Big Game Hunting - The WPIAL Football Four-Pack

For Week 11
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The quarterfinals, now things get seriously juicy. All sixteen games on the Network but four are the very tastiest of the tasty, including a pair of rematches. A shout out to the gang at MSA as they stretched themselves thin last week to bring you all 32 opening round games on the Network. You should know its not easy for King Rebel and his court, they gotta scramble, gotta scratch, gotta claw, gotta beg, borrow and steal to get it done but they do it for you and your kids. They do it out of love for the game. All that said, from here on out its pretty much a cake walk down to Heinz Field for the MSA crew. Wanna get your team to the semis? Your turn to scramble, scratch, claw, beg, borrow and steal. Let’s Go BIG GAME HUNTING!

AAAA #4 Penn-Trafford Warriors (10-0) vs #5 Gateway Gators (8-2)
Friday November 11th 7:30 pm @ Hemfield High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and 1360 AM WMNY by Paul Paterra and Dan Zangrilli

This is a rematch of a week four match-up that took place in Harrison City at Warrior stadium won 16-14 by Penn-Trafford on a late Matt Loughnane field goal.

Penn-Trafford quarterback Zach Emerick has been splendid for John Ruane’s club this year, entering the playoffs he had completed 83 of 126 passes for 1323 yards and 14 touchdowns while only tossing three picks. He is calm and cool under pressure, takes care of the football and great at managing his team and the clock.

Manny Simpson though is the engine for a Warrior offense that has averaged 32.5 points per game so far this year including blanking Bethel Park in the first round 21-0 last week. Simpson will not go down with initial contact, and many times even secondary contact won’t get him to the ground. The Gators will need to gang tackle this kid. Simpson finished seventh in the WPIAL through the regular season with 1397 yards rushing in 178 attempts for an average of nearly eight yards per carry. Through the regular season he also scored 16 touchdowns for the Warriors. In the first round he tacked on 160 more yards and another score.

Gateway head coach Terry Smith says that the Gators have to find a way to slow down Simpson, “Their (Penn-Trafford’s) run game is as good as any in the WPIAL.  We must contain Manny Simpson or it will be a long night.  Defensively we are completely different than the first time we played them.  We have simplified our 4-3 scheme and we are playing much better.”

Gateway brings their own talented backfield to this game and that talent is considerable, starting with junior quarterback Thomas Woodson who in the regular season completed 58 of 98 passes for 1143 yards and 11 touchdowns without throwing an interception. The Gators best offensive threat though might be running back Darin Franklin who contributes all over the place for Gateway. Franklin on the year has carried 115 times for 16 touchdowns and 747 yards. He also is a threat in the defensive backfield and in the return game for Terry Smith. The Gators can put some serious pressure on the edges as well with a pair of the tallest receivers in the WPIAL in Tyler Scott (6’5’’) and Barnett Harris (6’9’’).

Penn-Trafford head coach John Ruane is very aware of the talent the Gators bring into this contest, “I think Gateway is playing really well right now on both sides of the ball.  They force a lot of turnovers, and one major key for us is protecting the ball.  We have to cover kicks very well because Darin Franklin is a great returner.  Gateway's run game is also very good, we will have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage and tackle well to win.  The more physical team and the team that runs the ball better should win.”
We’ll agree with that assessment coach Ruane, and you can send your invoice to Don Rebel.

AAA #4 West Mifflin Titans (9-1) vs #5 Montour Spartans (8-2)
Friday November 11th 7:30 pm @ Baldwin High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and Trib Live Radio by Ken Laird and Jonathan Whaley

The AAA bracket is loaded with teams that have the ability to reach Heinz Field in a couple of week and these are definitely two of those teams. In the opening round there was only a single upset according to seed in AAA, it will be surprising to BGH if that same “chalk” play out continues here in the quarterfinals.

The Spartans of Montour worked their way through a very tough Parkway conference in 2011 with a tremendously talented team for Lou Cerro a look at their offensive numbers can be very intimidating for any opponent.

Montour quarterback Dillon Buechel completed 115 of 169 passes for 1799 yards and 31 touchdowns on the year including six in their round one win over Chartiers Valley. Wilson’s receiving corps in very impressive. Wide receivers, Devin Wilson and Darren Massey along with tight end Aaron Reed really put pressure on opposing defenses. Wilson has 39 catches for 516 yards and nine scores, Massey has 35 catches for 759 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Reed has chipped in with 21 catches for 272 yards and four touchdowns of his own. All of that pressure makes it even tougher for defenses to corral one of the best running backs in the WPIAL.

Senior Julian Durden, over 4000 for his prep career, is closing out that career in style with a great senior year. On the season Durden has toted the rock 147 times for 1392 yards and 18 touchdowns, he has also caught 11 passes for 155 yards and another four scores. He is also the leading kick returner for the Spartans with 252 kickoff return yards including an 89 yarder for a touchdown on the year.

Montour Head coach Lou Cerro likes his talent but he is very aware that the Titans have some of their own, “West Mifflin is very quick and athletic and really run to the football. The best tackling team we have seen on film all year. They like to possess the football and make very few mistakes. They really match up well with our skill and we need to take advantage of any mistakes they may make. They really gave us a run for our money last year in the first round and I believe they would like to turn around that result.”

If the Titans are to avenge last years first round loss to Montour 21-13, Ray Braszo’s team will need more of what they have gotten all season long from Shamar Greene at running back and Derrick Fullmore at quarterback. They have been the dynamic duo for the Titans offense. Greene, for the season has rushed it 191 times for 1330 yards and it a threat to score from anywhere on the field. All-told Greene has scored 14 touchdowns on the year. Meanwhile Fullmore is the ultimate dual threat throwing for 638 yards and rushing for another 417 yards. His recieveing corps is solid with Demetrius Hayes, Everett Lesko, Darius Lighty and Luke Centofanti all significant contributors.

Defensively Dom Northcutt is an absolute beast from his defensive end spot for the Titans, the Spartans will need to know where he is on every play or he will blow up everything in the backfield. Titan head coach very proud of that West Mifflin defense, but he knows they have their hand full Friday. “Our defense has been having a great season. Montour is very talented and we know we have to play a great game to win.”

AA #3 Seton LaSalle Rebels (10-0) vs #11 South Fayette Lions (7-3)
Friday November 11th 7:30 pm @ Peters Township High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Matt Vandriak and Adam Hoerner

Its déjà-vu all over again as the rematch in AA is from week eight. Three short weeks ago Seton rolled to a 33-10 win at South Fayette but, it was a game that South Fayette led 7-6 at the half. These two teams are very familiar with each other as they have been the class of a very strong Century conference for the last several years.

The Rebels are unbeaten and a most consider them a serious contender for the AA championship. Junior quarterback Luke Brumbaugh has thrown for 1177 yards completing 73 of 140 passes for a dozen touchdowns. He is complimented by a great running back in Kevin Hart, Hart is sixth in the WPIAL in rushing with 1458 yards on 176 carries with an astounding 26 touchdowns. He is weighing offers from several division one colleges, and with excellent grades and fabulous SAT scores he sets up as a big catch for some big-time program. South Fayette head coach Joe Rossi has the highest of praise for Hart in his assessment of this football game. “Not often you get a second crack and we need to limit Hart because he is the best player in AA.  No questions.  Most patient back I have ever seen.” Coach Rossi told BGH, notice he didn’t say best running back, but “best player.” He is that talented.

One Seton Lasalle Rebel has already become a big time catch for a division one program. The leader of the Rebels on offense and defense is two-time Kennywood MSA Sports preseason all-star J.J. Beggan. Beggan a Bowling Green recruit is a monster at 6’4’’ and 280 pounds, but he is so much more than size, his speed and athleticism are absolutely startling for someone with that stature and frankly even after seeing him on film teams are stunned by his abilities on the field. Head coach Greg Perry has been delighted by Beggan his entire career and that has not changed in this his senior year, “No question he is the leader of our football team, anchors both sides of the line and, more than that, he is just a great, great kid.” Perry said of Beggan.

South Fayette may have a Brumbaugh starting at quarterback as well in this game, freshman Brett Brumbaugh, younger brother of Seton’s Luke has been the starting quarterback for the Lions the last two weeks in relief of John Lerda who suffered an injury. Brumbaugh was very good in that role completing 30 of 42 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns. Lerda though could be back from that injury and he has impressive numbers as well, for the season the senior completed 76 of 145 passes for 1003 yards and 14 touchdowns. Either way the Lions are solid at the signal calling position for this game.

On the ground Trevor Fiorentini gets the bulk of the work for Joe Rossi’s team he has 126 carries for 726 yards and eight touchdowns, and he can pound it inside to get the tough yards with the best of them. His presence could be huge as long extended drives that keep the Rebel offense off the field would be a great idea for a Lions attack.

South Fayette also has an outstanding all-around player in WR/QB/RB/DB Zach Challingsworth, Challingsworth just a junior can and does, do it all. He will run and pass out of the wildcat, and he is one of the top receivers and defensive backs in the WPIAL. He comes into this game with 21 catches for 658 yards and eight touchdowns. He also has five interceptions on the season. He has rushed for 210 yards and completed every pass he has thrown on the year.

A #4 Rochester Rams (9-1) vs #5 Avonworth Antelopes (9-1)
Friday November 11th 7:30 pm @ Ambridge High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP-AM 1230 by Bob Barrickman and Tom Hayes

Geno Matsook’s Rochester Rams might be a little under the radar in single A after falling to the Sto-Rox Vikings early in the regular season. But you would be making a big mistake to write them off heading into the quarterfinals.

DeAndre Moon is a beast running the football for the Rams, in the regular season he wracked up 1215 yards on 140 carries for an average of 8.7 yards per carry, and he scored a total of 28 touchdowns on the year. The Rams don’t throw it a lot but they have had some success through the air with quarterback Ben Richko completing 30 of 63 passes for the season for 524 yards and nine touchdowns. The receiving tandem of Alente Johnson and Quinton Goettman lead a group of five receivers who are averaging, all of them more that 16 yards per catch on the year.

But make no mistake the Rams are about the run…and defense like they always are. Coach Matsook’s club is allowing only 11.5 points per game on the defensive side of the ball and garnered a pair of shut outs in the final three weeks of the regular season.

The Lopes will be tough to shut out. Duke Johncour has a plethora of offensive weapons and the biggest of those is senior running back and Kennywood MSA Sports preseason all-star Ricky Lawniczak. Lawniczak rushed for 862 yards and 14 touchdowns in the regular season. He is complimented by a sledge hammer fullback and sometimes tailback in Anthony Tomasino.

Through the air Avonworth is a force as well with quarterback Brian Vales completing over 50% of his passes for nearly a thousand yards and more than a handful of touchdowns. His favorite target is Mike Giampole who runs like a deer and has a clutch pair of hands.

The Lopes have had a shut down defense for most of the year as well anchored by Tomasino at linebacker and Vales who is an absolute ball-hawk in the secondary. Avonworth has averaged allowing only 11.8 points per game on the season. That includes a string of three straight shut outs in the heart of the regular season. It could be a very defensive battle Friday at Ambridge, it could also turn into a shoot out. One thing it won’t be in the opinion of BGH is one-sided in any direction. 

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