Westmoreland County don’t miss high school football matchups for Week 1

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Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 12:01 AM


Here’s a look at some don’t-miss matchups in Westmoreland County for Week 1:

Class 6A

Hempfield vs. Norwin

7 p.m. Friday, Norwin Stadium, North Huntingdon

A rivalry between neighboring schools that have struggled in Class 6A. Both teams will feature new quarterbacks and numerous other starters. … Christian Zilli returns to direct Hempfield after missing the past two seasons. Nick Fleming looks to get the call for the Knights. … Hempfield senior running back Mario Perkins is back and ready to assume the duties of Nathan Roby. He rushed for 248 yards last season. … Norwin’s main receiver is tight end Tanner Krevokuch, who caught 32 passes for 288 yards.

Class 5A Big East

Franklin Regional vs. No. 1 Gateway

7 p.m. Friday, Pete Antimarino Stadium, Monroeville

Gateway, the returning WPIAL champion, is coming off a 12-win season that ended with a loss to Archbishop Wood in the PIAA Class 5A semifinals. Franklin Regional is coming off a rare sub-.500 season. … The Gators return numerous Division I prospects, including running back Derrick Davis, who rushed for 1,527 yards and 36 touchdowns. … Franklin Regional returns quarterback Trevor Brncic and four of his top receivers. Brncic completed 78 of 154 passes for 978 yards and seven touchdowns.

Latrobe at Penn-Trafford

7:30 p.m. Friday, Warrior Stadium, Harrison City

Listen to the game at Trib HSSN.

Unranked but loaded Penn-Trafford has an abundance of two-way talent at the skill positions, led by quarterback Ethan Carr, a Villanova recruit. Twins Mason and Nate Frye have dual offers from Butler and Valparaiso, and Cade Yacamelli has an offer from Penn. … Latrobe is hoping to push toward a third straight playoff berth. … Keep an eye on tight end/linebacker Tucker Knupp, a playmaker on both sides of the ball. Bobby Fetter and Landan Carns were competing for the starting quarterback spot.

Class 4A Big Eight

Belle Vernon at No. 2 McKeesport

7 p.m. Friday, Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium, McKeesport

Watch the game at Trib HSSN.

Fresh off a WPIAL runner-up finish, Belle Vernon is primed for an encore, albeit with a relatively new cast of characters. Devin Whitlock, who played receiver last year, played quarterback in the team’s scrimmage and looked as comfortable as he did elusive. … McKeesport, down from Class 5A where it made the semifinals last season, also features a proven line and boasts team speed. … Asaad Robinson and Kanye Thompson are expected to fuel the rushing attack.

Greater Allegheny

Plum at Greensburg Salem

7 p.m. Friday, Offutt Field, Greensburg

Plum moves a class down and is looking to improve on a three-win season. First-team all-conference linebacker Max Matolcsy, a Penn recruit, leads the Mustangs. He had 138 tackles last season. Also back is quarterback Jake Miller (810 yards), who suffered a knee injury against Latrobe late last season. … Holding steady at 699 wins, Greensburg Salem is itching to play well in its opener and achieve a long-anticipated 700th victory. Only four other programs (Jeannette, New Castle, Aliquippa and Washington) have reached the milestone. … Leading rusher Alex Briggs returns after gaining 621 yards on 108 carries.

Class 3A Allegheny

No. 2 North Catholic at No. 5 Derry

7 p.m. Friday, Trojan Stadium, Derry

Perennially strong North Catholic makes the trek to Derry for a clash of the Trojans. Joey Prentice and Carson Laconi are in line to replace standout Zach Rocco at quarterback. Rocco threw for 1,814 yards and 25 touchdowns. Prentice was the backup last year. … Nick Maher returns after leading the Trojans in receiving with 46 catches for 853 yards and 12 scores. … Derry, which will take the field for the first time under new coach and alum Vince Skillings, again will rely on a strong line and grind-you-down running game. Skillings also installed a 4-3 stack defense he was eager to debut. … Amari Graham, Pryce Donovan and Eric Catone are expected to handle the rushing duties.

Interstate

South Allegheny vs. Mt. Pleasant

7 p.m. Friday, Vikings Stadium, Mt. Pleasant

It’s a new season, and South Allegheny has a new coach. The Gladiators dropped four of their final five games in 2019 and now are coached by Frank Cortazzo III. … Running back Antonio Epps rushed for more than 1,300 yards last season. … Mt. Pleasant returned to the Class 3A playoffs in 2019, and coach Jason Fazekas is hoping for a better 2020 season. A strong defense will carry the Vikings. … Mt. Pleasant will be led offensively by quarterback Asher O’Connor, fullback Pete Billey, wide receiver Jonas King and one of the top defensive linemen in the WPIAL, senior Ian Fasano.

South Park vs. Southmoreland

7 p.m. Friday, Russ Grimm Field, Alverton

Both teams were playoff participants in 2019, and South Park reached the semifinals in Class 3A by upsetting North Catholic. Southmoreland ended a 40-year drought by making the Class 2A playoffs, but the Scotties ended the season with six consecutive losses. … South Park was hit hard by graduation and must replace its quarterback and top running back. Nate May, who scored eight touchdowns, rushed for more than 600 yards and caught 17 passes for 351 yards, will be the workhorse. … Southmoreland graduated much of its offense but returns three-year starting quarterback Zach Cernuto, who completed 126 of 235 passes for 1,792 yards and 15 touchdowns. Look for tight end Anthony Govern be more active in the offense.

Class 2A Allegheny

Ligonier Valley at Apollo-Ridge

7 p.m. Friday, Owens Field, Apollo

Listen to the game at Trib HSSN.

Ligonier Valley makes its much-anticipated return to the WPIAL at the home of a veteran Vikings squad that hosted a WPIAL Class 2A first-round playoff game last year. … The Rams, who spent the past five decades in District 6, went 51-4 the past four years. … Ligonier Valley graduated 16 seniors from last year’s 12-1 squad. Junior wide receiver Matt Marinchak (26 catches, 453 yards, 8 TDs in 2019) is a key returning starter. … Apollo-Ridge owns depth at several positions. Experience is found with seniors Jake Fello at quarterback, Klay Fitzroy and Keighton Reese at wide receiver and Logan Harmon at running back. Harmon tallied 1,415 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last year.

Class A Eastern

Greensburg C.C. at Leechburg

7 p.m. Friday, Veterans Memorial Field, Leechburg

The Centurions and Blue Devils played one of the wildest games of the 2019 season. GCC came out on top 42-41 in triple overtime. Leechburg rallied from a 21-7 deficit in the fourth quarter. … Leechburg is expected to unveil a high-octane, pass-based offense led by senior quarterback Dylan Cook (949 passing yards, 8 TDs in 2019). … Greensburg Central Catholic will pass and run behind an offensive line that averages 255 pounds. David Altimore brings experience at quarterback after completing 108 of 185 passes for 1,118 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

Tri-County South

Avella at Monessen

7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Monessen

For the second year in a row, Avella will make the long trip to Westmoreland County for a conference game. It faced Jeannette and Monessen last season. … The Eagles are looking to break an eight-game losing streak and return 10 starters. Junior K.J. Rush used to be a lineman but now is the quarterback. A 350-pound junior, Harrison Fischer, anchors the line. … New Monessen coach Shane Swope Jr. is optimistic as he takes the driver’s seat for the youthful Greyhounds. He planned to implement a spread offense to get the ball in the hands of playmakers. … His son, Shane, could get the start at quarterback as a freshman. He transferred from Yough. … Isaiah Beltram returns after leading the Greyhounds in passing and rushing yards last season.

Nonconference

Chartiers-Houston vs. Yough

7 p.m. Friday, Cougar Mountain, Herminie

Chartiers-Houston is coming off one of its best seasons in years, finishing 7-3 in Class A Tri-County South. Yough, however, was 1-9 after some early injures derailed its season. … Bucs coach Terry Fetsko must replace 14 seniors. Fetsko’s son, Terry, a sophomore, will get the call at quarterback. … Class 3A Yough has a new coach, Chris Chunko, who replaced Scott Wood. He inherited talented skilled players in senior wide receiver C.J. Waldier, who caught 71 passes for 929 yards and five touchdowns, and senior running back Gamal Marballie, who played quarterback after sophomore Tristan Waldier was injured early in the season.

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

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