Week 9’s don’t-miss high school football matchups for Westmoreland County

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017 | 7:30 PM


Class 6A Southeastern CONFERENCE

Norwin (4-5, 2-3) at Hempfield (0-5, 1-8)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Norwin lost to Central Catholic, 35-14. Hempfield lost 63-28 against North Allegheny.

The buzz: Norwin has clinched a playoff spot but wants a tuneup for the first round next week. Hempfield has put up the offensive statistics but has not been able to contain teams defensively.

Key players: Senior middle linebacker John Piekut does not get a lot of attention but he leads Norwin in tackles, averaging 10 a game. Hempfield tight end Braden Brose has bolstered his career numbers with 53 receptions for 765 yards and 10 touchdowns, including 11 catches for 181 yards and four touchdowns last week.

About the Knights: Norwin clinched last week without playing a conference game. It needed Canon-McMillan to lose to Peters Township, and that occurred.

About the Spartans: Injuries and youthfulness have caught up to Hempfield, but a win in the regular-season finale against a playoff team could make for fewer restless nights in the offseason.

Class 5A Big East Conference

Connellsville (1-8, 0-7) at Latrobe (3-6, 2-5)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Connellsville dropped a 57-22 decision to Armstrong. Latrobe snapped a four-game losing streak with a 28-7 win over Plum in conference play.

The buzz: Though both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, each would like to finish the season with a victory to gain momentum for a productive offseason.

Key players: Quarterback Jared Ozias led the Connellsville offense last week, tossing touchdown passes of 41 and 12 yards to Blake McKnight and 31 yards to Kaeleb Lehman. Latrobe senior quarterback Jason Armstrong has had a productive season in his first year under center. He has thrown for 1,274 yards and eight scores and run for 262 and eight, including 141 yards on 18 carries last week.

About the Falcons: Connellsville has allowed 420 points this season, an average of 46.7 per game. The Falcons have lost eight straight since a Week Zero win over Uniontown.

About the Wildcats: After losing to Armstrong and Franklin Regional by a combined four points in back-to-back weeks, the Wildcats broke through against Plum last week. Iven Etienne ran for 189 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He has more than 500 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

Class 5A Big East Conference

2-5A Gateway (8-1, 6-1) at Franklin Regional (6-2, 5-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Gateway won its third straight game with a 21-18 victory over McKeesport. Franklin Regional defeated North Hills, 21-13, in a nonconference tilt.

The buzz: Gateway has hopes of sharing the conference title with Penn-Trafford but needs McKeesport to defeat the Warriors on Friday. Franklin Regional has hopes of riding a three-game winning streak into the playoffs and possibly finishing second in the conference to earn a home playoff game.

Key players: Gateway senior Brady Walker is the WPIAL's second-leading passer, having completed 150 of 237 attempts for 2,520 yards and 31 touchdowns, with just three interceptions. He also is approaching 7,000 career yards (6,689). Franklin Regional is led by the backfield of quarterback Adam Rudzinski (51-113, 829 yards, 9 TDs) and running back Nate Leopold (70-394, 6TDs).

About the Gators: The Gators offense averages 38.9 points thanks to a talented group of skill players, including WR Courtney Jackson (42 catches, 933 yards, 16 TDs) and RB Isaiah Cameron (481 rushing yards, 352 receiving yards, 14 TDs).

About the Panthers: Franklin Regional is averaging just 19.4 points, but its defense — led by senior linebacker Bryce Lauer — has limited opponents to 16.3, the same as Gateway.

Class 5A Big East CONFERENCE

1-5A Penn-Trafford (9-0, 7-0) at 3-5A McKeesport (6-2, 5-2)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Penn-Trafford toppled Kiski Area, 54-19. McKeesport fell at Gateway, 21-18.

The buzz: No. 1 Penn-Trafford has clinched its third conference title in four years and now seeks its second undefeated regular season in three seasons.

Key players: Running back John Gay IV scored three more touchdowns last week, giving him 15 for the season, and quarterback Cam Laffoon threw for three scores, all in the first half for Penn-Trafford. Laffoon has thrown for 919 yards and nine scores this season. Gay has run for 841 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Tigers' Johnny Harper ran for 141 yards on 20 carries last week against Gateway.

About the Warriors: Senior two-way lineman Logan Hawkins has missed three games with a leg injury but it expected to work his way back into the lineup.

About the Tigers: They went from No. 1 to open the season to No. 3 and potentially a third- or fourth-place finish in the Big East.

Class 4A Big 9 CONFERENCE

Uniontown (0-9, 0-7) at Greensburg Salem (3-6, 3-4)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Uniontown fell to Albert Gallatin, 40-13. Greensburg Salem was beaten by Trinity, 42-14.

The buzz: Both teams are looking to finish the long season with a victory. Greensburg Salem hopes to build behind sophomore quarterback Trent Patrick, who ran for a touchdown and threw another last week.

Key players: Uniontown quarterback Omar Teets is a dual-threat player. He has thrown and rushed for touchdowns this season. Greensburg Salem flanker Joe Williams is used as a runner and receiver. He led Greensburg Salem in rushing last week.

About the Red Raiders: First-year coach Cedric Lloyd has Uniontown scoring points this season. But the Red Raiders are having a tough time slowing opponents down, allowing 47.4 per game.

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer would like to see his team end with a victory for the seniors. The Golden Lions have been eliminated from playoff contention because if there is a three-way tie, they lose tiebreakers with Trinity and Ringgold.

Class 3A Interstate CONFERENCE

McGuffey (6-3, 4-2) at Derry (8-1, 5-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: McGuffey ran over winless Chartiers-Houston, 68-6. Derry rolled to a 47-0 victory against Waynesburg.

The buzz: This is a big game for both teams. A McGuffey win puts the Highlanders in the playoff picture, and a loss by Derry would pretty much end its playoff dreams. Since allowing 39 points in a Week 1 loss at Elizabeth Forward, opponents have only scored 31 points against Derry.

Key players: McGuffey linemen Marko Olivarez and Chase Miller have received Division I looks, according to coach Ed Dalton. Derry running back Shawn Broadway carried the ball nine times for 162 yards and three touchdowns against Waynesburg.

About the Highlanders: McGuffey has 25 seniors. They were overwhelmed by knee injuries last season. They have bounced back to average 32.9 points per game.

About the Trojans: Derry ran the ball 21 times and gained 352 yards against Waynesburg. Defensive back Onreey Stewart has three interceptions.

Class 3A Interstate CONFERENCE

South Park (5-3, 5-1) at Yough (2-7, 2-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: South Park knocked off No. 5 Elizabeth Forward, 18-14. Yough defeated Southmoreland, 49-38.

The buzz: Both teams are riding high after big wins, Yough with a record-breaking victory that snapped a three-game losing streak.

Key players: Running back Dustin Shoaf broke Yough's single-game school record last week with 428 yards and five touchdowns on 43 carries. Workhorse back Isaiah Mack ran for 100 yards last week for South Park.

About the Eagles: After three straight shutout losses (41-0 vs. Washington, 43-0 against Derry and 52-0 against Aliquippa), South Park has won three straight. The Eagles have clinched a playoff berth, but can finish as high as second in the Interstate Conference or in third, where they will earn a wild-card berth based on Gardner points.

About the Cougars: Yough has battled injuries throughout the season, the latest to standout two-way lineman Scotty Houseman, who had surgery for an infection on his arm.

Class 3A Interstate CONFERENCE

Southmoreland (0-8, 0-6) at Mt. Pleasant (3-6, 2-4)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Southmoreland couldn't stay with Yough and lost 49-38. Mt. Pleasant dropped a nonconference game at Beaver, 42-13.

The buzz: Southmoreland looks for its first win of the season, while Mt. Pleasant will try to finish the campaign on a positive note.

Key players: Southmoreland running back Ron Robinson rushed for 103 yards and had a 77-yard kickoff return in last week's loss to Yough. Mt. Pleasant quarterback Lucas Pieszak threw for 47 yards and tossed a touchdown pass in last week's loss at Beaver. Michael Govern led the ground game with 84 yards on 21 carries.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland quarterback Jaden Datz was 7 for 13 for 128 yards and rushed for three touchdowns against Yough.

About the Vikings: Early-season losses to South Park and McGuffey kept Mt. Pleasant from having a good season and a possible playoff berth in the Interstate Conference.

Class A Eastern Conference

Greensburg Central Catholic (3-6, 2-4) at Springdale (4-5, 3-3)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: GCC lost to Bishop Canevin, 49-21. Springdale fell to Imani, 66-16.

The buzz: It's simple: Whichever team wins is in the WPIAL playoffs. The team that loses will fall into the uncertainty of the WPIAL wild-card system.

Key players: Quarterback Max Pisula passed for 122 yards and two TDs in GCC's loss to Bishop Canevin, surpassing 1,000 yards on the season. Josh Harmon rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown for Springdale against Imani Christian and is the Dynamos' most dynamic playmaker.

About the Centurions: GCC is hoping not to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The program's 13-year postseason streak ended last year. After scoring back-to-back wins over Leechburg and Riverview, the Centurions were outscored 104-28 in losses to Jeannette and Bishop Canevin the past two weeks.

About the Dynamos: Springdale is seeking to keep its own impressive postseason tradition going; the Dynamos qualified for the WPIAL playoffs in 14 of the past 15 seasons. They can finish as high as fourth place in the conference with a win thanks to a victory over Bishop Canevin. Like GCC coach Aaron Smetanka, Springdale's Seth Napierkowski is a first-year coach who played quarterback in college; he attended Carnegie Mellon.

Class A Tri-County South CONFERENCE

Mapletown (2-7, 1-5) at Monessen (2-7, 1-5)

7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Mapletown was blanked by No. 1 Jeannette, 47-0. Monessen was stunned by Avella, 18-16.

The buzz: If Monessen wins, it qualifies for the WPIAL playoffs.

Key players: Mapletown senior running back Dylan Rush, who was held out of the Jeannette game, has rushed for 1,464 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. Monessen's Isaiah Beltram has scored multiple touchdowns receiving and rushing.

About the Maples: Rush has rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his career and is among the WPIAL's top 10 rushers all-time.

About the Greyhounds: First-year coach Mike Blainefield has Monessen headed into the right direction and a win would put the Greyhounds in the WPIAL Class A playoffs.

District 6 Appalachian Bowl

Berlin Brothersvalley (9-0) at Ligonier Valley (9-0)

7 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Berlin Brothersvalley defeated rival North Star, 33-14. Ligonier Valley blanked Purchase Line, 58-0.

The buzz: Ligonier Valley won the Appalachian Bowl last season, blanking Conemaugh Township, 56-0. These teams, along with Chestnut Ridge, met in a tri-scrimmage Aug. 18.

Key players: Berlin Brothersvalley running back Charlie Hersch has rushed for 820 yards and nine touchdowns. Ligonier Valley wide receiver Aaron Tutino has scored 19 touchdowns (11 receiving, five rushing, three returns). He has 32 catches for 652 yards.

About the Mountaineers: Berlin Brothersvalley has a balanced attack. Quarterback Luke Brick has completed 55 of 115 passes for 962 yards.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley has posted six shutouts and has put eight of nine games into the mercy rule. Defensive end Nathan Burns has 10 quarterback sacks. Aaron Sheeder rushed for 109 yards last week. Coach Roger Beitel earned his 100th career victory in Ligonier Valley's win in Week 8.

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