Home WPIAL WPIAL 2021 Week 8 Games of the Week

WPIAL 2021 Week 8 Games of the Week

by Ian

The final two weeks of the WPIAL regular season are suddenly upon us. Last weekend Hampton became the first team to clinch a conference title. It was the first for the Talbots since 2014 and just their fifth in school history. This week, a number of other schools will have the opportunity to clinch conference titles and playoff spots. Of the 73 playoff spots, only 27 have been secured so far. Check out our Playoff Scenarios breakdown for what needs to happen for each team to get in. Mathematically, only 8 teams are eliminated from playoff contention as we head into the penultimate game. That means that nearly every game this week is meaningful in the playoff races, so while we have in-depth previews of the premier games of the week, we also provided short blurbs on all of the other games to give a sense for what is at stake on Friday night.

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 Trinity in a Big Eight Conference game with playoff implications. Laurel Highlands can clinch a playoff spot with a victory while Trinity needs to win out to guarantee a spot in the postseason.

Be sure to keep tabs on our WPIAL Standings Page throughout the season and follow our WPIAL Twitter account @WPIAL_Blitz and check out our WPIAL Blitz Facebook Page.

6A Game of the Week

Seneca Valley (4-1, 6-2) at Mt. Lebanon (5-0, 8-0)

Mt. Lebanon has torn through 6A this season, winning all of their games by at least 21 points and is now just a win away from their first conference title since 2010. Seneca Valley has a wide variability where they can tie for the conference title if they win out but potentially fall to 4th place if they lose out. Last season, the head-to-head game between these two went to overtime and Mt. Lebanon prevailed thanks to a blocked extra point. Mt. Lebanon has the highest-scoring offense (37 points per game) and stoutest defense (holding opponents to under 10 points per game) in 6A. The Blue Devils have a balanced offensive attack with three legitimate stars at the offensive skill positions. Running back Alex Tecza has run for 1181 yards and 14 TDs with his combination of speed and power. Quarterback Joey Daniels has thrown for 1157 yards and 17 TDs and run for 190 more yards and 5 TDs. On the outside, Navy-commit Eli Heidenreich (710 yards, 13 TDs) has been the source of big plays for Mt. Lebanon, and is capable of scoring any time he touches the ball. Seneca Valley also likes to throw the ball and has a talented quarterback in Graham Hancox (1054 yards, 8 TDs). Hancox missed last week’s game and backup Sean O’Shea stepped in, throwing for 227 yards and 3 TDs and running for 86 yards. Nolan Dworek (369 yards, 6 TDs) has been the workhorse in the backfield. On the outside, the Raiders have a pair of talented receivers in Luke Lawson (534 yards, 4 TDs) and the dynamic Brandon Ross (329 yards, 6 TDs).

Other Games

Canon-McMillan at Norwin – Canon-Mac can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Baldwin loss on Saturday to Central Catholic. Norwin is mathematically eliminated.

Hempfield at North Allegheny – North Allegheny needs a win to keep pace in the race for 3rd place and the first round bye that comes with it. Hempfield is eliminated.

Baldwin at Central Catholic (Sat.) – Central Catholic is relatively secure in their spot to earn a first round bye. The Vikings could share the conference title with Mt. Lebanon if Seneca Valley wins. Baldwin is just outside the playoff picture but with a head-to-head loss to Canon-Mac, needs to win and get some help to make the playoffs.

5A Game of the Week

Bethel Park (3-0, 5-3) at Moon (3-0, 8-0)

The Allegheny Six conference title is on the line. Moon is the only remaining unbeaten team in 5A while Bethel Park has been a great turn-around story after going winless last season. Moon is one of just three teams in the classification averaging over 30 points per game and has one of the top defenses in 5A, holding opponents to 14 points per game. Bethel Park’s resurgence has been led by Youngstown State-commit Max Blanc who has thrown for 1172 yards and 7 TDs. Troy Volpatti has been the engine of the offense, rushing for 803 yards, adding 204 receiving yards and finding the end zone 15 times. Leading receivers Jack Kirchner (404 yards, 3 TDs) and Aidan Currie (271 yards) both average around 15 yards per catch. Moon also has a talented quarterback in Tyler McGowan who has thrown for 928 yards and 7 TDs and run for 221 yards and 3 scores. Dylan Sleva has been the hammer out of Moon’s backfield, running for 660 yards and 6 TDs. On the outside, leading receiver Taite Beachy (419 yards, 6 TDs) has been McGowan’s top target. Jeremiah Dean (156 rushing yards, 85 receiving yards, 4 TDs) has done a little bit of everything for the Tigers.

Other Games

Allegheny Six Conference

West Allegheny at Peters Twp – West Allegheny beat South Fayette last week to give themselves a shot at the fourth playoff spot. Peters Twp had some solid non-conference wins but is 0-3 in conference play and needs a win here to stay in the playoff hunt.

South Fayette at Upper St Clair – USC can clinch a playoff spot for the 22nd straight season. With an 0-3 record in conference play, South Fayette needs a win to get back into the playoff picture lest their 12-year streak be broken.

Big East Conference

Franklin Regional at Penn-Trafford – After Franklin Regional’s massive come-from-behind victory over Latrobe, the Panthers are in position to make the playoffs. Penn-Trafford can clinch the conference title with a win.

Latrobe at Woodland Hills – Latrobe’s narrow loss to Franklin Regional last week means this game against Woody High is their last chance to make a bid for the playoffs. Woodland Hills has a win over Franklin Regional and a game against Connellsville next so a win here would solidify their playoff position.

Connellsville at Gateway – Connellsville is the only winless team in 5A while Gateway is gearing up for another potential run towards Heinz Field. This one has all the makings of a blowout.

Northeast Conference

Fox Chapel at North Hills – Both teams are 2-1 in conference play and the winner will clinch a playoff spot if Kiski loses to Pine-Richland.

Kiski at Pine-Richland – Kiski started 5-0 but is just 1-2 in conference play and needs a victory to have a hope at the playoffs. Pine-Richland still has a chance for the conference crown after losing to North Hills.

Shaler at Penn Hills – With North Hills’ defeat of Pine-Richland, Penn Hills has a shot at the conference title after a narrow loss to Pine-Richland and a last-second victory over North Hills. The Indians need a win over last-place Shaler to keep pace.

4A Game of the Week

Thomas Jefferson (3-1, 5-1) at McKeesport (4-0, 7-1)

Buckle up. This is a chinstrap game as both of these teams rely heavily on their running games and can absolutely grind it out in the trenches. Last season McKessport ended Thomas Jefferson’s unbeaten streak in the final game of the regular season. McKeesport’s triple-option attack has given teams fits all season and the Tigers only loss came against Canisius, which is one of the top-ranked teams in New York’s highest classification. Thomas Jefferson’s only defeat came against rival Belle Vernon on a last-second Devin Whitlock touchdown. McKeesport will face Belle Vernon next week with a chance to either win or share the conference title, depending on the outcome of this game. Thomas Jefferson needs to beat McKeesport then hope that the Tigers beat Belle Vernon in order to claim a share of the title. This will also be an important game for playoff positioning, as only three teams in the 4A bracket will get first round byes. Thomas Jefferson has turned the reins of their offense over to dual-threat QB Joe Leske who has thrown for 624 yards and 8 TDs and run for 439 yards and 10 TDs. Running back Connor Murga (351 yards, 3 TDs) left their Week 6 game with an injury and was replaced by Elias Lippencott. Last week, Lippencott ran for 110 yards and 3 TDs. On the outside, Sean Sullivan (225 yards, 3 TDs) has been Leske’s top target. McKeesport’s triple-option wishbone offense has been rolling this year. The Tigers have a talented backfield with explosive runners in Bobbie Boyd (957 yards, 9 TDs) and Kenneth Thompson (420 yards, 4 TDs) who both average over 10 yards per carry. Jacob Miller and Caleb Reist have split time at quarterback but both have more rushing attempts than passing attempts. Miller has run for 223 yards and 3 TDs and thrown for 235 yards and 2 TDs. Reist has run for 160 yards and 6 TDs and thrown for 151 yards and 2 TDs. This is a game between run-heavy teams that is going to be won in the trenches.

Other Games

Big Eight Conference

Laurel Highlands at Trinity – Laurel Highlands can clinch their first playoff appearance since 2015 with a win over Trinity. These two teams have produced some epic games over the last few seasons and with a playoff berth on the line this one should follow suit. Trinity has struggled to stop anyone this season, allowing 36 points per game while Laurel Highlands is coming off three straight losses to Belle Vernon, Thomas Jefferson, and McKeesport.

Ringgold at West Mifflin – Both teams are winless in conference play, and West Mifflin is mathematically eliminated. Despite having the longest conference losing streak in the WPIAL, Ringgold still has a chance to make the playoffs with some help. They would need Trinity to beat Laurel Highlands this week then to beat Trinity next week and win the three-way tie on margin of victory points.

Greater Allegheny Conference

Plum at Armstrong – With Plum’s win over Mars retroactively changed to a forfeit loss, the Mustangs are now battling for their playoff lives. Armstrong can clinch a playoff spot with a victory.

Highlands at Greensburg Salem – Greensburg Salem can clinch a playoff spot with a victory while Highlands is coming off a huge win over Armstrong to put themselves back into the playoff picture.

Indiana at Mars – With Mars’ loss to Plum changed to a forfeit victory, the Planets are suddenly back in the playoff conversation. Indiana has been up and down all season but can clinch a playoff spot with a win and if Plum, Highlands and Knoch all lose.

 Hampton at Knoch – Hampton has already locked up the conference title while Knoch is now alone at the bottom of the conference.

Parkway Conference

Aliquippa at Blackhawk – Aliquippa can wrap up another conference title with a win and a New Castle loss. Blackhawk is 0-3 in conference play but has been within 2 scores in all of those games.

Beaver at Montour – Beaver is a win away from clinching a playoff spot while Montour is still in the mix even with a loss as they face Char Valley next week.

Chartiers Valley at New Castle – New Castle has played three thrilling games in conference play with last-minute wins over Montour and Blackhawk and a close loss to Beaver. Char Valley lost to Beaver in overtime last week. New Castle can clinch a playoff spot with a win, while Char Valley’s game against Montour next week will be a decisive contest.

3A Game of the Week

North Catholic (4-0, 8-0) at Freeport (3-0, 4-3)

The Allegheny Seven Conference title is on the line. North Catholic has been dominant in their undefeated start to the season, averaging 42 points per game and pitching 6 shutouts. Freeport’s losses have come against two 4A squads and a Serra Catholic team that is one of the best in 2A.  North Catholic has developed a deep team of playmakers all over the field. Quarterback Joey Prentice (814 yards, 10 TDs) missed a few games with injury but has come back strong. The Trojans have been strong in the trenches, paving the way for their top three rushers who all average over 7 yards per carry. Jack Fennell has run for 338 yards, has 161 receiving yards, and scored 10 times including multiple return TDs. Kyle Tipinski leads the receivers with 355 yards and has run for 253 yards out of the “slot back” role and scored a team-high 12 TDs. Chase Arrington (214 yards, 4 TDs) has also been a factor out of the backfield while Liam Straub (236 yards, 5 TDs) and Tyler Maziarz (226 yards, 5 TDs) have averaged about 30 yards per catch on the outside. Freeport’s offense has been led by dual-threat QB Ben Lane who has thrown for 352 yards and 2 TDs and run for 372 yards and 6 TDs. The Yellow Jackets have used a number of players at quarterback this season with Vincent Clark starting a game and throwing for 108 yards and 1 TD before moving out to WR where he has 158 yards and 3 TDs. Garrett King, who was instrumental in designing Freeport’s new uniforms through Make-A-Wish and the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, has played some QB (108 yards, 1 TD) and RB (122 yards, 1 TD). Shane Jack (157 yards, 1 TD) has also been a factor out of the backfield. On the outside, Shawn Stivenson (191 yards, 1 TD) leads Freeport’s receiving corps.

Central Valley (3-0, 8-0) at Avonworth (3-0, 7-1)

The Northwest Six Conference championship will be decided on Friday night. Central Valley is the two-time defending WPIAL Champions and defending State Champions. This is a matchup of strength-on-strength as Central Valley’s offense goes up against Avonworth’s defense. The Warriors have been similarly dominat this season, averaging nearly 49 points per game. Avonworth has been stout defensively this season, allowing just 7 points per game. The Lopes only loss came by just 3 points to a Sto-Rox team that looks like the team to beat in 2A. Central Valley is a team with a plethora of riches. Running back Landon Alexander (1111 yards, 18 TDs) has been borderline unstoppable this season. Pitt-commit Sean FitzSimmons, “The Terror of the Trenches,” has made it nearly impossible for opposing offenses to operate by basically living in their backfield. At quarterback, Matt Merritt (244 yards, 4 TDs) missed time due to injury but has now returned. In his absence, Antwon Johnson flashed his abilities, throwing for 713 yards and 12 TDs. Merritt is also a stud linebacker on the defensive side f the ball. On the outside, Jayvin Thompson (397 yards, 6 TDs), Deniro Simpson (266 yards, 5 TDs), and tight end Jack Bible (183 yards, 4 TDs) have all been threats in the passing game. Avonworth also has a balanced offensive attack, led by the backfield tandem of QB Nate Harper (931 yards, 9 TDs) and RB Ian Syam (774 yards, 13 TDs). While Syam has seen the lion’s share of the work, Luke Hilyard (118 yards, 6 TDs) has been a short-yardage specialist and Brandon Biagiarelli (189 yards, 3 TDs) has gotten some work in relief. The Lopes have a trip of quality receivers in Peyton Faulkner (254 yards, 4 TDs), Neo Miller (192 yards) and Tyler Schleis (167 yards, 2 TDs).

Other Games

Allegheny Seven Conference

East Allegheny at Valley – This is an important game in the Allegheny Seven playoff race. A Valley victory puts the Vikings right back into the playoff picture but they will be without a number of players after a fight broke out in their game with Yough last week. East Allegheny lost to Deer Lakes but beat Burrell, which appears to be headed for a three-way tie.

Burrell at Derry – Derry is coming off a blowout loss to East Allegheny while Burrell needs a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Interstate Conference

South Park at Mt Pleasant – After losing to South Allegheny, South Park’s playoff hopes are in jeopardy. The Eagles need a victory to have a chance at winning a tiebreaker. Mt. Pleasant clinches a playoff spot with a victory.

Brownsville at Yough – Both teams enter this game winless. Brownsville has lost14 games in a row on the field and forfeit their last two outings. The Falcons have scored just one touchdown this year on a kickoff return. Yough has averaged just five points per game and will be without a number of players after an on-field fight in their game last week with Valley.

Northwest Six Conference

Quaker Valley at Ambridge – This is not a true “casket match” but could be the decisive game in the Northwest Six playoff race. Both teams have wins over Hopewell, and while a 3-way tie with Keystone Oaks is still possible, the winner here will have the advantage for the last playoff spot.

Keystone Oaks at Hopewell – Hopewell has not won a game this season and Keystone Oaks bounced back after losing to Avonworth and Central Valley to throttle Quaker Valley last week. KO needs a win to keep pace in the playoff race since Quaker Valley and Ambridge play each other.

2A Game of the Week

Beaver Falls (4-1, 4-3) at Neshannock (4-1, 7-1)

Both Beaver Falls and Neshannock are chasing Laurel in the Midwestern Conference title race. Laurel already beat Beaver Falls while Neshannock lost an early game to Mohawk. If Neshannock can beat Beaver Falls this week and Laurel next week, the Lancers would claim the conference crown. However, if they lose both they are in danger of falling all the way back to 4th place in the conference. Beaver Falls, the defending WPIAL Champions, have rebounded from their slow start (with losses to two teams from higher classes then to Laurel) to win four in a row and get back in position to potentially earn a home playoff game. Beaver Falls has opened up the passing game this season with Jaren Brickner who has thrown for 1327 yards and 13 TDs and run for another 298 yards and 6 TDs. The Tigers have a trio of receivers that he has spread the ball between in Trey Singleton (433 yards, 10 TDs), Quadir Thomas (357 yards, 4 TDs), and Mekhi Clark (238 yards, 4 TDs). On the ground, Brickner and Isaiah Aeschbacher (437 yards, 8 TDs) have been the primary ballcarriers. This game is a contrast of styles as Neshannock is a run-heavy team. The Lancers have used Peyton Weaver (657 yards, 11 TDs), Cam’Ron Owens (299 yards, 5 TDs) and Matthew Ioanilli (151 yards, 4 TDs) out of the backfield with great success this year. Quarterback Kurt Sommerfield hasn’t thrown much but he has accumulated 501 yards and 7 TDs through the air. Leading receiver Jonny Huff has 194 yards and 3 TDs through the air and run for 188 yards and 6 more scores.

Other Games

Allegheny Conference

Ligonier Valley at Shady Side Academy – Both teams enter 1-2 in conference play and fighting for the third guaranteed playoff spot in the conference. The winner will have a clear advantage for that last spot while the loser will likely have to pin their hopes on the fourth place wild card.

Steel Valley at Apollo-Ridge – Steel Valley’s NiJhay Burt is the WPIAL’s leading rusher and has run for over 200 yards and 5 TDs in 3 of the last 5 games. A win by the Ironmen sets up a showdown with Serra Catholic next week for the conference title.

Summit Academy at Serra Catholic – Serra enters undefeated while Summit has yet to win a game this season.

Century Conference

Beth-Center at McGuffey – After McGuffey’s loss to Chartiers-Houston last week, the Highlanders fortunes could now go either way. A win over Beth-Center would give them a chance against Washington next week to win a share of the conference title. A Beth-Center win plus a Waynesburg loss would clinch playoff spots for both of these teams.

Chartiers-Houston at Waynesburg – Waynesburg still has an outside chance at a playoff spot if McGuffey beats Beth-Center they’ll have a potential Casket Match against Beth-Center next week. Chartiers-Houston is coming off a victory over McGuffey and has locked up a playoff spot.

Washington won by forfeit over Frazier

Midwestern Conference

Mohawk at Freedom – Mohawk has clinched a playoff spot while Freedom can lock one up with a win and a New Brighton loss.

New Brighton at Riverside – New Brighton is just 1-4 in conference play but has a number of close losses. Meanwhile, Riverside is also 1-4 but has been blown out in all of their losses. New Brighton needs a win to set up a Casket Match with Freedom next week for the last playoff spot.

Laurel at Ellwood City – Laurel is closing in on a conference title and has been bulldozing teams this year while Ellwood City has the longest losing streak in the WPIAL.

Three Rivers Conference

Seton LaSalle at South Side Beaver – South Side Beaver is looking for a win to set up a game with Western Beaver next week for second place (and potentially a home playoff game). Seton LaSalle still has a chance in the playoff race.

Sto-Rox at Brentwood – Sto-Rox has dominated everyone they have faced this season and looks like the team to beat in 2A while Brentwood has not won a game in conference play.

Western Beaver at Carlynton – Western Beaver is coming off a loss to Sto-Rox but with a win is still in a battle for the second place spot (and potentially a home playoff game). Carlynton could get back into the playoff mix with a win.

1A Game of the Week

Clairton (5-0, 5-2) at Springdale (2-3, 5-3)

Coming off a 7-point win over GCC, Clairton can clinch yet another conference title (because that’s what the Bears do) with a win over Springdale. The Dynamos have bounced back from an 0-3 start to conference play to put themselves in position to make the playoffs. Clairton’s two losses came against two of the top five teams in 2A, a narrow loss to Steel Valley then a loss to Washington. The Bears have been dominant defensively this year, and had to step up with multiple fourth quarter stops to beat GCC. Clairton’s offense has not been as high-scoring as in recent years, but they have a championship-caliber defense. Springdale had to overcome some injuries at the start of conference play, but with a fully healthy team are now gearing up for a run at the playoffs. Clairton’s offense has relied on dual-threat QB Capone Jones who has thrown for 440 yards and 5 TDs and run for 436 yards and 5 scores. In last week’s win over GCC, Jones threw for over 100 yards and 2 TDs and ran for over 100 yards and a score. Dynamic receiver Brooklyn Cannon (221 yards, 5 TDs) has returned from an early-season injury and got the game-sealing interception last week. Cameron Lewis (237 yards, 6 TDs) and Christian Wade (153 yards, 4 TDs) have been solid counterparts to Jones in the backfield. The best news for Springdale is that all-around talent Logan Dexter has returned from injury. Dexter leads the team in rushing (440 yards), receiving (173 yards) and scoring (13 total TDs). The Dynamos are a run-heavy squad and in addition to Dexter have utilized Chris Savko (390 yards, 3 TDs) and John Utiss (223 yards, 3 TDs) out of the backfield. Quarterback Legend Ausk averages just 9 pass attempts per game and has thrown for 520 yards and 9 TDs while adding 120 yards and 4 scores on the ground.

Other Games

Big Seven Conference

Rochester at Shenango – These were the top two teams in the conference last year and while they are in the middle of the pack this season, the winner of this game will clinch a playoff spot.

OLSH at Northgate – OLSH lost a chance at the conference title last week when they fell to Cornell. Northgate has had a memorable season, snapping the longest overall losing streak and conference losing streak in the WPIAL. The Flames have battled and been close in all their games, but are just 1-4 in the conference.

Union at Burgettstown – This game matches 1-4 teams and the loser will be eliminated. The winner will still need to win their game next week and get some help to have a shot at the postseason.

Cornell won by forfeit over Fort Cherry, which means Cornell clinches their first conference title since 1983.

Eastern Conference

Imani at Leechburg – With a win, Leechburg would snap the WPIAL’s longest playoff drought at 32 years, qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 1988.

GCC at Jeannette – Jeannette has dominated this rivalry in recent years, but with the massive losses the Jayhawks had to endure going into this season, they have struggled at the bottom of the pack. GCC lost a hard-fought game to Clairton last weekend.

Riverview at Bishop Canevin (Sat) – Bishop Canevin looks like one of the top teams in 1A with their only loss coming to Clairton.

Tri-County South

Avella at Carmichaels – Carmichaels will be looking for revenge against an Avella team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year. Mighty Mikes QB Trenton Carter is potentially in position to be the 12th player in WPIAL history to pass and rush for 1000 yards in the same season.

California at Monessen – California can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Monessen. On the other side, a Monessen win plus an Avella loss would lock up a playoff spot for the Greyhounds.

Jefferson-Morgan at West Greene – West Greene is a win away from the conference title while Jefferson-Morgan has struggled to stop anyone this season.

Mapletown at Bentworth – Bentworth’s hopes of getting into the playoff conversation took a major hit last week with a loss to Avella. Mapletown RB Landon Stevenson has been in the hunt for the WPIAL rushing title this season and the Maples can clinch their first playoff spot since 2016 with a win.

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