Home WPIAL 2023 WPIAL Week 2 Games of the Week

2023 WPIAL Week 2 Games of the Week

by Ian

The WPIAL football season is fully underway.  Every team has played at least one game. Conference play started in 6A last week with North Allegheny defeating Canon-McMillan. Two 5A conferences will kick off conference play this week. On this week’s episode of the WPIAL Blitz Show, we were incredibly honored to interview Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker! The Quips opened their new football stadium, which has been many years in the works, with a defeat of Armstrong. We talked about what the new stadium means to the school and community as well as some of his memories of Aliquippa teams past. We also broke down the Week 1 results and looked ahead to some of the Week 2 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 McKeesport at Belle Vernon. You can check out a full preview of the game below in the “Inter-Classification Games of the Week” section.

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 Kiski in a non-conference matchup. Both teams are coming off shutout losses against defending state champions. Laurel Highlands lost to Belle Vernon 40-0 and Kiski lost to Pine-Richland 48-0. Both have dual-threat quarterbacks that are the focal points of their offense. This is the last non-conference tune-up for both teams before they get into conference play.

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

Seneca Valley (0-0, 0-2) at Canon-McMillan (0-1, 1-1)

The only conference game in 6A is a meaningful one. The final spot in last year’s 6A playoffs came down to these two squads and the result of this game proved to be the difference-maker. Seneca Valley has struggled out of the gate, losing to 5A contenders Penn Hills and Peters Twp. The Raiders have relied on dual-threat quarterback Sean O’Shea to lead the offense and he has produced a rushing and passing touchdown so far. Kai West leads the ground game and Adam Gehm is the Raiders top receiver. Canon-McMillan shut out Penn-Trafford in Week 0 then lost to North Allegheny last week in their conference opener. The Big Macs are looking to bounce back with a much-needed win for their playoff hopes. Canon-Mac has leaned on Washington transfer Zach Welsh who is their leading rusher (127 yards), receiver (7 receptions), and scorer (2 TDs) so far. QB Mike Evans has thrown for 160 yards and run for 32 yards. The Big Macs have explosive players like DE Kaeden Singleton (a Delaware-commit) but are still working on finding their rhythm offensively.

5A Game of the Week

Penn Hills (2-0) at Pine-Richland (1-1)

The Jon LeDonne Bowl. Penn Hills and Pine-Richland kick off conference play with a massive game that has postseason implications. Coach LeDonne has won state titles at both Penn Hills (2018) and Pine-Richland (last year). Penn Hills won this matchup last season, prompting Pine-Richland to make a quarterback change that sent the Rams on a run to the State title. In the tight 5A race, Penn Hills narrowly missed the playoffs last year on a tiebreaker and the Indians are out to make a statement this year. Pitt-commit Julian Dugger has thrown for 265 yards and 3 TDs and run for 103 yards and a score in the Indians wins over Seneca Valley and Norwin. Dugger and backfield counterpart Amir Key (168 yards, 3 TDs) have both averaged over 5 yards per carry on the ground. On the outside, Dugger has a pair of big play receivers in Cameron Thomas (94 yards, 1 TD) and Martel Palmer (64 yards, 2 TDs). Pine-Richland has balanced their offensive attack between their ground game and passing attack. Ethan Pillar, one of the few returning starters from the State Championship team, leads the backfield. Kanan Huffman has stepped into the QB role and formed a solid connection with Bryce O’Brien. Watch out for freshman Aaron Strader who has been used in a wildcat role.

4A Game of the Week

North Catholic (1-1) at Aliquippa (1-0)

Aliquippa opened the new Heinz Field stadium in style, beating a solid Armstrong team. The Quips are the two-time defending 4A WPIAL Champions and return a loaded roster led by the RB duo of Tiqwai Hayes and John Tracy. Hayes opened the season with a dominant 157-yard 3 TD performance. Senior QB Quentin Goode threw for over 100 yards and a TD to Demarkus Walker. Aliquippa is loaded with a talented group of WR/DBs. In addition to Demarkus Walker, Yale-commit Brandon Banks, and Arison Walker are threats to score any time they touch the ball. Pitt-commit Cameron Lindsey is a standout linebacker who also will get a few carries on offense, scoring a rushing TD in Week 1. North Catholic has played two close, high-scoring games. The Trojans defeated Serra Catholic in Week 0 49-42 then lost to Shady Side Academy in overtime 34-28. Jack Fennell has averaged over 9 yards per carry, running for 273 yards and 4 TDs. Jason Siket has complemented Fennel through the passing game, throwing for 295 yards and 5 TDs. The Trojans also have D1 talent in TE/DE Brady O’Hara who is the top receiver offensively with 115 yards and a TD.

3A Game of the Week

East Allegheny (1-1) at Elizabeth Forward (2-0)

In 3A, defending WPIAL Champs Belle Vernon are the clear favorite. East Allegheny is coming off an emotional overtime victory over nearby rival Jeannette. The Wildcats have a veteran starting QB in Michael Cahill who has thrown for 203 yards and a TD so far.   Elizabeth Forward, under new head coach John DeMarco, pounded Mon Valley foes Ringgold 37-0 in Week 0 and West Mifflin 24-7 . Ryan Messina took over at quarterback and has thrown for 198 yards and 2 TDs. The tandem of Charlie Nigut (191 yards, 3 TDs) and Jace Brown (181 yards, 3 TDs) have led the way in the Warriors backfield. Both have found success so far, averaging over 6 yards per carry.

2A Game of the Week

Serra Catholic (0-2) at Washington (2-0)

The next chapter in the budding rivalry between Serra and Wash High. Serra entered last season as the defending WPIAL Champs and edged out Washington early in the season by one point. The tables turned in the playoffs when Wash High ran away from Serra 49-21. The Eagles enter this game coming off a 7-point loss to North Catholic in a shootout and a 41-21 loss to Seton LaSalle. Serra boasts the WPIAL’s leading passer Quadir Stribling (612 yards, 8 TDs). He has spread the ball around to De’reon Washington (180 yarads, 3 TDs), Chris Warren (137 yards, 3 TDs), and Jesere Young (120 yards). After giving up 40+ points in both games, Serra will need to tighten up on defense to contain a Washington offense averaging 37 points per game. On the other side, Wash High has relied on their running game to carry them past 1A opponents Monessen and Clairton. Eddie Lewis (146 yards, 2 TDs) and Zxavian Willis (124 yards, 2 TDs). Ruben Gordon is an all-around threat that leads the Prexies with 3 TDs. Gordon is used in the rushing, receiving, and return games and has game-breaking speed.

1A Games of the Week

Cornell (2-0) at Union (2-0)

The defending WPIAL 1A Champs started their season with wins over fellow Lawrence County squds Mohawk and Ellwood City. Union now enters the 1A run of their schedule with a game against unbeaten Cornell. The Raiders have topped Seton LaSalle and Monessen, putting up 20 points in both outings. Cornell has a balanced offensive attack led by QB CJ Jackson (249 yards, 4 TDs). Jackson has primarily targeted Drevon Newton (112 yards, 2 TDs). On the ground, Khylil Johnson (119 yards, 1 TD) leads the way. Union’s dual-threat QB Braylon Thomas is the defending WPIAL Blitz 1A Player of the Year and has thrown for 252 yards and 5 TDs and run for 304 yards and 4 TDs. He even added a 19-yard reception as Lucas Stanley (139 yards, 2 TDs) has taken a few snaps at quarterback. Dayne Johnke (228 yards, 4 TDs) has been the Scotties top receiver and currently ranks in the Top 10 in the entire WPIAL.

Burgettstown (1-0) at South Side Beaver (2-0)

Two teams that were seeded in the top 8 of the 1A playoffs last season square off. Burgettstown jumped all over Beth-Center 34-0 in their opening game of the season. South Side Beaver has looked similarly dominant with 33-6 and 35-7 wins over Hopewell and Riverside. Burgettstown’s blow out allowed a number of different players to see the field offensively. Dual-threat QB Brodie Kuzior accounted for over 100 yards of total offense and had a passing and a rushing touchdown. Rudy Brown had over 50 yards of offense between rushing and receiving and scored twice. South Side returns a strong backfield from a team that went to the 1A semifinals last year. The Rams also have a dual-threat QB in Brody Almashy who has thrown for 164 yards and 2 TDs and run for 223 yards and 4 TDs. Most of the Rams offense comes out of their backfield. In addition to Almashy, Ryan Navarra (151 rushing yards, 46 receiving yards, 2 total TDs) and AC Corfield (112 rushing yards, 29 receiving yards, 3 total TDs) have had strong starts to the season. South Side Beaver might be one of the biggest sleepers in 1A and are flying under the radar in their last tune-up before conference play.

Inter-Classification Games of the Week

McKeesport (2-0) at Belle Vernon (1-0)

Former Big Eight Conference foes square off in a matchup that could become a conference game again next year if Belle Vernon is forced to move up. McKeesport handed the Leopards one of their two losses last year prior to Belle Vernon’s run to the State title. While McKeesport saw many players from last year’s semifinal squad graduate, the cupboard is certainly not bare. Garrett Tarker is the point man for the Tigers triple-option offense. He has run for 111 yards and a TD and thrown for 64 and a score. The work out of the backfield has largely gone to Anthony Boyd (134 yards, 2 TDs) with Kemon Spell (126 yards, 2 TDs) providing a change-of-pace threat. On the outside, Dominique Cochran’s only two catches of the season have been for touchdowns, including a Moss-ing of a Penn-Trafford DB last week. Belle Vernon opened their season by flexing their muscles against another 4A Big Seven opponent – Laurel Highlands. In the Leopards’ 40-0 win, Penn State-commit Quinton Martin was the star of the show with 106 yards and 2 TDs on the ground plus 2 receiving touchdowns. Eastern Michigan-commit Braden Laux threw for 88 yards and both TDs to Martin. Anthony Crews and Jake Gedekoh added rushing touchdowns as Belle Vernon cruised to victory.

Plum (2-0) at Shaler (2-0)

This game features two of the best early-season storylines in the WPIAL. The Plum community has rallied together since the tragic loss of life that occurred due to a home explosion last month. The Mustangs on the field have embodied that community spirit and run out to a 2-0 record with wins over Kiski and Fox Chapel. The Mustangs have displayed a balanced offensive attack. Sean Franzi has thrown for 194 yards and 4 TDs and run for 102 yards. On the ground, Nick Odom leads the way with 323 yards and 4 TDs. Leading receiver Darian Nelson (107 yards, 3 TDs) also has a TD on the ground. Shaler returned most of their starters from last year’s team that went 5-5 and beat Woodland Hills. The Titans have gotten off to a hot start this season with blowout wins over Route 8 Rivals Butler and Hampton. Shaler has an outstanding quarterback in Keegan Smetanka (whose father Bryan led the WPIAL in passing in 1994!) Through two games, Smetanka has thrown for 457 yards and 4 TDs and also run for 2 scores. The dynamic Joey DeSabato (203 yards, 2 TDs) leads the receiving corps and is a dangerous returner (he took a punt to the house last week). Nathan Rozzo has complemented the passing game by racking up 189 yards and 2 TDs on the ground.

South Fayette (2-0) at Montour (2-0)

Former conference foes square off in a battle for supremacy in southwestern Allegheny County. South Fayette has run through other neighboring teams Chartiers Valley and West Allegheny. The Lions have a balanced offensive attack led by RB Nate Deanes (277 yards, 6 TDs). Nico Lamonde has thrown for 283 yards and 3 TDs and run for another score. The Lions top receiver has been Dom Monz (132 yards, 3 TDs). South Fayette has had a few middle-of-the-road seasons since moving up to 5A but are off to a strong start this year. Montour also has started strong with wins over Mars and Moon. The Spartans are led by dual-threat QB Jake Wolfe who has thrown for 387 yards and 5 TDs and run for 139 yards and 2 TDs. Wolfe has spread the ball between Daniel Batch (174 yards) and Keino Fitzpatrick (102 yards, 2 TDs).  Caden Halajcio (137 rush yards, 1 TD) leads Montour’s rushing game. This should be a good game between unbeaten teams that deem themselves contenders in their respective classifications.

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