Stafford, on 16 carries.

About the Flames: They allowed three 100-yard rushers last week against Rochester.

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