The official start of the WPIAL season begins tonight! Last week a number of teams kicked off their schedules with Week 0 games that included a number of rivalry games and high profile matchups. The most noteworthy results were two teams ending long losing streaks. Mapletown entered the season on a 16-game losing streak and defeated Avella 29-6, ending the second-longest drought in the WPIAL. In what may have been the Game of the Week, Brownsville and Bentworth battled back and forth all night. In the end, Brownsville won in epic fashion in the closing seconds, ending an 11-game losing streak.
The falcons get a goal line stop then drive 94 yds hunter Assad to javon dove for the walk off with 33 -27 !!!!
— Brownsville basketball and football (@BrownsvilleF) August 24, 2019
Once again, I’m happy to be doing a guest spot on the WMBS pregame show. They’ll be broadcasting the Uniontown-Yough game tonight. Yough got shut out by Serra Catholic in Week 0 while Uniontown lost the Coal Bucket Rivalry game against Connellsville. Uniontown will be looking to snap the WPIAL’s longest losing streak (23 games) after running for 172 yards last week. I talked about this and more during my guest appearance on the WMBS Pregame Show, you can listen to the show, starting at 6pm on Friday night.
As a reminder, if you’re going to be following along with the WPIAL action tonight, keep an eye on the #WPIAL hashtag on Twitter where people post score updates from games. I’ll also be posting score updates and commentary from my Twitter account @thesteelersnat.
At the end of the night, I’ll be updating my WPIAL Standings Page with all of the results of tonight’s games, which count towards a team’s overall record but not towards making the playoffs. Also, check out our WPIAL Predictions and all of our Conference Previews and Interviews.
6A Game of the Week
Central Catholic (1-0) at Seneca Valley (0-1)
This is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal that Seneca Valley won 15-14. Last year’s quarterfinal loss was the first time Central Catholic didn’t reach Heinz Field since 2012. This game offers an opportunity for early-season revenge, though it is worth noting that Central beat Seneca Valley in Week 1 last year. Both teams played Week 0 games against non-WPIAL competition. Central defeated William Penn (York, PA) 42-7 and Seneca Valley lost to former WPIAL school Erie McDowell 35-14. Dom Pieto split time at quarterback last year but excelled in his first start this season, rushing for 3 TDs and threw for another score. Eddy Tillman ran for over 100 yards, including a 51-yard scoring dash that put extended the Vikings lead before halftime. entral Catholic might have the best defensive line in 6A with North Carolina-commit AJ Beatty at one defensive end spot and Amaar Allen (who has offers from nearly every MAC school) at the other. Junior lineman Elliot Donald, the nephew of Aaron Donald, has offers from numerous power conference schools including Pitt, Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan, and LSU. Central’s defense was stout last week, adding to the scoring with a pick-six by linebacker Luke Harris. This game should be a fun battle in the trenches as Seneca Valley boasts their own quality line led by Purdue-commit Josh Kaltenberger and Kevin Meeder who has a number of offers from MAC schools. The Raiders struggled to get things going offensively last week as they broke in a number of new skill position players. Dual-threat QB Gabe Lawson was the focal point throwing for 238 yards and running for 40 more and 1 TD.
Honorable Mention: Mt. Lebanon at Canon-McMillan
5A Game of the Week
Gateway (1-0) at Penn-Trafford (1-0)
This game may not only decide the Big East Conference Title, but may also be a preview of the WPIAL Championship Game. Gateway and Penn-Trafford have finished as the top two in the Big East Conference each of the last two years and look poised to do it again. In 2017 Penn-Trafford won the regular season meeting but fell to Gateway in the WPIAL final at Heinz Field. Last year Gateway’s perfect season ended with a semifinal loss to Bob Palko’s West Allegheny squad. Gateway defeated Bob Palko’s new outfit (Mt. Lebanon) 46-20 last week while Penn-Trafford also beat a 6A school, their rivals Norwin, 42-7. Gateway’s Derrick Davis is top junior in state and that statement is not hyperbole. Last week against Mt. Lebanon Davis ran for 173 yards and 3 TDs and added 104 receiving yards and another touchdown. Senior QB Bryson Venanzio threw for 231 yards and 3 TDs in his debut. Penn-Trafford offense rolled past Norwin, led by RB Caleb Lisbon who ran for 175 and 2 TDs and had a 37-yard receiving TD. QB Gabe Dunlap threw for 132 yards on just 3 completions with two going for touchdowns. On the ground Dunlap ran for 129 yards and 1 TD. This game has all the makings of an epic showdown between two powerhouse programs looking to stake an early claim on the conference title.
Honorable Mentions: Bethel Park at Woodland Hills, Upper St Clair at Peters Twp
4A Game of the Week
South Fayette (0-1) at Beaver (1-0)
South Fayette is the defending 4A Champions while Beaver reached the postseason last year in their first season playing in the higher classification. Both teams have replaced a number of starters from last year, which should make for an interesting early-season showdown. In Week 0, Beaver topped Brashear out of the City League 30-0 and South Fayette lost at home to Upper St. Clair in the first game of the post-Jim Render Era. That was South Fayette’s first home loss since 2011, which was also the last time the Lions lost a conference game. They bring a WPIAL-leading 57-game conference winning streak into this showdown with the Bobcats. South Fayette struggled to get their running game going last week and relied heavily on the arm of junior QB Namen Alemada. The good side is that Alemada completed 34 of 54 attempts for a WPIAL-leading 361 yards and 1 touchdown. His primary targets were Charley Rossi (147 yards, 1 TD) and Joey Audia (83 yards) but he also threw 4 interceptions which severely hampered South Fayette’s offensive attack. Beaver topped Brashear by relying on their rushing attack and defense. Jackson Thomas led the way for the Bobcats, running for 72 yards and 2 TDs. Wyatt Ringer had a 27-yard touchdown reception and a pick-six on defense. Marco Mamone and Tyler ZIggas split time at quarterback for the Bobcats
Honorable Mentions: Montour at New Castle, Greensburg Salem at Trinity
Two games between teams figuring to be fighting over the last few playoff spots in their respective conferences. Every conference game matters in the playoff race, but the results here could provide important tiebreakers later in the season.
3A Game of the Week
Quaker Valley (0-0) at Central Valley (1-0)
Both of these teams made the playoffs last season but fell in the first round of the playoffs. Quaker Valley had planned to have Dylan Moore (younger brother of last year’s quarterback Ethan Moore) step in under center, but their family moved out of state this summer. Now the burden falls to senior Mike Aspiotes, along with an entirely new group of skill position players. Sophomore Patrick Cutchember played all over the field last year and figures to take on a primary role in the Quaker’s running game. Central Valley got off to a strong start last week against Blackhawk who reached the 4A semifinals last year. The Warriors ran all over the Cougars, putting up 220 total yards on the ground led by Jaylen Guy’s 125 yards and 1 TD. Dual-threat QB Ameer Dudley had over 100 yards of total offense and threw a touchdown pass. The Warriors defense was also tenacious, holding Blackhawk under 100 total yards in a 32-15 victory.
Honorable Mentions: Burrell at North Catholic, Freeport at Derry
2A Game of the Week
Seton La Salle (0-0) at Burgettstown (0-0)
Both of these teams made the playoffs last year and return a number of key starters. At the end of the year, we may look back on this game as having decided the Three Rivers Conference title. Burgettstown is the defending conference champions after a perfect regular season last year. The Blue Devils rode a stifling defense that allowed just 43 points during the regular season to their first conference title since the 1970s. Dual-threat QB Jake Lounder returns for his senior year after throwing for 462 yards and 5 TDs and running for 771 yards and 11 scores. Running backs Shane Kemper (660 yards, 8 TDs) and Cyle Conley (477 yards, 7 TDs) also return this season. Tight end Dylan Poirier (167 yards, 3 TDs) and wide receiver Seth Phillis (135 yards, 1 TD) both return for their senior seasons after leading Burgettstown’s limited passing game. Phillis was also the team’s kicker and booted 7 field goals (the most in 2A and 4th in the WPIAL) last season. Two-way lineman Riley Kemper has some FCS offers, including Robert Morris. For Seton LaSalle, the biggest change may be on the sideline as long-time Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac takes the helm for the Rebels. Rising senior Max Schipani is one of the top safety recruits in the WPIAL and also plays receiver. Fellow rising senior Joey Ranft took over under center halfway through last season and threw for 678 yards and 5 TDs. Gabe Finale led the team in rushing (658 yards, 8 TDs) as a freshman last year. Leading receivers James Yanders (250 yards, 2 TDs) and Shane Thrift (206 yards, 2 TDs) also return.
Honorable Mentions: Charleroi at Washington, Steel Valley at East Allegheny
1A Game of the Week
California (1-0) at Monessen (0-1)
These two teams were part of a three-way tie for the Tri-County South title with West Greene last year. That tie had to be settled by a coin flip as all other tiebreakers were equal. Monessen lost rising sophomore Devin Whitlock to transfer to Belle Vernon over the summer. Last year as a freshman Whitlock accounted for over 2000 yards of total offense and 22 total touchdowns between rushing, passing, and receiving. Monessen lost to Eastern Conference playoff contender Greensburg Central Catholic 21-18 in Week 0. The Greyhounds were led by RB Isaiah Beltram who ran for 154 yards and a touchdown. Jalen Brice added two short touchdown runs for the Greyhounds as a late comeback attempt came up short against GCC. California beat Beth-Center 32-27 on a lateraled 40-yard TD with a minute left. Cochise Ryan was the star for the Trojans with 106 passing yards, 86 rushing yards and 3 TDs. On defense Ryan added two interceptions. With only the top two squads in the Tri-County South guaranteed a playoff spot, this is an important game for playoff ordering at the top of the conference.
Honorable Mentions: Laurel at Rochester, OLSH at Sto-Rox, Bentworth at West Greene