Westmoreland County High School Football Week 5 Preview

Hempfield hosts Gateway; Mt. Pleasant entertains Greensburg Salem; PT squares off with Norwin

Thu Sep 29, 2022 - 11:22PM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Franklin Regional players will wear gold ribbons on their helmets in support of former Panther Joe Perdue who is batting brain cancer.Franklin Regional players will wear gold ribbons on their helmets in support of former Panther Joe Perdue who is batting brain cancer.

Last Updated: Sat Oct 01, 2022 - 12:47AM

With the WPIAL regular season now advancing to the second half of the slate, the conference standings become the focal point. To that point, every Westmoreland County team will play in a conference matchup this week. Here’s a detailed examination of each county game in Week Five of the high school season.

Gateway (4-1, 1-1) at Hempfield Area (5-0, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Jack Ridenour and Tim McCabe

About the Gators: Gateway narrowly avoided a two-game skid last week, edging Plum 28-26 in Monroeville. The Gators built a 28-7 halftime lead, but failed to score in the second half. Dallas Harper had a breakout performance, as he caught four passes for 169 yards, including two long TDs. Brad Birch, the junior signalcaller, was 12-of-16 for 250 yards, three TDS and one interception. Prior to last week, no Gateway contest had eclipsed 37 total points. The Gators allow 13.0 points per game, the third-best mark in Class 5A. Don Holl is the head coach for Gateway.

About the Spartans: Hempfield Area rallied at home for a 28-17 victory against Penn-Trafford in the conference opener last week. QB Jake Phillips was 10-of-18 passing for 146 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, and he added a rushing score. Eli Binakonsky paced the rushing attack with five carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, while Ian Tuffs caught three passes for 61 yards and the score that proved to be the difference, and he added 10 tackles and a sack on defense. Anthony Vallano also found the end zone, securing two catches for 40 yards. For the season, Phillips has thrown for 1,153 yards and 11 scores, while rushing for 248 yards and six TDs. Gino Caesar paces the rushing attack, with 82 carries for 484 yards and 11 total touchdowns. Outscoring their opponents 223-41, Hempfield Area has both the top scoring offense and scoring defense in Class 5A.

About the Matchup: The Spartans aim to knock off the two preseason favorites in the Class 5A Big East Conference in consecutive weeks. The previous meeting took place in 2013, as Gateway triumphed 22-16.

Plum (3-2, 1-1) at Franklin Regional (2-2, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcaster: Jonathan Whaley

About the Mustangs: Plum’s second-half rally came up just short against Gateway last week, as the Mustangs fell 28-26. Eryck Moore was the catalyst of the comeback bid, as he rushed 26 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns, while also notching a touchdown reception. Quarterback Sean Franzi was 8-of-16 for 151 yards and a touchdown, but he also tossed two interceptions. On the season, Moore has posted 515 yards rushing and nine TDs to pace the Mustangs, while Nick Odum has contributed 297 yards on the ground and six scores. Head coach Matt Morgan guides Plum.

About the Panthers: Franklin Regional suffered a deflating 42-41 double overtime loss at Shaler Area on Saturday, the second time this year FR lost in double OT. Quarterback Roman Sarnic rushed for four touchdowns and threw for another, as he amassed 136 yards on 21 carries and hit on 6-of-9 passes for 94 yards. Ayden Hudock hauled in two passes for 48 yards and a score, and he added a touchdown run, while Zach Bewszka contributed 69 yards rushing. For the season, Sarnic has thrown for 349 yards and four touchdowns, while registering 462 yards rushing and a team-best seven scores. Bewszka, meanwhile, has notched 68 rushes for 481 yards and three TDs.

About the Matchup: The Panthers seek to improve to 2-0 in the Class 5A Big East Conference, while the Mustangs would secure their second win in the conference with a victory. A year ago, the teams met in Week Zero, as FR rolled to a 41-12 victory.

Greensburg Salem (3-2, 0-0) at Mount Pleasant (3-2, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: TJ DiStefano and John Bainbridge

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem’s three-game winning streak was halted last week with a 42-21 loss at home against East Allegheny. The Golden Lions were held scoreless in the second half. Signalcaller Cody Rubrecht factored into all three scores, as he was 7-of-24 passing for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed 21 times for 150 yards and another score. His TD throws went to Keegan Young and Christian Hostetler. Kai Brunot, meanwhile, chipped in with 17 carries for 74 yards. For the 2022 campaign, Rubrecht has thrown for 588 yards and three TDs, and rushed for 657 yards, compiling 11 touchdowns. Jerome Wallish ranks second behind Hostetler in receptions and receiving yards.

About the Vikings: Mount Pleasant Area fell flat at Freeport Area last week, dropping a 24-6 outcome. Prior to that contest, the Vikings had scored 35 or more points in each of their four outings. Garrett Eicher scored the only touchdown for Mount Pleasant, a 13-yard run in the fourth quarter. Although he was held out of the end zone, Robbie Labuda posted 18 carries for 123 yards. QB Cole Chatfield was 7-of-15 for 95 yards and an interception, while Tyler Reese caught a pair of passes for 51 yards. On the season, Labuda has posted 78 rushing attempts for 879 yards, caught seven passes for 162 yards, and scored 12 total touchdowns. Chatfield, meanwhile, has produced 603 yards and five touchdowns through the air.

About the Matchup: Conference play begins this week in the Class 3A Interstate. A year ago, Greensburg Salem won convincingly, 34-6, in a nonconference clash. Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer is a Mount Pleasant Area grad.

Norwin (1-4, 0-1) at Penn-Trafford (3-2, 0-1) – 7:30 p.m.

Pregame at 7 p.m. on WSN VIDEO - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Dave Franczak and Sean Meyers

About the Knights: Norwin was stifled at home by Woodland Hills 25-0 last week. Tristyn Tavares was 4-of-7 passing for 61 yards and an interception, while Nicholas Urey was 5-of-10 for 29 yards. Jackson Pons paced the Knights’ receivers with four catches for 57 yards, while Christian Beck had 19 yards on the ground to lead the team. For the season, Pons has 19 receptions for 324 yards, and a team-best four touchdowns. Norwin has been limited to seven or fewer points in three contests.

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford fell on the road to unbeaten Hempfield Area 28-17 last week. Tommy Kalkstein was a catalyst offensively, as he rushed 16 times for 168 yards and a score. Conlan Greene hit on 10-of-22 passing attempts for 67 yards, and added 12 carries for 97 yards, while Daniel Tarabrella posted five catches for 37 yards. Brady Paliscak contributed a field goal. For the season, Greene has thrown for 714 yards, with five touchdowns and six interceptions, while also pacing PT with 67 rushes for 369 yards and five scores. Tasso Whipple, who had a 22-yard TD catch against the Spartans, has compiled 39 rushes for 245 yards and two scores, while Tarabrella has amassed 25 receptions for 362 yards and a pair of TDs.

About the Matchup: Both teams are in search of their first win in Class 5A Big East Conference play. A year ago, the Warriors claimed a 35-14 victory in Week Zero. The Knights last prevailed in 2018 by a margin of 44-36.

Derry Area (0-5, 0-2) at Serra Catholic (4-1, 2-0) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:15 p.m. on WSN AUDIO - LISTEN LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Trojans: Derry Area was overmatched last week in a 49-14 home loss against Apollo-Ridge. Both Trojans’ scores came in the second quarter, as QB Blake Revoir connected with Roman Darazio on a 16-yard TD, and Mason Beeman hooked up with Jordan Flack on a 3-yard touchdown pass. After suffering a shutout loss to open the season, DA has scored between 10 and 17 points each week since then. Derry Area has been outscored 171-55 on the season.

About the Eagles: Serra Catholic made quick work of host Imani Christian last week, ousting the Saints 47-12. As the Eagles continued to split snaps at QB, Elijah Ward excelled, as he hit on 6-of-8 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown, while rushing 10 times for 115 yards and another score. Quadir Stribling was 8-of-19 passing for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Regardless of quarterback, Amire Spencer was the top option, as he caught nine passes for 190 yards and four TDs. For the season, Stribling and Ward have each passed for more than 600 yards, while Spencer has compiled 656 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Jose Regus is the championship-winning coach for Serra Catholic.

About the Matchup: Through two weeks of Class 2A Allegheny Conference play, the Eagles are tied for first, while the Trojans are deadlocked in last place. The teams have not locked up since prior to 2003.

Greater Latrobe (2-3, 0-2) at Trinity (2-3, 1-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: Greater Latrobe dropped a tightly-contested game at home last week, falling to Laurel Highlands 10-7. The loss marked the third consecutive setback for the Wildcats. Robby Fulton compiled 22 carries for 149 yards and the lone TD for the Wildcats, while QB John Wetzel was 4-of-7 passing for 32 yards. For the season, Fulton paces the offense with 94 carries for 847 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he’s also thrown for a TD. Meanwhile, Wetzel has connected on 22-of-41 passes for 228 yards, with one TD and two interceptions, and he’s rushed for 208 yards. Alex Tatsch leads the GL defense with 46 tackles and six sacks.

About the Hillers: Trinity was stifled by McKeesport Area last week, as the Hillers sustained a 35-6 defeat. Andy Palm produced a pair of field goals, spanning 33 and 26 yards. Andrew Durig, who leads the team in rushing, mustered just 32 yards on 10 attempts against the Tigers, while freshman QB Jonah Williamson was 6-of-14 passing for 33 yards and an interception. The Hillers have allowed 35 or more points in each of their defeats. Dan Knause, who was previously the head coach at Chartiers Valley, is in his first season guiding Trinity.

About the Matchup: A third consecutive loss in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference would keep Greater Latrobe alone at the bottom of the standings. The most recent meeting between schools occurred as conference foes in 2005, as Trinity rolled to a 42-7 win.

Indiana Area (2-3, 0-2) at Kiski Area (0-5, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Little Indians: Indiana Area was held off the scoreboard for the second week in a row in a 31-0 loss at home to Highlands. The Little Indians couldn’t slow Luke Bombalski of the Golden Rams, as he rushed for 125 yards and two TDs. QB Trevor Smith has been a dual threat for Indiana, while Garrison Dougherty and Liam McFarlane have also found success on the ground. McFarlane paces the squad with four touchdowns. The Little Indians have been outscored 149-63. Brad Wright is in his first season at the helm of the program.

About the Cavaliers: After starting 5-0 last year, Kiski Area fell to 0-5 this season with a 33-21 road defeat against North Catholic a week ago. Carson Heinle was 11-of-20 passing for 124 yards and a touchdown, and he also rushed for a score. Dom DiNinno was the top receiver, with four catches for 58 yards, while Isaiah Gonzalez contributed five receptions for 54 yards. Connor Flemm added the other score for the Cavs. Kiski Area has scored just 42 points on the season, and has been shut out twice.

About the Matchup: The Cavs and Little Indians are deadlocked at the bottom of the standings in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference. The last meeting was in 2009, as Kiski Area won handily, 35-7.

South Allegheny (1-4, 0-0) at Belle Vernon Area (3-2, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Gladiators: South Allegheny was overmatched in a 41-0 loss at home to Shady Side Academy last week, the fourth setback in a row for the Gladiators. Cameron Epps led SA with 19 carries for 59 yards, while Youngstown State commit Dashawn Carter posted 39 yards on the ground. Eric Wehrer was 2-of-5 passing for 17 yards, while Ryan Cortes hit one throw for 26 yards. For the season, Carter, who projects as an edge rusher at YSU, leads the team in touchdowns, while Michael Michalski tops the squad in receiving yards. The Gladiators average just 12.2 points per game, by far the lowest mark in the conference. Head coach Darwin Manges is in his first season on the sidelines for South Allegheny.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon Area snapped its two-game skid last week, scoring an impressive 21-7 win at Thomas Jefferson. Quinton Martin opened the scoring with a 97-yard punt return in the first quarter, while Jake Gedekoh accounted for the other two touchdowns. Gedekoh scored on a 15-yard run, and added a 50-yard TD reception on a pass from Braden Laux. BVA’s last three opponents all reached the WPIAL championship or semifinals last season. For the season, Martin paces the Leopards with 37 rushes for 189 yards and five scores, while Chase Ruokonen is the top receiver, contributing 11 catches for 195 yards. BVA has permitted just 55 points through four contests, an average of 13.8 per game.

About the Matchup: This serves as the opener for both teams in Class 3A Interstate Conference action. The teams have not played since prior to 2003.

Elizabeth Forward (5-0, 0-0) at Southmoreland (2-3, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Warriors: Elizabeth Forward continued its dominant run, as the Warriors knocked off Knoch 42-0 last week. Zion White threw for a pair of touchdowns, and he rushed for two more. Zach Boyd was on the receiving end of a 70-yard TD pass, while Keilly Rush caught a 46-yard score. Johnny DiNapoli and Diego Magwood added rushing touchdowns. For the season, Boyd has caught 19 passes for 629 yards and has scored 12 total touchdowns. White, meanwhile, has amassed 971 yards passing and 16 TDs on 41-of-74 attempts, while DiNapoli has totaled 292 yards on the ground. On average, EF has outscored its adversaries 41.8 to 8.4. Coach Mike Collodi is the guiding force behind Elizabeth Forward.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland was suffocated by Deer Lakes last week, dropping the road contest to the Lancers 9-0. Quarterback Kadin Keefer was 19-of-41 passing for 184 yards, but was plagued by two interceptions. Ty Keffer caught 10 passes for 76 yards, while Wyatt Richter hauled in four receptions spanning 70 yards. For the 2022 season, Keefer has connected on 65-of-106 passes for 712 yards, with three touchdowns and four interceptions. Keffer has caught 36 passes, which leads the WPIAL, for 465 yards, and he paces the Scotties with six touchdowns.

About the Matchup: The tilt serves as the conference opener for the teams in the Class 3A Interstate. Last year, EF won with ease, 56-13.

Valley (1-4, 0-0) at East Allegheny (4-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Vikings: Valley earned its first win of 2022 last week, defeating homestanding Uniontown Area 20-13. In the process, Vikings’ alum and first-year head coach Dave Heavner captured his first win guiding Valley. Xavier Wilson has been among the most dangerous playmakers for Valley. Last week marked the first time in 2022 that the Vikings held an opponent to less than 30 points.

About the Wildcats: East Allegheny doubled up Greensburg Salem 42-21 last week. Trey Jeter had a big showing, as he amassed 118 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries. Michael Cahill hit on 7-of-13 passing attempts for 139 yards and a score, and he added a rushing TD for East Allegheny. The Wildcats have outpaced their opponents 132-95. Coach Dom Pecora serves at the helm of EA.

Ligonier Valley (3-2, 1-1) at Yough (2-3, 1-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley was blasted at home by Steel Valley last week, falling 48-0 to the Ironmen. Signalcaller Broderick Schreyer was 4-of-10 passing for 33 yards, Haden Sierocky compiled 26 yards rushing on three attempts, and Logan Johnston caught two passes for 31 yards. For the year, Sierocky has notched 52 carries for 489 yards, has caught 11 passes for 193 yards, and has found paydirt 10 times. Additionally, John Jablunovsky has registered 356 yards rushing and five scores.

About the Cougars: Yough’s two-game surge was snapped last week in a 42-6 loss at Burrell. JJ Waller accounted for the only TD, as he rushed 10 times for 79 yards. Gavin Roebuck hit on just 2-of-8 passes for 33 yards. For the campaign, Roebuck leads the team with 361 yards rushing and five TDs, while Waller leads the crew in receptions and ranks second in rushing yards. Yough has yet to eclipse 14 points in a game this season, and the Cougars are averaging 9.4 points per game, the lowest offensive mark in the conference.

About the Matchup: The Rams and Cougars are among the four teams that are 1-1 in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. This is their first meeting since Ligonier Valley returned to the WPIAL.

Burrell (4-1, 1-1) at Imani Christian (2-3, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Buccaneers: Burrell rebounded from its first loss in a big way last week, ousting Yough 42-6. Devin Beattie led the way, compiling 121 yards and two touchdowns on 16 rushing attempts. Tristian Brothers and Mason Jones added 95 and 83 yards rushing, respectively, and the Bucs did not attempt a pass. Burrell has been anchored by Beattie this season, as he’s rushed 69 times for 659 yards, scoring six touchdowns. QB Chase Fenner also has six scores, as he, Jones, and Antonio Cook have all rushed for more than 100 yards on the campaign. Burrell has averaged 30.0 points per contest.

About the Saints: Imani Christian dropped its second lopsided outcome in a row, falling to Serra Catholic 47-12 last week. Chevon Allen scored on an 80-yard run, while Isaiah Arrington hauled in a 24-yard TD pass from Dayshaun Burnett. David Davis has been the catalyst offensively for the season, as he’s posted 656 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. The Saints have yielded 43 or more points in all of their losses. Former Sto-Rox coach LaRoi Johnson is in his first year as the head coach of Imani, where he was previously an offensive coordinator.

About the Matchup: The Saints are one of two teams searching for their initial win in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while the Buccaneers are tied with three other squads at 1-1. The teams have not met since Imani joined the WPIAL for football in 2012.

Clairton (2-3, 2-0) at Greensburg Central Catholic (3-2, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Bears: Playing at home, Clairton edged Leechburg 20-13 last week. QB Capone Jones was instrumental in the win, as he hit on 7-of-13 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, and he rushed 18 times for 161 yards and another score. Donte Wright added to the rushing attack with 11 carries for 110 yards and a score, while Devon Dean caught a TD pass. For the season, Jones has produced 394 yards passing and 186 yards on the ground. Furthermore, Wright boasts a team-high 260 yards rushing and four touchdowns, while Drahcir Jones has also surpassed 200 yards on the ground. Wayne Wade is the accomplished head coach of Clairton.

About the Centurions: Greensburg Central Catholic exploded in a 69-6 win at Springdale last week. Samir Crosby, Amari Mack, Nate Dlugos, and Da’sjon Craggette all scored twice for GCC. Craggette rushed seven times for 108 yards to lead the ground game, while Dlugos caught two passes, both for TDs, spanning 59 yards. Crosby, who also threw for a touchdown, posted a TD run and an interception return score that covered 47 yards, while Mack had a TD run and a punt return score. QB Tyree Turner hit 4-of-5 throws for 96 yards and a touchdown. For the season, five different players have scored five TDs or more. GCC has scored an average of 44.6 points per game.

About the Matchup: Clairton and Greensburg Central Catholic are among the three unbeaten teams in the Class 1A Eastern Conference, as the Bears currently hold the top spot. Last year, Clairton edged GCC 20-13.

West Greene (1-4, 1-1) at Monessen (3-2, 2-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Pioneers: West Greene earned its first win of 2022 last week, besting Bentworth 49-33. Colin Brady had a prolific performance for the Pioneers, with 14 carries for 283 yards and five scores. Seth Burns added 76 yards rushing and a score. Brady leads the WPIAL with 1,315 yards rushing this season on 97 carries, and he ranks second with 17 touchdowns. Coach Brian Hanson is at the helm of West Greene.

About the Greyhounds: Monessen notched a massive win last week, handling previously-unblemished California Area 28-20. Subsequently, the Greyhounds extended their winning streak to three contests. For the season, Tyvaughn Kershaw has rushed for 271 yards, Daevon Burke has amassed 235 yards on the ground, and each have posted five touchdowns.

Jeannette (1-4, 1-0) at Riverview (2-3, 1-1) - SATURDAY 12 p.m.

About the Jayhawks: Jeannette suffered another narrow loss last week, falling on the road against Charleroi 24-20. Quarterback Payton Molter turned in a strong performance, as he was 12-of-16 passing for 147 yards and a touchdown, while rushing 15 times for 78 yards and another score. Noah Sanders registered six receptions for 77 yards and a TD, while also rushing for 33 yards. Jesse McCurdy led the Jayhawks’ defensive effort with 10 tackles and a sack. On the season, Molter has contributed 576 yards passing and five touchdowns, while compiling a team-best 272 yards rushing and seven scores. With 31 receptions for 410 yards, Sanders ranks second in the WPIAL in catches. Despite the losing record, Jeannette has outscored its opponents 128-127.

About the Raiders: Riverview secured an 18-6 win at Frazier last week. Rio Stotts had a big game, as he rushed 15 times for 112 yards and a touchdown, and caught a 43-yard TD pass. QB Rocco Cecere was 6-of-9 passing for 116 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Carlo Buzzato paced the Raiders with three catches for 50 yards. For the season, Stotts, Landon Johnson, and Buzzato are all over 250 yards on the ground, while Cecere is 22-of-31 passing for 362 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. Trevor George serves as the head coach for Riverview.

About the Matchup: Both teams have already scored a win against Frazier in Class 1A Eastern Conference action. In 2021, Jeannette’s lone victory came at the expense of Riverview 28-6. Riverside Park does not have permanent lights, thus the Raiders play most of their home games on Saturday afternoons.