Just three weeks remain in the WPIAL regular season. With the state playoff brackets set, the WPIAL knows that 4 teams from 6A and 8 teams from the other classifications will make the playoffs. The manner in which those teams will qualify has still not yet been announced. Last week’s most meaningful result was not at the top of any league, but Fort Cherry beating Northgate to snap their 21-game losing streak (the third longest in the WPIAL). That loss extended Northgate’s winless drought to 28 games, the second-longest in the WPIAL. In a battle of unbeaten 5A teams, Penn-Trafford thumped Woodland Hills to set up a showdown with rival Gateway this week. Beaver Falls ran past New Brighton to reclaim the Little Brown Jug after three years. In a battle of 1A unbeatens, Rochester got 6 TDs from Rashawn Reid to top OLSH for the first time in five meetings.
This week on the WPIAL Blitz Show we interviewed Plum Head Coach Matt Morgan, whose team is off to a 4-0 start and looking for their first playoff berth since 2015. 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 Albert Gallatin-Uniontown game tonight both over the air and as a video stream on their Facebook Page. Uniontown has lost 33 straight games, which is now the longest losing streak in the state after York County Tech snapped a 35-game losing streak with a 14-13 win over Hanover on September 26. Albert Gallatin left the WPIAL last year to play an independent schedule and went 5-3, which was nearly twice as many wins as they had in the previous decade. Uniontown has considered going independent and that may be the way the Raiders are headed in the future. 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 weekend’s slate of games will also feature a Sunday Night game (more on that below).
6A Games of the Week
Mt. Lebanon (1-2, 1-2) at Central Catholic (3-1, 3-1)
Livestream on Central Catholic’s YouTube Page
Both of these teams have lost to North Allegheny in the last two weeks. With North Allegheny sitting securely atop the 6A standings, the games between teams in the middle of the pack have increased importance in the playoff race. Mt. Lebanon’s early loss to Canon-McMillan looms large and the Blue Devils need to pick up another victory against a top team if they are going to stay in the postseason hunt. Central Catholic bounced back from their loss to North Allegheny to convincingly defeat Seneca Valley last week. Central’s star RB Eddy Tillman (430 yards, 3 TDs) missed last week’s game, but the Vikings had a more-than-capable backup in Gannon Carothers who ran for 171 yards and 2 TDs. Adam Obrin took over at QB for Brandon Pezzelle during the North Allegheny game and started last week against Seneca Valley as well. Anderson Cynkar has been an all-around offensive threat (145 rushing yards, 153 receiving yards, 2 total TDs) and Brandon Jackson might be the fastest player in the WPIAL and is incredibly dangerous in the return game. Mt. Lebanon played a tough defensive game against North Allegheny and slowed down the Tigers rushing attack. On offense, Mt. Lebanon is led by QB Joey Danies who has thrown for 6 TDs this season, including 5 to leading receiver Eli Heidenreich. Maurice Plummer and Alex Tecza have been a quality tandem in the backfield and Tecza has found the end zone 4 times. If Mt. Lebanon is going to knock off Central Catholic they will need to duplicate their defensive performance from last week to shut down Central’s talented rushing attack.
Seneca Valley (2-1, 2-1) at Canon-McMillan (2-1, 2-1)
These two teams in the middle of the conference both have losses to Central Catholic and have not yet played North Allegheny. This is an important game in the playoff race as Canon-McMillan already has a victory over Mt. Lebanon and can solidify their position with a win over Seneca Valley. The focal points of this game will be the talented running backs on both sides. Seneca Valley relies heavily on the tandem of Ethan West (328 yards, 3 TDs) and Nolan Dworek (172 yards, 2 TDs). The Raiders were so good on the ground in their first two outings that QB Dustin Horn (344 yards, 4 TDs) did not have to throw much, but he nearly doubled his pass attempts last week against Central Catholic’s stout run defense. For Canon-McMillan, they are coming off a a dominant win over Hempfield. Ryan Angott ran for 262 yards and 5 TDs to lead the Big Macs last week. Angott will try his luck against a Seneca Valley defense that had appeared stout until Central Catholic’s big game last week.
- Hempfield at Baldwin
- North Allegheny at Norwin on the Westmoreland Sports Network
5A Game of the Week
Penn-Trafford (2-0, 3-1) at Gateway (1-0, 2-0)
SUNDAY. NIGHT. FOOTBALL.
There was some uncertainty surrounding this game after Gateway missed the last two games due to a positive COVID test. The Gators are back and now face rival Penn-Trafford with the top spot in the Big East Conference on the line. Due to the PIAA’s rules about required practice dates before a game, Gateway’s contest with Penn-Trafford had to be moved to Sunday Night. These two schools have gone back and forth for the conference title over the last three seasons. Interestingly, Gateway won the WPIAL title in the two years when they lost to Penn-Trafford in the regular season (2017 and 2019). Penn-Trafford is coming off an impressive thrashing of Woodland Hills. The Warriors are led by dual-threat QB Ethan Carr who has thrown for 566 yards and 9 TDs and run for 274 yards and 3 TDs. Carr threw for 2 TDs and ran for two more last week against Woody High. Leading rusher Cade Yacamelli (349 yards, 7 TDs) also scored twice against the Wolverines last week. Good things always seem to happen for Penn-Trafford when Brad Ford touches the ball. He has 247 yards of offense and 4 TDs in just 8 touches between rushing and receiving. Even though Gateway has not played for two weeks, the Gators got off to a hot start with a balanced offensive attack. Gateway has the best player in the state in Derrick Davis (278 yards, 5 TDs) who is being recruited as a safety but is also an excellent running back. The Gators might have the best receiving corps in the WPIAL with Chamor Price (204 yards, 4 TDs) and Patrick Body (196 yards, 3 TDs). QB Carsen Engleka (512 yards, 9 TDs) is in his first season as a starter but has stepped in without a hitch. These are two of the top 5A teams not only in the WPIAL but in the whole state and this should be a game worth watching on Sunday night.
- Penn Hills at North Hills on TribLive HSSN
- South Fayette at Bethel Park
- Franklin Regional at Woodland Hills
- Latrobe at Connellsville on the Westmoreland Sports Network
- Kiski at Fox Chapel
- Shaler at Pine-Richland on Pine-Richland’s YouTube Page
- West Allegheny at Upper St Clair on BoxCast
- Peters Twp at Moon (Saturday)
4A Game of the Week
Chartiers Valley (2-0, 4-0) at Aliquippa (2-0, 4-0)
The top spot in the Parkway Conference is on the line. This game is the convergence of two storylines. Chartiers Valley moved down from 5A to 4A this season and immediately benefitted. The Colts snapped a 14-game conference losing streak with a Week 1 victory over Montour. On the other side, Aliquippa was forced up from 3A to 4A based on the PIAA’s Success Formula. While this matched Aliquippa against some historical rivals in New Castle, Beaver, and Montour, there was also some concern about a 1A-sized school that was already playing up two classes being forced a level higher. Aliquippa has proven they can compete at this level while Chartiers Valley is having their best season since 2009 when they started 6-0. These are two high-scoring teams with Aliquippa averaging nearly 53 points per game and Chartiers Valley averaging nearly 31 per game. The Colts rely heavily on dual-threat quarterback Anthony Mackey who has thrown for 386 yards and 5 TDs and run for 359 yards and 5 TDs. Aliquippa’s secondary will be tested against Anthony Collura (195 yards, 1 TD) and Abe Ibrahim (139 yards, 4 TDs). Out of the backfield, Mackey has been complemented by Jordan Demus (211 yards, 1 TD). The Quips also have a balanced offensive attack. Quarterback Vaughn Morris has thrown for 445 yards and 9 TDs to a solid tandem of Antonyo Anderson (231 yards, 5 TDs) and Cyair Clark (223 yards, 3 TDs). Out of the backfield, Vernon Redd (548 yards, 5 TDs) has been a beast, averaging nearly 13 yards per carry.
- Laurel Highlands at Thomas Jefferson on TribLive HSSN
- Ringgold at Belle Vernon
- Armstrong at Greensburg Salem on the Westmoreland Sports Network
- Indiana at Highlands
- Mars at Knoch on Knoch’s YouTube Page
- Plum at Hampton on Hampton’s YouTube Page
- Montour at Blackhawk on TribLive HSSN
- Washington at Trinity
- Uniontown at Albert Gallatin
- West Mifflin at McKeesport on TribLive HSSN
Postponed: Beaver vs New Castle
3A Game of the Week
Keystone Oaks (2-0, 3-1) at Central Valley (2-0, 4-0)
On TV on 22 The Point
The top spot in the Northwest Six Conference is up for grabs between defending WPIAL Champions Central Valley and Keystone Oaks. This game features two of the most exciting quarterbacks in the entire WPIAL. Central Valley’s Ameer Dudley has thrown for 309 yards and 5 TDs, primarily to Myles Walker who has found the end zone 6 times in all facets of the game. On the ground, the Warriors have used a number of backs who all average over 8 yards per carry. Landon Alexander (390 yards, 4 TDs) and Bret FitzSimmons (214 yards, 1 TD) lead the way. Stephon Hall has been a big play maker any time he has touched the ball and found the end zone 8 times between offense and defense. Keystone Oaks’ offense is centered around dual-threat QB Logan Shrubb, who last year became the 11th player in WPIAL history to join the 1000/1000 club. This year, Shrubb is off to a similarly strong start with 644 passing yards and 3 TDs along with 521 rushing yards and 9 TDs. His primary target in the passing game has been Mark Hutchin (375 yards, 3 TDs). Central Valley’s defense is holding opponents to just 7 points per game but will have a massive test in slowing down Shrubb.
- Deer Lakes at Burrell
- Derry at Valley on the Westmoreland Sports Network
- Mt Pleasant at Brownsville on Zoom
- South Allegheny at Elizabeth Forward
- Southmoreland at Yough
- Ambridge at Avonworth on BoxCast
- Quaker Valley at Hopewell
- South Park at North Catholic on the North Catholic Sports Network
- Steel Valley at East Allegheny
Postponed: Freeport at East Allegheny (East A rescheduled with Steel Valley)
2A Game of the Week
Western Beaver (2-0, 3-1) at Brentwood (2-0, 4-0)
Out of all 19 WPIAL Conferences, the 2A Three Rivers Conference was the one I had the hardest time selecting a preseason projected champion. These two teams, along with Sto-Rox, were all given significant consideration. With Sto-Rox having an early-season forfeit to Carlynton, Western Beaver and Brentwood are the only remaining unbeaten teams, though both still have to face the Vikings. Brentwood reached the semifinals last season and have been able to ride a strong ground game to an unbeaten start. Aiden Wardzinski is one of the top rushers in the WPIAL with 620 yards and 11 TDs. In addition, O’Malley Daly (211 yards, 3 TDs) has been a change-of-pace back averaging over 13 yards per carry in limited work. Quarterback Jase Keib hasn’t had to throw much but has thrown for 344 yards and 2 TDs. Amire Spencer has been a jack-of-all-trades for the Spartans with 165 receiving yards, 122 rushing yards, and 3 total TDs. Western Beaver has also relied on a strong rushing attack, led by the duo of Cameron Irvine (299 yards, 1 TD) and Thad Gray (234 yards, 2 TDs). Quarterback Xander Lefebvre, like his counterpart for Brentwood, has only averaged about 10 pass attempts per game and has thrown for 369 yards and 5 TDs. The Golden Beavers top receiver has been Dakari Bradford (244 yards, 4 TDs). On paper these look like two evenly matched teams that play tough defense and have talented offensive players. This should be a great battle at the top of the Three Rivers Conference.
- Ligonier Valley at Serra Catholic
- Shady Side Academy at Apollo-Ridge on Apollo-Ridge’s YouTube Page
- Charleroi at Beth-Center
- Frazier at Chartiers-Houston
- McGuffey at Waynesburg on YouTube
- Beaver Falls at Mohawk
- Laurel at New Brighton
- Neshannock at Riverside on TribLive HSSN
- Sto-Rox at Seton LaSalle
- Carrick at Carlynton
- Union/AC Valley at South Side Beaver
- Ellwood City at Freedom (Saturday)
1A Game of the Week
Jeannette (3-1, 3-1) at Springdale (4-0, 4-0)
Livestream on the Westmoreland Sports Network
Springdale is off to a 4-0 start as they continue their resurgence. Two years ago, the Dynamos finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and were just 2-8 overall. Last year they also started 4-0 but lost 4 of their last 6, including defeats by 43 to Jeannette, 36 to Clairton and 26 to GCC. Springdale has already reversed that GCC result with a 23-point win last week. Now they face Jeannette who has not lost a regular season game to a team other than Clairton since 2013. So far, Jeannette’s only loss of the season came against Clairton. Statistically these teams are similar with Jeannette slightly ahead offensively (47 points per game to 43 points per game) and defensively (13 points against per game to 17 points against per game). The Jayhawks have been led by freshman QB Brad Birch who has burst onto the scene, throwing for 780 and 12 TDs. Birch has two quality receivers in Jimmy Sanders (257 yards, 3 TDs) and Toby Cline (235 yards, 6 TDs). Jeannette’s rushing attack has also been solid, anchored by Roberto Smith (303 yards, 6 TDs). Smith also has two pick-sixes this season to lead the Jayhawks defensive backfield. Jeannette’s defense will have their hands full this week with Springdale’s Logan Dexter who leads the team in rushing (373 yards), receiving (343 yards) and scoring (9 total TDs). Legend Ausk returned at quarterback last week after missing Week 3 and threw for over 200 yards and 2 TDs, raising his season totals to 517 yards and 6 TDs. During the week he missed, Demitri Fritch stepped in and thew for 212 yards and 2 TDs. Fritch returned to receiver last week and had over 100 yards and a TD, raising his offensive output to over 250 yards between rushing and receiving and 4 total TDs. The Dynamos backfield also features Calvin Kindler (309 yards, 3 TDs) and John Utiss (115 yards, 4 TDs) who both average around 10 yards per carry.
- Burgettstown at Cornell
- Rochester at Fort Cherry on Fort Cherry’s YouTube Page
- Shenango at Northgate
- Union at OLSH
- GCC at Riverview
- Imani at Clairton on Clairton’s YouTube Page
- Avella at Mapletown
- Jefferson-Morgan at California
- West Greene at Bentworth
- Leechburg at Bishop Canevin (Saturday) on TribLive HSSN
Monessen forfeit to Carmichaels because of injuries (not COVID-related).