George Guido: What to look for at football season’s halfway point in the A-K Valley

Saturday, September 24, 2022 | 7:50 PM

Almost in the blink of an eye, the halfway point of the local high school football season has been reached – and some schools haven’t even played a conference game.

One thing we have learned so far is that things have been rough for teams that are part of the 15238 ZIP code.

Schools that are partially served by the 15238 are a combined 1-13.

Shady Side Academy (1-3) won its first game Friday at South Allegheny, and Fox Chapel and Springdale each are 0-5.

But, no matter where you get your mail delivered, there’s plenty of good football in the season’s second half.

Here’s a six-pack of can’t miss games to mark on your calendars:

• Friday. Mars at Highlands. For the first time in nearly three decades, someone other than the retired coach Scott Heinauer is guiding the Planets. Eric Kasperowicz, with his Natrona-sounding surname, brings Mars to Golden Rams Stadium with a 4-1 record.

It will be a key test for first-year Highlands coach Matt Bonislawski and the 2-0, 5-0 Golden Rams. Is there a polka version of the National Anthem?

• Oct. 7. East Allegheny at Freeport. Both team have just one loss overall, and the Yellowjackets defense will have a challenge with the Wildcats’ speed. The Yellowjackets would like nothing more than to celebrate the great program’s 100th anniversary with a conference championship and can make a statement with a win here on their home turf.

• Oct. 14. Plum at Penn-Trafford. The Mustangs gave heavily-favored Gateway a late run Friday, but, with only five conference games, there is little room for error. Over the years, Penn-Trafford teams have been an albatross around Plum’s necks, and the Mustangs have a chance to do something about that.

• Oct. 21. Armstrong at Highlands. Forget game of the week. Could this be the Alle-Kiski Valley’s game of the year? River Hawks quarterback Cadin Olsen, the defending Willie Thrower Award winner, keeps moving up the all-time WPIAL passing charts. But he and Highlands quarterback Chandler Thimons can beat you with both their arms and their feet.

• Oct. 28 – Leechburg at Greensburg Central Catholic. The Blue Devils hung with Clairton on Friday, though the Bears dominated the stat sheet. This is the second straight season these two schools have met in the regular season finale at Centurions Field with home field to start the playoffs on the line.

• Oct. 28. Apollo-Ridge at Burrell. This series is a close one, 18-15 in Apollo-Ridge’s favor. If both teams stay healthy, this could decide a playoff berth.

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