WPIAL high school football don’t-miss matchups for Week 10

By: HSSN Staff
Thursday, November 1, 2018 | 6:06 PM

Here’s a look at some of the top matchups in each class for this week’s WPIAL high school football playoff games:

Class 6A


No. 4 Central Catholic (7-3) vs. No. 5 Seneca Valley (7-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday at Fox Chapel’s James M. Burke Stadium

On the air: 95.3 FM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Mt. Lebanon 17, Central Catholic 7; Seneca Valley 21, Norwin 13

Winner plays: No. 1 North Allegheny (10-0)

Coaches: Terry Totten, Central Catholic; Ron Butschle, Seneca Valley

Top players: Eddy Tillman, Central Catholic (So., RB/DB); Josh McLean, Seneca Valley (Sr., WR/FS)

Keep an eye on: Johnathan Opalko, Central Catholic (Jr., K/P)

Momentum: Seneca Valley defeated Hempfield, Woodland Hills and Norwin during the final four weeks of the regular season to seal the No. 5 seed in the postseason.

Four downs: 1. The Vikings lost this season to the top three teams in the Class 6A playoff bracket — North Allegheny, Pine-Richland and Mt. Lebanon. 2. McLean has been a steady target for the Raiders and QB Gabe Lawson. He has 27 catches for 489 yards and seven touchdowns. 3. The Raiders have the stingiest defense in Class 6A, allowing just 9.1 points. Central Catholic allows 17.3. 4. Opalko has booted 26 extra-points and five field goals this season for the Vikings.

Extra point: Central Catholic defeated Seneca Valley, 20-14, when these teams played in Week 1.

Class 5A

First round

No. 13 Woodland Hills (4-6) at No. 4 Mars (9-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday at Mars Athletic Complex

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Woodland Hills 28, Chartiers Valley 14; Mars 30, Hampton 6

Winner plays: Winner of No. 5 West Allegheny (7-2)/No. 12 Shaler (4-6)

Coaches: Tim Bostard, Woodland Hills; Scott Heinauer, Mars

Top players: William Clark, Woodland Hills (Jr., RB/DB); Garrett Reinke, Mars (Sr., RB/SS)

Keep an eye on: Tyler Kowalkowski, Mars (Sr., QB/SS)

Momentum: Mars. The Fightin’ Planets are riding a six-game winning streak, that includes victories over playoff teams from Armstrong, Shaler, North Hills and Kiski Area.

Four downs: 1. Mars’ lone loss this season was against No. 1 Penn Hills, a 36-15 setback in Week 3. 2. Mars is allowing 12.3 points per game, fourth in Class 5A to Gateway (4.3), Penn Hills (10.0) and Penn-Trafford (11.9). 3. Clark has rushed for 719 yards and seven touchdowns for the Wolverines. Anthony Meredith has added 704 yards and four scores. 4. Kowalkowski has added balance to the typically run-heavy offense for Mars, throwing for 1,059 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Extra point: Woodland Hills started the season 0-4 but finished on a two-game winning streak with victories over Moon and Chartiers Valley.

Class 4A


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

7:30 p.m. Friday at Blackhawk Stadium

On the air: 1230 AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Thomas Jefferson 37, West Mifflin 6; Blackhawk 14, Beaver 13

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 Thomas Jefferson (9-0)/No. 8 New Castle (5-5)

Coaches: Ray Braszo, West Mifflin; Zack Hayward, Blackhawk

Top players: Kenny Gawley, Blackhawk (Jr., RB/LB), Parrish Parker, West Mifflin (Sr., RB/DB)

Keep an eye on: Marques Watson-Trent, Blackhawk (Jr., RB/FS)

Momentum: Blackhawk. The Cougars capped the regular season by edging Beaver to finish second in the Northwest Eight Conference.

Four downs: 1. Blackhawk’s potent running attack finished the regular season with more than 2,000 yards and 29 scores. The group includes Gawley (745 yards), Watson-Trent (649) and Josh Butcher (614). 2. Cougars QB Chance Liptak has given the offense balance, completing 41 of 84 passes for 683 yards and eight scores. 3. Parker is one of the WPIAL’s top rushers this season with 1,289 yards and 23 touchdowns. 4. The Titans finished the season with losses to Belle Vernon and Thomas Jefferson sandwiched around a 53-0 win over Ringgold.

Extra point: Blackhawk, which went 2-7 last season, started the season 5-0 before losing 21-0 to South Fayette.

Class 3A


No. 6 Quaker Valley (5-4) vs. No. 3 North Catholic (9-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday at Stone Field, North Park

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Quaker Valley 34, South Park 14; North Catholic 64, Deer Lakes 3

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 Derry (9-1)/No. 7 Central Valley (5-5)

Coaches: Ron Balog, Quaker Valley; Pat O’Shea, North Catholic

Top players: Ethan Moore, Quaker Valley (Sr., QB/DB); Nikhai Hill-Green, North Catholic (Jr., WR/LB)

Keep an eye on: Ryan Jackovic, Quaker Valley (Sr., WR/DB); Zack Rocco, North Catholic (Jr., QB/DB)

Momentum: Quaker Valley won four of its last five after an 0-3 start. North Catholic won five straight since its lone loss of the season in Week 4.

Four downs: 1. Quaker Valley is the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A champion, while North Catholic is hoping to capture its first WPIAL title since 2013 (Class A). 2. The Trojans are averaging 50.2 points over their current five-game winning streak. They also have surrendered only 10 points during that span. 3. Quaker Valley scored 26.3 points a game during the regular season and gave up 23.2 a contest. 4. The winner between the Trojans and Quakers will face the winner of No. 2 Derry and No. 7 Central Valley in the semifinals on Nov. 9.

Extra point: Quaker Valley and North Catholic met last year in a Week Zero 3A vs. 2A game, and the Quakers scored a 55-21 victory. North Catholic fell to eventual WPIAL champion Washington in the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals.

Class 2A

First round

No. 10 Avonworth (7-3) at No. 7 Freedom (9-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday at Freedom High School

On the air: 1460 AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Shady Side Academy 28, Avonworth 10; Freedom 33, Western Beaver 0

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 Burgettstown (9-0)/No. 15 East Allegheny (6-4)

Coaches: Duke Johncour, Avonworth; John Rosa, Freedom.

Top players: Derek Johncour, Avonworth (Sr., QB); Zach Rosa, Freedom (Sr., QB/DB)

Keep an eye on: Jax Miller, Avonworth (Jr., RB/DB); Jake Pail, Freedom (Sr., WR/DB)

Momentum: Freedom enters the playoff matchup on a six-game winning streak.

Four downs: 1. Avonworth is making its 11th straight WPIAL playoff appearance, while Freedom is in the postseason for the third year in a row; 2. Derek Johncour paced Avonworth in the regular season with 170 completions on 257 attempts for 2,305 yards and 23 touchdowns. 2. Freedom’s Rosa threw 20 touchdowns in the regular season and finished with 1,244 yards. He was intercepted only three times. 3. Freedom finished as the co-champion in the Midwestern Conference with Mohawk. Each finished 6-1 in conference play. Avonworth enters the playoffs as the No. 3 team in the Allegheny Conference behind champion Shady Side Academy and runner-up Steel Valley. 4. The winner between the Bulldogs and Antelopes will face the winner of No. 2 Burgettstown and No. 15 East Allegheny in the quarterfinals on Nov. 9.

Extra point: Freedom was the sixth-highest scoring team in Class 2A during the regular season at 36.4 points a game, while Avonworth was the eighth highest at 32.8.

Class A


No. 6 Imani Christian (7-3) vs. No. 3 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (9-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday at Moon Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Imani Christian 54, Chartiers-Houston 0; OLSH 27, Cornell 0

Winner plays: No. 2 Clairton (8-1)/No. 7 California (6-4)

Coaches: Ronnell Heard, Imani Christian; Dan Bradley, OLSH

Top players: Israel Reed, Imani Christian (Sr., QB/LB); Tyler Bradley, OLSH (Sr., QB)

Keep an eye on: Rahmon Hart Jr., Imani Christian (Sr., WR/DB); Austin Wigley, OLSH (Sr., RB/CB)

Momentum: OLSH lost just once during the regular season, a 28-13 Week 6 loss to No. 1 Jeannette.

Four downs: 1. Imani Christian alternated wins and losses over the final five weeks of the regular season. The Saints routed Chartiers-Houston last Saturday behind Reed’s 349 passing yards and five touchdown throws. 2. Bradley fronted the OLSH offensive attack in the regular season with 2,574 yards and 33 touchdowns against six interceptions. He eclipsed the 7,000-yard mark at Jeannette. 3. Hart Jr. is a Ball State recruit. He has 56 catches for 1,274 yards (22.8 avg.) and 15 total touchdowns this season. 4. The winner between Imani Christian and OLSH will face the winner of No. 2 Clairton and No. 7 California in the semifinals Nov. 9.

Extra point: Friday’s game is a rematch of a 2017 WPIAL Class A quarterfinal contest. Imani Christian upended OLSH, 20-12, and then topped California in the semifinals before falling to Jeannette by one point in the championship game at Robert Morris.

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