WPIAL Big Game Hunting – Week Two 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 | 4:55 PM

WPIAL Football never seems to let you down. It also never surprises me how quickly the regular season goes flying by. Especially now with conference re-alignment from last season pushing conference games up to the top of the schedule, the games become very important right out of the gate. In fact, many teams only play conference games. Getting inside a kids head and making sure they know that games in early September count every bit as much as the ones in mid-October in determining if you play in November can be a tall task for coaches around the league. Here are four great ones that will weigh heavily down the road. Yes, I just talked about playoffs in week two. I can do what I want, I write Big Game Hunting!

AAAA Northern Eight Conference

#6 Pine-Richland Rams (1-0)(1-0) vs #7 North Allegheny Tigers (1-0)(1-0) Friday September 5th at 7:30 pm @ Newman Stadium on the campus of North Allegheny high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1410 AM KQV by Lanny Frattare also broadcast on the North Allegheny Sports Network and the MSA Sports Network by Randy Gore and Rick Meister

A pair of top-ten teams will go at it at Newman Stadium to see who can remain unbeaten in the brutal Northern Eight.

Pine-Richland did everything to confirm some very high expectations people have for them in the 2014 season in their season opening win over Shaler last Friday 42-0. Quarterback Ben DiNucci threw four touchdown passes and Connor Slomka rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the win. DiNucci completed 16 of 25 passes for 273 yards and did not throw a pick to go along with his four scoring strikes.

The Rams defense held Shaler to just five rushing yards in the game.

North Allegheny knocked off #2 Seneca Valley in a hard fought 14-0 win last Friday on the road. The Tigers bend but do not break approach worked wonders allowing 290 total yards to a very talented Raiders offense but never allowing a score. The Tigers forced five Seneca Valley turnovers including three picks from junior Riley Trueman.

Quarterback Jeff Clemens threw for 167 yards and rushed for another 107 yards including a pair of touchdowns in the win. Trueman provided some spark on offense as well resting Clemens and sparking a pair of touchdown drives with his running skills.

This game is the second in a string of three tough tests for the Tigers as they open the season with the cream of the crop in the Northern Eight. The Tigers will face Central next week. The Rams though, have proven they are deserving of North Allegheny’s full attention this week.

For Pine-Richland the Rams are looking for a signature win that announces their arrival as a contender for the Northern Eight title as well as the WPIAL championship and this could be just the game they are looking for.

AAA Big Nine Conference
#3 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (1-0)(1-0) vs #6 Belle Vernon Leopards (1-0)(1-0) Friday September 5th at 7:30 pm @ James Weir Stadium in Rostraver, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Greg Warnock and Chris Lackner

Matt Humbert’s debut as the head coach of the Belle Vernon Leopards was a successful one last week as the Leps rolled Big Nine rival Trinity on the road 45-14 in week one. Marcel McTaskill returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown setting the tone and Belle Vernon rolled behind 121 yards and two scores on the ground for running back Anthony Levis.

Getting that first win was big but Humbert and the rest of the Big Nine for that matter know the road to success in the Big Nine goes through Bill Cherpak and the Jaguars.

The Jags meanwhile swatted away what many thought might be a tough first week challenge from the Riggold Rams 49-6 in their season opener behind an impressive 249 yards rushing including four touchdowns on the ground from Austin Kemp.

The Jags, running Kemp in the Wildcat, were totally dominant on the ground throwing just one time in their 53 offensive plays during the game. The offensive line and “Cherp” sent a clear message.

That offensive line is massive, averaging nearly 260 pounds across the front five, led by senior Harrison Everley at 6’6’’ and 315 pounds.

With the Parkway conference being so dominant the last few seasons it might be that some folks have forgotten about the always tough Jaguars.

Humbert’s spread offense has been successful in the past at Ringgold and so far at Belle Vernon, but it doesn’t matter how good your offense is, if you cannot get the ball of of the other team. That will be the test for the Leps Friday night. Find a way to stop the Jaguars’ running attack so you can start your own. A quick look at that TJ offensive line tells me that might be the test for a LOT of AAA football teams this year.

AA Allegheny Conference
Valley Vikings (1-0)(1-0) at Apollo-Ridge Vikings (1-0)(1-0) Friday September 5th at 7:00 pm @ Owens Field in Apollo, PA broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Josh Rowntree and Cory Campano

The Battle of The Vikings matches a pair of unbeaten teams in the Allegheny conference. But the similarities stop there.

Apollo-Ridge won a wide-open week one game against West Shamokin 41-21. Meanwhile, Valley squeaked out a 3-0 win in an defensive battle over Burrell in overtime.

Apollo-Ridge allowed 477 total yards to West Shamokin their week one win. They will have to stop that from happening on a weekly basis to be contenders to win the Allegheny conference. Valley will need to manufacture more than zero points in regulation if they hope to be a part of playoff talk in Muzzy Colosimo’s first season there.

The Vikings have a little experience in all the right spots. Up front Vinny DiCarolis is solid and a team leader type of guy. In the backfield both Jordan King and Jimmy Bradley were contriutors to last years playoff team and at wide out both D’Aundre Johnson and Tyson Hill scored four touchdowns last season. Ty Matthews and Demetrius Howser are gone and that is going to mean the offensive unit for Muzzy will need some time to figure out how they will make things happen. Phil Petit will call the signals and how quickly the junior sorts things out will determine when the Vikes get it going. Meanwhile it is nice to have that defensive unit the pitched a shutout for more than regulation time last week.

But Burrell didn’t have Tre Tipton. Tipton scored three touchdowns in week one and threw for another. Tipton scored on defense,(a 25-yd fumble return for a touchdown), offense (a 71-yard catch for a touchdown) and special teams (he returned the kickoff to start the second half 78 yards for a touchdown), and then for good measure he also threw an eight yard touchdown pass.

Quarterback Duane Brown threw for 116 yards and rushed for a touchdown, and he caught Tipton’s scoring pass.

But the A-R Vikes have got to play some defense! They allowed West Shamokin to rush for 263 yards and pass for another 214. Brown has made the move to quarterback to take over for the graduated Jesse Zelonka. That means Brown (who was an all-conference defensive back as a freshman last season) has either seen his time on the defensive side of the ball reduced by the demands of playing quarterback, or his defensive production has been hit by it. Either way the Vikings need someone to step up on the defensive side of the football if they hope to duplicate or exceed last years finish, which included a trip to the quarterfinals.

A Black Hills Conference
#6 Brentwood Spartans (0-0)(1-0) vs Fort Cherry Rangers (1-0)(1-0) Friday September 5th at 7:30 pm @ Forth Cherry Stadium on the campus of Fort Cherry high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Mike Sackley and Greg Kuntz

The Brentwood Spartans get their first taste of Black Hills action in week two after a non-conference win over Vincentian 42-28 last week.

In that win Brentwood fell behind 14-0 before rallying behind senior quarterback Conor McWilliams and his four touchdown passes to get the win. McWilliams completed 11 of 18 passes for 292 yards four scores and did nto throw a pick.. He was the tops in the WPIAL with those 292 yards passing in week one.

Tayron Kyser and Dorian Bowie each went over 100 yards receiving in the win with Kyser catching three touchdown passes and Bowie one.

Kevin Kissel’s team will rely on McWilliams in his second season as a starter at quarterback. They have speed and experience in the skill positions. Brentwood neds this game going into the toughest two weeks of their regular season in weeks three and four against Avonworth and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic respectively.

Fort Cherry is trying to find their way in the Black Hills this season without Kolton Kobrys, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards last year but is gone due to graduation. The Rangers also lost their startung quarterback and leading receiver to graduation.

In week one they got an important conference win over OLSH 27-26. Nick Cook rushed for 101 yards and a pair of touchdownsincluding a 69-yard jaunt in the win. Quarterback Anthony Panizza completed 6 of 17 passes for 120 yards and a score as well.

The game though was won in the final minute of regulation by a defensive fumble recovery for a touchdown with 17 seconds to play by Brian Carnegie or the Rangers would be looking for their first win of the season instead of trying to avoid their first loss.

Fort Cherry must try and find a way to control McWilliams, and the Spartans will need to avoid looking ahead to their upcoming games with the cream of the crop in the Black Hills.

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