The first full week of the high school football season is in the books. Week 1 saw a number of blowout victories with an average margin of victory nearing 26 points. In the 5A Game of the Week, Penn-Trafford put forth a dominant defensive effort to stifle Gateway’s offense en route to a 28-7 victory. The Warriors win also snapped Gateway’s 10-game conference winning streak, the third longest in the WPIAL. The second-longest conference winning streak also ended at 14 games as OLSH fell to Sto-Rox. The two longest winning streaks against WPIAL teams also ended last week with OLSH (6 games) and Steel Valley (10 games) both losing.
Once again, I’m happy to be doing a guest spot on the WMBS pregame show. They’ll be broadcasting the Uniontown-Deer Lakes game tonight with bonus coverage of the Laurel Highlands-Montour. I talked about these games, some other games to watch, and potential WPIAL realignment options on 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.
6A Game of the Week
North Allegheny (1-0, 2-0) at Central Catholic (1-0, 2-0)
Both teams are 2-0 and got off to strong starts by winning Week 0 games against non-WPIAL opponents in the Western PA vs Everyone showcase. North Allegheny has not allowed a point this season after a 42-0 shutout of Hempfield last week. Central Catholic won a defensive struggle against Seneca Valley 10-7. That was the third meeting between the Vikings and Raiders in the last 12 months with all three decided by fewer than 7 points. North Allegheny has boasted a balanced offensive attack. Ben Petschke has thrown for 171 yards and 2 TDs and Percise Colon has run for 190 yards and 1 TD. So far, eight different players for North Allegheny have found the end zone this season. On the other side, Central Catholic has been led by QB Dom Pieto. Despite throwing 2 interceptions against Seneca Valley, Pieto scored the game-winning touchdown on the ground a week after running for 3 scores. The Vikings have relied heavily on their running game and shared the workload between Dontre Jones, Antonio Pitts, Eddie Tillman, and JD Younger. This game also features a heck of a battle in the trenches with Central Catholic’s line of North Carolina-commit DE AJ Beatty and interior linemen Amaar Allen and Elliot Donald against the Rivals 2018 Offensive Lineman of the Year Jake Lugg (a Harvard-commit). Lugg vs Beatty will be worth the price of admission alone.
Honorable Mentions: Hempfield at Norwin
5A Game of the Week
West Allegheny (1-0, 1-0) at Bethel Park (1-0, 1-0)
The Allegheny Eight Conference is the best section in the WPIAL this season with big matchups every week. West Allegheny scored a narrow 35-31 victory over Chartiers Valley last week. Bethel Park topped Woodland Hills 29-16. There are no nights off in this conference, as evidenced by last year’s 5A runner-up West Allegheny getting challenged by Chartiers Valley who finished last in the section. Both of these teams have new coaches this year as Bob Palko left West Allegheny after 22 years and Jeff Metheny resigned after 25 years at Bethel Park. West Allegheny leaned on their rushing attack as Nico Flati rumbled for 172 yards and 4 TDs, including the game-winning 36-yarder. Gavin Miller started at quarterback, throwing for 81 yards while Kam Kruze (who threw for over 1300 yards last year) moved out to receiver. Jashon Spencer was the top target in the passing game with 5 catches for 67 yards. Bethel Park’s rushing attack was also stellar last week, racking up 304 yards. Jehvonn Lewis led the way with 114 yards and 1 TD and Sean McGowan added 89 yards. Quarterback Anthony Chiccitt had just one more pass attempt than rushing attempt, throwing for 53 yards and running for 37. Fullback Jack Evans had just 7 carries for 31 yards but scored 3 times.
Honorable Mentions: Peters Twp at Woodland Hills, Baldwin at Upper St Clair, Shaler at Hampton, Erie Cathedral Prep at McKeesport
4A Game of the Week
Belle Vernon (0-0, 1-0) at Thomas Jefferson (1-0, 2-0)
This very well could be a preview of the 4A Championship Game. Thomas Jefferson’s only home loss in the last 12 years came against Belle Vernon. The Jaguars have rolled through their early-season slate with dominant wins over 6A Canon-McMillan and conference opponent Ringgold. Shane Stump might be the best dual-threat quarterback in Western Pennsylvania and has thrown for 371 yards and 5 TDs and run for 154 yards and another score. On the outside, Dylan Mallozzi (181 yards, 3 TDs), Preston Zandier (149 yards, 2 TDs), and Dan Deabner (105 yards, 2 TDs) are all in the Top 7 in receiving yards in 4A. Belle Vernon also got off to a hot start in a non-conference game against Ambridge. Jared Hartman threw for 105 yards and 3 TDs, including two to Hunter Ruokonen. Larry Callaway ran for 3 touchdowns and Monessen transfer Devin Whitlock ran for another. These are two of the top teams in the classification and this is the Game of the Week in the entire WPIAL.
Honorable Mentions: New Castle at South Fayette, Beaver at Knoch
3A Game of the Week
Central Valley (1-0, 2-0) at Beaver Falls (1-0, 2-0)
Both teams scored big Week 1 victories over Tri-County West opponents. Central Valley topped Quaker Valley 55-0 and Beaver Falls rolled past South Park 34-7. With Aliquippa also winning big, the three preseason favorites in the Tri-County West have already begun to separate themselves from the pack. Central Valley has looked dominant through 2 games with Jaylen Guy running for 245 yards and 2 TDs. Last week, the Warriors passing game exploded with Ameer Dudley throwing for 251 yards and 3 TDs with 10 completions on 13 passes. Dudley added a rushing touchdown as well. Central Valley has a pair of talented receivers in Jawon Hall (123 yards, 3 TDs) and Michael Barbuto (105 yards, 1 TD). Beaver Falls has more of a run-based offense. Josh Hough (113 yards, 1 TD) and Shileak Livingston (87 yards, 2 TDs) dominated against South Park as the Tigers racked up 233 yards on the ground. Quarterback Chase Thornton threw for 150 yards and 2 TDs – one of them to Hough. This will be the first major challenge for both teams this season. The winner of this game will set themselves up as the primary challenger to Aliquippa for the conference title.
Honorable Mentions: Elizabeth Forward at Burrell, North Catholic at Freeport
2A Game of the Week
Carmichaels (1-0, 1-0) at Southmoreland (1-0, 2-0)
The surprise of Week 1 might have been Carmichaels, who finished near the bottom of the Interstate Conference last year, topping Beth-Center 34-25. The Mighty Mikes fell behind 25-14 at halftime but scored 20 unanswered points in the second half while shutting out the Bulldogs offense. Carmichaels was led by QB Kevin Kelly who attempted just 7 passes but did his damage on the ground, rushing for 176 yards and 4 TDs. Bailey Jones and Hunter Stewart both ran for over 40 yards, but the Mikes offense was mostly about Kelly being unstoppable. On the other side, Southmoreland’s quest to make the playoffs for the first time since 1979 got off to a solid start with a 56-12 win over Frazier. The Scotties also have a Week 0 victory over rival Mt. Pleasant on their resume. Zach Cernuto has thrown for 369 yards and 3 TDs, primarily to Riley Comforti (259 yards, 3 TDs). The Scotties also boast a solid ground game led by Colt Harper (157 yards, 5 TDs). Washington and McGuffey are the clear favorites in the Interstate Conference, but the winner of this game could have the inside track to earning a playoff berth.
Honorable Mentions: Avonworth at Steel Valley, Freedom at Riverside, Seton LaSalle at Brentwood
1A Game of the Week
Clairton (0-0, 0-2) at GCC (1-0, 2-0)
In something you don’t hear very often, Clairton is 0-2. That said, credit to the Bears for putting together one of the most difficult opening two weeks in a season. In Week 0 Clairton faced defending 3A State Champions Aliquippa. In Week 1, Mapletown preemptively forfeit to Clairton and Northgate forfeit to McGuffey. Rather than take the week off, Clairton and McGuffey (projected to be one of the top teams in 2A) scheduled a game. McGuffey topped Clairton 42-27 to drop the Bears to 0-2. Despite their record, Clairton has not lacked offensively with QB Brendan Parsons throwing for 450 yards and 4 TDs so far. Kenlein Ogletree has 226 yards and 3 TDs as the primary target in the passing game with Jonte Sanders second with 95 yards and 1 TD. On the ground, Parsons has done most of the damage, rushing for 118 yards and 2 TDs. Greensburg Central Catholic is coming off a 7-3 season where they missed the postseason because the 1A playoff field is limited to only 8 teams. This year, GCC is off to a strong start with wins over Monessen and Riverview. The Centurions also have a dual-threat QB in David Altimore who has thrown for 280 yards and 5 TDs and run for 68 yards and another score. His favorite target on the outside has been Brandon Brown (140 yards, 3 TDs).
Honorable Mentions: Chartiers-Houston at West Greene, Monessen at Springdale