WPIAL Football Player of the Week: Week 3
Sunday, September 15, 2019 | 9:44 PM
Ethan Dahlem of Upper St. Clair had a record-breaking performance Friday night, and it still nearly wasn’t enough to secure a victory.
But in the end, the junior quarterback was responsible for 560 yards from scrimmage and his scoring plunge from 1 yard late in the game was the difference as USC came back to win a wild 45-41 Class 5A Allegheny Eight Conference game over visiting Woodland Hills.
Dahlem connected on 22 of 33 passes for a school-record 485 yards and three touchdown passes.
“What stood out for me were the throws he didn’t make,” Upper St. Clair coach Mike Junko said. “What I mean by that is he made some great decisions pulling the ball down and running at times and not forcing the ball into bad situations.”
Those runs also hurt the Wolverines as Dahlem rushed for 75 yards and scored three touchdowns including the winner.
While the quarterback gets all the credit — as evidenced by his Player of the Week honors — first-year head coach Junko said others deserve recognition for the offensive explosion.
“Our receivers did a great job blocking downfield and moving well in scramble situations,” Junko said. “It really helped turn small gains into bigger plays for us.”
The first-year starting quarterback has been outstanding for the Panthers, throwing for 1,080 yards and nine touchdowns in leading USC to three wins in four games.
“I think Ethan will continue to grow as a quarterback,” Junko said. “He is very intelligent, and he has a firm grasp on the new offense. We really try to stay balanced in our offensive approach, and he has done a great job managing all aspects of our offensive attack.”
Twice on Friday, Upper St. Clair trailed Woodland Hills by 17 points. Yet the Panthers kept fighting and scored the game’s final 21 points, including a 14-0 edge over the Wolverines in the final quarter.
“Our team has a very special group of seniors that do not ride the highs and lows that naturally occur on Friday nights,” Junko said. “Our coaches and players feed off of that steady approach, and it has served us well. There was never any panic on our sideline.”
After back-to-back come-from-behind wins at home, Upper St. Clair hits the road in Week 4 with a trip to West Allegheny.
“Our conference is so good that every Friday night, you are playing a quality team that has the talent to win,” Junko said. “We try to live in the present and focus on one play at a time. It is cliche, but it has served us well.”
WPIAL Week 3 Honorable Mentions:
Gabe Dunlap — Penn-Trafford
It was a bittersweet big game victory Friday as Penn-Trafford knocked off McKeesport, 29-12, in a Class 5A Big East Conference showdown.
Warriors quarterback Gabe Dunlap came up large with 188 yards rushing and two 1-yard touchdown runs, plus he threw for 86 yards and a 19-yard score to Cole Defillippo.
Dunlap’s efforts were needed as Penn-Trafford lost leading rusher Caleb Lisbon and reserve running back Sam Fanelli to injuries that might keep the two seniors sidelined for a while.
Micah Kimbrough — Hopewell
With the great Tony Dorsett and other outstanding Hopewell Vikings of years past in attendance, Micah Kimbrough put on a show worthy of the once-dominant program.
Kimbrough rushed for 285 yards and scored on runs of 8, 89 and 93 yards as Hopewell prevailed 31-7 over Waynesburg Central.
The victory ended a nine-game losing skid for Hopewell, which is tied for fourth in the Class 3A Tri-County West Conference with a 1-1 record.
Aris Hasley — Deer Lakes
Cougar Mountain proved to be where the Deer like to play.
Lancers quarterback Aris Hasley had a huge night, hitting on 19 of 24 passes for 349 yards and touchdown passes of 15, 47, 29, 19 and 3 yards with three of the scoring passes going to Adam Rejniak.
The Lancers’ 61-30 victory over host Yough improved Deer Lakes to 2-1 in the Class 3A Big East Conference as it sits alone in fourth place.
Past players of the week:
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.