WPIAL Big Game Hunting – Week Five – 09/30/2015

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015 | 3:45 PM


It’s the “halftime is halfway” games this weekend throughout the WPIAL. The WPIAL enters week five with 22 unbeaten teams still intact and striving for perfection. Five are perfect in AAAA, four in AAA, nine in AA and four in A. When we reach halftime at this weekend’s game we will be halfway through the regular season. The weather man says there could be some rain and temperatures this Friday night will drop into the low 50’s or maybe even high 40’s during week five. Will that weather cause footballs and perfect seasons to slip through fingertips? Who will rise and who will fall as we move into October? This could get spooky. Don’t worry, take my hand, I’ve got a flashlight ; I’ve got an umbrella, we’re all set to go Big Game Hunting.  

AAAA Northern Eight Conference
#3 Pine-Richland Rams (4-0)(3-0) vs North Hills Indians (2-1)(2-2) Friday October 2nd @ 7:30 PM @ Martorelli Stadium in the North Hills of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Rick Smith and Scott Majesky, also with video by Jess Levo

The Rams average margin of victory has been more than 36 points through the first month of the WPIAL football season. Despite losses to graduation Pine-Richland has looked like a championship contender from the outset of the 2015 campaign. North Hills has struggled to find an identity in 2015 and a week four loss to Seneca Valley knocked the Indians out of the Top Ten. A home date with the #3 team in AAAA is a great opportunity to announce to the WPIAL that you plan on sticking around in the Northern Eight conversation.

Pine-Richland sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec has been than solid completing 50 of 76 passes for 638 yards and five touchdowns and only throwing one interception.

There are five Rams receivers with at least four catches on the year but only one in double digits, senior Anthony Battaglia has 14 catches for 212 yards and a pair of scores. Battaglia is also tremendous on the defensive side of the ball.

On the ground the Rams are led by Jurkovec who has rushed for a team-high 430 yards, senior running back Jimmy Graf has carried it 40 times for 396 yards and seven touchdowns. When the Rams get near pay dirt keep an eye on senior Don Bryant III, he has 35 carries for 213 yards and eight touchdowns.

Graf along with senior Tom Jurkovec lead the defense for Pine-Richland with a combined 40 total tackles including three tackles for loss.

The Indians defense has been solid allowing just over 15 points per game but the offensive production has been a bit of a letdown putting up just 19.8 points per game. You are not going to keep the Rams under 20 points, so you have to find a way to score.

Senior quarterback Jake Elsayed has completed 33 of 58 passes for over 400 yards and five touchdowns.

Junior running back Nick Santucci is the guy the Indians are trying to get the ball to the most on offense. Santucci leads the team in catches, with 17 for 231 yards and rushes with 55 carries for 285 yards and has scored a team-high six touchdowns.

The Indians’ faithful will welcome back former North Hills star Eric Kasperowicz now the head coach of the Rams.

AAA Big Ten Conference
#3 Belle Vernon Leopards (4-0)(4-0) vs West Mifflin Titans (3-1)(3-1) Friday October 2nd @ 7:30 PM @ Titan Stadium on the campus of West Mifflin high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Paul Paterra and Lou Rood

For the second straight week the Titans get a crack at a top five team on the Network. West Mifflin fell on the road last week to number two Ringgold 14-7, a game they were very much involved in and, were it not for some costly penalties and a huge turnover, had every chance to win. Meanwhile the Leps’ just continue to gain momentum rolling through Yough 66-7 last week.

West Mifflin likes to run, run, run the ball. Senior quarterback Karlyn Garner is a dual threat quarterback who reads his options very well in the spread offense the Titans run. Garner has rushed for 263 yards on 37 carries and has completed nearly 60% of his passes going 14 for 24 with 166 yards and a touchdown throwing.

First year starter Russell Tyree is special running for the Titans, the junior has 583 yards on 73 carries and has scored nine times for the Titans.

The fullback is a solid player as well for Ray Braszo, junior Maryce Johnson has  212 yards and a pair of scores on 28 carries, almost all of which are right up the gut.

Belle Vernon has a dual threat quarterback of their own in junior Mike Fine, who has rushed for 324 yards and six touchdowns while completing 11 of 23 passes for 197 yards and another score.

The Leopards have rushed for 859 yards as a team for the year, so again expect this to be a battle of running games. Senior Luke Durigon has 219 yards on the ground and five scores.

Sophomore free safety Logan Pfrogner has a pair of interceptions on the year for Bell Vernon.

AA Interstate Conference
#4 Washington Little Prexies (4-0)(4-0) vs #7 Mount Pleasant Vikings (4-0)(4-0) Friday October 2nd @ 7:00 PM @ Mount Pleasant high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WLSW FM 103.9 by T.J. DiStefano and Aaron Wills also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA AM 1450 by Bob Gregg and George Lammay

A battle of top-ten unbeaten, the two best scoring offenses, and the two best scoring defenses in the Interstate will be for all intents and purposes the battle for the Interstate conference championship although the McGuffey Highlanders might take exception to that idea.

The Prexies under Mike Bosnic have been unchallenged in the regular season to date. They have mercy ruled every opponent and have outscored their first four opponents by a margin of 194 – 13.

Senior quarterback Markel Pulliam has not thrown a lot, there has been no need. He has done very well when the Prexies do take to the air, completing 11 of 16 passes for 265 yards and five touchdowns all without throwing an interception.

Lyle Webb leads the Prexies with 10 catches on the year.

But he is also part of the place the Prexies want to focus and that place is running the football. Wash High has rushed for over 1,000 yards already this season. They are led by senior Kurt Adkins who has 437 yards and eight touchdowns in his 28 carries. Jordan West, another senior running back has rushed for 233 yards and three scores, while Webb just s junior has chipped in with over a hundred rushing yards on the year.

Washington has allowed just 3.3 points per game so far and none during any crucial moment of a football game they have pitched two shutouts already defensively.

The Prexies get ready to face what will likely be there toughest test during the regular season in the Mt. Pleasant Vikings.

Since being tested in week one, a 30-23 win over McGuffey the Vikes have rolled as well outscoring their last three opponents 138-20.

Junior quarterback Johnny Yester has completed 28 of his 40 passing attempts for 448 yards and eight scores while only throwing a pair of interceptions on the season.

Wide outs Keith Kalp and Aaron Bunting have combined for 19 catches and 308 yards receiving on the season. The duo has scored five times as well.

The Vikes rushing attack is led by junior Chris Wagner who has piled up 528 yards and 7 scores on the ground sometimes out of the wildcat. Wagner will throw it occasionally as well completing 8 of 14 passing attempts for over 100 yards.

Winner gets a huge leg up on the Interstate crown.

A Black Hills Conference
Bishop Canevin Crusaders (1-1)(2-2) vs Chartiers-Houston Buccaneers (1-2)(2-2) Friday October 2nd @ 7:00 PM @ Chartiers-Houston high school in Houston, Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sam Hall and Kyle Dawson

Sometimes what makes a “big game” a “big game” is not a conference title, or a pair of unbeaten, sometimes it is a battle for a playoff spot. That will be the case Friday night in Houston. A brief look at the Black Hills indicates the Cardinal Wuerl and Avonworth are the class of the section. That leaves four teams battling for two postseason berths. Two of those teams meet Friday as the Crusaders make the trip down 79 to the Racetrack Road off ramp and get set to face the Bucs.

After starting the season faltering against the top two teams in the section the Bucs have righted the ship winning two straight games over Western Beaver and Northgate, including scoring 23 straight points to overcome a 13-0 defecit and beat Northgate 23-13 last weekend.

The Crusaders meanwhile did the opposite of that last week when they had a 14-0 fourth quarter lead evaporate against the Fort Cherry Rangers and lost 20-14 in overtime.

Chartiers-Houston junior quarterback T.J. Johnston has been solid since stepping in for the graduated Alec Ferrari. Johnston has completed 49 of 89 passes for 641 yards and six touchdowns. The junior does seem to have an issue with taking care of the football though as he has tossed six interceptions already this season. Head Coach Terry Fetsko is hoping that problem gets solved very quickly.

Junior wide out A.J. Myers is a playmaker with great hands, speed and moves on the outside for the Bucs he has a team-high 19 catches for 217 yards and has totaled three touchdowns on the season. Ethan Shober and Tyrone Wormsley have combined for another 16 catches and 291 yards between them.

The Bucs have a pro style attack that is nicely balanced by the running game lead by three-year starter at tailback Spencer Terling. Terling is a hard-nosed runner who in open spaces surprises teams with his very good speed as well. On the season he has rushed 56 times for 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On defense look for linebackers Terling and Dylan Briggs along with sophomore Matt Whitfield to be tasked with stopping a solid balanced attack from the Crusaders this Friday night.

Bishop Canevin senior Dom Palmasino has tossed for 277 yards and three touchdowns on the season completing 20 of 41 passing attempts while only throwing a single interception.

Sean Fitzgerald has a team-hig 11 catches for 144 yards and a score. Austin Scott and Amaan Bridgett are both over a hundred yards receiving on the year as well.

Bridgett does the bulk of his damage running the football though with 411 yards and seven touchdowns in his 74 carries on the season. First contact will rarely bring the senior down, the Bucs will need to gang-tackle this kid.

Senior Austin Liebro is just a football player for Canevin. If you love football, you will love to watch him play at fullback on offense and as a linebacker on defense, this kid plays the game the way it is meant to be played. He is always around the ball making a key block or a key tackle for Bishop Canevin.

Winner  gets a huge leg-up on a playoff spot, don’t miss a minute of the action only here on …… THE NETWORK!

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