Westmoreland County High School Football WPIAL First Round Preview

Six Westmoreland County football teams open the playoffs tonight

Thu Nov 04, 2021 - 11:49PM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Southmoreland plays its first ever home WPIAL playoff game at Russ Grimm Stadium tonight against East Allegheny. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)Southmoreland plays its first ever home WPIAL playoff game at Russ Grimm Stadium tonight against East Allegheny. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)

Last Updated: Thu Nov 04, 2021 - 11:54PM

The WPIAL football playoffs officially commence this Friday, and nine Westmoreland County teams are in the field. In Class 5A, Penn-Trafford earned the #2 seed and a bye to the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Belle Vernon Area was selected as the top seed in Class 4A, and the Leopards also garnered a first-round bye. Here’s a look at the six contests that include county teams in the first round of the postseason.

Class 5A First Round - #12 Franklin Regional (3-7) at #5 Penn Hills (6-3) – 7 p.m.

About the Panthers: Franklin Regional lost its final two games of the regular season in lopsided fashion, including a 56-9 defeat to Gateway last week. The only Panthers’ TD came courtesy of a 94-yard kickoff return by Zach Bewszka, while FR also notched a safety. Quarterback Connor Donnelly struggled mightily, as he hit on just 3-of-17 passes for 10 yards, and threw three interceptions. Ayden Hudock, who had previously been sidelined with injury, was limited in his return to the field. For the season, Donnelly is 82-of-172 passing for 820 yards, eight touchdowns, and 11 picks. Caden Smith has posted a team-best 30 receptions for 341 yards and also paces the Panthers with seven touchdowns, while Maddox Morrison has 22 receptions for 246 yards. Tyler Bewszka leads the rushing attack, with 370 yards. For the season, the Panthers have averaged 21.9 points per game, while permitting 28.9 points.

About the Indians: Penn Hills finished the regular season with four straight wins, including 42-22 against Kiski Area last week. The Indians’ passing attack was potent, as QB Julian Dugger was 9-of-13 for 260 yards and four touchdowns, while Raion Strader caught four passes for 200 yards and a pair of scores. Dugger also contributed 65 yards rushing and a score, while D’Andre Cochran posted 56 yards rushing and a TD. For the campaign, Dugger has passed for 1,030 yards and 16 scores, while Jaden Dugger is the top receiver, with 27 catches for 371 yards. Amir Key is the top rusher, with 508 yards, while Julian and Jaden Dugger tie for the team lead with nine touchdowns each. The Indians have outscored their foes by a margin of 214-198 this season. Jon LeDonne is the head coach for Penn Hills.

About the Matchup: The winner advances to the 5A quarterfinals, and will face No. 4 Gateway, which earned a bye. The teams last met in 1999, as Penn Hills bested Franklin Regional 28-7.

Class 3A First Round - #11 Burrell (3-7) at #6 Mount Pleasant Area (5-4) - 7 p.m.

About the Buccaneers: Burrell lost its first six games, but ended the campaign by winning three of four tilts. Most recently, Burrell downed Valley 19-14 to secure its playoff berth. Running back Caden DiCaprio accounted for both Bucs’ touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, while Ethan Croushore connected on a pair of field goals. DiCaprio rushed 36 times for 153 yards. For the season, he’s rushed 246 times for 1,273 yards and 14 touchdowns. Devin Beatty ranks second on the team in rushing, with 250 yards. The Bucs have combined to complete just 15 passes this season. DiCaprio also paces the defense with 50 tackles. Despite the strong finish, Burrell has been outscored 354-158 for the season.

About the Vikings: With a playoff spot already guaranteed, Mount Pleasant Area fell to South Allegheny 21-7 last week. Quarterback Tyler Reese scored the lone TD for the Vikings, as he rushed for 62 yards and added 69 yards passing. Robbie Labuda was the top rusher for the Vikes, as he produced 90 yards on 19 attempts. For the season, Labuda has amassed 733 yards rushing, has contributed nine receptions for 102 yards, and leads the squad with 11 scores. Meanwhile, Aaron Alakson compiled 589 yards on the ground, while Reese has contributed 350 yards. Mount Pleasant has outscored its opponents 205-171.

About the Matchup: The winner advances to the quarterfinals, where #3 seed Avonworth awaits. The Vikings and Bucs met in Week Zero this year, with Mount Pleasant Area notching a decisive 40-7 victory.

Class 3A First Round - #9 East Allegheny (4-5) at #8 Southmoreland (7-3) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: East Allegheny did not play last week, as its nonconference matchup against Brownsville Area was cancelled. In the two previous games, however, EA outscored Valley and Derry Area by a combined margin of 108-0. Against the Vikings, QB Michael Smith was 11-of-14 passing for 151 yards and four touchdowns, while he also rushed five times for 42 yards and two touchdowns. In that victory, Mike Cahill posted four receptions for 82 yards and two scores, while Prashaun Gainer provided four catches for 32 yards and a pair of touchdowns. For the season, EA has outscored its adversaries 220-142. East Allegheny is guided by Dom Pecora, who previously was the head coach of Southmoreland.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland posted a 28-14 win against South Park last week to secure a playoff berth. Including a forfeit win against Brownsville Area, the Scotties won four of their final five tilts. Signalcaller Anthony Govern factored into three touchdowns, as he rushed 17 times for 89 yards and a pair of scores, and connected on 14-of-20 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. Trevell Clayton posted a breakout performance, as he rushed 12 times for 162 yards. Josh Bass caught five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown to pace the receivers. For the season, Govern is 77-of-153 passing for 1,106 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, while rushing for a team-leading 655 yards and 15 touchdowns. Isaac Trout leads the Scotties with 30 receptions for 501 yards, to go with nine scores. Not including the forfeit win, Southmoreland has outscored foes 260-200.

About the Matchup: The victor moves on to face top-seeded Central Valley in the 3A quarterfinals. The teams last met in 2011 as members of the Interstate Conference, as the Wildcats triumphed 28-21.

Class 2A First Round - #9 Ligonier Valley (8-2) at #8 South Side Beaver (7-3) – 7 p.m.

About the LV Rams: Ligonier Valley finished the regular season on a three-game surge, including a 48-22 win against Apollo-Ridge last week to secure a playoff bid. Broderick Schreyer was prolific at QB, as he completed 8-of-14 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns. Grant Dowden caught two TD passes, as he contributed three catches for 143 yards, and he added 53 yards rushing and another score on the ground. Matthew Marinchak, a receiver, and Jude Gryzwinski, a center, also provided touchdown passes. For the season, Schreyer has passed for 674 yards, although he served as the backup QB for the early portion of the season. Nick Beitel paces the rushing attack, meanwhile, with 131 attempts for 831 yards and nine touchdowns. Kaden Faas leads the defense with 69 tackles, while Jacob Hay posted a dozen sacks. For the season, the Rams have outscored their opponents 313-147, not including their forfeit defeat.

About the SSB Rams: South Side Beaver won its final four games of the regular season, capped off by a 27-7 win against Western Beaver last Saturday. Andrew Moots rushed just twice, but scored touchdowns both times. Parker Statler paced the Rams with 65 yards rushing, and he also caught a touchdown pass. For the season, Statler leads the rushing attack with 721 yards, while Cam Knox is not far behind, with 623 yards on the ground. Statler, who is also the top receiver, leads the team with 17 touchdowns. On average, South Side Beaver scores 25.2 points per game, while permitting 16.4 points. Luke Travelpiece serves as the head coach.

About the Matchup: The winner advances to the 2A quarterfinals, and will face either #1 Steel Valley or #16 Beth-Center. This marks Ligonier Valley’s first football playoff game since returning to the WPIAL.

Class 1A First Round - #9 OLSH (6-3) vs #8 Greensburg Central Catholic (6-4) – 7 p.m. at Hempfield Area

About the Chargers: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart claimed a 13-12 win against Cornell last week, snapping a two-game skid. Quarterback Nehemiah Azeem scored both touchdowns for the Chargers on a pair of 1-yard runs. As a passer, he was 5-of-14 for 53 yards. Additionally, BJ Vaughn posted 12 carries for 62 yards. In 2021, Azeem has passed for 1,369 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Ziggy McIntosh has caught 44 passes for 534 yards. Stephen Greer is the top rusher, with 614 yards, and also leads OLSH with seven touchdowns. Bolstered by a four-game winning streak to start the season, OLSH has outscored its foes 191-171. Coach Dan Bradley guides Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

About the Centurions: Greensburg Central Catholic lost 31-27 against Leechburg to conclude the regular season. In the setback, Jaydin Canady and Nate Dlugos both had big performances. Canady scored on an 85-yard kickoff return, and he added 17 carries for 80 yards and another touchdown. Dlugos, meanwhile, caught six passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. QB Tyree Turner passed for 159 yards, and added 31 yards on the ground. Due to offseason transfers, several players for GCC will be ineligible, including Canady, Ryan Kimmel, Kiantae Robinson, Taishaun Jamison, and Brayen Hill. Not including a forfeit victory, GCC has outscored its opponents 254-126.

About the Matchup: The winner moves on to the quarterfinals to play top-seeded Clairton. The teams have not met since at least 2003, but the schools did square off in the WPIAL Class 2A Boys Basketball Championship in March, a 71-52 Chargers’ victory. Because Greensburg Central Catholic has a grass field, the game will be played at Hempfield Area.

Class 1A First Round - #15 Monessen (4-6) vs #2 Cornell (7-2) – 7 p.m. at West Allegheny

About the Greyhounds: Monessen edged Avella 14-6 last week, snapping a four-game skid and clinching a playoff berth. Daniel Dozier scored on a 3-yard run, while Daevon Burke found paydirt on a 4-yard scamper. The Greyhounds average 15.7 points per game, and allow 17.9 points.

About the Raiders: Cornell lost to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 13-12 last week, snapping a seven-game winning streak for the Raiders. Quarterback Sincere Kimbrough was 12-of-18 passing for 110 yards and a score, while EJ Dawson rushed 11 times for 51 yards and a score. For the season, Kimbrough has passed for 790 yards and nine touchdowns, while also rushing for 259 yards and six scores. Additionally, Raequan Troutman leads the rushing attack with 497 yards, Timothy Henderson is the top receiver with 415 yards, and they tied for the team lead with nine touchdowns. Ed Dawson serves as the head coach for Cornell.