Westmoreland County High School Football Week Nine Preview

Franklin Regional hosts Penn-Trafford; Belle Vernon battles EF; Jeannette clashes with Clairton

Fri Oct 27, 2023 - 7:12AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Franklin Regional hosts Penn-Trafford tonight on Westmoreland Sports Network. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)Franklin Regional hosts Penn-Trafford tonight on Westmoreland Sports Network. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)

Last Updated: Fri Oct 27, 2023 - 12:04PM

The final week of the WPIAL football regular season has arrived. Thus, while many teams look to build momentum into the playoffs, others will play for the final time in 2023. In Westmoreland County, eight teams have already secured postseason bids, while a ninth will join the mix after Friday, and three other squads could also clinch playoff berths. Additionally, multiple county teams are playing for either outright conference titles or a split of the crown. Here’s a closer look at all of the games across Westmoreland County in Week Nine.

Penn-Trafford (4-5, 3-1) at Franklin Regional (6-3, 3-1) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:30 p.m. on WSN VIDEO - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcaster: Jonathan Whaley

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford was overmatched at home in a 48-14 loss to North Allegheny in a nonconference clash last week. In defeat, Warriors QB Jonny Lovre amassed 137 yards passing. For the season, Tasso Whipple anchors the offense with 161 carries for 1,179 yards, 15 receptions for 260 yards, and a dozen touchdowns. Ben Grabowski has produced 99 rushes for 627 yards, scoring 10 times. Lovre, meanwhile, has completed 80-of-156 passes for 1,061 yards, with six touchdowns but nine interceptions. PT has been outscored on the season by a margin of 209-194.

About the Panthers: Despite a massive performance from Kyle Dupill last Friday, Franklin Regional suffered a 16-14 setback at home against North Hills in a Class 5A nonconference tilt. Dupill posted 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Panthers. Ayden Hudock, meanwhile, did not play for FR. On the season, Dupill has amassed 164 carries for 1,129 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Hudock has notched 36 receptions for 699 yards and 11 total scores. QB Chase Lemke has hit on 63-of-119 throws for 1,112 yards, with 13 TDs and nine picks. FR leads the conference in both scoring offense and scoring defense, producing an average of 31.7 points per game, while yielding 22.2 points.

About the Matchup: The winner secures second place in the Class 5A Big East Conference and an automatic playoff berth, while the loser could still be in contention for one of two wild card spots. A year ago, the Warriors claimed a 28-21 overtime win to capture a wild card berth.

Elizabeth Forward (9-0, 4-0) at Belle Vernon Area (7-1, 4-0) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:30 p.m. on WSN VIDEO - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Sean Meyers and John Bainbridge

About the Warriors: Elizabeth Forward QB Ryan Messina propelled the Warriors to a 48-13 win at home against Greensburg Salem in the Class 3A Interstate Conference one week ago. Messina passed for 214 yards and three scores, while adding 65 yards and a TD on the ground for EF. On the season, Messina has completed 79-of-138 throws for 1,364 yards and 13 touchdowns. His favorite target is Isaiah Turner, who has snagged 37 passes for 640 yards and seven scores. Charlie Nigut leads the rushing attack with 90 carries for 625 yards, while he’s added 20 receptions for 330 yards and leads the team by a wide margin with 19 total touchdowns. Jace Brown has 454 yards rushing and six TDs. Boosted by a pair of shutouts, EF has outscored its opponents 337-112. John DeMarco is the first-year head man for Elizabeth Forward.

About the Leopards: Anchored by a suffocating defensive performance, Belle Vernon Area captured a lopsided 49-7 win at Southmoreland in Class 3A Interstate Conference action one week ago. The Leopards snagged four interceptions, including a pick six by Tanner Moody, Quinton Martin rushed for 147 yards and a score, and Jake Gedekoh and Kole Doppleheuer added two scores apiece in the triumph. Doppleheuer notched 85 yards on the ground, and Curtis Wade threw for 51 yards and notched a 26-yard TD run at quarterback for BVA. On the year, Martin has registered 62 carries for 604 yards, 24 receptions for 324 yards, and 16 total TDs. Doppleheuer has rushed for 427 yards, scoring eight times. Braden Laux, who did not play last week, has completed 59-of-96 passes for 837 yards, with nine TDs and six picks. Belle Vernon has allowed 27 total points during its four-game winning surge, and has permitted just 8.1 points per game, the best mark in the conference.

About the Matchup: The Class 3A Interstate Conference title is on line, as the victorious team will win it outright, while the squad that comes up short will finish in second place. With the same stakes on the line in 2022, the Leopards won easily, 48-14.

Southmoreland (5-4, 2-2) at Mount Pleasant (6-3, 2-2) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:30 p.m. on WSN VIDEO - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: T.J. DiStefano and Roger Downs

About the Scotties: Southmoreland was suffocated by Belle Vernon Area last week in a lopsided 49-7 loss at home in Class 3A Interstate Conference action. Ty Keffer snagged the lone score for the Scotties, a 78-yard reception from Caden Matthews. For the season, Keffer has 43 receptions for 758 yards and eight TDs, while Da’sjon Craggette has rushed 141 times for 994 yards and 14 total scores. QB Kadin Keefer has completed 75-of-144 passes for 1,131 yards, with 11 touchdowns and nine picks. Kicker Jake Kaylor has made four field goals. The Scotties have outscored their opponents by a margin of 232-198.

About the Vikings: Cole Chatfield threw for a pair of scores, while Brody Hutter added a couple of touchdown runs in leading Mount Pleasant Area to a 42-27 triumph at South Allegheny in the Class 3A Interstate Conference last Friday. Chatfield’s touchdown connections spanned 41 yards to Jarett Garn and 37 yards to Brody Poole. Dante Giallonardo also found paydirt for the Vikings. On the campaign, Giallonardo leads the Vikings with 510 yards rushing, while he’s also caught nine passes for 250 yards and has compiled seven touchdowns. Chatfield has completed 47-of-91 throws for 1,000 yards, with a dozen TDs and five interceptions. Luke Nicotera paces Mount Pleasant receivers with 19 receptions for 334 yards. In addition to his first TD of the season last week, Garn has kicked four field goals.

About the Matchup: With the teams tied in the Class 3A Interstate Conference, the winner takes third place, and the loser finishes in fourth. Last year, the Vikings won in lopsided fashion, 42-17.

Ligonier Valley (2-7, 1-5) at Derry Area (4-5, 3-3) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:30 p.m. on WSN VIDEO - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley was blanked at home by Imani Christian Academy 31-0 in a Class 2A Allegheny Conference clash last week. Bowie Schreyer threw for 39 yards for the Rams, who were without John Jablunovsky. Jablunovsky has been the offensive catalyst this season, as he’s compiled 117 carries for 737 yards, eight receptions for 98 yards, and eight total touchdowns. Schreyer, meanwhile, has gone 15-of-29 passing for 152 yards, with one TD and two interceptions. Aside from Jablunovsky, Cameron Kunkle is the only Ram who has more than one reception, as he’s contributed four catches for 50 yards. During their five-game losing skid, the Rams have been shut out four times. As a result, LV is averaging 9.8 points per game, the lowest mark by far in the conference.

About the Trojans: Ahmad Ward produced a sterling effort, rushing for 249 yards and all four touchdowns in propelling Derry Area to a 29-22 win at Burrell in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference last week. Ward provided the winning score on a 59-yard run with 2:02 left, just 16 seconds after the Buccaneers took their first lead. As a result, Ward increased his season production to 195 carries for 1,030 yards, scoring 17 total TDs. Despite snapping a three-game skid last week, Derry Area has been outscored by a margin of 275-166 on the year.

About the Matchup: While the Trojans already clinched a spot in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs, the Rams have been eliminated from contention. Last year, Ligonier Valley cruised to a 51-7 victory.

Hempfield Area (1-8, 0-4) at Norwin (2-7, 1-3) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:30 p.m. on WSN AUDIO - LISTEN LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Dave Franczak and Brian Brozeski

About the Spartans: Hempfield Area could not halt its skid, as the host Spartans lost to Plum 38-20 in Class 5A Big East Conference action last week. QB Dom Detruf registered 218 yards and two scores for Hempfield Area. His touchdowns went to Reddik Katchur and Keiran Lippmann, who posted five receptions for 92 yards. Brayden Gerst added a 1-yard TD run for the Spartans. For the year, Detruf has connected on 71-of-133 attempts for 1,014 yards, with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Lippmann and Rogan Katchur are tied for the team lead with five scores apiece. During their eight-game skid, the Spartans have failed to eclipse 21 points in a game. Hempfield Area has allowed 316 points on the year, tied for the most in the conference.

About the Knights: Norwin could not contain Gateway QB Brad Birch, as the Gators secured a 48-20 win in the Class 5A Big East Conference last week. In the setback, Norwin QB Tristyn Tavares compiled 160 yards passing and a pair of TDs. On the year, Tavares has completed 126-of-214 passes for 2,141 yards, which ranks third in the WPIAL, with 20 TDs and seven interceptions, and he’s also rushed for 150 yards and five more scores on the ground. His top target is Luke Denny, who has 35 receptions for 827 yards, which is also third-most in the WPIAL. Furthermore, Jackson Pons has 28 receptions for 513 yards, while Jake Knight has added 30 grabs for 421 yards. Norwin, which has lost five straight, has permitted 316 points on the season, tied for the most among teams in the conference.

About the Matchup: Both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention in Class 5A. Last year, the Spartans claimed a 34-7 win.

Clairton (7-2, 5-0) at Jeannette (7-2, 4-1) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:30 p.m. on WSN AUDIO - LISTEN LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Brent Whigham and Anthony DeNunzio

About the Bears: Clairton steamrolled Frazier 50-6 last week in Class 1A Eastern Conference play. Drahcir Joines accounted for three scores, as he rushed for 99 yards and two TDs, and added a pair of catches for 40 yards and another score. Quarterback Mike Wright hit on 6-of-10 throws for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while Jaece Booker had two receptions for 120 yards, including a TD. On the year, Jones has 127 carries for 1,062 yards, scoring a dozen times. Michael Wright, meanwhile, has thrown for 1,139 yards and 11 touchdowns, with Zaemere Correll posting team bests of 24 receptions for 430 yards. Michael Ruffin ranks second in both rushing yards and receiving yards, and he’s compiled six TDs. The Bears, winners of seven straight, have permitted 16.0 points per game, the top mark in the conference. Wayne Wade is the accomplished head coach of Clairton.

About the Jayhawks: Jeannette used an explosive offense to roll to a 49-12 win at Springdale in the Class 1A Eastern Conference last week. Payton Molter threw for 293 yards and four TDs for the Jayhawks. Noah Sanders scored three total touchdowns, posting 89 yards receiving and 81 yards rushing, while Kymon’e Brown caught four passes for 135 yards, scoring twice. Michael Mason also added a TD for the Jayhawks. Sanders has registered 1,016 yards on the ground on the year, along with 264 yards receiving, scoring 13 times. Molter has connected on 83-of-142 throws for 1,364 yards, with 18 TDs and six interceptions, and he’s also eclipsed 400 yards on the ground, scoring seven total touchdowns. Jeannette has averaged 35.3 points per game, tops among teams in the conference.

About the Matchup: First place and the Class 1A Eastern Conference title will be at stake, as a Jayhawks win would give them either a share or a three-way split of the crown. A year ago, the Bears notched a statement win, 43-0.

Armstrong (5-4, 2-3) at Kiski Area (4-5, 2-3) – 7 p.m.

About the River Hawks: Armstrong was edged at home by Highlands 17-15 last week, the second loss in a row for the River Hawks. In the defeat, Ian Olsen had six catches for 122 yards and two scores, while Chase Jablonski added six receptions for 111 yards and a TD. Kyan Kline, who completed 6-of-8 passes for 101 yards, also rushed for 95 yards. For the year, Olsen has 51 catches for 840 yards, while Kline has snagged 25 receptions for 527 yards and a team-leading nine TDs. Alex Patton leads the rushing attack with 601 yards. The River Hawks have outpaced their foes 274-202. Frank Fabian is at the helm of Armstrong.

About the Cavaliers: Kiski Area, led by the trio of Carson Heinle, Isaiah Gonzalez, and Landon Kucic, rolled to a 39-8 win at Fox Chapel Area in a nonconference clash last Friday. Heinle threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns, Kucic rushed for 116 yards and two TDs, and Gonzalez caught four passes for 109 yards and a score, and he added an 85-yard interception return score. On the campaign, Heinle has connected on 99-of-175 throws for 1,348 yards and 15 TDs. Kucic has amassed 119 carries for 509 yards and a team-high nine TDs. Gonzalez, Andrew Finney, and Terry “Bart” Martin all have snagged 15 or more catches. KA has been outscored 255-196 on the year.

About the Matchup: Both teams remain in contention for the playoffs from the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference. A win coupled with a Highlands loss would clinch for either team. Last year, Armstrong prevailed 40-21.

South Allegheny (1-8, 0-4) at Greensburg Salem (1-8, 0-4) – 7 p.m.

About the Gladiators: South Allegheny suffered a 42-27 home loss to Mount Pleasant Area last week in the Class 3A Interstate Conference. In the defeat, Cameron Epps had a massive performance, as he rushed 33 times for 202 yards and three scores. Tyreke Chatman-Vinson, meanwhile, produced 82 yards on the ground. For the year, Epps has amassed 187 carries for 1,104 yards and 13 scores, while nobody else has more than three TDs for South Allegheny. Ryan Cortes and Malakai Myers have both seen time at QB, with Cortes throwing for a team-best 308 yards and four touchdowns. During their eight-game losing streak, the Gladiators have allowed 41 or more points each time. Brian Hanson is in his first year leading South Allegheny.

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem didn’t have any answers for Elizabeth Forward QB Ryan Messina, as the Warriors cruised to a 48-13 win at home in the Class 3A Interstate Conference. Greensburg Salem’s scores came on an 18-yard connection from Brody Chismar to Keegan Young in the opening quarter and a short run by Chismar in the fourth. For the year, Brady Smith paces the Golden Lions in rushing, while Dom Rosensteel has been the top receiver. During the six-game skid, GS has not eclipsed 14 points in a game. As a result, the Golden Lions average 12.6 points per game, the lowest mark in the conference.

About the Matchup: While both teams have been eliminated from postseason contention, the winner avoids a last-place finish. In 2022, the Golden Lions captured a 42-28 win.

Knoch (7-2, 3-1) at Valley (2-7, 0-4) – 7 p.m.

About the Knights: Knoch suffered a heartbreaking 14-13 loss in overtime against East Allegheny last week in a first-place showdown. QB Codi Mullen threw for a TD and he added another on the ground. Cumulatively, Mullen has thrown for 1,352 yards and 13 TDs, and he also leads Knoch with 266 yards rushing. His top receivers have been Jackson Bauman (35 receptions for 483 yards) and Kaden Spencer (30 catches for 517 yards). The Knights have outpaced their opponents 204-143. Head coach Tim Burchett leads Knoch.

About the Vikings: Valley was stifled by Freeport Area, as the Yellowjackets notched a 27-0 home win in the Class 3A Allegheny Six Conference. For the year, Darnell Coaston leads the Vikings with four TDs, while Chuck Perkins and Dorian Briggs have three apiece. Valley, which has dropped four straight, has scored just 118 points, last in the conference by a wide margin.

Burrell (4-5, 3-3) at Apollo-Ridge (2-7, 1-5) – 7 p.m.

About the Buccaneers: Burrell could not stop Ahmad Ward in the fourth quarter, as the Bucs suffered a 29-22 loss to Derry Area last week in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. Ward provided the winning score late in the fourth, just seconds after the Buccaneers took their first lead on a Devin Beattie TD run and two-point conversion. Beattie amassed 28 carries for 110 yards and two scores in the setback for the Buccaneers, while Stevie Hasson registered a rushing TD and completed 5-of-7 passes for 84 yards for Burrell. On the campaign, Beattie has 224 carries for 1,080 yards, scoring eight times. Burrell has been outpaced by a margin of 202-156 this year.

About the Vikings: Apollo-Ridge dropped a 46-28 outcome at Serra Catholic last week. Karter Schrock rushed for 105 yards and two scores, while he posted 123 yards through the air. Alex Wurmb, meanwhile, notched 99 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns. For the year, Schrock has hit on 64-of-139 passing attempts for 830 yards and four TDs, and he’s rushed 203 times for 1,022 yards and 15 total scores. Wurmb, meanwhile, leads the team in receiving yards and ranks second with six TDs. AR has allowed an average of 36.3 points per contest, the worst mark in the conference. John Skiba is the veteran coach for Apollo-Ridge.

About the Matchup: Burrell has already secured a playoff spot, but the Bucs can finish fourth in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference with a win coupled with a loss by Derry Area. Last year, the Vikings prevailed 28-14.

Yough (2-7, 1-5) at Imani Christian Academy (6-2, 4-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Cougars: Despite a strong showing last week, Yough was unable to upset Steel Valley, as the Ironmen prevailed 35-14 in Class 2A Allegheny Conference play. QB Raidon Kuroda threw for just 20 yards, but he compiled 17 carries for 79 yards. Mikey Nogy and Shane Swope each scored rushing touchdowns for the Cougars. For the season, Kuroda has hit on 48-of-122 passes for 624 yards, with one TD but eight interceptions, and he’s rushed for 645 yards and six total scores. Antonio Marra and Ryan Sarver have each caught 16 passes. After not surrendering more than 28 points in any game through the first six contests, the Cougars have permitted 35 or more points in each of the past three games, all losses.

About the Saints: Imani Christian Academy blanked Ligonier Valley 31-0 last week. Che’von Allen caught three passes for 49 yards, including a pair of TDs. Gabriel Jenkins paced the rushing game, as he notched 97 yards and a score. For the year, QB Steve Vandiver has compiled 1,229 yards passing and 14 touchdowns, while also rushing for 468 yards. Dayshaun Burnett leads Imani Christian with 10 TDs. Winners of four in a row, the Saints have outpaced their adversaries by a margin of 297-115 on the year. Coach LaRoi Johnson is at the helm of Imani.

About the Matchup: While the Saints have already secured a postseason berth and have a chance to finish in second place in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, the Cougars are eliminated from the playoff picture. Last year, the Cougars claimed a 15-12 win. Imani Christian plays its home games at UPMC Graham Field in Wilkinsburg.

Greensburg Central Catholic (6-3, 4-1) at Leechburg (6-3, 3-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Centurions: Landon Honick provided a spark from the backfield, carrying Greensburg Central Catholic to a 21-14 win at home against Riverview in Class 1A Eastern Conference play last week. As a result, the Centurions secured a playoff bid. Honick, who previously played receiver, rushed for 167 yards, scoring twice. Teammate Samir Crosby mustered 105 yards rushing and a TD for GCC. For the year, quarterback Tyree Turner has produced 1,175 yards passing and 13 touchdowns, and rushed 79 times for 485 yards, notching 11 total TDs. Crosby leads the squad with 25 receptions for 460 yards, and has added 45 carries for 477 yards on the ground, scoring a dozen times. Winners of three in a row, the Centurions boast a scoring margin of 280-209.

About the Blue Devils: Leechburg edged Shenango 27-26 in a nonconference game last week, the second one-point win in a row for the Blue Devils. In the triumph, signalcaller Jayden Floyd went 18-of-25 for 138 yards, with a touchdown and two picks, while he accumulated 23 carries for 134 yards and three scores on the ground. Floyd’s favorite target was Sebastian Mason, who had eight receptions for 82 yards and a TD. Floyd has reached a significant milestone on the season, throwing for 1,261 yards and rushing for 1,031 yards. Moreover, he’s thrown for eight TDs, while adding 17 total scores. Jake Cummings has contributed 43 catches for 512 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Scoring 34.5 points per game, the Blue Devils rank second in the conference. Randy Walters patrols the sidelines for Leechburg.

About the Matchup: With a GCC win paired with a Jeannette victory against Clairton, the Centurions will gain a three-way share of the Class 1A Eastern Conference title. A Leechburg win, though, would put the Blue Devils into a tie for either second or third place. Last year, Greensburg Central Catholic triumphed 48-21.

Monessen (3-6, 2-4) at Beth-Center (3-6, 3-3) – 7 p.m.

About the Greyhounds: Monessen notched a 36-20 win against Mapletown in the Class 1A Tri-County South Conference last week. The Greyhounds were led by a stellar performance from Dennis Hawkins, who threw for 361 yards and five touchdowns. Lorenzo Gardner was on the receiving end of two of those scores, as he caught four passes for 138 yards. For the year, Tyvaughn Kershaw leads Monessen with 91 carries for 610 yards and eight TDs. Gardner, meanwhile, has produced 16 catches for 384 yards and five scores. The Greyhounds have been outpaced 287-188 on the year.

About the Bulldogs: Beth-Center was blasted 62-6 by California Area last week. Ethan Varesko was the bright spot, as he rushed six times for 123 yards and a score for the Bulldogs. On the campaign, Varesko has notched 101 carries for 1,024 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Beth-Center has permitted 328 points on the year, the most among teams in the conference. Anthony Ruscitto is the veteran head coach for Beth-Center.

Greater Latrobe (6-3, 4-2) at Butler Area (2-7) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: Three turnovers in the second half doomed Greater Latrobe, as homestanding McKeesport Area prevailed 42-14 in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference one week ago. Ja’Tawn Williams had a 95-yard kickoff return for the Wildcats, and John Wetzel produced 26 carries for 112 yards and a score on the ground. For the year, Wetzel has hit on 64-of-99 passes for 1,972 yards and 14 TDs, while he’s rushed 106 times for 640 yards, posting 11 total touchdowns. Williams leads GL with 29 catches for 673 yards and 14 scores. The Wildcats have outscored their foes 279-173.

About the Golden Tornado: Butler Area, which is playing an independent schedule before returning to the WPIAL next year, lost 52-12 at McDowell last week. The Golden Tornado, who have dropped six in a row, have already played two WPIAL opponents, as well as a pair of Pittsburgh City League foes. Braylon Littlejohn leads Butler with 418 yards rushing, while Landon Lacey paces the team with five touchdowns. The Golden Tornado have been outscored by a margin of 314-130. Eric Christy is the head coach for Butler Area.

About the Matchup: Greater Latrobe has already secured a playoff berth from the Class 4A Big Seven Conference. Last year, the Wildcats reigned supreme 28-14.