Westmoreland County high school football notes: Southmoreland preps for massive game

Thursday, October 21, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Southmoreland coach Dave Keefer and his staff have prepared for some meaningful games since they took over in 2018.

“There were some big ones that first year,” Keefer said. “We had a big one (against McGuffey) two years ago. This one Friday ranks right up there.”

Southmoreland (6-2, 3-1 Class 3A Interstate Conference) is aiming for its second playoff trip in three years after missing out on postseason football for 40 years. It needs two more wins to get there again.

This week’s home game against No. 4 Elizabeth Forward (6-2, 4-0) could go a long way in making that happen but also could lead the Scotties to a shot at their first conference championship since 1979 — the benchmark year that the team keeps coming back to and longs to emulate.

“There are playoff implications, and we could be playing for a possible section championship,” Keefer said. “The kids are excited for the opportunity.”

Southmoreland, coming off a rare bye week after Brownsville forfeited because of a shortage of players, can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a South Park loss to Mt. Pleasant.

The Scotties are 3-0 since a 34-7 loss to Mt. Pleasant. The week off helped to cleanse the palate, and they are fresh for the clash with the Warriors.

Fresh and itching to play again.

“That’s in the past,” senior lineman Kory Ansell said. “We got some kids back and got a rest. (The season) gets to be a load after a while. I think we can match up with (Elizabeth Forward) from a speed, skill and linemen aspect. We just have to cut down on mistakes.”

Elizabeth Forward is one of the best defensive teams in the WPIAL, allowing just 54 points in eight games (6.8 a game), with four shutouts.

Quarterback Zion White (6-3, 220) has thrown for 550 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Zach Boyd presents a challenge for the Scotties as a rusher and pass-catcher. He had two scores in last week’s 35-0 win over Mt. Pleasant.

John DiNapoli, a transfer from East Allegheny, is another weapon for the Warriors.

“We have some track kids, and I like our team speed,” Keefer said. “We could match up well there. That’s a plus. (Elizabeth Forward) has some big, rangy kids.”

Scotties quarterback Anthony Govern has passed for 891 yards and eight TDs, and Isaac Trout has 26 receptions for 467 yards and six scores.

Josh Bass returns to the lineup this week after sitting out two games following an ejection against Mt. Pleasant.

“Southmoreland’s coaches are doing a great job turning that program around,” Elizabeth Forward coach Mike Collodi said. “They have a very high-powered offense. It’s going to be our defense against their offense. It’s going to make for a heck of a game.”

Playoff picture

A number of local teams can secure playoff berths this week.

Penn-Trafford can clinch a spot and gain at least a share of the Class 5A Big East title with a win Friday at home against Franklin Regional. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Warrior Stadium.

Franklin Regional and Latrobe, meantime, can get in with one more win apiece.

In Class 4A, Greensburg Salem clinches with a win over Highlands, and Mt. Pleasant can clinch with a win over South Park in 3A.

Greensburg Central Catholic can clinch with a win at Jeannette.

Belle Vernon has clinched a berth in the 4A field.

Upon further review

Franklin Regional senior quarterback Connor Donnelly was shorted some yardage last week during his team’s 41-40, come-from-behind win at Latrobe.

Franklin Regional, which trailed, 40-14 in the second quarter, used a hook-and-lateral to kickstart its improbable rally.

Donnelly threw a short pass to Maddox Morrison, who caught it and lateraled to Tyler Bewszka.

Bewszka then went 35 yards for the touchdown. Initially, Bewszka was given a rush, but by scoring rules, he gets receiving yards and a touchdown.

Donnelly gets credit for one completion, to Maddox, and a scoring pass. That means his stat line was: 17 of 32 for 325 yards and three touchdowns.

He also ran for a score during a career performance.

Hall of fame

Bishop Canevin coach Rich Johnson gave a respectful nod to Jeannette coach Roy Hall before last week’s game at Dormont Stadium, posing with Hall in a photo and posting it to Twitter.

This is Hall’s last season as the Jayhawks’ coach.

Johnson tweeted with the picture, “Got a picture with a legend before he rides off into his coaching sunset. Coaches like Coach Hall were the guys to open doors for coaches like myself. If you hang up your whistle just know you will be missed. Handshake on a historic career and I wish you the best!”

Homecoming game

Greensburg Central Catholic will play at Jeannette on Friday night with four players who are from the opposing city.

GCC starters Jaydin Canady, Taishaun Jamison and Ryan Kimmel transferred from Jeannette in the offseason.

Amari Mack also has ties to Jeannette.

They will return to McKee Stadium to try to help GCC break a seven-game losing streak against the Jayhawks.

“It’s going to still feel like home. Jeannette will always be where my heart is,” Jamison said. “My foundation started there. I appreciate everything coaches like coach Coop, Joe and Hall and many others did for me. I wouldn’t be who I am now without them. Jeannette is still my home.

“I love playing for GCC; this year has been a great experience.”

The Jayhawks, the WPIAL champions last year, have defeated GCC nine of their last 10 meetings dating to 2011, including 55-0 last year.

GCC has not won at Jeannette since 2009.

Dlugos injured

GCC senior fullback and linebacker Danny Dlugos suffered a leg injury last week at Clairton and is questionable to play Friday at Jeannette. He was scheduled to have a midweek MRI after he returned from a college visit to Bowdoin, a Division III school in Brunswick, Maine.

Extra points

Youngstown State is showing interest in Franklin Regional standout Caden Smith. Penguins coach Doug Phillips visited Franklin Regional last week. … The Westmoreland County rushing title might be a two-horse race with two weeks to go. Penn-Trafford’s Cade Yacamelli has a slim lead with 915 yards, and Devin Whitlock of Belle Vernon is second with 861. Whitlock’s total is with 31 fewer carries. He is averaging 12.7 yards per rush. Yacamelli’s average is 9.2. … Seven Westmoreland teams are allowing fewer than 20 points per game. They are Belle Vernon (10.4), Greensburg Central Catholic (11.5), Ligonier Valley (12.6), Penn-Trafford (14.9), Southmoreland (16.3), Kiski Area (16.4) and Monessen (18.8).

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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