WPIAL playoff breakdown: Class 4A

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 | 4:39 PM


Class 4A Semifinals

No. 4 Blackhawk (7-4) vs. No. 1 Thomas Jefferson (11-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Chartiers Valley Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner gets: Belle Vernon vs. South Fayette winner in the WPIAL Class 4A championship game at 5 p.m. Nov. 16

Last week: Blackhawk 36, Greensburg Salem 7; Thomas Jefferson 49, Montour 7

Coaches: Zach Hayward, Blackhawk; Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson

Players to watch: Marques Watson-Trent, Blackhawk (Sr., 6-0, 190, RB); Shane Stump, Thomas Jefferson (Sr., 6-1, 200, QB)

Four downs:

1. Blackhawk denied Greensburg Salem school victory No. 700 last week with a 29-point victory at home. The game was close at the half with the Cougars leading 13-7, but Blackhawk scored 23 unanswered points in the second half to cruise to a second straight victory and the fourth win in its last five games.

2. As he has been all season, Marques Watson-Trent was the offensive star for the Cougars last week. He rushed for 159 yards and scored two long touchdowns on runs of 58 and 41 yards. For the season, the senior running back has 1,222 yards and has scored 20 touchdowns.

3. Top-ranked Thomas Jefferson didn’t mess around in its quarterfinal against Montour last week. The Jaguars jumped out to a 14-0 lead after one quarter and increased their advantage to 35-7 by halftime. TJ has now held its opponents to one score or less in 10 consecutive games this season, allowing only 30 points in those 10 wins. Canon-McMillan scored 10 points against the Jaguars back in Week Zero.

4. Thomas Jefferson quarterback Shane Stump was spot on against Montour, connecting on 12 of 16 passes for 179 yards and two touchdown passes to go along with a scoring run. Senior running back Dylan Mallozzi rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Stump has thrown for 1,955 yards and 28 touchdowns while Mallozzi has rushed for 1,108 yards and scored 17 touchdowns this season.

Extra point: Thomas Jefferson has reached the district semifinals in 20 of the last 21 years. TJ and Blackhawk met in the Class 4A semifinals last year with the Jaguars winning big, 47-7. Max Shaw scored five touchdowns while Stump rushed for a pair of scores as Thomas Jefferson led 21-0 after the first quarter and cruised to the finals from there. The Jaguars beat the Cougars in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game twice in three years over a decade ago. TJ won 34-15 in the 2006 finals and 34-14 in the 2008 title game. The Blackhawk quarterback on the 2006 team was current coach Zach Hayward.

No. 2 South Fayette (10-1) vs. No. 3 Belle Vernon (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Peters Township HS Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Winner plays: Thomas Jefferson vs. Blackhawk winner in WPIAL championship at 5 p.m. Nov. 16

Last week: South Fayette 52, No. 7 West Mifflin 0; Belle Vernon 49, No. 6 New Castle 6

Coaches: Joe Rossi, South Fayette; Matt Humbert, South Fayette

Players to watch: Naman Alemeda, South Fayette (Jr., 6-5, 200, QB); Jared Hartman, Belle Vernon (Sr., 6-0, 175, QB/LB)

Four downs:

1. These teams are familiar with one another. South Fayette defeated Belle Vernon, 28-10, in last year’s semifinals en route to winning the WPIAL Class 4A title. The Lions have won six WPIAL titles, including four since 2010. Belle Vernon has won one WPIAL title (1995).

2. Alemada is the WPIAL’s leading passer. He has completed 185 of 274 passes for 2,761 yards and 31 touchdowns. His top targets are Joey Audia (56-731, 8 TDs), Charley Rossi (50-720, 7) and Ryan McGuire (30-645, 8 TDs). The Lions, who lost a Week Zero matchup against Upper St. Clair but have won 10 in a row, also have a reliable kicking game. Justin Caputo has booted four field goals and 55 extra points this season.

3. Belle Vernon’s lone loss came in Week 2 against Thomas Jefferson, 34-7. The Leopards could get a rematch next week if both teams advance to play in the championship game at Heinz Field. The Leopards have outscored opponents, on average, 49-10.

4. Hartman has been a catalyst for the Leopards offense, throwing for 1,530 yards and 27 touchdowns. He broke a school record for TD passes in a season last week. Wide receiver Hunter Ruokonen also shined last week, scoring three times, including on a 93-yard interception return. Larry Callaway and Dane Anden also both rushed for more than 100 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Calloway has run for 939 yards and 17 touchdowns on 117 carries this season.

Extra point: The combined score of the four WPIAL Class 4A semifinals last week was 186-20.

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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