WPIAL football playoff preview capsules for Nov. 11, 2022

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Thursday, November 10, 2022 | 6:29 PM


With some unneeded help from Mother Nature, 20 WPIAL football teams hope to slip and slide into next weekend with a shot at district gold alive and well.

It will be a wet Friday night of playoff football, with a pair of semifinals in Class 6A and 5A and four quarterfinals in the other four classifications.

To prepare for the big night of playoff football, here are capsules of all 20 wet turf battles.

Class 6A semifinals

No. 4 Canon-McMillan (5-5) at No. 1 North Allegheny (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium, McCandless

On the air: Audio stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com, 95.3 FM

How they got here: North Allegheny won the Class 6A regular season title; Canon-McMillan finished fourth. Both teams had a bye last week.

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 Mt. Lebanon/No. 3 Central Catholic in WPIAL championship game at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 at Norwin

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

Players to watch: Mike Evans, Canon-McMillan (Jr., 6-1, 205, QB/LB); Khiryn Boyd, North Allegheny (Jr., 5-10, 170, WR/DB)

Factoids: The Big Macs have never beaten the Tigers in eight previous meetings, including an 0-3 record in the WPIAL playoffs. North Allegheny beat Canon-McMillan, 41-6, in the 2002 Class 4A first round, prevailed again 48-7 in the 2019 6A quarterfinals, and then last year, the Tigers beat the Big Macs, 49-26, again in the 6A quarterfinals. In that game, NA quarterback Logan Kushner threw for 260 yards and a touchdowns and ran for a score. Back in Week 1 this season, NA knocked off Canon-Mac, 35-21. Kushner, a junior, threw for 194 yards and a touchdown while senior Andrew Gavlik rushed for 110 yards and three scores for the Tigers. Junior Michael Evans threw for 195 yards and three touchdowns for the Big Macs.

No. 3 Central Catholic (6-4) at No. 2 Mt. Lebanon (5-5)

7 p.m. Friday at Mt. Lebanon High School Stadium, Mt. Lebanon

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: Central Catholic finished third in Class 6A during the regular season; Mt. Lebanon was second. Both teams had a bye last week.

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 North Allegheny/No. 4 Canon-McMillan in WPIAL championship game at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 at Norwin

Coaches: Terry Totten, Central Catholic; Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon

Players to watch: Payton Wehner, Central Catholic (Jr., 6-1, 165, QB); Michael Beiersdorf, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-2, 195, WR/DB/P)

Factoids: The all-time series between these traditional powers is tied 9-9. Since expansion to six classes, these teams have met seven times, including three playoff games. In the postseason, the Vikings are 3-2 with wins in 2011, 2019 and 2020. The Blue Devils’ two wins in the playoffs over Central were in 1997 and 2022. This is a rematch of the 2021 WPIAL 6A championship game won by Mt. Lebanon, 47-7. In Week 3 this season, the Vikings had a 16-0 lead through three quarters before the Blue Devils rallied to win, 17-16. Junior quarterback Payton Wehner led Central, connecting on 16 of 24 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns, both to junior wide receiver Peters Gonzalez. Blue Devils sophomore quarterback David Shields threw for 120 yards and a touchdown while Ben McAuley booted an 18-yard field goal as time expired.

Class 5A semifinals

No. 1 Bethel Park (10-1) vs. No. 5 Upper St. Clair (9-2)

7 p.m. Friday at Big Mac Stadium, Canonsburg

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: Bethel Park beat No. 8 North Hills, 19-17, in the first round; Upper St. Clair defeated No. 4 Gateway, 21-14.

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 Pine-Richland/No. 6 Woodland Hills in WPIAL championship game at noon Nov. 19 at Norwin

Coaches: Brian DeLallo, Bethel Park; Mike Junko, Upper St. Clair

Players to watch: Austin Caye, Bethel Park (Sr., 5-10, 190, WR/DB); Julian Dahlem, Upper St. Clair (So., 5-10, 160, QB/DB)

Factoids: These South Hills rivals have played each other every year over the last 20 years except for 2016 and 2017. Upper St. Clair leads the all-time series, 32-17-1, however Bethel Park has won six of the last nine meetings, including in Week 6 this season, 27-14. In that win, BP sophomore quarterback Tanner Pfeuffer threw for 126 yards and a touchdown while senior running back Austin Caye rushed for 175 yards and a score. USC sophomore quarterback Julian Dahlem threw for 109 yards and a touchdown. This is only the second postseason meeting between the Panthers and the Black Hawks with Upper St. Clair defeating Bethel Park, 20-14 in double overtime, in the 2003 4A quarterfinals. USC lost to Central Catholic in the 2003 finals.

No. 2 Pine-Richland (8-3) vs. No. 6 Woodland Hills (6-5)

7 p.m. Friday at Gateway’s Antimarino Stadium, Monroeville

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com; 1020 AM, 100.1 FM

How they got here: Pine-Richland beat No. 7 Penn-Trafford, 31-17, in the first round; Woodland Hills defeated No. 3 Franklin Regional, 21-0.

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 Bethel Park/No. 5 Upper St. Clair in WPIAL championship game at noon Nov. 19 at Norwin

Coaches: Jon LeDonne, Pine-Richland; Tim Bostard, Woodland Hills

Players to watch: Ryan Palmieri, Pine-Richland (Sr., 5-11, 180, QB/RB/DB); William “Scoop” Smith, Woodland Hills (Fr., 5-7, 147, WR/DB)

Factoids: Even though they just met three weeks ago, this is only the fifth all-time meeting between Woodland Hills and Pine-Richland with the series even at 2-2. Before this season, the last time these two met was in the district postseason nine years ago when the Wolverines beat the Rams, 35-14, in a 2013 WPIAL 4A first-round playoff game. The schools split their other two regular season meetings in 2010 and 2011. The Wolverines won big in 2010, 35-0, while the Rams won a year later, 26-7. In Week 8 this year with first place at stake, the Rams won at home over the Wolverines, 35-21. Junior running back Ethan Pillar rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns while senior quarterback Ryan Palmieri had 120 yards on the ground with two scores for Pine-Richland, while junior running back Brandon Jones rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown for Woodland Hills.

Class 4A quarterfinals

No. 1 Aliquippa (9-0) vs. No. 8 Montour (7-4)

7 p.m. Friday at Freedom’s Bulldog Stadium, Freedom

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: Aliquippa had a first-round bye; Montour beat No. 9 Hampton, 34-33

Winner plays: Winner of No. 4 Armstrong/No. 5 McKeesport in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Mike Warfield, Aliquippa; Lou Cerro, Montour

Players to watch: Donovan Walker, Aliquippa (Sr., 6-1, 183, WR/DB); Daniel Batch, Montour (So., 5-11, 185, WR/DB)

Factoids: This is the first playoff meeting between these schools in what has been an on-again, off-again series. Aliquippa and Montour played each every season between 1977-1989, missed a year, played in 1991 and didn’t meet again until 2018. The Quips and Spartans have played every years since. Aliquippa leads the all-time series, 16-3, including 5-0 the last five years by a combined score of 210-28 with three shutouts. One of those whitewashes was in Week 3 of this season, 33-0. Tiqwai Hayes rushed for 159 and two touchdowns for the Quips. The Spartans’ most recent victory in the series was in 1991, 21-13. The other two years Montour beat Aliquippa were 1979 and 1986. Eleven years ago, both Montour and Aliquippa were raising WPIAL gold as the Spartans won the 3A championship while the Quips claimed gold in the 2011 2A finals.

No. 5 McKeesport (10-1) at No. 4 Armstrong (10-1)

7 p.m. Friday at David ‘Red’ Ullum Field at Armstrong Stadium, Kittanning

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: Armstrong beat No. 13 Blackhawk, 39-7, in the first round; McKeesport defeated No. 12 Mars, 43-0

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 Aliquippa/No. 8 Montour in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Matt Miller, McKeesport; Frank Fabian, Armstrong

Players to watch: Jahmil Perryman, McKeesport (Sr., 5-9, 170, QB/RB/DB); Ian Olsen, Armstrong (So., 6-0, 170, WR/DB)

Factoids: This is the fifth meeting between McKeesport and Armstrong and the second straight season the two collide in the 4A quarterfinals. McKeesport leads the series, 3-1. The Tigers won regular season meetings in 2021 and 2017 while the River Hawks’ lone victory came in the first clash between the two in 2016. In last year’s quarterfinals, Armstrong quarterback Cadin Olsen threw for two touchdowns and ran for one, but it wasn’t enough. Then-senior McKeesport quarterback Caleb Reist ran for one score and threw for another while current QB Jahmil Perryman threw a 50-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter of a 35-21 Tigers win.

No. 7 Laurel Highlands (8-2) at No. 2 Central Valley (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Central Valley’s Sarge Alberts Stadium, Monaca

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com; 590 AM, 101.1 FM

How they got here: Laurel Highlands beat No. 10 West Allegheny, 44-15; Central Valley had a bye

Winner plays: Winner of No. 3 Thomas Jefferson/No. 11 Latrobe in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Rich Kolesar, Laurel Highlands; Mark Lyons, Central Valley

Players to watch: Keondre DeShields, Laurel Highlands (Sr., 6-4, 195, WR/DB); Bret FitzSimmons, Central Valley (Sr., 5-11, 185, RB/LB)

Factoids: This is the fourth meeting between Central Valley and Laurel Highlands and all four have come in the WPIAL playoffs. The Warriors beat the Mustangs in the previous three battles. In 2011, Central Valley crushed Laurel Highlands, 60-20, in the 3A first round. In 2014, the Warriors scored another 3A opening-round win over the Mustangs, 49-26. A year later in the 2015 3A first round, CV rolled past LH, 59-14. Like Friday’s clash, the other three meetings were played at Sarge Albert Stadium at Central Valley. Since Central Valley opened its doors after the Center and Monaca merger in 2010, the Warriors have won five WPIAL championships and two PIAA crowns, including three straight district and two consecutive state titles. In that same time span, the Mustangs are 2-4 in WPIAL playoff games, but both wins have come in the last two years.

No. 11 Latrobe (7-4) at No. 3 Thomas Jefferson (7-3)

7 p.m. Friday at Thomas Jefferson High School Stadium, Jefferson Hills

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com; 107.1 FM

How they got here: Latrobe beat No. 6 Highlands, 28-21 in overtime, in the first round; Thomas Jefferson had a bye

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 Central Valley/No. 7 Laurel Highlands in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Ron Prady, Latrobe; Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson

Players to watch: Robert Fulton, Latrobe (Sr., 5-11, 205, RB/LB); Sean Sullivan, Thomas Jefferson (Jr., 6-0, 175, WR/DB)

Factoids: This is only the second meeting between the black and orange and the black and gold, and the first matchup was this season. Back in Week 3, host Thomas Jefferson defeated Latrobe, 31-21. Junior quarterback Brody Evans connected on 13 of 19 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns for the Jaguars while TJ junior running back Aidan Whalen ran for 112 yards and a score. Wildcats senior running back Robert Fulton racked up 179 yards and scored two touchdowns. Latrobe’s first round upset of No. 3 Highlands last week, 28-21 in overtime, was the program’s first playoff win since 1968. In the last 19 seasons, Thomas Jefferson has won nine WPIAL championships and five PIAA crowns.

Class 3A quarterfinals

No. 9 East Allegheny (8-3) at No. 1 Belle Vernon (7-2)

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

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: East Allegheny beat No. 8 Mt. Pleasant, 42-39, in the first round: Belle Vernon had a bye

Winner plays: Winner of No. 4 Freeport/No. 5 West Mifflin in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Dom Pecora, East Allegheny; Matt Humbert, Belle Vernon

Players to watch: Mike Cahill, East Allegheny (Jr., 6-1, 175, QB/DB); Chase Ruokonen, Belle Vernon (Sr. 6-0, 175, WR/DB)

Factoids: This is the first meeting between East Allegheny and Belle Vernon. As the No. 1 seed, this might be Belle Vernon’s best chance to win a WPIAL football championship since the Leopards defeated Franklin Regional, 22-6, to win the 1995 district 3A title at Three Rivers Stadium. A longshot as the No. 9 seed, East Allegheny is looking to win district gold for the first time in 30 years, when the Wildcats knocked off Riverside, 33-13, to win the 1992 Class 2A championships, also at Three Rivers Stadium.

No. 5 West Mifflin (6-5) at No. 4 Freeport (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Freeport Area Athletic Stadium, Buffalo Township

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: West Mifflin beat No. 12 Southmoreland, 54-28, in the first round; Freeport had a bye

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 Belle Vernon/No. 9 East Allegheny in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Rod Steele, West Mifflin; John Gaillot, Freeport

Players to watch: DelRon White, West Mifflin (Jr., 5-10, 220, RB/LB); Zach Clark, Freeport (Sr., 5-9, 170, HB/DB)

Factoids: This is the third meeting between West Mifflin and Freeport. The Titans and Yellowjackets split their two previous contests, played over 30 years ago. Freeport won the first meeting in 1990, 14-0. West Mifflin won the following season 16-3 in 1991. The only district football championship won between the two programs was when West Mifflin North beat Butler, 12-6, to win the 1963 Class 3A title. The Titans have reached and lost in the finals three times in the last 22 years: 2000, 2004 and 2012. The Yellowjackets have been the bridesmaids in 2A seven times in the last 60 years: 1963, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1981 and 1989.

No. 7 Beaver (8-3) at No. 2 Avonworth (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Avonworth’s Lenzner Field, Emsworth

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: Beaver beat No. 10 Deer Lakes, 17-3, in the first round; Avonworth had a bye

Winner plays: Winner of No. 3 Elizabeth Forward/No. 6 Shady Side Academy in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Cort Rowse, Beaver; Duke Johncour, Avonworth

Players to watch: Liam Gibson, Beaver (Sr., 6-0, 180, RB/LB); Luke Hilyard, Avonworth (Sr., 5-10, 205, RB/LB)

Factoids: This is the second meeting of the season between Beaver and Avonworth, and the Antelopes hold a slim edge in the all-time series, 5-3. While the two Western Hills Conference foes met in Week 6, their previous battle on the football field was 80 years ago. The Antelopes edged the Bobcats, 7-0, in 1942. The first meeting between the schools was in 1915 with Avonworth winning, 14-13. One-hundred years ago, Beaver was victorious over the ‘Lopes, 14-6, in 1922. The Antelopes won their five games in 1915, 1920, 1941, 1942 and 2022 while the Bobcats were triumphant in 1919, 1922 and 1940. Earlier this season, Avonworth beat Beaver, 29-3, as Antelopes senior quarterback Nate Harper threw for 155 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for a score.

No. 6 Shady Side Academy (6-4) at No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Warrior Stadium, Elizabeth

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: Shady Side Academy beat No. 11 South Park, 35-14, in the first round; Elizabeth Forward had a bye

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 Avonworth/No. 7 Beaver in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Chuck DiNardo, Shady Side Academy; Mike Collodi, Elizabeth Forward

Players to watch: Joey Bellinotti, Shady Side Academy (Sr., 6-1, 185, WR/DB); Zach Boyd (Sr., 6-2, 184, WR/DB)

Factoids: This is the third meeting between Elizabeth Forward and Shady Side Academy. The Bulldogs won the previous two played in the 1930s and ‘40s. SSA beat EF in the first meeting in 1938, 6-0. Six years later, Shady Side Academy once again shut out Elizabeth Forward, 17-0, in 1944. The Bulldogs won district Class 2A gold in 1998 and while the Warriors have never won a title, they did lose in the 2020 Class 3A finals to Central Valley, 35-0.

Class 2A quarterfinals

No. 8 McGuffey (8-3) at No. 1 Steel Valley (9-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Steel Valley’s Campbell Field, Munhall

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com; 95.3 FM

How they got here: McGuffey beat No. 9 Mohawk, 34-29, in the first round; Steel Valley had a bye

Winner plays: Winner of No. 4 Neshannock/No. 12 Washington in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Ed Dalton, McGuffey; Ray Braszo, Steel Valley

Players to watch: Phillip McCuen, McGuffey (Sr., 6-0, 175, QB/DB); Cruce Brookins, Steel Valley (Sr., 6-2, 180, QB/S)

Factoids: This is only the fifth meeting between Steel Valley and McGuffey. The Ironmen lead the series, 3-1. This is the first meeting between the two in nine years. Steel Valley edged McGuffey, 28-21, in 2013. Ten years ago, the Highlanders picked up their only win in the series, 29-20 in 2012. The two others meetings were also in back-to-back seasons. Steel Valley won, 20-6, in 1996, and then a year later, the Ironmen edged the Highlanders, 22-15. The year before those two matchups was McGuffey’s championship run in 1994. Since then, Steel Valley won WPIAL Class 2A titles in 2016 and 2018.

No. 12 Washington (7-4) at No. 4 Neshannock (10-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Neshannock’s Bob Bleggi Stadium, New Castle

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com; 1450 AM

How they got here: Washington beat No. 5 Serra Catholic, 49-21, in the first round; Neshannock beat No. 13 Burrell, 48-6

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 Steel Valley/No. 8 McGuffey in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Mike Bosnic, Washington; Fred Mozzocio, Neshannock

Players to watch: Eddie Lewis, Washington (So., 5-9, 165, RB/LB); Ryan Huff, Neshannock (Sr., 5-11, 250, OL/LB)

Factoids: This is only the second meeting between Washington and Neshannock. The other clash also took place in the district postseason. The Lancers defeated the Little Prexies, 27-7, in the Class 2A semifinals in 2016. Lancers senior quarterback Frank Antuono hit on 10 of 16 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 83 yards and a score. If was the only time Neshannock has reached a WPIAL title game; however, the Lancers lost in the finals to undefeated Steel Valley a week later, 49-14.

No. 7 Ligonier Valley (8-3) at No. 2 Beaver Falls (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Geneva College’s Reeves Field, Beaver Falls

On the air: Audio stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com; 1230 AM, 1450 AM

How they got here: Ligonier Valley beat No. 10 Western Beaver, 27-20, in the first round; Beaver Falls had a bye

Winner plays: Winner of No. 3 Sto-Rox/No. 6 Keystone Oaks in semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Roger Beitel, Ligonier Valley; Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls

Players to watch: Haden Sierocky, Ligonier Valley (Sr., 6-0, 176, QB/DB); Trey Singleton, Beaver Falls (Sr., 5-11, 170, WR/DB)

Factoids: This is the first meeting between Beaver Falls and Ligonier Valley. The Tigers are the No. 2 seed in the Class 2A field and after enjoying a first-round bye, they are making their postseason debut at Reeves Field at Geneva College. BF is in search of its sixth WPIAL championship after winning gold in 1928, 1960, 1984, 2016 and 2020. The Rams earned their first WPIAL playoff win last week in an opening round victory over Western Beaver, 27-20. LV rejoined the WPIAL in 2020 after 50 years playing in District 6, where the Rams were 2A champs in 2016 and 2017.

No. 6 Keystone Oaks (9-2) at No. 3 Sto-Rox (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday at Sto-Rox Stadium, McKees Rocks

How they got here: Keystone Oaks beat No. 11 Apollo-Ridge, 21-14, in the first round; Sto-Rox beat No. 14 Riverside, 29-0

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 Beaver Falls/No. 7 Ligonier Valley in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Steve McCormick, Keystone Oaks; Marvin Mills, Sto-Rox

Players to watch: Clinton Robinson, Keystone Oaks (Jr., 6-1, 195, WR/DB); Jaymont Green-Miller, Sto-Rox (Sr., 5-9, 180, WR/DB)

Factoids: This is the 12th meeting between Sto-Rox and Keystone Oaks and the second clash this season. Sto-Rox leads, 6-5. This has been a series of streaks with the Vikings winning the first five games between 1966-1970 by a combined score of 135-40. The Golden Eagles picked up their first win of the series in 1998, 34-11. KO also won the next four games in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2015. Sto-Rox halted that five-game Keystone Oaks win streak in emphatic fashion in Week 4 of this season, 52-0. Vikings senior quarterback Josh Jenkins threw for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Class A quarterfinals

No. 9 Clairton (6-5) at No. 1 Bishop Canevin (10-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Dormont Stadium, Dormont

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: Clairton beat No. 8 OLSH, 45-19, in the first round; Bishop Canevin beat No. 16 Jeannette, 63-14

Winner plays: Winner of No. 4 Mapletown/No. 5 South Side in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Wayne Wade, Clairton; Rich Johnson, Bishop Canevin

Players to watch: Capone Jones, Clairton (Sr., 5-11, 190, WB/S); Lesae Lacks, Bishop Canevin (Sr., 5-7, 140, WR/DB/KR)

Factoids: This is the seventh meeting between Clairton and Bishop Canevin and thus far, it has been a very one-sided series. The Bears have defeated the Crusaders in the previous six meetings by an average margin of victory of 38 points per game. The first meeting between the two was the only other playoff matchup. The Bears beat the Crusaders, 47-0, in the 2010 Class A quarterfinals. Clairton also knocked off Bishop Canevin in 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2021. That Week 5 loss last fall was the only one by BC until they lost to Redbank Valley in the PIAA quarterfinals.

No. 4 Mapletown (11-0) vs. No. 5 South Side (10-1)

7 p.m. Friday at Waynesburg Central’s Raider Field, Waynesburg

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com; 105.1 FM, 1210 AM

How they got here: Mapletown beat No. 13 Leechburg, 41-28, in the first round; South Side beat No. 12 California, 34-3

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 Bishop Canevin/No. 9 Clairton in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: George Messich, Mapletown; Luke Travelpiece, South Side

Players to watch: Landan Stevenson, Mapletown (Sr., 5-11, 180, RB/LB); Alex Arrigo, South Side (Sr., 5-10, 175, RB/DB)

Factoids: This is the first meeting between Mapletown and South Side. This has been an historic season for the Maples, enjoying the first undefeated campaign since 1968. The Mapletown victory over Leechburg in the Class A first round last week was the program’s first postseason victory. South Side reached the district quarterfinals last season as well before falling to top-ranked Steel Valley. As the No. 5 seed with only one loss, the Rams are trying to win district gold for the first time since they swept WPIAL and PIAA titles in 1999.

No. 2 Laurel (9-1) vs. No. 10 Union (8-3)

7 p.m. Friday at Shenango’s Glenn “Pop” Johnson Stadium, New Castle

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

How they got here: Laurel beat No. 15 Carmichaels, 53-8, in the first round; Union beat No. 7 Burgettstown, 32-7

Winner plays: Winner of No. 14 Rochester/No. 6 Fort Cherry in semfinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Brian Cooper, Laurel; Kim Niedbala, Union

Players to watch: Landon Smith, Laurel (Sr., 5-8, 150, RB/DB); Braylon Thomas, Union (Jr., 6-2, 180, WB/DB)

Factoids: While these rivals have gone up against each other plenty of times before, this is the first time that two Lawrence County football teams will meet in a WPIAL football playoff game. Laurel leads the all-time series over Union, 33-15-1. The Spartans have won the last three meetings, including one earlier this fall, 28-22, in Week 4. Spartans senior running back Landon Smith had 175 yards rushing and two touchdowns while Scotties junior quarterback Braylon Thomas threw for 168 yards and two scores. Laurel enjoyed an eight-game winning streak in the series between 1984-1992. Union’s longest successful run in the series was five consecutive victories between 1969-1973. The first meeting between Laurel and Union ended in the only tie back in 1963, 13-13.

No. 14 Rochester (6-4) vs. No. 6 Fort Cherry (8-3)

7 p.m. Friday at South Fayette Stadium, South Fayette

How they got here: Rochester beat. No. 3 Greensburg Central Catholic, 36-15 in the first round; Fort Cherry beat No. 11 Monessen, 56-42

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 Laurel/No. 10 Union in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Coaches: Gene Matsook, Rochester; Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry

Players to watch: Antonio Laure, Rochester (So., 5-8, 175, RB/LB); Matt Sieg, Fort Cherry (Fr., 6-1, 180, QB/S)

Factoids: This is the 16th meeting between Rochester and Fort Cherry, and the Rams hold a big advantage, 11-4. The Rangers won three of the first-round meetings between two in 1985, 1986 and 1987. Since then, Rochester won nine straight before Fort Cherry won two years ago, 21-19. The teams met in 2021 with the Rams winning, 35-0. This marks the fourth time the two have met in the WPIAL playoffs with Rochester picking up wins in 1992, 35-9, in 2001, 27-19, and six years later in 2007, 35-6.

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