WPIAL Class 5A football quarterfinals preview

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Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 4:36 PM


WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals

No. 7 Penn Hills (4-3) at No. 2 Gateway (4-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Antimarino Stadium, Monroeville

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

Winner plays: Winner of No. 3 Peters Township (6-0) and No. 6 Woodland Hills (5-2), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Jon LeDonne, Penn Hills; Don Holl, Gateway

Players to watch: Julian Dugger, Penn Hills (Fr., 6-1, 175, QB); Derrick Davis, Gateway (Sr., 6-1, 185, RB/S)

Last week: Penn Hills 42, Shaler 21; Gateway 43, Connellsville 12.

WPIAL playoff seasons: Penn Hills, 38; Gateway, 35

All-time playoff record: Penn Hills, 39-31-1; Gateway, 52-27-2

Four downs:

1. These teams were traditional rivals in the former Big East Conference last decade before realignment sent them to different conferences and/or classifications over the past 12 years. Penn Hills finished second to Pine-Richland this year in the Northeast Conference. Gateway went undefeated in the Big East but played just three conference games because of coronavirus shutdowns that canceled three games.

2. Gateway was the second-highest scoring team in Class 5A during the regular season, averaging 40.0 points, second to Penn-Trafford (47.2). Penn Hills was one of the lower scoring teams, averaging 18.1 points, ahead of only Bethel Park (7.0), Shaler (13.1) and North Hills (17.7) in Class 5A.

3. Dugger has had quite a freshman campaign for the Indians, throwing for 895 yards and five scores while completing nearly 50% of his passes. Penn Hills also relies on a multi-tiered rushing attack with Derrick Topeck (246 yards), Dontae Pollard (220 yards) and Amir Key (196 yards). Akron-bound Noel Roach is the team’s leading receiver with 16 catches for 222 yards and four scores.

4. Davis, who plans to make a college commitment to LSU, Southern California, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, Pitt or Penn State on Nov. 7, has rushed for 522 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Patrick Body (215 yards) and Chamor Price (246 yards) have been primary targets for quarterback Carsen Engleka, who has thrown for 780 yards and 10 scores.

Extra points: This is the eighth playoff meeting between the neighboring schools. Gateway won in 1973, ’74, 2004, ’08 and ’09. Penn Hills won in 1976, ’79 and 2006. … LeDonne is 38-9 in his fourth season. … Gateway has made the playoffs in 18 of the last 19 years. … Holl is 49-11 in his fifth year.

No. 8 South Fayette (4-3) at No. 1 Pine-Richland (6-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Pine-Richland Stadium, Gibsonia

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

Winner plays: Winner of No. 5 Upper St. Clair (5-2) at No. 4 Penn-Trafford (5-1), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (site TBD)

Coaches: Joe Rossi, South Fayette; Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland

Players to watch: Charley Rossi, South Fayette (Sr., 5-8, 173, WR); Eli Jochem, Pine-Richland (Sr., 6-1, 181, WR)

Last week: Pine-Richland 58, Kiski Area 14; Upper St. Clair 36, South Fayette 32

WPIAL playoff seasons: South Fayette, 25; Pine-Richland 21

All-time playoff record: South Fayette, 29-19; Pine-Richland, 28-14

Four downs:

1. The Rams haven’t really been challenged in their first season at the Class 5A level after dropping from Class 6A. Their closest game was a 35-14 win over Upper St. Clair in Week 2. They won their other five games by at least 43 points. A Week 3 matchup with No. 2 Gateway was canceled.

2. The combination of Cole Spencer to Eli Jochem is one of the WPIAL’s most dangerous. Spencer has thrown for 1,678 yards and 21 touchdowns. Jochem leads the WPIAL with 752 receiving yards. But Spencer will spread the ball around, too. He has thrown TD passes to six receivers this season.

3. South Fayette had some growing pains early in its first season up in Class 5A, including a 9-7 loss to Chartiers Valley and a 17-3 setback to Peters Township in Week 2 and Week 3. The Lions ramped up their offense from there, averaging 30 points per game over their final four contests.

4. Spencer is one of three WPIAL passers to throw for at least 1,600 yards this season. South Fayette’s Naman Alemada is one of the other two. (Armstrong’s Cadin Olson is the third.) Alemada has thrown for 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 202 pass attempts. Charley Rossi, with 531 receiving yards, is his top target.

Extra points: One of the WPIAL’s top programs will be going home after the first round of the playoffs, which is something that neither team is accustomed to. Pine-Richland has won at least one playoff game each year since falling to Woodland Hills, 35-14, in the first round in 2013. South Fayette’s last first-round loss was more recent, to New Castle, 51-43, in 2016. … South Fayette has 497 football wins and has won six WPIAL titles, four in the last 10 seasons. … Pine-Richland is seeking to become the first WPIAL school to win titles in five different classifications.

No. 6 Woodland Hills (5-2) at No. 3 Peters Township (6-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Peters Township Stadium

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

Winner plays: No. 7 Penn Hills (4-3) at No. 2 Gateway (4-0), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (Site TBD)

Coaches: Tim Bostard, Woodland Hills; T.J. Plack, Peters Township

Players to watch: Deontae Williams, Woodland Hills (Jr., 5-11, 171, QB); Logan Pfeuffer, Peters Township (Sr., 6-5, 205, QB)

Last week: Woodland Hills 34, Latrobe 31; Peters Township 23, West Allegheny 7

WPIAL playoff seasons: Woodland Hills, 31; Peters Township, 16

All-time playoff record: Woodland Hills, 48-25; Peters Township, 7-15

Four downs:

1. Woodland Hills bounced back from a Week 6 loss to Gateway, but it wasn’t easy in a three-point victory at Latrobe. The Wolverines trailed by six points after one quarter and by four at the half before an Eshawn Carter 75-yard kickoff return to start the second half put Woody High up for good.

2. Junior quarterback Deontae Williams is the team’s leading passer and rusher. Last week, he hit on 10 of 18 passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns, plus he converted on a pair of two-point conversion runs. Williams has thrown for 934 yards and has rushed for 411 yards this season.

3. Peters Township clinched the Allegheny Six Conference championship outright with a victory at West Allegheny. Vinny Sirianni and Nico Pate scored on touchdown runs for the Indians, who had won a share of the conference title in 2018 with West Allegheny and 2019 with Moon.

4. Indians quarterback Logan Pfeuffer is closing in on 800 yards passing with six touchdowns for the season. Last week was the first week he did not throw for more than 150 yards in a game since Week 2, although he did connect with Breylen Carrington on a key 18-yard scoring pass in the third quarter.

Extra points: In 2018 and ‘19, the Indians and Wolverines met twice as Allegheny Eight Conference foes. Woodland Hills did not score a point as Peters Township posted back-to-back shutouts by scores of 20-0 and 26-0. … Into the playoffs for the 31st time in 34 years after a rare miss last fall, the Wolverines have won 48 playoff games compared to only 7 for Peters Township. … The Indians have qualified eight of the last 11 years. … Woody High won four WPIAL crowns in a seven-year period from 1996 through 2002, however the Wolverines have only one championship (2009) since.

No. 5 Upper St. Clair (5-2) at No. 4 Penn-Trafford (5-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Warrior Stadium, Harrison City

On the air: Audio on TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner plays: No. 8 South Fayette (4-3) at No. 1 Pine-Richland (6-0), 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (Site TBD)

Coaches: Mike Junko, Upper St. Clair, John Ruane, Penn-Trafford

Players to watch: David Pantelis, Upper St. Clair (Sr., 6-0, 180, WR); brad Ford, Penn-Trafford (Sr., 6-1, 170, WR)

Last week: Upper St. Clair 36, South Fayette 32; Penn-Trafford 56, Franklin Regional 7

WPIAL playoff seasons: Upper St. Clair 39, Penn-Trafford 29

All-time playoff record: Upper St. Clair 46-31-2, Penn-Trafford 20-28

Check out a preview of the Westmoreland Tribune-Review Game of the Week: No. 5 Upper St. Clair at No. 4 Penn-Trafford

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