WPIAL Week Eight Friday Night HighLights

Saturday, October 20, 2012 | 11:48 AM

Stretch Run high school football action continued with another busy Friday in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Today we focus not just on the biggest numbers put up on the Eighth Friday of this 2012 campaign, but on those top outings in games with big stakes…some ended long postseason droughts while others kept their team alive to fight another week or sealed the deal on one of the top spots in their conference. Whatever the case, these guys rocked when they needed to.

Jordan Cratty – Butler

The longest Class AAAA playoff drought had reached 13 years, so with a chance to end that miserable mark, Butler players and fans were doing quite the rain dance at home Friday night. Jordan Cratty helped break the string by rushing for 132 yards and scoring the games first touchdown on a 63-yard jaunt, plus he hit Canan Roskovski with a 33-yard touchdown pass that was icing on the cake in the Golden Tornadoes 49-7 triumph over the Fox Chapel Foxes in a Class AAAA Northern Eight Conference game that earned Butler their first playoff berth since 1998.

D.J. Gearhart and DeLorian Day – Hempfield

Hempfield has had success on the gridiron since Marty McFly jumped into a DeLorian and went back to the future, they just haven't had a lot of it. The 2012 turnaround was made complete in a way Friday with the clinching of a playoff spot thanks to D.J. Gearhart and a different DeLorian…DeLorian Day. Gearhart rushed for 123 yards and scored once while Day ran for 117 yards and scored three touchdowns to go with a scoring pass as the Spartans crushed the Norwin Knights 42-8 to seal a postseason spot in the Class AAAA Foothills Conference.

Cody McClelland – Woodland Hills

Only twice has Woodland Hills missed the WPIAL playoff dance in their storied nearly three decade history. 2012 will not be the third time. Quarterback Cody McClelland hit on only nine passes, but they were for big chunks as he ended up with 196 yards through the air (a nearly 22 yard average on each pitch and catch), lpus he tossed a pair of touchdown passes as the Wolverines won on the road over the Peters Township Indians to secure a playoff spot in the Class AAAA Southeastern Conference and remain alive for a Week 10 home playoff game. 

Gateway and West Allegheny Defenses

With all of the offensive numbers put up this year in the WPIAL (this column is based on it), two teams brought championship caliber defenses to the table Friday in a pair of big game showdowns for first place. The Gators defense not only shutout the host Penn-Trafford Warriors, but they outscored them with a Mileak Ford 21-yard interception return to the house along with a Jaymar Parrish 9-yard fumble return for a score in a 42-0 rout for the Class AAAA Foothills Conference title. The West A totally shut down the top-ranked and high powered Montour offense, limiting the Spartans rushing attack to 29 yards and their passing game to 160 yards and no touchdowns as the visiting Indians forced a three-way tie for the top spot in the Class AAA Parkway Conference with a 5-3 victory.

Cole Chiappialle – Blackhawk

Can you say WOW!?!? In a nightmarish season for Blackhawk filled with heartbreak loss and heartbreak loss, a dream filled with yards and yards of sweetness emerged just in time to keep their playoff hopes alive in the Class AAA Parkway Conference. Cole Chiappialle became the tenth back in WPIAL history to eclipse the 400 yard  mark in a game when he rushed for 404 exhausting yards and SIX touchdowns in a game for the ages as the Cougars out-slugged the visiting Chartiers Valley Colts 48-25.

Jon Nigro – Hampton

After Hampton lost to Greensburg-Salem earlier this year, the Golden Lions only win of the season up until Week 8, many wondered how good this team really is. A week 5 win over Knoch and now a Week 8 victory over Franklin Regional tells us they are pretty darn good. Quarterback Jon Nigro hit on 11 of 16 passes for 240 yards while kicking a 25-yard field goal and two extra points that all added up to a 17-13 win for the Talbots over the Panthers that sets up a Mars at Hampton regular season finale next week for the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference championship.

JaQuan Davidson – Elizabeth Forward

Recent history has not been kind to the Elizabeth Forward football program with lots of losses, few wins and even fewer playoff berths. But another team that has turned it around here in 2012 is playoff bound after a road win Friday. JaQuan Davidson rushed for 173 yards with three touchdowns, including a pair of scores from over 60 yards, plus he tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Matt Beradowski as the Warriors overcame a late arrival to the field and a sluggish start to knock off the Albert Gallatin Colonials 34-6 to clinch a playoff spot in the Class AAA Big Nine Conference.

Demetrius Howard – Valley

2012 has been the year of resurgent programs in the WPIAL, but none can match what has happened on the gridiron in New Kensington this season. After winless campaigns in 2010 and 2011 and a 22-game losing streak earlier this year, Valley is postseason bound after Demetrius Houser rushed for 130 yards and scored a short range touchdown as they Vikings improved to 6-2 overall with a tough 20-17 victory over Kittanning that seals the deal on the Class AA Allegheny Conference playoff berth.

Drew Robinson – Union

For the first time since 2003, there will be solidarity in the WPIAL football playoffs. Union is postseason bound thanks in part to a big game and big season by Drew Robinson, the son of head coach Stacey Robinson. The younger Robinson rushed for 122 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 2 and 56 yards, plus he caught a pair of scoring aerials of 33 and 15 yards from quarterback Joe Salmen as the Scotties beat back the visiting South Side Rams to secure one of four playoff spots in the Class A Big 7 Conference.

Justin Vickless – Brentwood

Many people considered the Class A Black Hills Conference to be loard this year with four-time defending champion Clairton joined by Bishop Canevin, Monessen, California and the new kid on the block, Imani Christian. To secure a playoff spot in this deep conference, you would have to EARN it. Friday night, Brentwood did just that with another huge game from running back Josh Vickless, who went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season with 183 yards on the ground and a touchdown as the Spartans clinched with a convincing 42-7 triumph over the Bishop Canevin Crusaders.

Brennan McMinn – Carmichaels

Brennan McMinn enjoyed a big game at the office that didn't lead to Carmichaels clinching a playoff spot…yet. McMinn rushed for 211 yards and scored on long touchdown runs of 44, 24 and 56 yards, plus he returned a punt 54-yard to the house as the Mighty Mikes spanked the Bentworth Bearcats 56-21 moving Carmichaels to within one win against West Greene next week in the Class A Tri-County South Conference from returning back to the playoff after a years absence.

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