WPIAL Friday Night HighLights – First Round

Saturday, November 7, 2015 | 12:45 PM

The lights are just a little bit brighter as 64 teams entered the district postseason three wins away from reaching every teams ultimate goal, a spot on the parking list for Championship Saturday at Heinz Field. There is no question that in the ultimate team sport, you need everybody in to win and advance at this point, but sometimes you need a player to step up and take control with an outstanding performance to keep your season alive at least for another week. So we tip our playoff caps to these ten players who were shining bright on a clear and crisp tenth Friday of the 2015 football season.

Phil Jurkovec – Pine-Richland

The super sophomore quarterback was somewhat of a regular to the HighLights during the nine week regular season in part because of his eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in both passing and rushing. In the postseason opener, it was his tossing of the pigskin that helped defending champion Pine-Richland move on as he hit on 17 of 27 passes for 269 yards and two touchdown tosses of 56-yards to Brandon Humphrey and 12 yards to older brother Tommy as the Rams eventually cruised to a 42-7 WPIAL Class AAAA First Round playoff win over the visiting Penn Hills Indians. 

Brett Laffoon – Penn-Trafford

For four straight year between 2003 and 2006, North Hills faced Penn-Trafford in the First Round of the WPIAL Class AAAA Playoffs. The two teams met again in the opening round in 2010. The one thing those five games had in common was North Hills winning and advancing to the Quarterfinals. Well, history was re-written here in 2015 thanks to the passing of P-T quarterback Brett Laffoon, who hit on 11 of 15 passes for 241 yards and five touchdowns passes of 12, 52, 17, 44 and 39 yards plus he added a two-yard scoring run as the Warriors prevailed to move on to Round Two with a sound 56-7 thrashing of the Indians.

Caleb Brake – Mars

If you are a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, then you know the value of a good kicker. When he does his job, most don’t notice, but when he fails, bad things happen. All the big guys crash into each other on eveery snap and the skilled position guys are running and cutting and throwing while getting hit left and right and yet the balance of a game could come down to one players foot. Mars kicker Caleb Brake, who will play for WPIAL soccer gold on Saturday, connected on both of this extra points, then booted an 18-yard field gola on the final play as the Fighting Planets escaped with a 17-14 win over the New castle Red Hurricane in a WPIAL Class AAA First Round thriller.

Quinton Hill – Thomas Jefferson

To say Thomas Jefferson ran rough-shod over upstart Armstrong would be like saying atomic hot wings are a tad warm.  TJ only outrushed their first year visitors by 409 yards and Braden Pahanish ran for 169 yards but that was even 67 yards shy of the games leading rusher, teammate Quiton Hill who gained 236 yards and scored two second quarter touchdowns on jaunts of 71 and 24 yards as the host Jaguars ran often and far in a 42-7 WPIAL Class AAA First Round triumph over the River Hawks.

Chris Callaghan – Central Valley

Would there be a little bit of a let down for defending champion and top-seed Central Valley after their HUGE week from a week ago against West Allegheny for a share of the Parkway Conference title? Not so much. CV quarterback Chris Callaghan connected on 11 of 20 passes for 269 yards and three long first half touchdown tosses of 71, 60 and 46 yards as the Warriors raced out to a 52-7 lead by halftime en-route to a WPIAL Class AAA First Round 59-14 thrashing of the visiting Laurel Highlands Mustangs.

Terence Stephens – West Allegheny

That West Allegheny beat visiting Hollidaysburg in the 3 vs 14 game but 20 points is no surprise. How they did it was a bit of an eye-brow raiser. After a SCORELESS first half, West A finally took control thanks to the running of Terence Stephens, who gained 206 yards on the ground and scored two third quarter touchdowns on runs of 74 and 15 yards as the Indians finally pulled away to a 28-8 Class AAA First Round victory over the Golden Tigers in Hollidaysburg’s final game for now as a member of the WPIAL.

Derrell Carter – Beaver Falls

In one of the thrillers of opening night of the district playoffs, Derrell Carter had enough push to carry opponents into the end zone and thus carry his Beaver Falls teammates to the Quarterfinals. While black and orange teammate Malik Shepherd rushed for 224 yards and a touchdown to earn an ‘atta-boy’, it was carter who rushed for 189 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game winning 5-yard grind with only three seconds left as he carried Apollo-Ridge players into the end zone for a heart-stopping 33-29 Class AA First Round victory over the visiting Vikings to earn sweet revenge for a First Round loss by BF at AR last year. 

DeWayne Murray – Steel Valley

Only a sophomore, Steel Valley running back DeWayne Murray has already made quite a name for himself thanks to games like he had on Friday night at Campbell Field in Munhall. Murray rushed for 229 yards and scored FIVE touchdowns on electric runs of 5, 9, 6, 44 and 6 yards again in leading the Ironmen to a one-sided 49-7 WPIAL Class AA First Round victory over the visiting New Brighton Lions to set up a much anticipated Quarterfinals matchup next week against the Beaver Falls Tigers.

Drew Saxton – South Fayette

It has become a staple once we hit November to feature another big postseason performance by a South Fayette quarterback. However this is the first time in many years we feature a SF signal caller in the playoffs not named Brumbaugh. Sophomore QB Drew Saxton continues to make a name for himself as he connected on 12 of 16 passing for 184 yards and three touchdown tosses of 7, 27 and 25 yards as the two-time defending champion Lions coasted to a 63-6 whooping of the visiting Burgettstown Blue Devils in a Class AA First Round 1 vs 16 matchup.

Hunter Patterson – Frazier

The jokes for the Tri-County South Conference were getting old after four years of 0-16 playoff results. Sure, they weren’t at the record setting level of the old Keystone Cops Conference which went winless for eight straight years at 0-32, but things did not look good when TCS conference champ Frazier fell behind visiting South Side Beaver early on. But quarterback Hunter Patterson took control for his team and his conference by hitting on 11 of 20 passes for 166 yards and tow touchdowns plus an inteception return for a score plus two touchdown runs including a 4-yard run in overtime that helped the Commodores beat the Rams in a WPIAL Class A First Round instant classic 33-32 in overtime.

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