We have reached the midpoint of the high school football season. As wild as that sounds, with a 7-game regular season, Week 4 marks the middle of the season. Nearly every team will be playing conference games from here on out. Some conferences have only played one game against conference opponents so far, which puts extra weight on the remaining games. The WPIAL is expected to announce how they will handle the playoff qualifications this season as the plan for dealing with cancelled games due to COVID has not yet been released. Last week was an amazing slate of games which saw a potential preview of the 6A final with North Allegheny beating Central Catholic, Thomas Jefferson pulling away from Belle Vernon in a rematch of last year’s 4A final, and South Fayette’s 64-game conference winning streak come to an end. The best story of the week was Avella topping West Greene to move to 3-0, the first time since 2014 that the Eagles have won more than 2 games in a season. Avella head coach Ryan Cecchini made a special guest appearance on the WPIAL Blitz Show this week. This year, our WPIAL coverage is sponsored by the Small Player Big Play App, which provides schools the opportunity to fundraise by live-streaming their games and events. Check out their Twitter page and get the app for free on Apple or Android devices.
I’m happy to once again be doing a guest spot on the WMBS pregame show. They’ll be broadcasting the Laurel Highlands-Belle Vernon game tonight both over the air and as a video stream on their Facebook Page. This game is highlighted by two of the best all-around athletes in the WPIAL in Laurel Highlands’ Rodney Gallagher and Belle Vernon’s Devin Whitlock. Both are excellent players on the gridiron as well as the basketball court. We previewed that game and also discussed the Week 3 results on the Sprowls Insurance Group Pregame Show, which you can listen to, starting at 6pm on Friday night.
Follow our new WPIAL Twitter account @WPIAL_Blitz where we will be tweeting score updates and other information throughout the night. After the weekend’s games are over, check out our WPIAL Standings Page. This week there are TWO games being broadcast on television on 22 The Point. Thursday night’s game between Peters Twp and Upper St Clair followed by Friday night’s game between Mt. Lebanon and North Allegheny. An under-the-radar game that is worth noting this week is between Northgate and Fort Cherry who have the second and third longest losing streaks in the WPIAL. Northgate has lost 27 straight with their last win coming in Week 4 of 2017 while Fort Cherry has lost 21 straight with their last win coming in Week 1 of 2018. One of those streaks will end this week.
6A Game of the Week
Central Catholic (2-1, 2-1) at Seneca Valley (2-0, 2-0)
Livestream on Seneca Valley Sports Page
For the third straight season, Central Catholic lost a regular season game to North Allegheny. The Vikings now look to bounce back against unbeaten Seneca Valley. This is a big game at the top of the conference, especially with only 4 6A teams making the playoffs this season. This game features the top two rushers in 6A in Eddy Tillman and Ethan West. Tillman, who led 6A in rushing last year, has run for 424 yards and 3 TDs but was held to just 17 yards last week by North Allegheny’s defense. Conversely, West is coming off a monster game where he had 260 yards and 3 TDs against Norwin, pushing his yearly total to 329 yards and 3 TDs. Central Catholic relies heavily on their running game and struggled to throw the ball last week when their rushing attack was bottled up. Brandon Pezzelle has thrown for 5 TDs this season and will look to bounce back against Seneca Valley. The X factor for Central Catholic is Brandon Jackson who has world class speed and returned a kickoff for a touchdown last week. Seneca Valley also relies heavily on the ground game between Ethan West and Nolan Dworek (164 yards, 2 TDs). QB Dustin Horn has thrown for 317 yards and 4 TDs.
Mt. Lebanon (1-1, 1-1) at North Allegheny (1-0, 2-0)
On television on 22 The Point
Livestream on the North Allegheny Sports Network
North Allegheny is coming off a huge win over Central Catholic in which their defense absolutely dominated the Vikings offense. Mt. Lebanon rebounded from a loss to Canon-McMillan to defeat Hempfield last week. With Mt. Lebanon already having a loss on their slate, this is a big game for the Blue Devils to try to stay in the playoff hunt. Meanwhile, North Allegheny is looking to solidify their claim to the conference title. While North Allegheny is coming off an absolute shutdown of Central Catholic’s running game, now they have to take on a Mt. Lebanon team that likes to throw the ball. Joey Daniels has thrown for 341 yards and 5 TDs and is coming off a 4 TD game against Hempfield. Eli Heidenreich (139 yards, 3 TDs) leads the receiving corps. Maurice Plummer (127 yards) has been the lead back while Alex Tecza has 108 rushing yards, 67 receiving yards and leads the team with 4 total TDs. For North Allegheny, the Tigers have relied on Khalil Dinkins, one of the top WR recruits in the state. Last week, with North Allegheny hanging to a 14-7 lead, Dinkins scored a rushing touchdown then a few plays later scored again on a pick-six to extend the Tiger lead to 28-7. Mason Kress and JR Burton have led the way for the Tigers out of the backfield. The surprise star of last week’s win was Brady Leczo who filled in at linebacker for BYU-commit Nate Hoke and had an interception and a touchdown run from the fullback spot on offense.
- Baldwin at Norwin – Baldwin’s first 6A game this season on the Fighting Highlander Sports Network
- Canon-McMillan at Hempfield
5A Game of the Week
Pine-Richland (1-0, 2-0) at Penn Hills (1-0, 1-2)
On TV on Pittsburgh’s CW
Livestream on TribLive HSSN
In a game that will likely decide the Northeast Conference title, two highly successful programs face off. Pine-Richland appeared in the last three 6A WPIAL Championship Games before moving down to 5A this season. Penn Hills was a 6A team in 2016 and 2017 before moving down to 5A and winning the State Title in 2018. This is the 5th meeting between the two programs in the last 6 years. Pine-Richland has won the prior four. Pine-Richland did not play last week after their game with Gateway was cancelled. The Rams have one of the top quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the WPIAL in QB Cole Spencer (609 yards, 8 TDs) and WR Eli Jochem (228 yards, 3 TDs). Spencer has also spread the ball around to Alex Gochis (106 yards, 2 TDs) and Jeremiah Hasley (104 yards). Out of the backfield, Jordan Burns (121 yards) and Tristen Taylor (118 yards, 1 TD) both average about 7 yards per carry. A pair of Liberty commits in Miguel Jackson and Harrison Hayes anchor the lines for Pine-Richland. Penn Hills is coming off their first win of the season, a conference victory over Kiski. Freshman QB Julian Dugger (379 yards, 3 TDs) is learning on the fly and has the benefit of throwing to Akron-commit Noel Roach (133 yards, 2 TDs). Penn Hills also has a strong rushing attack with the combination of Dontae Pollard (162 yards, 1 TD) and Terrick Topeck (138 yards, 2 TDs).
Woodland Hills (1-0, 3-0) at Penn-Trafford (1-0, 2-1)
Livestream via PennTraffordTV
Woody High looks to be back after a monster start to the season where they have averaged 40 points per game. The Wolverines missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 1995 but have big victories over Connellsville, Penn Hills, and North Hills. Penn-Trafford’s loss came by 3 points to Peters Twp in a game where they turned the ball over 7 times (including two pick-sixes). Woody High’s resurgence has been led by dual-threat QB Deontae Williams who has thrown for 517 yards and 8 TDs and run for 160 yards and 3 scores. On the outside, his favorite targets have been T’Rek Scipio (220 yards, 3 TDs) and Armani Bailey (134 yards, 1 TD). In the backfield, Williams has been complemented by the tandem of Taelen Brooks (165 yards, 4 TDs) and Eris Seibles (130 yards). These are very similar teams statistically as Penn-Trafford also has a dual-threat quarterback in Villanova-commit Ethan Carr who has thrown for 503 yards and 7 TDs and run for 147 yards and 1 score. The Warriors lead back is Cade Yacamelli (217 yards, 5 TDs) who scored 4 times last week against Shaler. On the outside, Chase Vecchio (120 yards, 2 TDs) and Chris Popovich (104 yards, 1 TD) have been the primary targets for Carr in the passing game. Brad Ford has been the home-run hitter for Penn-Trafford. Ford has just 5 offensive touches (2 carries and 3 receptions) but has tallied 209 total yards and 3 TDs. With games against Gateway still on the schedule for both squads, this will be an important game in the Big East playoff race.
- Upper St Clair at Peters Twp (Thursday) on TV on 22 The Point
- Bethel Park at West Allegheny on the West A Sports Network
- Moon at South Fayette on TribLive HSSN
- Connellsville at Franklin Regional on the Westmoreland Sports Network
- Fox Chapel at Shaler
- North Hills at Kiski on TribLive HSSN
Postponed: Gateway vs Latrobe
4A Game of the Week
Blackhawk (1-0, 2-1) vs Chartiers Valley (1-0, 3-0)
Livestream on Blackhawk’s YouTube Channel
Both teams won their initial conference outings two weeks ago with Blackhawk topping Beaver and Chartiers Valley surprising Montour. Chartiers Valley has been one of the biggest surprises in the WPIAL this season, moving down from 5A to 4A and carrying a 14-game conference losing streak. The Colts snapped that streak with their Week 1 victory over Montour and have subsequently beat South Fayette and Hopewell. Blackhawk has been a strong team recently, reaching the semifinals in each of the last two seasons. While Blackhawk has been run-heavy the last few years, they have opened up the passing game a bit more this season with Carson Davidson (336 yards, 1 TD). Davidson has also run for 74 yards and 2 scores for the Cougars. Blackhawk’s rushing attack has been shared between Josh Hathaway (115 yards, 1 TD), Zach Ours (75 yards, 1 TD), Davidson, and Grant Wissner (69 yards, 2 TDs). Chartiers Valley’s hot start has been led by dual-threat QB Anthony Mackey who has thrown for 319 yards and 2 TDs and run for 288 yards and 3 TDs. Anthony Collura (170 yards, 1 TD) and Abraham Ibrahim (123 yards, 2 TDs) have been the top receivers for the Colts. On the ground, Mackey has been complemented by Jordan Demus (152 yards, 1 TD) and Patrick Mulligan (106 yards, 1 TD). Both of these teams have games looming against Aliquippa, so the winner will put themselves in excellent position to challenge for the conference title.
- Belle Vernon at Laurel Highlands on the WMBS Facebook Page
- McKeesport at Ringgold on TribLive HSSN
- West Mifflin at Trinity
- Hampton at Greensburg Salem
- Highlands at Plum
- Knoch at Indiana on Indiana’s Facebook Page
- Mars at Armstrong on Boxcast
- Aliquippa at Beaver
- New Castle at Montour on the Montour Sports Network
3A Games of the Week
Elizabeth Forward (1-0, 2-0) at South Park (3-0, 3-0)
Two of the three remaining undefeated teams (Mt. Pleasant is the other) in the Interstate Conference square off in a game with massive playoff implications. In the long run, this game may decide the conference title, but Mt. Pleasant will factor in as well. This game should be a good old-fashioned slug-fest as South Park is a run-heavy offense and Elizabeth Forward boasts a stout defense. Elizabeth Forward has one of the top defensive players in 3A in DE Chase Whatton. On offense, the Warriors rely heavily on the ground game of DaVontay Brownfield (who has scored 5 TDs) and QB Evan Lewis (who has thrown and run for a score). South Park’s has a trio of talented runners in the backfield, led by Adam Johnson (243 yards, 4 TDs). QB Harper Conroy has thrown for 341 yards and 4 TDs and run for 114 yards and 2 more TDs. Nathan May has been an all-around offensive weapon with 183 rushing yards, 136 receiving yards, and 5 total TDs.
Avonworth (1-0, 2-1) at Keystone Oaks (1-0, 2-1)
Livestream on TribLive HSSN
Central Valley is the team to beat in the Northwestern Six Conference. However, with the limited playoff field, it is possible that only the top two from each conference will make the postseason. As such, this game between Keystone Oaks and defending 2A Champions Avonworth (who moved up to 3A this year) has big postseason implications. Avonworth had to replace most of their starters from the team that won the 2A title last season. Nate Harper has taken the reigns at quarterback and thrown for 472 yards and 5 TDs, primarily to Peyton Faulkner (157 yards, 2 TDs). The Lopes offense has been balanced by RB Ian Syam (332 yards, 4 TDs) who averages over 6 yards per carry. Keystone Oaks boasts one of the most exciting players in the WPIAL in dual-threat QB Logan Shrubb. Last year, Shrubb became the 11th player in WPIAL history to throw for 1000 yards and run for 1000 yards in the same regular season. Just three games into the season, Shrubb is on pace to surprisingly do it again in just a 7-game season. So far, Shrubb has thrown for 548 yards and 2 TDs and run for 430 yards and 7 scores. Mart Hutchin (339 yards, 3 TDs) has gotten the bulk of the targets in the passing game. On the ground, Tyler Perry (110 yards, 3 TDs) and Kevin Drew (93 yards, 1 TD) have also gotten their opportunities. These are two teams that are loaded with offensive talent and it would not be surprising at all for this game to be a shootout.
- Burrell at North Catholic
- East Allegheny at Deer Lakes
- Valley at Freeport
- Brownsville at South Allegheny
- Yough at Mt Pleasant on TribLive HSSN
- Central Valley at Quaker Valley
- Hopewell at Ambridge
- Southmoreland at Derry
2A Game of the Week
New Brighton (3-0, 3-0) at Beaver Falls (3-0, 3-0)
The Battle for the Little Brown Jug. These cross-river rivals first played in 1904 and played annually from 1922-1991 and from 1996-2017. This history of the “Little Brown Jug” trophy can be traced back to the 1950s. New Brighton won the 2017 matchup so the Lions have held the trophy for the last three years due to the game not being scheduled in 2018 or 2019. This game features three of the top running backs in 2A and is absolutely worth finding a stream to watch. New Brighton is led by NyaSanu Greene who leads the team with 315 rushing yards, 51 receiving yards and 6 total TDs. The Lions average less than 10 pass attempts per game, though Gabe Haddox has thrown for 181 yards and 4 TDs, because Greene has been so dominant on the ground. Kei’Ondre Abercrombie (80 yards, 2 TDs) has been a solid counterpart to Greene in the backfield, averaging nearly 7 yards per carry. Beaver Falls is also a run-heavy team with the tandem of Syracuse-commit Josh Hough (575 yards, 8 TDs) and Shileak Livingston (358 yards, 6 TDs). Like the Lions, the Tigers don’t throw much but QB Jaren Brickner has 216 yards and 1 TD. While Hough and Livingston have dominated the backfield, Tyler Jones (177 yards, 3 TDs) has also shined in limited work. A rivalry game in the heart of Beaver County with the outright lead in atop the Midwestern Conference standings on the line. You couldn’t ask for much more on a Friday night.
- Serra Catholic at Shady Side Academy
- Steel Valley at Ligonier Valley
- Beth-Center at Washington
- Chartiers-Houston at Charleroi
- Waynesburg at Frazier
- Ellwood City at Neshannock on Ellwood City’s YouTube Channel
- Mohawk at Riverside
- Brentwood at Carlynton
- South Side Beaver at Sto-Rox
- Linsly School (WV) at McGuffey
- Freedom at Laurel on TribLive HSSN
- Seton LaSalle at Western Beaver (Saturday)
1A Games of the Week
OLSH (3-0, 3-0) at Rochester (3-0, 3-0)
Livestream on the OLSH Sports Network
After three weeks, three teams have separated themselves atop the Big Seven conference with unbeaten records. OLSH, Rochester, and Shenango have all been perfect so far this season and are the frontrunners for the conference title down the stretch. The Chargers have won 4 in a row against Rochester, including the 2018 WPIAL Championship Game. Both of these teams have looked offensively dominant this season with Rochester averaging 43 points per game and OLSH averaging 37 per game while both defenses have held their opponents under 14 points per game. OLSH has been led by the dynamic Jaymar Pearson who has run for 278 yards, caught 7 passes for 201 yards, scored 10 total TDs and even thrown a handful of passes. Sophomore QB Nehemiah Azeem (492 yards, 3 TDs) has also run for two scores and Stephen Greer has added 375 yards and 1 TD on the ground. This trio of underclassmen has put the Chargers in great position to compete for the conference title this year while also building for the future. Rochester is traditionally a run-heavy team and the Rams have a trio of backs all averaging over 6.5 yards per carry. Denny Robinson (456 yards, 8 TDs) has led the way with Rashawn Reid (257 yards, 4 TDs) and Sal Laure (190 yards, 4 TDs) also contributing. Since Rochester’s rushing attack has been so good, QB Parker Lyons (183 yards, 2 TDs) has only averaged 8 pass attempts per game.
California (2-0, 2-0) at Avella (3-0, 3-0)
Livestream on YouTube
There are two big games in the Tri-County South this week. California, whose game against West Greene was postponed, takes on Avella who is off to a surprising 3-0 start. Avella defeated West Greene by 1 point last week to win their third game, the first time since 2014 the Eagles have won more than 2 games in a season. These two teams, along with Carmichaels, are the only unbeaten teams in the Tri-County South. With Carmichaels taking on West Greene this week, the playoff race at the top of the conference could either become a lot clearer or even more muddled. One thing is certain – the winner of this game will be right in the mix for the title down the stretch. California has produced some dominant rushing attacks over the last few seasons and looks solid once again. Jaedan Zuzak (395 yards, 8 TDs) leads the way for the Trojans on the ground. Damani Stafford is playing quarterback but has run (141 yards, 1 TD) more than he has thrown (84 yards, 1 TD) this season. On the other side, Avella is led by dual-threat QB KJ Rush who has thrown for 419 yards and 5 TDs and run for 166 yards and 3 TDs. All of those marks are team highs as Avella has opened up their passing attack in recrent weeks. Rush’s main target on the outside has been Tanner Terensky (128 yards, 2 TDs). Keep an eye out for Gabe Lis who the Eagles work in all over the field and who has found the end zone twice. Avella’s defense has been stout so far, holding opponents under 12 points per game, but they have not seen a rushing attack like California’s yet.
- Burgettstown at Shenango
- Fort Cherry at Northgate
- Union at Cornell on Union’s YouTube Page
- Jeannette at Leechburg on Leechburg’s YouTube Page
- Riverview at Imani
- Springdale at GCC
- Bentworth at Jefferson-Morgan
- Mapletown at Monessen
- West Greene at Carmichaels
- Bishop Canevin vs Carrick (Saturday)
Postponed: Clairton at Bishop Canevin