WPIAL Class 3A playoff preview: Can anyone challenge defending champion Central Valley?

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Thursday, November 5, 2020 | 5:51 PM


No. 4 Keystone Oaks (5-2) vs. No. 1 Central Valley (8-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Sarge Alberts Stadium at Central Valley HS

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Greg Perry, Keystone Oaks; Mark Lyons, Central Valley

Players to watch: Mark Hutchin, Keystone Oaks (Sr., 5-11, 175, WR/QB); Ameer Dudley, Central Valley (Sr., 6-2, 196, QB)

Last week: Keystone Oaks 28, South Park 24; Central Valley 56, East Allegheny 7

Four downs

1. Keystone Oaks flew to the program’s first playoff win in four years last week with a tight four-point win at home over South Park. The Golden Eagles were down 10-0 at the half when they scored 14 points in both the third and fourth quarters. Junior running back Kevin Drew had scoring runs of 8 and 5 yards.

2. With the team’s leading passer and rusher, senior quarterback Logan Shrubb, very limited because of a leg injury, KO got wild and moved senior wide receiver Mark Hutchin in to run the wildcat offense. Hutchin rushed for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game winner in the fourth quarter.

3. Defending WPIAL Class 3A champion and PIAA runner-up Central Valley continued its dominant ways on opening night of the district playoffs with an eighth straight mercy rule victory. The Warriors jumped out to a 28-0 lead after one quarter and held a 42-0 advantage heading into halftime. Junior Landon Alexander had two touchdowns for CV, which was seeking a third shutout before a 61-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter put East Allegheny on the board.

4. Warriors quarterback Ameer Dudley enjoyed another brilliant game last week. The senior hit on 9-of-13 passes for 135 yards and three touchdown tosses. For the season, Dudley has thrown for 758 yards and 11 touchdowns and averaged 8.3 yards per carry on the ground while not playing much since Central Valley’s average margin of victory has been 44.5 points.

Extra point: This is a rematch of the Northwestern Six Conference Week 5 game won handily by Central Valley, 65-14, the highest single-game point total for the Warriors this season. Alexander rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns while Stephon Hall and Myles Walker also scored two touchdowns each for CV. This is the fourth meeting between Keystone Oaks and Central Valley. The Warriors won the previous three, beating the Golden Eagles 28-27 in 2018, crushing them last year, 56-6, and then the 51-point rout earlier this season.

No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (7-0) vs. No. 2 North Catholic (8-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Mars Stadium at Mars HS

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Mike Collodi, Elizabeth Forward; Pat O’Shea, North Catholic

Players to watch: Kyle Flournoy, Elizabeth Forward (Jr., 5-9, 182, RB); Joey Prentice, North Catholic (Jr., 6-1, 200, QB)

Last week: Elizabeth Forward 34, Freeport 20; North Catholic 35, Mt. Pleasant 14

Four downs

1. It was a historical victory last week for Elizabeth Forward. The quarterfinal triumph over Freeport was the program’s first WPIAL football postseason win since beating Moon, 15-2, in the 2000 Class AAA first round. It also marked the first time in school history that the Warriors won a home playoff game thanks in part to a couple of touchdown runs by senior Nico Mrvos.

2. Mrvos wasn’t the only Warriors player to hit paydirt last week. Junior running back Kyle Flourney rushed for 161 yards and scored on runs of 8 and 13 yards. Flournoy, Mrvos and junior DaVontay Brownfield lead a three-pronged ground attack that has combined to produce over 1,300 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.

3. Second-seeded and undefeated North Catholic began its postseason journey slow but steady in a three-touchdown win over visiting Mt. Pleasant. The game was tied 7-7 after one quarter before the Trojans took control with a pair of scores in the second quarter and a 21-7 edge by halftime. Senior Nicholas Maher and junior Kyle Tipinski each led the way with two touchdowns. Maher had a couple of scoring receptions while Tipinski’s TDs came on the ground.

4. There was a serious question heading into the Trojans’ playoff opener as to the health of junior quarterback Joey Prentice. After getting banged up in a regular season win over Freeport, Prentice not only played but shined for North Catholic. He connected on 11-of-18 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. For the year, Prentice has thrown for 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Extra point: This is the fourth all-time meeting between the schools and the second postseason clash. The two met in each of the last two seasons as Class 3A Big East Conference foes. North Catholic beat Elizabeth Forward 28-0 in 2018 and 12-7 last fall. The Trojans beat the Warriors in their only postseason meeting, 14-6 in 1987.

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