Westmoreland County high school football don’t-miss matchups for Week 1
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 | 8:09 PM
Norwin (0-1) at North Allegheny (1-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Newman Stadium, McCandless
On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com
Coaches: Dave Brozeski, Norwin; Art Walker Jr., North Allegheny
Players to watch: Sean Pavlic, Norwin (Sr., 5-8, 155, WR/DB); Luke Colella, North Allegheny (Sr., 5-11. 180, WR/DB)
Last week: Penn-Trafford 42, Norwin 7; North Allegheny 21, Friendship Collegiate Academy (D.C.) 0
Four downs: 1. Norwin quarterback Jack Salopek rushed for a touchdown and threw for 134 yards against Penn-Trafford. 2. North Allegheny’s defense recorded a shutout in the season-opener against Friendship Collegiate Academy, holding the visitors to 69 rushing yards. 3. Norwin’s defense must improve after allowing more than 500 yards against Penn-Trafford. 4. The Tigers offense averaged 35.3 points in 2018, and the team rushed for more than 2,800 yards.
Extra point: North Allegheny won this matchup 46-14 a year ago in North Huntingdon.
No. 1 Pine-Richland (1-0) at Hempfield (1-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Hempfield
Coaches: Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland; Rich Bowen, Hempfield
Players to watch: Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland (Jr., 5-10, 180, QB); Mario Perkins, Hempfield (Jr., 5-11, 180, RB)
Last week: Pine-Richland 21, Penn Hills 0; Hempfield 40, Greensburg Salem 3
Four downs: 1. Pine-Richland, the defending WPIAL champion, blanked returning WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A champion Penn Hills in Week Zero as Spencer completed 17 of 27 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. 2. Rams junior running back Luke Meckler was a dual-threat out of the backfield as he rushed for 105 yards on 21 carries and caught six passes for 79 yards. 3. Hempfield was clicking offensively and defensively in a rout of rival Greensburg Salem. The Spartans piled up 424 yards (278 rushing) and intercepted two passes. 4. Perkins ran for 118 yards and two scores last week, and senior quarterback Blake Remaley threw for 160 yards and two scores.
Extra point: The tussle to watch is up front where Hempfield appears to have a super-sized and experienced line capable of competing against the top teams in 6A.
Class 5A Big East
Franklin Regional (0-0) at Plum (1-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Mustang Stadium, Plum
Coaches: Greg Botta, Franklin Regional; Matt Morgan, Plum
Players to watch: Anthony Bonacci, Franklin Regional (Sr., 6-1, 260, C/DT); Reid Martin, Plum (Jr., 5-9, 170, WR/DB)
Last week: Franklin Regional (DNP); Plum 28, Highlands 6
Four downs: 1. Franklin Regional couldn’t convince Bethel Park to play game in Week Zero, so the two squads conducted their second scrimmage. 2. Four players scored touchdowns for Plum in the opener including a 70-yard punt return by Martin. 3. This will be the first start for Franklin Regional junior quarterback Trevor Brncic, who steps in for the graduated Adam Rudzenski. 4. Plum junior quarterback Ryan Hubner threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score in the victory against Highlands.
Extra point: Every game in the Big East Conference will carry weight this season, so the winner of this will gain an early edge.
Class 5A nonconference
No. 4 Penn Hills (0-1) at Latrobe (1-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Latrobe
On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com; 97.3 FM, 1480 AM
Coaches: Jon LeDonne, Penn Hills; Jason Marucco, Latrobe
Players to watch: Eddie McKissick, Penn Hills (Sr., 6-0, 165, QB); Kameron Stevens, Latrobe (Sr., 5-11, 155, WR/S)
Last week: Pine-Richland 21, Penn Hills 0; Latrobe 20, Derry 14 (OT)
Four downs: 1. McKissick completed 13 of 22 passes for 152 yards and an interception in Week Zero against Class 6A Pine-Richland. He took over for standout Hollis Mathis, now at William & Mary. 2. Latrobe won its season opener for the first time since 2011 as senior quarterback Brendan Crosby delivered a 27-yard touchdown pass to junior Logan Gustafson as the Wildcats slid past host Derry. 3. Penn Hills had won 10 straight on the road before the loss to Pine-Richland. 4. Stevens had a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Gustafson added a short rush for another score for Latrobe.
Extra point: The Indians handled the Wildcats last season 50-13 at Penn Hills.
Class 4A Big 8
Greensburg Salem (0-1) at Trinity (0-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Hiller Field, Washington
On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com; 98.7 FM, 910 AM, 1450 AM
Coaches: Dave Keefer, Greensburg Salem; Jon Miller, Trinity
Players to watch: Jalen Page, Greensburg Salem (Sr., 5-10, 180, WR/LB); Austin Beels, Trinity (Sr., 6-3, 215, OL/DE)
Last week: Hempfield 40, Greensburg Salem 3; Trinity (DNP)
Four downs: 1. Greensburg Salem struggled to move the ball against a strong Hempfield defense and could muster only a 23-yard field goal from Wyatt Ramer. The Golden Lions had just 70 total yards in the opener. 2. Trinity scrimmaged against Moon last week. 3. The Hillers missed the WPIAL playoffs last year but return an all-senior offensive line led by Beels, whom Miller calls the team’s most improved player. 4. At 5-9 and 230, Golden Lions quarterback Trent Patrick can be a load to bring down. He did not get a lot of time to throw last week and gave away two interceptions.
Extra point: The Golden Lions are six wins shy of 700 in their long history.
Class 4A nonconference
Belle Vernon (0-0) at Ambridge (0-1)
7 p.m. Moe Rubenstein Stadium, Ambridge
Coaches: Matt Humbert, Belle Vernon; Don Phillips, Ambridge
Players to watch: Jared Hartman, Belle Vernon (Sr., 6-1, 210, QB); Mason Osborn, Ambridge (Sr., 6-4, 205, QB)
Last week: Belle Vernon (DNP); McGuffey 41, Ambridge 6
Four downs: 1. Belle Vernon did not play a game in Week Zero. The Leopards scrimmaged Elizabeth Forward instead. 2. Ambridge saw its game against McGuffey switched to Saturday because officials were not booked for the game. 3. Belle Vernon returns a veteran team, including wide receivers Nolan Labuda and Hunter Ruokonen, who combined for 44 catches and more than 600 yards in 2018. 4. Running back Deyvon Gill-Martin scored the only touchdown for the Bridgers in their season-opener.
Extra point: Belle Vernon is a hungry group and will be looking to make a statement in its opener as it prepares for a conference battle Sept. 6 at Thomas Jefferson.
Class 3A Big East
Uniontown (0-1) at Yough (1-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Cougar Mountain Stadium, Herminie
On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com; 590 AM, 101.1 FM
Coaches: Cedric Lloyd, Uniontown; Scott Wood, Yough
Players to watch: Josh Braxton, Uniontown (Sr., 6-2, 237, OT/DE); Russell Pytlak, Yough (Sr., 6-4, 230, HB/DE)
Last week: Connellsville 42, Uniontown 17; Serra Catholic 9, Yough 0
Four downs: 1. Uniontown’s top player, Ky’Ron Craggette, transferred to Connellsville and wreaked havoc on his former teammates with 235 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the opening game. He scored on 65- and 67-yard runs. 2. Yough played an inspired defensive game but was shut out for the third straight time dating to last season. The Cougars had just 68 yards against Serra. 3. Uniontown is trying to break a 23-game losing streak that began three years ago. The Red Raiders’ last win happened on Oct. 14, 2016, against Laurel Highlands (27-10). 4. Yough has a sophomore starting at quarterback in Tristan Waldier, a converted wide receiver and one of the team’s best tacklers last season. A line needs to improve after allowing seven sacks last week.
Extra point: Yough has just two wins at home over the last two-plus seasons.
Class 3A nonconference
Mt. Pleasant (0-1) at Hopewell (0-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Tony Dorsett Stadium, Hopewell
Coaches: Jason Fazekas, Mt. Pleasant; Matt Weiss, Hopewell
Players to watch: Asher O’Connor, Mt. Pleasant (Jr. 5-11, 160, QB); Jay’Von Jeter, Hopewell (Sr., 6-0, 170, QB)
Last week: Southmoreland 27, Mt. Pleasant 14; Freedom 18, Hopewell 3
Four downs: 1. Mt. Pleasant got two touchdowns from Jake Johnson in a loss to Southmoreland last week. 2. Hopewell managed a 37-yard field goal by Josh Progar in its loss to Freedom. 3. The Vikings’ leading rusher in 2018 was junior Peter Billey, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry. But an ankle injury shortened his season. 4. This is Weiss’ first season as coach at Hopewell. He was an assistant coach at Rochester under Gene Matsook.
Extra point: Both teams look to rebound after tough losses in Week Zero. Hopewell won last year’s game.
Class 2A Interstate
Frazier (0-1) at Southmoreland (1-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Russ Grimm Field, Alverton
Coaches: Greg Boggs, Frazier; Dave Keefer, Southmoreland
Players to watch: Bobby Boggs, Frazier (Sr., 6-1, 170, QB); Zach Cernuto, Southmoreland (Jr., 6-0, 175, QB/DB)
Last week: South Allegheny 21, Frazier 7; Southmoreland 27, Mt. Pleasant 14
Four downs: 1. Frazier had trouble containing the run last week against South Allegheny and had several drives stall early. 2. Southmoreland upended Mt. Pleasant for the second straight season as Cernuto threw for 169 yards, and Colt Harper rushed for three touchdowns. 3. Coach Boggs took over the Commodores after assistant stints at Charleroi, Bentworth, Keystone Oaks, Chartiers Valley, and Cal (Pa.). 4. Senior receiver Riley Comforti had several big catches to set up scores last week for the Scotties. He had 47 receptions last season.
Extra point: Frazier won last year 36-17. The Scotties ran the ball effectively in the defeat, but Kenny Fine caught three passes for 135 yards and three touchdowns for the Commodores.
Class A Eastern
Greensburg C.C. (1-0) at Riverview (0-0)
Noon Saturday at Riverside Park, Oakmont
On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com
Coaches: Bret Colbert, Greensburg C.C.; Todd Massack, Riverview
Last week: Greensburg C.C. 21, Monessen 18; Riverview (DNP)
Players to watch: Brandon Brown, Greensburg C.C. (Sr., 5-10, 165, WR/CB); Justyn Slebrich (Sr., 6-0, 160, RB/DB)
Four downs: 1. Centurions junior quarterback David Altimore earned Trib HSSN Football Player of the Week honorable mention recognition after Week Zero as he completed 7 of 9 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns against the Greyhounds. 2. Ryan Aber, a 5-11, 190-pound junior, is set to make the start under center for Riverview. 3. Brown’s two receiving scores last Friday against Monessen add to the six he had as a junior in 2018. 4. Saturday’s game at Riverside Park is one of four home games for the Raiders this season. The Oct. 11 game against conference rival Springdale will be the annual Friday night game under the lights.
Extra point: GCC got the better of Riverview last year 35-0 and shut out the Raiders, 21-0, in 2017. But Riverview scored a 13-7 victory over the Centurions in 2016.
Leechburg (0-1) at No. 2 Jeannette (1-0)
7 p.m. Friday, McKee Stadium, Jeannette
Coaches: Mark George, Leechburg; Roy Hall, Jeannette
Players to watch: Dylan Cook, Leechburg (Jr., 6-1, 160, QB/DB); Imani Sanders, Jeannette (Sr., 5-6, 170, RB/DB)
Last week: Apollo-Ridge 28, Leechburg 12; Jeannette 34, East Allegheny 12
Four downs: 1. Jeannette will play its first game on its new artificial turf field. The team has played on natural grass at McKee Stadium since 1927. 2. Leechburg aired it out against Apollo-Ridge but could not stop the run, which could be a problem this week against the Jayhawks. Cook passed for 311 yards (18 of 28) and two scores, both to Jake Blumer. 3. Roberto Smith Jr. had a breakthrough game in the opener for Jeannette with a 50-yard interception return for a score and a rushing touchdown. 4. The Jayhawks have 12 straight home wins and have not lost a conference game since 2017.
Extra point: When Jeannette blanked the Blue Devils, 38-0, last season, returning Jeannette receiver Jackson Pruitt had four catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Class A Tri-County South
California (1-0) at Monessen (0-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Monessen
Coaches: Ed Woods, California; Mike Blainefield, Monessen
Players to watch: Cochise Ryan, California (Sr., 5-11, 191, QB/LB); Dawayne Howell, Monessen (Sr., 6-2, 170, QB/FS)
Last week: California 32, Beth-Center 27; Greensburg Central Catholic 21, Monessen 18
Four downs: 1. California opened the season by holding on to defeat neighboring rival Beth-Center. Woods used to coach at Beth-Center. 2. Missed extra points cost Monessen in its opener at Greensburg Central Catholic. The Hounds did rally from a 21-6 deficit. 3. Jelani Stafford’s brother, Damani, is expected to pick of some of the carries in the backfield for California. Jelani is now at Youngstown State. 4. Monessen running back Jalen Brice scored two touchdowns in the loss at GCC.
Extra point: This is an early-season showdown that could decide the Tri-County South Conference champion. California won the game in 2018, but Monessen’s win against West Greene created a three-way tie for the conference title and kept California out of the playoffs.
District 6 Heritage
Ligonier Valley (1-0, 1-0) at Penns Manor (1-0, 1-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Pat Corrigan Field, Clymer
On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com; 92.5 FM
Coaches: Roger Beitel, Ligonier Valley; Billy Packer, Penns Manor
Players to watch: John Beard, Ligonier Valley (Sr., 6-0, 160, TE/DB/K); Dimitri Lieb, Penns Manor (Jr., 6-0, 162, RB/FS).
Last week: Ligonier Valley 67, Homer-Center 0; Penns Manor 16, Blairsville 14
Four downs: 1. Ligonier Valley running back Kyrie Miller scored four touchdowns and rushed for 182 yards in the season opener against Homer-Center. 2. Penns Manor freshman quarterback Max Hill completed only 2 of 5 passes for 52 yards, but hit Lieb with the winner in the final minute. 3. Beard returned an interception 19 yards for a touchdown, caught five passes for 110 yards and booted seven extra points for the Rams against Homer-Center. 4. Defensive tackle John Hopkins for Penns Manor was credited with two points in the come-from-behind win against Blairsville.
Extra point: The Rams have won 29 consecutive Heritage Conference games.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .
Tags: Ambridge, Belle Vernon, California, Franklin Regional, Frazier, Greensburg C.C., Greensburg Salem, Hempfield, Hopewell, Jeannette, Latrobe, Ligonier Valley, Monessen, Mt. Pleasant, North Allegheny, Norwin, Penn Hills, Penns Manor, Pine-Richland, Southmoreland, Trinity, Uniontown, Yough