The penultimate week of the WPIAL football regular season is upon us. There are still 23 playoff spots that are up for grabs in the final two weeks. I detailed all of the potential playoff clinching scenarios earlier this week. Last week saw two overtime thrillers. A week after Peters Twp (the last undefeated team in 5A) fell to Moon, new conference leader Bethel Park fell in double overtime to rival Baldwin. The Highlanders not only got a big win over their rivals but clinched their first playoff berth since 2013. Additionally, in 3A rivals Burrell and Freeport went to overtime with Burrell scoring a touchdown then going for 2 and the win.
What. A. Game. @alex_arledge12 hits Zach Miller for the winning two-point conversion, as Burrell beats Freeport 36-35 in OT, snapping a 7-game losing streak to the Yellowjackets. #WPIAL #TribHSSN @TribLiveHSSN @BSDBucs @ShawnLiotta pic.twitter.com/R3mKlmylJ0
— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) October 12, 2019
I’m happy to once again be doing a guest spot on the WMBS pregame show. They’ll be broadcasting the California vs Chartiers-Houston game tonight where the winner will clinch second place in the 1A Tri-County South. We previewed that game and also discussed the news about the WPIAL exploring realignment options on the 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. Another new feature this week is the addition of the 5A and 1A Wild Card Standings Page, where I am tracking the additional games that matter in those classifications.
6A Game of the Week
Pine-Richland (5-1, 7-1) at Seneca Valley (3-3, 3-5)
This is a rematch of last year’s 6A Championship Game. Pine-Richland won that game and needs a victory this week to stay in the hunt for the conference title. Statistically, the Rams have the highest scoring offense (40.3 points per game) and best defense (8.3 points against per game) in 6A. Seneca Valley’s wins over Canon McMillan, Butler, and Hempfield should be enough to get the Raiders back to the playoffs. Seneca Valley had close losses earlier in the season to Central Catholic (by 3) and Mt. Lebanon (by 6) but their defense has let them down of late, giving up 35+ in 2 of the last 3 games.
Pine-Richland’s RPO offense is led by junior QB Cole Spencer who leads 6A in passing with 1759 yards and 22 TDs and has added 230 yards and 4 TDs on the ground. RB Luke Meckler has been a threat all over the offense with 230 rushing yards, 298 receiving yards, and 11 total TDs. Eli Jochem (576 yards, 8 TDs) leads the receiving corps while Luke Miller (296 yards, 5 TDs) and D’avay Johnson (292 yards, 5 TDs) have also been quality threats. Seneca Valley’s defense is strong in the trenches, but that does not match up well against Pine-Richland’s passing attack. The Raiders’ offensive attack has been led by the tandem of QB Gabe Lawson and RB Ethan West. Lawson has thrown for 796 yards and 5 TDs and added 211 yards and 6 TDs on the ground. West leads the team in both rushing (354 yards) and receiving (136 yards) and has scored 5 times. Matt Stanger has also been a factor on the ground and through the air with over 200 yards of total offense and 4 TDs.
5A Games of the Week
Peters Twp (4-1, 7-1) at Bethel Park (4-1, 5-2)
The race for the Allegheny Eight Conference title is coming down to the wire. Both of these teams suffered defeats in recent weeks with Peters Twp falling to Moon (who Bethel beat in overtime) and Bethel Park losing to rival Baldwin. This figures to be a low-scoring affair as Peters Twp has the best defense in 5A, allowing just 10 points per game. Offensively both teams rank in the Top 10 in 5A with Peters averaging 31 points per game and Bethel averaging 27 per game. The winner of this game will stay in the race for the conference title (along with Moon) while the loser may be in danger of not getting a home playoff game.
Peters Twp is led by the dynamic trio of QB Logan Pfeuffer, RB Ryan Magiske, and WR Josh Casilli. Pfeuffer ranks 4th in 5A in passing with 1398 yards and 18 TDs. The Indians have been balanced in their offensive attack between Pfeuffer throwing and Ryan Magiske (869 yards, 9 TDs) running. On the outside, Josh Casilli (533 yards, 13 TDs) and Aidan McCall (240 yards, 5 TDs) have been the primary targets. On the other side, Bethel Park has a run-heavy attack that features multiple backs in both the running and passing game. The Blackhawks are averaging just 12 pass attempts per game and QB Anthony Chiccitt has thrown for 630 yards and 5 TDs. Leading rusher Sean McGowan (624 yards) is also one of the top receivers (168 yards) and has scored 7 times. Jehvonn Lewis has been an all-around playmaker with 425 rushing yards, 189 receiving yards and a team-high 8 TDs. Chiccitt has added 148 yards and a score on the ground as well while FB Jack Evans has punched it in 6 times.
McKeesport (3-1, 6-2) at Franklin Regional (3-1, 4-2)
Both of these teams are still in the hunt for home playoff games and have big games next week as McKeesport faces Gateway and Franklin Regional takes on conference leader Penn-Trafford. Franklin Regional is not out of the conference title race yet, but would need to win out in order to have a shot at the title. McKeesport’s triple-option wishbone offense has been outstanding this season, averaging 37 points per game, the second-best mark in all of 5A.
McKeesport’s triple option offense has once again been dominant this season, with their top 4 rushers all averaging over 7 yards per carry. QB Devari Robinson has done most of his damage on the ground with 829 yards and 22 TDs. The other three backs have been a rotation of Tyron Adams-Wagner (550 yards, 3 TDs), Vernon Andrews (359 yards, 3 TDs), and Asaad Robinson (225 yards, 5 TDs). The Tigers are also blessed with a D1-caliber WR on the outside in Deamontae Diggs (202 yards, 5 TDs) who has been Robinson’s primary target in the passing game. Franklin Regional has a decent passing game led by Trevor Brncic who has thrown for 624 yards and 5 TDs. He has spread the ball around between Jerraine Turner (170 yards), Mario Sarnic (144 yards, 1 TD) and Jeffrey Downs (109 yards, 2 TDs). On the ground, Zac Gordon has been the primary ballcarrier (729 yards, 10 TDs). Colton Johns (178 yards, 2 TDs) and Brandon Zanotta (105 yards, 3 TDs) have served in complementary roles.
4A Game of the Week
Thomas Jefferson (5-0, 8-0) at Greensburg Salem (4-1, 4-4)
Thomas Jefferson has cruised through the regular season and has their sights set on another top seed in the 4A playoffs. The Jaguars have the best offense in the classification, averaging 48 points per game and allowing just 33 total points through 8 games. A Thomas Jefferson win this week will clinch yet another conference title for Bill Cherpak. After a 1-3 start, Greensburg Salem has turned their season around and won 3 of their last 4, including a 13-10 win over West Mifflin. Even with a loss, the Lions would be solidly third, however a win could keep them in the race for the Conference Title.
Thomas Jefferson’s explosive offense features players in the Top 5 in 4A in passing, rushing, and receiving. QB Shane Stump has thrown for 1327 yards and 19 TDs. His main target on the outside has been Dan Deabner (565 yards, 12 TDs) but he has also gotten the ball to Ian Hansen (330 yards, 5 TDs) and Preston Zandier (262 yards, 3 TDs). All three of those receivers are averaging over 21 yards per catch. Out of the backfield, Dylan Mallozzi (767 yards, 12 TDs) leads the way. Stump (310 yards, 4 TDs) and DeRon VanBibber (290 yards, 8 TDs) have also been factors in the Jaguars rushing attack and all three average over 7 yards per carry. Greensburg Salem’s offense has been led by the tandem of QB Trent Patrick and RB Alex Briggs. Patrick has thrown for 684 yards and 7 TDs and rushed for 271 yards and 6 scores. His backfield counterpart Briggs has led the way with 585 yards and 4 TDs while Aaren Putt has added 247 yards and 3 scores. On the outside, Patrick’s favorite targets have been Ryan Thomas (171 yards, 2 TDs) and Cavan Trout (130 yards, 1 TD).
Honorable Mention: New Castle (3-2, 5-3) at Highlands (2-4, 2-6)
New Castle is coming off a big win over Knoch and is in position to make the playoffs if they beat Highlands and Ambridge. Highlands still has a sliver of hope, but it requires beating New Castle and hoping both New Castle and Montour lose their remaining contests.
3A Game of the Week
South Park (3-2, 3-4) at Central Valley (5-0, 7-1)
Central Valley is unbeaten in conference play, but can’t get caught looking forward to their Week 9 showdown with Aliquippa which will decide the Conference Title. South Park has a big win over Keystone Oaks, which put them in great position to make the playoffs. However, a 3-way tie (and potential coin flip scenario) exists if South Park loses out, Quaker Valley wins out, and Keystone Oaks splits their remaining game. The Eagles need one more win to lock up that final playoff spot.
Central Valley is led by dual-threat QB Ameer Dudley who has thrown for 832 yards and 11 TDs and run for 237 yards and 4 scores. Dudley’s backfield partner Jaylen Guy leads the Warriors ground game with 700 yards and 8 TDs. On the outside, Jawon Hall (335 yards, 7 TDs) and Myles Walker (166 yards, 8 TDs) have been Dudley’s primary targets. South Park is looking to rebound from a loss to Aliquippa where their offense was stifled. The Eagles have a run-heavy approach, led by the tandem of Rudy Mihoces (721 yards, 6 TDs) and Nathan May (439 yards, 6 TDs). May has also been South Park’s most reliable receiver with 7 catches (for 103 yards). QB Stephen Kmonk has thrown for 527 yards and 5 TDs with his primary targets being Seth Jones (156 yards, 2 TDs) and Mason Kasprack (119 yards, 1 TD).
Honorable Mentions: Derry at Deer Lakes, Freeport at Mt Pleasant, Aliquippa at Keystone Oaks
2A Games of the Week
Brentwood (6-0, 7-1) at Burgettstown (5-0, 7-0)
The Three Rivers Conference title is on the line as Burgettstown and Brentwood square off. These are the top two defensive squads in 2A with Burgettstown holding opponents to 6 points per game and Brentwood giving up 10 points per game. Offensively, Burgettstown has the third-highest scoring team in 2A, averaging 41 points per game. The Blue Devils also have the fourth-longest conference winning streak in the WPIAL at 12 straight games.
Burgettstown is an old school run-the-ball-and-play-defense squad. The Blue Devils offense is led by QB Jake Lounder who has done more damage on the ground (471 yards, 10 TDs) than through the air (393 yards, 7 TDs) this season. Burgettstown’s ground game has been so good that Lounder has only needed to attempt about 8 passes per game. Kyle Conley (336 yards, 9 TDs) and Shane Kemper (154 yards, 2 TDs) have also been featured in the running game. Seth Phillis has been an all-around star for the Blue Devils, leading the team in receiving yards (161), scoring 7 TDs and leads the entire WPIAL with 6 field goals. Brentwood has a balanced offensive attack, led by dual-threat QB John Milcic who has thrown for 1182 yards and 10 TDs and run for 429 yards and 6 scores. Running back Aiden Wardzinski leads the team in rushing (764 yards), receiving (403 yards), and scoring (8 TDs). On the outside, Milcic has been able to spread the ball around to Eddie Gomez (393 yards, 5 TDs) and Jayneil Latham (303 yards, 3 TDs).
McGuffey (6-0, 8-0) at Avonworth (5-0, 8-0)
It is not often that a non-conference game can be dripping with implications, but this game is full of them. With a date with Washington on the schedule next week, this is a game between 2 of the top 5 teams in 2A. While their offenses are a contrast of styles (McGuffey has a triple-option run-based attack while Avonworth has a quality passing game), both have been successful. McGuffey is averaging 45 points per game and Avonworth is averaging 37, though the Lopes defense has been better, giving up just 10.5 points per game.
Avonworth’s offense is led by the tandem of QB Park Penrod and RB Jax Miller who both rank in the Top 5 in their respective categories in 2A. Penrod has thrown for 1236 yards and 20 TDs, primarily to standout receiver Kyros Thorpe (411 yards, 11 TDs). Miller has been a workhorse back, running for 957 yards and 12 TDs. Ian Syam has spelled Miller out of the backfield and run for 377 yards and 1 score. McGuffey’s triple-option offense has wrecked havoc on opposing defenses all season. QB Marshall Whipkey has thrown for 891 yards and 16 TDs and run for 417 yards and 10 TDs. His brother McKinley leads the stable of running backs with 587 yards and 8 TDs. Nate Yagle (405 rushing yards, 283 receiving yards) and Jared Johnson (302 rushing yards, 154 receiving yards) have both scored 9 TDs and have been all-around factors in the Highlanders attack. On the outside, CJ Cole leads the way with 396 yards and 8 TDs.
Honorable Mentions (Clinched teams): Shady Side Academy (3-1, 4-2) at East Allegheny (2-2, 5-3), Washington (5-0, 8-0) at Southmoreland (4-2, 5-3),, Freedom (5-1, 7-1) at Apollo-Ridge (4-2, 6-2)
This week’s 2A slate is LOADED with important games. Shady Side Academy needs a win to have a chance at the conference crown when they play Avonworth next week. Perennial 2A powerhouse Steel Valley is sitting on the outside of the playoff picture and needs East Allegheny to lose their last two games to have a chance to make the playoffs. East Allegheny clinches a playoff spot with a victory. Washington and Southmoreland are both in the playoffs (Southmoreland for the first time since 1979!). A Wash High win sets up a showdown with McGuffey next week for the conference title while Southmoreland needs a win to stay in the hunt for a home playoff game. Freedom and Apollo-Ridge have both locked up playoff spots and their non-conference game this week could have an impact on seedings.
Honorable Mentions (Playoff Races): Shenango (3-2, 6-2) at New Brighton (3-2, 5-3), Western Beaver (3-2, 6-2) at Neshannock (4-1, 6-2), Seton LaSalle (2-3, 2-5) at Serra (2-3, 4-4), South Allegheny (2-3, 3-5) at Carlynton (1-4, 2-6)
The playoff races in the Midwestern Conference and Three Rivers Conference are wide open. In the Midwestern Conference, Freedom (5-1) leads the way with Neshannock (4-1), Riverside (4-2), Shenango (3-2), Western Beaver (3-2), and New Brighton (3-2) vying for the last 3 playoff spots. All of the head-to-head games between those teams are important in the playoff race. Similarly, in the Three Rivers Conference there are 5 teams behind the top two (Burgettstown and Brentwood) that all have a chance to make the playoffs. South Side Beaver (3-3), Serra Catholic (2-3), South Allegheny (2-3), Seton LaSalle (2-3), and Carlynton (1-4) all have a chance at the last two playoff spots.
1A Game of the Week
Chartiers-Houston (5-1, 6-2) at California (4-1, 5-3)
West Greene has clinched the Tri-County South conference title. Chartiers-Houston and California both enter Week 8 with just 1 loss in conference play. Therefore, the winner of this game will finish second in the conference and clinch a guaranteed playoff spot. The loser will finish in third place and leave their playoff hopes up to the 1A Wild Card. Both teams have run hot and cold this season. California has the more explosive offense (35 points per game) while Chartiers-Houston has the better defense (18 points against per game). Chartiers-Houston has pitched 3 shutouts in their 6 victories but gave up 45+ points in each of their losses. On the other side, California has scored 42+ in all but one of their wins (where they scored 32) but have managed just 20 total points in their 3 losses.
California’s offense is led by the dynamic Cochise Ryan who has thrown for 614 yards and 8 TDs and run for 733 yards and 16 TDs. California has size in the trenches which has carried their rushing attack where the top 5 players all average over 6.8 yards per carry. Lucas Qualk is second on the team in both rushing (396 yards) and receiving (171 yards) and scored 8 times. Damoni Stafford has emerged over the past few weeks as a threat out of the backfield and run for 323 yards and 6 TDs. On the outside, the Trojans will get their leading receiver Malik Ramsey (300 yards, 4 TDs) back from injury. Chartiers-Houston has a balanced offensive attack. Anthony Lento has thrown for 680 yards and 12 TDs, primarily to Tyler Blumen (327 yards, 6 TDs) and Colton Craig (151 yards, 1 TD). On the ground, the tandem of Sam DeWalt (437 yards, 5 TDs) and Nathan Cavallo (288 yards, 3 TDs) have handled most of the workload.
Honorable Mentions: Sto-Rox (6-0, 8-0) at Laurel (3-2, 5-3), GCC (4-2, 6-2) at Cornell (5-1, 6-1)
Sto-Rox has already clinched the Big Seven Conference title. Laurel still has a very outside chance at the 1A Wild Card, but needs to win out and for OLSH to lose to Union and Cornell. Sto-Rox has a dominant passing attack with the WPIAL’s leading passer Eric Wilson while Laurel has a solid ground game. Last year, Laurel controlled the game on the ground but both teams missed the playoffs. Greensburg Central Catholic has essentially locked up 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, so their head-to-head game against Cornell could be a deciding factor in the 1A Wild Card race. Cornell faces OLSH next week and the winner will finish 2nd in the Big Seven while the loser will be 3rd. In 1A, two of the three 3rd place teams will earn Wild Cards. Therefore, it will come down to GCC and the losers of the Cornell-OLSH and Chartiers Houston-California games.