WPIAL Big Game Hunting – Week Nine 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 | 5:05 PM

Week Nine brings with it some big time rivalry games that are made extra special by the fact that they all have additional meaning and immediate impact on the playoffs. The Highway to Heinz is made so much less bumpy if that first round “on ramp” is freshly paved at your home field, and not freshly paved over a seemingly never-ending amount of time with insane restrictions the way Penn Dot is doing with the Parkway West; but, rather a nice regular season-ending victory over your biggest rival. Sorry I got a little off track there, but nonetheless one last time in the 2015 regular season, let’s go Big Game Hunting!

AAAA Southeastern Conference
Mount Lebanon Blue Devils (7-1)(5-1) vs Upper Saint Clair Panthers (5-3)(4-2) Friday October 30th @ 7:30 PM @ Upper Saint Clair high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sam Hall and Adam Hoerner also available as a video stream game with Jess Levo on camera

This battle in the south hills would be huge even if both of these teams were 0-8 coming into this game but, as usual they are not, instead they are both in the playoffs and searching for a first round home game on the Highway to Heinz. Mount Lebanon saw their hopes of an unbeaten regular season ruined last week on the road at Woody High falling in a tight one 21-17. They cannot dwell on that or they risk losing home field in the first round. Jim Render’s USC Panthers have answered their three-game losing streak with a three-game winning streak and with a little help and a home win over their chief rival could become the second place team out of the Southeastern conference.

The Panthers have been scoring at a hot pace during their three game spurt, averaging 39 points per game over that span. USC has been doing the bulk of their damage on the ground in that span with junior running backs Tom Vissman and Blake Kadar combining to rush for 897 yards and six touchdowns during the three game run. For the season Vissman leads the Panthers with 1210 yards on the ground on 182 carries, he has scored a team-high 16 touchdowns on the year. Kadar has come into his own more so during the last three games. Through the first five games he had just 25 carries and 75 yards, now for the season he is at 49 carries 305 yards and has reached pay dirt three times.

Junior quarterback Jackson Geisler has completed 51 of 87 passes for the Panthers accounting for 710 yards and four touchdowns. His top two targets are seniors Doug Wagner and Kevin Chrissis, the duo has combined for 25 catches for 371 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Lebo meanwhile will be looking to rebound from their only loss of the 2015 campaign. Senior quarterback Eddie Jenkins has been fantastic for Mike Melnyk this season. Jenkins has completed 70 of 116 passes for 1333 yards and 19 touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions.

Junior wide receivers Jack Young (26 catches and 821 yards), and Pat Moeller (27 catches, 284 yards) are the go-tos for Jenkins in the passing game.

Junior running back David Harvey gets a bunch of work in the Lebo ground game with 617 yards and ten scores on the year. Edgar Parilla, yet another junior has rushed for 260 yards and three scores on the season.

Yes the Blue Devils have high-hopes for 2015 but judging by their junior class skill guys they could make a lot of noise in 2016 as well. They can’t get caught looking forward, but that is my job.

AAA Parkway Conference
Central Valley Warriors (7-1)(6-1) vs West Allegheny Indians (7-1)(7-0) Friday October 30th @ 7:00 PM @ West Allegheny high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WKPL 92.1 FM by Rob Matzie and John Lee

Lifted from the boss at the Network, a great piece of work by the way that breaks down the playoff picture for all those still alive and worth a look http://www.msasports.net/articles/wpial-football-playoff-picture-2 , here is the portion that I stole for this game.

CLASS AAA Parkway Conference:

West Allegheny Indians (7-0) have clinched
West Allegheny wins the conference championship with a win Friday over Central Valley

Central Valley Warriors (6-1) have clinched
Central Valley earns a share of the conference championship and will win first place with a win Friday at West Allegheny
10/30:  at West Allegheny

Seems like we’ve been having this conversation ever since Central came into existence, seems like it, because we have been. 

Central has rattled off seven in a row since falling to Montour in week one. The Indians have only a single loss as well and that came in week seven to the #1 team in AAAA Woodland Hills.

These are the top two defenses in the Parkway in terms of points allowed.

Central Valley’s defense has recorded 15 sacks led by sophomore defensive end Vinnie Verrico who has recorded five sacks amongst his 53 tackles on the season including eight tackles for loss. The Warriors have been dramatic about taking the ball away with 28 turnovers created, 16 interceptions and a dozen fumbles recovered. Senior Maurice Sims has five interceptions to lead the team and he has also recovered a pair of those fumbles.

Senior quarterback Chris Callaghan has completed 85 of 158 passes for 1473 yards and seven touchdowns, but he has also thrown seven picks on the year.

Senior running back Kyle Vreen leads the Warriors in rushes, 156 and, rushing yards, 829 and he has scored ten touchdowns on the ground.

Senior Kurt Reinstadtler has 30 catches for 716 yards and four scores on the season.

West Allegheny will run the ball if that’s ok with you, if not they will just run the ball anyway. The Indians are averaging just 57 yards per game passing for Bob Palko. Junior quarterback Nick Ross has completed 31 of 48 passes for 394 yards and  four scores.

Terence Stephens Jr., who is a senior has led the charge in the Indians’ rush attack with 1115 yards and 16 touchdowns on 104 carries, he is averaging nearly 140 yards per game on the ground.

Whitney White Jr. also a senior has added 546 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground as well.

West A’s defense allows just over 10 points per game. Senior middle linebacker Tom Burke leads everybody with 73 tackles on the year. The Indians have recorded 11 sacks led by Cam Cornell’s three. They also have six players who have recorded a single interception.

I usually take a shot at calling these games, high-scoring or low-scoring, this one I have no idea, but I bet it’s close either way.

AA Midwestern Conference
Aliquippa Quips (8-0)(7-0) vs Beaver Falls Tigers (8-0)(7-0) Friday October 30th @ 7:00 PM @ Reeves Field on the campus of Geneva College broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP AM 1230 and WMBA AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman and Tom Hays

This is the title match between the two unbeaten heavyweights in the Midwestern.  This is one of the game we talk about in July as being a huge game. This though, is also a game that has been dominated by the Quips of late as Aliquippa has won a half dozen in a row in this series. Do Ryan Matsook’s Tigers have what it takes to knock the Quips off this season?

 Beaver Falls has been completely dominant all season long with an average margin of victory at 34 points, the Quips have not really been challenged either outscoring their opponents by an average of 33.9 points per game on the year.

Coach Matsook has been deft in handling a pair of sophomore quarterbacks for the Tigers this year, Adam Brady has completed 25 of 45 attempts for 567 yards and eight touchdowns, while Malik Shepherd has completed 24 of 41 for 527 and five scores. Shepherd has also rushed for a team-high 684 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. Brady will not be running.

No matter who is throwing for Beaver Falls, junior wide out Derrell Carter is likely to be doing the catching he has 22 catches on the season for 495 yards, no one else on the team has more than four catches. Carter has also scored 13 touchdowns.

On the ground in addition to Shepherd look for the tandem of Torian Leak (86 attempts, 627 yards, 8 touchdowns) and Neshaud Akins (46 carries, 526 yards 4 touchdowns) to carry the bulk of the load.

Junior tight end Donovan Jeter (6’5’’ 270 pounds) leads an offensive line that is very, very young and very, very big for the Tigers.

The Quips have senior quarterback Sheldon Jeter who has been efficient completing 36 of 65 passes for 683 yards and nine scores. Again, as for the Tigers, the Quips seem to do most of their passing to one guy, that guy in hits case is senior Jassir Jordan who has 18 catches for 369 yards on the season and has scored four times.

The ground is where Aliquippa likes to make their hay, with senior running back Kaezon “Shazam” Pugh. Pugh, at 6’2’’and 215 pounds combines everything you are looking for in a running back into one package. He has amassed 94 carries for 1072 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on the season.

Which team can control the other team’s running game and get theirs going? That as with so many football games, will tell the story at Reeve’s Field Friday night.

A Eastern Conference
Jeannette Jayhawks (7-1)(6-1) vs Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions (7-1)(6-1) Friday October 30th @ 7:00 PM @ Greensburg Central Catholic high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Paul Paterra and Lou Rood

Second place in the Eastern conference and a home playoff game, plus maybe a good shot of being on the other side of the bracket from ‘Da Bears, on the line in Greensburg Friday night, but once again a game that does not need the exigent circumstances to be huge.

Both of these teams have only a single loss in the regular season, both lost to Clairton and neither was close to slowing the Bears. GCC fell in week three 44 – 7 and Jeannette in week six 56 – 29.

Jayhawks’ quarterback GioVonne Sanders has hooked up on 51 of 91 passes for 1021 yards ten touchdowns and two interceptions on the season. Sanders has also rushed for 381 yards on the season including four touchdowns.

Kareem Hall and Swade Redman have combined for 23 catches, 499 yards and seven touchdowns in the Jeannette passing game.

Hall has also rushed for 684 yards and 11 scores.

Defensively Redman leads a secondary that has amassed 18 interceptions already this season with six individual picks.

The Centurions have a dynamic duo for their passing attack, senior quarterback Tommy Pellis has been great completing 74 of 132 attempts for 972 yards and 11 touchdowns and only thrown  a single interception. His partner in the passing game more often than not has been another senior Sam Nowicki who has 31 catches for 310 yards and four touchdowns. Ellis also has connected with his brother J.P. Pellis 15 times for 262 yards and  two touchdowns.

On the ground GCC will look to junior runningback Alvin Ross who has piled up 1194 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing this season.

The Hawks have nine interceptions of their own on defense this year, That means these two teams enter this game with a combined 25 interceptions on the season. Might not be that many throws in this game. Winner gets a home game in the playoffs. Loser will hit the road. Think about that, some second place team is readying themselves for a home playoff game, getting all excited, and it’s going to be against either GCC or Jeannette. That could be a bit of a wet blanket for your fans.

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