Westmoreland high school football notebook: Belle Vernon, Penn-Trafford set to clash

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Saturday, September 4, 2021 | 6:00 PM


They don’t make nonconference matchups quite like this one. At least they didn’t used to.

The WPIAL scheduled cross-classification games this season, meaning Class 5A teams play teams from 4A, among other matchups. It turned out to be a great idea for the league to create such an impressive matchup between No. 1 Penn-Trafford and No. 2 Belle Vernon.

Class 5A Penn-Trafford (2-0) will visit 4A Belle Vernon (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday. It could be the top game in Westmoreland County and one of the best in the WPIAL in Week 2 as championship contenders put their playmakers on display.

“From the stuff I’ve seen, they’re impressive,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said of the Leopards. “We’ll have to tackle well, be patient and be very physical.”

The game will feature athletes and size all over the field. At least three Division I prospects will compete: Belle Vernon senior quarterback/defensive back Devin Whitlock and sophomore running back/defensive back Quinton Martin and Penn-Trafford senior running back/defensive back Cade Yacamelli.

Martin has numerous offers, Pitt, Penn State and Notre Dame among them, while Youngstown State offered Whitlock.

Yacamelli is committed to Wisconsin.

“They do a lot of good things schematically,” Ruane said. “They are not a team you want to look past. They’re as big and strong as any team we’ll see. The two D-1 guys can both go.”

Belle Vernon is always up for a challenge from a top-tier opponent.

“They love to get to the perimeter and have some physical players,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “They are just a really good overall team in every facet. It’s a great challenge and opportunity for us.”

Whitlock, Martin and Yacamelli played on the same summer 7-on-7 team for Evolve.

“We were always chirping at each other that we get to play this year,” Yacamelli said. “They are great athletes, but so are my guys.”

Penn-Trafford handled Hempfield on Friday, 45-14, behind big plays.

The Warriors built a 21-0 lead after one quarter, on Yacamelli touchdowns of 65, 58 and 7 yards. He later added a 54-yard touchdown reception.

“I am nothing without my o-line,” Yacamelli said. “All I ask is that they give me a crease. They did that, and all I had to do was run.

“Our defense played lights out. We were physical as crap.”

Belle Vernon scrimmaged in Week Zero, so the Leopards opened the regular season Friday with a 49-14 win at Chartiers Valley.

The quick-strike Leopards simply make highlights.

Whitlock ran for 133 yards, threw for 128 more and accounted for five touchdowns, and Martin returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and ran for 73 yards and another score.

82-0?

Defending WPIAL Class A champion Jeannette suffered its worst loss in program history Friday as visiting Sto-Rox clubbed the undermanned Jayhawks, 82-0.

The Vikings, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, led 62-0 at halftime.

According to local football historian Rush Pedder, Jeannette had not lost that badly since a 59-0 setback against West Newton in 1916. Jeannette has not started 0-2 since 1993.

Things could be going from bad to worse for the Jayhawks, who continue to feel the effects of multiple transfers that left them with a light roster. Coach Roy Hall said five players were injured Friday, leaving him with 19 in uniform.

Senior lineman Justin Shank is out for a couple of weeks with an injury, which is a key loss.

“We tell the kids when a team gets a chance to take it to us, they will,” Hall said. “That’s what (Sto-Rox) did. I told all my friends he was going to try to bury us.

“We want our kids to keep their heads up because these are just exhibition games. We have to try to stay positive.”

Thursday night football

Which is more rare? Southmoreland playing a City League team, or the Scotties playing a City League team on a Thursday?

The answer might be both as Southmoreland and Perry play at 7 p.m. Thursday at Cupples Stadium on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Cross-fit

The WPIAL’s cross-class scheduling has made for some intriguing matchups that have created a buzz and filled stadiums.

After a week that included games between Penn-Trafford and Hempfield, Latrobe and Norwin (Norwin won by a field goal), and Franklin Regional and Kiski Area, it gets better in Week 2.

Next Friday, fans will get Penn-Trafford at Belle Vernon, Greensburg Salem at Mt. Pleasant, Franklin Regional at Hempfield, Kiski Area at Latrobe, and Jeannette at Ligonier Valley.

Schools got to fill in their Week Zero, opening-game matchup, but the WPIAL did the rest as it cross-scheduled opponents from a class above or below teams to create better local games, decrease travel and counter blowouts.

LV stays perfect

Ligonier Valley is getting more comfortable playing the WPIAL, and that could be a bad sign for opponents of the Class 2A Rams.

Scoring in the first play from scrimmage Friday sent them on their way to an impressive 26-14 win at Elizabeth Forward.

Haden Sierocky threw a 68-yard score to Grant Dowden, and the Rams were off.

“It was a great play. Haden hit Grant, who’s a heck of an athlete. He got the ball in space, and he was gone,” Rams coach Roger Beitel said. “It set the tone, and we just rode the momentum.”

Sierocky threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns, and Nick Beitel ran for 104 yards.

High-scoring Vikes

Mt. Pleasant has scored 103 points in two games, tying the Vikings with North Catholic for the second-most points in the WPIAL.

Fetter update

Latrobe senior quarterback Bobby Fetter injured his left shoulder during the first half Friday night at Norwin.

Initial tests Saturday showed no fracture, and Fetter will see a doctor again Tuesday, according to Wildcats coach Jason Marucco.

It is unclear if Fetter will miss any time. He had surgery in the past on the same shoulder after a third dislocation.

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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