Westmoreland County High School Football Week Seven Preview

Jeannette clashes with GCC; Hempfield hosts FR; Latrobe welcomes Connellsville

Fri Oct 13, 2023 - 10:36AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Rivals Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic meet in an Eastern Conference contest. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)Rivals Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic meet in an Eastern Conference contest. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)

Last Updated: Sat Oct 14, 2023 - 1:09AM

The stretch run of the WPIAL football regular-season has arrived, with just three weeks remaining. Multiple Westmoreland County teams have significant playoff implications at stake this week, including a few teams that can secure postseason berths. Here’s a thorough examination of every county team in action in Week Seven.

Greensburg Central Catholic (4-3, 2-1) at Jeannette (6-1, 3-0) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Brent Whigham and Anthony DeNunzio

About the Centurions: Greensburg Central Catholic scored a decisive road victory one week ago, besting Frazier 31-6 in a Class 1A Eastern Conference clash. Samir Crosby scored twice for the Centurions, rushing for 92 yards, while Tyree Turner produced a touchdown pass and another score on the ground. Nick Dlugos was on the receiving end of that TD pass, which spanned 78 yards. GCC, which has alternated wins and losses each week this year, has scored at least 31 points in each victory. Turner has been a catalyst in that success, as he’s completed 60-of-103 passes for 1,065 yards and 11 touchdowns, while rushing 53 times for 361 yards and nine total TDs. His top target, Samir Crosby, has snagged 22 receptions for 421 yards and eight scores. On the year, GCC has outscored its adversaries by a margin of 217-171.

About the Jayhawks: A long touchdown run by Payton Molter in the final minute gave Jeannette a 37-31 road win at Leechburg last week in Class 1A Eastern Conference action. Molter’s 39-yard winning scamper with 36 seconds left came after the Blue Devils rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Molter threw for 207 yards and two TDs on 11-of-20 passing, while Noah Sanders posted 19 carries for 131 yards, scoring two total touchdowns. Molter has accumulated 938 yards passing and a dozen TDs on the year, while he’s contributed 367 yards rushing and six total touchdowns. Sanders, meanwhile, has posted 88 carries for 793 yards, 13 receptions for 166 yards, and a team-high 10 touchdowns. Kymon’e Brown leads Jeannette receivers with 18 receptions for 275 yards, and he’s found paydirt eight times. Holding a scoring margin of 245-126, the Jayhawks rank second in the conference in each scoring offense and defense.

About the Matchup: Jeannette is one of two unblemished teams in the Class 1A Eastern Conference, while GCC is currently alone in third place. GCC prevailed 44-0 last year in the head-to-head battle.

Franklin Regional (5-2, 2-1) at Hempfield Area (1-6, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcaster: Jonathan Whaley

About the Panthers: An eye-popping performance by Ayden Hudock and Chase Lemke carried Franklin Regional to a 37-29 win at home against Norwin last week in the Class 5A Big East Conference. Hudock caught five passes for 168 yards and three TDs, while adding a 92-yard kickoff return score for the Panthers. Lemke, meanwhile, threw for 247 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 90 yards. After a loss to Gateway, the Panthers have scored 137 points over the past three tilts. For the campaign, Lemke has amassed 878 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air, while he’s also rushed for 227 yards and three scores. Kyle Dupill leads the rushing attack with 104 carries for 718 yards and a team-leading 12 touchdowns, while Hudock has 30 receptions for 586 yards and nine total TDs. Averaging 33.4 points per game, the Panthers boast the best scoring offense in the conference.

About the Spartans: A couple of touchdown passes from Dom Detruf to Keiran Lippmann weren’t nearly enough for Hempfield Area last week, as the Spartans fell on the road to Seneca Valley 42-13 in a nonconference matchup. Detruf went 19-of-32 for 187 yards, while Lippmann snagged six passes for 77 yards, and Mitchell Bitar added six grabs for 66 yards. For the year, Detruf has thrown for 573 yards and five TDs, while Lippmann has amassed 557 yards and three scores through the air. Bitar paces Hempfield with 22 receptions for 221 yards. Hempfield Area has dropped six straight contests, and has been outpaced 240-128 on the campaign.

About the Matchup: While the Panthers, currently tied for second in the Class 5A Big East Conference, aim to remain in the playoff hunt, the Spartans are in pursuit of their first conference victory. In 2022, the Panthers won in decisive fashion, 56-21.

Imani Christian Academy (4-2, 2-1) at Derry Area (3-4, 2-2) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:30 on WSN Video - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Saints: Imani Christian jumped out to a 39-0 lead at halftime enroute to blasting Apollo-Ridge 60-13 last week. Saints signalcaller Steve VanDiver went 7-for-11 passing for 252 yards and four touchdowns. A pair of receivers eclipsed 100 yards, as Che’von Allen snagged three passes for 117 yards and two scores, while Dayshaun Burnett had three grabs for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while he also rushed for a score and added another TD on a fumble recovery return. VanDiver has thrown for 1,027 yards and 11 TDs this season, and he paces the Imani rushing attack with 44 carries for 303 yards. Burnett, a Power Five prospect, ranks second on the team in both rushing and receiving, and has compiled a team-leading nine TDs. The Saints average 36.8 points per game, by far the best mark in the conference. Coach LaRoi Johnson serves at the helm of the program.

About the Trojans: Derry Area was stifled by Steel Valley one week ago, as the homestanding Ironmen cruised to a 38-0 whitewashing in Class 2A Allegheny Conference play. On the year, Ahmad Ward has propelled the Trojans offensively, as he’s rushed 145 times for 743 yards, scoring 13 times. Damauri Robinson paces DA with nine receptions for 196 yards, and he’s notched four TDs. Derry Area, which has dropped two straight, has been outscored 208-130 this season.

About the Matchup: Imani Christian is currently deadlocked with Serra Catholic for third place in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while the Trojans sit alone in fifth place. In 2022, the Saints won handily, 44-17.

Penn-Trafford (3-4, 2-1) at Plum (2-5, 0-3) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Sean Meyers and Jack Ridenour

About the Warriors: Despite another stellar performance by Tasso Whipple, Penn-Trafford dropped a 31-27 outcome at home to Gateway a week ago in the Class 5A Big East Conference battle. Whipple rushed 25 times for 179 yards and two scores, and he added a 73-yard touchdown reception. Warriors QB Jonny Lovre amassed 253 yards passing in the defeat. On the year, Whipple has rushed 129 times for 989 yards, caught 13 passes for 226 yards, and found the end zone a dozen times. Lovre, meanwhile, has hit on 65-of-128 attempts for 901 yards, with six TDs and eight interceptions. Carmen Metcalfe is the top pass catcher for PT, as he’s registered 31 catches for 426 yards. Permitting 22.1 points per outing, the Warriors boast the best scoring defense in the conference.

About the Mustangs: Plum lost its fifth game in a row last week, dropping a 24-13 outcome at South Fayette in nonconference play. QB Sean Franzi factored into both scores for the Mustangs, as he hooked up with T.J. Futules on a 13-yard pass, and added a 3-yard run. Franzi completed 14-of-26 passes, but for just 94 yards, with one score and an interception. Elijah Jackson led Plum with 16 carries for 47 yards. On the year, Nicky Odom paces the Mustangs with 125 carries for 689 yards and six TDs. Darian Nelson has contributed 28 receptions for 337 yards and five scores. The Mustangs have been outpaced 204-152 on the year. Matt Morgan is the longtime head coach for Plum.

About the Matchup: Currently tied with Franklin Regional for second place in the Class 5A Big East Conference, the Warriors aim to bolster their postseason bid. The Mustangs, meanwhile, are in search of their first win in conference play. Last season, PT reigned supreme, 35-21.

Norwin (2-5, 1-2) at North Allegheny (6-1, 2-1) – 7:30 p.m.

Pregame at 7:15 p.m. on WSN Audio - LISTEN LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Dave Franczak and Brian Brozeski

About the Knights: Another second-half rally for Norwin came up short, as host Franklin Regional scored a 37-29 win in the Class 5A Big East Conference last week. In the defeat, Tristyn Tavares went 10-of-33 for 292 yards and two TDs, adding two scores on the ground. Jackson Pons produced three receptions for 149 yards, while Luke Denny posted four catches for 102 yards. Tavares has been among the most prolific passers in the entire WPIAL, as he ranks second in the district with 1,717 yards through the air. Norwin has three receivers who each have surpassed 400 yards receiving this year, with Denny leading the way with 509 yards, followed by Pons with 460, and Jake Knight, who has amassed 408 yards. During a three-game skid, the Knights have permitted 30 or more points in each tilt.

About the Tigers: North Allegheny cruised to a 43-7 win on the road against Mount Lebanon last week in conference action. Khiryn Boyd and Tyree Alualu combined to score five TDs. Boyd caught two passes for 47 yards, both scores, and added a punt return TD, while Alualu rushed for 72 yards and a TD, while also snagging two catches for 31 yards and a score. QB Logan Kushner was efficient, completing 6-of-7 passes for 119 yards and three TDs. On the campaign, Kushner has registered 923 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air, and he also leads NA with 59 carries for 582 yards, scoring nine total TDs. North Allegheny has scored 30 or more points in every victory. Art Walker is the accomplished head coach for North Allegheny.

About the Matchup: This is a nonconference clash, as Norwin plays in the Class 5A Big East Conference, while NA resides in Class 6A. One year ago, the Tigers prevailed 38-13.

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

About the Falcons: Connellsville Area was walloped by McKeesport Area 48-6 last week. Quarterback Anthony Piasecki hit on 15-of-31 attempts for 171 yards and a touchdown, a 4-yard connection with Jayden McBride. Bruce Giles, who has a 200-yard rushing game on his resume this season, was held to just 16 yards on the ground, while McBride has seven receptions for 93 yards. Connellsville has scored exactly 28 points in three of its four victories. The Falcons have narrowly been outscored on the campaign, 179-177. Chad Lembo, Jace McClean, and Mick Lilley comprise the three-head coach system for Connellsville.

About the Wildcats: John Wetzel and Ja’Tawn Williams struck for three touchdown connections through the air, as Greater Latrobe scored a 35-6 win at Ringgold in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference. Wetzel finished his night 6-of-9 for 118 yards and four TDs, while he also rushed for a score. Furthermore, Williams caught four passes for 104 yards, while Jack Drnjevich had a TD catch. For the year, Wetzel has connected on 53-of-82 passes for 832 yards, with 12 TDs and just one interception, while he’s also rushed 72 times for a team-high 401 yards and six TDs. Winners of three straight, the Wildcats have outscored foes 215-103 this campaign.

About the Matchup: Greater Latrobe, in second place in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference, will secure a playoff berth with a win, while the Falcons try to move up from fifth place. Last year, the Wildcats won with ease, 43-13.

Kiski Area (2-5, 1-3) at Highlands (4-3, 1-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Cavaliers: Kiski Area scored first, but the Cavaliers could not slow down Mars Area, as the Fightin’ Planets cruised to a 56-14 win in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference one week ago. Carson Heinle connected with Brennan Moore to open the scoring for the host Cavaliers. Kiski Area later scored on a connection from Heinle to Bart Martin on a 34-yard pass. Heinle amassed 129 yards and two TDs, while running back Landon Kucic added 79 yards on the ground. For 2023, Heinle has produced 962 yards passing, along with 10 TDs and just two picks. His top target, Andrew Finney, has compiled 21 catches for 312 yards and four scores. Kucic, meanwhile, has rushed for 509 yards and a team-high five TDs. Kiski Area has scored 121 points, the fewest among conference teams.

About the Golden Rams: Highlands was overmatched in a 41-10 home loss to Woodland Hills in a nonconference battle last week. Quarterback Menage Lucas scored on a 47-yard run, while Burton Babinsack booted a field goal. Lucas completed 4-of-7 passes for 40 yards, while rushing for 67 yards on nine attempts. On the season, Luke Bombalski has contributed 92 carries for 611 yards and a team-best nine touchdowns, while Aaran Randolph has 36 attempts for 481 yards and five scores. Despite a winning record overall, the Golden Rams have been outscored 178-166 this year. Matt Bonislawski is the second-year head coach for Highlands.

About the Matchup: Both teams are currently outside of the playoff cutline in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference. Last year, Highlands dominated 56-7.

Belle Vernon (5-1, 2-0) at Mount Pleasant (5-2, 1-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Leopards: Braden Laux enjoyed a prolific performance in guiding Belle Vernon Area to a lopsided 53-7 win at home against Greensburg Salem one week ago in a Class 3A Interstate Conference affair. Laux hit on 14-of-16 attempts for 337 yards and three TDS for the Leopards. Among his targets, Anthony Crews compiled four catches for 121 yards and a touchdown, and Quinton Martin had five receptions for 100 yards and a score, adding a TD run. Kole Doppelheuer generated 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground. For the season, Martin leads BVA in both rushing and receiving, with 374 yards and 255 yards, respectively, and he’s totaled a dozen TDs. Laux has completed 57-of-92 passes for nine TDs and six picks, while Doppelheuer has added 269 yards on the ground. The Leopards have permitted just 8.5 points per game on average, the best mark in Class 3A.

About the Vikings: Mount Pleasant rallied to pull even in the fourth quarter last Friday, but Elizabeth Forward scored the winning points in the final minute to claim a 39-25 victory in the Class 3A Interstate Conference. The host Vikings trailed 22-3 in the third quarter, but three touchdowns, including a pair by Brody Hutter, allowed them to deadlock the score at 25-25 with less than five minutes left in regulation. Cole Chatfield connected with Dante Giallonardo on a 25-yard pass to tie the game. In the setback, Hutter rushed for 107 yards, while Chatfield connected on 9-of-21 passes for 141 yards. For the year, Giallonardo leads the rushing attack with 414 yards, while five others – Garrett Eicher, Jackson Hutter, Brody Hutter, Chatfield, and Brady Poole – have surpassed 150 yards on the ground. The Vikings have outscored their opponents by a margin of 210-146.

About the Matchup: Belle Vernon Area will clinch a playoff berth with a win, and would remain at least tied for first place in the Class 3A Interstate Conference. The Vikings, meanwhile, are in a deadlock with Southmoreland for the third spot. A year ago, BVA left no doubt, rolling to a 55-7 win.

Southmoreland (4-3, 1-1) at Greensburg Salem (1-6, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Scotties: Kadin Keefer and Ty Keffer hooked up for three touchdowns, as host Southmoreland ousted South Allegheny 42-20 in the Class 3A Interstate Conference last week. Their touchdown passes spanned 43, 48, and 33-yards. Moreover, Da’sjon Craggette notched two TD runs covering 39 and 40 yards, and Ronnie Collins added a touchdown reception. The win snapped a three-game skid, which followed a three-game winning streak to open the season. On the campaign, Craggette has registered 853 yards on the ground and a team-high 11 TDs. Keffer has caught 36 passes for 573 yards, and he’s made seven trips to the end zone. Kicker Jake Kaylor has converted three field goals.

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem was overwhelmed in a 53-7 loss at Belle Vernon Area last Friday. Peyton Chismar connected with Dom Rosensteel for the lone TD for the Golden Lions. Peyton Chismar went 4-for-12 passing for 82 yards, with one score and one interception, while younger brother Brody Chismar was 6-of-12 for 21 yards. On the season, Brady Smith has compiled 64 carries for 332 yards to lead the ground attack. GS, which has dropped four games in a row, has totaled just 28 points during that skid.

About the Matchup: Southmoreland is tied with Mount Pleasant Area for third place in the Class 3A Interstate Conference, while the Golden Lions are deadlocked at the bottom of the standings with South Allegheny. Last year, the Scotties doubled up the Golden Lions, 42-21.

Shady Side Academy (4-3, 1-1) at Valley (2-5, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Bulldogs: Shady Side Academy had to forfeit its game to Knoch last week, as the team did not have enough healthy players due to illness. Two weeks ago, the Bulldogs edged Freeport Area 31-28. QB Devin Harris has been instrumental in the offensive success this year, as he’s connected on 56-of-109 passes for 878 yards, with 10 TDs and eight picks. SSA has outpaced its opponents 212-144 on the year. Coach Chuck DiNardo oversees the Shady Side Academy program.

About the Vikings: Valley fell into a two-score deficit in the opening minutes and could not recover, as the Vikings fell to host Deer Lakes 39-6 in Class 3A Allegheny Six action last week. Charles Perkins accounted for the lone TD for Valley, while QB Tristan Goodwin went 11-of-23 for 85 yards, but he was intercepted three times. Darnell Coaston contributed six catches for 43 yards. Valley ranks at the bottom of the conference in both scoring offense and defense, tallying 14.9 points per game while allowing 28.3 points.

Burrell (4-3, 3-1) at Steel Valley (5-1, 4-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Buccaneers: Devin Beattie continued his stellar campaign, as he helped propel Burrell to a 33-13 victory at Ligonier Valley in Class 2A Allegheny Conference play one week ago. Beattie rushed 32 times for 187 yards and a touchdown for the Bucs. Cooper Hornack, Stephon Hasson, and Caden Garner also added scores for Burrell. In 2023, Beattie has 174 carries for 889 yards and six touchdowns. Tyler Maglisco, Hornack, and Hasson have each surpassed 150 yards on the ground, while Hasson has completed just 8-of-30 passing attempts for 80 yards. In their three losses, the Bucs have managed just 21 points total.

About the Ironmen: Steel Valley put the clamps on Derry Area last week, as the homestanding Ironmen cruised to a 38-0 whitewashing in Class 2A Allegheny Conference play. Donald Barksdale found the end zone twice for Steel Valley, rushing 24 times for 123 yards. Ashad Dye and Del Shields also produced rushing scores for SV. For the year, Donald Barksdale has rushed 127 times for 807 yards and 14 scores. The Ironmen have posted three shutouts, and have allowed an average of 7.7 points per outing. Ray Braszo is the veteran head coach for Steel Valley.

About the Matchup: Steel Valley is the lone unblemished team remaining in Class 2A Allegheny Conference play, while the Buccaneers reside alone in second place. A year ago, the Ironmen lambasted the Bucs 48-0.

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

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley dropped a 33-13 outcome at home against Burrell last week. In the defeat, John Jablunovsky amassed 17 carries for 180 yards and a score for the Rams, while Mark Jablunovsky posted 43 yards rushing and a TD. The loss was the third in a row for LV. On the ledger, John Jablunovsky has rushed 108 times for 679 yards and eight TDs, and he also leads the squad with six receptions for 86 yards. In their five total losses, the Rams have mustered a combined 27 points.

About the Eagles: Serra Catholic’s passing attack bolstered the Eagles to a 40-12 victory at Yough last week in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. Serra scored 40 unanswered points, highlighted by QB Quadir Stribling, who completed 20-of-23 passes for 357 yards and four touchdowns. Despite playing in six games, Stribling ranks in the top 10 in passing yards in the WPIAL with 1,364. Three Eagles – Jesere Young, De’reon Washington, and Chris Warren – have each topped 300 yards receiving. Mason Jones anchors the rushing attack with 312 yards on the ground. After four consecutive losses to open the year, Serra has won two in a row. Coach Jose Regus is on the sidelines for Serra Catholic.

About the Matchup: Serra Catholic and Imani Christian are tied for third place in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, and the scheduled game between those teams was cancelled. Ligonier Valley, meanwhile, is tied with Yough for sixth. Last year, the Eagles edged the Rams 27-18.

Yough (2-5, 1-3) at Apollo-Ridge (1-6, 0-4) – 7 p.m.

About the Cougars: Although Yough scored first, the Cougars suffered a 40-12 loss to Serra Catholic in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. Host Yough produced an early TD on a 7-yard run by Mikey Nogy, while Antonio Marra capped the scoring for the Cougars. On the campaign, quarterback Raidon Kuroda has thrown for 471 yards, while rushing for 533 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. Shane Swope, Julian Varrenti, and Marra have also topped 250 yards rushing this season.

About the Vikings: Apollo-Ridge suffered its sixth loss in a row last week, a 60-13 drubbing on the road against Imani Christian Academy. Karter Schrock hit 11-of-22 passes for 126 yards, and he also rushed 23 times for 108 yards and both TDs. For the season, Schrock has amassed 540 yards passing and 794 yards rushing, and he’s scored 11 times, while nobody else on AR has found paydirt more than twice. The Vikings have yet to eclipse 21 points scored in a game this year, while allowing 35 or more points in each of the past five tilts. John Skiba is at the helm of Apollo-Ridge.

About the Matchup: Yough is deadlocked with Ligonier Valley in sixth in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while Apollo-Ridge is the lone winless squad in conference play. Last season, the Vikings reigned supreme, 26-13.

Monessen (2-5, 1-3) at Jefferson-Morgan (4-3, 3-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Greyhounds: Courtesy of a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, Monessen edged Carmichaels 14-13 in the Class 1A Tri-County South Conference one week ago. Rodney Johnson and Lorenzo Gardner found paydirt for the Greyhounds. Snapping a three-game skid last week, Monessen has been outpaced 221-140 on the year.

About the Rockets: Jefferson-Morgan launched past Mapletown 50-21 last week. Collin Bisceglia rushed 13 times for 123 yards and two scores, while Deakyn Dehoet caught two passes for 90 yards and a pair of TDs. The Rockets have won three straight contests, scoring 35 or more points in each. Shane Ziats is the head coach for JM.