- High School
The WPIAL Football Fourpack for 10/18, 10/19 and 10/20
The penultimate game of the regular season is here and there is still so much to be decided. Conference titles, playoff spots and playoff positioning all loom large as we hit week eight of the WPIAL football season. Some pretty big shake-ups last week, will the trend continue? Don’t forget to save your brain cramps by checking with Don Rebel’s playoff update column every week down the stretch here to find out exactly what your team needs to reach the post season. Just like every year when we reach week eight the big games are plentiful, so let’s go Big Game Hunting.
AAAA Foothills Conference
#2 Gateway Gators (6-1)(6-0) vs #7 Penn-Trafford Warriors (6-1)(6-0) Friday October 19th at 7:30 pm @ Warrior Stadium on the campus of Penn-Trafford high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and KDKA-FM 93.7 The Fan by Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis
The Gators did not spend much time out of the second spot in the MSA top-ten thanks to a Bethel Park upset of Upper Saint Clair last week they are right back just a week after their only loss of the season to top-ranked North Allegheny.
Penn-Trafford meanwhile has rattled off six straight wins since starting the year with a non-conference loss on the road to North Hills. The Warriors have been very business-like in the winning streak, not blowing a lot of teams out but also not playing a lot of terribly close games for head coach John Ruane. Great ties here between Gateway and Penn-Trafford as of course coach Ruane was the offensive coordinator for Terry Smith at Gateway for so many years. In fact these offenses will look very familiar to both of these teams, they are basically the same.
The Gators have achieved perfect offensive balance averaging almost exactly 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing per game on the season.
Gateway quarterback Thomas Woodson, an Arizona recruit, is proving himself to be one of the best in the WPIAL this year he has completed 59 of 96 passes for 1367 yards and 15 touchdowns all without throwing an interception.
His three top receivers are Delvon Randall with 10 catches for 215 yards and two scores, Jaymar Parrish with 14 catches for 247 yards, and junior Montae Nicholson who has a dozen catches for 383 yards and five touchdowns.
The Gators can and will run it at you as well. Woodson is always a threat with 210 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Their leading rusher is a load, senior Andre Martin at 5’10’’ and 225 pounds is pounding out over nine yards per carry on the year. He has carried the football 69 times for 647 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year.
The Gator defense has 22 sacks on the year led by junior Brenon Thrift’s six. And they have come up with seven interceptions led by another junior Anthony Davis’ two on the year. Terry Smith says this is the best defensive backfield in the WPIAL. That creates quite a challenge for the Warriors.
Penn-Trafford is a little more run oriented with four different players over a hundred yards rushing on the year. Devin Austin leads them with 69 carries for 532 yards and seven touchdowns.
Quarterback Dorian Stevens is second on the team with 423 yards and four scoring runs for the year. Steven has had solid success throwing the ball as well completing 44 of his 82 attempts for 721 yards and eight touchdowns.
He has had difficulties throwing it to the other team from time to time having tossed five picks. He will need to be better at that this week against that Gateway secondary. Ball protection will be a huge key for Penn-Trafford.
The Warriors have some big-time play makers on the edges in receivers Brian McDonough and Dom Cima. The two have combined for 25 catches, 444 yards and eight touchdowns on the year.
AAA Greater Allegheny Conference
#7 Franklin-Regional Panthers (6-1)(5-1) vs #8 Hampton Talbots (6-1)(5-1) Friday October 19th at 7:00 pm @ Hampton high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and the Hampton Talbot Sports Network by Dennis Fischer
Mars getting Knoched off last Friday night has suddenly brought anarchy to the battle for the Greater Allegheny Conference title. Three teams are now very much in the hunt for that title including these two.
Franklin-Regional since a week one loss to Mars has been the epitome of rolling. The Panthers have rattled off six straight wins and pitched three shutouts, their defense is allowing a fifth best in the entire WPIAL 6.3 points per game.
Senior quarterback Nico Lodovico has completed 44 of 84 passes for 872 yards and ten touchdowns on the season. He has thrown seven interceptions.
On the ground senior Dane Brown is rounding back into shape after being hampered by an injury and missing two games. For the year he has 64 carries for 434 yards. Last week in a win over Hollidaysburg he rushed for 101 yards on 11 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns. The Panthers are hoping he will be in full go mode down the stretch and into the playoffs because he is a “game-changer”.
Junior Charan Singh is the leading receiver for the Panthers with 17 catches for 331 yards and three touchdowns. Colin Jonav has caught five touchdown passes.
The defensive numbers are impressive for the Panthers with 13 sacks, seven interceptions and 11 fumbles forced and recovered contributing mightily to their outstanding efforts.
Hampton has quietly become a contender for the championship in the GAC, the Talbots lost a head scratcher to Greensburg Salem in week three the only conference victory of the year for the Golden Lions.
Other than that week three hiccup the Talbots have been solid with a nicely balanced attack.
Junior quarterback Joe Nigro has completed 52 of 98 passes for 909 yards and six scores. On the ground a pair of juniors, have had tremendous success for Hampton. Anthony Bianco and Frank Bello have combined for 124 carries, 830 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year.
Sophomore Eddie Edwards is their leading receiver with 18 catches for 329 yards and a score. Another sophomore Collin Luther has 192 yards and three touchdowns in just nine catches.
AA Midwestern Conference
#8 Beaver Falls Tigers (6-1)(5-1) at #1 Aliquippa Quips (7-0)(5-0) Thursday October 18th at 7:00 pm @ “The Pit” in Aliquippa broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP-AM 1230 and WMBA-AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman and Bruce Frey
As rivalries go this ranks right up there as one of the best in WPIAL history. These two clubs have met 11 times since the 2003 season with Aliquippa going 7-4 in that span including avenging a pair of regular season losses with playoff wins over the Tigers.
No secret what the top-ranked Quips want to do, they have thrown as a team for only 390 yards while rushing for almost 2500 on the season. All while having the top-ranked defense in the WPIAL in terms of points allowed per game at 3.1. They have four shutouts on the year and have only allowed one opponent into double digits, when they beat Ellwood City last week 54-12.
Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson are the point of attack running the football with Henry rushing for 655 yards and 13 touchdowns, and Swanson 638 yards and 10 scores on the year.
Through the air when they do decide to throw Malik Shegog has tossed for 324 yards and five touchdowns, completing 17 of his 31 passes.
Beaver Falls meanwhile under head coach Ryan Matsook has just one loss on the season a 34-28 trip up at the hands of unbeaten Beaver back in week four.
Junior quarterback Dan Stratton has been fabulous on the season completing 47 of 90 passes for 1050 yards and 15 touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions.
Junior Elijah Cotrill has 21 catches for 395 yards and has scored seven touchdowns on the season. But the eye-popping numbers at receiver for the Tigers come from tight end Sage Curry, yet another junior (yes the Tigers are going to be very good next year as well). Curry only has seven catches, but he has wracked up 385 yards on those three catches, he is averaging 55 yards per catch. He has also scored five times on the year.
On the ground it is yet another junior leading the way for the Tigers, Damian Rawl has 84 carries for 639 yards and has scored nine times. Rob Bell, a senior (hey!) has 494 yards on 77 attempts on the ground, he has also scored nine touchdowns.
No better place to be this Thursday night than at “The Pit”.
A Black Hills Conference
#8 Bishop Canevin Crusaders (5-2)(5-2) at Brentwood Spartans (4-3)(4-3) Friday October 19th at 7:30 pm @ Brentwood high school broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Dan Zangrilli and Johnny Lee
Brentwood controls their own fate in the deep tough Black Hills conference but a loss at home to Bishop Canevin would really hurt the Spartans this week.
The Crusaders will look to rebound from a tough loss at the hands of the Clairton Bears last Saturday night, and they also continue to battle the injury bug. Running backs Giovanni DeMarzo and Jim Tersak are both effected as well as offensive and defensive lineman Tanner Richardson. All three are huge parts of Bob Jacoby’s team and all three are battling shoulder problems. There is hope they will all return at some point here before the end of the season. If the Crusaders have to go to work without those key guys Friday against Brentwood it will present a tall task on the road.
Brentwood will continue the Justin Vickless show on the ground the 5’10’’ 170 pound junior is truly in an elite class running the football. He is their leading receiver as well. For the season Vickless has rushed 159 times for 965 yards, and he has scored a total of 16 touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Chris Shortley has had a solid season completing 59 of 121 passes for 815 yards and eight touchdowns. He has had trouble with turning it over though tossing seven interceptions, he will need to button that up for the Spartans to have a serious post season run.
Canevin has a nice football team this year for head coach Bob Jacoby, battling through some injuries is going to be key for them here down the stretch.
Quarterback Nico DiPaolo has really come on throwing the football of late throwing for 944 yards and seven touchdowns, while completing 58 of 177 tosses.
Sophomore running back DeMarzo is likely out for this game with his 390 rushing yards. The status of senior Jim Tersak is also up in the air, Tersak has rushed for 468 yards and a dozen touchdowns plus he does some great blocking from the fullback position. The Crusaders are really hoping he will be ready to go. Junior Tyler Reddy will take over a lot of the rushing duties if those guys remain out and, he has stepped in very nicely in the last couple of weeks.
Wide out Mike Tambellini is a playmaker in a big way for the Crusaders, he leads them with 27 catches for the season for 499 yards and five scores. Another senior Matt Decello has had a solid year catching it as well with a dozen catches for nearly 200 yards and a score.
Mike Dunn is the leading tackler for the Crusaders and one of their best blockers up front on the offensive line as well.