Westmoreland County High School Football Week Seven Preview

Hempfield Area battles Franklin Regional; Penn-Trafford hosts Plum; GCC hosts Jeannette

Fri Oct 14, 2022 - 8:34AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Fri Oct 14, 2022 - 2:55AM

With just three weeks remaining in the WPIAL football regular season, the stretch run has arrived. While several teams have already clinched playoff berths, no Westmoreland County squads have punched their ticket to the postseason yet. That could change on Friday night, however, especially with four all-Westmoreland showdowns that have major implications. Here’s a closer examination of every matchup involving Westmoreland County teams in Week Seven.

Hempfield Area (5-2, 1-1) at Franklin Regional (4-2, 3-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcaster: Jonathan Whaley

About the Spartans: Playing without injured quarterback Jake Phillips, Hempfield Area sputtered in a 42-12 home loss to Seneca Valley in a nonconference matchup last week. Spartans running back Gino Caesar paced the offense with 28 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown. Keiran Lippmann started at QB, as he went 13-of-21 passing for 83 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His top target was Daniel Katonka, who caught five passes for 54 yards and a score. Eli Binakonsky led the Hempfield Area defense with 14 tackles. Through seven contests, Caesar has amassed 117 carries for 636 yards and 11 rushing scores, while Ian Tuffs paces the Spartans with 22 receptions for 441 yards and a pair of TDs. Hempfield Area has allowed 102 points in the past two weeks after permitting just 41 points total through the first five games.

About the Panthers: A stout defense and a big-play attack propelled Franklin Regional to a 35-0 victory on the road against Norwin in a Class 5A Big East Conference tilt a week ago. In addition to pitching the shutout, the Franklin Regional defense produced a 26-yard interception return score by Ayden Hudock, one of his two interceptions and three total touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Hudock caught four passes spanning 120 yards, bolstered by TD receptions of 44 and 55 yards from Roman Sarnic, who was 5-of-13 passing for 131 yards. FR running back Zach Bewszka toted the ball 15 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns, which covered 23 and 68 yards. For the season, Bewszka has compiled 107 rushing attempts for 687 yards and seven total TDs, while Hudock has 19 grabs for 510 yards and nine total scores. Sarnic has completed 36-of-75 passes for 649 yards, with seven TDs and three interceptions, while he’s added 535 yards and eight scores on the ground.

About the Matchup: Franklin Regional remains atop the standings in the Class 5A Big East Conference, while Hempfield Area is in third place. The Spartans have played the fewest games in the conference to this point, however. A year ago, the Spartans edged the Panthers 30-28 in a nonconference clash.

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

Pregame at 7:00 p.m. on WSN VIDEO - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Sean Meyers and Roger Downs

About the Mustangs: Plum fell 20-6 at South Fayette in a nonconference contest a week ago, the third setback in a row for the Mustangs. Jerome Brazell scored the only TD for the Mustangs, as he hauled in a 4-yard pass from Sean Franzi, who hit on 15-of-28 passes for 145 yards. Eryck Moore added 14 carries for 72 yards, while he, Brazell, Darian Nelson, and Zac Napierkowski each caught three passes apiece. On the campaign, Moore has gained 889 yards on the ground and added 11 total TDs, while Nick Odom has compiled 43 carries for 314 yards and seven touchdowns. Despite a losing record, Plum has outscored its opponents 179 to 166. Coach Matt Morgan is at the helm of the Mustangs.

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford came up short on the road in a key showdown with Gateway, 21-10, in the Class 5A Big East Conference last week. Warriors QB Conlan Greene was 11-of-27 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown, but he tossed two interceptions, including one that was returned 60 yards for a score in the fourth quarter. Greene’s TD pass came on an 11-yard hook up with Tyler Anthony late in the game. Carmen Metcalfe paced the Warriors with three receptions for 76 yards, while Greene was the top rusher with 30 yards on 14 carries. In 2022, Greene has thrown for 1,011 yards, with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and he leads PT with 92 carries for 505 yards and five scores. Daniel Tarabrella paces PT with 29 catches for 435 yards and three scores, and he’s also posted a team-best 43 tackles. PT has permitted 17.6 points per game, the second-best mark in the conference.

About the Matchup: The Mustangs and Warriors are deadlocked in fourth place in the Class 5A Big East Conference. The teams last met in 2019 in a conference tilt, as PT cruised to a 47-17 victory.

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

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

WSN Broadcasters: Jack Ridenour and John Bainbridge

About the Vikings: Mount Pleasant Area tasted a 42-14 defeat on the road against Elizabeth Forward last week. Vikings signalcaller Cole Chatfield factored into both scores, as he connected with Robbie Labuda on a 38-yard pass, and added a 1-yard run. Labuda rushed 17 times for 54 yards, and added four receptions spanning 61 yards. For the season, Labuda has rushed 110 times for 1,065 yards, which ranks fifth in the WPIAL, and he’s caught a dozen passes for 223 yards, notching 15 total scores. Lane Golkosky has been a weapon as a rusher and receiver, too, as he’s registered 439 yards on the ground, 196 as a receiver, and has found the endzone eight times.

About the Leopards: Last week, Jake Gedekoh notched three touchdowns, while Quinton Martin added two more in Belle Vernon Area’s 51-7 triumph against Greensburg Salem in Class 3A Interstate Conference play. Martin led the visiting Leopards with nine rushes for 129 yards, while Gedekoh notched rushing scores of 33 and 15 yards, and he added an interception return score. BVA quarterback Braden Laux was 7-of-10 for 79 yards, including a touchdown to Evan Pohlot, who caught three passes for 39 yards. Anthony Crews capped the scoring for Belle Vernon Area with a 42-yard run in the third quarter. On the season, Martin has registered 54 rushes for 451 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Gedekoh has rushed for 232 yards and has scored seven times. Chase Ruokonen anchors the receiving corps with 12 catches for 236 yards. During their three-game surge, the Leopards have outscored their adversaries 122-14.

About the Matchup: Belle Vernon Area is tied atop the Class 3A Interstate Conference, while the Vikings are deadlocked in third place. The most recent clash occurred in 2007, as the Vikings claimed a 10-7 win.

Derry Area (0-7, 0-4) at Imani Christian Academy (3-4, 1-3) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:20 p.m. on WSN AUDIO - LISTEN LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Trojans: Derry Area was overmatched at home last week in a 49-0 defeat against powerhouse Steel Valley, as Donald Barksdale and Da’Ron Barksdale each registered two rushing scores for the Ironmen. The Trojans have permitted 49 points in each of the past three games, and have been outscored 269-62 on the season. Derry Area head coach Mike Arone is still in pursuit of his first victory guiding the Trojans.

About the Saints: Imani Christian Academy snapped a three-game skid last week by edging host Apollo-Ridge 38-34. Quarterback Dayshaun Burnett had a massive performance, as he hit 24-of-39 passes for 357 yards and two scores, adding a rushing TD. Meanwhile, Chevon Allen caught 10 passes for 129 yards and Isaiah Arrington hauled in six passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. David Davis compiled three touchdowns for Imani, including a 51-yard reception. For the season, Davis has accumulated 14 TDs. LaRoi Johnson is in his first season at the helm of the Saints.

About the Matchup: Derry Area is alone at the bottom of the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while Imani Christian is tied with two other teams in fifth place. The teams have not met since Imani joined the WPIAL for football a decade ago. The Saints play their home games at UPMC Graham Field in Wilkinsburg.

North Allegheny (6-1, 3-0) at Norwin (1-6, 0-3) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Dave Franczak and Tim McCabe

About the Tigers: North Allegheny claimed a 20-6 victory at home against Mount Lebanon a week ago. QB Logan Kushner was 10-of-20 passing for 81 yards, and he rushed for a score. Khiryn Boyd also added a rushing score, and NA posted a defensive touchdown. For the season, Kushner has passed for 971 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with four interceptions, and he’s added five scores on the ground. Boyd leads NA receivers with 30 grabs for 472 yards and five touchdowns, while Andrew Gavlik is the top rusher, compiling 105 carries for 609 yards. Tyree Alualu, son of Steelers defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, ranks second on the Tigers in rushing. Art Walker is the accomplished head coach for NA.

About the Knights: Norwin suffered a 35-0 home loss to Franklin Regional a week ago. For Norwin, which failed to score for the third game in a row, Jackson Pons rushed 15 times for 101 yards. Stephen Rodgers was the top receiver for Norwin, as he caught two passes for 40 yards, while Xander Smith added three grabs for 32 yards. Averaging just 7.6 points per game, the Knights are tied for the second-lowest scoring average in Class 5A.

About the Matchup: This is a nonconference battle, as North Allegheny competes in Class 6A, while Norwin resides in the Class 5A Big East. As conference foes a year ago, North Allegheny prevailed 42-24.

Jeannette (2-5, 2-1) at Greensburg Central Catholic (5-2, 3-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Brent Whigham and Anthony DeNunzio

About the Jayhawks: A week ago, homestanding Jeannette lost to Leechburg 58-21 in Class 1A Eastern Conference play. Jayhawks signalcaller Payton Molter connected on 11-of-22 passes for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Noah Sanders rushed 18 times for 118 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 23 yards. Jeremiah Williamson and Lonnie Greene snagged receiving TDs for the Jayhawks. On the campaign, Molter has hit on 52-of-71 passing attempts for 870 yards, 11 touchdowns, and two interceptions, while also rushing 70 times for 320 yards and notching eight total TDs. Sanders has 39 receptions for 564 yards, has added 283 yards on the ground, and has found paydirt 10 times. Prior to last week, Jeannette had not permitted more than 31 points in a game this season.

About the Centurions: In a rare Thursday tilt, Greensburg Central Catholic blasted host Frazier 47-0. Samir Crosby scored three times, as he caught two passes for 66 yards and a score, and added a pair of rushing TDs. Additionally, Da’sjon Craggette rushed four times for 97 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, Craggette leads Greensburg Central Catholic with 77 attempts for 657 yards, and he’s tied with Crosby for the team lead with 10 touchdowns. Crosby, Nate Dlugos, Amari Mack, and Jaydin Canady all have surpassed 10 receptions, while QB Tyree Turner has hit on 61-of-97 attempts for 1,089 yards, with 14 touchdowns and three picks. GCC has scored 47 or more points four times this season.

About the Matchup: Greensburg Central Catholic is the only team that has yet to suffer a loss in Class 1A Eastern Conference action, while Jeannette is fourth in the standings. A year ago, GCC rolled to a 49-3 victory, but Jeannette dominated in 2020, prevailing 55-0.

Greater Latrobe (4-3, 2-2) at Connellsville Area (2-5, 1-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: Corey Boerio scored a pair of touchdowns, while Kollin Stevens recorded a 90-yard kickoff return as host Greater Latrobe whitewashed Ringgold 42-0 in a Class 4A Big Seven Conference clash a week ago. Boerio, a tight end, opened the scoring with a 1-yard run, and he followed with a 3-yard reception from John Wetzel. Wetzel, Robby Fulton, and Brady Prohovic also contributed TD runs for the Wildcats. For the season, Fulton has amassed 126 carries for 1,057 yards and 14 rushing scores, while Wetzel has passed for 490 yards and four scores, while also posting 366 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Alex Tatsch leads the GL defense with 64 tackles and six sacks. Allowing 18.4 points per game, the Wildcats boast the second-best scoring defense in their conference.

About the Falcons: Connellsville Area was stifled in a 48-0 defeat at McKeesport Area last week. Bruce Giles rushed for 25 yards for the Falcons, while he caught three passes for 28 yards to lead the Connellsville offense. Quarterback Anthony Piasecki hit 4-of-10 attempts for 39 yards. Giles and Jayden McBride are tied with three touchdowns, the only Falcons who have scored more than once this season. Connellsville has been shutout three times on the campaign. Chad Lembo, Mick Lilley, and Jace McClean form the triumvirate of head coaches for the Falcons.

About the Matchup: Greater Latrobe sits in fourth in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference, while the Falcons are in fifth, a half-game behind the Wildcats. With a win, Greater Latrobe would clinch a playoff spot. As conference foes in 5A last year, Greater Latrobe prevailed 55-13.

Highlands (7-0, 3-0) at Kiski Area (0-7, 0-4) – 7 p.m.

About the Golden Rams: Highlands remained perfect with a 38-23 nonconference win at Woodland Hills a week ago. Quarterback Chandler Thimons rushed 15 times for 62 yards and three touchdowns, while also passing for 76 yards and a score. Rondeal Hewlett caught two passes for 48 yards and a TD. For the season, Luke Bombalski paces the Highlands’ run game, as he’s accumulated 134 carries for 798 yards and 10 total touchdowns. Allowing just 12.0 points per game, the Golden Rams have the top scoring defense in the conference. Matt Bonislawski is in his first year guiding the program.

About the Cavaliers: Kiski Area remained winless following a 47-28 defeat at Mars Area last week. Carson Heinle, who took over at QB mid-season, completed 22-of-32 attempts for 280 yards, with three TDs and one interception, and he posted a rushing score. His top target, Isaiah Gonzalez, caught 15 passes for 197 yards and two scores, while Connor Flemm added 123 yards rushing. The Cavs have scored 28 points each of the past two weeks, which represents a high-water mark for the season. With five touchdowns for the season, Dom DiNinno leads the Cavs.

About the Matchup: While Highlands is one of two unblemished teams remaining in Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference play, Kiski Area is the lone team winless in the conference. The most recent meeting took place in 2009, as the Cavaliers prevailed 20-0.

Greensburg Salem (3-4, 0-2) at Southmoreland (3-4, 1-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Golden Lions: Playing at home last week, Greensburg Salem was overmatched in a 51-7 loss against Belle Vernon Area. The Golden Lions scored the first points of the night, as Kai Brunot intercepted a pass and went 54-yards to pay dirt. With standout QB Cody Rubrecht out, Peyton Chismar hit 8-of-20 passes for 58 yards and an interception for the Golden Lions. For the season, Rubrecht has completed 50-of-105 passes for 758 yards and four touchdowns, while he’s rushed 92 times for 806 yards and scored 13 total touchdowns. Brunot ranks second in rushing, as he’s compiled 432 yards, while Christian Hostetler is the top receiver, with 15 catches for 226 yards. During their three-game losing streak, the Golden Lions have yielded 42 points or more in each tilt.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland scored 30 points in the first half en route to a 36-6 triumph on the road against South Allegheny in Class 3A Interstate Conference action a week ago. The Scotties’ Keefer to Keffer connection continued to produce, as QB Kadin Keefer was 12-of-16 passing for 210 yards and four touchdowns and another score on the ground, while receiver Ty Keffer caught eight passes for 167 yards and three scores. Trey Whetsel added 19 carries for 124 yards. Keffer leads the WPIAL with 49 receptions, which have spanned 695 yards, and he’s scored 10 times. Meanwhile, Keefer has hit on 88-of-145 attempts for 1,071 yards, with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

About the Matchup: Southmoreland is tied for third in the Class 3A Interstate Conference, while Greensburg Salem is one of two winless teams. The previous meeting between the squads was 2009, as the Golden Lions rolled to a 44-0 triumph.

Apollo-Ridge (3-4, 1-3) at Yough (2-5, 1-3) – 7 p.m.

About the Vikings: Apollo-Ridge dropped a narrow 38-34 contest at home against Imani Christian last week. In the setback, Jake Mull caught eight passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Gage Johnston was 9-of-18 passing for 203 yards and three scores. Additionally, Dom Curci rushed 23 times for 117 yards and a score, and he added a 65-yard kickoff return score. For the campaign, Curci has registered 134 carries for 948 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Mull has 19 grabs for 437 yards and six scores. The Vikings have scored 34 or more points in each of their three wins. Head coach John Skiba guides Apollo-Ridge.

About the Cougars: Yough fell on the road to Serra Catholic 28-14 last week. However, the Cougars limited Serra Catholic to its lowest scoring output during the Eagles’ six-game winning streak. Yough’s touchdowns came on a 48-yard pass from Gavin Roebuck to Cole Keller, and a 3-yard run by JJ Waller. Roebuck, who has shifted between multiple positions on offense, leads the Cougars in touchdowns. Yough, which is on a three-game skid, has been outscored 188-75 on the season.

About the Matchup: The Vikings and Cougars are tied for fifth in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. The teams have not met since at least prior to 2003.

Serra Catholic (6-1, 4-0) at Ligonier Valley (5-2, 3-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Eagles: Serra Catholic registered a 28-14 home victory against Yough in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference a week ago. Amire Spencer caught 10 passes for 147 yards and scored a pair of TDs for Serra Catholic. Quadir Stribling completed all 10 of his passing attempts for 134 yards and a score, while Elijah Ward was 8-of-14 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown. With 41 catches for 978 yards, Spencer leads the WPIAL in receiving yardage. Serra Catholic, which has won six consecutive games, has averaged 38.1 points per game for the season. Coach Jose Regus is at the helm of the Eagles.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley recorded a 29-15 win at Burrell in Class 2A Allegheny Conference action a week ago. Haden Sierocky scored three touchdowns and also secured an interception to help propel the Rams. Sierocky rushed 18 times for 171 yards and two scores, and caught two passes for 43 yards and another touchdown, a 25-yard connection from Broderick Schreyer. The Rams’ defense held the Buccaneers scoreless in the second half, forcing an interception and a pair of turnovers on downs. Nick Lonas also scored for LV, as he produced five carries for 35 yards. On the season, Sierocky has notched 722 yards rushing, caught 15 passes for 247 yards, and has scored 11 total touchdowns. Schreyer has hit on 27-of-57 attempts for 477 yards, with six touchdowns and four interceptions.

About the Matchup: Serra Catholic is tied atop the standings in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while Ligonier Valley is alone in third. A year ago, the Eagles won via forfeit, as Ligonier Valley’s roster was compromised by injuries. In 2020, the Eagles claimed a 48-15 win.

Steel Valley (6-0, 4-0) at Burrell (5-2, 2-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Ironmen: Steel Valley cruised to a 49-0 victory against Derry Area in a Class 2A Allegheny Conference matchup a week ago. Donald Barksdale and Da’Ron Barksdale each registered two rushing scores. Quaron Pierce added 11 carries for 128 yards and a score, while QB Antonio Brey, filling in for Cruce Brookins, hit 3-of-7 passes for 69 yards and a score. For the season, Brookins has passed for 263 yards, but has added 45 carries for 562 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Donald Barksdale and Pierce have each surpassed 400 yards rushing for the season. Over the past five games, the Ironmen have permitted just 20 total points, while scoring 42 points or more in each of those tilts.

About the Buccaneers: Burrell could not make its one-point halftime lead stand, as the homestanding Buccaneers fell to Ligonier Valley 29-15 a week ago. Devin Beattie paced the Bucs, as he rushed 26 times for 111 yards and a score, while Mason Jones produced 13 carries for 67 yards. Burrell’s Chase Fenner was 2-of-6 passing for 50 yards and an interception, but scored a rushing touchdown. Ryan Croushore connected on a 36-yard field goal. For the season, Beattie has accumulated 1,075 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on 146 attempts. Jones and Fenner have added 457 and 309 yards rushing, respectively. Tristan Brothers paces the Burrell defense with 83 tackles.

About the Matchup: Steel Valley is currently deadlocked in first place in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while Burrell resides in fourth place. The teams have not clashed since prior to 2003.

Jefferson-Morgan (4-3, 2-2) at Monessen (4-3, 3-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Rockets: Jefferson-Morgan was dismantled by Mapletown 49-12 last week. Rockets QB Cole Jones was 8-of-18 passing for 124 yards and a score. For the season, Jones has thrown for 933 yards and nine touchdowns, while Houston Guessman has caught 30 passes for 455 yard and a team-best six TDs. Coach Shane Ziats leads the Rockets.

About the Greyhounds: Monessen came up short last week in a 40-36 loss at Carmichaels. Tyvaughn Kershaw rushed 20 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while Daevon Burke added 16 carries for 69 yards and a pair of scores. For the season, the Greyhounds are averaging 35.0 points per contest.

Valley (1-6, 0-2) at Shady Side Academy (2-4, 1-1) - Saturday 2 p.m.

About the Vikings: Valley lost a low-scoring affair at home against Deer Lakes 7-2 a week ago. The Vikings have been outscored 204-102 on the season.

About the Bulldogs: Shady Side Academy notched a 30-12 victory at Knoch last week. Joey Bellinotti scored a pair of touchdowns, while QB Max Wickland was 7-of-19 passing for 105 yards and a score. For the campaign Bellinotti paces the Bulldogs with six touchdowns. Chuck DiNardo is the head coach for Shady Side Academy.