Westmoreland County High School Football WPIAL Playoff Preview

Greater Latrobe, Belle Vernon & Ligonier Valley look to advance in the postseason

Fri Nov 11, 2022 - 12:55AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Haden Sierocky leads Ligonier Valley into its WPIAL 2A quarterfinal game at Beaver Falls.Haden Sierocky leads Ligonier Valley into its WPIAL 2A quarterfinal game at Beaver Falls.

Last Updated: Fri Nov 11, 2022 - 5:51PM

After the first week of the WPIAL football playoffs, only three Westmoreland County teams remain. A week ago, the seasons concluded for Franklin Regional, Penn-Trafford, Mount Pleasant Area, Southmoreland, Burrell, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, and Monessen. As a result, only Greater Latrobe, Belle Vernon Area, and Ligonier Valley still have championship aspirations. Here’s a detailed examination of their contests in the quarterfinals.

WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals: #11 Greater Latrobe (7-4, 3-3) at #3 Thomas Jefferson (7-3, 5-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: Keyed by a pair of Robby Fulton touchdown runs, the second of which came in overtime, Greater Latrobe upset host Highlands 28-21 in the Class 4A first round last week. Fulton’s 7-yard score gave the No. 11 Wildcats the lead in OT, and Ja’Tawn Williams intercepted a pass to secure the first playoff win for Greater Latrobe in more than 50 years. The Wildcats also received a pair of TD passes from John Wetzel, as he hit Corey Boerio on a 14-yard pass and hooked up with Connor Lakin on a 7-yard strike. Wetzel finished 5-of-7 passing with 47 yards, adding 71 yards on the ground, while Fulton compared 74 yards on 15 carries. For the season, Fulton has rushed 194 times for 1,527 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. Wetzel, meanwhile, has passed for 809 yards, with 10 TDs and six interceptions, while he’s added 505 yards rushing and six scores. Kollin Stevens paces the Wildcats with 223 yards receiving, while Corey Boerio has posted team-highs with 13 catches and five receiving scores. Greater Latrobe has outscored its opponents 319-231.

About the Jaguars: Thomas Jefferson received a bye to the quarterfinals, but the Jaguars notched a trademark victory at McKeesport Area 20-10 in the regular-season finale. In that contest, QB Brody Evans and receiver Sean Sullivan connected for a pair of long touchdowns, as Evans hit on 10-of-20 passes for 176 yards, while Sullivan hauled in five passes for 137 yards. Additionally, Wisconsin commit Jordan Mayer notched a defensive score on a fumble recovery. On the season, Evans has completed 134-of-221 attempts for 1,857 yards, with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Sullivan has recorded a team-best 43 catches for 827 yards and 11 scores, while Elias Lippencott has amassed 141 carries for 721 yards and nine total TDs. During their four-game winning streak, TJ has permitted just 20 total points, including a pair of shutouts. Bill Cherpak is the legendary head coach of Thomas Jefferson.

About the Matchup: As opponents in the Big Seven Conference, Thomas Jefferson prevailed at home 31-21 in the conference opener on Sept. 16. The winner advances to the semifinals, and will face either No. 2 Central Valley or seventh-seeded Laurel Highlands.

WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals: #9 East Allegheny (8-3, 3-2) at #1 Belle Vernon Area (7-2, 5-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: East Allegheny edged host Mount Pleasant Area 42-39 in the Class 3A first round a week ago. Wildcats QB Michael Cahill produced a special performance, as he rushed 21 times for 155 yards and five touchdowns, and hit on 13-of-19 passes for 142 yards and another score. On the season, EA has outscored its adversaries 308-253. Dom Pecora is the head coach for East Allegheny.

About the Leopards: As the top seed in the Class 3A field, Belle Vernon Area earned a bye last week. In the final game of the regular season, BVA turned in a dominant showing in a battle for first place, as the Leopards rolled to a 48-14 win at Elizabeth Forward in the Class 3A Interstate Conference. Quinton Martin scored five TDs, rushing nine times for 174 yards, and added two receptions for 63 yards. QB Brayden Laux amassed 104 yards passing and three TDs in the victory. On the campaign, Martin has rushed 78 times for 786 yards, caught 18 passes for 273 yards, and scored 21 total touchdowns. Jake Gedekoh has been impressive in the running game, too, with 47 carries for 425 yards and 12 total scores. Laux has thrown for 764 yards, with eight touchdowns and four picks. On average, BVA has outscored its foes 37.0-9.2, and have not allowed more than 20 points in a game this season, while scoring 48 or more points in five straight tilts.

About the Matchup: The teams have not met since prior to 2003. The victorious team advances to the semifinals, and will battle either No. 4 Freeport Area or fifth-seeded West Mifflin Area.

WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals: #7 Ligonier Valley (8-3, 5-2) at #2 Beaver Falls (9-1, 7-0) – 7 p.m. at Geneva College

About the Rams: Haden Sierocky accounted for all four touchdowns in leading Ligonier Valley to a 27-20 victory against Western Beaver at Offutt Field in the Class 2A first round last week, the first WPIAL playoff win in Rams’ history. The No. 7 Rams received a monster performance from Sierocky, who rushed 25 times for 200 yards. Additionally, Ligonier Valley’s defense recorded three interceptions and five sacks. On the campaign, Sierocky has compiled 148 attempts for 1,231 yards on the ground, caught 29 passes for 383 yards, and has found the end zone 20 times. Additionally, John Jablunovsky has posted 63 carries for 746 yards, scoring eight total TDs. Quarterback Broderick Schreyer has hit 52-of-97 passes for 765 yards, with a dozen touchdowns and five interceptions. Ligonier Valley has outpaced its opponents by a margin of 340-205 this season.

About the Tigers: Finishing the regular season on an eight-game winning streak, Beaver Falls secured a bye into the quarterfinals. A couple of weeks ago, the Tigers smashed Western Beaver 44-8. Quarterback Jaren Brickner accounted for three rushing scores, while Trey Singleton added two more. Brickner compiled 79 yards rushing on seven attempts, while hitting 3-of-4 passes for 100 yards. Singleton posted six carries for 134 yards, while he added two receptions for 71 yards. On the season, Brickner had passed for 1,492 yards and 11 TDs, while he’s rushed for 634 yards and 14 scores. Brixx Rawl and Drey Hall have also each surpassed 300 yards on the ground. Singleton paces the Tigers receivers with 28 grabs for 917 yards, and has found paydirt 13 times. Beaver Falls has not surrendered more than 19 points in a game this season, and the Tigers boast a scoring margin of 362-82. Coach Nick Nardone is at the helm of Beaver Falls.

About the Matchup: Although the teams have not met since Ligonier Valley’s return to the WPIAL, all three of the Rams’ playoff opponents have been from Beaver County. The winning team advances to the semifinals to play either third-seeded Sto Rox or No. 6 Keystone Oaks.