Westmoreland County High School Football WPIAL Playoff Preview

11 Westmoreland County teams embark on postseason tonight

Fri Nov 03, 2023 - 12:13AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Da'sjon Craggette leads Southmoreland into its WPIAL 3A First Round playoff game at Deer Lakes. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)Da'sjon Craggette leads Southmoreland into its WPIAL 3A First Round playoff game at Deer Lakes. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)

Last Updated: Fri Nov 03, 2023 - 2:36AM

The WPIAL football playoffs commence this week, as a dozen of the 18 Westmoreland County teams have qualified. Among that group, Belle Vernon Area gained the top seed in Class 3A, and received a first-round bye. The other 11 teams will all suit up this Friday, however, needing to win to keep their title hopes intact. Here’s a detailed examination of all of the Westmoreland playoff contests.

No. 7 Penn-Trafford (5-5, 4-1) at No. 2 Penn Hills (8-2, 5-0) – 7 p.m. (5A Quarterfinals)

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

WSN Broadcasters: Sean Meyers and John Bainbridge

About the Warriors: Tasso Whipple scored twice and Jonny Lovre’s touchdown run proved to be the decisive play as Penn-Trafford topped homestanding Franklin Regional 27-14 in the Class 5A Big East Conference showdown last Friday. With the win, PT moved to 4-1 in the conference, and clinched a playoff spot as the second-place team. Lovre’s 1-yard run on fourth down gave the Warriors the lead midway through the fourth quarter, and he also threw for a score to Jack Weishaar earlier in the contest. Whipple posted 87 yards rushing on 17 attempts. For the year, Whipple has 180 carries for 1,269 yards, 16 receptions for 268 yards, and 14 total touchdowns. Meanwhile, Lovre has completed 91-of-173 throws for 1,171 yards, with seven TDs and 10 interceptions. Ben Grabowski has amassed 668 yards on the ground and 10 scores, while Carmen Metcalfe paces PT receivers with 41 catches for 491 yards. Penn-Trafford has allowed 22.3 points per game, the best mark among teams in the conference.

About the Indians: Penn Hills edged Woodland Hills 26-21 last week to capture the outright Northeast Conference title. Quarterback Julian Dugger, a Pitt commit, threw for two touchdowns, and he added two more on the ground, rushing for 140 yards on 17 attempts. Cameron Thomas and Tajuan Brady snagged touchdown receptions. On the year, Dugger has connected on 89-of-175 passes for 1,412 yards, with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions, and he’s added 101 carries for 628 yards and nine scores on the ground. Amir Key paces the Indians rushing game, amassing 152 carries for 799 yards and seven TDs. Thomas has registered 21 receptions for 458 yards and seven touchdowns, while Naytel Mitchell and Martel Palmer have each posted 18 receptions for 319 yards. The Indians’ defense has pitched three shutouts, permitting a conference-leading 14.1 points per contest. Charles Morris is at the helm of Penn Hills.

About the Matchup: The winner advances to the semifinals to play either third-seeded Pine-Richland or No. 6 Bethel Park.

No. 11 Derry Area (5-5, 4-3) at No. 6 McGuffey (7-3, 5-1) – 7 p.m. (2A First Round)

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

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Trojans: Nate Barkley and Ahmad Ward combined for five touchdowns in leading Derry Area to a 35-15 win against Ligonier Valley in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference last week. Barkley scored twice on the ground, and he added an interception return touchdown for the host Trojans. Ward, meanwhile, added two more rushing touchdowns for DA, which moved to 4-3 and a fourth-place finish in the conference. On the campaign, Ward has compiled 195 carries for 1,030 yards, scoring 13 total TDs. Demauri Robinson paces the Trojans with 14 receptions for 233 yards. Derry Area has been outscored by a margin of 290-201.

About the Highlanders: McGuffey dropped a 13-7 outcome at home against Washington last week, thus finishing in a tie with the Little Prexies atop the Century Conference. Quarterback Connor Crowe accounted for the lone score in the defeat, as he rushed 17 times for 72 yards. Charles Wagers, meanwhile, produced 70 yards on the ground, and Dylan Droboj added 52 yards rushing. On the year, Crowe has completed 41-of-79 passes for 555 yards, with four touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he's also rushed for 521 yards. He’s one of four Highlanders who have surpassed 350 yards on the ground, led by Droboj, who has accumulated 576 yards and nine scores, which matches Wagers for the team lead. Malachi Ealy is among those rushers, and he also leads McGuffey with 10 receptions for 192 yards. Prior to their loss last week, the Highlanders had a six-game winning streak, and they boast a scoring margin of 257-155. Veteran coach Ed Dalton patrols the sidelines for McGuffey.

About the Matchup: The victorious squad advances to the quarterfinals, and will play either third seed Washington or No. 14 Ellwood City. Both teams played Southmoreland this year, with the Scotties blasting McGuffey 34-7, and edging Derry Area 24-21.

No. 11 Jeannette (7-3, 4-2) at No. 6 California (9-1, 7-0) – 7 p.m. (1A First Round)

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

WSN Broadcasters: Brent Whigham and Anthony DeNunzio

About the Jayhawks: Jeannette could not slow the combination of Michael Wright and Donte Wright, as each accounted for three TDs in leading Clairton to a lopsided 60-14 road win last week. As a result, the Jayhawks dropped to 4-2, third in the conference. Payton Molter factored into both touchdowns for the Jayhawks in the first quarter, as he notched a 26-yard run and a 44-yard pass to Kymon’e Brown. Molter did not play in the second half due to injury. For the season, Molter has completed 87-of-150 passes for 1,420 yards, with 19 touchdowns and six interceptions, and he’s rushed for 438 yards, totaling eight TDs. Brown is the top receiver, with 26 receptions for 464 yards and eight scores, while Noah Sanders leads Jeannette with 118 carries for 1,020 and 13 total touchdowns, adding 20 receptions for 314 yards. The Jayhawks have outpaced their adversaries by a margin of 332-240.

About the Trojans: California Area dismantled homestanding Bentworth 61-0 last week in Tri-County South Conference play. Spencer Petrucci and Jake Layhue formed a dynamic duo, as Petrucci had 17 carries for 130 yards and four TDs, while Layhue produced 10 attempts for 102 yard and three scores. On the year, Petrucci has contributed 1,340 yards rushing and 22 scores, while Layhue has passed for 337 yards, with two TDs and two interceptions, and he’s rushed for 744 yards and compiled 22 touchdowns. Lee Qualk has added a dozen TDs. Winners of seven straight, the Trojans have scored 44 or more points in each of those victories, and they hold a 473-99 scoring margin for the year. Ed Woods is the veteran coach for California Area.

About the Matchup: The winning team moves to the quarterfinals, and will face either third-seeded Bishop Canevin or No. 14 Leechburg.

No. 8 Franklin Regional (6-4, 3-2) at No. 1 Peters Twp. (10-0, 5-0) – 7 p.m. (5A Quarterfinals)

About the Panthers: Franklin Regional fell at home to Penn-Trafford 27-14 in the Class 5A Big East Conference showdown one week ago. The Panthers, who dropped to 3-2, secured a postseason berth as a wild card. Jude Gentille scored a rushing touchdown for FR, while Jack Silvis returned a blocked punt for a score. On the year, Kyle Dupill has compiled 172 carries for 1,165 yards and 15 total touchdowns. Signalcaller Chase Lemke has connected on 74-of-139 passes for 1,193 yards, with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while Ayden Hudock has caught 39 passes for 722 yards, scoring a dozen times. After a four-game winning streak, the Panthers have dropped their past two tilts. FR has scored 300 points this year, the most among teams in the conference.

About the Indians: Peters Township exploded offensively in a 68-28 win at home against Bethel Park last week in Allegheny Six Conference action. Vinny Sarcone had a robust effort, rushing 22 times for 110 yards and four touchdowns. Preston Blair also found the end zone twice, as he produced 11 carries for 100 yards. Quarterback Nolan DiLucia hit on 15-of-24 passes for 295 yards and two scores, while also rushing for a touchdown. For the campaign, DiLucia has thrown for 1,935 yards, with 17 touchdowns and six picks, and he’s added 322 yards rushing. Sarcone has registered 122 carries for 526 yards and four TDs. Carter Shanafelt has caught 30 passes for 350 yards, scoring nine touchdowns, while adding four field goals and 44 extra points. The Indians have permitted seven or fewer points eight times this year, including four shutouts, and their 6.5 points against average is the best mark in the WPIAL. Coach TJ Plack is at the helm of Peters.

About the Matchup: The victor advances to the semifinals to battle either fourth-seeded Gateway or No. 5 Moon Area.

No. 9 Greater Latrobe (7-3, 4-2) at No. 8 West Allegheny (6-4, 4-3) – 7 p.m. (4A First Round)

About the Wildcats: Greater Latrobe rolled to a 42-7 win at Butler Area in a nonconference matchup last week. Wildcats quarterback John Wetzel had 11 carries for 137 yards rushing and a touchdown, and he added a fumble recovery score that spanned 50 yards. Alex Tatsch and Brady Prohovic each scored a pair of rushing touchdowns, as Tatsch had six carries for 39 yards, and Prohovic notched six carries for 38 yards. On the year, Wetzel has connected on 72-of-109 throws for 1,175 yards, with 14 TDs and just two interceptions, and he’s mustered 117 carries for 793 yards, scoring 13 total touchdowns. Ja’Tawn Williams is the top receiver, with 32 receptions for 712 yards, along with a team-best 14 touchdowns. The Wildcats have outscored their foes 321-180.

About the Indians: West Allegheny was overmatched in a 49-17 loss at Montour last week in Parkway Conference play. Brock Cornell accounted for both scores, as he completed 3-of-5 passes for 63 yards and an interception, but carried 17 times for 114 yards and two TDs. For the season, Cornell has split time at QB with Brody Malatak, as Cornell has produced 366 yards and four scores through the air, while Malatak has thrown for 248 yards and one touchdown. Cornell has been the catalyst in the rushing attack, though, achieving 1,009 yards on 134 yards, and he’s scored a team-best 17 TDs. Roman Police has added 83 carries for 443 yards and 11 scores. In their six victories, the Indians have permitted a combined 35 points. Dave Schoppe patrols the sidelines for West A.

About the Matchup: The winning team moves on to the quarterfinals, and will play No. 1 seed Aliquippa, which received a first-round bye.

No. 11 Kiski Area (5-5, 3-3) at No. 6 Thomas Jefferson (8-2, 4-2) – 7 p.m. (4A First Round)

About the Cavaliers: Kiski Area scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, and the Cavaliers held off a late rally to edge Armstrong 42-34 last week, claiming a playoff berth. Host Kiski Area improved to 3-3 in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference. Terry “Bart” Martin compiled 136 yards receiving, while Landon Kucic notched 136 yards rushing and two scores for the Cavs. In 2023, QB Carson Heinle has connected on 116-of-204 passes for 1,585 yards, with 17 TDs and four interceptions, and he’s added 468 yards rushing. Three receivers have topped 350 yards, with Isaiah Gonzalez leading the way with 34 catches for 538 yards. Kucic leads the ground game, as he’s rushed 182 times for 826 yards, scoring a team-best 11 touchdowns. Despite winning three straight, the Cavs have been outscored 289-238 on the season.

About the Jaguars: Thomas Jefferson fell at home to McKeesport Area 28-7 last week in the Big Seven Conference. In the setback, Sean Sullivan caught six passes for 111 yards and the only touchdown. Brody Evans threw for 110 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions, while Luke Kosko added 79 yards through the air, along with a pick. On the campaign, Sullivan has amassed 42 catches for 802 yards and nine TDs, while Jason Salman has achieved 37 receptions for 644 yards, also finding paydirt nine times. Elias Lippencott and Michael Banda have been equally effective in the rushing attack, with Lippencott rushing 85 times for 469 yards, scoring a team-high 11 TDs, while Banda has 85 attempts for 449 yards and eight scores. TJ has outscored its opponents 385-114, averaging a conference-best 38.5 points per game. Legendary coach Bill Cherpak oversees the Thomas Jefferson program.

About the Matchup: The winning team advances to the quarterfinals to face third seed Montour, which secured a first-round bye.

No. 9 Southmoreland (6-4, 3-2) at No. 8 Deer Lakes (7-3, 3-2) – 7 p.m. (3A First Round)

About the Scotties: Da’sjon Craggette had a record-setting performance in carrying Southmoreland to a 40-3 win at Mount Pleasant Area in a Class 3A Interstate Conference showdown. Craggette rushed 22 times for 334 yards, a school record, and scored four times, including runs of 80 and 92 yards for the Scotties. Ty Keffer also caught a 21-yard TD pass from Kadin Keefer. On the campaign, Craggette has rushed 161 times for 1,329 yards, scoring 18 touchdowns. Keefer has completed 81-of-157 passes for 1,197 yards, with a dozen touchdowns and nine interceptions. Additionally, Keffer has posted 46 receptions for 796 yards, scoring nine times. Kicker Jake Kaylor has booted six field goals. The Scotties have outscored their foes 272-201.

About the Lancers: Deer Lakes blanked Freeport Area 35-0 last week in the Allegheny Six Conference. Quarterback Derek Burk had a big performance in the win, as he hit on 11-of-17 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing six times for 65 yards. Zier Williams compiled 14 carries for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns. For the season, Burk has thrown for 1,793 yards, with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he has amassed 450 yards as a rusher. Williams has produced 1,006 yards rushing a team-best 11 TDs. Wayne Love leads Deer Lakes with 33 catches for 649 yards, while Ryan Cochran and Zach Grant have provided 27 catches for 414 yards and 26 grabs for 451 yards, respectively. The Lancers boast a scoring margin of 309-148. Tim Burk is the head coach for Deer Lakes.

About the Matchup: The winner advances to the quarterfinals, and will play top-seeded Belle Vernon Area, which garnered a first-round bye. The teams met in a nonconference clash earlier this season, with the Lancers prevailing 24-7 at Southmoreland.

No. 11 Mount Pleasant Area (6-4, 2-3) at No. 6 West Mifflin Area (6-4, 5-1) – 7 p.m. (3A First Round)

About the Vikings: Host Mount Pleasant Area was stunned by Southmoreland 40-3 in a Class 3A Interstate Conference matchup last week. Jarrett Garn’s 32-yard field goal accounted for the only points for the Vikings. Cole Chatfield was 5-of-12 for 69 yards and an interception for Mount Pleasant Area. For the season, Chatfield has gone 52-of-103 passing for 1,069 yards, with a dozen touchdowns and six interceptions. Dante Giallonardo leads the Vikes with 544 yards rushing, and he ranks second with 306 yards receiving on a dozen catches. Luke Nicotera has compiled 19 receptions for 334 yards. Brody Hutter, Garrett Eicher, Jackson Hutter, and Brady Poole have each surpassed 300 yards rushing. Losers of three of their past four, the Vikings have been narrowly outscored 268-262 on the campaign.

About the Titans: West Mifflin Area cruised to a 35-0 win at South Park last week to conclude Western Hills Conference play. Armand Hill continued his torrid stretch, as he rushed 27 times for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Darnell Carswell and Jose Perez also found the end zone for the Titans. On the year, Hill, a freshman, has scored 14 times. Riding a four-game surge, the Titans have outscored opponents 278-190 on the season. Veteran head coach Rod Steele patrols the sidelines for West Mifflin.

About the Matchup: The team that prevails will face No. 3 seed Elizabeth Forward in the quarterfinals, as the Warriors gained a first-round bye.

No. 12 Burrell (4-6, 3-4) at No. 5 Mohawk (8-2, 6-1) – 7 p.m. (2A First Round)

About the Buccaneers: Burrell could not contain Karter Schrock, who surpassed 200 yards through the air and 200 on the ground in propelling Apollo-Ridge to a 37-33 win at home against the Buccaneers in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference last week. Burrell dropped to 3-4 in the conference. Stephen Hasson passed for 141 yards and two scores in the setback for the Bucs, while Devin Beattie rushed for 60 yards and a TD. For the 2023 campaign, Beattie has 239 carries for 1,140 yards, scoring 11 touchdowns. Hasson has completed 20-of-58 attempts for 349 yards, with three TDs and two interceptions. Entering the playoffs on a three-game skid, the Bucs have been outpaced 239-189 this year.

About the Warriors: Mohawk came up just short last week at Neshannock, falling 13-7 in the Midwestern Conference. Bobby Fadden accounted for the only touchdown for the Warriors, while QB Jay Wrona was 6-of-12 passing for 67 yards and two picks. On the year, Wrona is 113-for-193 through the air, amassing 1,875 yards, with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Justin Boston anchors the rushing game, with 166 carries for 793 yards, and he’s added 219 yards receiving. Bobby Fadden leads Mohawk with 36 receptions, 604 receiving yards, and 15 total touchdowns. The setback last week snapped Mohawk’s eight-game winning streak. The Warriors have outscored their adversaries by a margin of 335-140. Tim McCutcheon serves as the head coach for Mohawk.

About the Matchup: The winner advances to the quarterfinals, and will play either fourth-seed Imani Christian Academy or No. 13 Waynesburg Central. Last year, Burrell’s playoff game came against another Midwestern Conference team – Neshannock.

No. 9 West Greene (8-2, 6-1) vs No. 8 Greensburg CC (7-3, 5-1) – 7 p.m. at Plum H.S. (1A First Round)

About the Pioneers: West Greene ran past homestanding Mapletown 45-19 last week in the finale of Tri-County South Conference play. Billy Whitlach had a big performance, as he posted 15 carries for 172 yards and three touchdowns. QB Lane Allison completed 6-of-13 passes for 111 yards and a pair of TDs. For the season, Whitlach has formed a one-two punch with Colin Brady. Whitlach has 124 carries for 1,223 yards, scoring 13 total TDs, while Brady had 110 attempts for 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns. John Lampe has added 13 scores, too, while Allison has accumulated 814 yards and 16 scores through the air. The Pioneers have captured three wins in a row, and they hold a scoring margin of 366-228. Beau Jackson is the first-year head coach for West Greene.

About the Centurions: Samir Crosby scored three different ways in leading Greensburg Central Catholic to a lopsided 42-7 win at Leechburg in a Class 1A Eastern Conference clash one week ago. Crosby returned a kickoff and a punt each for touchdowns, and he added a rushing score for the Centurions. Quarterback Tyree Turner threw a touchdown pass, rushed for another, and intercepted two passes on defense. Jackson McMullen and Aiden Allison also found paydirt for GCC. With the win, the Centurions claimed second place from the conference. For the season, Turner has completed 74-of-135 passes for 1,249 yards, with 14 touchdowns and just one interception, and he leads GCC with 600 yards on the ground, scoring a dozen times. Crosby had produced 51 carries for 533 yards on the ground, 27 receptions for 493 yards, and a team-high 15 scores. Landon Honick and Peter Mazowiecki have recorded 15 and 13 receptions, respectively. Winners of four in a row, the Centurions boast a scoring margin of 322-216.

About the Matchup: The winner of the contest will move on to the quarterfinals to battle either No. 1 South Side Beaver or No. 16 Monessen. The squads battled in a nonconference tilt earlier this year, with GCC scoring a 48-30 win on the road.