Westmoreland County don’t miss high school football matchups for Week Zero 2021

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 | 4:03 PM


Albert Gallatin vs. Yough

7 p.m. Friday, Cougar Mountain, Herminie

Albert Gallatin begins its third season as an independent. The Colonials are 10-4, including a 5-1 mark in 2020, after enduring 35 consecutive losing seasons in the WPIAL. Albert Gallatin runs a triple-option offense led by senior fullback Shawn Loring, who rushed for 603 yards and six touchdowns. AG has eight seniors on the roster. … Yough hopes to improve under second-year coach Chris Chunko. The Cougars were 2-6 in 2020, opening and closing with wins. Yough has improved its roster size and team strength. Wide receiver Tristan Waldier is hoping for an injury-free season.

Burrell vs. Mt. Pleasant

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

Burrell looks to be a running team as it prepares to replace quarterback Alex Arledge, who threw for 3,619 yards in his career. Burrell has four players vying for the quarterback spot. The Bucs threw little against Jeannette in last week’s scrimmage. … Mt. Pleasant also will have a new quarterback in Tyler Reese, a dual threat as a runner and thrower. Mt. Pleasant will rely on the one-two running punch of Aaron Alakson and Robbie Labuda. The Vikings also return a strong defense.

Derry at Latrobe

7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Latrobe

Class 3A Derry had its 2020 season cut short because of covid cancellations, so the Trojans are eager to get back to action under second-year coach Vince Skillings. Senior Eric Catone and sophomore Ahmad Ward will be key running backs and linebackers, and an experienced line includes seniors Dylan Rhodes, Noah Cymmerman, Brayden Mickinac, Carter Short and Carson Chamberlain. … With a senior-heavy team, Latrobe is primed to make some noise in 5A. The Wildcats will lean on senior dual-threat quarterback Bobby Fetter and senior running back Drake Clayton to rev up the rushing attack. Senior Tyler Lynch anchors the front line. Clayton led the team with 56 tackles last season.

Greensburg Central Catholic at Upper St. Clair

7 p.m. Friday, Panther Stadium, Upper St. Clair

Rarely does a Class 5A team play one from Class A, but it will happen with this matchup. Upper St. Clair’s original opponent, West Toronto Prep, had to cancel because of travel restrictions coming out of Canada. Greensburg Central Catholic needed a game, so USC coach Mike Junko contacted the Centurions to be the replacement opponent for Week Zero. The Panthers, who graduated 25 seniors, return running backs Ethan Heister and Jamaal Brown and wide receivers Mateo Cepullio and Aiden Bessel. Juniors Brady Erdos and Charlie Stohl and freshman Julian Dahlem were quarterback candidates. … GCC coach Marko Thomas guided Connellsville for the last four years. He has plenty of talent at the skill positions, with Danny Dlugos as a powerful running back with speed. Also keep an eye on wideouts Joe Blahovec, a Youngstown State commit, and Aaron Stasko, among others.

Jeannette at East Allegheny

7 p.m. Friday, Churchman Stadium, North Versailles

Decimated by transfers, something the current Jeannette players are tired of hearing about, the defending WPIAL Class A champion Jayhawks open the season with a new-look lineup and a different coaching staff. The team had between 20 and 26 players during camp. Jeannette, which has 766 wins and 10 WPIAL titles, was the PIAA runner-up last season. Only one starter returns: senior two-way lineman Justin Shank. … East Allegheny sophomore Mike Cahill is looking to take over the quarterback duties after the transfer of junior Johnny DiNapoli, who is at Elizabeth Forward. Senior Mike Smith is likely a go-to receiver who is nearing the school record for career receptions. Smith played some quarterback last year as DiNapoli battled an injury. East Allegheny has made the playoffs five straight years and reached the quarterfinals last season before losing to Central Valley.

Ligonier Valley vs. Indiana

7 p.m. Friday, Kuzenski Field, Indiana

Ligonier Valley played more than 40 years in Indiana County. This is the first time since 1945 that it is playing Indiana. The Rams, then Mounties, were 6-2. Ligonier Valley is beginning its second season back in the WPIAL. The Rams return a veteran group, graduating one senior. Junior quarterback Haden Sierocky threw for 599 yards and seven touchdowns. He and senior Nick Beitel combined to rush for 1,318 yards. … Indiana looks to improve on its two-win season with a strong running attack. Indiana also has a dynamic quarterback in senior Devin Flint, who rushed for 993 yards and 14 touchdowns. Senior Zach Herrington rushed for 750 yards.

Class 2A No. 4 McGuffey at Southmoreland

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

McGuffey coach Ed Dalton said this year’s team could be his best in the 10 years he has coached the Highlanders. This group lost only twice in five years in the lower levels. The Highlanders return eight defensive starters. Their offensive line averages 235 pounds and blocks for a triple-option attack that will feature running backs Jeremiah Johnson and Kyle Bookman. … Southmoreland looked solid in its opening scrimmage against Brentwood as the Scotties controlled the line of scrimmage and moved the ball on the ground. Tight end-turned-quarterback Anthony Govern has options out of play action, either running the ball himself, pitching to Noah Phillips or Josh Bass, or throwing to big-play receivers J.J Bloom and Isaac Trout.

Monessen vs. Washington

7 p.m. Friday, Washington High School Stadium, Washington

Monessen has seen some lean years and a revolving door of coaches. Wade Brown steps in as coach after Monessen went 0-7 with three forfeits to end the season. The Greyhounds look to rebuild with underclassmen. Sophomore Lorenzo Gardner and junior Nigier Foster are the top quarterback candidates. Omarion Rainey is a big-play threat. … Washington was youthful in 2020, starting the season with a one-point loss to McGuffey and ending up second in the conference. Coach Mike Bosnic looks for a bounce-back season. Washington returns junior quarterback Davoun Fuse and junior fullback Carlos Harper, who will be a handful for opposing defenses.

Class 5A No. 2 Penn-Trafford at Norwin

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

Returning WPIAL semifinalist Penn-Trafford has one of the biggest lines in 5A and features playmaker Cade Yacamelli, a senior running back and defensive back who has committed to Wisconsin. Ian Demeri also is a power running threat for the Warriors, who could use two quarterbacks again. The Warriors have depth up front, which could take them a long way. The Jollie brothers, Jack and Luke (6-7, 265), could be impact players. … Norwin is primed to get its running game going with senior Dom Barca and others, such as first-year quarterback Luke Levendosky, who can run and throw. Sophomore receiver Jackson Pons, who transferred back from Central Catholic, has big-play ability. Special teams might be the Knights’ strength with junior Joey Castle handling the kicking and punting duties, with help from long-snapper Xander Smith, a junior who also plays receiver and defensive back.

Plum vs. Franklin Regional

7 p.m. Friday, Franklin Regional Stadium, Murrysville

Plum is coming off one of its best seasons in recent history, going 8-1 and winning the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference. The Mustangs have holes to fill. Plum looks to rely in junior running back Eryck Moore, who averaged 8 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns. The Mustangs must find a replacement at quarterback with the graduation of Ryan Hubner. … This is the start of the Lance Getsy era at Franklin Regional. The former Charleroi coach looks to continue and build on the success that legendary coach Greg Botta had in Murrysville. Franklin Regional plans to use senior wide receiver Caden Smith in its offense. The 6-foot-5 Smith hopes to get 10 to 12 touches per game. He’s also a leader on defense at safety.

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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