WPIAL Big Game Hunting – Championship Saturday

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Thursday, November 26, 2015 | 9:55 AM


A little light reading for your post-turkey dinner relaxation in this week’s Big Game Hunting. This is a pretty epic Championship Saturday. The eight contestants have combined for some astronomic numbers over the years. All-time, this group of teams has combined to win 50 WPIAL football championships. More recently the numbers get even more impressive. Since 2003 there have been 48 WPIAL football championships won, these teams have combined to win 26 of them, that’s 56% of the championships in the last twelve years going to these teams! They know all about Big Game Hunting. Weather, the surface, the bright lights, and injuries all will play a part Saturday. The MSA Sports gang will be there to play our part as well, if you see someone sporting the MSA logo slap him or her on the back and say hello!

WPIAL Class AAAA Championship:
#5 Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings (11-1) vs #2 Penn-Trafford Warriors (12-0) Saturday November 28th @ 2:00 PM @ Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WHJB FM 107.1 by Sean Meyers, Jimmy Lee Santorella and Sean Cowles

The AAAA match-up features the fewest WPIAL championships with four and all of those belong to the Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings who won titles in 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2013. Penn-Trafford seeks their first championship.

The Warriors last played in the championship in 1997 but they have had one of the most exciting runs in history to reach this title game with dramatic wins in the quarters over McKeesport and in the semis over Pine-Richland.

Penn-Trafford has a dynamic passing game featuring senior quarterback Brett Laffoon who has completed 127 of 187 passes for 2304 yards 31 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Laffoon’s yardage qualifies him as third in the entire WPIAL on the season. The Warriors boast the top-scoring offense in all of AAAA this season at 46.6 points per game.

Senior wide receiver Tim Vecchio is fourth in the WPIAL in receptions with 49 and second in receiving yards with 1031, he has a team-high 20 touchdowns on the season. Tyler Bruno and Joe Peduzzi will come up with big catches as well the duo has combined for 45 catches for 802 yards and 10 touchdowns.

On the ground senior Jonah Lisbon has amassed 1296 yards and 18 touchdowns on 162 carries for the year.

The Warriors’ defense has allowed 12.1 points per game on the season. Defensive ends Chris Stanford and Andre Guest anchor a stellar defensive line.

Central will counter with sophomore Troy Fisher at quarterback who has completed 79 of 145 passes for 1148 yards and 13 scores. He can also use his feet very well and appears to have a very bright future, his most impressive number is a zero in the interceptions column.

Gunnar Ferotte (24 catches, 336 yards) Jacob McKee (15 catches, 288 yards) and Bricen Garner (14 catches, 227 yards) do the bulk of the catching the trio has combined to score a dozen touchdowns.

The Vikings and Terry Totten like to run the ball and they do it very well. Ronnie Jones has 144 carries for 1259 yards and 18 touchdowns. Vinny Emanuele has 100 carries for 762 yards and he has scored 12 times.

Does the weather have an effect on the Warriors passing game? Does the surface have an effect on the Vikings run game? We’ll find out Saturday!

WPIAL Class AAA Championship:
#1 Central Valley Warriors (11-1) vs #6 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (10-2) Saturday November 28th @ 8:00 PM @ Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Cory Campano and Brandon Showers, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP – AM 1230 and WMBA – AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman, Tom Hays and Bruce Frey, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA – FM 95.3, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WKPL-FM 92.1 The Pickle by Rob Matzie and Johnny Lee

The only game of the day that does not feature an unbeaten team is your nightcap at Heinz Field.

After 2 weeks of the WPIAL 2015 season these two teams had a combined record of 1-3, since then, they are a combined 20-0.

The defending champion Warriors won their two titles in 2010 and 2014. Thomas Jefferson has five titles, coming in 1980, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008. These two teams have met twice, both times in the semis and both games wins for Central Valley, 42-24 in 2010 and 23-13 in 2013.

Central will throw it a lot, Thomas Jefferson will not. The Warriors senior quarterback is Chris Callaghan he has completed 123 of 225 passes on the year for 2290 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has thrown eight interceptions and will need to be careful of a ball-hawking TJ defense.

Senior wide receiver Kurt Reinstadtler is the top receiver in the WPIAL in terms of yardage with 1093 and eight touchdowns amongst his 44 catches. Deante Bradley and Aris Tatalovich each have more than 20 catches on the season as well for CV.

The Warrior rushing attack is centered on senior Kyle Vreen who has 223 carries, 1275 yards and has rushed for 16 touchdowns.

Central’s defense has allowed 15.3 points per game they have amassed 32 sacks led by Vinnie Verrico’s eight on the season. They have 21 interceptions on the year, Maurice Sims has an incredible six of those.

Thomas Jefferson likes to run and they do it really well. Junior Quinton Hill has 158 carries for 1449 yards and 25 touchdowns, while senior fullback Braden Pahanish has also gone over the 1000 yard mark on the year and scored 11 times.

Bobby Kelly is efficient when he does throw and can also run the ball if the need arises. Since returning to the lineup after missing the first six weeks of the season Kelly has completed more that 50% of his passes for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. That efficiency forces defenses to play honest and opens things up for the rushing attack.

Zane Zandier is a big time difference maker on both sides for the Jags a ball-hawk in the secondary, a great tackler and also a threat in the receiving game as well as getting the occasional rush. Zandier is a kid to keep an eye on in this game.

WPIAL Class AA Championship:
#1 South Fayette Lions (12-0) vs #2 Aliquippa Quips (12-0)  Saturday November 28th @ 5:00 PM @ Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1320 – AM WJAS by Sam Hall and Scott Majesky also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP – AM 1230 and WMBA – AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman, Kerry Lacey and Bruce Frey, also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA – FM 95.3

This is the only game that features a pair of unbeaten teams this weekend. These clubs meet in the WPIAL Championship for the third straight time and for the fourth time since 2010. South Fayette has won all three of the previous games. Christian Brumbaugh led the Lions to a 19-6 win in 2010, his younger brother Brett Brumbaugh took care of the Quips in 2013, 34-28 and again last year 31-22.

The Quips are playing in the championship game for a record 8th consecutive season. They have gone 3-4 in the previous seven seasons. Aliquippa has won the most WPIAL football championships of any team at 15, taking home the title in 1952, 1955, 1964, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2008, 2011, and 2012.

The Lions and Joe Rossi are attempting to win their third straight championship and their fourth since 2010. They previously won titles in 1936, 1964, 2010, 2013, and 2014. The Lions are on a 44 game winning streak heading into this game.

The Quips have, as always been very impressive in rolling to their 8th straight title tilt. Aliquippa averaged 46.2 points per game offensively while allowing just 15.2 defensively.

Senior quarterback Sheldon Jeter leads a very balanced offense for Aliquippa. Jeter has completed 56 of 97 passes for 1243 yards and 17 scores without throwing an interception.

Senior Jassir Jordan has four times as many catches as any other Quip with 28 for 709 yards and nine touchdowns.

At running back Pitt recruit Kaezon Pugh has been absolutely dominant for the Quips all year. Pugh is fourth in the WPIAL with 1829 yards on the year, he has carried it 171 times and scored 27 touchdowns on the year. Here’s the kicker, he might be a better linebacker than he is a running back.

South Fayette will not feature a Brumbaugh at quarterback in this 2015 football game.

Instead sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton leads the Lions into the Ketchup Bowl. Saxton has completed 62% of his passes in his first year as a starter hitting on 103 of 165 attempts for 1546 yards and 27 touchdowns. The youngster has thrown 10 interceptions.

Wide outs Dan Trimbur and Nick Ponikvar will be the focus of the passing game, Trimbur has 31 catches for 504 yards, and has scored nine times, Ponikvar has 28 catches for 451 yards and six touchdowns. Tight end Ryhan Culberson is a big target for Saxton as well with 25 catches for 343 yards and eight touchdowns.

South Fayette balances out their attack with a very solid ground game led by senior Hunter Hayes who has 153 carries for 1342 yards and 21 toucdowns, he is big, strong and fast with fantastic vision and patience and he, like Pugh for the Quips, might be even more important to his team on defense.

The Lions will also occasionally go to a “Wildcat” look with Mikey Speca running out of the quarterback position. Speca has carried for over 400 yards and eight scores on the year.

WPIAL Class A Championship:
#1 Clairton Bears (12-0) vs #3 Jeannette Jayhawks (11-1) Saturday November 28th @ 11:00 AM @ Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Rick Smith and Rob Longo

The Bears and the Jayhawks are back a rematch of a week six Eastern conference game won by the Bears 56-29 at Jeannette. Don’t be terribly misled by that score these two teams are probably a little closer than that would indicate. Jeanette led that game at the half and it was tied at 26 late in the 3rd quarter.

I go back to week one of the BGH for a quote of myself here is what I said before a down had been played in the 2015 season “I don’t see Clairton losing a football game this season, there I said it, I am allowed I am a lowly pundit but I look for Clairton to be 16-0, I will be stunned if that doesn’t happen. The only possible reason it would not, injuries. The Bears talent is never-ending but their roster remains one of the smallest in the WPIAL. A sudden rash of injuries is the only thing capable of stopping them.”

I still feel that way, but I also think if there is a team capable of hanging with or finding a way to knock off the Bears in the state of Pennsylvania this year, it is the Jayhawks. Trouble for Jeannette is they have suffered a key injury and the Bears have avoided them.

Clairton is trying for their 7th title in eight years and 12th overall. The Bears won championships in 1929, 1931, 1954, 1989, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014.

Jeannette goes for title number nine with previous wins in 1932, 1939, 1956, 1971, 1981, 1983, 2006, and 2007.

The Hawks may still be missing or joined by a limited Kareem Hall, who is so important to them on both sides of the football. Hall is recovering from a high-ankle sprain and saw very limited duty last week in the semis win over Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, although his presence did without a doubt give his team a huge lift.

Quarterback Gio Vonne Sanders is nothing short of magical to watch for Jeannette. He has completed 82 of 145 passes, for 1487 yards and 14 touchdowns. He can be even more devastating with his legs, he has rushed for 736 yards and nine touchdowns on the season. He is great in the Jeannette secondary as well and plays the run as tough as any defensive back in the WPIAL.

Swade Redman and Hall if he is able will be the main targets for Sanders. Redman has 15 catches for 347 yards, Hall 14 catches for 259 yards.

Both of those guys get rushes as well. Redman Has rushed for 562 yards and 15 scores and Hall, despite being limited by the injury 765 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Mark Wormack and Jimmy Malik lead one of the best defenses in the league for Jeannette, that includes Hassini Stikkel and Tremayne Briston up front both of whom will be huge for the Hawks in their attempt to slow Clairton.

Da Bears feature the fifth leading passer in the WPIAL, Aaron Matthews has completed 101 of 150 passes for 2223 yards and 29 touchdowns. He can also destroy you with his legs on any given play.

Noah Hamlin is the leading receiver for the Bears with 34 catches for 827 yards, over 24 yards per catch, he has scored 20 touchdowns on the year.

Harrison Dreher gets it done on both the passing and rushing game for the Bears with 30 catches for 689 yards, and 104 rushes for 1011 yards, combined the senior has scored a team-high 29 touchdowns on the season.

Junior Lamont Wade is also a threat from anywhere on the field with 99 carries for 1025 yards, yes he is averging getting more than a first down every time they hand him the ball, Wade has scored 19 touchdowns on the season.

The Bears defense is giving up just 8.6 points per game.

 

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