Week 7’s don’t-miss high school football matchups for Westmoreland County

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017 | 6:12 PM


Class 5A Big East

Armstrong (4-3, 2-3) at 1-5A Penn-Trafford (7-0, 5-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Armstrong edged Latrobe, 38-37, in double overtime. Penn-Trafford held off Franklin Regional, 20-13.

The buzz: New No. 1 Penn-Trafford looks to stay unbeaten as it comes off a hard-fought win at Franklin Regional. The Warriors needed a fourth-quarter touchdown and late defensive stop to get past the pesky Panthers.

Key players: Running back/defensive back John Gay IV has produced five 100-yard games for Penn-Trafford. He has 788 yards and 10 touchdowns. Quarterback Dawson Porter makes the River Hawks go. He has thrown for 901 yards and 12 scores.

About the River Hawks: Last week, Tanner Stivason caught nine passes for 105 yards and scored four touchdowns, including the game-winner in the second overtime.

About the Warriors: They are trying to flip the script from last season when they went 0-3 during this current three-game stretch. Akron recruit Logan Hawkins, a two-way lineman, missed last week's game with a leg injury but could return Friday. He was a late-week scratch against Franklin Regional.

Class 5A Big East

Latrobe (2-5, 1-4) at Franklin Regional (4-2, 4-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Latrobe lost in double overtime to Armstrong, 38-37. Franklin Regional lost to Penn-Trafford, 20-13.

The buzz: Franklin Regional nearly knocked off another top-2 team, pushing Penn-Trafford to the limit before a late fumble ended the upset alert. The Panthers beat then-No. 1 McKeesport in Week 1.

Key players: Senior Nate Leopold has been a workhorse rusher as a wildcat quarterback for the Panthers. He ran for 163 yards last week. Latrobe running back Iven Ettiene, who transferred from a school in Iowa, has big-play potential for Latrobe.

About the Wildcats: A miscue on a 2-point conversion try in the second overtime last week cost them a home victory. Latrobe has been in several games but has not been able to finish.

About the Panthers: A rash of injuries have plagued Franklin Regional. Nine starters were out one week. But they are getting healthier and could have a full lineup this week.

Class 3A Interstate

5-3A Elizabeth Forward (5-1, 5-0) at Southmoreland (0-6, 0-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Elizabeth Forward pounded Yough, 50-0. Southmoreland fell to McGuffey, 49-16.

The buzz: Elizabeth Forward is trucking toward the Interstate Conference title. Southmoreland can't find a way to be consistent, though it has scored 30 points in its past two games.

Key players: Elizabeth Forward wide receiver Gavin Martik has 34 catches for 643 yards and 14 touchdowns. Southmoreland quarterback Jaden Datz is competing behind an inexperienced offensive line. He has thrown for 309 yards and three TDs.

About the Warriors: Elizabeth Forward is this year's version of Derry in 2016. EF has dominated everyone in the Interstate and looks destined for a title. Quarterback Zach Benedek has thrown for 999 yards and 17 touchdowns.

About the Scotties: Injuries have forced Southmoreland coach Mark Adams to start three freshmen on the offensive line. That inexperience has slowed the Scotties' offensive progression.

Class 3A Interstate

Yough (1-6, 1-3) at Mt. Pleasant (2-5, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Yough lost to Elizabeth Forward, 50-0. Mt. Pleasant fell to Derry, 41-9.

The buzz: While making the playoffs is all-but history, Yough and Mt. Pleasant will try to salvage something out of the remainder of the season. A couple of wins in the final three weeks should help the off-season workouts.

Key players: Yough is led by 1,000-yard rusher Dustin Shoaf. Mt. Pleasant wide receiver Ryan Quinn has 18 catches for 305 yards and two touchdowns.

About the Cougars: Yough had high hopes this season, but a few injuries to key offensive players have made the Cougars one-dimensional.

About the Vikings: Mt. Pleasant lost a couple of close games, which hurt the team's confidence. An overtime loss to McGuffey hurt the Vikings' playoff hopes.

Class A Eastern

Greensburg Central Catholic (3-4, 2-2) at 1-A Jeannette (7-0, 5-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg Central blanked Leechburg, 21-0. Jeannette rolled past Springdale, 42-14.

The buzz: Jeannette is averaging 46.4 points, second in Class A to jumped-up California. The Jayhawks haven't scored fewer than 42 points since Week Zero. Greensburg Central Catholic has momentum with back-to-back wins, the first time that has happened since 2015.

Key players: Jeannette quarterback Robert Kennedy has been the most prolific player in Class A this season. He has passed for 1,106 yards and 16 touchdowns, and rushed for 800 yards and 14 more scores. Quarterback Max Pisula has thrown for more than 800 yards and seven touchdowns for GCC.

About the Centurions: They are coming off their first shutout since 2015 when they blanked Monessen, 21-0, to open the season. Brando Ciccarelli and Luke Mazowiechi each had a pick-6 last week.

About the Jayhawks: The program now has 728 wins, just three behind New Castle (731) for the all-time WPIAL lead.

Class A Tri-County South

Monessen (2-5, 1-3) at West Greene (5-2, 3-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Monessen defeated Northgate, 34-25. West Greene topped Leechburg, 47-14.

The buzz: Monessen has momentum after a Week 6 win, and now the Greyhounds look to make it two in a row for the first time in three years. The Greyhounds trailed 19-0 in the first quarter last week.

Key players: Lyndon Henderson was a big-play basketball player for the Greyhounds and is showing similar potential in football, too. He caught touchdowns of 72 and 29 yards against Northgate. West Greene RB Ben Jackson rushed for 245 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries last week.

About the Greyhounds: They snapped an eight-game road losing streak with last week's win at Northgate.

About the Pioneers: They are quietly averaging 34.6 points, although the Tri-County South is not known for its defense.

NONCONFERENCE

Ellwood City (2-4) at Derry (6-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Ellwood City lost to Beaver, 57-14. Derry downed Mt. Pleasant, 41-9.

The buzz: Derry continues to roll, putting up 40-or-more points for the fifth straight game. The Trojans have a 12-game winning streak at home.

Key players: Colton Nemcheck ran for three touchdowns last week, including a 52-yard burst, for Derry. Ellwood City WR Luca Botti had 177 receiving yards last week, including TD catches of 71 and 66 yards.

About the Wolverines: The team is on probation for a year after its participation in a benches-clearing fight two weeks ago at Valley.

About the Trojans: This will be their second nonconference game in three weeks. They beat Frazier, 42-0, two weeks ago. Derry has outscored the opposition 221-24 during its five-game win streak.

NONCONFERENCE

Greensburg Salem (3-4) at 4-4A Montour (5-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Greensburg Salem defeated Albert Gallatin, 31-12. Montour beat Highlands, 24-14.

The buzz: Greensburg Salem broke a three-game losing streak as Joe Williams ran for a touchdown and caught another. The Golden Lions remain in the thick of the playoff chase as they go after all-time win No. 690.

Key players: Dual-threat QB Jake Hoyle tweaked his shoulder two games ago but was good to go last week, running for a 62-yard score and throwing for another TD for Greensburg Salem. He is battling shoulder and knee issues, however, and could rest this week. Montour QB Kavon Morman is an accurate passer but also can run. He threw for 106 yards against Highlands.

About the Golden Lions: They are averaging 25.7 points in wins, but losing by an average of 27.5 points.

About the Spartans: Montour avoided an upset against Highlands to stay in the top 5. The Spartans have allowed just 17 points during a three-game winning streak.

NONCONFERENCE

Norwin (3-4) at Butler (2-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Norwin dropped a 35-20 decision at Mt. Lebanon. Central Catholic defeated Butler, 49-14.

The buzz: Even though it's a nonconference game, Norwin needs to right the ship as it eyes a berth to the WPIAL playoffs. Butler's playoff hopes are gone with one conference game remaining.

Key players: Norwin sophomore quarterback Jack Salopek has completed 100 of 182 passes for 1,331 yards and seven touchdowns. Butler running back Luke Michalek has rushed for 577 yards and 10 touchdowns.

About the Knights: Norwin can clinch a WPIAL playoff berth with a win against Hempfield on Oct. 27. Between that the Knights have two nonconference games.

About the Golden Tornado: Butler doesn't attempt many passes (47); it relies on a strong running attack. Luke Michalek has attempted 17 passes.

NONCONFERENCE

5-6A Penn Hills (5-2) at Hempfield (1-6)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn Hills fell to North Allegheny, 27-16. Altoona edged Hempfield, 48-47, on a touchdown with 4 seconds left.

The buzz: Penn Hills looks to bounce back after a tough loss at No. 4 North Allegheny in a battle of top-5 teams. Hempfield tries to end a six-game losing streak.

Key players: Penn Hills quarterback Hollis Mathis tossed two touchdowns in a loss last week. He has completed 87 of 150 passes for 1,534 yards and 15 touchdowns. Hempfield senior quarterback Justin Sliwoski, who missed three games, has completed 67 of 117 passes for 989 yards and 10 touchdowns.

About the Indians: Penn Hills has dropped consecutive games. It has four runners with more than 231 yards. The Indians' top receivers are Daequan Hardy (24-569) and Dante Cephas (25-489).

About the Spartans: It has been a disappointing season for Hempfield. Lack of consistency has hurt. Tight end Braden Brose has 38 catches for 528 yards and six touchdowns.

District 6 Heritage CONFERENCE

Blairsville (1-6, 1-6) at Ligonier Valley (7-0, 7-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Blairsville was outscored by United, 49-29. Ligonier Valley toppled Homer-Center, 35-6.

The buzz: It has been a tough season for Blairsville. Its only win came against Marion Center. Ligonier Valley survived a trying week, which included the death of a classmate and former teammate, to defeat Homer-Center in the de facto Heritage Conference championship game.

Key players: Blairsville senior quarterback Devin Burkhart has completed 77 of 169 passes for 1,320 yards and 13 touchdowns. He threw for a season-high 388 yards and four scores last week. Ligonier Valley junior John Caldwell has completed 34 of 49 passes for 688 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

About the Bobcats: Blairsville has only 24 players on the roster and had one of its top players, Dakota Sunday, transfer to Homer-Center before the season.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley's defense forced four turnovers at Homer-Center, including recovering three fumbles in the first quarter that led to a 21-0 lead.

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