Westmoreland football notebook: Unbeaten Southmoreland eager for ‘huge’ game

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Saturday, September 21, 2019 | 7:41 PM


Each game carries more meaning for Southmoreland.

The Scotties continue to chase history, an entire town following every move they make on the football field as they march toward a long-awaited return to the WPIAL playoffs.

Their latest high-scoring victory — a 62-21 win at Brownsville on Friday night — moves the team closer to its first playoff berth and conference title since 1979.

Also, it sets the table for one of the most meaningful and anticipated games in school history.

Southmoreland (5-0, 4-0), off to its best start since the Scottdale-East Huntingdon merger in 1964, will welcome No. 3-ranked McGuffey (5-0, 3-0) on Friday in a game that could decide the winner of the Class 2A Interstate Conference.

“Next week’s game is huge,” Scotties junior quarterback Zach Cernuto said. “We all know that a win next week is needed to show we are getting better every week. All of the fans are definitely excited.”

The Scotties were celebrated during Saturday’s fall festival in town, and coaches posed for a photo of a cake with icing that spelled out “SHS Football” with a No. 40 crossed out.

Cernuto passed for 192 yards and four touchdowns, all to senior Riley Comforti, and the Scotties used some trickery: Anthony Govern threw a 67-yard touchdown to Brandon Peterson. The Scotties trailed, 21-7, after the first quarter but erupted for 41 points after halftime.

Cernuto topped 1,000 yards passing for the season. Comforti, the county’s leading receiver, caught six passes for 141 yards.

Southmoreland is averaging 51 points. It has scored 62 points in back-to-back games.

Cernuto said he expects the home-field advantage to continue next week.

“We expect a huge crowd,” he said. “They’ll be ready to cheer on their team and excited to come and watch football. We expect the fans to be plentiful and loud.

Cernuto passed for 192 yards and four touchdowns, all to senior Riley Comforti, and the Scotties used some trickery: Anthony Govern threw a 67-yard touchdown to Brandon Peterson. The Scotties trailed 21-7 after the first quarter but erupted for 41 points after halftime.

Cernuto topped 1,000 yards passing for the season. Comforti, the county’s leading receiver, caught six passes for 141 yards.

Southmoreland is averaging 51 points. It has scored 62 points in back-to-back games.

Huss sits out

Derry senior running back and Westmoreland County leading rusher Justin Huss did not play in Friday’s 13-3 loss to North Catholic at Mars. Huss reportedly injured his knee in the Mt. Pleasant game and returned to play. He was dressed Friday and served as a captain. He said he will not miss any more playing time.

Trio tops 100

One local team produced three 100-yard rushers Friday night, and two others had two backs reach the century mark.

Greensburg Salem had the three in Alex Briggs (144), Trent Patrick (139 yards) and Aaren Putt (107). The Golden Lions downed Laurel Highlands, 47-27.

Logan Gustafson ran for 182 yards and his Latrobe teammate, Bobby Fetter added 152 in the Wildcats’ 34-27 win over Connellsville. Mt. Pleasant’s Jake Johnson and Pete Billey also had 100-yard games, running for 125 and 113, respectively, in the Vikings’ 29-26 loss at Deer Lakes.

P-T hangs tough

Penn-Trafford did not seem fazed by the hype surrounding Massillon Washington, with the program’s 850 wins, 24 Ohio state titles, its Division I talent or its 16,600-seat stadium.

The Warriors, ranked No. 1 in WPIAL Class 5A, played close with the vaunted Tigers before losing 42-21.

It was a close first half. The Warriors led 7-0, and the teams traded scores before the Tigers took control.

Warriors quarterback Gabe Dunlap found Ethan Carr for a 64-yard touchdown to cut the Massillon lead to 21-14. Later, Dunlap connected with Mason Frye for a 77-yard reception to set up Dunlap’s short TD run to get the Warriors within 28-21 with three minutes, 55 seconds left until halftime.

“He was fantastic,” Warriors coach John Ruane said of Dunlap, who was 16 of 25 for 260 yards and ran for 90 yards.

Massillon’s Aidan Longwell was 14 of 15 for 225 yards and four scores broke the career record for passing touchdowns (65) for Massillon.

DiFalco busy

Franklin Regional sophomore Anthony DiFalco had a busy Saturday. He started off the day with two goals in the Panthers soccer team’s 6-0 win at Gateway, then drove to join the football team at Shaler, where he kicked an extra point and made a tackle in a 28-17 loss.

Leopards roll

How efficient was Belle Vernon in the first quarter against Indiana? The Leopards scored on four straight drives, then proceeded to score three defensive touchdowns — a 26-yard interception return by Andrew Pacak and fumble recovery scores by Max Bryer and Cole Weightman — for a 48-point opening quarter.

Belle Vernon won, 61-7.

Extra points

Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel picked up his 100th win against Heritage Conference opponents Friday as the Rams took apart West Shamokin, 54-7. … Ligonier Valley quarterback Sam Sheeder threw for a career-high 310 yards on 17-of-26 passing Friday. … Greensburg Central Catholic kicker Nate Ward made two field goals, of 30 and 42 yards, in the Centurions’ 41-0 win over Imani Christian. … Jeannette’s defense continues to show out. The Jayhawks outgained Springdale, 402-36, and limited the Dynamos to one yard passing. The Jayhawks have three straight shutouts. … Southmoreland (5-0), Jeannette (5-0), Ligonier Valley (5-0) and Franklin Regional (4-0) are the remaining undefeated teams in Westmoreland County.

Coming attractions

McGuffey (5-0, 3-0) at Southmoreland (5-0, 4-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Southmoreland Stadium

Arguably the game of the year in the Class 2A Interstate Conference.

Belle Vernon (3-1, 2-1) at Greensburg Salem (2-3, 2-0)

A Class 4A Big East clash between the conference’s Westmoreland representatives should feature some scoring.

Tweet of the day

“Southmoreland football scores big win over Brownsville 62 - 21

Thank you Scottie nation for your support for our team cheering them on to another win.

5-0 on to Mcguffey.

We are Scotties!!!!”

Southmoreland athletics (@SHSAthletics4U)

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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