Week 8’s don’t-miss high school football matchups in Westmoreland County

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017 | 4:33 PM


Class 5A Big East Conference

Kiski Area (1-7, 1-5) at 1-5A Penn-Trafford (8-0, 6-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Kiski Area lost to Gateway, 61-21. Penn-Trafford rolled past Armstrong, 49-3.

The buzz: Penn-Trafford looks to keep its record unblemished as it searches for its second undefeated regular season in three years. The Warriors went 9-0 two years ago en route to a spot in the WPIAL Class 4A championship game.

Key players: Kiski Area junior linebacker Drew Dinunzio-Biss is a run-stopper but last week returned an interception 90 yards for a score. The three-pronged rushing attack of John Gay IV, Caleb Lisbon and Cam Laffoon has made Penn-Trafford a difficult team to defend.

About the Cavaliers: An unsteady defense allowed Gateway quarterback Brady Walker to throw for 456 yards and six touchdowns last week.

About the Warriors: The defense has allowed just 47 points, including three at Warriors Stadium this season.

Class 5ABig East Conference

Plum (3-5, 3-4) at Latrobe (2-6, 1-5)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Plum defeated Connellsville, 48-12. Latrobe gave Franklin Regional all it could handle in a 23-20 loss.

The buzz: After close calls the past two weeks — including a 38-37 loss to Armstrong in double overtime — Latrobe is primed to break through at home.

Key players: Colt Robb ran for 96 yards and a touchdown and also scored one of Plum's two pick-6 touchdowns last week. Latrobe quarterback Jason Armstrong continues to put up passing numbers. He threw for 239 yards against Franklin Regional and ran for two scores.

About the Mustangs: They are 2-3 since losing standout Corey Thomas to a leg injury in Week 2.

About the Wildcats: While the offense has shown efficiency, the defense has been problematic at times, allowing drive-extending plays.

CLASS 4A BIG 9 CONFERENCE

2-4A Belle Vernon (7-0, 7-0) at West Mifflin (5-2, 4-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Belle Vernon defeated Thomas Jefferson, 21-17. West Mifflin downed Ringgold, 37-13.

The buzz: Belle Vernon has clinched Big 9 title, while West Mifflin can clinch a playoff berth with a victory or a Laurel Highlands loss to Thomas Jefferson.

Key players: Belle Vernon sophomore quarterback Jared Hartman tossed two touchdown passes against TJ last week. He has 12 touchdowns this season. West Mifflin running back Parrish Park has rushed for a team-high 769 yards and 11 touchdowns.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon must quickly refocus after its stunning win against TJ. The Leopards average 30.4 points per game and allow 10.6.

About the Titans: West Mifflin faces two tough tests to close out the regular season, Belle Vernon on Friday and at TJ on Oct. 27. Running back Howard Reid is a threat with 725 yards and 10 scores.

CLASS 3A INTERSTATE CONFERENCE

Derry (7-1, 4-1) at Waynesburg (1-6, 1-5)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Derry earned a 35-7 nonconference win against Ellwood City. Waynesburg fell to Bentworth in double overtime, 28-27 in a nonconference game.

The buzz: Derry hopes to stay hot as it prepares for a showdown at home against McGuffey on Oct. 27. Waynesburg is a team in transition after coach Russ Moore was asked to resign after last week's loss.

Key players: Derry quarterback Ryan Polinsky was 9 of 16 for 140 yards and a touchdown in the win against Ellwood City. Waynesburg running back Caleb Shriver has rushed for 550 yards and four touchdowns this season.

About the Trojans: Derry's Justin Huss and Shawn Broadway intercepted passes in last week's game. Colton Nemcheck rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Derry is allowing 10.5 points per game.

About the Raiders: Waynesburg features a young squad with only four seniors and three juniors. The team averages 12.6 points per game and allows 28.6.

CLASS 3A INTERSTATE CONFERENCE

Yough (1-7, 1-4) at Southmoreland (0-7, 0-5)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Yough fell to Mt. Pleasant, 45-7. Southmoreland lost to conference-leading Elizabeth Forward, 47-3.

The buzz: These teams are trying to finish the season on a positive note. Southmoreland is seeking its first win of the season, and Yough just its second.

Key players: Yough junior running back Dustin Shoaf has rushed for 1,117 yards this season. Southmoreland quarterback Jaden Datz is the team leader.

About the Cougars: Yough isn't having the season coach Scott Wood expected. But a win against Southmoreland should help ease the pain of a losing season.

About the Scotties: Injuries to the offensive line have forced Southmoreland to lean on young players, including three freshmen starters. Southmoreland averages 8.7 points per game.

Class A Eastern conference

Bishop Canevin (2-5, 2-4) at Greensburg C.C. (3-5, 2-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Bishop Canevin lost to Springdale, 37-27. Greensburg Central fell to rival Jeannette, 55-7.

The buzz: Both teams remain in the playoff chase, with the top five teams — and a wild card — advancing to the postseason. GCC missed the playoffs last year for the first time in 13 years.

Key players: The Crusaders' Zach Trusky ran for 151 yards, and Jonathan Ruffing threw for 171, against Springdale. Trusky also rushed for 189 yards on 36 carries against Imani Christian. GCC also has a workhorse back in Tom Voelker, who rushed for 67 yards against Jeannette.

About the Crusaders: They have surrendered 134 points on the road this season and have had issues stopping the run.

About the Centurions: A young but budding defensive unit managed to pressure Jeannette QB Robert Kennedy early last week, even throwing him for an 8-yard loss.

CLASS A TRI-COUNTY SOUTH CONFERENCE

Avella (0-8, 0-6) at Monessen (2-6, 1-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Avella was blanked by Riverview, 43-0. Monessen fell short to West Greene, 48-16.

The buzz: If Monessen defeats Avella this week and Mapletown the following week, the Greyhounds will qualify for the WPIAL playoffs. Avella is winless and Monessen only has two victories, one more than it did last season.

Key players: Avella quarterback Owen English has completed 31 of 81 passes for 418 yards and rushed for 467 yards and seven touchdowns. Monessen quarterback Dwayne Howell tossed a touchdown pass in last week's loss.

About the Eagles: Avella is having a tough time scoring points, averaging 9.9 per game. The Eagles have lost 10 consecutive games.

About the Greyhounds: Isaiah Beltram and Lyndon Henderson have combined for nine touchdowns, nearly half of the team's total this season.

Nonconference

3-6A Central Catholic (6-2) at Norwin (4-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Central Catholic cruised by Altoona, 59-14. Norwin beat Butler, 7-6.

The buzz: Norwin plays its second consecutive out-of-conference game as it builds for a likley must-win game in the finale against Hempfield.

Key players: Quarterback Troy Fisher powers the Vikings. He threw for 131 yards and three touchdowns on five completions against Altoona. Norwin's Jack Salopek continues to grow as the Knights' QB, and linebacker Gianni Rizzo has quietly blown up plays in the conference, and Gage Luptak (6-3, 205) is a solid tight end and linebacker.

About the Vikings: Watch the secondary on defense and special teams play. Last week, they returned a pair of interceptions and a punt for a score, but had two other punt-return TDs called back.

About the Knights: Scoring points has been a struggle for Norwin, which has been a defense-first team. Despite opportunities and productive possessions, the Knights have only topped 25 points twice all season.

Nonconference

Hempfield (1-7) at 4-6A North Allegheny (6-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Hempfield fell short to Penn Hills, 42-27. North Allegheny rolled over Seneca Valley, 49-14.

The buzz: Hempfield has played one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the WPIAL, facing Central Catholic, Penn Hills and now North Allegheny, all playoff teams. North Allegheny has rebounded well from an early-season loss to Bethel Park.

Key players: Hempfield quarterback Justin Sliwoski has bounced back from an early-season shoulder injury, completing 79 of 140 passes for 1,117 yards and 13 touchdowns. North Allegheny defensive back Joey Porter Jr. had three interceptions against Seneca Valley.

About the Spartans: Hempfield can score, averaging 25.1 points, but is having trouble keeping opponents out of the end zone, allowing 36.9,

About the Tigers: North Allegheny could be looking ahead to its first-place showdown in Week 9 against No. 1 Pine-Richland. The defense will be facing a potent Hempfield passing attack.

Nonconference

Franklin Regional (5-2) at North Hills (4-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Franklin Regional edged Latrobe, 23-20. North Hills beat Chartiers Valley, 52-14.

The buzz: Franklin Regional clinched a playoff spot last week despite allowing Latrobe to rally from a 20-point deficit. The Panthers used a 37-yard field goal by Dom DiFalco with two seconds left to seal it.

Key players: All-purpose senior Nate Leopold has been a threat as a quarterback, running back and receiver for Franklin Regional. And he also is an impact defender. For North Hills, RB Melvin Banks is a big-play threat. He ran for 204 yards against a good West Allegheny defense.

About the Panthers: A wave of injuries hit the team early, but a healthier lineup took the field the last two weeks.

About the Indians: It has been an up-and-down season for the Indians, who have not won two games in a row. They lost by only a point to former No. 1 West Allegheny.

Nonconference

Mt. Pleasant (3-5) at Beaver (6-2)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mt. Pleasant ran over Yough, 45-7. Beaver stormed past Hopewell, 35-14.

The buzz: Beaver hopes to stay hot and earn a WPIAL berth, one that eluded the Bobcats last season. Mt. Pleasant hopes to finish strong after being eliminated from playoff contention.

Key players: Mt. Pleasant running back Mike Govern has rushed for 788 yards and 10 touchdowns. Beaver quarterback Brodie List has completed 34 of 61 passes for 573 yards and 10 touchdowns.

About the Vikings: Govern and Cody Reese give Mt. Pleasant a solid 1-2 running punch. Reese has rushed for 385 yards and eight touchdowns.

About the Bobcats: Beaver averages 37.8 points and allows 19. Running back Gino Mavero has rushed for 370 yards and three touchdowns.

Nonconference

Mapletown (2-6) at 1-A Jeannette (8-0)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mapletown lost to Fort Cherry, 42-0. Jeannette overcame a slow start to top Greensburg Central Catholic, 55-7.

The buzz: Jeannette has its sights on its first perfect regular season since 2011 when the Jayhawks played in Class AA. Clairton has prevented Jayhawks perfection the last two years, and Jeannette plays at Clairton next week.

Key players: Mapletown's Dylan Rush, the WPIAL rushing leader (1,500 yards), grabbed the spotlight in Week 3 when he broke the WPIAL single-game rushing record with 524 yards in a 48-32 win over Avella. The effort came on 39 carries. Rush, however, did not play last week with an undisclosed injury. Jeannette has an array of offensive weapons, but a fast-closing defense is led by underrated lineman Jalen Jones.

About the Maples: Since the win over Avella, they have dropped four in a row and only managed 22 points.

About the Jayhawks: Quarterback Robert Kennedy has thrown for 18 touchdowns and run for 15. He has scored every way possible, except by reception and fumble recovery. He also is a big-hitting defensive back.

District 6 Heritage CONFERENCE

Ligonier Valley (8-0, 8-0) at Purchase Line (5-3, 5-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Ligonier Valley humbled Blairsville, 49-14. Purchase Line fell to United, 33-22.

The buzz: Ligonier Valley faces a road test at Purchase Line. The Rams can clinch the outright Heritage Conference title with the win. Purchase Line tries to rebound after a tough loss.

Key players: Ligonier Valley quarterback John Caldwell has completed 39 of 57 passes for 789 yards and nine touchdowns. Purchase Line quarterback Shamar Campbell has completed 35 of 67 for 647 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 887 yards and 14 touchdowns.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley is ranked No. 1 in PIAA District 6-2A ahead of unbeaten Bellwood-Antis. Jackson Daugherty has rushed for 581 yards and caught 21 passes for 570 yards.

About the Dragons: Purchase Line will make the District 6A playoffs. The Dragons are sixth. They have dropped two consecutive games after winning five in a row.

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