WPIAL Friday Night HighLights for 9/5

Saturday, September 6, 2014 | 9:11 AM

Here at MSA Sports, we like to spread the wealth when it comes to shining our spotlight. It seems some players shine for top teams each and every week. Sure, we will acknowledge their greatness, but we also like to tip our cap to those players and teams that are not steady contributors in each week to the ‘W’ column around the WPIAL. When they do, we want to salute high and proud. So without further adieu, we shine on the brightest performance from Week Two.

Ben DiNucci – Pine-Richland

In the nights best finish, Pine-Richland quarterback Ben DiNucci capped off a BIG game with a GIANT play that gave his team a HUGE Northern Eight Conference win. DiNucci hit on 30 of 41 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which was the game winner in overtime when after a sack had the Rams facing a third-and-goal from the 25-yard line, DiNucci connected with Mike Merhaut for the thrilling game winner in a 28-24 overtime victory over the host North Allegheny Tigers, giving P-R their biggest win since moving up to Quad-A six years ago.

Damien Pickett – Butler

In a Class AAAA non-conference tilt pitting north vs south, you could say the deciding factor in the game was visiting Baldwin’s inability to fence in Butler’s top back. Damien Pickett ran often and ran wild, carrying the pigskin 31 times for 279 yards with fourth quarter touchdown jaunts of 46-yards and 1-yard that proved to be the difference as the Golden Tornado tasted victory for the first time this season with a 31-21 triumph over the Highlanders.

Khaleke Hudson – McKeesport

With a big showdown looming with Penn-Trafford in Week 3, I’m not sure how many times McKeesport veteran coach George Smith used the term trap-game with his team during the week, but early on in this Quad-A Foothills Conference contest, the boys in red and blue were in trouble, skidding toward an open abyss. But Khaleke Hudson huge second half helped keep the Tigers from falling in as he rushed for 236 yards and scored four 4th quarter touchdowns from 11, 40, 77 and 14 yards in a 33-17 come-from-behind win over the host Altoona Mountain Lions.

Brandon Friedline – Latrobe

You’ll excuse members of the Latrobe football team if they look at the popular tagline of ‘We must protect this house’ as somewhat of a joke after losing eight straight games on their home turf of Memorial Stadium. But that ugly two year string ended Friday thanks to the big numbers put up by running back Brandon Friedline, who rushed for 234-yards and three touchdowns of 12, 5 and 29 yards as the Wildcats evened their record in this young season with a 50-27 mauling of the Kiski Area Cavaliers in a Class AAAA Foothills Conference fray.

Austin Kemp – Thomas Jefferson

After throwing only one pass in a route of Ringgold last week, Thomas Jefferson decided to switch things up at Belle Vernon and opened the game with three straight passes…all of which were incomplete. So TJ decided to go back to handing the ball to Austin Kemp and the offense never looked back. Kemp rushed for 234 yards and scored six touchdowns on runs of 39, 17, 18, 7, 6 and 1-yard as the Jaguars cruised to a second straight win over one of the tougher teams in the Class AAA Big Nine Conference, the Leopards by a final count of 44-12.

Eric Harris – Shady Side Academy

In the Class AA Allegheny Conference, many folks are talking about Highlands moving down from Triple-A, or upstart Apollo-Ridge moving up from Single-A or defending conference champion Kittanning, Meanwhile Shady Side Academy is now 2-0 and flying under the radar with Eric Harris quietly pushing all of the right buttons. Friday against Burrell, Harris rushed for 220 yards and scored six touchdowns on runs of 75, 15, 1, 2, 25 and 22-yards as the Indians steam-rolled past the host Buccaneers 60-20.  

Braydon Toy – Kittanning

One of the reasons Kittanning has won ten straight Class AA Allegheny Conference contests dating back to the start of the 2013 campaign is the continued solid play of the Boy-Toy. Quarterback Braydon Toy was nearly perfect, connecting on 11 of 12 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns, three of which he connected with Pitt recruit Nick Bowers as the Wildcats geared up for their showdown in Week 3 against Apollo-Ridge with a 54-14 thrashing of the West Shamokin Wolves in the final home opener at Kittanning High School.

Nathan Block – South Side Beaver

There is no other way to look at it…double-digit losing streaks STINK! Six WPIAL teams entered the 2014 season with them and the first one to wipe themselves off that dreaded list is South Side Beaver. Nathan Block could not be tackled as he rushed for 274 yards and scored four touchdowns on runs of 7, 40, 68 and 82-yards as SSB went to Rochester and won this Class A Big 7 Conference battle of the Rams by a final score of 51-20.

Josh Hughes – Bentworth

It was an historic victory for new head coach Ron Skiles as he picked up his first win…in his third go-around at Bentworth High School thanks to the passing of Josh Hughes. It wasn’t that long ago that it would take a Bentworth quarterback half of the season to throw for over 200 yards, but Hughes did it on one night, hitting on 14 of 19 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns along with a scoring run as the Bearcats rolled past the West Greene Pioneers 35-6 in a Class A Tri-County South Conference fray.

Adam Hein – Mapletown

In the wild and crazy, topsey-turvey world known as the WPIAL Class A Tri-County South Conference, only two things are for sure. Beth-Center is the favorite to win the conference again and come playoff time…well, we won’t go there today. We will tip our cap to Adam Hein and his Mapletown mates after a RARE win at Carmichaels. Hein rushed for 212 yards and scored five touchdowns on runs of 53, 16, 86, 21 and a 15 yard pass from Ben Boone as the Maples cruised past the not-so Mighty Mikes 30-2.

BONUS – Clairton Bears

I got some bad news for the rest of Class A. It appears Clairton is back in a big way. The Bears are used to making history and Friday in their home opener and conference opener, they did it again by racking up the most points by a WPIAL team since World War II if not ever when they scored 86 points in a whitewash of the Wilkinsburg Tigers.


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