WPIAL Big Game Hunting – Week Nine- 10/22/2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:59 PM

The 2014 regular season comes to a close Friday with so much still on the line for so many teams. Conference titles, playoff seedings and playoff spots up for grabs galore on…”The Network”!

A moment first, to shout out, “Congratulations”, to the teams and kids who fought so valiantly but find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture. Your fight WAS worth it, you will be better for the rest of your days because of what you put into football, I promise you that. Your memories will be of the great moments, no matter how small, and the great relationships you created simply by showing up every day. Before you know it those training camp days that you so recently dreaded with a knot in your stomach will be days that you remember more fondly than you can possibly imagine. So as you seniors on non-playoff teams head into this final week, grab hold of those memories, lock them down, take an extra moment to savor and then when you are ready, we’ll go “Big Game Hunting”.

AAAA Southeastern Conference
#8 Penn Hills Indians (5-1)(6-2) vs #2 Woodland Hills Wolverines (6-0)(7-1) Friday October 24th at 7:30 pm @ The Wolvarena in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and the Woodland Hills Sports Network by Adam Gusky and Fred Guy

The Southeastern title will be on the line Friday night at the Wolvarena between a pair of teams with Heinz Field as their ultimate goal.

Both Woody High and the Indians have put up dramatic offensive numbers this year. The Wolverines are averaging 38.5 points per game and Penn HIlls is averaging a second-best in AAAA 41.3 points per game.

Woodland Hills junior quarterback Jeremiah Jones has completed 30 of 66 passes for 755 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. He has added 278 yards rushing and four touchdowns to Coach Novak’s offense as well.

Jones’ favorite receiver is senior Art Thompkins who has ten catches for 118 yards and has scored six touchdowns. Junior Jaymond Dunn only has six catches but he makes them count with a team-high 247 yards receiving. That is over 40 yards per catch.

On the ground Woody High has a pair of dandies in juniors Jo-El Shaw and Miles Sanders. Sanders has 65 carries for 878 yards and has scored a dozen touchdowns while Shaw has accumulated nine touchdowns and 522 yards rushing.

The Wolverines had trouble against the passing game of West Allegheny in their only loss of the 2014 campaign so far, will that mean that Penn Hills deviated from their run-oriented offense?

No, it will still be the Indians and while junior quarterback Billy Kisner might throw it a bit more than usual do not expect a big change in the Penn Hills plan of attack.

Kisner has completed 21 of just 42 pass attempts on the year for 343 yards and three touchdowns, he has not thrown an interception all season long. Kisner is also the leading rusher for Penn Hills with 863 yards and a dozen touchdowns on 96 carries.

Freddy Squires has twice as many catches as any other Indian on the Penn HIlls offense.

On the ground in addition to Kisner look for senior Te’Shan Campbell to get the bulk of the work, Campbell has 830 yards on 101 carries for the year and has scored a team-high 14 touchdowns on the season.

Both clubs have losses to AAA teams on their record with Penn Hills falling to Central Valley 35-14 back in week three. The Indians were also tripped up by Bethel Park a couple weeks ago.

AAA Parkway Conference
#1 West Allegheny Indians (7-0)(8-0) vs #2 Central Valley Warriors (7-0)(8-0) Friday October 24th at 7:00 pm @ Sarge Alberts Stadium on the campus of Central Valley high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WKPL 92.1 FM The Pickle by Rob Matzie and Johnny Lee also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP AM 1230 by Bob Barrickman and Tom Hays

For the third straight week we have had a dream match-up to talk about here in Big Game Hunting. Week nine is highlighted by a battle of teams that frankly we would not be remotely surprised at all to see play again in four weeks at Heinz Field.

This is a game that will feature the two highest scoring offenses in AAA and again I would not be shocked to see this turn into a defensive battle as it has in their last couple meetings.

West Allegheny has a cool, calm, experienced quarterback in Andrew Koester who is really having a splendid season yet again for the defending champions. Koester has completed 52 of 90 passes for 974 yards and 13 touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions.

The Indians have great balance on offense including three rushers who have gone over 400 yards on the ground this season.

Terence Stephens leads the pack with 464 yards and 11 touchdowns, Chayse Dillon who has missed significant time with injuries is getting healthy, and has amassed 457 yards and 11 scores of his own. Whitney White will burn you with some great speed and moves as well, he has 442 yards and eight touchdowns for the season.

Tight end Sean Orsini and wide out Danny Guilfoil make big plays in the passing game for the Indians with a combined 26 catches for 507 yards and eight touchdowns.

Orsini, Dillon and Armand Dellovade are at the heart of a fantastic Indians defense that has been one of the few teams in the last couple years to slow down the offensive firepower of the Warriors.

That firepower is boosted of late as quarterback John George has returned from an injury that saw him miss the middle third of the 2014 campaign. While he was out Chris Callaghan was fantastic. So much so that he continues to see time for the Warriors. The junior has completed 62 of 99 passes for 1109 yards and 11 touchdowns. George meanwhile has been almost perfect completing 23 of 28 passes for 467 yards and six scores without throwing an interception. He also is a threat to run with over a hundred yards rushing on the year. That added run threat is something the Warriors will count on to keep the Indians defense off-balance.

Pitt recruit Jordan Whitehead has been keeping defenses off-balance by himself all season long. Whitehead has 815 yards rushing and 97 yards receiving, makes monster plays in special teams and also is the anchor of the Warriors tough secondary. Whitehead has scored a team-high 17 touchdowns for Central Valley this year.

B.J. Powell and Dante Lucci have been the go to receivers for Central Valley the duo has combined for 51 catches and 944 yards while scoring a dozen touchdowns.

Fullback / linebacker Preston Johnson is one of the best all-around football players in the WPIAL he is worth the price of admission by himself and on any other team would be THE superstar, keep your eyes on this kid he is always where the ball is.

AA Interstate Conference
#3 Washington Little Prexies (7-0)(8-0) vs #7 McGuffey Highlanders (6-1)(7-1) Friday October 24th at 7:00 pm @ McGuffey High School Stadium on the campus of McGuffey high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA am 1450 by Bob Gregg and Nate Regotti also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and the McGuffey Highlanders Sports Network by Tony DePalma and Zach Waters

The Prexies and the Highlanders battle it out for the Interstate crown. McGuffey is a week one heartbreaking loss on the road to Mt. Pleasant away from being perfect on the season while the Prexies have a blemish free record.

McGuffey has a thousand-yard passer and a thousand-yard rusher for Ed Dalton, plus a defense that is holding opponents to an Interstate conference-low 12.5 points per game on the season. Of course that is a defense that has not faced the best scoring offense in the conference yet, in the Prexies.

Washington senior quarterback Jonathan Spina is a dual threat type player, completing 43 of 80 passes for 932 yards and 15 scores, he has also rushed for 138 yards and six touchdowns.

Wide out Dequay Isbell has a team-high 16 catches for 512 yards, he also has 127 rushing yards and has scored 14 touchdowns. Tight end Nate Swart creates serious match-up problems with his size at 6’5’’ 230 pounds Swart is a fierce blocker as well as being second on the team in receptions with fourteen grabs on the year.

Senior Malik Wells is averaging over 10 yards per carry on the ground with 974 yards on 92 carries, he has scored 14 touchdowns as well.

The Highlanders meanwhile have senior quarterback Nate Whipkey with 52 completions in 89 attempts for 1041 yards and nine scoring strikes. Whipkey will kill you with his legs as well with 489 rushing yards and ten touchdowns on the ground.

Four Highlander receivers have reached double digits in catches led by Shaun Sanders and Adam Narigon with 16 and 13 respectively, the latter going for 30 yards per catch. The duo has combined for five scores.

Senior running back James Duchi has carried the football 123 times for 1170 yards and 22 touchdowns on the season that is the most touchdowns in the classification on the 2014 season.

A Black Hills Conference
Fort Cherry Rangers (2-4)(3-5) vs Chartiers-Houston Buccaneers (3-3)(4-4) Friday October 24th at 7:00 pm @ Buccaneer Stadium on the campus of Chartiers-Houston high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sam Hall and Nick Farrell

Week nine brings battles for championships and playoff seeds and in the case of this Black Hills tilt what amounts to a playoff game. Chartiers-Houston is in with a win. Fort Cherry is in with a win as well providing Northgate does not pull a major upset over Avonworth.

The Bucs found themselves in this same spot last season and were three seconds away from the playoffs when the Rangers scored to come away with a 33-27 win.

These teams are very evenly matched and in a lot of ways very similar. Both have solid senior quarterbacks. Both teams have been hampered at times by injuries throughout this 2014 campaign. Both teams have standout sophomore running backs that have been there go-to players in the running game.

The Bucs have a slight edge in experience with six starters returning on both sides of the ball from last year’s club, while Fort Cherry lost a bit more to graduation. But hey we are into week nine so that experience edge is likely negligible. These teams have benefitted from playing the cream of the crop in single A this year. They have combined to go 0-4 against Cardinal Wuerl and Avonworth, but it has always been the contention of the ‘Big Game Hunting’ staff that playing and losing against better teams is the best way to improve your team.

The Rangers senior quarterback is Anthony Panizza he will try and get his club to rebound from a heartbreaking loss to Northgate last week 36-34. Panizza has completed 34 of 80 for 535 yards and five touchdowns. He has thrown six interceptions and will need to take care of the football against a solid Bucs secondary led by A.J. Myers, Ethan Shober and Alec Ferrari.

On the ground sophomore Nick Cook has stepped in very nicely to fill the void of the graduated Koltan Kolbrys. Cook is nearing 800 yards rushing and has scored 11 touchdowns on the year.

Garrett Whalen has been solid in the running game as well for the Rangers scoring three rushing touchdowns last week.

The Bucs are coming off a thumping at the hands of Neshannock, but three of the four Chartiers-Houston losses are to teams that reside in the MSA Sports Top Five in single A. By virtue of our get better by playing better teams theory, the Bucs are getting better every week.

They are getting healthier every week as well. Quarterback Alec Ferrari has been solid through the air an on the ground after sitting out 2013 with an injury. Ferrari has thrown for over 600 yards and seven touchdowns on the year and he is one of the Bucs leading rushers as well.

Receivers A.J. Myers, Austin Warchol and Ethan Shober are all capable of breking the big play for Terry Fetsko and Ferrari’s ability to move in and out of the pocket means opposing secondaries cannot let those guy roam free or they risk getting burned.

The Bucs have a solid running game as well junior fullback Dylan Briggs is a battering ram with the ball and a great lead blocker for sophomore running back Spencer Terling. Terling has been limited by an injury suffered in the week five win over Bishop Canevin but has still been a solid presence on the defensive side of the ball and, with a late touchdown run against the Lancers last week Terry Fetsko is hoping Terling is ready to get back into the swing of things on the offensive side of the ball in this do-or-die game at home Friday night.

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