Westmoreland football notebook: Only 4 teams remain after 1st round of playoffs

Saturday, November 2, 2019 | 7:19 PM

And then there were four.

The opening night of the high school football postseason began with 12 Westmoreland County teams, but only four advanced Friday.

Three teams — WPIAL Class 5A top seed Penn-Trafford (10-1), Class 4A No. 3 Belle Vernon (9-1), and Ligonier Valley (11-0) in District 6 — coasted to opening-round wins, and WPIAL Class 3A No. 4 Derry (9-2) needed overtime to get past Beaver Falls.

Boosted by the return of senior Sam Fanelli, who missed just more than seven games with a knee injury, Penn-Trafford routed Fox Chapel, 48-7. Fanelli scored two rushing touchdowns, and junior Ethan Carr ran for a touchdown, threw for another and scored in a 96-yard kickoff return.

“Fanelli coming back (Friday night) was a huge shot in the arm for us,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “He played well. He has such a low center of gravity and really good vision, and he showed it tonight.”

Penn-Trafford will meet ninth-seeded Upper St. Clair (7-4) in the quarterfinals — a semifinal rematch from two years ago.

Jared Hartman completed 5 of 6 passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns to lead Belle Vernon past New Castle, 49-6.

The Leopards got three touchdowns from Hunter Ruokonen, who recently returned from injury, including a 93-yard interception return.

“Since he returned … he’s been like Hunter 2.0,” Leopards coach Matt Humbert said. “He’s been really aggressive, especially on defense. We’ve really been preaching to him about it. He’s really come into his own.”

Larry Callaway (149) and Dane Anden (110) ran for over 100 yards each and scored a touchdown for Belle Vernon, which faces No. 2 South Fayette (10-1) in the semifinals.

Ligonier Valley won 49-7 without star running back Kyrie Miller, who sat out against West Shamokin with a sprained ankle. The second-seeded Rams still ran past the Wolves to reach the District 6 semifinals. Nick Beitel ran for 107 yards scored twice for Ligonier Valley, which next hosts either No. 3 Bellwood-Antis or No. 6 Cambria Heights.

Derry, meanwhile, went back and forth with Beaver Falls before finally going ahead to stay in overtime. Sophomore kicker Chance White made an extra point after Justin Huss scored his fourth touchdown to give the Trojans the win, 28-27.

Record for Hartman

Hartman, who has been one of the most accurate passers in the WPIAL this season (103 for 136; 75.5%), set the Belle Vernon record for touchdown passes in a season. He has 27 passing scores, putting him ahead of Josh Cramer.

“It really means a lot to break the records,” Hartman said. “It means everything to do it with this group and go over and ring that bell after a win.”

Huss on a tear

Derry running back Justin Huss has elevated himself to one of the premier rushers in the WPIAL.

The senior ran for 200 yards and four touchdowns, including one in overtime, as the Trojans (9-2) brushed past Beaver Falls, 28-27, in Friday’s 3A quarterfinal.

Huss has 2,003 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. He ran for 304 and 405 yards in back-to-back weeks heading into the playoffs.

“One of these days, when us coaches are ashes or 6 feet under, a bunch of these players will get together, have a few drinks and discuss who the best running backs were in Derry history,” Derry coach Tim Sweeney said. “Justin Huss will be in that conversation.”

GS fallS short

Win No. 700 will have to happen next season for Greensburg Salem.

The Golden Lions played Blackhawk close in the first half, but the Cougars pulled away in the second half for a 36-7 victory in the Class 4A quarterfinals.

“We’re losing a great group of seniors. They wanted to get the 700th win,” Golden Lions coach Dave Keefer said.

“But the school isn’t going anywhere, and we’re eventually going to get the 700th win.”

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

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