WPIAL Big Game Hunting

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | 12:48 PM

Ahh week two…maybe it won’t be 125,000 degrees around the WPIAL this weekend, we can hope can’t we? Another battle of top ten teams in AAAA, I guess we can also hope that 1 vs 10 this week; will be better than 2 vs 7 was at Upper Saint Clair last Friday. The Shell watch continues in AAA as the brutal Parkway Conference gets underway. In AA a game that is always BIG, and we’ll separate the pretenders from the contenders in single A. Stay close and everyone buddy up, we don’t want anyone getting lost as we head up around this next ridge to go Big Game Hunting.

WPIAL Class AAAA Non-Conference
#1 Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings (1-0)(0-0) vs #10 Bethel Park Blackhawks (1-0)(0-0)
Friday September 9th 7:00 pm @ The Wolvarena Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1410 AM KQV by Sam Hall and Steve Nagler.

Central dodged a bullet in week one squeaking by Archbishop Wood in week one 20-17. A lot of people in the press box at Gateway on Sunday thought that Archbishop Wood kicker Nick Visco’s 40 yard attempt to tie the game at 20 very late in regulation was good, I was there and, I was not one of them, “pulled-it” I said to no one in particular as the kick left the turf at Antimarino Stadium.

The Vikes get the win and yet another splendid performance from Damion Jones-Moore who rushed for 189 yards and a couple touchdowns on 15 carries. Jones-Moore was great but the “oohs and ahhs” in the Press box came out in a big way for Anthony Nixon twice, once when he made an incredible one-handed catch and another time when he showed a fabulous burst of speed to take a short pass from Perry Hills and turn it into a 27 yard touchdown run. Hills had a solid game for the Vikings though the numbers were not eye-popping, completing 5 of 12 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. He also had a huge run on a naked bootleg to seal the deal on the Central win. Bethel will need to contain him if they hope to hang with the top ranked Vikings this Friday night.

Central’s defense showed some vulnerability to the run that Jeff Metheny and the Bethel Park Black Hawks will try to capitalize on this weekend. The Black Hawks were impressive in their debut cracking into the MSA top ten after a convincing win on the road at Kiski 42-14.

The Hawks got a great game from Nick Marshall who rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns in the win on just 15 carries. Marshall, a 5’9’’ 183 pound senior will be a big focus for Bethel this season offensively, and if he has a night like that against Central, the Hawks will be putting a lot of people around the WPIAL on notice that they are a team to be reckoned with. Senior quarterback Anthony Cinello only completed a single pass on the opening Friday night of the year for Bethel Park, it was for a touchdown, but he will need to do more than that for Bethel to hang with Central. Bethel Park was very solid on special teams creating great field position in the return game and turning a blocked punt into a touchdown in week one. Those kinds of plays would be a big boost in this battle with the top ranked team in AAAA.

WPIAL Class AAA Parkway Conference
#1 Montour Spartans (1-0)(0-0)  vs  #3 Hopewell Vikings (1-0)(0-0)
Friday, September 9th @ 7:00 pm Tony Dorsett Stadium Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and KDKA FM 93.7 The Fan by Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis.

The Rushel Shell watch will continue at Tony Dorsett stadium this Friday night. Shell was held down for much of week one by a solid Belle Vernon defense and the stifling heat, in fact he had only 19 yards rushing in the first half. As usual though he was able to come through when it mattered amassing 143 yards including a 66 yard touchdown run in the win and inching ever closer to the WPIAL record for career rushing yardage. Shell now has 6,909 yards for his career and needs 737 to become the all-time leading rusher in WPIAL history. On a PIAA level he trails all-time leading rusher Jeremiah Young’s total of 9,027 yards by 2,118 yards, a mark that certainly seems obtainable for the amazing senior.  Hopewell’s young offensive line did a lot of growing up against Belle Vernon, but they will have to make even more significant progress this week in front of quarterback Nolan Harmotto if the Vikes hope to sneak one out against the Montour Spartans. Harmotto accounted for the other Hopewell touchdown with a 12-yard run last week, look for more from him using his arm Friday against the top-ranked Spartans.

Montour is absolutely loaded with talent and experience. Lou Cerro’s club has it all; size, speed, strength and the resume to make another run deep into the playoffs, but they will be challenged week in and week out in the Parkway Conference. Running back Julian Durden scored four touchdowns in the Spartans’ week on trouncing of Chartiers Valley 49-14. Durden rushed for scores of two, 50 and, 80 yards and also hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dillon Buechel in that win. The running back battle between Durden and Shell will be one that focuses a lot of eyes on Tony Dorsett Stadium Friday night.

But, you cannot pay too much attention to Durden; or Buechel will destroy you with the pass. Daren Massey and Devin Wilson are amazing wide outs who each caught one of Buechel’s three touchdown passes in week one. Anthony Rippole gets a little overlooked because of all the talent at Montour but he is a solid fullback, and one of the best linebackers in the WPIAL keep an eye on number 45 for the Spartans, he is always around when something good happens for Lou Cerro’s club. And that seems to be all the time lately.

WPIAL Class AA Midwestern Conference 
#1 Aliquippa Quips (1-0)(1-0) @ #3 Beaver Falls Tigers (1-0)(1-0)
Friday, September 9th @ 7:30 pm Reeves Field
Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP-AM 1230 by Bob Barrickman and Tom Hays 

This is a game that people all around the United States seem to be aware of every year. Aliquippa has won three of the last five in this great rivalry including a 27-14 win in week two last year at “the Pit”.

Both clubs started 2011 with convincing wins, the Quips rolled Laurel 41-7 with senior quarterback Mikal Hall throwing for a pair of touchdowns and rushing for another. Hall to Hall was the big connection for Aliquippa as Davion Hall also a senior caught touchdown passes of 63 and 49 yards in the win.

The Quips ran it well too rushing for 244 yards as a team with no one player running for more than 56 yards, that means they also have, surprise, surprise, great depth. Kaylan Kenney and Dravon Henry are both very special athletes.

The Quips believe it or not are still a pretty young football team and they will continue to improve as the season moves along, as if they needed anymore motivation it is the 100th season of Aliquippa football and this team appears poised to do great things in the tradition of so many of its’ predecessors.

Beaver Falls impressed as well in their week one victory over Mohawk 57-7. They have a Hall of their own (and we ALL know how important a Hall can be) in senior running back Trey Hall who started their 2011 season with a spectacular 64-yard touchdown run. Hall is likely to go over 4,000 yards for his career which has been very impressive.

The Tigers though have lots of playmakers and most of them got into the action last Friday. Junior running back Rob Bell rang the bell twice last week with a pair of touchdowns runs one from 42-yards and another from two yards out. The Tigers also got some tremendous action from a sophomore in Marcus Cleckley who returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score and rushed 16 yards for another touchdown, all indications are that this kid is going to be a special player.

The Tigers have a new quarterback in Weslley Nesmith who hooked up with Royce Watson on a 29-yard touchdown in week one. The receivers and backs with experience and mad skills around him will allow for the senior Nesmith to get very good, very fast. He will need to do that facing the top ranked team in AA in just his second career start.

WPIAL Class A vs Class AA Non Conference
#2 Rochester Rams @ #8 Fort Cherry Rangers 
Friday, September 9th @ 7:30pm Fort Cherry High School
Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Adam Hoerner and Mike Krcil 

The Tanner Garry show got off to a great start for the Fort Cherry Rangers, Garry a senior quarterback  has a load expectations following him into this 2011 season and so far he has lived up to them in a big way. In a week one win over Western Beaver, Garry threw three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth score. Garry completed 11 of 13 for 191 yards in the win.

The win for the Rangers was their 300th in team history. Tanner’s cousin Corey Garry also had a big day for the Rangers rushing for touchdowns of 1, 12, and 17 yards on the day. Ryan Bairad caught a pair of touchdowns and also returned an interception 53-yards for another score. The Rangers clearly have mad skill on offense, but they will have to shore up a defense that allowed 40 points to Western Beaver if they hope to compete with upper echelon teams like Rochester.

The Rangers have nice size up front and the word from people who were there in week one was that the heat on Saturday afternoon, and a big early lead played a major factor in the Rangers giving up so many points. That said, forty is forty, and allowing forty will cost you a lot of football games no matter how good your offense is.

Geno Matsook’s club won’t give up forty very often, if at all. The Rams won convincingly Friday over Serra Catholic 41-7. DeAndre Moon scored three times with runs of 9, 4, and 17 yards in the win. And Dante Marsick rushed for 78 yards to lead Rochy on the ground where we expect big things from them.  But, the Rams, despite the departure of Jasson Adamson, still have a bit of a passing game as well.

Junior quarterback Ben Richko completed 5 of 8 passes for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win. Apparently “Air Matsook” is not a term we need to do away with just yet.

The Rams defense was very stingy as we have come to appreciate here at Big Game Hunting allowing just a single score in mop-up time to Serra. Rochester, along with Sto-Rox, is one of a few teams people have pegged who might have a chance against the almighty Clairton Bears this season. This game against a tremendously talented offensive team like the Rangers will let us know how much of a chance they might stand in that situation.

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