WPIAL Class 3A football quarterfinals preview

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Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 4:36 PM


WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals

No. 8 East Allegheny (5-1) at No. 1 Central Valley (7-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Sarge Alberts Stadium, Monaca

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

Winner plays: Winner of No. 5 South Park (4-3) at No. 4 Keystone Oaks (4-2), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Dom Pecora, East Allegheny; Mark Lyons, Central Valley

Players to watch: Amaryeh Lucky, East Allegheny (Sr., 6-3, 175, WR); Landon Alexander, Central Valley (Jr., 6-0, 180, RB)

Last week: East Allegheny 41, Valley 8; Central Valley 51, Burrell 0

WPIAL playoff seasons: East Allegheny, 19; Central Valley, 10

All-time playoff records: East Allegheny, 5-17; Central Valley, 21-6

Four downs:

1. After a surprising loss in the state finals last year, Central Valley is playing like a team with something to prove. The Warriors have outscored opponents 356-49 this season. They’ve allowed a total of seven touchdowns, and four of those came late in blowout wins.

2. Central Valley has weapons all over the field. Ameer Dudley is a true dual-threat quarterback. Landon Alexander is the team’s leading rusher with 807 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Stephon Hall (Pitt) and Myles Walker (Akron) are Division I talents.

3. Coach Dom Pecora was upset that his Wildcats drew the eight seed and it’s easy to see why. East Allegheny’s only loss was to Allegheny Seven champ North Catholic. In its other five games, its average margin of victory was 29 points.

4. To pull off an upset of this magnitude, East Allegheny will probably need to make some splash plays. Luckily, they have the personnel for it. Praishaun Gainer and Amaryeh Lucky have been scoring long-range touchdowns in the return game and through the air all season long.

Extra points: Being matched up against a juggernaut in the WPIAL playoffs is nothing new for East Allegheny. In 2017, the Wildcats ran into an undefeated Washington team in the Class 2A quarterfinals. In 2018, their first-round opponent was unbeaten Burgettstown. … Central Valley has known little but success since the school was formed in 2010. The Warriors have won their conference six times and were crowned WPIAL champions three times in 11 seasons. CV is 105-29 overall (.784) going into Friday’s action. … EA, which moved up from 2A this season, is in the playoffs a school-record fifth straight season. … The Wildcats’ only playoff victory since 2007 was a win over Mohawk in ’17.

No. 6 Freeport (3-2) at No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (6-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Warrior Stadium, Forward

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

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 North Catholic (7-0) vs. No. 7 Mt. Pleasant (4-3), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: John Gaillot, Freeport; Mike Collodi, Elizabeth Forward

Players to watch: Vinnie Clark, Freeport (Jr., 5-11, 175, WR/DB); DaVontay Brownfield, Elizabeth Forward (Jr, 5-11, 195, RB/DB)

Last week: North Catholic 26, Freeport 14; Elizabeth Forward 35, Southmoreland 19

WPIAL playoff seasons: Freeport, 30; Elizabeth Forward, 16

All-time playoff records: Freeport, 15-29; Elizabeth Forward, 5-15

Four downs:

1. Freeport, which won three of four games in conference play, missed two contests because of covid-19 issues. The Yellowjackets came back Oct. 16 and defeated Burrell, 38-18, before giving No. 1 North Catholic all it could handle last Friday in a 26-14 loss.

2. Sophomore Ben Lane threw for 139 yards and a touchdown against North Catholic and has 580 yards and four scores through the air this season. He also has six rushing TDs. Sophomore Jacksen Reiser, Freeport’s leading tackler, brought back an interception for a score against the Trojans.

3. After not playing in Week 1, Elizabeth Forward reeled of six straight victories to claim the Interstate Conference title. Included in that win total was last Friday’s 35-19 victory over Southmoreland.

4. Warriors sophomore Zion White, making his first varsity start, finished 7 of 13 for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Boyd caught two passes against Southmoreland for 123 yards and a touchdown and added a 12-yard TD run.

Extra points: Freeport, back in the playoffs after a one-year hiatus, is seeking its first semifinal appearance since 2015 and second since 1990. … The Yellowjackets are the first Alle-Kiski Valley team to make the playoffs at least once in seven straight decades. … Elizabeth Forward completed only its second undefeated regular season in school history. It finished the 1966 season 8-0-1 overall. The Warriors are making their fourth straight playoff appearance, a school record. … Elizabeth Forward and Freeport shared the same conference the past two seasons. The Warriors won a close game in 2018, 27-21, and topped the Yellowjackets last year, 31-13.

No. 7 Mt. Pleasant (4-3) vs. No. 2 North Catholic (7-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Mars Athletic Complex, Mars

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

Winner plays: Winner of No. 6 Freeport (3-2) vs. No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (6-0), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Jason Fazekas, Mt. Pleasant; Pat O’Shea, North Catholic

Players to watch: Asher O’Connor, Mt. Pleasant (Sr., 6-0, 180, QB); Joey Prentice, North Catholic (Jr., 6-1, 200, QB/FS)

Last week: South Park 30, Mt. Pleasant 19; North Catholic 26, Freeport 14

WPIAL playoff seasons: Mt. Pleasant, 27; North Catholic, 24

All-time playoff records: Mt. Pleasant, 16-24; North Catholic, 25-22

Four downs:

1. Mt. Pleasant was the committee’s pick for one of the wild-card spots in the Class 3A bracket. That was despite the Vikings having three losses — to South Park (30-14), third-seeded Elizabeth Forward (16-14) and Class 5A Latrobe (35-7). The Vikings had four turnovers last week against South Park.

2. Junior junior Aaron Alakson ran for a season-high 165 yards on 15 carries last week for Mt. Pleasant, which is averaging 22.7 points and allowing 19.6.

3. North Catholic is the second highest-scoring team in Class 3A at 45.3 points, while the Trojans allow just 8.1. Last season ended for the Trojans in the quarterfinals with a 32-27 loss to South Park.

4. Prentice injured his hand last week against Freeport in the Trojans’ closest test of the season. He left the game but returned, only to be replaced by backup Carson Laconi after two fumbles and an interception. Nick Maher has 22 receptions and seven touchdowns as the Trojans’ top receiver. Running back Kyle Tipinski ran for 168 yards and a touchdown last week.

Extra points: North Catholic began playing home games at Mars in 2015. It has won 19 of 20 games there since. … Mt. Pleasant has not reached the WPIAL semifinals since 1996, the year it won a league title. The Vikings beat North Catholic, 18-0, in the 1983 playoffs. … North Catholic, which has a 19-game conference winning streak, has made the playoffs nine years in a row and 14 of 15 years.

No. 5 South Park (4-3) at No. 4 Keystone Oaks (4-2)

7 p.m. Friday at Dormont Stadium

On the air: Audio on 1320 AM and TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner plays: No. 8 East Allegheny (5-1) at No. 1 Central Valley (7-0), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Marty Rieck, South Park; Greg Perry, Keystone Oaks

Players to watch: Harper Conroy, South Park (Fr., 6-5, 182, QB); Logan Shrubb, Keystone Oaks (Sr., 6-1, 190, QB)

Last week: South Park 30, Mt. Pleasant 19; Keystone Oaks 52, Hopewell 34

WPIAL playoff seasons: South Park, 20; Keystone Oaks, 15

All-time playoff records: South Park, 14-16; Keystone Oaks, 6-12-2

Four downs:

1. It was pretty much a win and you’re in game for South Park in Week 7, and the Eagles were victorious at home over Mt. Pleasant. The Eagles trailed 13-0 after the first quarter, but only allowed six more points the rest of the way while they scored 17 points in the second quarter to take the lead at the half. The win earned them a tied for second place in the Interstate Conference with the Vikings.

2. What a breakout season South Park freshman quarterback Harper Conroy is having. Last week, he was 14 of 22 for 178 yards and three touchdown passes to junior Brendan Wood. Conroy has thrown for 800 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

3. After losing two of its last three games and sitting out Week 6 when Quaker Valley had to postpone, Keystone Oaks was back on the winning track in a big way last week with a second-place clinching victory over Hopewell in the Northwestern 6 Conference. The Golden Eagles were flying high early, scoring 14 points each in the first two quarters to take a 28-7 lead at the half.

4. After a huge first three quarters against the Vikings, four-year KO starting quarterback Logan Shrubb spent the fourth quarter on crutches on the sideline. He is expected to play this week after throwing for 104 yards and rushing for 309 yards and three touchdowns before hurting his leg. Shrubb has now thrown for 838 yards and rushed for 835 yards and scored 12 touchdowns this season.

Extra points: Neither team has a winning record in the playoffs as South Park is making its 20th trip to the postseason while this is the 15th time into the playoffs for Keystone Oaks. South Park won gold in 1998 and 2005 as well as the 1955 championship when they were known as Snowden Township. … Keystone Oaks has never won a football crown, however Dormont did win four titles. … This is the first playoff trip for Keystone Oaks since 2016. … These two old Class AA Century Conference rivals re-united as Class 3A Tri-County West Conference foes with KO winning 42-7 in 2018 and South Park prevailing, 28-14, last season.

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