Home WPIAL WPIAL 2022 Week 8 Games of the Week

WPIAL 2022 Week 8 Games of the Week

by Ian

We have reached the penultimate week of the WPIAL Football regular season. Earlier this week, I broke down the playoff scenarios that are in play this week. So far, two teams have clinched conference titles (Franklin Regional and Sto-Rox) and 30 more teams have secured playoff spots. This leaves 35 spots across the six classifications that are still up for grabs heading into Week 8.

On this week’s edition of the WPIAL Blitz Show, we interviewed Franklin Regional Head Coach Lance Getsy! Franklin Regional dominated Hempfield last week to secure their first conference title since 2013. The Panthers have made the playoffs in 18 of the last 19 seasons, dating back to 2004.

This year, our WPIAL coverage is proudly presented by Sports Solutions Marketing. The Sports Solutions network provides pay per view hosting and broadcasting for high school sporting events. More information is available via EasternPAFootball.com.

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. Despite what has been reported by some other news outlets, Laurel Highlands has not yet wrapped up a playoff spot. The Mustangs need either a win over Ringgold or a Connellsville loss to Thomas Jefferson to clinch a spot this week. If Laurel Highlands wins, their dreams of claiming the first conference title in school history will still be alive.

Be sure to keep tabs on our WPIAL Standings Page for updated standings and playoff clinchings and follow our WPIAL Twitter account @WPIAL_Blitz and check out our WPIAL Blitz Facebook Page.

6A Game of the Week

Central Catholic (1-2, 4-4) at Seneca Valley (1-1, 6-2)

The winner of this game will clinch one of the four playoff spots in 6A. Heading into the penultimate week of the season, North Allegheny is the only 6A team that has secured a spot. The other four teams all have just one conference win so far. This is Central Catholic’s last conference game and loss would put the Vikings in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003. A Seneca Valley win would secure a playoff spot not just for the Raiders but also for defending champions Mt. Lebanon. Central Catholic’s typically run-heavy offense has a new dimension this year with QB Payton Wehner (1583 yards, 10 TDs). He has spread the ball around between Vernon Settles (522 yards), Peter Gonzalezz (326 yards, 2 TDs), and Bradley Gompers (231 yards, 1 TD). The workload on the ground has been split between Elijah Faulkner (340 yards, 4 TDs) and Amari Shields (339 yards, 1 TD). Seneca Valley’s offense is also built around their passing game and QB Graham Hancoz (1537 yards, 15 TDs). The Raiders have a pair of D1 recruits at receiver in Luke Lawson (576 yards, 7 TDs) and Aidan Lyczek (176 yards, 4 TDs). Jackson Wetzel (352 yards, 4 TDs) and Amari Henzon (289 yards, 1 TD) have also been factors in the passing game. On the ground, Wyatt Craver (567 yards, 5 TDs) has led the way and Hancox has added 7 rushing TDs. Both teams also have a D1 recruit at linebacker with Central’s defense led by Anthony Speca and Seneca Valley’s by Toledo-commit Chris D’Appolonia.

5A Games of the Week

Bethel Park (3-0, 7-1) at South Fayette (2-1, 5-3)

It has become a four-team race for the two guaranteeed playoff spots in the Allegheny Six Conference. Bethel Park has the edge right now and clinches a playoff spot with a win this week. But South Fayette also controls their own destiny with remaining games against Bethel Park and Upper St Clair. This game will go a long way towards sorting out the playoff picture in the Allegheny Six. Bethel Park has a balanced offensive attack this season but most of their offense comes out of the backfield. The running backs have been the favorite targets for QB Tanner Pfeuffer (1093 yards, 11 TDs). Austin Caye (638 rushing yards, 126 receiving yards, 6 total TDs) leads the way on the ground while Ryan Petras (316 rushing yards, 487 receiving yards, 14 total TDs) is the leading receiver. South Fayette’s offense also runs mostly through their backfield. Nico Lamonde took over at quarterback halfway through the season and has thrown for 838 yards and 7 TDs and run for 277 yards. Nate Deanes leads the team in rushing (351 yards), is the most targeted receiver (201 receiving yards), and leads the Lions in scoring (13 total TDs). Mike Gimigliano (222 yards, 2 TDs) and Dom Monz (221 yards, 2 TDs) are the top targets on the outside for South Fayette’s pass-happy offense.

Woodland Hills (2-1, 4-4) at Pine-Richland (2-1, 5-3)

If the four-team race in the 5A Allegheny Six wasn’t enough, there are five teams still within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Northeast Conference, and a five-way tie scenario is still in play. Four teams currently sit with just one conference loss and nothing will be decided this week. That said, the winner of this game will have the opportunity to challenge North Hills for the top spot in the conference. Woody High already beat North Hills and Pine-Richland faces the Indians next week. Penn Hills is also in the mix with a win over Pine-Richland early in the season and a season finale against old rivals Woodland Hills. Woody High comes into this game leaning heavily on their rushing attack. Brandon Jones (397 yards, 4 TDs) and Frank Keyes (316 yards, 6 TDs) lead the way. Cam Walter (710 yards, 5 TDs) leads the Wolverines passing attack, primarily throwing to Will Smith (254 yards, 5 TDs), Adam Ghanem (132 yards) and DeVaughn McClinton (114 yards, 1 TD). Pine-Richland’s offense has undergone a revitalization the last few weeks after a mid-season QB change to insert Ryan Palmieri. He started the year at running back but after moving to QB the Rams have knocked off North Allegheny,  Central Catholic, and Shaler. In just a few starts, Palmieri has thrown for 381 yards and 3 TDs and on the season has run for 701 yards and 9 TDs. Ethan Pillar (450 yards, 8 TDs) has formed a solid compliment to Palmieri in the backfield while Andrew Mellis (187 yards, 1 TD) and Brad Gelly (185 yards, 2 TDs) have led the receiving corps.

4A Games of the Week

Armstrong (4-0, 7-1) at Highlands (4-0, 8-0)

The 4A Classification has two of the top games in the entire WPIAL this weekend. Highlands and Armstrong are two games clear of the rest of the pack in the Greater Allegheny Conference and the winner here will clinch the conference title. For Highlands, it would be their first conference crown since 2014 and Armstrong’s first since 2016. Both teams are led by outstanding senior quarterbacks who are surrounded by offensive playmakers. Both are averaging over 35 points per game and holding opponents under 16 per game. On paper these teams are very similar with star quarterbacks and a strong running game. Armstrong’s Cadin Olsen (2045 yards, 28 TDs), a Penn-commit, took the lead in the race for the WPIAL passing title last week. He has built a solid connecting with his brother Ian (685 yards, 5 TDs) while Isaiah Brown (497 yards, 9 TDs) has been a scoring machine. Olsen has spread the ball around and in addition to those two, four other players have at least 10 catches and 100 yards on the season. Out of the backfield, Alex Patton (599 yards, 2 TDs) is the lead back and Olsen has added 311 yards and 5 TDs. Highlands also has a quality quarterback in Chandler Thimons (632 passing yards, 9 TDs, 441 rushing yards, 6 TDs, 1 receiving TD). Thimons has also spread the ball around with four receivers over 100 yards, led by Landan Signorella (191 yards, 5 TDs) and Brayden White (157 yards, 1 TD). The Golden Rams have leaned more on their running game than Armstrong has, and Luke Bombalski (798 yards, 10 TDs) has shouldered most of the load. Halfway through the season, Highlands found some magic with Aaran Randolph running as a wildcat quarterback. On the year Randolph has put up 411 rushing yards, 112 receiving yards, scored 10 times, and thrown a touchdown pass.

West Allegheny (4-1, 7-1) at Central Valley (5-0, 8-0)

Ever since the WPIAL schedules were released in the spring, the Week 9 showdown between defending 4A State Champs Aliquippa and two-time defending 3A State Champs Central Valley has been circled. But don’t sleep on West Allegheny. The Indians moved down from 5A to 4A this year and played Aliquippa to a close 19-16 loss earlier this year. The Warriors and Indians have a strong (albeit recently-developed) rivalry. From the time Central Valley was formed by the merger of Center and Monaca in 2010 until the breakout into six classifications in 2016, the two teams met annually in AAA Parkway Conference play as well as clashing in consecutive WPIAL title games in 2013 and 2014. Central Valley enters the game with the highest-scoring team in 4A (46.8 points per game) and both teams are holding opponents to under 9 points per game. West Allegheny has leaned heavily on their running game and the tandem of Brock Cornell (507 rushing yards, 146 receiving yards, 14 total TDs) and Nodin Tracy (378 rushing yards, 136 receiving yards, 13 total TDs). Gage Upton has also been effective through the air, throwing for 767 yards and 8 TDs, primarily to Cornell, Tracy, and Nick Longo (208 yards, 3 TDs). Central Valley has also been a run-first team this year behind a dominant offensive line. The Warriors have been so explosive on the ground that their top three backs are all averaging over 10 yards per carry. Bret FitzSimmons (1214 yards, 22 TDs) leads the way, complemented by Brandon Singleton (317 yards, 4 TDs). Deniro Simpson has been an all-around threat with 188 rushing yards, 145 receiving yards, and 2 TDs). Because Central Valley has been so good on the ground, Antwon Johnson hasn’t had to throw much this year, but has put up 834 yards and 11 TDs, primarily throwing to Jayvin Thompson (408 yards, 13 total TDs).

3A Games of the Week

Southmoreland (2-1, 4-4) at Belle Vernon (3-0, 5-2)

Southmoreland is one of the best stories in the WPIAL this season. In the offseason, the Scotties suffered the tragic unexpected loss of coach Ron Frederick, who was slated to become head coach. But the team did not fold under adversity and has rallied to a 4-4 record. With last week’s win over Greensburg Salem have put themselves on the verge of making the playoffs for the third time in four seasons after a 40-year postseason drought. Belle Vernon moved down from 4A to 3A this year and started the season with a non-conference slate that only featured opponents from higher classifications. Since conference play has started, the Leopards have flexed their battle-tested muscles and look every bit the part of a favorite for not only the WPIAL title but potentially the state title. Southmoreland has put up some incredible numbers through the air this season as last week QB Kadin Keefer connected with WR Ty Keffer for six touchdowns. On the season, Keefer has thrown for 1303 yards and 14 TDs. Keffer leads the WPIAL with 58 receptions and has amassed 855 yards and 16 total TDs. When Keefer isn’t slinging the ball down the field, Tray Whetsel (409 yards, 3 TDs) has shouldered the load in the running game. Belle Vernon boasts one of the top juniors in the state in RB/S Quinton Martin who has run for 512 yards, has 183 receiving yards, and found the end zone 15 times (including a pick-six last week). Fellow junior Jake Gedekoh (266 yards, 9 TDs) spells Martin out of the backfield. Belle Vernon’s line play has been dominant this season and their top three backs all average over 7.5 yards per carry. Braden Laux (536 yards, 4 TDs) hasn’t had to throw much due to the Leopards’ strong rushing attack, but when he does Martin and Chase Ruokonen (236 yards, 2 TDs) have been the top targets.

West Mifflin (3-1, 4-4) at Hopewell (2-2, 3-5)

A lot of variability still remains in the 3A Western Hills Conference where five teams are battling over three playoff spots. West Mifflin can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over Hopewell. West Mifflin has a balanced offensive attack with Shai Newby at quarterback and DelRon White at running back. The Titans have been able to put points on the board when their offense gets clicking. In all four of their wins West Mifflin has topped the 30-point mark (including 51-0 and 42-0 wins the last two weeks). However, in their four losses they have managed a grand total of 22 points. Hopewell has been trending in the other direction and has been shut out the last two weeks, losing 26-0 to Keystone Oaks and 35-0 to South Park. The Vikings have a balanced offense with Kingston Krotec (666 yards, 8 TDs) at quarterback and Dayveon  Jackson (432 yards, 7 TDs) running the ball. Cameron Fedorka (215 yards, 2 TDs) has been Hopewell’s leading receiver. Hopewell would not be out of playoff contention with a loss, but it would put them in a position where they would need to beat county rival Beaver next week and get some help from other teams to get in.

2A Games of the Week

Washington (3-1, 6-2) at Keystone Oaks (3-1, 6-2)

Sto-Rox has already clinched the 2A Century Conference title, but the battle for playoff positioning behind them will come down to the final two weeks. Keystone Oaks got a big win over McGuffey last week but has not yet mathematically clinched a playoff spot. The Eagles need a win over Washington this week (or a Brentwood loss) in order for next week’s game against Brentwood to not be a Casket Match. Washington has mathematically wrapped up a playoff spot but could still finish anywhere between second and fourth in the conference. Washington’s offense is loaded with playmakers and will rotate players through to get as many guys opportunities as possible. Davoun Fuse and Logan Carlisle have split time at quarterback this season. Fuse has put up 412 passing yards, 317 rushing yards, and 138 receiving yards, scoring 3 times and throwing 8 TD passes. Carlisle has thrown for 347 yards and 6 TDs and run for 161 yards and 4 scores. The tandem of Zach Welsh (483 yards, 6 TDs) and Eddie Lewis (453 yards, 11 TDs) leads the Prexies rushing attack. The explosive Ruben Gordon (341 yards, 13 total TDs) is the leading receiver but is a threat to find the end zone any time he gets his hands on the ball on offense, defense, or special teams. Keystone Oaks is coming off a last-second victory over McGuffey where they completed a Hail Mary as time expired. Nick Buckley (1063 yards, 10 TDs) can make every throw on the field and the Eagles have an explosive playmaker in Clinton Robinson (373 receiving yards, 132 rushing yards, 9 total TDs). KO’s ground game is led by Shawn Reick (582 yards, 8 TDs).

Ligonier Valley (3-2, 5-3) at Imani Christian (2-3, 4-4)

Steel Valley and Serra Catholic are on a collision course for the conference title and are two games clear of the rest of the pack. The other three playoff spots will be decided between Ligonier Valley, Burrell, Apollo-Ridge, and Imani Christian. This game will be an important factor in determining which teams make the playoffs. Ligonier Valley’s offense runs through do-it-all back Haden Sierocky who leads the Rams in rushing (763 yards), receiving (303 yards), and scoring (13 total TDs). Ligonier Valley is a run-heavy team and when Sierocky does not get the ball they have spread the work between John Jablunovsky (478 yards, 6 TDs), Nick Lonas (330 yards, 2 TDs), and Duncan Foust (204 yards, 1 TD). Broderick Schreyer (598 yards, 8 TDs) has averaged just 9 pass attempts per game this season because Ligonier Valley’s run game has been so strong. This season has been a huge step forward for Imani Christian under first-year head coach LaRoi Johnson. The Saints had won just 3 total games over the prior two seasons and have already surpassed that total. A big part of the turnaround has been freshman RB David Davis who has run for 728 yards and scored 17 total TDs. Davis has already caught the attention of major college programs and has offers from Pitt and Penn State. Imani has been able to balance their offensive attack thanks to the talents of Dayshaun Burnett who has thrown for 801 yards and 7 TDs and run for 159 yards and another score. Chevon Allen (261 yards, 1 TD) and Isaiah Arrington (222 yards, 2 TDs) are the Saints top receivers.

1A Games of the Week

Monessen (4-1, 5-3) at Mapletown (5-0, 8-0)

The Tri-County South Conference title is on the line. Mapletown has run through the season with the top offense (47 points per game) and defense (7 points allowed per game) in the Tri-County South. A win would give the Maples their first conference title since 2005 and just their second since 1988. Monessen is a story of resurgency, rebounding from a down year in 2020. Last year the Greyhounds just snuck in to the last playoff spot and this year are contenders for the conference title. Both of these teams have relied heavily on their running games this season. Monessen has split the workload between Tyvaughn Kershaw (898 yards, 15 TDs) and Daevon Burke (738 yards, 17 TDs). The Greyhounds have split the quarterback duties between Daniel Dozer (353 yards, 4 TDs) and Lorenzo Gardner (186 yards, 2 TDs). Monessen hasn’t thrown much, but when they do, Tim Kershaw (327 yards, 6 TDs) has been the primary target. Mapletown has the opportunity to clinch the conference title in front of their home fans. Senior RB Landan Stevenson is second in the WPIAL in rushing with 1603 rushing yards, 154 receiving yards, and 33 total TDs. Stevenson is averaging an incredible 11 yards per carry this season. When Stevenson needs a break, AJ Vanata (494 yards, 8 TDs) has been a solid complementary back. The Maples don’t put the ball in the air very often, but when they do Brody Evans (488 yards, 4 TDs) has a strong connection with Brock Evans (224 yards, 6 TDs).

OLSH (4-1, 7-1) at Bishop Canevin (5-0, 7-1)

The WPIAL weekend concludes with a behemoth of a game. In a rematch of last year’s WPIAL Championship Game, Bishop Canevin takes on OLSH. Canevin won the title last year in decisive fashion. Both teams returned nearly all of their starters from the squads that met at Heinz Field last November OLSH did not play last week after a short-rostered Avella had to forfeit. The lack of a game cost Nehemiah Azeem (1952 yards, 20 TDs) the lead in the race for the WPIAL passing title. The Chargers have a slew of talented receivers in Dereon Greer (736 yards, 9 TDs), Ziggy McIntosh (489 yards, 5 TDs), and Dorrien Tate (335 yards, 7 TDs). When OLSH does run the ball, Brandon Brazell (345 yards, 5 TDs) has been the go-to back. Bishop Canevin is absolutely loaded with explosive playmakers all over the field. Kole Olszewski and Jason Cross have split time at quarterback this season. Olszewski is more of a natural passer, throwing for 1091 yards and 10 TDs. Cross is an all-around athletic stud and has played all over the field. At quarterback he has 728 passing yards and 11 TDs, run for 131 yards, added 145 receiving yards, and scored 7 times. Cross is also a standout safety on defense with D1 offers. Last year’s 1A Player of the Year Xavier Nelson has 899 receiving yards, 106 rushing yards and scored 15 times (including multiple kick returns for touchdowns). In addition to Nelson, Canevin’s receiving corps of Jayden Lindsey (237 yards, 2 TDs) and Lasae Lacks (218 yards) have been solid contributors. On the ground, Marquis Carter (925 yards, 7 TDs) has been explosive out of the backfield.

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