- High School
The WPIAL Football Fourpack for 9/20, 9/21 and 9/22
Rolling through the 2012 season in a hurry as week four comes upon us here in southwestern Pennsylvania, leaves and the weather starting to change. Not much change though at the top of the MSA Sports top ten rankings. The defending champs in each classification all sit atop their thrones with unbeaten records as we approach the midway point. But 2012 is not just a case of the rich getting richer by any stretch. Avella is 3-0 for the first time since 1976 and West Shamokin snapped the longest losing streak in WPIAL history with their 25-6 win over Riverview last Friday. Some change can be good. All this change can make it tough on the “Big Game Hunting” guy, but hey, he’s a gamer.
AAAA Southeastern Conference
Penn Hills Indians (2-1)(2-1) at #3 Upper Saint Clair Panthers (3-0)(3-0) Friday September 21st at Upper Saint Clair high school @ 7:30 pm broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sam Hall and Johnny Lee
Jim Render’s Panthers are again a force to be reckoned with in AAAA. The Panthers have a very special quarterback in senior Pete Coughlin. He can absolutely ruin a defense with his legs or his arm. He has completed an outstanding 22 of his 29 passes on the year for 394 yards and eight touchdowns without throwing an interception. On the ground he has rushed it 30 times for 188 yards and four more scores. He has a remarkable ability to make defenders miss in very close spaces. The big task for Penn Hills will be to find a way to keep him in the pocket while still defending receivers down field. There are a plethora of receivers to defend as well. Tim Witenske leads the Panthers with five catches on the year. But Mac Pope, Mike McGuire, Morgan Lee, and Ben Haus are all big time playmakers that need to be accounted for.
The Panthers have a nice one-two punch at tailback as well with Phil Saracco and Mike Krenn doing very solid work, they are also big threats to catch the ball for coach Render.
Defensively USC as always is very solid. They have produced four and a half sacks on the year and picked off three passes, as well as producing and recovering four fumbles. And not a single player has more than one of any of those recorded statistics, they play as a unit and they are never out of position.
Penn Hills meanwhile looks to build off a thrilling come from behind in the last minute of play win over Baldwin last Thursday night and it says here first year head coach John Peterman was almost as happy about having an extra day to prepare for this game as he was about the win.
Quarterback Darius Holloway has been very efficient with the passing of the football completing 23 of his 36 attempts for 296 yards and has yet to throw a pick, but he has also yet to throw a touchdown pass. The Indians leading pass catcher is Jordan Davenport who has hauled in nine passes for 145 yards on the year. But Penn Hills has struggled offensively early on as they continue to learn the new offense. They are only averaging 10.0 points per game on offense including being shut out by Peters Township at home in week two.
Aaron Bailey will get the bulk of the work from a running back standpoint coming into this game with 54 carries for 309 yards on the year. Bailey has also scored two of the Indians four touchdowns on the season.
Good news is, if you are 2-1 and not scoring much you have a great defense and the Indians certainly have that. They are hard-hitting, smart and have a good nose for the football. That will all come in handy against Coughlin and company here in week four. This is a huge game for Penn Hills if they want to put their name up there with the upper echelon in AAAA in 2012.
AAA Big Nine Conference
#3 Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (3-0)(2-0) at #10 Trinity Hillers (2-1)(2-0) Friday September 21st at Hiller Stadium @ 7:30 Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WJPA FM 95.3 by Mark Uriah
This might be chance for a bump in the road to the Jaguars as they hope to set up, what some folks think will be a battle of unbeatens in week nine for the Big Nine Championship at home against West Mifflin. That possibility remains, but both of these teams struggled with a much improved Elizabeth-Forward team this year in wins and, were it not for a non-conference whooping Trinity received at home in week two at the hands of Knoch, this would seem to set up as a pair of evenly matched teams.
Bill Cherpak’s Jags are led by the supreme passing skills of senior quarterback Joe Carroll completing over 61% of his passes. Carroll has hit on 27 of 44 throws for 587 yards and 12 touchdowns, while only tossing one interception. Senior Zach Shademan has caught 14 passes for 283 yards and five touchdowns on the year. Another senior in Jake Mascaro has been devastating opposing defenses as well with nine catches for 241 yards and six scores. That is an outstanding pair of wide outs.
On the ground Jake Farrell and Byron Minous have combined to rush for 344 yards and four touchdowns, so the Jags can and will still pound it if you give them the chance.
Defensive TJ is only allowing 11.0 points per game on the year. They are led by junior linebacker Austin Boyd with 5.3 tackles per game and have turned the ball back over to their offense five times on the year. The Hillers will need to avoid that costly turnover if they hope to hang with the Jags.
When protected Trinity quarterback senior Don McWreath has been solid connecting on more than 50% of his passes for a pair of touchdowns. But against Knoch, being harassed all night he could not complete a pass. The guys up front for the Hillers will have to keep the TJ blitz and front four at bay for McWraeth to have a chance to throw the football.
Trinity has been buoyed by a solid rushing attack with junior Patrick Frey leading the way, on the year he has carried 55 times for 335 yards and four scores. Senior Kyle Dugan has done some solid work as well rushing for 123 yards on the season.
Trinity’s defense has four interceptions on the year including Corey Hunsberger has one of those and returned it 81 yards for a touchdown, he also has an 82 yard kickoff return for a touchdown amongst his four scores on the year. A big play in special teams or defense would be a huge boost for Trinity first year head coach Ryan Coyle in this game.
AA Midwestern Conference
#8 Beaver Falls Tigers (3-0)(3-0) at #4 Beaver Bobcats (3-0)(2-0) Saturday September 22nd at Beaver Area high school @ 7:30 Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP-AM 1230 and WMBA-AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman and Tom Hayes also broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WKPL-FM 92.1 by Bob Orkwis and Rick Smith
This is one of those games that you look forward to every season.
Jeff Beltz’s Bobcats have been very solid yet again here in 2012 scoring almost 35 points per game while allowing just over 11.
They are getting solid play at the quarterback position from junior quarterback Alex Rowse who has completed 19 of his 35 passes for 177 yards, his favorite target is Darian Bradley who has seven catches for 63 yards on the season.
Bradley, a 5’10’’ 205 pound senior is the focus of the Bobcats offense leading them in rushing yards as well with 232 yards in 46 attempts, he is also their leading scorer posting ten touchdowns on the season.
Defensively the Bobcats will lean on senior defensive end Jeremy Teams who leads them on that side of the ball with 20 solo tackles on the year.
Beaver Falls meanwhile has been dominant in the early part of their schedule outscoring their opponents by an average of more than 40 points per game. Junior quarterback Danny Stratton has completed 18 of 35 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns and only thrown a single pick. Elijah Cottrill is their leader in passes received with eight for 84 yards. If the long ball is something you like keep an eye on junior Sage Curry who only has three catches but he is averaging over 63 yards per catch and all three catches have been for scores.
On the ground the Tigers have a pair of big time runners in senior Rob Bell and junior Damien Rawl the duo has combined for 55 carries, 445 yards and nine touchdowns on the year.
Beaver head coach Jeff Beltz says, “These two teams will battle to see who can control the line of scrimmage. As always, the team which accomplishes that feat will have the upper hand in this storied series. Both teams have talent on the field, and it may come down to a couple of big plays to determine the winner.”
Coach has a spot on the Big Game Hunting staff waiting for him when he gets ready for retirement.
A Black Hills Conference
#1 Clairton Bears (3-0)(3-0) at #5 Monessen Greyhounds (3-0)(3-0) Thurday September 20th at Monessen high school @ 7:00 pm broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Josh Rowntree and Lou Rood
Nothing beats a Thursday night battle of top five teams when you are pressed to pick a big game in single A. The Bears have rattled off 50 wins in a row. They were tested in week one by Chartiers-Houston on the road but still found a way to win. That test though, has led some pundits to believe the streak is in jeopardy here in 2012. Those pundits should be reminded that Clairton played that game minus ten players who were sat for Tom Nola’s reasons. Ten players is a whole bunch of players in single A.
That said the Greyhounds have been very good and the biggest part of being very good has been the play of senior quarterback Chavas Rawlins who is capable of completely taking over a game by himself. He has completed 16 of 39 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns. He is also the ‘Hounds leading rusher carrying 29 times for another 262 yards and seven touchdowns.
Look for another player in junior running back Clintell Gillespie to make a big impact as well if the Greyhounds hope to pull off the upset. Gillespie is a 5’11’’ 222 pound running back with deceptive speed and overwhelming power, and great hands. For the season he has 4 catches for 227 yards, has rushed nine times for 140 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Clairton has gotten great quarterback play this season from senior Armani Ford who has completed 16 of 23 throws for 459 yards and three touchdowns. Titus Howard and Terrish Webb are both big time playmakers with a combined 11 catches for 299 yards and four touchdowns. All of that said if you are going to play the Bears you better be fully focused on Tyler Boyd. You will see him running back, wide out and at quarterback in the wildcat, you will know he is coming but the challenge is to try and stop him. Boyd has rushed for 368 yards and scored eight touchdowns on the season. He is without question the key to the Bears keeping the streak alive.