WPIAL Friday Night HighLights for Week Nine
Saturday, October 26, 2013 | 9:13 AM
Friday night in Week Nine. One last chance for ALL of the teams around the WPIAL to shine. Some will move on to the Highway to Heinz in the hopes of making this a lucky 13th season in the 21st century. Others who will not move on just wanted to close out the campaign on a high note. Here are the players who sang like soprano's Friday night with large performances that had the crowd calling for an encore.
Trevor Morrow – Upper St. Clair
On a team that has relied on a suffocating defense and a balanced offense without the gaudy stats, Trevor Morrow provided a rare visit to the HighLights for an Upper St. Clair player this season. Morrow rushed for 158 yards and scored on two short touchdown ruins of 3 and 6 yards to help the Panthers go to 9-0 for the first time since they won a WPIAL and PIAA championship in 2006 in a 35-7 triumph over the host Mount Lebanon Blue Devils to secure the Class AAAA Southeastern Conference championship outright and a possible top seed when the brackets come out on Monday.
Chase Winovich – Thomas Jefferson
Once again the Big Nine Conference in Class AAA came down to a battle of the Big Two and once again it was Thomas Jefferson chasing West Mifflin away from the conference championship. TJ quarterback Chase Winovich was a perfect 2 of 2 passing for 21 yards, but the senior Michigan recruit at linebacker did his damage with his legs, rushing for 246 yards on the ground with four touchdowns runs of 13, 39, 1 and 7 yards as the Jaguars cruised to another 9-0 regular season and a Big Nine Conference title with a 35-0 whitewash of the host Titans in a one-sided battle of the unbeaten.
Dan Farinelli – Knoch
Knoch knew coming into Week 9 that they had no shot at making the WPIAL football playoffs, however that didn't mean they couldn't make like a black cloud and rain all over somebody else's parade. Knoch quarterback Dan Farinelli played the role of meteorologist by hitting on 14 of 24 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown pass of 60 yards to Jim Larimer in the third quarter that put the Knights up for good in a 19-7 triumph over visiting Highlands that helped knock the Golden Rams from earning a three way share of the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference championship with Mars and Franklin Regional.
Braydon Toy and Nick Bowers – Kittanning
Not only were none of the players from Kittanning born the last time the went undefeasted through the regular season, there are likely some on the teams coaching staff that can't remember the nations Bicentennial Year of 1976. 37 years later, Kittanning is perfect again thanks to the big games by quarterback Braydon Toy and his prime target Nick Bowers. Toy was 19 of 29 passing for 242 yards and three touchdowns, one of which went to Bowers, who caught 10 passes for 144 yards as the Wildcats finish the regular season at 9-0 following a dramatic 28-27 victory over the now 8-1 host Shady Side Academy Indians to lay claim to the Class AA Allegheny Conference title.
Tyler Balla – Greensburg Central Catholic
There is great joy if you are a fan of Greensburg Central Catholic because your victory Friday over arch-rival Jeannette not only secured another trip to the WPIAL playoffs that looked improbable after an 0-3 start to the season, but it also knocked said rival out of the postseason picture. Tyler Balla played a big role in the big win with 251 yards rushing and two touchdown runs of 3 and 312 yards, plus he caught a scoring pass of 13 yards from quarterback Chase Keller as the Centurions clinched a playoff berth with a convincing 41-14 Class AA Interstate Conference victory over the visiting Jayhawks.
Tyler Donahue – Yough
A week after his last second Hail Mary pass helped Yough knock off Greensburg Central Catholic to put his team in the postseason drivers seat, Yough quarterback Tyler Donahue helped lead his team to the on ramp to the Highway to Heinz. Donahue enjoyed another big night, hitting on 11 of 19 passing for 221 yards and throwing three touchdown passes of 27, 59 and 8 yards while also scoring on a 12-yard scamper as the Cougars beat the visiting Southmoreland Scotties 45-13 to wrap up third place in the Class AA Interstate Conference and earn the teams first playoff trip in five years.
Tyler Perone and Danzel McKinley-Lewis – Seton-LaSalle
Just in case you may have forgot that Seton-LaSalle is pretty good at chuckin the pigskin, they put it 'on tape' as Mike Tomlin would say for all of the Class AA postseason teams to see. In a Double-A Century Conference battle for third place between playoff bound teams, Seton quarterback Tyler Perone hit on 23 of 27 passes for 368 yards and four touchdown tosses, one of which went to Danzel McKinley-Lewis, who caught 9 passes for 192 yards including that 80 yard scoring strike as the Rebels knocked off the host South Park Eagles 37-21.
Ryan Sowol – Burrell
Burrell's playoff hopes ended a week earlier when they lost at East Allegheny. The team however was able to regroup and finish with a win over host Deer Lakes thanks in large part to running back Ryan Sowol. Sowol rushed for 257 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 2, 9 and 1 yard as the Buccaneers beat the Lancers in a Class AA Allegheny Conference shootout to the tune of 49-32 that leaves the Bucs in fifth place and on the outside of the playoff picture.
Jesse Zelonka – Apollo-Ridge
Apollo-Ridge knew they had clinched a playoff berth coming into Week Nine, but they also realized they would be on the road in Round One of the postseason as a third of fourth place finisher and that Friday would be the last time to entertain in front of the home crowd. And entertain they did as quarterback Jesse Zelonka hit on 11 of 19 passes for 280 yards and connected on four long touchdown passes of 49, 39, 40 and 58 yards as the Vikings clinched third place in the Class A Eastern Conference with a 42-15 defeat of the playoff bound West Shamokin Wolves.
Connor McWilliams – Brentwood
Brentwood knew they controlled their own destiny in a win-and-your-in game in Week 9 while their opponent, California, needed to win by 10 and still get help elsewhere. there was no abacus, no Gardner Points and no other tiebreaker needed in the end as Brentwood cruised into the playoffs thanks in large part to the play of junior quarterback Connor McWilliams. McWilliams hit on 8 of 13 passes for 227 yards and a pair of second quarter touchdown passes of 57 and 12 yards as well as a short touchdown dive as the Spartans clinched fourth place with an easy 42-14 conquest of the host Trojans in a Class A Black Hills Conference fray.
Last week we celebrated the first time ever playoff clinchings of both Summit Academy and West Shamokin. This week, it is the Avella Eagles that earn our bonus huzzah! The Eagles fly into the football postseason for the first time since 1976, breaking the longest current postseason drought in the WPIAL.
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