- High School
For Semifinals Friday
Semi-finals week is here and man oh man a lot of chalk out there, no seeds any worse than a five remaining in any of the four classifications. Pretty impressive job by the football steering committee that also sets up some fabulous football games for this coming Friday night on the MSA Sports Network. One win is all that is separating these teams from their collective dream of playing at Heinz Field, eight will do that, all the others will have to live with “what if?” Big Game Hunting this week? Come on that’s too easy, that’s low hanging fruit son. Someone’s got to do it; might as well be us. Just grab that basket there, I’ll shake this limb.
AAAA #1 North Allegheny Tigers (11-0) vs Gateway Gators (9-2)
Friday November 18th 7:30 pm @ Fox Chapel High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and Newstalk Radio 1410 AM KQV by Sam Hall and Steve Nagler AND on the North Allegheny Sports Network by Randy Gore and Rick Meister
North Allegheny’s resume is pretty impeccable with a perfect record in maybe the deepest conference in AAAA, plus a regular season victory over fellow semi-finalists Upper Saint Clair, but you have not been paying attention of you don’t know that Gateway is playing some of the best football in the WPIAL right now.
The last time these teams met was a semi-final thriller at the Wolvarena won by Gateway in overtime 28-27 back in 2007 as North Allegheny went for two and the win but came up short.
The Tigers have really not been pushed since a come from behind win against USC in week three, 28-21. Art Walker’s team has kind of been almost in cruise control since then and on the season are scoring 42.3 points per game while allowing just 14.7. The Tigers have great balance with a passing attack led by junior quarterback Mack Leftwich who has completed 101 of 174 passes on the season for 1803 yards, 17 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
Leftwich’s number one target is James Kleinhampl who has 30 catches on the year for 669 yards and five scores.
The Tigers rushing attack is very diverse, includes lots of weapons and comes at you from many different angles. Leftwich will run it himself, or he’s got a myriad of talented running backs to carry it for him. Vinnie Congedo leads the parade with 622 yards and ten scores, Alex Deciantis has 616 yards and 13 touchdowns but the list goes on. Nick Passodelis is a bruising blocker and rusher with 479 yards and ten touchdowns, Isiah Faulk is closing in on 400 yards and, Leftwich has rushed for 453 of his own, it is a pick your poison offense for Art Walker.
The Tigers defense is serious as well led by Kevin Clemons (68 total tackles), and Jarred Lux with 66 stops. If you want to take to the air that will be problematic as well, the Tigers have recorded 25 sacks on the year led by Zack Lyon with eight and Nate Nachazel with seven. For arguments sake let’s say you do get the pass off, in the defensive backfield Brendan Coniker has four interceptions, and Keinhample three.
But if you want to talk defense the Gateway Gators would love to get in on that conversation because they have the number one defense in AAAA when it comes to keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Gateway has allowed only 7.1 points per game on the year including four shutouts, the most points they have allowed in a game was a week four loss to Penn-Trafford where they let up 16 to the Warriors, a loss they avenged last week in the quarters.
And that Gator offense is rounding nicely into shape as well for Terry Smith. In their last four games (all wins) the Gators are scoring 41 points per game on average. Junior quarterback Thomas Woodson is completing almost 60% of his passes on the year at 63 of 106, he has thrown for 1184 yards and eleven touchdowns and, he has only thrown two interceptions all season. Woodson’s favorite target is a big one, junior tight end Jaymar Parrish is 6’2’’ and 225 pounds and, with his speed creates serious mismatch problems for WPIAL secondary defenders. In fact the Gators can go giant-sized on you with a receiving corps that includes Tyler Scott at 6’5’’ and Barnett Harris at 6’9’’.
Gateway also has a tremendous rushing attack with Darin Franklin at the head of that class, Franklin yet another junior has carried 118 times for 792 yards and 16 scores, he is also a dangerous return man averaging 33.6 yards per punt return, including an 84 yarder for a score last week. Pat Livsey is a threat to burn you with his skills out of the backfield as well, Franklin has been battling an injury for most of the season but is expected to play, if he needs rest Livsey is not a big drop off for Terry Smith’s team.
AAA #1 Central Valley Warriors (11-0) vs #5 Montour Spartans (9-2)
Friday November 18th 7:30 pm @ Ambridge High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WKPL-FM 92.1 by Rob Matzie and Johnny Lee AND on WBVP-AM 1230 by Bob Barrickman and Tom Hays
We meet again! For the fourth time in little more than thirteen months these two clubs will battle it out on the gridiron this time for the right to go to Heinz Field and carrying the banner of the monstrously tough Parkway Conference. For the Warriors this will only be the 26th game they have played in their entire existence, four of which will have been played against Montour, yes that rivalry is developing quite nicely. The Warriors hold a 2-1 edge in the games played so far including a 24-7 win at Heinz Field last year for the AAA championship.
The Warriors going unbeaten through that Parkway conference schedule might be the most impressive performance by any WPIAL team this season.
Senior quarterback Curtis Lewis has completed 60 of 99 passes on the year for Central Valley for 1069 yards, 15 touchdowns and just a pair of interceptions, he can also kill you with his running abilities, he has carried the ball 82 times for 660 yards and eight touchdowns.
Tre Law and Aaron Law each have nine catches on the year for the Warriors, they have combined for three touchdowns and 249 receiving yards. But the go-to big play guy for CV is Robert Foster, who has 28 catches for 490 yards and five touchdowns on the year, on the ground Foster has 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 29 carries. Foster is not done there, he really is a total all-around player for Mark Lyons. Foster is one of the leading tacklers for the Warriors with 48 stops on the year, he is their punter, and averaging almost 40 yards per punt, he is their punt returner averaging 46 yards per return, he is their leading kickoff return man averaging 35.78 yards per return AND he leads the team in interceptions with four on the year. How come, when they were coming up with a name no one said “How about the Central Valley Fightin’ Fosters?”
Don’t go to sleep on Aaron Law while you focus on Foster though. Law a senior running back has amassed 771 yards on 89 carries including nine scoring runs.
Lou Cerro’s Montour Spartans have been rolling, rattling off five straight wins since their loss to Central Valley in week six. In that span they have outscored their opponents 211-59, including a 31-7 dismantling of the four seed West Mifflin in the quarters last Friday night.
It is no coincidence that senior quarterback Dillon Buechel has become red hot during that span, Buechel has thrown for 20 of his 34 touchdown passes in the winning streak. For the season he is completing an incredible 67.6 % of his passes at 127 for 188 for 1974 yards and just six picks (only two during the streak) to go along with the 34 scoring strikes. His weapons are varied and many led by Darren Massey with 39 catches for 848 yards and 16 touchdowns. On the other side is another great wide out in Devin Wilson with 43 catches for 563 yards and nine touchdowns. Focus too much on the edge guys and tight end Aaron Reed will gut you in the middle he has 24 catches for almost 300 yards and five scores.
All that and we haven’t even mentioned Julian Durden, the senior running back is a killer, 166 carries 1522 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also has a dozen catches out of the backfield including four touchdowns. The Spartans offense has made great strides since that week six loss to Central and you can bet they will have revenge on their minds heading into this game. This will be a thriller, don’t miss a minute of the action.
AA #2 Jeannette Jayhawks (11-0) vs #3 Seton LaSalle Rebels (11-0)
Friday November 18th 7:30 pm @ Elizabeth-Forward High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WLSW-FM 103.9 by T.J. DiStefano and on WJPA-FM 95.3 by Bob Gregg and Mark Uriah
A pair of unbeatens with a trip to Heinz Field on the line, always a good time at the MSA sports Network. This contest features a pair of the best runners of the football in the WPIAL in Jeannette’s Demetrius Cox and Seton’s Kevin Hart.
Cox will beat you with his arm or his legs he has completed 50 of 84 passes for 630 yards, eight scores and just a single pick, while leading the rushing attack for the Jayhawks with 1091 yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns.
That rushing attack is deep though, Shavonta Craft and Jordan Edmunds are both averaging better than seven yards per carry on the ground for Roy Hall’s club, and heading into the quarterfinals the two had combined for 29 touchdowns on the year.
That ‘Hawks defense is pretty special as well allowing just 11.7 points per game on the year, in fact through the first round of the playoffs they were allowing under 200 total yards per game for Roy Hall. In their biggest win of the year week nine against Greensburg Central Catholic for the Interstate Conference championship the defense led by linebackers Anthony Canady, Edmunds, Brandon Krautz, Zach Nedley, Damon Bodnar and Shavonta Craft held the 5th seeded Centurions (still alive and playing in their own semi-final) to just 145 total yards of offense.
Greg Perry’s Seton LaSalle Rebels meanwhile have a very impressive ground game of their own with senior Kevin Hart anchoring a backfield that has run up impressive yardage and points for several seasons now.
Hart on the year is putting up some eye-popping numbers with 217 carries for 1727 yards and 28 touchdowns.
His quarterback junior Luke Brumbaugh has posted some impressive stats as well throwing for a dozen touchdowns and over 1200 yards on the season, while completing well over 50% of his passes. It is a great balance that has helped the Rebels put up a Century Conference high 36.8 points per game on the season.
Our guess here at BGH is that this will be maybe the most competitive football game Friday night, in a night that will be full of very competitive games, that is saying we think a lot of this one.
A #2 Sto-Rox Vikings (11-0) vs #3 Bishop Canevin Crusaders (11-0)
Friday November 18th 7:30 pm @ Moon Stadium Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and Trib-Live Radio by Ken Laird and Jonathan Whaley
Another pair of unbeatens in single A round out the four-pack with the eight teams involved toting combined records of 84-4 into semifinal Friday on the MSA Sports Network.
Ron Butschle’s Vikings have rarely been challenged through the season to this point including mercy rule wins in both of their playoff games so far including a thumping of a pretty good Brentwood team in the quarters 40-nil.
Sophomore quarterback Lenny Williams has thrown for 1981 yards on the season for the Vikes putting him very high on the WPIAL leader board. Williams has completed 98 of 163 passes for those yards and 29 touchdowns all without throwing a single interception.
Marzett Geter, Dontez Ford and Deaysean Rippy, all division-one college recruits are also over 20 catches on the year and all around 400 yards or more as well for the Vikings who are the very definition of a quick strike offense.
On the ground junior running back Josh Beverly has been a beast for Sto-Rox with 86 attempts for 1209 yards rushing and having scored 18 touchdowns on the year, but there is a question mark on his status for this game after an ankle injury forced him from the win last week over Brentwood, he has said he will go but will he be 100%? Kenny and Jonathan will let you know come game time on the Network.
Bob Jacoby’s Bishop Canevin Crusaders have been up to every task so far on this 2011 campaign, but they know the task grows taller now with a trip to Heinz Field on the line.
Senior quarterback Kevin Mechas has been so solid on the year, completing 77 of 149 passes for 1356 yards 16 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. Mechas’ favorite target is a burner in Bobby Gustine who can just flat out go and also has great hands and is at time just unstoppable in the open field. Gustine has 41 catches for 792 yards, and Canevin will hand it to him as well, he is their second leading rusher with 457 yards on the ground in 53 attempts and he has scored a combined dozen touchdowns this season.
The leading rusher for the Crusaders is senior Casey McCaffrey who has amassed 1119 yards on the ground in 219 rushes and scored a team-high 25 touchdowns on the year.
With teams like Sto-Rox, Clairton, and Rochy getting a lot of deserved attention this season Bob Jacoby’s Crusader defense is kind of getting short shrift by the media, they have allowed a second best in the classification 7.4 points per game behind only Clairton. They have collected three shut outs and four games where they only allowed six points. In fact through the first round of the playoffs they were the eighth best defense in the entire WPIAL in terms of yardage allowed.