WPIAL Class 4A football quarterfinals preview

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Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 4:36 PM


WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals

No. 5 Chartiers Valley (6-1) at No. 4 Belle Vernon (5-1)

7 p.m. Friday at James Weir Stadium, Belle Vernon

On the air: Audio at 1020 AM and TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 8 Hampton (5-2) vs. No. 1 Aliquippa (7-0), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Dan Knause, Chartiers Valley; Matt Humbert, Belle Vernon

Players to watch: Jordan Demus, Chartiers Valley (Sr., 5-11, 165, RB); Devin Whitlock, Belle Vernon (Jr., 5-8, 165, Jr.)

Last week: Chartiers Valley 46, New Castle 20; Belle Vernon DNP

WPIAL playoff seasons: Chartiers Valley 13, Belle Vernon 30

All-time playoff record: Chartiers Valley 2-12, Belle Vernon 18-28

Four downs:

1. Chartiers Valley has seen a sudden upturn in the program since dropping down a classification from 5A. The Colts haven’t been to the WPIAL playoffs since 2015 and had not had a winning season since 2009, the last time they won more than five games in a season.

2. The Colts’ Jordan Demus is coming off a big game in Week 7. He rushed for 193 yards and four touchdowns against New Castle.

3. Belle Vernon finished in a three-way tie for first in the Big Eight Conference with Thomas Jefferson and McKeesport, but entered the playoffs as the No. 2 team from the conference based on tiebreaker points. The Leopards made the WPIAL title game last year but lost to conference nemesis Thomas Jefferson.

4. Belle Vernon’s Devin Whitlock has been one of the most dynamic playmakers in the WPIAL since taking over at quarterback, a position he played when he was a freshman at Monessen before transferring. He has touchdowns via rush, pass, special teams return and defensive return.

Extra points: Belle Vernon has played just two home games this season but the Leopards have won 11 straight games at “The Weir,” known for its gold-colored turf. … Chartiers Valley has not won a playoff game since it defeated Franklin Regional in 2007. … This is Belle Vernon’s 12th straight playoff appearance.

No. 8 Hampton (5-2) at No. 1 Aliquippa (7-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Carl A. Aschman Memorial Stadium, Aliquippa

On the air: Audio on TribHSSN.Triblive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 5 Chartiers Valley (6-1) at No. 4 Belle Vernon (5-1), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Jacque DeMatteo, Hampton; Mike Warfield, Aliquippa

Players to watch: Matt DeMatteo, Hampton (Jr., 5-8 160, QB/K); Vernon Redd, Aliquippa (Sr., 5-10, 165, RB/CB)

Last week: Hampton 49, Knoch 0; Aliquippa, 56, Blackhawk 27

WPIAL playoff seasons: Hampton, 14; Aliquippa 44

All-time playoff record: Hampton, 10-13; Aliquippa, 91-26

Four downs:

1. Aliquippa has played in the WPIAL championship game the past 12 seasons. The Quips won the Class 3A title in 2018 and were bumped up to Class 4A by the PIAA competitive balance formula last year after reaching the WPIAL final.

2. Hampton, which is searching for its first WPIAL title, won five of its final six games to qualify for the playoffs. The Talbots outscored opponents 185-64 after a Week 1 loss at Mars.

3. Redd has been a catalyst for the Aliquippa offense, carrying the ball 100 times for 1,061 yards and 12 touchdowns. Quarterback Vaughn Morris has offered balance with 831 passing yards and 14 touchdowns through the air.

4. Matt DeMatteo has thrown for nearly 500 yards this season for the Talbots and also has booted 25 extra points and three field goals. Jacob Premick and Joe Liberto have paced the rushing attack with 366 yards and 265 yards, respectively. Christian Liberto has added 217 yards on the ground.

Extra points: Hampton is in the playoffs for the first time since 2015 when the Talbots defeated Montour and lost to Central Valley. … Aliquippa has reached the playoffs in 39 of the last 41 seasons, missing 1986 and ’94. The Quips have won a WPIAL record 91 playoff games, add the 14 PIAA playoff wins to get 105 postseason victories.

No. 7 Mars (6-1) at No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (6-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Thomas Jefferson Stadium, Pleasant Hills

On the air: Video Stream Game of the Week at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 6 McKeesport (6-1) at No. 3 Plum (7-0), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Scott Heinauer, Mars; Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson

Players to watch: Teddy Ruffner, Mars (Sr., 6-0, 195, RB); Jake Pugh, Thomas Jefferson (Sr., 5-9, 160, QB)

Last week: Mars 34, Indiana 22; McKeesport 20, Thomas Jefferson 14

WPIAL playoff seasons: Mars, 25; Thomas Jefferson, 31

All-time playoff record: Mars, 18-24; Thomas Jefferson, 63-22

Four downs:

1. Mars has won four straight since suffering its only loss, 49-21 to Plum in Week 3. Last week, the Fightin’ Planets clinched second place in the Greater Allegheny Conference with a 12-point victory at Indiana. The game was tied at the half before Mars outscored the Little Indians, 21-0, in the third quarter to take control.

2. Mars senior running back Teddy Ruffner continues to ground out chunks of yardage every game. Last week, he rushed for 233 yards and scored four touchdowns to give him 1,560 yards on 188 carries on the season for an average of 8.3 yards per tote. He is second in the entire WPIAL with 24 touchdowns this season.

3. Thomas Jefferson has little time to shake off its stunning loss at home to McKeesport last week. Down 20-0 after three quarters, the defending district and state champs tried a furious fourth quarter comeback that fell just six points short. It was the first home conference loss suffered by the Jaguars in five years.

4. Jaguars quarterback Jake Pugh ended up hitting on 20 of 30 passes for 210 yards and a 11-yard scoring pass to fellow senior Preston Zandier. Pugh has thrown for 999 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

Extra points: This is a matchup of two of the most successful coaches in WPIAL history as the two have combined for more than 480 wins. TJ’s Bill Cherpak is fifth on the all-time list with 279 wins, while Scott Heinauer of Mars just hit the 200-win mark a few weeks ago. … These two programs are playoff staples with the Jaguars in for a 26th straight year while the Fightin’ Planets have made the postseason 16 straight years. … These two teams played non-conference games against each other in 2016 and 2017 with Thomas Jefferson winning both by a combined score of 82-16.

No. 6 McKeesport (6-1) at No. 3 Plum (7-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Plum Mustangs Stadium, Plum

On the air: Video on TribHSSN.Triblive.com

Winner plays: Winner of No. 7 Mars (6-1) at No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (6-1), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Matt Miller, McKeesport; Matt Morgan, Plum

Players to watch: Terrance Glenn, McKeesport (Sr., 6-4, 215, QB); Eryck Moore, Plum (So., 6-1, 190, RB)

Last week: McKeesport 20, Thomas Jefferson 14; Plum 63, Armstrong 13

WPIAL playoff seasons: McKeesport 30, Plum 18

All-time playoff record: McKeesport 32-26, Plum 8-16

Check out a preview for the Valley News Dispatch Game of the Week: No. 6 McKeesport at No. 3 Plum

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