WPIAL Big Game Hunting – State Championships

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015 | 10:32 AM


The final Big Game Hunting of the year is here, and I hear those sarcastic “ahhhs” throughout western Pennsylvania! I have names and numbers and email addresses, each of you will be hearing from me personally. District-7 after going .500 in the PIAA quarters improved that number to 1.000 in the semis moving two teams into the final weekend of high school football in the state. The Quips and Vikings look for state championships number 39 and 40 for the WPIAL in football this weekend. That sounds like a great reason to go Big Game Hunting one more time in 2015.

PIAA CLASS AA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:
Aliquippa Quips (15-0) vs Southern Columbia Tigers (15-0) Saturday December 19th @ Noon @  Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey Pa., broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP-AM 1230 and WMBA-AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman, Tom Hays and Bruce Frey

The Tigers have won six PIAA championships, all in single A. Those titles came in 1994, and then five consecutive from 2002-2006. Aliquippa is looking for their third state title with wins in 1991 and 2003, while trying to avoid becoming a runner-up for the fourth time, losing in the title game in 1988,2000, and 2012.

Southern Columbia will play for their first ever PIAA AA championship after beating West Catholic in the semifinals 34-19. The Tiger defense created six turnovers in the win, five interceptions and a fumble recovery. Blake Marks got two of the picks, and also rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown in the win, and mixed in a reception for a touchdown for good measure.

The Quips got by Martinsburg Central 30-21 by scoring 16 points in the final 5 minutes of regulation. Kaezon Pugh rushed for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win, he also returned an interception 30 yards for a score.

Sheldon Jeter will do the signal-calling for Mike Zmijanac’s Quips this Saturday as he has done all season, to the tune of 78 completions for 1598 yards and 19 touchdowns in his 136 passing attempts.

If the Quips need a big-play in the passing game keep your eye on Jassir Jordan who now has 42 catches for 934 yards and has scored ten touchdowns.

Pugh will be the workhorse in the rushing attack and also a key contributor on defense for Aliquippa. The senior has rushed 254 times for 2342 yards and scored a team-high 34 touchdowns, toss in his two-point conversions and Pugh is now the leading scorer in the WPIAL with 246 points on the season. He needs to add to that number for Aliquippa to become a state champion for the third time in school history.

Southern Columbia, the District-4 champions, stays pretty balanced on offense with a couple strong rushers, including quarterback Nick Becker who rushed for a pair of scores in their semifinal win. Blake Marks is over 1,000 yards for the season and Hunter Thomas, who rushed for 113 yards last week give the Tigers a three-headed monster in the backfield.

PIAA CLASS AAAA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:
Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings (14-1) vs Parkland Trojans (14-1)  Saturday December 19th @ 6:00 PM @ Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey Pa., broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sean Meyers and Rob Longo

Parkland won their only state title in 2002, knocking off Woodland Hills 34-12. Austin Scott had a record-breaking day in that win over George Novak and Ryan Mundy. The Vikings have won the PIAA Championship 3 times in 1988, 2004, and 2007. In 1988 they won the first ever AAAA PIAA title after NOT winning the WPIAL championship, when WPIAL champion Upper Saint Clair refused the invitation to the state playoffs.

The Trojans scored 23 straight points after falling behind in the third quarter to Upper Dublin 14-7 in their semifinal win. Erik DiGirolamo scored a pair of touchdowns in the win, and rushed for a team-high 58 yards on the day. Quarterback Devante Cross was 16 of 25 for 241 yards including a 48 yard touchdown pass to Kenny Yeboah in the game.

The Vikes controlled Cumberland Valley 24-7 in their semifinal win. Central’s defense came up with five sacks and a pair of interceptions, and Ronnie Jones ran for 134 yards and a score. Troy Fisher continued his splendid sophomore season with 186 passing yards and a touchdown run as well.

The Trojans have a great dual-threat quarterback in Boston College commit Devante Cross who has 7,716 combined yards in his prep career. Here in 2015 he has completed 175 of 282 passes for 2535 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has also rushed for a team-high 1360 yards and 19 touchdowns. He will play corner at BC.

Temple recruit Kenny Yeboah is the main target for Cross when he throws the ball, Yeboah has 65 catches for 1001 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season.

Also in the ground game, in addition to Cross, look for contributions from Erik DiGirolamo who has rushed for 988 yards and 17 scores on the year in his 165 carries.

In the trenches the Trojans will rely on 6’6’’ 255 pound Syracuse recruit Noel Brouse on both sides of the ball.

For the Vikes Fisher has thrown now for 1431 yards and 14 touchdowns without an interception, and chipped in with 545 yards and 14 scores on the ground as well.

Gunnar Frerotte and Jacob McKee lead Central in receiving, Frerotte has caught 32 balls for 466 yards and four scores. McKee has 20 catches for 351 yards and five touchdowns. Bricen Garner has been making big plays in the passing game as well with 17 catches for 294 yards and Garner has scored three touchdowns on the year.

Central would like to run the ball a lot. Ronnie Jones is their leading rusher with 202 carries and 1642 yards on the season, Jones has reached pay dirt 19 times so far in 2015. Vinny Emanuele and J.J. Younger have combined for 1392 rushing yards and Emanuele has 13 scores to go along with five from Younger.

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