WPIAL football player of the week: Week 4

Sunday, September 22, 2019 | 9:45 PM

You knew it was only a matter of time.

In his first four games, West Greene senior running back Ben Jackson had rushed for 253, 166, 272 and 299 yards.

On Friday, against a team the Pioneers finished tied with for the conference championship last season, Jackson ran wild in finally earning Trib HSSN Player of the Week honors.

Jackson rushed for season-high 359 yards on 22 carries as West Greene remained undefeated with a 49-24 win at Monessen.

“It honestly was a team effort,” West Greene first-year coach Brian Hanson said. “Monessen was stacking the box with nine or 10 guys most of the night. When we got guys blocked we ran well, when we didn’t, Ben showed what kind of talent he is. He took over the game.”

Jackson started his big night with a 71-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter as West Greene jumped to a 14-0 lead.

But Monessen dominated the second quarter with three touchdown passes and a fumble recovery returned for a score in the third quarter to take a 24-14 lead.

“We had to make some adjustments because we had some injuries,” Hanson said. “Our biggest focus was to remind the team what they’ve sacrificed in the offseason and this was a great opportunity to prove they had what it takes to overcome a valiant effort from Monessen.”

West Greene and Jackson then took over. He scored on touchdown runs of 20, 40 and 85 yards as the Pioneers scored 35 unanswered points to improve to 4-0 in the Class A Tri-County South and 5-0 overall.

The big game for Jackson gives him 1,349 yards rushing for the season.

“Ben has great size and speed,” Hanson said. “He’s a downhill runner who can go through you or around you. He gets better with more carries, like all great tailbacks do.”

Last season, Jackson was banged up near the end of the regular season as West Greene lost to Rochester in the Class A quarterfinals. Is Hanson monitoring Jackson’s touches this season?

“I believe it depends on the situation. I think if you’re an I-formation team, you better be prepared to have your tailback carry the team at times, otherwise you might want to be in a different scheme.”

Many standout Class A running backs from the past had to overcome the stigma of yardage gained against small-school opponents. But Hanson believes Jackson would shine whether he is playing for West Greene or West Allegheny.

“I’ve coached a few D-I kids in the past, and Ben is no exception. He would be a great running back at any classification. If you’re a legit player at the smaller levels, you should look clearly different than the competition. Ben does it on a weekly basis.”

WPIAL Week 4 honorable mentions:

David Pantelis – Upper St. Clair

Last week, Upper St. Clair quarterback Ethan Dahlem set a school record in passing and was named the Trib HSSN Player of the Week.

Now his top target, David Pantelis is getting honorable mentions for his big game in another Panthers shootout win in the 5A Allegheny Eight Conference.

The junior caught eight passes for 273 yards and touchdowns of 64, 59 and 63 yards in USC’s 35-33 victory over host West Allegheny.

Antonio Quinn – Aliquippa

In 2016, rivals Aliquippa and Beaver Falls met in the WPIAL Class 3A championship game with the Tigers pulling out a 35-22 victory over the Quips.

Since then, the Quips have dominated the series with three straight wins, outscoring Beaver Falls, 115-0.

This year’s rout took place at The Pit, where Quinn, a senior transfer, rushed for 214 yards with one touchdown and a couple of 2-point conversions in a 40-0 shutout of the Tigers.

Alex Arledge – Burrell

Burrell beat Yough to improve to 3-2 for the season, significant in that it ties the amount of wins the Buccaneers had the past two seasons combined.

That third victory was a product of the outstanding play by junior quarterback Alex Arledge, who connected on 19 passes for 379 yards.

Arledge threw five touchdown passes, three to Seth Fischbach and a pair to Zach Miller, in the Bucs 40-6 victory over the visiting Cougars.

Past players of the week:

Week Three – Ethan Dahlem, Upper St. Clair

Week Two – Matt Goodlin, Knoch

Week One – Eric Wilson, Sto-Rox

Week Zero – Ky’Ron Craggette

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