Westmoreland County High School Football Week Three Preview

Belle Vernon clashes with Penn-Trafford; Franklin Regional welcomes Gateway; Burrell heads to Serra Catholic

Fri Sep 16, 2022 - 12:51AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Fri Sep 16, 2022 - 2:12AM

While a handful of teams previously started conference play, the conference ledger starts in earnest this week for the majority of Westmoreland County teams. Additionally, there are several juicy nonconference clashes involving local teams, including a couple of all-Westmoreland battles. Here’s a detailed examination of all of the games involving local teams in Week Three of the WPIAL football season.

Penn-Trafford (2-1, 0-0) at Belle Vernon Area (1-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Sean Meyers and John Bainbridge

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford rolled to a 48-14 win at home against Woodland Hills last week, playing the entire second half with a running clock. PT quarterback Conlan Greene factored into three touchdowns, as he was 7-of-10 passing for 117 yards and a score, while he rushed eight times for 54 yards and a pair of TDs. Daniel Tarabrella registered three catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, while Tasso Whipple compiled 71 yards rushing and a score on seven attempts. Jacob Otto and Parker Guy also scored offensively, while Nolan Marasti added an interception return touchdown on the final play of the first half. For the season, Greene is 43-of-78 passing for 569 yards, with four touchdowns and four picks, and he’s amassed 140 yards and three scores on the ground. Linebacker Dom Smith paces the Warriors with 18 tackles.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon Area fell on the road to McKeesport Area 14-6 last week. The Leopards struggled offensively, with the only score coming on a 93-yard connection from Braden Laux to Chase Ruokonen in the fourth quarter. Laux was 8-of-14 for 118 yards and a score, but was intercepted three times. Ruokonen, meanwhile, caught four passes for 100 yards. Junior Quinton Martin was limited to just eight carries for 29 yards. Tanner Moody led BVA with eight tackles, while Aiden Johnson had seven stops and a sack. In two games this season, Martin has 97 yards rushing and paces the Leopards with three scores, while Laux has added two scores on the ground and ranks second on BVA with 66 yards rushing.

About the Matchup: Penn-Trafford plays in the Class 5A Big East Conference, while the Belle Vernon Area resides in the 3A Interstate Conference. In 2021 both teams played for WPIAL titles at Heinz Field. The first meeting between the schools took place last year, with the Leopards winning at home 27-7.

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

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

WSN Broadcasters: Jonathan Whaley

About the Gators: Gateway edged North Hills 20-17 last week, with the decisive points coming late in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard field goal by Coke Plaskon. Gators’ QB Brad Birch hit 13-of-27 passes for just 61 yards and an interception. Jaquon Reynolds rushed 19 times for 84 yards and the only offensive TD, along with six catches for 24 yards, while Anez Jordan contributed 78 yards rushing. Leonard Sherrod had a 54-yard interception return. For the season, Birch has hit on 52-of-88 passes for 496 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. Dallas Harper paces the team in both receptions and touchdowns. Gateway has scored 20 or 21 points in each of its first three games, but has allowed just 23 points total. Head coach Don Holl guides Gateway.

About the Panthers: After dropping a heartbreaker in double overtime to open the season, Franklin Regional rebounded with a decisive 40-0 triumph at Connellsville Area last week. QB Roman Sarnic was 7-of-13 passing for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed eight times for 100 yards and two more scores. Zach Bewszka anchored the rushing attack, though, compiling 194 yards and a TD on 17 attempts. Ayden Hudock caught four passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to posting a shutout, the Panthers’ defense also recorded a safety. On the campaign, Sarnic has accounted for seven total scores – three passing, and four rushing.

About the Matchup: The game marks the opener for both squads in the Class 5A Big East Conference. Last year, Gateway prevailed 56-9. The Panthers last won head-to-head in 2016, a 24-19 victory.

Derry Area (0-3, 0-0) at Yough (1-2, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Trojans: Derry Area fell at home to Southmoreland 28-14 last week. In the defeat, QB Blake Revoir was 11-of-25 for 175 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and he posted a team-best 77 yards rushing on 10 attempts. Demauri Robinson paced DA receivers with four catches for 103 yards and two scores. Derry Area’s losing streak has reached 12 games. A year ago, the Trojans allowed 32 points or more in every game, while DA held Greensburg Salem and Southmoreland to 26 and 28 points, respectively, this season.

About the Cougars: Yough notched a 14-0 win at home against Charleroi last week, earning head coach Benny Hoffer his first victory at the helm of the program. Receiver-turned-quarterback Gavin Roebuck accounted for both scores, as he rushed 18 times for 81 yards. JJ Waller, meanwhile, compiled 14 carries for 70 yards, and Blake Ulander caught a pair of passes for 25 yards. For the season, the Cougars have been limited to four touchdowns, all of which have been scored by Roebuck. He has rushed 44 times for 264 yards, while adding 82 yards passing.

About the Matchup: After both teams competed in Class 3A a year ago, they commence Class 2A Allegheny Conference play in this contest. The Trojans and Cougars last met as conference opponents in 2019, as Derry Area cruised to a 42-6 win.

Frazier (0-3, 0-0) at Jeannette (0-3, 0-0) - 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Brent Whigham and Anthony DeNunzio

About the Commodores: Frazier was overwhelmed for the third week in a row, falling at home to Monessen 42-6 last week. To this point, the Commodores have been outscored 156-27, and have allowed 42 or more points in each tilt. Coach Mike Shannon is at the helm of Frazier.

About the Jayhawks: Jeannette suffered a heartbreaking 27-26 loss in overtime at Jefferson-Morgan last week. The Jayhawks split snaps at quarterback, as Payton Molter was 5-of-11 passing for 87 yards, while Kymone Brown was 6-of-11 for 66 yards. Molter was a force as a rusher, too, as he registered 16 attempts for 102 yards and three scores. Noah Sanders caught six passes for 127 yards, and his 23 grabs ranks second in the WPIAL. For the season, Molter leads the squad with four touchdowns on the ground, while also throwing for 311 yards and two scores. Michael Mason ranks second on Jeannette in both receiving and rushing yards.

About the Matchup: The game marks the lid-lifter for the teams in Class 1A Eastern Conference action. The teams have not met since prior to 2003.

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

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

WSN Broadcasters: Jack Ridenour and Roger Downs

About the Spartans: Hempfield Area continued its early-season dominance with a 49-14 win on the road against Greater Latrobe a week ago. The Spartans broke a 14-14 tie in the second quarter, scoring the final 35 points of the contest. Signalcaller Jake Phillips hit on 14-of-20 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns, along with one interception, and he rushed for 52 yards, as well. Gino Caesar was the catalyst in the rushing game, though, as he amassed 139 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries, while Eli Binakonsky added two rushing TDs and also led the team in tackles. Ian Tuffs paced the Hempfield receivers with seven receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Phillips has passed for 695 yards and five scores, while rushing for 172 yards. Caesar has compiled 392 yards rushing and 11 total touchdowns, which is tied for second in the WPIAL, while Tuffs has 11 grabs for 249 yards. Hempfield Area has outscored its adversaries 147-17.

About the Titans: Shaler Area notched a convincing road win at Plum 47-14 last week. Luke Cignetti had a game for the history books, as he rushed 21 times for 283 yards and five touchdowns. Titans’ QB Keegan Smetanka was effective, as well, converting 10-of-18 passes for 120 yards and two scores, while Joey DeSabato caught five passes for 64 yards and a TD. For the campaign, Cignetti has rushed 49 times for 580 yards and scored 11 touchdowns, ranking in the top five in the WPIAL in both rushing yards and TDs. Jim Ryan serves as the head coach for Shaler Area.

About the Matchup: It’s a 5A nonconference clash, as the Spartans play in the Big East Conference, while the Titans call the Northeast Conference home. The most recent meeting took place in 2011, as the Titans reigned supreme 34-13.

Norwin (1-2, 0-0) at Plum (2-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Dave Franczak and Tim McCabe

About the Knights: Norwin captured its first win last week, besting Fox Chapel Area 27-13. The host Knights outscored the Foxes 21-7 in the second half. Jackson Pons was crucial to the victory, as he caught five passes for 101 yards and two scores, including a heave on the final play of the first half. QB Tristyn Tavares was 9-of-20 for 168 yards and two scores, while Christian Beck rushed for 44 yards and found the end zone. For the campaign, Pons has 14 grabs for 260 yards and four scores, all of which pace the Knights.

About the Mustangs: Plum was overwhelmed at home by Shaler Area last week, 47-14. Eryck Moore rushed 10 times for 59 yards and a touchdown, but QB Sean Franzi was just 6-of-13 for 29 yards and two interceptions. For the season, Moore has amassed 302 rushing yards and four scores, while Nick Odom has 21 carries for 228 yards and a team-best five touchdowns. Matt Morgan is the longtime head coach of the Mustangs.

About the Matchup: After Norwin dropped from 6A and Plum moved up from 4A from a year ago, the teams will kick off the Class 5A Big East Conference ledger. The last meeting took place as conference foes in 2015, with Plum rolling to a 33-0 triumph.

Greater Latrobe (2-1, 0-0) at Thomas Jefferson (2-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: Greater Latrobe tasted defeat for the first time in 2022, courtesy of a 49-14 loss at home to Hempfield Area last week. Robby Fulton, who went over 200 yards in each of the first two games, was limited to 13 carries for 43 yards, but he did throw a score to Corey Boerio. The other Greater Latrobe touchdown came on an 83-yard kickoff return by Kollin Stevens to begin the game. For the season, Fulton has rushed 56 times for 506 yards and scored nine touchdowns, while quarterback John Wetzel is just 6-of-14 for 80 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception.

About the Jaguars: Thomas Jefferson blanked West Mifflin 38-0 last week. In that win, Brody Evans was 13-of-20 passing for 214 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. His favorite target was Sean Sullivan, who snagged five passes for 117 yards and two scores, while Lucas Sallinger added six catches for 71 yards and a TD. Elias Lippencott notched 15 carries for 105 yards, and John Janusek added an interception return touchdown to cap the strong effort by the Jags’ defense. Thomas Jefferson’s season-opening loss came against Millville, New Jersey as part of the Battle at the Beach event. Bill Cherpak, who has won a record nine WPIAL titles as head coach, continues to guide TJ.

About the Matchup: This contest marks the opening of the Class 4A Big Seven Conference slate. The squads have not met since prior to the 2003 campaign.

Hampton (1-2, 0-0) at Kiski Area (0-3, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Talbots: Hampton was smacked by Central Valley 48-9 last week. Evan McAnemy scored the lone TD for the Talbots, while QB Joey Mayer was 10-of-18 for 55 yards and one interception. For the season, Mayer is 23-of-36 for 395 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions, while Brock Borgo leads the rushing attack with 286 yards. Eric Weeks paces the Talbots with four touchdowns. Steve Sciullo, who formerly guided Deer Lakes, is in his first season at the helm of Hampton.

About the Cavaliers: Kiski Area fell at Laurel Highlands 37-7 last week. DeShawn McBryde rushed 12 times for 59 yards and scored the only touchdown, while Connor Flemm added 47 yards on the ground. Quarterback Lebryn Smith hit on just three passes for 15 yards, two of which went to Dominick Simmons. The Cavs have allowed between 33 and 37 points in each game, while scoring just 21 points combined through three contests.

About the Matchup: This represents the first Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference action, as the Cavs dropped from 5A from a year ago. The teams last battled in 2019 as conference opponents, a 21-17 Kiski Area victory.

Burrell (3-0, 0-0) at Serra Catholic (2-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Buccaneers: Burrell remained unblemished with a 30-27 victory against rival Valley, the second-consecutive thriller that went in favor of the Bucs. Against the Vikings, Ryan Croushore kicked the winning 31-yard field goal in the final minutes. Devin Beattie rushed 29 times for 130 yards and two scores, while Chase Fenner also scored twice. For the season, Beattie has amassed 396 yards on the ground, while Fenner has posted a team-leading six rushing scores, while just completing 2-of-4 passing attempts for 38 yards.

About the Eagles: Serra Catholic edged Washington 35-34 last week, denying the Prexies on a late two-point conversion attempt. Michael Schanck rushed 12 times for 93 yards and two TDs, while Quadir Stribling was 11-of-18 passing for 185 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Amire Spencer caught six passes for 126 yards and a score, while Elijah Ward hauled in seven passes for 102 yards. For the season, Ward has passed for 338 yards, compiled 220 receiving yards, and rushed for 118 yards. Jose Regus is the head coach of the reigning WPIAL 2A champ Eagles.

About the Matchup: After dropping from Class 3A, Burrell begins its 2A Allegheny Conference ledger. The teams have not battled since prior to 2003.

Ligonier Valley (2-1, 0-0) at Apollo-Ridge (2-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley suffered a rare home loss, 35-28, last week against Greensburg Salem. Haden Sierocky produced a spectacular effort, as he rushed 12 times for 165 yards and two scores, and caught three passes for 86 yards. John Jablunovsky was also outstanding on the ground, as he toted the ball six times for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Broderick Schreyer was 6-of-16 for 136 yards, but had four interceptions. For the campaign, Sierocky has accumulated 303 yards rushing and 156 yards receiving, along with seven scores, all team highs.

About the Vikings: Apollo-Ridge was overmatched in a 43-7 loss to Deer Lakes a week ago. Dom Curci accounted for the only touchdown for AR, as he rushed 18 times for 118 yards. Playing in place of injured starting quarterback Karter Schrock, Gage Johnston struggled, hitting on 4-of-17 passes for 34 yards and two interceptions. For the season, Curci has 68 carries for 567 yards and seven touchdowns. Coach John Skiba is at the helm of Apollo-Ridge.

About the Matchup: This serves as the lid-lifter for the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. In their first game back in the WPIAL in 2020, the Rams dropped a 44-7 outcome at Apollo-Ridge. Last year, though, the Rams rolled 48-22. The game will be played at Owens Field in Apollo.

Monessen (1-2, 0-0) at Bentworth (2-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Greyhounds: Monessen earned its first win in emphatic fashion last week, smashing Frazier 42-6. For the season, Daevon Burke leads the Greyhounds with 29 rushes for 203 yards, and his three touchdowns tie with Tim Kershaw for the team lead. Daniel Dozer and Lorenzo Gardner have each taken significant snaps at QB, with Dozer leading the way with 206 yards through the air.

About the Bearcats: Bentworth was on the wrong side of a 56-0 blowout to Leechburg last week. Benjamin Hays produced a team-best 46 yards rushing in the loss. For the season, QB Vitali Daniels has thrown for 170 yards and two scores, and rushed for a team-leading 213 yards and six touchdowns. J.J. Knabb is the head coach for the Bearcats.

Mount Pleasant Area (2-1, 0-0) at Valley (0-3, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Mount Pleasant Vikings: Mount Pleasant Area exploded offensively in a 50-28 win at home against McGuffey last week. Robbie Labuda rushed 17 times for 165 yards and two scores, while Lane Golkosky contributed 150 yards and a score on nine carries. Dante Giallonardo made the most of his two carries, as he took both for touchdowns. Quarterback Cole Chatfield was 7-of-14 passing for 176 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His favorite target was Tyler Reese, who returned to action with four catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Labuda has 43 attempts for 553 yards and nine scores, while Golkosky has rushed for 225 yards. The Vikings are averaging 40 points per game.

About the Valley Vikings: Valley suffered a heartbreaking home loss to Burrell 30-27 last week. The Vikings scored 13 unanswered points to pull even in the fourth before a late field goal proved the difference. Signalcaller Tristin Goodwin was 8-of-17 for 79 yards and two touchdowns, Darnell Coaston had three catches for 44 yards and a score, and Xavier Wilson produced four receptions for 34 yards and a TD. Valley has permitted 30 or more points in each contest.

About the Matchup: Both teams reside in Class 3A, as Mount Pleasant is in the Interstate Conference, while Valley competes in the Allegheny Six Conference. The most recent battle of the Vikings occurred in 2013 in the WPIAL AA first round playoffs, a 48-14 Mount Pleasant Area win.

Deer Lakes (1-2, 0-0) at Greensburg Salem (2-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Lancers: The Lancers got their first win by lopsided fashion, ousting Apollo-Ridge 43-7 a week ago. The host Lancers received a splendid showing from QB Derek Burk, who was 7-of-14 for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Wayne Love was his top target, as he hauled in four passes for 186 yards and three TDs. Zier Williams paced the rushing attack with 81 yards, while Ryan Cochran added a touchdown. On the season, Burk has thrown for 448 yards and six touchdowns, and rushed for 120 yards and three scores on the ground. Coach Tim Burk is at the helm of the Lancers.

About the Golden Lions: Staked to a sizeable first-half lead, Greensburg Salem held on to edge homestanding Ligonier Valley 35-28 a week ago. Cody Rubrecht again was the catalyst, as the GS quarterback hit on 9-of-16 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, while rushing 18 times for 126 yards and two scores. Kai Bruno registered 16 carries for 70 yards and a score, and Christian Hostetler caught three passes for 83 yards and found the end zone. In 2022, Rubrecht has passed for 354 yards and rushed for 339 yards.

About the Matchup: This is a Class 3A nonconference tilt, as the Lancers play in the Allegheny Six, while the Golden Lions hail from the Interstate. The teams have not met since 2003.

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

About the Knights: Knoch dropped a 44-6 outcome at home against Beaver Falls one week ago. Sam Skurka posted the only TD, and he rushed 14 times for 60 yards. Quarterback Codi Mullen was 15-of-35 for 186 yards and an interception, while Jake Murphy caught seven passes for 113 yards. Tim Burchett is in his first season guiding Knoch.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland doubled up host Derry Area 28-14 last week, earning head coach Tim Bukowski his first W. In the triumph, Trey Whetsel rushed 10 times for 59 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Kadin Keefer completed 10-of-15 attempts for 154 yards and scored a rushing touchdown, while Caden Matthews threw a TD pass to Wyatt Richter. Ty Keffer posted five catches for 102 yards. For the season, Keffer and Whetsel are tied for the team lead with three touchdowns.

About the Matchup: It’s a cross-conference matchup in Class 3A, with the Knights from the Allegheny Six, and the Scotties in the Interstate. The teams have not squared off since prior to 2003.

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

About the Centurions: Greensburg Central Catholic posted an eye-opening first quarter, as the Centurions scored 36 points en route to a 57-21 win against West Greene. QB Tyree Turner orchestrated the offense, as he hit on 11-of-13 passes for 205 yards and four touchdowns. Samir Crosby rushed eight times for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and he added a receiving score. Amari Mack also flashed, as he posted four receptions for 74 yards and two scores, while Nate Dlugos hauled in four passes for 95 yards. Additionally, Da’sjon Craggette rushed seven times for 119 yards and a TD. Ryan Kimmel and Jaydin Canady also found paydirt for GCC. For the season, five different players have scored multiple touchdowns, with Craggette’s four leading the way.

About the Little Prexies: Washington suffered a narrow defeat, 35-34, to Serra Catholic last week. Wash High attempted a two-point conversion to take the lead in the final minutes, but was denied. Eddie Lewis boosted the offense, as he rushed 26 times for 208 yards and three scores. Logan Carlisle was just 5-of-12 passing for 17 yards, but he contributed a rushing touchdown, as did Ruben Gordon. Washington is averaging 45.3 points per game. Mike Bosnic is the head man for the Little Prexies.

About the Matchup: Greensburg Central Catholic plays in the Class 1A Eastern Conference, while Washington resides in the 2A Century Conference. The teams last squared off in the season opener in 2013, as the Little Prexies prevailed 26-14.