WPIAL Big Game Hunting – Week Five – 09/24/2014

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014 | 6:16 PM


Welcome to week five of Big Game Hunting. Before we get started a word from our sponsor (yours truly). I am already on the record with regard to this issue but it seems I am the lone voice crying out in the wilderness. I hate the seven o’clock starts! There seems to be an overwhelming movement towards them and it is very frustrating. Why is the hurry that already consumes our everyday lives being allowed to worm its way into my favorite thing? I find it despicable, truly. There I have gotten that off my chest and since I know holding my breath and stomping my feet will not help I will just go Big Game Hunting. Super-irritated by the fact that three of the four-pack are of the shameful seven o’clock start variety.

AAAA Northern Eight Conference:
#5 North Hills Indians (3-0)(4-0) vs #4 Pine-Richland Rams (3-0)(4-0) Friday September 26th at 7:30 pm @ Pine-Richland Stadium on the campus of Pine-Richland high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and KQV 1410 AM by Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis

They don’t get much bigger than this, a pair of perfect teams heading into week five. Both of these teams had high expectations heading into the 2014 season because of all the talent they had coming back and both have responded to those expectations in a bug way.

Pine-Richland’s offensive production has been prolific and balanced. The Rams group of seniors on the offensive side of the ball has been spearheaded by quarterback Ben DiNucci. DiNucci leads the entire WPIAL in passing by a wide margin. He has completed 65 of 86 passes for 1040 yards and has thrown 16 touchdown passes without throwing an interception. I was not a math major in college but that ratio seems pretty good to me.

DiNucci spreads the ball well, three Rams have double digit catches while six rams have five or more catches. Senior Mike Mearhut is DiNucci’s top target with 23 catches for 391 yards and he has scored a team high six touchdowns. D’Ondre Gastion is a deep threat with ten catches for 223 yards and he has scored five times on the season.

On the ground the rams are led by another solid returning senior and star in Connor Slomka, big strong, fast and smart, a tremendous combination for Slomka with 42 carries for 223 yards and he has also scored six touchdowns on the year.

The Ram defense has been stellar with a pair of shutouts already and they are allowing less than eight points per game for the season. The Rams leading tackler is Mearhut. Keep an eye on junior defensive end Matt Hampson who has recorded a pair of sacks on the year.

The Indians of North Hills have not put up the gaudy offensive numbers but they keep finding a way to win week after week.

Senior quarterback Jake Bruder has returned from missing the second half of last season with an injury and he has gotten quickly right back to form. Bruder is a dual threat, the 5’8’’ senior is shifty and powerful he has rushed 29 times for 122 yards and he has completed 25 of 48 passes for 364 yards and five touchdowns.

Kindhal Taylor is the only Indian with double digits in receiving, the senior has ten catches for 142 yards on the year. Another senior Andrew Bly has six catches and 108 yards receiving.

Bly is also one of three North Hills Indians who have rushed for more than a hundred yards on the year. The Indians are led by a workhorse sophomore as Nick Santucci has carried it an impressive 75 times on the season for 397 yards and four touchdowns.

The North Hills run game will be the key in this one keep the football, keep moving the sticks and limit the chances for that high-powered explosive Pine-Richland offense to put points on the board.

AAA Parkway Conference:
#1 West Allegheny Indians (4-0)(4-0) vs #8 Montour Spartans (3-1)(3-1) Friday September 26th at 7:00 pm @ Birko Stadium on the campus of Montour high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sam Hall and Steve Nagler

The Parkway conference has been the best the WPIAL has to offer for the last handful of years. You could never go wrong heading to a Parkway game on a Friday night in fact at one point it was named the best football conference in the nation.

This might not be your older brother’s Parkway conference but it is still a fantastic football conference including three very serious contenders for the AAA Championship. Two of those teams go at it Friday night in Montour.

Defending champion West Allegheny has shown no signs of slowing as they have been a juggernaut in 2014.

Senior quarterback Andrew Koester has completed 23 of 37 passes for 446 yards and seven touchdowns and he has not thrown an interception much to the delight of Bob Palko.

Koester does not play favorites there are nine Indians with catcheson the year and no one has more than six. Seniors Dan Guilfoil and Sean Orsini have combine d for seven touchdown catches.

On the ground Chayse Dillon continues to dominate he has 37 carries for 341 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.

Defense continues to be in the forefront for West A as well. The Indians are allowing a Parkway low of seven points per game. The defense is led by a pair of fierce senior linebackers in Sean Orsini and Armand Delovade who have combined for 91 tackles and seven sacks on the year.

Montour meanwhile has rebounded from a week one loss to Central Valley with growth and more importantly for Lou Cerro three straight convincing wins.

The Spartans are a team of the future as well, the bulk of their stars are juniors including quarterback Randall Labrie who has completed 47 of 73 passes for 511 yards and six touchdowns. Labrie has taken care of the football as well only throwing a single interception.

Three Spartans have reached double digits in catches, juniors Tyler Carswel and Zach Herskovitz along with senior Stephen Fedyshyn have combined for 33 catches, 376 yards and five touchdowns in the Spartan passing game.

On the ground junior David Haseleu has been spectacular with 69 carries for 505 yards and six touchdowns.

The Spartan defense gets even younger than the offense when you talk about leaders and stars. Carswell has a pair of interceptions to lead in that category. Watch out for stud sophomore linebackers Zach McGowan and Austin Deutsch who have combined for 49 tackles on the year. Their youth bodes for a bright future for the Montour defense. Coach Cerro’s club welcomes what might be the best team in the state to Birko Stadium Friday. The young guys will have to respond to the bright lights.

AA Midwestern Conference:
#7 New Brighton Lions (4-0)(4-0) vs #2 Aliquippa Quips (4-0)(4-0) Friday September 26th at 7:00 pm @ Carl A. Aschman Memorial Stadium or just “The Pit” if you prefer, on the campus of Aliquippa high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WMBA-AM 1460 by Tom Hays and Bruce Frey 

This game took on a particularly different feel when the Lions rolled a very good Beaver Bobcats team last Friday 59-34. Suddenly New Brighton, a team that reached the playoffs last year for the first time in a decade are showing signs of being a very serious contender. If you want to be a very serious contender though, the biggest test you might have to face might be traveling to the Pit to face the very face of WPIAL AA football in the Aliquippa Quips.

New Brighton has one of those dual threats in senior quarterback Payton Fath. Fath has been stellar completing 32 of 52 passes for 546 yards and four scores all the while rushing the ball 39 times for another 310 yards and five more touchdowns. 

Fath’s receivers are a dynamic duo of seniors in Blaine Williams and Jesse Sabol the pair has combined for 25 catches for 544 yards and they have all of Fath’s touchdown throws. Another senior Rhett Beightly is also averaging twenty yards per catch on the season.

On the ground aside from Fath senior Scott Florence has been the man for the Lions with teams highs in carries (63) yards rushing (556) and touchdowns (10).

The Lions seem like they could be for real, how real? We are getting set to find out.

Aliquippa just keeps being Aliquippa. The Quips have not scored less than 44 points in a game this season.

Senior quarterback Darrien Fields completed a pair of touchdown passes one of 70 to Patrick Andersona and another from 26 yards to Jassir Jordan last week as the Quips rolled Summit Academy 49-14. The touchdowns give Fields eight touchdown tosses for the year, he is also over 500 yards passing.

Aliquippa ground attack is a three headed monster in juniors DiMantae Bronaugh, Kaezon Pugh and James Kimbrough. The trio has scored 20 touchdowns and are around 1000 yards rushing for the season already.

The Quips are allowing a Midwestern low 12 points per game defensively and of course they are tough at home, come to think of it they are tough on the road as well.

A Black Hills Conference:
Chartiers-Houston Buccaneers (1-2)(2-2) vs Bishop Canevin Crusaders (1-1)(2-2) Saturday September 27th at 7:00 pm @ Dormont Stadium in Dormont, Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA AM 1450 by “The Boss” Don Rebel and “The Chief” Mike Azadian

Only one battle of top ten teams in single A this weekend a 1 vs 10 matchup that forced us off the board and into what I think will shape up into a tremendous battle for a playoff spot in the Black Hills conference.

The Black Hills is loaded with good football teams. Four playoff spots available and, the way I have it figured consider Cardinal Wuerl North catholic and Avonworth as shoe-ins for the playoffs. That leaves two spots for four or maybe even five teams if Northgate can find a way to rebound from heartbreaking late losses to Canevin and the Bucs in the last couple of weeks. That means this game between two of those teams is huge, not to mention it reunites the original “A-Team” on the broadcast.

The Bucs stumbled a little out of the gate falling to North Catholic and Avonworth, but the good news for the Bucs? They are past both of those powerhouse teams on their schedule, it is time to make hay.

Alec Ferrari is back at quarterback and has been solid completing 27 of 45 passes for 328 yards and six touchdowns on the season.

The Bucs lost all-everything wide out Miles Williamson but A.J Myers and Austin Warchol have stepped up nicely in his place. Myers has over 100 yards receiving including four touchdown grabs on the season.

Fullback Dylan Briggs got one rush last Friday against Northgate, it resulted in a two-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to play to give the Bucs their first Black Hills win of the season defeating Northgate 19-13.

The Bucs have a sensational sophomore running back in Spencer Terling who has amassed 59 carries on the year and 212 yards. The matchup of Terling and the Bucs’ offensive line against the Crusaders’ defense will be the story of this football game Saturday night. The Bucs defense has struggled allowing over 28 points per game so far on the season, but with North Catholic and Avonworth now in their rear view mirror look for that number to drop quickly for Terry Fetsko.

Bishop Canevin allowed Fort Cherry’s Nick Cook to rush for 331 yards and four touchdowns last week in a tough 35-31 loss. That is why the match-up against Terling poses such an important part of this game. Terling is vey capable of that kind of performance. Bishop Canevin will have to tighten up on that run defense to stay in the playoff chase.

The Crusaders piled up 408 yards of total offense in that loss to Fort Cherry, the have some playmakers of their own, starting with senior quarterback Reed Relosky. Relosky is a 2nd year starter who threw for over a thousand yards as a junior and is showing signs he might do the same this year. Relosky has completed 28 of 58 passes for 385 yards and five touchdowns.

Giovanni DeMarzo, Amaan Bridgett and Dom Palmosina are the receiving threats for 3rd year head coach Darren Schoppe.

DeMarzo along with junior Hasan Woodson are the go-to running backs for the Crusaders with Woodson averaging near seven yards per run.

Matt Zenk, Jake Reddy and Nate Jancosko are the heart of the Bishop Canevin defense. Zenk has 2.5 sacks and the trio has combined for nearly 50 tackles.

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