WPIAL Big Game Hunting – Semifinals

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015 | 5:01 PM


This past Friday night the world was attacked once again by a senseless act of terrorism. I wish I had some words that could make us feel better, but I don’t. I would just encourage you to be kind to one another, and kind to yourselves (easier said than done). We will move on, it is all we can do. The final off-ramp on the Highway to Heinz approaches now, very quickly, who can keep the vehicle on the mainline and make their way around the construction barrels to the North Shore? We find out this Friday night on the MSA Sports Network. 50-50 shot your team is in this week’s Big Game Hunting, if you still have a team in the race. Win this week and you are assured a spot in Big Game Hunting for the as long as your 2015 season continues. Forget the trophies and the gold medals, that weekly appearance in BGH, that’s what these teams are after!

AAAA #1 Woodland Hills Wolverines (11-0) vs #5 Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings (10-1) Friday November 20th @ 7:30 PM @ Fox Chapel high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and the Woodland Hills Sports Network by Adam Gusky and Fred Guy

The Vikings avenged their only loss of the season in the quarters with a 31-17 win over North Allegheny behind 144 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground from Ronnie Jones. The Wolverines defeated the Bethel Park Black Hawks for the second time in the 2015 campaign behind a six touchdown, 300 plus yard performance from the duo of Miles Sanders and, Joe El Shaw.

Defense and running has been the theme all season for these two teams, that theme is likely to continue Friday night. A battle of will, and a battle in the trenches will be the things to look out for in this game.

This rivalry has been dominated of late by the Vikings who have won the last four meetings against Woody High by lopsided margins. You have to go back to 2009 to find a win in the series for the Wolverines who won then at the Wolvarena 27-3.

This year’s version of the rivalry will feature a pair of very good defenses and a heap of division one talent on the field. The Vikings have allowed just 10.5 points per game and Woody has let up just 12.5 points per game on the year.

Woodland Hills senior quarterback Daron Cooper completes more than 50% of his passes though he does not throw a lot, he has also taken great care of the football tossing 10 touchdowns without throwing an interception.

On the ground Sanders and Shaw have combined for 259 attempts, 2690 yards and now 44 touchdowns. That is a pretty solid 1-2 punch.

Central will counter with just a little more offensive balance but the Vikes are definitely run-heavy as well. Sophomore quarterback Troy Fisher has completed 74 of 134 passes for 1102 yards and 14 score all without throwing an interception. Fisher’s top-target is Gunnar Ferrotte with 22 catches.

The Vikings ground game is led by Ronnie Jones with 1231 yards and 17 scores on 132 carries, in addition to Jones look for Vinny Emanuele (95 carries, 708 yards, 11 touchdowns) to get some work as well.

AAA #1 Central Valley Warriors (10-1) vs #4 Mars Planets (10-1) Friday November 20th @ 7:30 PM @ Ambridge high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and FM 92.1 WKPL The Pickle by Rob Matzie and John Lee

Deante Bradley and Kyle Vreen each scored a pair of touchdowns as the top-seeded Warriors cruised past Hampton in the quarterfinals 42-9. Mars put on an impressive defensive display shutting out the Ringgold Rams 35-0 and holding the 5th seeded Rams to just eight first downs. The Planets did lose Isaiah Johnson to injury in the win. His status for this game has the potential to have a big impact on the outcome of this game.

Central in their sixth year of existence reaches the semifinals for the 6th consecutive season. They are 3-2 in the previous five semifinal games they have played. The 2015 Warriors are getting some big-time play from senior quarterback Chris Callaghan who has completed 113 of 204 passes for 1985 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year.

Senior wide out Kurt Reinstadtler leads the team in the receiving game with 39 catches for 864 yards and nine touchdowns.

Aris Tatalovich and Deante Bradley have combined for another 39 catches and 700 yards in the Central Valley air-attack.

The Warriors rush game is headed by Kyle Vreen with a remarkable 204 carries on the year. Vreen has compiled 1146 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.

The Warriors defense comes to play as well Maurice Sims has 91 tackles and Vinnie Verrico 13 tackles for loss for Central Valley. The Warriors have 29 sacks as a team this year.

Mars throws less than the Warriors but they still throw. Senior quarterback Sam Morrissey has completed 62 of 130 passes for 1129 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Almost all of those completeions are spread to three Planets receivers, Eli Brooks, John Castello and Nathan Soblowski have been the main targets toe Morrissey all season long.

On the ground is where the possible loss of Johnson might hurt the Planets. Johnson is Mars’ leading rusher with 1654 yards and 18 touchdowns on 269 carries. The very good news for Mars fans is that Head Coach Scott Heinaure does expect Johnson to be ready to go at full speed for this game on Friday night.

AA #1 South Fayette Lions (11-0) vs #5 Steel Valley Ironmen (10-1) Friday November 20th @ 7:30 PM @ Peters Township high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA FM 95.3 by Bob Gregg and Mark Uriah 

We feature a rematch from the regular season in AA as the top-seeded Lions get set to face the Ironmen again. Hunter Hayes rushed for 22 yards in the Lions’ quarter-final romp over Beaver 54-7. The Ironmen meanwhile earned the rematch with a win over Beaver Falls 24-18 in the quarters. Steel Valley forced three turnovers and got nearly a hundred yards rushing from quarterback Trey Earl Edwards in the win.

Back in week six in Munhall the Lions absolutely dominated Steel Valley across the board in rolling them 37-0. The Lions outgained the Ironmen 307 – 48 in the win. Hunter Hayes rushed for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win.

Steel Valley got away I think in that game from what they do best. It will be interesting to see if Rod Steele changes his approach in this second go-round with the two-time defending champions.

For South Fayette sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton continues to grow into a very good young quarterback. Saxton has completed 94 of 142 passes for 1393 yards and 26 scores he has thrown nine interceptions including a pair to Steel Valley in that week six win.

The wide outs are very good in Dan Trimbur (29 catches, 481 yards) and Nick Ponikvar (25 catches 397 yards), and I really like the way young tight end Ryhan Culberson (20 catches, 267 yards) continues to develop.

The Lions though, when they need to reach down and battle in crunch time will do one thing, hand the football to Hunter Hayes. Hayes has 134 carries for 1220 yards and 19 touchdowns on the season. Hayes is tough and smart and really the heart of this Lions team. He is all – over things on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Steel Valley threw the ball a lot in the first meeting between these two teams. Yes, partially because they were trailing but they threw more than normal to start that game as well.

They can and have had success throwing the ball, Tre Earl Edwards has completed 60 of 116 passes for 945 yards, but he has not thrown a touchdown pass and the Ironmen are built to run.

DeWayne Murray has rushed for 1446 yards and 33 touchdowns on the season. Earl Edwards himself has rushed to the tune of nearly 600 yards and another five scores.

Running is what they do best, running keeps the Lions offense off the field, and running shortens the game. I think if I were Rod Steele, I would be leaning on my run game heading into this game, even if I fell behind.

A #2 Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans (11-0) vs #3 Jeannette Jayhawks (10-1) Friday November 20th @ 7:30 PM @ Valley high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sam Hall and Kyle Dawson

Erick Taylor threw for 316 yards and five touchdowns as the Trojans reached theor fourth straight semi-final by knocking out Bishop Canevin 49-20 in the quarters, while Jeannette beat Neshannock 25-15 behind a big night for Gio Vonne Sanders who ran for a score, threw for a score and had two interceptions on defense in the win.

Erick Taylor has been the ideal quarterback for the Trojans all season long completing 105 of 166 passes for 1809 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has had a slight issue with interceptions tossing eight on the year so far.

Khalil Weathers and Vashon Graham will get the bulk of the targets for North. The duo has combined for 50 catches and 785 yards on the season.

Mario Latronica has  918 yards rushing and a dozen touchdowns on the season for Cardinal Weurl North.

Jeannette’s only loss on the 2015 campaign came at the hands of the Mighty Clairton Bears, if they can find a way to knock-off the Trojans the Hawks will likely get another at Clairton, this time at Heinz Field. 

The Hawks junior quarterback Gio Vonne Sanders is a solid dual threat type of guy who can hurt you with his legs or his arm. Sanders has completed 78 of 134 passes for 1396 yards and 13 touchdowns and not thrown an interception, he has also rushed for 654 yards and seven scores on the year.

Swade Redman and Kareem Hall have a huge impact in the passing and running game for the Jayhawks.

The duo has combined for 29 catches and 606 yards in the passing game, 120 carries and 1309 yards in the rushing game. Redman has scored 15 touchdowns and Hall has hit paydirt 16 times on the year for Jeannette.

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