Conference play kicks off in the WPIAL this week. As the WPIAL has set the criteria for this season, only conference games count towards playoff qualification so a team’s record to date has no impact on the playoff races. Ten of the 17 conferences in the WPIAL will start conference play this weekend, so the playoff races will begin to take shape. The biggest story in the last week was Uniontown, who is playing an independent schedule, winning their first game since Week 7 of 2016 with a 41-6 victory over Carrick. Our Brute Athletic Player of the Week award went to Sto-Rox RB Jay Pearson who ran for 263 yards and 3 TDs in the Vikings win over McGuffey, a game I attended last week.
This year, our WPIAL coverage is sponsored by the Sports Stream Premium Network and PA Mortgage Protection and Life Insurance. The Sports Stream Premium Network enables schools to turn their livestreamed events into pay-per-view events where schools receive 100% of the revenue generated.
I will once again be doing a pregame spot on WMBS Radio. You can listen to the show here, starting at 6pm on Friday. This weekend, WMBS will be broadcasting Laurel Highlands taking on Ringgold. Laurel Highlands is off to their first 3-0 start in school history. We interviewed head coach Rich Kolesar this week on the WPIAL Blitz Show. It was a big weekend for teams in Fayette county with Uniontown, Laurel Highlands, and Albert Gallatin all winning, which hadn’t happened in over a decade.
Prior to last week, Friday, October 3, 2008 was the last time Laurel Highlands, Albert Gallatin and Uniontown won a high school football game on the same night. AG 48 Southmoreland 20, Uniontown 22 West Mifflin 7, LH 28 Derry 21. @TribLiveHSSN @WMBS590 @thesteelersnat
— Brian Mroziak (@BMroziak) September 15, 2021
Be sure to keep tabs on our WPIAL Standings Page throughout the season and follow our WPIAL Twitter account @WPIAL_Blitz. Since conference play starts this week, the standings page is currently only reflective of non-conference games which do not count towards playoff qualification. Without further ado, here’s a look at the top games on this week’s slate.
6A Game of the Week
Canon-McMillan (2-1) at Mt. Lebanon (3-0)
On the whole, 6A teams fared very well in non-conference play. Only Baldwin has yet to win a game, while only Mt. Lebanon made it to conference play undefeated. All six other schools sit at 2-1. There is some revenge on the line here as Canon-Mac beat Mt. Lebanon last season. The Big Macs have their sights set on a playoff spot this year while Mt. Lebanon has designs on competing for a WPIAL title. Canon-Mac’s offensive attack relies on workhorse RB Ryan Angott who has scored 5 times this season. Dual-threat QB Mike Evans has thrown for 2 TDs and run for 3 more. Last week, the Big Macs defense scored on an interception return and fumble return. On the other side, the Blue Devils have had a balanced attack, led by QB Joey Daniels who has thrown for 451 yards and 6 TDs and added two more scores on the ground. Leading rusher Alex Tecza has been a force on both sides of the ball, running for 391 yards and 3 TDs, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry. On the outside, Navy-commit Eli Heidenreich leads the receiving corps with 236 receiving yards, 46 rushing yards, and 4 total TDs. Mt. Lebanon’s defense has yet to allow a touchdown (the only one scored on them was on a kickoff return).
5A Game of the Week
Peters Twp (2-1) at Penn-Trafford (2-1)
These schools have grown very familiar with each other over the last few seasons. Peters Twp ended Penn-Trafford’s season in the 2018 quarterfinals and 2019 semifinals. Last year, Peters Twp edged Penn-Trafford once again thanks to a masterful defensive performance. Both of these teams are coming off a loss with Peters Twp being shut out by Mt. Lebanon and Penn-Trafford being run all over by Belle Vernon. The Indians have graduated nearly all of their starters from the team that went to consecutive WPIAL Championship games. Sam Miller has stepped in at quarterback and thrown for 312 yards and 2 TDs and added 87 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Rich Woods (136 yards) leads the backfield while Ethan Traumiller has been the short-yardage specialist and scored 3 times. On the outside, Bryce Thompson (171 yards, 1 TD) leads the receiving corps. Penn-Trafford has been carried so far by the tandem of RB Cade Yacamelli and QB Carter Green. Yacamelli, a Wisconsin-commit, leads the Warriors in rushing (373 yards), receiving (89 yards), and scoring (6 total TDs). Green has emerged as a dual-threat QB, throwing for 246 yards and 1 TD and running for 256 yards and 4 TDs. Both of these teams have their sights set on making runs in the WPIAL playoffs, so it will be a good measuring stick for where they stand in the pecking order.
4A Game of the Week
Armstrong (2-1) at Hampton (3-0)
Even in non-conference play, the Greater Allegheny Conference has lived up to its #GACrazy moniker. Defending conference champions Plum along with Mars who has a 16-year playoff streak, both started winless. Meanwhile, Hampton and Highlands are off to 3-0 starts and Armstrong is 2-1. This game features a contrast of styles as Hampton is a run-heavy team and Armstrong has a dynamic passing attack. The Talbots have relied on the tandem of Christian Liberto (378 yards, 5 TDs) and Brock Borgo (301 yards, 6 TDs) to shoulder the load in the backfield. Quarterback Joey Mayer has only needed to attempt a handful of passes per game but has thrown for 191 yards and 3 TDs. Armstrong QB Cadin Olsen led the WPIAL in passing after the regular season last year and is currently second in the WPIAL with 703 yards and 10 TDs. Olsen is also the team’s leading rusher with 94 yards and 1 TD, but the Riverhawks do most of their damage through the air. Noah Shuttleworth (247 yards, 3 TDs) and Isaiah Brown (192 yards, 1 TD) have been Olsen’s top receivers. Running back Alex Patton has run for just 81 yards but has found the end zone 3 times.
3A Game of the Week
South Allegheny (0-3) at Southmoreland (2-1)
While a game between a winless team and a 2-1 team might not look like Game of the Week caliber, this game could be very influential in the Interstate Conference playoff race. Elizabeth Forward, South Park, and Mt Pleasant qualified last season with South Allegheny and Southmoreland narrowly missing out. With four teams making the playoffs, South Allegheny still has the opportunity to play their way back into the picture while Southmoreland looks to make their second playoff appearance since 1979. While South Allegheny is 0-3, they played tough against a good Serra Catholic team, lost to a team from Ohio, and narrowly lost to a 4A Ringgold team. Meanwhile Southmoreland beat 2A McGuffey and Perry from the Pittsburgh City League and narrowly lost to 4A Laurel Highlands. The Scotties have relied on the dual-threat abilites of QB Anthony Govern who has thrown for 405 yards and 4 TDs and rung for a team-leading 165 yards and 6 TDs. Isaac Trout has been the main counterpart to Govern, leading the team with 182 receiving yards and adding 89 on the ground and scoring 5 times.
2A Game of the Week
Beaver Falls (0-2) at Laurel (3-0)
Beaver Falls’ 0-2 record is a bit of a misnomer. The Tigers are the defending 2A WPIAL Champions and both of their losses came against 4A opponents (Blackhawk and Aliquippa). They returned nearly all of their starters with the exception of their top two running backs. As such, the Tigers have moved to open up the passing game with QB Jaren Brickner (426 yards, 4 TDs). Quadir Thomas (148 yards, 1 TD) has been his most consistent target while Trey Singleton (95 receiving yards, 55 rushing yards, 3 total TDs) has been an all-around playmaker. Laurel also returns a number of starters from a playoff team that nearly beat Sto-Rox in the opening round. The Spartans have relied on their ground game led by Luke McCoy (470 yards, 8 TDs). Quarterbak Kobe DeRosa has nearly twice as many carries as pass attempts and has run for 195 yards and 2 TDs while throwing for 194 yards and 3 TDs. Given that Beaver Falls is the defending conference champions and Laurel finished second last season, this game could eventually be the deciding factor in the conference title race.
1A Game of the Week
Bishop Canevin (3-0) at Springdale (3-0)
The only matchup this week of undefeated teams takes place in 1A. Bishop Canevin and Springdale are both off to strong starts thanks to talented athletic playmakers. Bishop Canevin has gotten contributions from a number of different playmakers this season and their highlight reels are filled with big-time athleticism all over the field. Jason Cross has thrown for 284 yards and run for 3 more while splitting time at quarterback with Kole Olszewski (128 passing yards, 3 TDs). Leading receiver Lasae Lacks has put up 215 yards and 3 TDs for the Crusaders. Xavier Nelson has been an all-around threat with 140 receiving yards, 125 rushing yards, and 3 total TDs. Marquis Carter (111 yards, 1 TD) has gotten the lion’s share of work in the backfield but hasn’t hit the big run like Nelson or Keshawn Harris (113 yards). Springdale has their own dynamic playmaker in Logan Dexter who leads the team in rushing (335 yards), receiving (107 yards) and scoring (7 TDs). Springdale relies heavily on their backs between Dexter and John Utiss (181 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards, 3 total TDs). The Dynamos also have a quality quarterback in Legend Ausk who hasn’t thrown often but put up 286 yards and 5 TDs on just 9 completions. Ausk has also run for 2 scores. With Clairton starting 0-2, the winner of this game could consider themselves the top challenger to the Bears for the conference title (provided Clairton tops an undefeated Leechburg this week).