Westmoreland County football notebook: Penn-Trafford making special plans for Moon matchup

Thursday, November 25, 2021 | 11:01 AM

A WPIAL championship would be special to Penn-Trafford.

Special teams might play a key role in the Warriors’ quest to win their first title.

The Warriors (10-2) have been exceptional at times on special teams this season, particularly in the playoffs.

Last week, senior Nathan Schlessinger, one of the WPIAL’s top kickers — albeit an unheralded one — kicked the ball deep and delivered a 30-yard field goal to open the scoring in a 24-6 win over Pine-Richland in the semifinals.

Senior Josh Huffman, coach John Ruane said, had the best punting performance of his career in a win that propelled the Warriors into Saturday night’s Class 5A final against Moon (12-0) at Heinz Field.

Just for kicks

Penn-Trafford and Belle Vernon don’t lose sleep when it comes to kickers.

Therefore, the Warriors and Leopards won’t hesitate to send out Schlessinger or senior Tyler Kovatch for a field goal, even from long range at the feared open end of Heinz Field.

Schlessinger and Kovatch each have 52 extra points. Schlessinger has seven field goals, and Kovatch has one. Belle Vernon rarely punts, and its drives are usually short.

Kovatch also handles the punting duties for the Leopards (10-0), who play Aliquippa (10-1) on Saturday at Heinz Field.

Whitlock seeks gold

Belle Vernon standout senior Devin Whitlock is one of the most dynamic playmakers to come out of Westmoreland County. The quarterback/defensive back, though, still is chasing his first WPIAL title.

Whitlock will make his third WPIAL finals appearance Saturday, the second in football.

Belle Vernon made the Class 4A basketball finals in 2019-20, three months after the Leopards played in the WPIAL football championship.

Westmoreland titles

Westmoreland County has not had two football teams play for titles at Heinz Field in the same season since 2015, when Jeannette and Penn-Trafford played for championships.

When Belle Vernon won its only title in 1995, the Leopards beat Franklin Regional in the final 22-6.

Big 5/6 selections

A number of local players were selected to the Big 5/6 Conference’s all-conference teams in Class 6A and 5A.

Penn-Trafford had six first-team picks on offense in the Big East: junior center Joe Enick, senior guard Garrett Moorhead, sophomore tackle Zach Tomosovich, senior quarterback Carter Green, senior running back Cade Yacamelli and senior kicker Nathan Schlessinger.

The Warriors added six more on defense: senior Declan Ochendowski and junior Conlan Greene, both defensive ends; senior linebacker Jack Jollie, junior defensive back Jake Otto, junior athlete Daniel Tarabrella and junior punter Josh Huffman.

Ruane was the Big East coach of the year.

Franklin Regional senior wide receiver Caden Smith, along with teammate Maddox Morrison, a senior defensive back, also made the first team.

Latrobe had three players on the first team in senior tackle Aidan Sweeney, junior tight end Corey Boerio and senior defensive tackle Tyler Lynch.

Local second-teamers were: freshman tackle Andrew Devola, sophomore athlete Ayden Hudock, junior defensive tackle Andrew Nesler, sophomore Owen Sinclair and junior Roman Sarnic of Franklin Regional; Penn-Trafford senior receiver Liam Heilman; and Latrobe senior athlete Kyle Brewer and senior defensive back Marco Mongelluzzo.

In Class 6A, Norwin had four players named to the second team in senior center Jake Young, senior quarterback Luke Levendosky, senior athlete Dom Barca and junior kicker Joey Castle.

Hempfield senior Daniel Sierk, a defensive tackle, also made the second team.

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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