WPIAL Big Game Hunting: The Football Four-Pack – 10/26/2011

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | 9:01 PM


This is it, week nine and we will wrap up a fabulous 2011 WPIAL football regular season this weekend and pack our bags to get on the Highway to Heinz next Friday night. BGH salutes all the players, fans, and coaches from the 2011 season whether they will be on the “Highway” next week or not. Thanks for the memories and remember to cherish the ones you have made for yourself. Life goes by just as fast as football season, don’t let it go so fast that you miss the good stuff, for example…Big Game Hunting. Here is the football four-pack for week nine.

Great Southern Conference
#8 Mount Lebanon (6-2)(4-0) @ #3 Upper Saint Clair (7-1)(4-0)
Friday October 28th 7:30 pm @ Upper Saint Clair High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and KDKA FM 93.7 by Lanny Frattare and Todd Orkwis

This is a storied rivalry and every year it seems to feature some really good football teams. The battle for the Great Southern Championship is no different this season, as both the Panthers and Blue Devils enter this game rolling and in the top ten.

Going back to 2004 the Upper Saint Clair Panthers have really controlled this rivalry pretty well, Mount Lebanon though did come from behind last year to defeat the Panthers 14-10 and pick up their first victory in the rivalry since 2001.

The Panthers have a great quarterback in Dakota Conwell, he is capable of taking you apart with the pass, or gouging your defense with the run. On the season Conwell has been a tremendous force for the Panthers with a hand in 21 touchdowns, he has thrown for seven and rushed for 14 scores on the year. His combined yardage is around 1400 for the season. Conwell’s favorite receiver is Mike Wilcox who has good speed and athleticism, plus great hands. He enters week nine with six receiving touchdowns and an average yards per catch number of over 21 on the year.

The Panthers have a great offensive line, led by Jake Radziukinas, Ian Park and tight end Jack Schwaba, all three are division – one recruits. That offensive line makes some big holes for the running game for Jim Render and his team takes advantage. Zach Deitrick (6.7), Matt Paxton (7.7) and Phil Saracco (6.0) are all averaging six yards per carry or better.

The Panthers play some serious defense as well, they enter week nine with five shut outs on the season, allowing a league low 8.6 points per game.

Mount Lebanon is not going to try and trick you …Luke Hagy will run the football, the question is…can you stop him? Not many have in four years. Hagy has rushed 4,405 for his career a huge achievement for a AAAA running back, he just surpassed Eugene Jarvis and Lavar Arrington on the all-time list, how about those for some impressive company? This season Hagy has carried the football 201 times for 1517 yards and 19 touchdowns. To give you an idea of how much he is utilized, second on the team in rushing attempts is Jack Faett, he has carried it 20 times for the year. Hagy’s rushing yards alone account for more than 59% of Mount Lebanon’s total offensive yards for the season.

Senior quarterback Pat Goff is having a good year through the air completing 46 of 92 passes for 617 yards and five touchdowns. His two favorite targets are Dylan White and Dan Graziano.

On defense the Blue Devils have the Goldberg twins, Arthur and Max, the two have combined for 79 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, six sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries.  

AAA Big Eight Conference
#5 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (6-2)(6-0) @ #4 West Mifflin Titans (7-1)(5-1)
Friday October 28th 7:45 pm @ Titan Stadium Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and News Talk KQV AM 1410 by Sam Hall and Steve Nagler

Bill Cherpak’s Jags just keep on keepin’ on. There was a lot of talk about this being a “down year” for the Jags after early season losses to quality AAAA opponents Baldwin and Woodland Hills, but when section play began, the Jags were, the Jags, and they enter this game with their conference win streak intact, and a lot of people starting to quickly place them back in to the “chance to win the championship” category. They never left that category here at BGH.

The Jags have great balance on offense with a solid passing attack led by senior quarterback Dom Presto who has completed 56 of 118 passes on the season for 1037 yards and 13 touchdowns. Presto has taken great care with the football as well only throwing a single interception on the year, well over a hundred attempts with a single pick is solid work from the lefty.

Presto’s season is even more impressive when you factor in the loss of Nick Raimondi to injury early in the season, he figured to be a huge factor in the passing attack for Thomas Jefferson. Junior wide receiver Zach Schademan has been the got to guy for Presto. Schademan has 26 catches for 454 yards and five touchdowns on the year.

On the ground the Jaguars have a great one in Ryan Ruffing who has carried the football 125 times for 976 yards and nine touchdowns on the year.

Defensively the Jags are led by Tyler Toboz, Austin Boyd and, Bruno Natter. Those three have combined for 86 tackles on the year. The Jags also are doing a good job of winning the turnover battle. For the year Thomas Jefferson has turned the football over just four times while having forced 17 turnovers by the opposition, that plus of 13 is one reason the Jags are back, and they never even went away. Schademan leads that secondary with five interceptions on the season.

The West Mifflin Titans have a great running attack behind senior Shamar Greene. Green has been spectacular for the last couple of years, but has taken it to a new level here in 2011. For the season Greene has 129 attempts for 927 yards, an eye-popping average of 7.20 yards per attempt. He has scored a dozen touchdowns on the year, and added a pair of two-point conversions.

The specter of Greene has given a great opportunity to quarterback Derrick Fulmore and, Fulmore has taken full advantage completing 25 of 58 passes for over 500 yards and three touchdowns. Fulmore has also been a threat to rush the football for Ray Braszo’s team with over 300 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the year.

What the Titans need to overcome if they hope to grab a share of the Big Eight Conference title, is the domination factor for the Jags. TJ has owned this series winning eight of the last nine meetings and out scoring the Titans in that time frame 290 – 75.

AA Interstate Conference
#3 Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions (8-0)(7-0) @ #4 Jeannette Jayhawks (8-0)(7-0)
Friday October 28th 7:30pm at Jeannette High School broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Matt Vandriak and Melissa Carle

This has been one of the best rivalries in the WPIAL for more than 20 years now, Jeannette leads the all-time series 12-7-1 but the Centurions have been in control of late as they have won three straight since the departure from Jeannette of Terrell Pryor.

Winner of this one has a perfect regular season and one of the top seeds on the “Highway to Heinz”, the loser is the second place team from the section and they still get a home game in round one.

Roy Hall has done a great job maintaining the Jayhawks tradition in the wake of Ray Reitz’s departure from the program, and this year is no exception. The Hawks have a great two – way player in Demetrius Cox a senior quarterback and defensive back. Offensively he does it all for Jeannette. He has thrown for seven touchdowns and rushed for 11 more. Through the air Cox has completed 30 of 52 passes for 387 yards. On the ground he has carried it 59 times for 751 yards, that is a combined 1138 total yards and 18 touchdowns. He is even better on defense where he is rated as one of the top safeties in the country.

Cox has help in that Hawk backfield Shavonta Craft is not big (5’5’’ 166 pounds) but the junior is fast, has great moves and is very strong. He is averaging nine yards per carry on the year and has 5612 yards rushing and scored 13 touchdowns to lead Jeannette in the scoring column. Jordan Edmunds a junior fullback has amassed 646 yards on the ground as well including a dozen touchdowns.

The Jeannette defense is only allowing 11.4 points per game but still searching for their first shutout of the season, they would love to get it Friday against their biggest rival but that would be a tall task indeed.

Greensburg Central senior quarterback Bobbie Noble has completed well over 50% of his passes on the year, for over 800 yards and ten touchdowns, Noble at 6’3’’ and 200 is really a prototypical type of quarterback for a very balanced Centurion offensive attack.

A pair of junior running backs in Jordan McCrae and Zach Guiser, also make a huge contribution for the Centurions with both averaging exactly 12.1 yards per attempt on the ground. Guiser, a Kennywood, MSA pre-season all-star is also a monster in the defensive backfield for Muzzy Colosimo’s team. The two have combined to score 23 touchdowns on the year for GCC.

The Centurions leading receiver is Justin Kempka, another Kennywood MSA all-star. Kempka has gone over 25 catches for the year averaging more than 20 yards per catch and has eight touchdowns, plus a pair of two-point conversions.

Greensburg Central Catholic’s defense has been great all year, but especially so in the last three weeks where they have allowed a combined 12 points. For the season they are letting up just over ten points per game and have a couple shut outs.

A Eastern Conference
#5 Avonworth Antelopes (7-1)(6-1) @ Northgate Flames (5-3)(4-3)
Friday October 28th 7:30 pm @ Northgate broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Josh Rowntree and Brandon Showers

The top two spots in the Eastern conference are decided, but the bottom portion still needs filled in. Here, I will let the boss explain this situation.

  • Bishop Canevin (7-0) has clinched a playoff spot and a share of the conference title and the 1st-seed and can clinch the conference title outright with a win at home against North Catholic on 10/28 
  • Avonworth (6-1) has clinched a playoff spot and is 2nd 
  • Springdale (5-2) has clinched a playoff spot and is 3rd
  • Northgate (4-3) and North Catholic (4-3) are tied for the final playoff spot. Northgate is home to Avonworth on 10/28 while North Catholic is at Bishop Canevin. North Catholic wins the head-to-head tiebreaker if both teams win. However if they lose, they drop into a tie with Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (4-4) and tiebreaker points will then determine 4th. Current tiebreaker points are: North Catholic +13, Northgate +14, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart -4 

Thanks to Don Rebel for that….what it means for us is ….Northgate and T.J. Wiley are in desperation mode at home Friday night to keep their fabulous season going. Hey since we are having guest writers jump in here at BGH in Single A let’s hear from T.J. Wiley himself on the importance of this game for the Flames.

“This game is big for us on a number of different levels.  Its our arch rival, we are playing for bragging rights within our two communities, we are playing for a spot in the post season which hasn’t happened here since 2003, our seniors are playing for their high school careers and its senior night.  Avonworth is a great team and program and I have a ton of respect for what Coach Johncour has done with them this season.  Our kids and community have had this one circled on their calendars all year.  For us the playoffs begin this week.  Rivalries like Northgate and Avonworth are what make High School football in Western PA so special.”

We  could not have broken it down any better ourselves here at BGH.

The Flames lost a heartbreaker at J.C. Stone Field last week falling to North Catholic 27-26. Northgate  quarterback Jon Girvin threw for 325 yards and four score in the loss. The Flames don’t have time to dwell on what might have been as they battle for their playoff lives here this Friday. The good news is North Catholic has a tall task on the road at conference champion Canevin. Bad news is the Lopes are so very very good.

Duke Johncour’s team will grind you into dust running the football with one of the best in the WPIAL in Ricky Lawniczak. Lawniczak has 864 yards rushing on the season and has scored ten touchdowns for the Lopes. Brian Vales is very solid at quarterback as well for Avonworth passing for nearly 700 yards on the year, including a bunch to his favorite target Mike Giampole. Keep an eye on Anthony Tomasino on both sides of the football for Avonworth the kid is just a gamer and will do anything to help his team win. He is a football coach’s dream player.

The Flames have been a surprise to a lot of folks and despite losing to North Catholic last week have won 3 of their last 4 coming into the final week of the season. They are fun to watch and have one of the top wide receiver tandems in single A with Rob Jones and Jake Abernathy on the outside for quarterback Jon Girvin. Jones has 31 catches for 551 yards and six touchdowns while Abernathy has 42 catches for 557 yards and ten touchdowns.

Girvin is amongst the WPIAL leaders in passing for the year having completed 96 of 186 passes for 1525 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season.

Defensively the Flames have posted a couple shutouts this season and are led by junior linebacker Mackenzie Quinn, who not only has one of the coolest names in the WPIAL but also is averaging a dozen tackles per game on the year and has amassed 36 tackles in the last two weeks for the Flames.

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