WPIAL Class 6A high school football playoff previews for Nov. 10, 2023

Thursday, November 9, 2023 | 7:33 PM

Some fans are calling it Final Four Friday while others refer to it as Quarterfinals Friday. Whatever classification you are focused on, welcome to the second night of the 2023 WPIAL football playoffs.

There are two WPIAL Class 6A semifinals set for Friday (to go along with two 5A semifinals and 16 quarterfinals in the other four classes).

Here are preview capsules on both 6A matchups.

Don’t forget after the games on Friday to tune in to the WPIAL football scoreboard show for all the results and plenty of recaps starting at 9:15 p.m.

Class 6A semifinals

No. 4 Mt. Lebanon (5-5) vs. No. 1 Central Catholic (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, James M. Burke Stadium at Fox Chapel

Coaches: Mike Collodi, Mt. Lebanon; Ryan Lehmeier, Central Catholic

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Mt. Lebanon lost to Central Catholic in the semifinals; Central Catholic defeated Mt. Lebanon in the semifinals then lost to North Allegheny in the 6A championship game

Week 9: Canon-McMillan 41, Mt. Lebanon 28; Central Catholic 51, Gateway 7

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 6A championship game next Saturday evening at Norwin against the winner of No. 3 Canon-McMillan at No. 2 North Allegheny

Players to watch: Fred LaSoto, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-0, 190, RB/DB); Payton Wehner, Central Catholic (Sr., 6-1, 170, QB)

Team notes

Mt. Lebanon: The Blue Devils won their first three games and four of their first five under first-year coach Mike Collodi; however, the second half of the season has been a struggle for the 2021 district and state champs, with only one win in their last five games. Senior running back Fred LaSoto was held to 13 yards in a Week 9 loss to Canon-McMillan. He leads Lebo in rushing with 474 yards and 6 TDs.

Central Catholic: The Vikings won the Class 6A regular season championship under their first-year coach, Ryan Lehmeier. Central Catholic is one win away from playing in the WPIAL championship game for the 10th time in 11 years. Senior quarterback Payton Wehner has flourished in the Vikings’ explosive offense, throwing for 2,456 yards (second most in WPIAL) and 32 touchdowns.

Historic factoids

• In their first meeting this season, Central Catholic blanked Mt. Lebanon, 49-0, in Week 3. Vikings quarterback Payton Wehner was 12 of 20 passing for 170 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 75 yards and a score. Pat Smith led the Blue Devils with 26 yards rushing.

• Central Catholic leads the all-time series, 11-9. Since expansion to six classes in 2016, these teams have met nine times, including four playoff games.

• In the postseason, the Vikings are 4-2 with wins in 2011, 2019, 2020 and last year when they beat Lebo in the 6A semifinals, 28-7. The Blue Devils’ two wins in the playoffs over Central were in 1997 and in the 2021 Class 6A championship game, 47-7.

No. 3 Canon-McMillan (6-4) at No. 2 North Allegheny (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Newman Stadium at North Allegheny

Coaches: Mike Evans, Canon-McMillan; Art Walker, North Allegheny

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Canon-McMillan lost to North Allegheny in the semifinals; North Allegheny defeated Canon-McMillan in the semifinals and Central Catholic in the 6A championship game

Week 9: Canon-McMillan 41, Mt. Lebanon 28; North Allegheny 49, Seneca Valley 14

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 6A championship game next Saturday evening at Norwin against the winner of No. 4 Mt. Lebanon vs. No. 1 Central Catholic

Players to watch: Michael Evans, Canon-McMillan (Sr., 6-1, 210, QB); Logan Kushner, North Allegheny (Sr., 6-1, 200, QB)

Team notes

Canon-McMillan: The Big Macs snapped a two-game losing streak in their regular season finale with a 13-point victory over Mt. Lebanon to bump them up to a third-place regular season finish in Class 6A. Senior quarterback Michael Evans needs only 10 yards passing to hit 1,000 yards for the season while senior running back Zach Walsh is nine yards away from 1,300 yards rushing.

North Allegheny: The Tigers have won five straight games heading into the postseason since their only loss of the season against Central Catholic that left the 2022 6A champions as the second-place team in the regular season. Senior quarterback Logan Kushner leads NA in passing with 1,207 yards and 17 touchdown tosses, plus he’s the Tigers leading rusher with 755 yards and 12 scores.

Historic factoids

• These teams met way back in Week 1 with host North Allegheny beating Canon-McMillan, 30-6. Tigers quarterback Logan Kushner threw for 80 yards and a score and ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Welsh scored the lone Big Macs touchdown on a 4-yard run.

• The Big Macs have never beaten the Tigers in 10 previous meetings, including 0-4 in the WPIAL playoffs.

• In their four WPIAL playoff meetings, North Allegheny beat Canon-McMillan, 41-6, in the 2002 Class 4A first round and prevailed again in the 2019 Class 6A quarterfinals, 48-7. In the last two years, the Tigers beat the Big Macs, 49-26, in the 2021 quarterfinals and earned a shutout in the 2022 semifinals, 7-0.

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