Westmoreland County don’t-miss football matchups for first week of WPIAL playoffs

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | 5:40 PM


No. 16 Fox Chapel (4-6) at No. 1 Penn-Trafford (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Warrior Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 8 North Hills (6-4)/No. 9 Upper St. Clair (6-4)

Last week: Shaler 27, Fox Chapel 20; Penn-Trafford 21, Franklin Regional 0

Coaches: Tom Loughran, Fox Chapel; John Ruane, Penn-Trafford

Players to watch: Shane Susnak, Fox Chapel (Sr., 5-10, 170, QB); Ethan Carr, Penn-Trafford (Jr., 6-3, 195, WR)

Four downs: 1. Fox Chapel, which last made the playoffs in 2017 and lost to Penn-Trafford in the quarterfinals, 28-21, is the wild-card team in this year’s tournament. 2. Susnak has thrown for 1,791 yards and 14 touchdowns. Fox Chapel began the season 0-4 but rallied to win four of its next five. Senior Sam Brown leads the team with 71 tackles, including 15 for loss. 3. Penn-Trafford is the top seed for the second time in three years. The Warriors reached the title game at Heinz Field in 2017 (when the bracket had eight teams) and lost to Gateway. The Warriors have not lost to a WPIAL opponent since last year’s 38-35 loss to Peters Township in the quarterfinals. 4. Warriors senior quarterback Gabe Dunlap has passed for 1,426 yards and 14 touchdowns and has rushed for 804 yards and 10 scores. Junior Ethan Carr has been Mr. Versatility. Last week, he caught a career-high eight passes, threw for 75 yards and a TD and ran for a 64-yard score.

Extra point: Penn-Trafford was won 17 straight games at Warrior Stadium.

No. 13 Franklin Regional (4-4) at No. 4 Moon (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 5 Peters Township (9-1)/No. 12 Mars (6-4)

Last week: Penn-Trafford 21, Franklin Regional 0; Moon 14, West Allegheny 12

Coaches: Greg Botta, Franklin Regional; Ryan Linn, Moon

Players to watch: Dante Clay, Moon (Sr., 6-1, 175, QB); Justin Johns, Franklin Regional (Sr., 6-1, 230, LB)

Four downs: 1. Franklin Regional overcame numerous injuries to make the playoffs again. The Panthers were mostly solid in slowing Penn-Trafford’s running game last week, limiting the Warriors to 144 yards on the ground. 2. The Panthers dropped four of their last five games but made Gateway, McKeesport and Penn-Trafford work for yards. 3. Moon’s win over West Allegheny last week clinched a co-championship in the Allegheny 8 Conference with Peters Township. Moon handed then-No. 2 Peters its only loss, 21-13, in Week 6. 4. Moon, which has a big front line, won just one conference game last year (2-8 overall) before a rapid turnaround. Jamal Littlejohn is a dangerous running back for the Tigers, who rely on a fast defense.

Extra point: Franklin Regional is in the playoffs for the 16th consecutive season.

No. 14 Latrobe (5-5) at No. 3 Penn Hills (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Yuhas-McGinley Field, Penn Hills

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com; 97.3 FM, 1480 AM

Winner plays: Winner of No. 6 McKeesport (7-3)/No. 11 Baldwin (5-5)

Last week: Latrobe 20, Highlands 18; Penn Hills 21, North Hills 7

Coaches: Jason Marucco, Latrobe;, Jon LeDonne, Penn Hills

Players to watch: Latrobe, Kameron Stevens (Sr., 5-11, 155, WR); Penn Hills, Gemar Howard (Sr., 6-0, 180, RB)

Four downs: 1. Penn Hills is the returning WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A champion. 2. Latrobe lost to Penn Hills, 41-14, in Week 1. 3. Latrobe kick returner Kameron Stevens has five returns for touchdowns. 4. QB Bobby Fetter has come on late in the season for the Wildcats. He has eight touchdowns, including the game-winner against Highlands in Week 9

Extra point: Penn Hills’ only loss this season was to Class 6A Pine-Richland, 21-0.


No. 6 New Castle (6-4) at No. 3 Belle Vernon (8-1)

7 p.m. Friday at James Weir Stadium, Belle Vernon

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com; 107.1 FM, 1200 AM

Winner plays: Winer of No. 2 South Fayette/No. 7 West Mifflin

Last week: New Castle 56, Ambridge 7; Belle Vernon 63, Ringgold 6

Coaches: Joe Cowart, New Castle; Matt Humbert, Belle Vernon

Players to watch: Demetris McKnight, New Castle (Sr., 6-1, 195, RB/FS); Nolan Labuda (Sr., 5-8, 160, WR/DB)

Four downs: 1. Belle Vernon QB Jared Hartman and Labuda have been quite a tandem this season. They have connected 31 times, and Labuda has caught nine touchdown passes, a single-season school record. He scored three times in last week’s win over Ringgold, including a 52-yard punt return. 2. New Castle’s Michael Wells has completed 68 of 184 passes for 1,348 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has run for 222 yards and five scores. 3. The Red Hurricanes also boast a strong running game, led by McKnight, who has 1,056 yards and 17 scores on 190 totes. 4. Larry Calloway has anchored the Belle Vernon rushing attack with 715 yards and 16 scores.

Extra point: Belle Vernon has won the WPIAL title once (1995). New Castle has won nine titles


No. 4 Beaver Falls (8-2) at No. 5 Derry (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday at Trojan Stadium, Derry

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 8 Mt. Pleasant/No. 1 Central Valley

Last week: Beaver Falls 46, Hopewell 22; Derry 56, Burrell 32

Coaches: Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls; Tim Sweeney, Derry

Players to watch: Josh Hough, Beaver Falls (Jr., 6-3, 235, RB/LB); Justin Huss (Sr., 5-9, 150, RB/FS)

Four downs: 1. Hough starred in Beaver Falls’ win over Hopewell last week. He ran 13 times for 241 yards and four touchdowns. Shileak Livingston added 141 yards on 15 carries. 2. Huss continued to rewrite the Derry record books last week as he broke his own school record in rushing for 405 yards and five touchdowns on 24 carries. He ran for 304 yards in a Week 8 win. 3. Derry is outscoring opponents 31.2-12.9 on average, leading the Trojans on a five-game winning streak where they have allowed an average of 11.2 points. 4. Beaver Falls’ defense picked off four passes in last week’s win, including two for Noah Vaughan.

Extra point: Beaver Falls will travel approximately 75 miles to play at Derry’s Trojan Stadium on Friday.

No. 8 Mt. Pleasant (5-5) at No. 1 Central Valley (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Sarge Alberts Stadium, Monaca

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 4 Derry/No. 5 Beaver Falls

Last week: Mt. Pleasant 35, Uniontown 8; Central Valley 45, Aliquippa 6

Coaches: Jason Fazekas, Mt. Pleasant; Mark Lyons, Central Valley

Players to watch: Jake Johnson, Mt. Pleasant (Sr., 6-3, 180, RB); Ameer Dudley, Central Valley (Jr., 6-1, 180, QB/DB)

Four downs: 1. Mt. Pleasant locked up a playoff berth in last week’s blowout win over Uniontown, as Johnson ran for 125 yards and a score and caught two passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. 2. Central Valley posted a statement win last week by thumping then top-ranked Aliquippa, pulling ahead 45-0 at one point in the second half. Dudley threw for 142 yards and two scores. 3. After starting the season 2-4, the Vikings have won three of their past four games, including conference victories over Burrell, Freeport and Uniontown. They also suffered narrow losses to Derry (7-0) and Deer Lakes (29-26). 4. Central Valley, which has won two WPIAL titles since its inception in 2010, suffered its only loss to Class 4A No. 1 Thomas Jefferson (28-3).

Extra point: Johnson has run for 1,062 yards and scored 18 times this season for the Vikings.


No. 15 Southmoreland (5-5) at No. 2 Avonworth (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Lenzner Field, Avonworth

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 7 Apollo-Ridge (7-3)/No. 10 New Brighton (7-3)

Last week: Greensburg Central Catholic 34, Southmoreland 14; Avonworth 35, Shady Side Academy 7

Coaches: Dave Keefer, Southmoreland; Duke Johncour, Avonworth

Players to watch: Riley Comforti, Southmoreland (Sr., 6-3, 185, WR); Park Penrod, Avonworth (Sr., 6-3, 180, QB)

Four downs: 1. While it has experienced somewhat of a fall from grace after a 5-0 start, Southmoreland is back in the playoffs for the first time since 1979, and that is what the program embraces most. The Scotties have not had a winning season since 2003. 2. Junior QB Zach Cernuto has thrown for 1,752 yards and 15 touchdowns, and Comforti has 61 catches for 994 yards and eight TD. 3. Allegheny Conference champ Avonworth, which allowed just 64 points in conference play, is averaging 36.4 points. They scored 53 against Summit Academy and 42 vs. Apollo-Ridge. 4. Penrod has passed for 1,427 yards with 22 TDs and four interceptions. Senior running back Jax Miller put up three 200-yard games and has rushed for 1,752 yards and 15 TDs.

Extra point: Avonworth lost in the first round last year, 24-21 against Freedom.


Greensburg Central Catholic (7-3) at West Greene (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Kennedy Field, Rogersville

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com; 1210 AM

Winner plays: Winner of No. 3 Sto-Rox (9-1)/No. 6 Jeannette (9-1)

Last week: Greensburg Central Catholic 34, Southmoreland 14; West Greene 59, Union 26

Coaches: Brett Colbert, Greensburg Central Catholic; Brian Hanson, West Greene

Players to watch: Greensburg Central Catholic, Paul Rice (Sr., 5-10, 175, DB); West Greene, Ben Jackson (Sr., 6-1, 220, RB)

Four downs: 1. Jackson has scored a WPIAL single-season record 47 touchdowns and rushed for 2,705 yards. 2. GCC quarterback David Altimore has completed 80 of 129 passes for 977 yards and 13 touchdowns. 3. West Greene quarterbacks have completed only 22 of 53 passes for 347 and six touchdowns. 4. Brandon Brown and Ben LaCarte each have 25 catches for more than 300 yards.

Extra point: LaCarte and Brown have combined for 10 touchdowns.

No. 6 Jeannette (9-1) at No. 3 Sto-Rox (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Sto-Rox’s Memorial Stadium, McKees Rocks

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Winner gets: Winner of No. 2 West Greene (9-1)/No. 7 Greensburg Central Catholic (7-3)

Last week: Clairton 26, Jeannette 7; Sto-Rox 56, Imani Academy 0

Coaches: Roy Hall, Jeannette; LaRoi Johnson, Sto-Rox

Players to watch: Jeannette, Justin Cramer (Sr., 6-1, 230, G/LB); Sto-Rox, Eric Wilson (Sr., 6-3, 190, QB)

Four downs: 1. Imani Sanders has rushed for 939 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Jayhawks. 2. Former Imani Christian Academy offensive coordinator and Sto-Rox coach LaRoi Johnson said he was hoping to play Jeannette because it won the WPIAL title in 2017 against Imani. 3. Brett Birch has 22 catches for 239 yards, and Jackson Pruitt has 21 catches for 323 yards for the Jayhawks. 4. Wilson has completed 163 of 267 passes for 2,585 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Extra point: Sto-Rox has three receivers with 30 or more catches.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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