The first weekend of the WPIAL playoffs saw a number of exciting games and historic outcomes. The game of the night was in 4A where Montour battled back from a 28-7 deficit in the third quarter to tie the game at 28 then after a New Castle field goal score a 58-yard touchdown to win the game 35-31. There were a number of close games in 5A, reiterating the notion that it is a wide open classification. The Northern Seven Conference swept their way through the first round in 6A once again this season, along with the Beaver Valley Conference going 3-0 in 3A. The 4A bracket features the top two teams in each conference squaring off in the semifinals. The upset of the night came in 2A with Avonworth knocking off 5th-seeded Charleroi in the Cougars first playoff appearance since 2004. The biggest result of the night also came in 2A with Burgettstown getting their first playoff victory since 1978!
Not since 78 pic.twitter.com/7G9oLyA0MK
— Ski (@Zach_Schilinski) November 4, 2017
Thanks to our WPIAL content sponsors TicketRoar, an online ticketing company that provides services for high schools so you can preorder your tickets and have them on your phone when you get to the gate. A few local schools are already on board and have seen a much more efficient process of getting fans through the gate and into the game. You can find them on Twitter @TicketRoar and on Facebook.
The new partnership between Trib Total Media and the MSA Sports Network debuted with the new website tribhssn.triblive.com. We are very happy for all of our friends at the (former) MSA Sports Network and are thrilled that high school sports will continue to be broadcast over the internet airwaves for years to come. Tonight they will be broadcasting all 16 playoff games.
This week’s WMBS Game of the Week features the top seed in 1A the California Trojans taking on Union. A full preview of that game can be found later in this post. You can tune in online here with a pregame show starting at 6:30 (with a brief appearance by yours truly!) and the WPIAL Scoreboard Show following the game at 10pm.
As a reminder, if you’re going to be following along with the WPIAL action tonight, keep an eye on the #WPIALhashtags on Twitter where people post score updates from games. I”ll also be posting score updates and commentary from my Twitter account @thesteelersnat.
Class 6A Semifinals
1. Pine-Richland (6-0, 11-0) vs 5. North Allegheny (4-2, 8-3)
at Ambridge High School
The two rivals from the Northern Seven Conference will meet in the semifinals. Pine-Richland is looking for their first trip back to Heinz Field since their infamous 2014 title when their student section brought a live ram to a tailgate. North Allegheny is looking for their first Championship Game appearance since winning 3 straight WPIAL titles from 2010-2012. Pine-Richland has been dominant offensively this season, averaging 49 points per game, though their 20-point victory over North Allegheny was their closest game of the season. In their first meeting, Pine-Richland kept the ball away from North Allegheny’s ball-hawking secondary by pounding them on the ground to the tune of 629 rushing yards. Pine-Richland QB Phil Jurkovec put on a show last week in the Rams 49-14 victory over Norwin, throwing for 235 yards and 4 TDs and rushing for 114 yards and another score. The Rams are loaded offensively with Jurkovec (2571 pass yards, 25 TDs, 697 rushing yards, 12 TDs) and leading rushers Jordan Crawford (949 yards, 22 TDs) and Kenny White (487 yards, 10 TDs). On the outside, Jurkovec’s favorite targets have been Raymond Falcone (745 yards, 8 TDs), Jason DeFrancisis (635 yards, 4 TDs) and Ben Jochem (352 yards, 2 TDs). North Allegheny boasts the second-highest scoring offense in 6A at 36 points per game and capable of trading scores with Pine-Richland. NA can score in all three facets of the game with the speed of players like Joey Porter Jr and John Varzdel. Dual-threat QB Luke Trueman has thrown for 1039 yards and 16 TDs and run for a team-high 924 yards and 8 TDs. He has been complemented in the backfield by Turner White (914 yards, 14 TDs). Varzdel is the Tigers’ leading receiver with 439 yards and 9 TDs. North Allegheny lit it up last week against Mt. Lebanon, taking advantage of turnovers and getting big returns out of their special teams to win 38-14. Rivalry games in the playoffs are always packed with intensity and this figures to be a great battle and will be the AT&T SportsNet Game of the Week (which will be tape-delayed after the Penguins game).
2. Central Catholic (5-1, 9-2) vs 6. Penn Hills (3-3, 8-3)
at Fox Chapel High School
This is another rematch of a Week 9 Northern Seven Conference Game. Central Catholic topped Penn Hills 21-0 in that game. Both teams got battles in their first round as Central Catholic beat Peters Twp 27-20 and Penn Hills edged Bethel Park 30-28 behind a big-play offense. Central Catholic is the two-time defending WPIAL Champions and seeking their fifth straight trip to Heinz Field. On the other side, Penn Hills is making their first semi-final appearance since 2008 and looking for their first trip to Heinz Field since 2006. Central Catholic features the second-best defense in 6A, holding opponents to 17 points per game while both teams have offenses averaging 30 points per game. The Vikings have been led by dual-threat QB Troy Fisher who has thrown for 1200 yards and 17 TDs and rushed for 259 yards and 8 TDs. Last week, Fisher threw for 181 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 2 more scores to lead the Vikings past Peters Twp. Central has utilized a running back by committee approach this season. Khalil Weathers, a D1 recruit at CB, is the team’s leading rusher with 445 yards and 5 TDs. However, last week it was Dontre Jones that stole the show with 117 yards on the ground. Penn Hills has an explosive offense with one of the top passers in the WPIAL in Hollis Mathis (2328 yards, 26 TDs). The Indians boast a pair of receivers in Daequan Hardy (769 yards, 10 TDs) and Dante Cephas (766 yards, 15 TDs) that both average 22 yards per reception. Penn Hills has relied on the tandem of Tank Smith (629 yards, 8 TDs) and Tim Smith (414 yards, 1 TD) on the ground. The Indians offense has been very hot and cold this year, scoring over 30 in all but 1 of their wins and being held under 17 in all of their losses. Last week was an “on” week as Mathis threw for 235 yards and 3 TDs (with Cephas accounting for 96 yards and 2 TDs) and Tank Smith ran for 96 yards and a score. Penn Hills will need to solve Central’s stingy defense if they want to reach their first Championship Game in over a decade.
Class 5A Semifinals
1. Penn-Trafford (7-1, 10-1) vs 4. Upper St Clair (7-1, 8-3)
at West Mifflin High School
This is the only one of the eight semifinal matchups in 6A, 5A, 4A, or 3A that is not a rematch of a regular season game. However, this game does feature the two 5A Conference Champions. Both teams suffered their only conference losses in Week 9 as Penn-Trafford fell to McKeesport and Upper St Clair fell to Woodland Hills. Penn-Trafford has the second-highest scoring offense in 5A at 34 points per game and the stingiest defense at just 10 points per game. Upper St Clair has also been strong defensively after keeping Franklin Regional out of the end zone last week in a 6-3 slugfest. Penn-Trafford is also coming off a challenging win over Fox Chapel where the Warriors had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win. Penn-Trafford has a balanced offense this season with dual-threat QB Cam Laffoon throwing for 1317 yards and 14 TDs and rushing for 645 yards and 7 scores. Penn-Trafford’s ground game has been so strong that Laffoon is only their third-leading rusher behind John Gay (1171 yards, 17 TDs) and Caleb Lisbon (708 yards, 12 TDs). When Laffoon has aired it out, his favorite targets have been Dimitri George (368 yards, 2 TDs) and Cam Suman (364 yards, 2 TDs). Upper St Clair also has a dual-threat QB in Jack Hansberry who has thrown for 1515 yards and 10 TDs and run for 665 yards and 10 more scores. Hansberry was the star for the Panthers last week, rushing for 110 yards and throwing for 139 yards and the game’s only touchdown. He has been complemented in the backfield by leading rusher Colin McLinden (798 yards, 12 TDs) and has spread the ball around on the outside to Dom Cepullio (502 yards, 3 TDs), Chris Pantellis (400 yards, 6 TDs), and Tom Kyle (325 yards,1 TD). Upper St Clair and legendary coach Jim Render are seeking their first trip to Heinz Field since 2011 while Penn-Trafford is looking for their second Championship Game appearance in the last 3 years.
2. Gateway (7-1, 10-1) vs 6. McKeesport (6-2, 8-2)
at Norwin High School
Some of the best games in the entire WPIAL over the last two seasons have been the Gateway-McKeesport showdowns. In last year’s semifinals, McKeesport converted a Hail Mary hook-and-ladder to win the game in the final seconds and reach the Championship. The teams met in Week 8 this year with Gateway prevailing 21-18 after intercepting a pass in the end zone in the final minute. This will be the fourth meeting in the last two years between these rivals with McKeesport trying to earn a return trip to Heinz Field and Gateway looking for their first appearance since an ill-fated run of 3 straight title game losses from 2007-2009. This game will be an absolute contrast of styles as Gateway features a pass-heavy offense led by the WPIAL’s leading passer Brady Walker (3095 yards, 34 TDs) and McKeesport will ground and pound with their triple-option attack. Walker has spread the ball around to the WPIAL’s second-leading receiver Courtney Jackson (1318 yards, 19 TDs) and Jeremiah Josephs (416 yards, 5 TDs). Running backs Isaiah Cameron and Derrick Davis have been threats all over the field as Cameron has 576 rushing yards, 433 receiving yards, and 14 total TDs while Davis has 235 rushing yards, 236 receiving yards and has scored 8 times. Gateway has the highest-scoring offense in 5A (39 points per game) while McKeesport ranks third (34 points per game). On the flip side, McKeesport’s defense ranks second in the classification at 13 points per game while Gateway is third at 17 per game. McKeesport avenged their one-point loss to West Allegheny in last year’s Championship with a win over the Indians last week in a game where all 3 of their backs scored. The Tigers triple-option attack has been led by the trio of Layton Jordan (1257 yards, 15 TDs), John Harper (1089 yards, 15 TDs) and Carlinos Acie (742 yards, 9 TDs). Harper is also the quarterback but has averaged fewer than 3 attempts per game as McKeesport has dominated on the ground. Anything can happen in a rivalry game with a trip to the Championship on the line and this game figures to be yet another classic.
Class 4A Semifinals
1. South Fayette (8-0, 11-0) vs 4. Montour (6-2, 8-2)
at West Allegheny High School
Yet another rematch of a Week 9 game, where South Fayette defeated Montour 49-21 to clinch the Northwest Nine Conference title. In that game, South Fayette QB Drew Saxton threw for 342 yards and 4 TDs and ran for 2 more scores to lead the Lions. On the season, Saxton has thrown for 2462 yards and 31 TDs, spreading the ball around to Noah Plack (778 yards, 10 TDs), Rayquin Glover (437 yards, 3 TDs), Mike Trimber (430 yards, 6 TDs, and Ryan Kokoski (344 yards, 5 TDs). South Fayette employed a balanced attack last week in their win over West Mifflin. With leading rusher Johnny Beck (887 yards, 18 TDs) out, Johnny Obenour and Drew Franklin split carries with Franklin scoring twice. Saxton also added 259 yards and 3 TDs through the air, including 134 yards and 2 TDs by Noah Plack. Montour won the most exciting game of the week last week, a back-and-forth thriller with New Castle where Brandon Lipford scored on a 56-yard pass from Kavon Morman with under a minute to play to give the Spartans a 35-31 victory. Morman was the star of the team last week, leading them back from 21 points down with 4 total TDs. On the season he has thrown for 1437 yards and 15 TDs and run for 550 yards and 12 TDs. Leading rusher Brayden Jones has run for 661 yards and 6 TDs. On the outside, Lipford has been Morman’s favorite target with 501 yards and 8 TDs. South Fayette is looking for their fourth trip to Heinz Field in the last five years while Montour has not been to the WPIAL Championship since they won the AAA title in 2011.
2. Belle Vernon (8-0, 10-0) vs 3. Thomas Jefferson (7-1, 9-1)
at Baldwin High School
The top two teams in the Big Nine Conference get a rematch after Belle Vernon ended Thomas Jefferson’s 27-game winning streak against WPIAL competition in Week 7 with a 21-17 victory. Both teams are stout defensively and cruised through their first round games. Belle Vernon’s 42-7 victory over Mars was just their second playoff victory in 14 appearances since 2001. Belle Vernon was the only team to score more than 7 points against Thomas Jefferson’s defense this season and the Jaguars pitched their 5th shutout in 10 games in the first round against Trinity. In their first meeting, Jared Hartman threw 2 TD passes to lead the Leopards past the Jaguars. On the season, Hartman has thrown for 816 yards and 14 TDs and run for a team-high 9 scores. Leading rusher Mason Pascoe has 732 yards and 5 TDs including 130 last week against Mars. Leading receivers Logan Pfronger (274 yards, 7 TDs) and Derek Thomas (262 yards, 7 TDs) have been Hartman’s primary targets. In addition to having the best defense in 4A led by Pitt recruits Noah Palmer and Devin Danielson, Thomas Jefferson also has the second-best offense at 43 points per game. The Jaguars have a balanced attack with QB Shane Stump throwing for 1330 yards and 21 TDs and RB Justin Vigna rushing for 1498 yards and 22 TDs. Garrett Fairman (785 yards, 12 TDs) has been the primary receiver for Stump. The Leopards were last in the semifinals in 2000 and last reached the title game in 1999. By contrast, Thomas Jefferson is not only the two-time defending WPIAL Champions but also making their 19th semifinal appearance in the last 20 years.
Class 3A Semifinals
1. Aliquippa (6-0, 11-0) vs 5. Beaver (4-2, 9-2)
at Central Valley High School
A year after missing the playoffs because of the WPIAL’s bad structuring of 3A, Beaver is in the semifinals for just the second time since 2004 and first since 2013 and seeking their first Championship Game appearance since 1982. Conversely, Aliquippa is in the semifinals for the 11th straight year and seeking their 10th straight appearance at Heinz Field. Both teams were challenged early in their opening playoff games but ran away with them in the second half. Beaver was the only team to score more than once against Aliquippa in the regular season, albeit one of those scores was a defensive touchdown. The Quips won the first game 30-10 and were outstanding defensively this season, only allowing 35 points through 11 games and just 1 offensive touchdown in the regular season (South Park scored 2 last week). Aliquippa’s offense is simple but beautiful smashmouth power football. Leading rusher Avante McKenzie has run for 1564 yards and 18 TDs, including 220 yards and 5 TDs last week. McKenzie has been joined in the backfield by Tariq Jones (479 yards, 7 TDs) and Xavier Harvey (431 yards, 3 TDs). The QB job has been split between Eli Kosanovich (695 yards, 11 TDs) and William Gipson (278 yards, 5 TDs) though both have enjoyed throwing to stellar junior receiver MJ Devonshire (312 yards, 9 total TDs). Devonshire’s pick-6 broke open the game last week and he makes up just part of an excellent secondary which also features WVU-commit Kwantel Raines, one of the top safeties in the country. Beaver also features an incredibly opportunistic defense that has scored numerous times this season including 5 pick-sixes by Tyler Wallace and 4 in each by Amen Cottrill and Brad Barker. The Bobcats are the highest-scoring team in 3A, averaging 41 points per game. Offensively, QB Brodie List has thrown for 1019 yards and 16 TDs and run for 9 scores while the backfield rotation of Gino Mavero (633 yards, 5 TDs), TeVonn Williams (463 yards, 7 TDs) and Amen Cottrill (448 yards, 6 TDs) have been effective in the ground game. Tyler Wallace has been an all-around star for the Bobcats, adding to his 5 defensive touchdowns with 407 receiving yards and 6 TDs and added 107 yards and 2 TDs on the ground.
2. Quaker Valley (5-1, 10-1) vs 3. Seton La Salle (7-0, 9-1)
at North Hills High School
Seton La Salle is the only 3A team remaining that does not hail from the Beaver Valley Conference. The Rebels were the Allegheny Conference Champions with their only loss coming in Week 8 in a non-conference game against Quaker Valley by a 42-7 margin. Quaker Valley’s only loss this season came against Aliquippa and the Quakers are looking for their first trip to Heinz Field in school history. In the first meeting the Quakers held the WPIAL’s leading rusher Lionel Deanes to just 19 yards on 17 attempts while QB Ricky Guss accounted for over 300 total yards and 3 TDs. Guss has been one of the most dynamic players in the WPIAL this season, throwing for 1835 yards and 21 TDs and rushing for 894 yards and 24 TDs. Guss’ favorite receiver has been Isaiah McNair (777 yards, 13 TDs) while RB JT Taylor has been an all-around threat with 752 rushing yards, 370 receiving yards and 11 total TDs. The Quakers have the second-best offense in 3A, averaging 40 points per game. Despite being shut down in the first meeting, Seton La Salle RB Lionel Deanes currently leads the WPIAL in rushing with 2058 yards and 27 TDs and is coming off a 280-yard 5-touchdown performance against Freeport last week. The Rebels have also been successful in their passing game with Matt Banbury throwing for 1145 yards and 10 TDs, spreading the ball around to Jamar Shegog (294 yards, 1 TD) and Nick Vari (276 yards, 4 TDs). Banbury has also run for 406 yards and 6 scores this season. Seton La Salle won the WPIAL AA Championship in 2004 while Quaker Valley has not played in a WPIAL Championship since the consolidation of Sewickley and Leetsdale High Schools. Sewickley High School won 3 WPIAL Championships with the last coming in 1960.
Class 2A Quarterfinals
1. Steel Valley (6-0, 9-0) vs 9. Burgettstown (5-3, 7-3)
at Dormont Stadium
Steel Valley pulled away from Laurel last week to win 42-13 while Burgettstown earned their first playoff victory since 1978 with a last-second field goal to beat Neshannock. Steel Valley is the defending 2A Champions and riding a WPIAL-leading 24-game winning streak. The Ironmen average 42 points per game, the second-best in 2A and have a number of players that can score from anywhere on the field. Trevon Adams has been an all-around star, rushing for 568 yards, leading the team with 536 receiving yards, and scoring 16 total TDs. Kameron Williams has run for 780 yards and 15 TDs while D1 recruit Amonte Strothers has 372 receiving yards and 9 TDs. Ronnell Lawrence has been successful since taking over at QB, throwing for 691 yards and 10 TDs. Burgettstown’s offense has been centered around dual-threat QB Ryan Lounder (594 passing yards, 13 TDs, 672 rushing yards, 10 TDs). Last week, Lounder led the team to victory with over 300 yards of total offense, throwing for 3 TDs and rushing for another. Nick Spear (532 yards, 5 TDs) has complemented Lounder in the backfield whike Jarred John (226 yards, 8 TDs) has been his favorite target.
4. Riverside (6-1, 8-2) vs 12. Avonworth (3-3, 4-5)
at Seneca Valley High School
Avonworth pulled one of the biggest upsets of the first round when the Lopes topped #5 seed Charleroi. Avonworth forced 6 turnovers and blocked a punt while holding 2A’s third-best offense to just 12 points. The Lopes now face a strong defensive team in Riverside who has held opponents to just 12 points per game, the second-best mark in 2A. Riverside shut out Frazier last week, their fourth goose-egg of the season. Sophomore QB Ben Hughes has thrown for 1418 yards and 19 TDs, primarily to Austin Dambach (647 yards, 15 TDs) and Kyle Marweg (326 yards, 5 TDs). The backfield tandem of Noah Harris (856 yards, 12 TDs) and LeMarcus Cleckley (849 yards, 8 TDs) has given the Panthers a balanced offense. While Riverside is balanced, Avonworht has a pass-heavy offense led by QB Derek Johncour (1795 yards, 13 TDs). His favorite target has been Turner Grau (874 yards, 9 TDs) while JJ Igims has been the primary running back, rushing for 513 yards and 7 TDs.
2. Washington (7-0, 10-0) vs 7. East Allegheny (4-2, 7-3)
at Elizabeth Forward High School
Washington breezed past Freedom in the first round while East Allegheny topped Mohawk 28-14 for their first playoff victory since 2000. Washington is absolutely loaded this year and statistically has the top offense (44 points per game) and defense (8 points allowed per game) in 2A. The Prexies have a balanced offensive attack with QB Zack Swartz (1420 yards, 20 TDs) and RB Nick Welsh (1710 yards, 24 TDs). On the outside, Isaiah Schoonmaker (543 yards, 10 TDs) and Daniel Walker (422 yards, 7 TDs) are both averaging over 20 yards per reception. In addition to Welsh, Dylan Asbury (477 yards, 4 TDs) and Andre Jennings (222 yards, 4 TDs) are all averaging over 10 yards per carry. For East Allegheny to defeat the juggernaut that is Washington, the Wildcats will need a big game out of their passing attack. QB Tamaine Underwood has thrown for 2338 yards and 23 TDs this season, spreading the ball around to TJ Banks (679 yards, 9 TDs), Dan Kasmier (641 yards, 4 TDs), and Tyer Padezan (407 yards, 5 TDs). Banks is a West Virginia-commit and is the kind of player that can take over a game.
3. CWNC (7-0, 9-2) vs 6. Serra Catholic (4-2, 7-4)
at Hampton High School
This battle of Catholic schools also pits my alma mater against the alma mater of my roommate from my freshman year of college. The metrics for both teams are a little swayed by the games they played outside of 2A, as both of CWNC’s losses came against 3A opponents and Serra Catholic lost a game 56-6 to Fort Hill (MD) that they added to their schedule when Vincentian dropped their football team. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic is led by sensational sophomore QB Zack Rocco who has thrown for 2074 yards and 27 TDs, spreading the ball between Ryan Maziarz (419 yards, 8 TDs), Tyree Brown (381 yards, 6 TDs), and Cameron Branch (306 yards, 4 TDs). RB Joe Meinert has run for 1152 yards and added 314 receiving yards and scored 14 times. Serra Catholic also has a quality quarterback in Evan Honick (1530 yards, 13 TDs) and one of the WPIAL’s top receivers in JaQuae Jackson (928 yards, 5 TDs). Second-leading receiver Malik Edmundson has 543 yards and 6 TDs. Serra has not been one-dimensional as their have been strong on the ground with Khalil Smith rushing for 776 yards and 10 TDs. CWNC is looking for their 5th trip to the semifinals in the last 6 years while Serra has not been this far in the playoffs since winning the Single-A Championship in 2007.
Class 1A Quarterfinals
1. California (7-0, 11-0) vs 9. Union (5-3, 8-3)
at Canon-McMillan High School
The highest-scoring team in the WPIAL proved their might once again in the opening round as California ran all over Bishop Canevin in the first round. The Trojans have a loaded backfield led by Jelani Stafford (1444 yards, 25 TDs), Cochise Ryan (592 yards, 13 TDs), Collin Phillips (583 yards, 12 TDs), Zion Aldrich (532 yards, 10 TDs), and Jonathan Wood (489 yards, 11 TDs). Phillips also plays quarterback but California has been so good on the ground he has rarely had to put the ball in the air this season, throwing for 410 yards and 6 TDs on just 3 attempts per game. Union won just their second playoff game since 1980 by defeating Fort Cherry in a wild back-and-forth game. Union took the lead on a safety where the ball was snapped over the QB’s head then added a touchdown pass from Ryan Pinkerton to Michael Flowers and put the game away with two late interceptions. Flowers has scored 11 TDs this season and leading rusher Tre Charles has scored 15 times for the Scotties.
4. Imani Christian (6-1, 9-2) vs 5. OLSH (7-1, 9-2)
at Chartiers-Houston High School
In a rematch of a first round game from last year’s playoffs, two of the top passers in the WPIAL square off. Both teams have explosive offenses with Imani Christian averaging 43 points per game and OLSH averaging 37 per contest. Imani is led by QB Tawan Wesley (2336 yards, 29 TDs) who has spread the ball around to Sam Fairley (1013 yards, 20 TDs), Ramon Hart (737 yards, 9 TDs) and Ray Jackson (513 yards, 6 TDs). Their running game has been centered on Asante Watkins who has run for 1021 yards and 18 TDs. OLSH has the offensive firepower to keep up with Imani’s torrid pace on offense. The Chargers also have an excellent quarterback in Tyler Bradley (2526 yards, 30 TDs) and a slew of receivers led by Andrew Schnarre (836 yards, 8 TDs) and Ricco Tate (480 yards, 8 TDs). Richard Banks has been the primary complement to Bradley, rushing for 1061 yards and adding 740 receiving yards and scoring 21 times. Jack Graff has also been featured in the running game, rushing for 843 yards and 10 TDs. With all this offensive talent on the field, this game has the makings of a shootout.
2. Clairton (6-1, 8-2) vs 7. Carmichaels (6-1, 8-2)
at Charleroi High School
In a strange regular season that saw Clairton uncharacteristically lose twice, the Bears are starting to look like the same old Clairton Bears. They came into their own late in the season and won the conference title with a dominant win over Jeannette then put a 23-point victory on a Summit Academy team who had not lost a game by more than 10 points all season. Tre’sean Howard is the feature player for Clairton, leading the ream in rushing (877 yards), receiving (411 yards), and scoring (19 total TDs). Aaron Thompson has added 572 yards and 10 TDs on the ground while sophomore QB Brendan Parsons has started to grow in his role and thrown for 994 yards and 12 TDs. Carmichaels defeated Western Beaver 28-8 in the first round to win their first playoff game since 2002. The Mighty Mikes have a run-heavy offense led by Nicholas Mundell (1170 yards, 13 TDs) and Brennen Pelzer (341 yards, 7 TDs). QB Kevin Kelly averages just 6 pass attempts per game and has thrown for 527 yards and 8 TDs, primarily to Dylan Wilson (255 yards, 3 TDs).
3. Jeannette (6-1, 10-1) vs 6. Rochester (7-1, 8-2)
at Peters Twp High School
This game features two outstanding dual-threat quarterbacks. For Jeannette, Robert Kennedy is one of the most exciting players in the WPIAL. Kennedy has thrown for 1250 yards and 23 TDs and run for 806 yards and 20 TDs. His favorite targets on the outside have been Marcus Barnes (425 yards, 9 TDs) and Tre Cunningham (292 yards, 5 TDs). Kennedy has been complemented in the backfield by Imani Sanders (332 yards, 10 TDs). The Jayhawks have the second-best offense in 1A at 44 points per game and the third-best defense at 12 points per game. Rochester’s defense is not far behind, allowing just 14 points per game. The Rams only losses this season came against Conference Champions OLSH and California. Rochester is led by Mahlik Strozier who has relied more on his running than his passing. Strozier has run for 1082 yards and 15 TDs and thrown for just 321 yards and 4 scores. He has been complemented in the backfield by the tandem of Caleb Collins (970 yards, 18 TDs) and Darius Goosby (418 yards, 7 TDs). The trio all averages over 6 yards per carry and will test Jeannette’s run defense.