Westmoreland County High School Football Week Four Preview

Hempfield meets PT in showdown; Belle Vernon travels to Thomas Jefferson; Ligonier Valley battles Steel Valley

Fri Sep 23, 2022 - 12:52AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Photo by www.westernpasports.comPhoto by www.westernpasports.com

Last Updated: Sat Sep 24, 2022 - 2:41AM

Unbelievably, this week marks the midway point of the regular season for the majority of teams in the WPIAL. It also serves as the conference opener for three Westmoreland teams. Meanwhile, despite the arrival of cooler temperatures, the playoff races are already heating up in some conferences in which berths are at a premium. Here’s a detailed examination of all of the Westmoreland County contests in Week Four of the WPIAL football campaign.

Penn-Trafford (3-1, 0-0) at Hempfield Area (4-0, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:20 p.m. on WSN VIDEO - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Sean Meyers and Jack Ridenour

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford scored a narrow road victory, 14-13, at Belle Vernon Area last week. The Warriors scored the decisive touchdown and extra point in the final minute on Conlan Greene’s 6-yard run. Greene also scored on a 7-yard run earlier in the contest, as he rushed 25 times for 132 yards, while also passing for 78 yards on 7-of-11 attempts. Tasso Whipple added 68 yards on the ground, while Tommy Kalkstein posted three catches for 42 yards and had a key interception to set up the winning score. For the season, Greene is 50-of-89 for 647 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions, and he leads the Warriors with 55 rushes for 272 yards and five scores. Daniel Tarabrella leads PT receivers with 20 receptions for 325 yards, and his 27 tackles also pace the defense.

About the Spartans: Hempfield Area continued its dominant run last week, registering a 48-7 win at Shaler Area. Quarterback Jake Phillips had a game for the ages, as he was 18-of-21 passing for 312 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing eight times for 50 yards and three scores. His favorite target, Ian Tuffs, caught four passes for 123 yards, while Daniel Katonka, Keiran Lippmann, and Anthony Vallano notched receiving TDs. For the campaign, Phillips has thrown for 1,007 yards, which ranks fourth in the WPIAL, and nine touchdowns, while Gino Caesar has amassed 447 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. On average, the Spartans have outscored their foes 48.8-6.0.

About the Matchup: This marks the opener for both teams in Class 5A Big East Conference play. A year ago, the squads met in a nonconference clash, as host PT cruised to a 45-14 triumph.

Apollo-Ridge (2-2, 0-1) at Derry Area (0-4, 0-1) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:20 p.m. on WSN VIDEO - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Vikings: Apollo-Ridge sustained a 28-14 defeat at home against Ligonier Valley last week. Dom Curci accounted for both TDs for the Vikings, as he rushed 10 times for 72 yards, while adding three receptions. Gage Johnston, who replaced the injured Karter Schrock earlier this season, was 7-of-14 passing for 104 yards and an interception. For the season, Curci has compiled 639 yards on 78 rushes, and he leads the Vikings with nine TDs. Jacob Mull is the top receiving threat, with seven grabs for 176 yards. Coach John Skiba is at the helm of Apollo-Ridge.

About the Trojans: Derry Area suffered a heartbreaking 13-10 loss at Yough last week. Playing without their starting QB Blake Revoir and top running back Ahmad Ward, the Trojans turned to Damauri Robinson, who accounted for their lone TD on a 14-yard run, while kicker Nate Gray converted a 23-yard field goal. For the season, Ward leads DA with 220 yards rushing, while Revoir has registered 208 yards rushing and 312 yards passing. Robinson, meanwhile, paces the Trojans with nine catches for 138 yards and has a team-high three touchdowns.

About the Matchup: The Trojans and Vikings both opened their Class 2A Allegheny Conference ledger last week. The teams have not met since prior to 2003.

Woodland Hills (2-2, 1-0) at Norwin (1-3, 0-1) - 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Dave Franczak and Tim McCabe

About the Wolverines: Woodland Hills pitched a shutout in a 14-0 win at home against North Hills last week. The offense came courtesy of touchdowns by DeVaughn “Sunny” McClinton and Frankie Keyes. Keyes rushed 17 times for 66 yards, while QB Cameron Walter was 11-of-17 passing for 110 yards, one score, and one interception. Eight different Wolverines caught passes in the game, with William “Scoop” Smith registering three receptions for 33 yards. For the season, Elijah Nesby leads the rushing attack with 25 carries for 147 yards and a team-best three TDs, while Brandon Jones has rushed 28 times for 125 yards. Tim Bostard, a Woodland Hills alum, guides the Wolverines.

About the Knights: Norwin fell on the road to Plum 42-13 last week. Luke Denny was a bright spot for the Knights, as he rushed nine times for 108 yards and a touchdown. Tristyn Tavares was 8-of-19 passing for 119 yards and a score, while Stephen Rodgers caught three passes for 56 yards and a score. On the season, Jackson Pons leads Norwin with 15 receptions for 267 yards and four touchdowns. Averaging 13.3 points per game, and permitting 30.8 points per game, the Knights have both the worst scoring offense and defense in their conference.

About the Matchup: It’s a Class 5A nonconference tilt, as Woodland Hills plays in the Northeast Conference, while Norwin resides in the Big East Conference. The most recent clash between the schools occurred in the WPIAL Class Quad-A playoffs in 2010, as the Wolverines rolled to a 45-7 win in the first round.

Jeannette (1-3, 1-0) at Charleroi Area (0-3, 0-1) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Brent Whigham and Anthony DeNunzio

About the Jayhawks: Jeannette claimed its first victory of the season in emphatic fashion, rolling past Frazier 60-14 a week ago. Quarterback Payton Molter was terrific, as he was 3-of-6 passing for 116 yards and three touchdowns, he rushed seven times for 37 yards and a score, and he had a fumble return for a TD. Noah Sanders caught three passes for 73 yards, rushed for a TD, and returned a kickoff for a score, as well. Michael Mason anchored the rushing attack, with five carries for 68 yards and two scores, and he added a 43-yard receiving touchdown. With 26 receptions on the season, Sanders is tied for second in the WPIAL, while Molter leads the squad with 194 yards rushing and six scores. With 108 points scored through four games, Jeannette has already doubled its scoring output from all of last season.

About the Cougars: Charleroi was torched by Sto-Rox last week, losing 82-7. The lone score came on a 25-yard pass from Jackson Keranko to Gianni Pellegrini, the first points of the season for the Cougars. Keranko was 6-of-13 passing for 94 yards, but threw three interceptions. Through three games, Charleroi has been outscored 144-7. Marc Gambino is the head coach for the Cougars.

About the Matchup: The nonconference clash pits Jeannette from the Class 1A Eastern Conference against Charleroi, which plays in the Class 2A Century Conference. The teams last met in 2014 as conference foes, as the Jayhawks steamrolled the Cougars 62-27.

Franklin Regional (2-1, 1-0) at Shaler Area (2-2, 0-0) – Saturday 1:30 p.m.

Pregame at 1 p.m. on WSN AUDIO - LISTEN LIVE

WSN Broadcaster: Jonathan Whaley

About the Panthers: Franklin Regional is coming off a massive win last week at home, ousting Gateway 16-7. Quarterback Roman Sarnic was just 1-of-5 passing for eight yards and an interception, but he rushed 31 times for 151 yards. Zach Bewszka, meanwhile, toted the ball 23 times for 126 yards and the only FR touchdown. Kicker Joey Bayne connected on three field goals, spanning 27, 34, and 22 yards, while the Panthers’ defense forced three interceptions. For the season, Bewszka has rushed 53 times for 402 yards, while Sarnic has 52 carries for 336 yards. Ayden Hudock is the top receiving threat, with eight receptions for 194 yards. FR has allowed just seven points total over the past two weeks.

About the Titans: Shaler Area was overmatched at home by Hempfield Area 48-7 last week. The lone touchdown came on an 89-yard pass from Keegan Smetanka to Kaden Orga. Smetanka was 13-of-28 passing for 161 yards, with one TD and one interception. Running back Luke Cignetti has been the catalyst on offense this season, as he’s posted 49 attempts for 580 yards and 11 total scores. Smetanka, meanwhile, has thrown for 557 yards, with three TDs and two interceptions. His top target is Joe DeSabato, who has 19 receptions for 170 yards. Coach Jim Ryan leads Shaler Area.

About the Matchup: This is a 5A nonconference matchup, as Franklin Regional plays in the Big East Conference, while Shaler Area calls the Northeast Conference home. The most recent encounter occurred in 2019, with the Titans claiming a 28-17 victory.

Laurel Highlands (2-2, 0-1) at Greater Latrobe (2-2, 0-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Mustangs: Laurel Highlands was stifled by McKeesport Area last week, falling at home 33-0. Rodney Gallagher, a West Virginia University commit, was 4-of-13 passing for 85 yards and two interceptions, while rushing 11 times for 21 yards. On the campaign, Gallagher, who is a four-star athlete likely to play receiver at WVU, has hit on 29-of-50 passing attempts for 476 yards with five TDs and four picks, has rushed 41 times for 126 yards, has caught eight passes for 29 yards, and has scored seven total touchdowns. Keondre DeShields is the top receiver, as he’s hauled in 21 passes for 327 yards, while Antawn Black paces the rushing attack, with 128 yards on the ground. Rich Kolesar is at the helm of Laurel Highlands.

About the Wildcats: Greater Latrobe came up short at Thomas Jefferson a week ago, falling 31-21. Robby Fulton anchored the offensive attack, as he rushed 16 times for 196 yards, scoring twice. Quarterback John Wetzel was 7-of-13 passing for 78 yards and a score, while tight end Corey Boerio caught three passes for 57 yards and a score. For the season, Fulton has amassed 712 yards rushing, which ranks fifth in the WPIAL, and has scored 11 touchdowns. Wetzel, meanwhile, has passed for 196 yards, while adding 41 rushes for 187 yards. Alex Tatsch paces the GL defense with 34 tackles and three sacks.

About the Matchup: Both teams are in search of their first win in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference. The teams have not met since prior to 2003.

Kiski Area (0-4, 0-1) at North Catholic (2-2, 0-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Cavaliers: Kiski Area was silenced by Hampton last week, as the host Cavaliers fell 38-0. Quarterback Lebryn Smith was 4-of-14 passing for 66 yards and an interception. DeShawn McBryde paced the rushing attack, with 12 carries for 31 yards. Kiski Area has scored just 21 points this season, and has been blanked twice. McBryde has scored one of those touchdowns, while receiver Dom DiNinno accounted for the other two TDs. At 5.3 points per game, Kiski Area is the second-lowest scoring team in Class 4A.

About the Trojans: North Catholic fell on the road to Highlands 17-7 last week. Trojans’ QB Jason Siket hit on 8-of-16 passes for 120 yards, with one TD and two interceptions. For the season, Jack Fennell leads NC in both rushing and receiving, with 171 yards and 58 yards, respectively. Samir Ware has contributed 100 yards rushing. Pat O’Shea is the head coach for North Catholic.

About the Matchup: After Kiski Area dropped from 5A and North Catholic moved up from 3A from a year ago, both teams seek their initial win in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference.

Steel Valley (3-0, 1-0) at Ligonier Valley (3-1, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Ironmen: Steel Valley notched an impressive 56-6 win at home against Imani Christian last week, the second blowout victory in a row for the Ironmen. Cruce Brookins, a Division I prospect, has been special for Steel Valley, as he’s passed for 131 yards, and rushed 30 times for 450 yards and 11 touchdowns. Quaron Pierce has added 22 carries for 250 yards, while Donald Barksdale and Jesean Wright have each surpassed 150 yards on the ground for the season. Steel Valley has outscored its foes 145-37 through three tilts. Veteran coach Ray Braszo leads Steel Valley.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley secured a 28-14 road victory against Apollo-Ridge a week ago. Haden Sierocky continued his outstanding senior season, as he rushed 21 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns, while adding four receptions for 37 yards and another TD. John Jablunovsky posted seven carries for 96 yards and a score. For the season, Sierocky leads the team in both rushing and receiving yards, and he’s compiled 10 touchdowns. QB Broderick Schreyer has hit on 17-of-37 yards for 321 yards, with three TDs and four interceptions.

About the Matchup: The Ironmen and Rams are two of the four teams in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference that won their conference openers last week. Last year, the Ironmen rolled to a 40-0 victory, but the Rams prevailed 28-26 in 2020.

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

About the Cougars: Yough edged Derry Area 13-10 last week to secure its second win in a row. Gavin Roebuck scored the deciding 63-yard touchdown for the Cougars in the fourth, while QB Raidon Kuroda was 15-of-22 passing for 176 yards and a TD. His favorite target was Antonio Marra, who caught two passes for 113 yards and a score. For the season, Roebuck has produced 258 yards passing, as well as 361 yards rushing and five scores. JJ Waller has a team-high nine catches. The Cougars have allowed just 10 points combined over the past two contests.

About the Buccaneers: Burrell suffered its first defeat last week, dropping a 38-20 decision at Serra Catholic. The third quarter proved the difference, as the Eagles scored 21 unanswered points to break a 14-14 halftime tie. Devin Beattie rushed 19 times for 142 yards and a touchdown, while Mason Jones amassed 14 carries for 89 yards and a TD. Burrell, which has relied almost exclusively on the running game, boasts four players with 130 yards rushing or more for the season, with Beattie leading the way with 538 yards. Quarterback Chase Fenner, who has 171 yards rushing, is tied with Beattie for the team lead with six touchdowns.

About the Matchup: After both teams dropped down from Class 3A from 2021, they now compete together in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. As Big East Conference adversaries in 2019, Burrell coasted to a 40-6 victory.

Greensburg Central Catholic (2-2, 0-0) at Springdale (0-4, 0-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Centurions: Greensburg Central Catholic concluded its nonconference ledger last week with a 55-27 loss at Washington. Signalcaller Tyree Turner had a big performance, as he was 16-of-26 passing for 219 yards, four touchdowns, and one pick. Amari Mack snagged five passes for 103 yards and two scores, while Jaydin Canady and Nate Dlugos also posted receiving touchdowns. Da’sjon Craggette anchored the ground game, as he rushed 19 times for 121 yards. For the season, Turner has passed for 669 yards and 10 TDs, while Samir Crosby and Mack have each surpassed 200 yards receiving. With 420 yards rushing, Craggette is the top rusher for GCC.

About the Dynamos: Springdale was hammered by host Leechburg 77-0 last week. The Dynamos had no answer for Braylan Lovelace, who rushed for 217 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, Springdale has been outscored 180-28, including a pair of shutout losses. Ryan Tempalski is in his first season as the head coach of the Dynamos.

About the Matchup: Greensburg Central Catholic is the only team that has yet to commence Class 1A Eastern Conference play. Last year, GCC won in decisive fashion, 35-0. In 2020, though, Springdale prevailed 45-22.

California Area (4-0, 1-0) at Monessen (2-2, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Trojans: California continued to dominate the competition last week, breezing past Jefferson-Morgan 44-6. Two Trojans went over 100 yards rushing, as Jake Layhue had eight carries for 135 yards and a TD, while Spencer Petrucci contributed 10 carries for 115 yards and two scores. The Trojans have outscored their opponents 217-26 to this point. Ed Woods is the head coach.

About the Greyhounds: Monessen scored its second lopsided win in as many weeks, blasting homestanding Bentworth 49-9 last week. Tyvaughn Kershaw scored three times on the ground, while Daevon Burke added a pair of TDs, including a 75-yard punt return. For the season, Burke paces the Greyhounds with five TDs, while Tyvaughn Kershaw and Tim Kershaw each have found the end zone four times.

Belle Vernon Area (1-2, 0-0) at Thomas Jefferson (3-1, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon Area sustained a heartbreaker last week, falling at home to Penn-Trafford 14-13. Quinton Martin and Jake Gedekoh each scored long rushing TDs for BVA, with Martin spanning 50 yards in the opening minute of the game, while Gedekoh added a 40-yard surge in the third stanza. They were deadlocked with 69 yards apiece on the ground, as Martin rushed eight times, while Gedekoh had nine carries. Adam LaCarte had a monster performance for the BVA defense, as he recorded 17 tackles. For the season, Martin has 30 carries for 166 yards and four TDs. QB Braden Laux has hit on 23-of-42 passing attempts for 265 yards, but he’s thrown four interceptions.

About the Jaguars: Thomas Jefferson edged Greater Latrobe 31-21 last week in its conference lid-lifter, the third straight win for the Jaguars. Quarterback Brody Evans was 13-of-19 through the air for 213 yards, three TDs, and one interception. Ryan Lawry was his favorite target, as he caught six passes for 93 yards and two scores. Aidan Whalen paced the TJ rushing attack, as he notched 19 carries for 112 yards and a score, while Elias Lippencott rushed 17 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. On the campaign, Lippencott leads the team with 60 carries for 320 yards and four TDs. Sean Sullivan is the top receiver, as he's compiled 15 catches for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Legendary head coach Bill Cherpak guides TJ.

About the Matchup: The former conference rivals are now separated after realignment, as Belle Vernon Area plays in the Class 3A Interstate Conference, while Thomas Jefferson resides in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference. Last year, the Leopards prevailed twice, winning at home 28-21 during the regular season, and then notching a 21-7 victory in the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals.

East Allegheny (3-1, 0-0) at Greensburg Salem (3-1, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: East Allegheny ousted South Allegheny 33-14 last week. Lorenzo Fancher rushed five times for 119 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats, while QB Michael Cahill was 9-of-25 passing for 137 yards and two TDs. Steve Yusko hauled in five receptions and a score, while Prince Tarrant had a 56-yard TD catch. Head coach Dom Pecora leads East Allegheny.

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem notched its third win in a row, doubling up Deer Lakes 28-14 a week ago. QB Cody Rubrecht scored all four touchdowns for GS, including a 62-yard run in the fourth quarter. In total, Rubrecht rushed 14 times for 168 yards, while connecting on 10-of-21 passes for 92 yards. Christian Hostetler was his favorite target, as he caught four passes for 39 yards. The Golden Lions amassed 258 yards on the ground against the Lancers. For the season, Rubrecht has passed for 446 yards, rushed for 507 yards, and scored 10 TDs. Kai Brunot has added 250 yards on the ground.

About the Matchup: Although both teams play in Class 3A, its nonconference, as Greensburg Salem resides in the Interstate Conference, while East Allegheny belongs to the Allegheny Six. The teams have not squared off since prior to 2003.

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

About the Vikings: Mount Pleasant Area continued to display its powerful offense last week, cruising past Valley 40-13. Robbie Labuda added to his prolific season, as he rushed 17 times for 203 yards, caught two passes for 125 yards, and scored three total touchdowns. Cole Chatfield was efficient behind center, as he hit on 3-of-6 passes for 170 yards and three TDs, while Lane Golkosky and Jackson Hutter also added scores for the Vikes. With 756 yards rushing, Labuda ranks second in the WPIAL, while he’s tied for fifth with 11 touchdowns. Chatfield, meanwhile, has produced 508 yards passing and five scores, compared to one interception. Mount Pleasant Area has scored 35 or more points in each game, and the Vikings’ scoring average of 40.0 points is second best in Class 3A.

About the Yellowjackets: Freeport Area suffered its first loss of 2022 last week, a 49-7 setback to Armstrong. Ben Lane recorded the only score for the Yellowjackets, as he rushed three times for 88 yards, and also caught four passes. Gavin Groney hit on 9-of-19 passing attempts for just 39 yards. For the season, Lane has compiled 301 yards rushing, leads the squad with nine catches for 73 yards, and has a team-high eight touchdowns. John Gaillot is at the helm of Freeport Area.

About the Matchup: This is a Class 3A cross-conference clash, as the Vikings are in the Interstate, while the Yellowjackets play in the Allegheny Six. The last meeting occurred as conference opponents in 2019, as Mount Pleasant Area triumphed 35-7.

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

About the Scotties: Southmoreland secured its second win in a row last week, besting Knoch 33-24. Ty Keffer was dynamite for the Scotties, as he caught nine passes for 159 yards, including two touchdowns, and added an 87-yard interception return score. Kadin Keefer was 13-of-18 passing for 167 yards and a score. Trey Whetsel led the rushing attack with 82 yards, while Jeffrey Johnson had six carries for 63 yards and a TD. On the season, Keefer has thrown for 528 yards, while Keffer leads the Southmoreland receivers with 26 grabs for 389 yards.

About the Lancers: Deer Lakes fell to host Greensburg Salem 28-14 last week. QB Derek Burk accounted for both scores on the ground, as he rushed 13 times for 89 yards, and was 11-of-24 passing for 148 yards and two interceptions. Dylan Cochran posted four receptions for 48 yards. For the season, Burk has hit on 37-of-73 passing attempts for 606 yards, while also leading the DL rushing game with 211 yards and five touchdowns. Cochran paces the Lancers with 12 receptions, while Wayne Love has contributed a team-leading 221 yards receiving. Tim Burk is the head coach for the Lancers.

About the Matchup: While both teams reside in Class 3A, the Scotties are in the Interstate Conference, while the Lancers play in the Allegheny Six Conference. The teams have not squared off since prior to 2003.

Valley (0-4, 0-0) at Uniontown Area (2-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Vikings: Valley came up short against Mount Pleasant Area last week, falling 40-13. Dallas Price had a 32-yard touchdown run for the Vikings, while Chuck Perkins recovered a fumble in the end zone for the other score. Xavier Wilson paced Valley with 15 rushes for 63 yards, and he was also the top receiver, with five catches for 24 yards. Price, meanwhile, had nine carries for 54 yards, while QB Tristin Goodwin was 10-of-17 for 106 yards, but tossed three picks.

About the Red Raiders: Uniontown Area left the WPIAL this year, opting to play an independent schedule. Last week, the Red Raiders lost to Albert Gallatin, which also left the district recently, 12-0. For the season, QB Taevian Richardson has thrown for 378 yards and five scores, while he’s added 262 yards on the ground. Kadrian McLee is the top receiver, with 248 yards and a team-best four scores. Keith Jeffries is the head coach for Uniontown.