Home WPIAL 2023 WPIAL Week 1 Games of the Week

2023 WPIAL Week 1 Games of the Week

by Ian

The WPIAL football season kicked off last week with Week 0 games. Teams had the option to either play an extra self-scheduled game or play a second scrimmage. The Week 0 games do not count towards playoff qualification but do count towards overall records.  On this week’s episode of the WPIAL Blitz Show, we interviewed Jon from PA Today Sports. Jon has put in yeoman’s work during camp and the first week of the season going out and attending camps and talking with players and coaches. Check him out on Twitter and you can check out his Player Rankings which are linked under the WPIAL dropdown menu at the top of our page. We also broke down the Week 0 results and looked ahead to some of the Week 1 matchups as the regular season gets into full swing.

This year, our WPIAL coverage is proudly presented by GoMVB Sports and Sports Solutions Marketing.  High school athletes should check out GoMVB Sports – SSM for tips on how to beef up their social media presence to attract college coaches and college recruiters. The Sports Solutions network provides pay per view hosting and broadcasting for high school sporting events. More information is available via EasternPAFootball.com.

Our friends at KDKA Radio are now the official flagship station of the WPIAL. You can listen to their Game of the Week on the Audacity App or on the radio at 100.1 FM and 1020 AM. This week’s KDKA Game of the Week is Armstrong at Aliquippa. You can check out a full preview of the game below as our 4A Game of the Week.

I will once again be doing a pregame spot on WMBS Radio. You can listen to the show here, starting at 6pm on Friday. This weekend, WMBS will be broadcasting Laurel Highlands taking on Belle Vernon in a non-conference showdown of teams who have built a strong rivalry on the football field and basketball court over the last decade. Check out the preview of the game below as one of the Inter-Classification Games of the Week.

Be sure to keep tabs on our WPIAL Standings Page for updated standings and follow our WPIAL Twitter account @WPIAL_Blitz and check out our WPIAL Blitz Facebook Page.

6A Game of the Week

Canon-McMillan (1-0) at North Allegheny (1-0)

The only conference game happening in the WPIAL this week takes place in 6A. North Allegheny is the defending WPIAL 6A Champs and returns much of their roster from last season. Canon Mac is a program on the rise who battled through injuries to make the playoffs last year. In the opening round, they played a tough, defensive struggle against North Allegheny in a 7-0 defeat. With four teams making the playoffs in 6A, one team will be left on the outside looking in. Every game and head-to-head result matters so this is an important early-season game with playoff implications. Both teams return a lot of starters from their playoff teams last year and are coming off Week 0 victories. North Allegheny pounded Allderdice from the Pittsburgh City League 61-0 while Canon Mac won a defensive struggle against Penn-Trafford 14-0. North Allegheny’s starters looked the part of defending WPIAL Champs and put up 42 points in the first quarter. Logan Kushner threw for 72 yards and a TD and rushing for a 51-yard score. Defending 6A Player of the Year Khiryn Boyd caught a 25-yard touchdown pass. Tyree Alualu, Liam Flaherty, and backup QB Jackson Failla ran for 2 TDs. Canon-McMillan, after a scoreless first half, opened the scoring against Penn-Trafford with a 93-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Jayden Baxter. Washington transfer Zach Welsh (who ran for 89 yards) added on another score in the fourth quarter. If the Big Macs are going to take down the defending champs, they will need a big game from QB Mike Evans who threw for 42 yards and ran for 26 in the opener. Last year Evans threw for over 1400 yards. Keep an eye out for Delaware-commit Kaedan Singleton who is a beast off the edge on defense and will also be used in the passing game.

5A Game of the Week

Gateway (0-1) at Woodland Hills (0-1)

Both teams are looking for a bounce-back game after losing Week 0 games to 6A opponents. Gateway’s offense ran into a buzz saw defense at Mt. Lebanon and lost 28-7. Highly-touted QB Brad Birch (who threw for over 2000 yards last year) threw for 133 yards and ran for a touchdown. Gateway wasn’t able to break open big plays in the passing game, despite having four different receivers haul in passes. Jaquon Reynolds ran for 35 yards and had 3 receptions but was mostly kept in check. On the other side, Woodland Hills just couldn’t keep up with Central Catholic’s aerial assault. The Wolverines tried to establish the run with Brandon Jones (57 yards) but found it to be tough sledding. The only explosive play of the game was sophomore WR Scoop Smith (100 yards, 1 TD) hauling in a long touchdown from QB Cam Walter (198 yards, 1 TD). These two teams were considered among the favorites in 5A (and my personal pick to reach the Championship Game). Losing in Week 0 to a 6A opponent is not the end of the world, but both are looking to get back on track in this old Quad East rivalry.

4A Game of the Week

Armstrong (1-0) at Aliquippa (0-0)

The story of this game is not so much about the game itself, but where it will be played. Aliquippa’s long-awaited new football stadium (officially “Heinz Field”) will be opening. This game is about more than just this game. It’s about the past, the present, and the future of Aliquippa football. The Quips proud tradition stretches back generations, and with the induction of Darrelle Revis into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month, Aliquippa now holds the title of high school with the most players in the Hall of Fame. Aliquippa is the two-time defending 4A WPIAL Champions and return a loaded roster led by the RB duo of Tiqwai Hayes and John Tracy. Those two combined for over 2800 yards and 44 TDs last season. Senior QB Quentin Goode is coming off a 1900-yard season and will be at the helm for the third straight season. On the outside, Brandon Banks, Arison Walker and DeMarkus Walkerare all threats to score any time they touch the ball. Banks is also a standout defensive back who has committed to Yale. He will anchor the back end of the defense while Pitt-commit Cameron Lindsey roams the middle of the field at linebacker. While Aliquippa scrimmaged last week, Armstrong did play a Week 0 game, pounding Valley 49-16. Armstrong is the defending Greater Allegheny Conference Champions and have fallen to McKeesport in the quarterfinals each of the last two years. They played the Quips to a relatively tight 28-14 game last year and seem to have found a replacement for the WPIAL’s leading passer Cadin Olsen, who is now off to Penn. Colt Sprankle took the reigns at quarterback and threw for 160 yards and 3 TDs last week. Ian Olsen (105 yards, 2 TDs) was his top receiver with Kyan Kline, Isaiah Brown, and Chase Jablonski also seeing targets. Alex Patton led the way on the ground, running for 87 yards and 3 scores in Week 0.

3A Game of the Week

Elizabeth Forward (1-0) at West Mifflin (0-1)

In 3A, defending WPIAL Champs Belle Vernon are the clear favorite. But the race for who is #2 (and potentially who could face the Leopards in the title game) is wide open. Both Elizabeth Forward and West Mifflin (along with Avonworth) are in that mix and this game will go a long way towards sorting out the contenders in 3A. These former conference foes now square off in non-conference play. Elizabeth Forward, under new head coach John DeMarco, pounded another Mon Valley foe Ringgold 37-0 in Week 0. Ryan Messina took over at quarterback and threw for 100 yards and a touchdown. Charlie Nigut was the star of the night in the backfield, running just 4 times for 55 yards but scoring on two of those carries. Jace Brown and Anthony St. Angelo also found the end zone for the Warriors. West Mifflin is looking to bounce back after a Week 0 loss to 4A powerhouse McKeesport. The Titans only touchdown of the season was scored by Jaimere Loften. Leading rushers DelRon White and Richie Fix both return after scoring double-digit TDs last season, so the Titans are certainly a strong contender in 3A.

2A Game of the Week

Sto-Rox (0-0) at Steel Valley (0-0)

Neither team played a Week 0 game, so this will be the first look at two teams that deign themselves to be strong contenders in 2A. Sto-Rox has graduated nearly all of their playmakers from the team that has been to at least the semifinals in 4 straight seasons. The Vikings have some returning experience on the line and will likely give senior RB Eric McGuire a shot at leading the way in the backfield as new starters work their way into other positions. Sto-Rox is a team that will improve as the season goes on, but this is a good early-season test against a top contender for the 2A crown. Steel Valley has been one of the best 2A squads since the move to 6 classifications, winning 3 WPIAL titles and reaching the semifinals 5 times in 7 years. The Ironmen will be working in new starters too after graduating dual-threat QB Cruce Brookins (who is now at Pitt). Steel Valley will now turn to the Barksdale brothers to shoulder the load in the backfield. Junior RB Donald Barksdale (924 yards, 16 TDs) and sophomore Da’ron Barksdale (293 rushing yards, 97 receiving yards, 5 total TDs). Da’Ron will likely see time at quarterback, though in Steel Valley’s run-heavy offense he’ll run more than throw. Quaron Pierce (614 yards, 3 TDs) also returns to the backfield after all three averaged over 10 yards per carry last season.

1A Games of the Week

Bishop Canevin (0-0) at GCC (1-0)

Two of the top three seeds from last year’s 1A playoffs square off in this early season showdown. Both teams are coming off of seasons that were cut short by teams from the Big Seven Conference with Bishop Canevin falling to Union in the title game and GCC being upset by Rochester in the opening round of the playoffs.  Canevin is loaded with talent once again this year as WVU-commit Jason Cross moves out to WR after splitting time with Kole Oslzewski the last two seasons. Olszewski threw for 1500 yards and 16 TDs last season and will have plenty of targets with Cross, Jayden Lindsey and Az’Juan Marshall on the outside. Marquis Carter ran for 1500 yards and 11 TDs last year and will be the Crusaders lead back. GCC bounced back from an early 9-0 deficit to rattle off 34 straight points against Mt. Pleasant. Tyree Turner threw for 243 yards and 2 TDs, primarily targeting Samir Crosby who ended the night with 153 receiving yards and a TD. Crosby also threw a 10-yard TD pass to Evan Stasko. Turner added two more rushing scores. The matchup of GCC’s passing game against Bishop Canevin’s secondary should be popcorn-worthy viewing.

Rochester (0-0) at OLSH (1-0)

These two have developed a strong rivalry over the last decade, not only facing off as conference opponents but also meeting twice in the playoffs in the last five years. With the last realignment cycle, they were split into different conferences. Rochester scrimmaged against Riverside in Week 0 while OLSH pounded Shenango 32-10. Rochester returns three of their top rushers from last year who should flourish in the Rams run-heavy offense. Antonio Laure will lead the way after running for 1400 yards and 26 TDs. Dom Guido and Amaree Curry both ran for over 200 yards and 3 scores last year and will supplement Laure in the backfield. OLSH has found their next star quarterback in Vann Kavals who lit up Shenango to the tune of 375 yards and 3 TDs through the air and 52 yards and 1 TD on the ground. Both Dereon Greer (149 yards, 3 TDs) and Ethan Gardner (103 yards, 1 TD) topped the century mark in receiving yards. This matchup of Rochester’s running game against OLSH’s passing attack should make for an intriguing Saturday game to close out the Week 1 slate.

Inter-Classification Games of the Week

Belle Vernon (0-0) at Laurel Highlands (1-0)

Former Big Eight Conference foes square off in a matchup of programs that have both seen historic success recently. Belle Vernon is the defending 3A WPIAL and State Champions, their first PIAA title in school history. The Leopards moved down to 3A last year and are the clear favorites to win the WPIAL crown once again. Laurel Highlands won their first playoff game in school history in 2021 and last year claimed their first conference title ever. Belle Vernon is led by Penn State-commit (and reigning 3A Player of the Year) Quinton Martin. In leading the Leopards to the state title, Martin ran for 1274 yards, added a team-high 415 receiving yards, and scored 30 times. Fellow senior Jake Gedekoh ran for 768 yards and 16 TDs, making for a dynamic 1-2 punch out of the backfield. Senior QB Braden Laux has committed to Eastern Michigan as a tight end, and proved to be a dual threat last year, throwing for 1019 yards and 12 TDs and running for 501 yards and 8 scores. Laurel Highlands is adjusting to life after Rodney Gallagher, the talented all-around athlete who was a member of the 1000/1000 club and is off to WVU. But the Mustangs have talent in the wings as WR Antwan Black has offers from Penn State, Pitt, and WVU. In Laurel Highlands’ 50-13 win over neighboring rival Uniontown, Black was on the receiving end of 2 of Noah Lion’s 3 touchdown passes. Lion only completed 5 passes but 3 went for touchdowns (the other going to Jessiah Lewis). Most of Lion’s damage was done on the ground, running for 96 yards and 1 TD with Jaiden Tucker adding 23 yards and another rushing touchdown.

Beaver Falls (1-0) at Beaver (1-0)

Another matchup of former conference foes and Beaver Valley rivals. Both got off to strong starts in Week 1 with Beaver Falls beating Blackhawk 28-7 and Beaver topping Western Beaver 35-14. Since moving down from 3A to 2A, Beaver Falls has reached the WPIAL finals in all three seasons. Beaver Falls scored all 28 of their points in the first half, relying on a four-headed monster of ball-carriers. Datalian Beauford (84 yards, 2 TDs) led the way out of the Tigers backfield with Gary Pugh (79 yards, 1 TD) and QB Da’Sean Anderson (60 passing yards, 39 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD) all found the end zone. Brixx Rawl (56 yards) saw double-digit carries while Anderson had more rushing attempts than passing attempts. On the other side, Beaver rebounded from a slow start against Western Beaver. The Bobcats fell behind 14-0 early but turned the tide on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Amari Jackson to Travis Clear at the end of the first half. Qualan Cain dominated the second half, running for 59 yards and four touchdowns to lead Beaver to victory.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.