WPIAL playoff breakdown: Class 5A
Thursday, November 7, 2019 | 4:29 PM
Class 5A Quarterfinals
No. 7 Bethel Park (7-3) vs. No. 2 Gateway (9-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Norwin Stadium
On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Winner gets: McKeesport vs. Penn Hills winner in a WPIAL Class 5A semifinals game at 7 p.m. Nov. 15
Last week: Bethel Park 45, Kiski Area 16; Gateway 35, Shaler 21
Coaches: Brian DeLallo, Bethel Park; Don Holl, Gateway
Players to watch: Anthony Chiccitt, Bethel Park (Sr., 6-2, 185, QB); Bryson Venanzio, Gateway (Sr., 5-10, 180, QB)
1. Bethel Park fell behind Kiski Area 10-0 early in the second quarter of its Class 5A first-round playoff game last week before scoring 45 unanswered points on its way to a 29-point victory. It was the Black Hawks’ first WPIAL football playoff win since they beat the Cavaliers 34-26 in a 2015 Class AAAA first-round game.
2. BP quarterback Anthony Chiccitt was near perfect, hitting on 5 of 6 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, the senior has accounted for over 1,000 yards from scrimmage with 937 yards passing and 169 yards rushing as the Black Hawks have won two straight after dropping two in a row.
3. Gateway is one win away from a fourth straight trip to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals. A win last week was a bit of a struggle over No. 15 seed Shaler. The teams were tied 7-7 after one quarter and 14-14 after both the second and third quarters before the Gators pulled away with three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
4. Senior quarterback Bryson Venanzio is quietly having a strong season. He has hit on 138 of 229 passes for 2,062 yards and 22 touchdowns. Last week against the Titans, Venanzio was 9 of 14 passing for 193 yards and a touchdown run while junior running back Derrick Davis rushed for 123 yards and scored three times.
Extra point: While Gateway has qualified for the district semifinals the last three years, it has been a decade since Bethel Park reached the final four. The Black Hawks’ last trip to the semifinals was in 2009 when they lost a heartbreaker to Woodland Hills, 38-35. The last time the Gators and Black Hawks met in a playoff game was in the 2008 Class AAAA championship game when Bethel Park stunned Gateway, 10-6, to win the school’s only WPIAL football championship.
No. 6 McKeesport (8-3) vs. No. 3 Penn Hills (10-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Hempfield Spartans Stadium
On the air: WEDO-AM 810, WEDO-FM 93.3 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com
Winner gets: Bethel Park vs. Gateway winner in a WPIAL Class 5A semifinals game at 7 p.m. Nov. 15
Last week: McKeesport 21, Baldwin 20; Penn Hills 56, Latrobe 17
Coaches: Matt Miller, McKeesport; Jon LeDonne, Penn Hills
Players to watch: Devari Robinson, McKeesport (Sr., 5-11, 185, QB); Eddie McKissick, Penn Hills (Sr., 6-2, 190, QB)
1. McKeesport has won at least one WPIAL playoff game in each of the last seven years, although that streak was in serious jeopardy last week. The Tigers trailed Baldwin 14-0 at the half and 20-7 heading into the fourth quarter before rallying with 14 unanswered points to pull out the one-point victory at home.
2. Tigers quarterback Devari Robinson earned Trib HSSN Player of the Week honors with his monster game on the ground. The senior rushed for 235 yards and scored two touchdowns including the game winner on a 25-yard run with just over a minute left. Robinson has rushed for 1,357 yards and scored 28 touchdowns this season.
3. Penn Hills began defense of its WPIAL Class 5A championship by cruising to a first-round victory at home over Latrobe. Leading only 7-3 after the opening quarter, the Indians outscored the Wildcats 29-0 in the second quarter to take control of the game and pick up their 10th straight victory and advance to the quarterfinals for a third straight season.
4. Eddie McKissock was one of several players to enjoy a good start to the postseason. The Indians’ senior quarterback was 6 of 12 passing for 158 yards with four of those six completions ending up as touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Dontae Pollard had three of those touchdowns receptions for Penn Hills. McKissick has thrown for 1,307 yards this season while top running back senior Germar Howard has rushed for 1,047 yards.
Extra point: Penn Hills and McKeesport met at the same stage of the playoffs last year with Penn Hills rolling past McKeesport, 34-7, in a 5A quarterfinal. Dante Cephas intercepted a pass on the first possession of the game and then scored on a 26-yard scoring pass from Hollis Mathis as the Indians never trailed. Mathis and Cephas connected on three touchdown passes. Both McKeesport and Penn Hills now sit at .500 in WPIAL playoff games this decade. The Tigers are 9-9 while the Indians are 6-6.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.