Home WPIAL 2023 WPIAL Week 3 Games of the Week

2023 WPIAL Week 3 Games of the Week

by Ian

We are now entering Week 3 where conference play begins en masse across the WPIAL. Conference play started in 6A in Week 1 and in 5A last week. Every other classification will have at least one conference game on the docket this week. Teams in conferences with only 6 teams will have to wait until Week 5 to start conference play.  On this week’s episode of the WPIAL Blitz Show, we interviewed Knoch head coach Tim Burchett. The Knights went 1-9 last year and have had a massive turnaround this year with a 3-0 start to the season. Coach Burchett has brought about a major culture change at Knoch, going from a run-heavy offense to an open passing attack. Knoch faces fellow unbeaten Southmoreland this week in one of our 3A Games of the Week. Read more about that game below. We also broke down the Week 2 results and looked ahead to some of the Week 3 matchups as conference play 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 Franklin Regional at Gateway. Last year, these teams shared the Big East Conference title, with Franklin Regional winning the head-to-head matchup. This year, the Panthers enter at 2-1 while Gateway is a surprising 0-3. The Gators have managed just 15 points through three games and have struggled to get their offense in sync.

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 McKeesport in the Big Seven opener for both teams. Both teams are coming off close losses. Laurel Highlands fell to Kiski 24-21 and McKeesport lost to Belle Vernon in overtime 21-14. The Tigers triple-option rushing attack is always a challenge to defend. Laurel Highlands is still looking to find their offensive rhythm in the post-Rodney Gallagher era and will have a stiff challenge against a stout McKeesport defense.

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

Central Catholic (3-0) at Mt. Lebanon (3-0)

In a matchup of the two new head coaches in 6A, both Central Catholic and Mt. Lebanon come in undefeated. Ryan Lehmeier has opened up Central Catholic’s offensive attack. The previously run-heavy Vikings offense has undergone a reinvention as the passing game opened up. Payton Wehner leads the WPIAL in passing with 852 yards and 13 TDs. He has spread the ball around between Jacob Sassic (300 yards, 3 TDs), Vernon Settles (243 yards, 5 TDs), and Penn State-commit Peter Gonzalez (190 yards, 4 TDs). Central hasn’t completely forgotten about the ground game as the trio of Elijah Faulkner (203 yards, 3 TDs), Sa’nir Brooks (164 yards, 1 TD) and Amari Shields (103 yards) all average over 5 yards per carry. Central’s defense is also stacked with talent.  The Vikings might have the best linebacking corps in the WPIAL with Penn State-commit Anthony Speca, Michigan-commit Cole Sullivan, and Pitt-commit Ty Yuhas. In the secondary, the speedy Xxavier Thomas is dangerous any time he gets his hands on the ball (he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown last week). On the other side, Mt. Lebanon’s defense has been impressive so far under Mike Collodi. After leading Elizabeth Forward’s program to historic success, Coach Collodi has relied on service academy-commits linemen Conor Young and linebacker Beckham Dee to lead the way on defense. The Blue Devils have relied on a lot of new starters this year, as Michael Malone (284 yards, 4 TDs) has taken the helm at quarterback. Leading receiver Ezra Heidenreich (102 yards, 2 TDs) has been a big play threat. Fred LaSota leads the way on the ground, rushing for 301 yards and adding 44 receiving yards and scoring twice. The aforementioned Beckham Dee has also found the end zone twice on the ground.

5A Game of the Week

Peters Twp (3-0) at South Fayette (2-1)

Conference play kicks off in the Allegheny Six with a matchup of South Hills squads. Peters has rolled through their first three games with wins of 27+ in each game. The Indians have put up at least five touchdowns in every outing and only allowed two scores through three games. Nolan DiLucia has stepped into the starting quarterback role and excelled. DiLucia has thrown for 331 yards and 4 TDs and run for 145 yards and 2 TDs. He has spread the ball around between Carter Shanafelt (94 yards, 3 TDs), Nate Miller (84 yards), and Ethan Wertman (76 yards). In addition to DiLucia, Vinny Sarcone (182 yards, 4 TDs) and Preston Blair (175 yards, 4 TDs) have shared the workload out of the backfield. Peters will have their work cut out for them defensively against a South Fayette team that has also put up over 30 points in each game. The Lions only loss came in a 42-35 shootout with Montour last week. South Fayette’s offense is led by QB Nico Lamonde (532 yards, 5 TDs). The Lions have explosive playmakers around Lamonde in RB Nate Deanes (403 yards, 7 TDs) and the receiving tandem of Michael Gimigliano (210 yards, 2 TDs) and Dom Monz (158 yards, 3 TDs).

4A Game of the Week

Montour (3-0) at Aliquippa (2-0)

Montour is coming off a huge come-from-behind victory over South Fayette last week and now has to travel to The Pit at Heinz Field for their conference opener. Aliquippa has opened their new stadium in style with two solid victories over Armstrong and North Catholic. The conference opener in the Parkway pits the only two unbeaten teams in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal that the Quips won en route to winning a second straight WPIAL title. Montour is led by dual-threat QB Jake Wolfe who has thrown for 652 yards and 6 TDs and run for 312 yards and 6 scores. In the Spartans comeback win over South Fayette, Wolfe accounted for five total touchdown. His favorite targets have been Daniel Batch (280 yards, 2 TDs), Keino Fitzpatrick (187 yards, 3 TDs), and Kaleb Platz (105 yards, 1 TD). In addition to Wolfe, Caden Halajcio (163 yards, 2 TDs) has also been a factor on the ground. For Aliquippa, their offense has leaned on junior RB Tiqwai Hayes (385 yards, 5 TDs) who is one of the top players in the state. Pitt-commit Cam Lindsey is a standout linebacker who has also gotten some work in the running game with 124 yards and 2 TDs. The Quips have been so good on the ground they haven’t needed to throw much, but when they do Quentin Goode (162 yards, 2 TDs) has been effective. His top targets have been DeMarkus Walker (92 yards, 2 TDs), Yale-commit Brandon Banks, and Arison Walker.

Thomas Jefferson (3-0) at Latrobe (2-1)

Latrobe is coming off a historic season where they won their first playoff game since 1968. The Wildcats are off to a strong start with wins over Westmoreland County foes Derry and Hempfield. Their only loss came to Franklin Regional who came up with a goal line stand to prevent overtime. Thomas Jefferson rolled past Franklin Regional and Baldwin before struggling a bit with West Mifflin last week. The Jaguars defeated their rival Titans to secure their 500th victory in school history. TJ has used two quarterbacks this season, with both Brody Evans (355 yards, 1 TD) and Luke Kosko (289 yards, 3 TDs) seeing time. Sean Sullivan (448 yards, 3 TDs) has been the Jaguars top receiver. Out of the backfield, the trio of Michael Banda (215 yards, 4 TDs), Elias Lippencott (165 yards, 7 TDs), and Aiden Whalen (122 yards, 1 TD) have all averaged over 5 yards per carry. Latrobe’s offense runs through dual-threat QB John Wetzel who has thrown for 360 yards and 5 TDs and run for 181 yards and 2 TDs. Brady Prohovic (141 yards, 1 TD) has been the complement to Wetzel in the ground game. Alex Tatsch has been a touchdown machine with 3 on the ground and 1 on the receiving end of a Wetzel pass. Ja’Twan Williams (197 yards, 4 TDs) has been Wetzel’s top target on the outside.

Mars (2-1) at Indiana (2-1)

The Greater Allegheny Conference kicks off play with a matchup of 2-1 teams. Mars made the playoffs last year in Eric Kasperowicz’s first season and looks poised to take the next step forward to contend for the conference crown in 2023. The Planets had a minor setback against Montour in Week 0 but have pounded New Castle and Blackhawk by a combined score of 91-13 to enter conference play on a hot streak. Luke Goodworth has taken the reins of the offense, throwing for 646 yards and 7 TDs. Leading receivers Gabe Hein (375 yards, 3 TDs) and Aiden Alessio (178 yards, 2 TDs) both average over 17 yards per catch. Out of the backfield, Evan Wright leads the way with 383 yards and 9 total TDs. Indiana has made the playoffs just once in the six-classification era, but the Little Indians are off to a strong start with wins over Freeport and Shady Side Academy. Indiana has displayed a balanced offensive attack. Trevor Smith has thrown for 291 yards and 3 TDs while Levi Porter has run for 339 yards and 5 scores. Porter is also the leading receiver with 168 yards and 2 TDs.

3A Game of the Week

South Park (3-0) at Beaver (3-0)

A battle of unbeatens kicks off the Western Hills slate. After these two schools and West Mifflin finished in a three-way tie for second place last year, this game carries significant playoff implications. The winner will also assert themselves as the top challenger to Avonworth’s reign atop the conference. Both teams have run-heavy offensive attacks. South Park won two low-scoring one-score games to start the season before running all over Brentwood last week. The Eagles are led by RB Eric Doerue who has charged for 522 yards and 4 TDs, averaging over 9 yards per carry. Dual-threat QB Zach Ludwig has more rushing attempts than passing attempts. Ludwig has produced nearly 300 yards of total offense and scored two rushing TDs. Leading receiver AJ D’Agostino (130 yards) has also scored twice. Beaver’s running game has been dominant this season and the Bobcats have topped 30 points in all three outings. Beaver boasts a two-headed monster in the backfield in Quay Cain (5 TDs) and Drey Hall (2 TDs). Travis Clear has been effective when asked to throw, passing for 200 yards and 2 TDs. South Park has been strong defensively so far this year but will be tested against Beaver’s offense.

Southmoreland (3-0) at Knoch (3-0)

This is the “feel good storyline” game of the week. Both schools are on the upswing after some struggles in recent years. Knoch (whose head coach we interviewed on this week’s WPIAL Blitz Show) went just 1-9 last year and had to play all of their games on the road as the construction of their new stadium was not complete. This year, the Knights are back home in Saxonburg and already tripled their win total. Southmoreland ended a 40-year playoff drought in 2019 and while they have made the postseason in 3 of the last 4 years, the Scotties are still searching for a playoff victory. This non-conference game between undefeated teams should be a good matchup of teams looking to add their names to the list of contenders in 3A.

2A Game of the Week

Steel Valley (1-1) at Imani Christian (2-1)

This is a massive matchup in the Allegheny Conference that could ultimately decide the conference title. With Serra Catholic stumbling out of the gate to an 0-3 start, these two look like the top contenders. Steel Valley is coming off an upset loss in overtime to Seton LaSalle. The Ironmen are led by the Barksdale brothers. Da’Ron Barksdale has led the way with 190 rushing yards and 3 TDs from the quarterback spot where he has also thrown a touchdown pass. Donald Barksdale has run for 169 yards and 1 TD.  Imani has put up convincing victories over Brentwood and South Allegheny after losing to Steelton Highspire in the Peach Bowl Showcase. The Saints offense revolves around dual-threat quarterback Steve Vandiver who has thrown for 698 yards and 7 TDs and run for 213 yards and 2 TDs. Anthony Portis (183 yards, 2 TDs) has gotten the most work out of the backfield while explosive playmaker Dayshaun Burnett has put up over 200 yards of total offense and scored 4 times. The Saints are loaded with talented playmakers, including sophomore RB David Davis and leading receiver Chevon Allen (351 yards) who both have scored twice. Both teams have the ability to put up a ton of points. This game will come down to which team is able to control the line of scrimmage.

1A Game of the Week

Riverview (2-1) at Clairton (1-2)

These two teams have taken opposite paths to get to their Eastern Conference opener. Riverview cruised past Beth-Center and Carlynton, scoring 40+ in both outings. Last week, they fell to Northgate by double-digits. On the other side, Clairton faced tough 2A opponents to start the season, being shut out by both Westinghouse and Washington. The Bears bounced back in a big way against OLSH, thumping them to the tune of a 38-7 victory. Clairton is considered one of the top contenders not only for the conference title but also potentially the WPIAL crown. Meanwhile, Riverside is looking to stake their claim as a playoff contender, having not made the postseason since 2016. The Raiders run a triple-option attack with their top four rushers averaging over 8 yards per carry. Landon Johnson (526 yards, 5 TDs) and Carlo Buzzatto (449 yards, 4 TDs) lead the way. Quarterback Rocco Cecere has thrown for 81 yards and 1 TD and run for 84 yards and 2 scores. Rio Stotts has also been a factor, rushing for 214 yards and 2 TDs. Clairton has explosive playmakers who finally were able to break through and find the end zone last week. Michael Wright (228 yards, 1 TD) and Jeffery Thompson (103 yards) have both spent time at quarterback this season. Regardless of the quarterback, Zaemere Correll (107 yards, 1 TD) has been a dangerous target. Clairton’s tandem of Donte Wright (226 yards, 2 TDs) and Drahcir Jones (177 yards, 1 TD) have been effective runners.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

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