WPIAL Class 2A football quarterfinals preview

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Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 4:36 PM


WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals

No. 6 Laurel (5-2) at No. 3 Sto-Rox (6-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium, McKees Rocks

On the air: Audio, video at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 7 Serra Catholic (4-0) at No. 2 McGuffey (6-1), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Brian Cooper, Laurel; LaRoi Johnson, Sto-Rox

Players to watch: Luke McCoy, Laurel (Sr., 5-8, 175, RB); Josh Jenkins, Sto-Rox (So., 6-2, 160, QB)

Last week: Laurel 47, Ellwood City 7; Sto-Rox 49, Brentwood 22

WPIAL playoff seasons: Laurel, 21; Sto-Rox, 18

All-time playoff records: Laurel, 16-19; Sto-Rox, 19-16

Four downs:

1. Laurel pounded Ellwood City in their regular season finale to finish tied for second place with New Brighton in the Midwestern Athletic Conference behind Beaver Falls. The Spartans beat New Brighton, 27-25, in Week 5 to earn a playoff spot after barely missing the postseason the last two years.

2. The Spartans ran wild against the Wolverines last week with all 47 points coming in the first two quarters. Luke McCoy enjoyed a big game for Laurel with 216 rushing yards and three touchdowns. McCoy is 71 yards shy of 1,000 yards for the season.

3. Who rocks the Rox? Nobody yet this season. Sto-Rox has won six in a row since an opening night forfeit loss to Carlynton because of injuries and ineligible players. Last week, the Vikings rolled to a 27-point win over Brentwood to earn a co-championship and the top seed out of the Three Rivers Conference.

4. Another great Sto-Rox quarterback may be blossoming with sophomore slinger Josh Jenkins. He hit on 10 of 20 passes last week for 171 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for two scores. For the season, Jenkins has thrown for 1,245 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Extra points: The Vikings might be tired of being the bridesmaid. They lost last year in the Class A finals to Clairton, 41-19. It was the fourth championship game loss in the last nine years for the Vikings. … The Sto-Rox win over Western Beaver two weeks ago not only allowed them to earn a home playoff game, it was also win No. 300 in program history. … This is the 40th anniversary of Laurel’s only WPIAL football title. The Spartans beat Clairton, 14-12 to win the Class A crown in 1980. … Last year, Sto-Rox finished 11-2 with its only regular season loss coming at the hands of fellow Class A Big 7 Conference foe Laurel, 23-15.

No. 7 Serra Catholic (4-0) at No. 2 McGuffey (6-1)

7 p.m. Friday at McGuffey High School Stadium, Claysville

On the air: Audio on TribHSSN.Triblive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 6 Laurel (5-2) at No. 3 Sto-Rox (6-1)

Coaches: Jose Regus, Serra Catholic; Ed Dalton, McGuffey

Players to watch: Max Rocco, Serra Catholic (Jr., 6-1, 185, QB); McKinley Whipkey, McGuffey (Sr., 6-0, 215, FB/MLB)

Last week: Serra, idle; McGuffey 48, Beth-Center 20

WPIAL playoff seasons: Serra Catholic, 13; McGuffey 11

All-time playoff record: Serra Catholic, 8-10; McGuffey, 7-9

Four downs:

1. Serra Catholic was forced to shut down for two weeks and missed its final two games because of a coronavirus outbreak. The Eagles also had their Week 1 game against Steel Valley postponed. They did finish 2-0 in the Allegheny Conference and were dominant in their four victories, outscoring opponents 209-54, but were still given a No. 7 seed by the WPIAL football committee.

2. McGuffey’s lone loss came in nonconference play, a 27-20 defeat against West Virginia’s Linsly School. In conference play, the Highlanders outscored opponents 247-40.

3. Rocco has completed 27 of 51 passes for 599 yards and eight touchdowns for the Eagles. Machai Brooks-Dutrieuille has paced the running attack with 452 yards and eight scores.

4. McGuffey relies on several rushers out of the backfield, including Whipkey (356 yards), Kyle Brookman (291 yards), Jared Johnson (205 yards) and Jeremiah Johnson (199 yards). Quarterback Rocco Falosk has thrown for 214 yards and rushed for nearly 100.

Extra points: Serra Catholic is in the playoffs for a school-record fifth consecutive season. Since winning the WPIAL title in 2007, the Eagles have won just one playoff game, 27-20 over Beth-Center in 2017. … McGuffey is in the postseason for the third straight year. The Highlanders won their first conference title since ’94. … Last year’s opening round playoff victory over South Side was McGuffey’s first playoff win since beating Blackhawk for the 1994 WPIAL title.

No. 5 Washington (5-2) at No. 4 Apollo-Ridge (5-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Owens Field, Apollo

On the air: Audio at 1450 AM and TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 Beaver Falls (7-0) and No. 8 Western Beaver (6-1), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Mike Bosnic, Washington; John Skiba, Apollo-Ridge

Players to watch: Mike Allen, Washington (Sr., 6-1, 210, RB/LB); Klay Fitzroy, Apollo-Ridge (Sr., 6-4, 200, WR/DB)

Last week: Washington 43, Frazier 6; Apollo-Ridge 47, Steel Valley 14

WPIAL playoff seasons: Washington 36, Apollo-Ridge 16

All-time playoff records: Washington 44-28-1, Apollo-Ridge 3-15

Four downs:

1. Washington rides into the playoffs with a great deal of momentum after last Friday’s victory over Frazier clinched the No. 2 position behind McGuffey in the Century Conference standings. The Prexies averaged 32.7 points over seven games and surrendered 10.6 a contest.

2. Senior running back Mike Allen carried the ball 64 times during the regular season for 606 yards and eight touchdowns. He had a pair of rushing scores each of the past two weeks and ran for a season-best 204 yards and three scores in a victory over Chartiers-Houston in Week 3 on Sept. 25.

3. Apollo-Ridge averaged 47.4 points and 415.2 yards a game during its five games in the regular season. The Vikings have played just two games since Sept. 25. Covid-19 issues at Serra canceled an Oct. 16 first-place showdown between the Allegheny Conference teams.

4. Apollo-Ridge racked up 311 rushing yards and five scores against Steel Valley with 189 yards coming in 22 carries from senior Logan Harmon. On the flip side, the Vikings defense limited the Ironmen to 140 yards of total offense.

Extra points: Washington has won seven WPIAL titles dating to a scoreless tie at Johnstown in 1917. It’s most recent championship came in 2017. … The Prexies qualified for the WPIAL playoffs for the 10th straight season. They lost to Avonworth in the Class 2A title game last year. … Apollo-Ridge completed its first undefeated regular season since 2000 (10-0). … The Vikings are in the WPIAL playoffs for the seventh time in 10 seasons under Skiba. They suffered a 35-21 home loss to New Brighton in last year’s Class 2A first round. … Apollo-Ridge is just 3-15 all-time in the WPIAL playoffs. Its last playoff win came in 2014 in a 58-40 first-round victory over Beaver Falls.

No. 8 Western Beaver (6-1, 4-1) at No. 1 Beaver Falls (7-0, 7-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Reeves Field, Geneva College

On the air: Audio on 1230 AM, 99.3 FM and TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 5 Washington (5-2, 5-1) at No. 4 Apollo-Ridge (5-0, 3-0), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Ryan Matsook, Western Beaver; Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls

Players to watch: Thad Gray, Western Beaver (Jr., 5-10, 175, RB); Josh Hough, Beaver Falls (Sr., 6-3, 240, RB)

Last week: Western Beaver 43, Carlynton 0; Beaver Falls 46, Neshannock 27

WPIAL playoff seasons: Western Beaver, 23; Beaver Falls, 20

All-time playoff records: Western Beaver, 18-19; Beaver Falls, 28-17

Four downs:

1. Using a stingy defense, Western Beaver tied for the top spot in the Three Rivers Conference with quality wins over South Side and Brentwood. But the Golden Beavers still have something to prove. In their biggest game of the year, they turned the ball over seven times in a 50-14 loss to Sto-Rox.

2. Western Beaver has the kind of playmakers that upsets are built on, especially the Bradford brothers. Dakari Bradford is a 6-foot-4, 185-pound big play machine at wide receiver and linebacker. Daquan Bradford is 6-foot, 180-pound game changer at linebacker. They’re Lincoln Park students playing at Western Beaver as part of a co-op.

3. Beaver Falls has been one of the WPIAL’s top Class 3A teams in recent seasons, so it was reasonable to expect dominance once the team dropped to 2A. The Tigers have lived up to that billing and then some, rolling undefeated through the Midwestern Athletic Conference. Laurel gave the Tigers a game, 29-14, in Week 2. Otherwise, no one held Beaver Falls to less than 44 points.

4. Running back Josh Hough, a 6-3, 240-pound Syracuse commit, is nearly impossible to tackle. He’s rushed for 1,241 yards and 18 touchdowns on 68 carries. That’s an average of 18.25 yards per carry. The Tigers have plenty of other weapons too, including running back Shileak Livingston, who has 768 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, and big-play receiver Trey Singleton.

Extra points: Western Beaver athletic director and assistant principal Ryan Matsook stepped in as football coach in June when Derek Moye had to resign for work-related reasons. Now, he’s facing Beaver Falls, the team he led to a WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2016, in what could be his last game as a coach. He’s leaving Western Beaver to take an assistant principal position at Moon. … Western Beaver is looking for its first playoff win since defeating Chartiers-Houston in 2008. It has lost five opening round playoff games since. Beaver Falls has only one losing season in the last 15 years (2017). … The Tigers lost in overtime to Derry, 28-27, in last year’s quarterfinals.

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