WPIAL Big Game Hunting: The Football Four-Pack – 10/12/2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | 8:27 PM

Week Seven of the 2011 WPIAL football campaign begins what we refer to as the Stretch Run of the regular season. Here are four of the spotlight matchups for this upcoming weekend featuring five undefeated teams.

WPIAL Class AAAA Northern Seven Conference
#6 Shaler Titans (5-1)(3-0) @ #8 Seneca Valley Raiders (4-2)(1-2)
Friday October 14th 7:30 pm @ Seneca Valley High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1410 KQV AM by Sam Hall and Steve Nagler

The Northern Seven shapes up into a serious dog fight for the stretch run and this game is an outright monster featuring two teams poised to make a serious playoff run…if they can get into the playoffs.

Shaler has had a remarkable run since getting rolled in week one by USC. The Titans have rattled off five straight and come in at number six with a bullet.

Titans quarterback Ryan Mincher is having a spectacular season and it really makes you wonder how that USC game might have been different had he played more than a series. Mincher has completed 54 of 79 passes for 798 yards and ten touchdowns on the season and only tossed a single interception.

Mincher has some solid receivers to throw to including tight end and Penn State recruit J.P. Holtz. Holtz lines up everywhere for the Titans and opposing defenses have to make time to prepare for that, you will see him wide, tight, in the back field, heck he even punts the ball for Shaler. But don’t focus on him too much or Alex Conway and Sean Gavin will make you pay, they are both very fast and athletic and averaging over eleven yards per catch on the year.

Niko Thorpe is the leading rusher for the Titans but Wade Barkey is starting to make a name for himself as well, averaging almost 12 yards per carry on the year.

The Titan defense led by Holtz has settled in since week one but did have trouble with Erie McDowell this past Saturday, allowing them to have three different players rush for over 100 yards. They will need to button it up against a very diverse and talented Raider offense or they could get burned.

Seneca Valley has thrown for 1411 yards and rushed for 1172 on the season and that, is good balance. Jordan Brown has a lot of that on his own. Brown has completed 90 of 146 passes for 1381 yards and 13 touchdowns while only throwing three picks. He has also rushed it 66 times for 455 yards and four touchdowns.

Browns favorite targets are Forrest Barnes and Troy Witt, Barnes has caught 25 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns. Witt, ahs 22 catches for 304 yards and three touchdowns. Barnes has also gotten it done on the ground to the tune of 97 carries for 617 yards and seven scores.

The Raider defense has been a bit suspect this season especially lately, twice in the last four weeks they have allowed 40 or more points, and for four consecutive weeks they have allowed their opponent to score 20 or more points. If you like offense this might be the game for you this weekend.


WPIAL Class AAA Parkway Conference
#8 Hopewell Vikings (4-2)(2-2) @ #1 Central Valley Warriors (6-0)(4-0)
Friday October 14th 6:00 pm @ Central Valley High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 92.1 WKPL FM by Rob Matzie and Johnny Lee

Another pair of top ten teams and an early start in the Parkway Conference is featured in AAA. This game will be nationally televised, and also available world wide at MSA Sports.

It features the all-time leading rusher in the WPIAL and the top ranked team in AAA.

The defending champs, Central Valley have been nothing short of perfect as they make there way through the deepest conference in the WPIAL and maybe the state of Pennsylvania. Mark Lyons club in just their second year of existence seems to have established a tremendous tradition already.

Quarterback Curtis Lewis can burn you with his arm or his legs and he is having a monster year. Lewis has completed 33 of 54 passes for 497 yards and eight touchdowns, while rushing 49 times for 359 yards and another six scores.

The star though for the Warriors, is Robert Foster, a junior wide receiver. The 6’2’’ 185 pound Foster is following up his breakout sophomore year with a superstar-like junior season so far. He seems unstoppable in the open field, and is a beast on special teams. Foster will take handoffs as well having rushed it 18 times and totaled 208 yards on the ground for a very impressive 11.56 yards per carry. He also has 14 catches for 214 yards, that is an average of 15.29 yards per catch. That means on average, every time Robert Foster touches the ball the Warriors get a first down.

And while you worry about Lewis and Foster you better keep senior running back Aaron Law in the back of your mind as well he is averaging over six yards per carry on the season and has scored six touchdowns for the Warriors.

Hopewell is coming off a surprising loss to New Castle last week when they played without Rushel Shell out with a concussion, Shell says he will return for this contest and be ready to add to his WPIAL record rushing total. The Vikes have lost two in a row since starting out 4-0. Losing two in a row might not be so bad in a lot of conferences but when you lose two in a row in the Parkway….your playoff life-line becomes very short in a hurry. A third straight conference loss for Hopewell might be devastating, they really need this game.

Shell has rushed it 150 times on the year for 1059 yards, for his career he has rushed for 7825 yards. He now is 1202 yards shy of the state record of 9027 yards, held by Steelton-Highspire’s Jeremiah Young. The Vikes need Shell back at “full-ready” for this one or his chances at that state record will shrink in accordance with Hopewell’s shot at reaching the playoffs. Look at it this way, if Hopewell reaches the playoffs and wins twice there, Shell has six games left in his high school career, he would need to average just over 200 yards per game to get the record. If they miss the playoffs, a pretty realistic thought if they lose this game, he would need to average over 400 yards per game in his final three to reach Young’s mark, big difference.

Adam Murray was solid in his fill in roll for Shell last week, see if that performance gets him more touches on the offensive side of the ball for Hopewell. The passing game for the Vikes is not what they had hoped for. Through five weeks Nolan Harmotto had completed less than 50% of his passes for just over 300 yards and thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns at three. Harmotto is better than those number suggest, and he and his receivers need to get on the same page for the Vikes to be where they want to be.


WPIAL Class AA Midwestern Conference
#6 Beaver Bobcats (6-0)(5-0) @ #1 Aliquippa Quips (6-0)(6-0)
Friday October 14th 7:00 pm @ “The Pit” Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1460 WMBA AM by Jim Frederick and Bruce Frey

This is just a fabulous Midwestern game it is pretty realistic to say this is in fact the Midwestern conference championship game. The Bobcats and the Quips is starting to become almost as much of a “look to” game as the Tigers and the Quips.

Jeff Beltz’s Beaver team has been resplendent this season especially defensively. On the year they have allowed only 13 total points for an average that is second best in the WPIAL of only 2.2 points per game allowed. They have accrued four shutouts in six games, including holding Mohawk to just 57 total yards last week. But make no mistake the hardest part of their schedule is in front of them with the Quips this week and Beaver Falls in week nine, and both of those games on the road.

Quarterback Christian Herstine’s future might be in baseball but the senior’s present is delighting football fans at Pat Tarquinio field. Herstine is enjoying a very productive season completing around 50% of his passes and throwing for eight touchdowns.

Curt Lanctot had a great game rushing for the Bobcats their last time out in a shutout win over Mohawk scoring three times on runs of 37, ten and two yards. Darian Bradley is a big time player in that Bobcat backfield as well.

The Quips offense will be a serious test for that vaunted Bobcat defense. Quarterback Mikal Hall, a senior, has been fantastic for the top-ranked team in AA. On the season Hall has completed 33 of 66 passes for 885 yards and eleven touchdowns while only throwing a single interception. He has three different receivers averaging over 30 yards per catch, a phenomenal stat for Kaylan Kenney, Davion Hall and Haashan Thompson.

On the ground Dravon Henry leads Aliquippa with 602 yards on 67 carries, he has also scored ten touchdowns this year. But the Quips have lots more with five different backs who have eclipsed the century mark on the season.

Mike Zmianic’s club has been on top of the AA rankings since the preseason, and they have been playing a little defense as well allowing just 10.7 points per game including a blanking of Beaver Falls in week two. Don’t be fooled though this game comes down to the Bobcat’s stingy defense against the Quips prolific offense which is scoring a conference best 41.5 points per game.


WPIAL Class A Black Hills Conference
#6 Brentwood Spartans (6-0)(4-0) @ #1 Clairton Bears (6-0)(4-0)
Friday October 14th 7:30 pm @ Neil Brown Stadium Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Matt Vandriak and Mike Krcil

Can the Spartans pull of the upset? That is the question everyone around the Black Hills is asking this week. After starting 4-0 to begin the season the Spartans were confident and looking good. But here at BGH we said “Wait a minute, the four teams they beat had a combined 0-16 record through those four weeks.” The Spartans responded with big wins over much better competition in weeks five and six beating Fort Cherry and Chartiers-Houston, both in overtime. No doubts now, they are for real, how real? We will find out Friday night.

Clairton has won 37 games in a row, that is the longest streak in Clairton history, the second longest streak in WPIAL history and the fourth longest current winning streak in the United States. Those numbers speak pretty clearly for themselves, but I will try to add what I can. How about this one …and this blows my mind I cannot confirm it but from the Bears’ facebook page. Senior lineman Carvan Thompson (5’10 215 pound two-way player) has been a starter since his freshman year, if the Bears reach the state championship game and he starts from now until then, he will have started in 64 straight varsity football games a Pennsylvania state record. That blows my mind. The Bears team numbers are eye-popping scoring a WPIAL best 51.3 points per game and allowing a WPIAL lowest 2.0 points per game.

Their individual numbers suffer because they never get to play a complete game. Quarterback Capri Thompson has thrown for well over 700 yards and seven touchdowns. Running back Tyler Boyd, who Tom Nola has called, “Maybe the best football player I have ever coached” is having a monster year after switching from wide receiver to running back. Wide receiver Trenton Coles is the fastest player in the WPIAL, and a threat to score any time he touches the football.

Brentwood will definitely have their hands full. The Spartans find themselves a record holder already, they are the first team ever to be in BGH three straight regular season weeks.

Justin Vickless at running back has been the go-to guy for the Spartan offense and he will be expected to carry a big load from the backfield for this one he is around 500 0yards rushing for the year and has gone over a hundred in a three games on the season. Quarterback Chris Shortley has been solid throwing and running for Kevin Kissel’s team including going for 172 yards and the game winning touchdown in last weeks overtime win over Chartiers-Houston.

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