Westmoreland County High School Football Week Five Preview

Norwin welcomes Penn-Trafford; GCC visits Clarion; Latrobe hosts Trinity

Fri Sep 29, 2023 - 8:43AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Fri Sep 29, 2023 - 6:08PM

With the WPIAL football regular season halfway complete, each passing Friday takes on added significance. This week marks the first time that every Westmoreland team plays conference action, as six county teams begin their conference slate on Friday. Here’s a complete analysis of every Westmoreland County game in Week Five.

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

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

WSN Broadcasters: Dave Franczak and Brian Brozeski

About the Warriors: Tasso Whipple’s record-setting performance propelled host Penn-Trafford to a 41-18 win against Hempfield Area in Class 5A Big East Conference play a week ago. Whipple rushed 23 times for 300 yards, establishing a new Warriors’ single-game mark, and scored four total touchdowns. He opened the scoring by hauling in a 44-yard pass from Jack Weishaar on a double pass, and he later added TD runs of 7, 14, and 35 yards, the last of which capped a surge of 20 unanswered points for PT. Jonny Lovre and Ben Grabowski also added rushing scores for the Warriors, and Grabowski compiled 89 yards on the ground. On the season, Whipple has amassed 609 yards rushing and a team-best seven TDs. Carmen Metcalfe paces the PT receivers with 21 catches for 263 yards. Allowing 19.2 points per game, the Warriors boast the best scoring defense in the conference.

About the Knights: Norwin came up just short of another furious second-half rally, as a potential tying score by the Knights was ruled a fumble, preserving the 30-23 win for host Woodland Hills in a 5A nonconference battle last week. The controversial fumble call at the goal line negated a Luke Denny touchdown in the final minutes of regulation. In the third quarter, Norwin trailed 23-7, but produced 16 unanswered points, as Denny caught a 76-yard touchdown pass from QB Tristyn Tavares, Tavares added a 1-yard TD, and Evan Pfeifer booted a tying field goal. Denny also hauled in a long score in the first half, finishing with five catches for 192 yards. Tavares went 13-of-32 for 289 yards, with two TDs and a pair of interceptions, while Jackson Pons posted eight catches for 91 yards. For the season, Tavares ranks just outside of the top 10 in the WPIAL in passing yards, as he’s thrown for 812 yards and nine TDs. Cristian Shogan is the leading rusher with 35 carries for 130 yards, while Denny’s four TDs pace the Knights.

About the Matchup: Both teams are aiming to move to 2-0 in the Class 5A Big East Conference. Last season, PT claimed a 28-0 victory. Norwin head coach Mike Brown is a Penn-Trafford grad.

Serra Catholic (0-4, 0-1) at Derry Area (3-2, 2-0) – 7:30 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Eagles: Serra Catholic’s game against Imani Christian last week was postponed because of the fatal accident involving a Serra Catholic student earlier in the week. Two weeks ago, the Eagles were edged by Burrell 8-7. For the season, QB Quadir Stribling has hit on 64-of-108 passes for 770 yards, with nine TDs and three interceptions. Jesere Young, De’reon Washington, Chris Warren, and Mason Jones have each caught at least 10 passes, while Jones leads the rushing attack with 49 carries for 192 yards. Washington leads Serra with five touchdowns. The Eagles have permitted an average of 34.5 points per contest. Jose Regus, who guided the team to the WPIAL title two years ago, remains at the helm of the program.

About the Trojans: Ahmad Ward and Demauri Robinson each surpassed 100 yards on the ground last Friday, as Derry Area bested host Apollo-Ridge 35-21 in a Class 2A Allegheny Conference contest. Ward accumulated 113 yards rushing and a pair of scores, and he added a receiving touchdown. Meanwhile, Robinson compiled 117 yards on the ground and two TDs. For the year, Ward has notched 591 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, while Robinson has produced nine catches for 196 yards, 15 carries for 191 yards, and four total scores. QB Mason Beeman has completed 22-of-51 passes for 332 yards, with one TD and six interceptions. Despite a winning record, DA has been outscored 143-118 this campaign.

About the Matchup: The Trojans are tied with Steel Valley and Burrell atop the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while the Eagles are among four winless teams in conference play. Last year, Serra Catholic rolled to a 49-7 victory.

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

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

WSN Broadcasters: Sean Meyers and Jack Ridenour

About the Centurions: The Centurions exploded for 54 points in the first half, outclassing Springdale 60-14 for a home triumph in the Class 1A Eastern Conference last week. Quarterback Tyree Turner had a banner performance, as he hit 5-of-7 passes for 58 yards and two scores, while he added four carries for 120 yard and three touchdowns on the ground. Jackson McMullen, who compiled 82 yards rushing, and Samir Crosby also added rushing scores, while Peter Mazowiecki and Landon Honick snagged receiving touchdowns. On the campaign, Turner has completed 42-of-67 throws for 715 yards and eight touchdowns, while he’s rushed for 281 yards and added eight total scores. Crosby, meanwhile, boasts 301 yards receiving and 133 yards rushing, scoring six times, and he’s also thrown for 137 yards and a touchdown. GCC has scored 37 or more points in each of its three victories, but has combined for just 13 points in two losses.

About the Bears: Clairton won its third game in a row, and second straight in conference play, courtesy of a 42-14 outcome at Leechburg a week ago. QB Mike Wright threw for two scores, completing 12-of-14 passes for 172 yards, and he added a rushing score. Drachir Jones, meanwhile, rushed 23 times for 154 yards and a score, and he also caught two passes for 41 yards, including a touchdown. Zae’Mere Correll had seven grabs for 86 yards and a TD. Through five contests, Jones has registered 69 carries for 487 yards, while Donte Wright has added 24 carries for 314 yards, and they are tied for the team lead with four TDs. After being shutout in each of the first two games, the Bears have scored 35 points or more in each of the past three tilts. Wayne Wade is the championship-winning coach for Clairton.

About the Matchup: Last year, GCC prevailed 34-18 enroute to a conference title. Two years ago, the Bears claimed a win and captured the conference crown.

Franklin Regional (3-2, 0-1) at Plum (2-3, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Jonathan Whaley

About the Panthers: Franklin Regional steamrolled previously-unbeaten Shaler Area 55-7 in a Class 5A nonconference battle last week. Ayden Hudock had a big effort for the host Panthers, as he caught six passes for 142 yards, twice reaching the end zone. Chase Lemke compiled 178 yards and two scores through the air, while adding a pair of rushing touchdowns. The FR defense also accounted for a pair of scores – a 20-yard fumble return by Austin Kerns, and a 15-yard pick-six by Elijah Bennett. To this point of the season, Lemke has completed 34-of-67 attempts for 550 yards, with six TDs and five picks. Kyle Dupill paces the run game, as he’s notched 75 carries for 491 yards, scoring seven total touchdowns. Kerns leads the FR defense with 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Franklin Regional has outscored its foes 152-114.

About the Mustangs: Plum was walloped at home by Gateway 49-14 last week, the third setback in a row for the Mustangs. Nick Odom was a bright spot, as he rushed 26 times for 143 yards, while Sean Franzi and Darian Nelson hooked up for a touchdown. TJ Futules notched a 47-yard run to cap the scoring for the Mustangs. Plum has been outscored 135-113 on the season. Matt Morgan is the veteran head coach for the Mustangs.

About the Matchup: Both teams are in search of their initial win in Class 5A Big East Conference play. Last year, the Panthers narrowly prevailed, 31-28.

Riverview (3-2, 1-1) at Jeannette (4-1, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

Pregame at 6:30 on WSN AUDIO - LISTEN LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Brent Whigham and Anthony DeNunzio

About the Raiders: Riverview outlasted Frazier 46-30 last week in a home triumph. Carlo Buzzato had a stellar showing, as he rushed 20 times for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Signalcaller Rocco Cecere went 4-of-7 for 106 yards and three TDs, with two of those scores going to Rio Stotts. In addition to his 52 yards receiving, Stotts also rushed three times for 48 yards and a TD. On the campaign, Buzzato has amassed 778 yards rushing and six total TDs, while Landon Johnson has produced 66 carries for 526 yards and five scores. The Raiders have scored 41 or more points in each of their victories. Coach Trevor George is at the helm of Riverview.

About the Jayhawks: Payton Molter and Kymon’e Brown hooked up for three touchdowns, as homestanding Jeannette cruised to a 35-7 victory against Charleroi in nonconference action last week. Molter threw for 158 yards, with three TDs and two interceptions, and he also registered a rushing score. Noah Sanders anchored the Jeannette rushing attack with 14 carries for 152 yards. For the season, Molter has completed 44-of-76 passes for 571 yards, with seven touchdowns and five interceptions, and he’s added 242 yards rushing. Sanders paces the ground game with 508 yards, and he leads Jeannette with seven total scores. Michael Mason, meanwhile, has produced 279 yards rushing. Jeannette’s defense is permitting just 14.6 points per game, the best mark in the conference.

About the Matchup: Last year, Jeannette prevailed 38-6. As a result, the Jayhawks finished fourth and claimed a playoff spot, while the Raiders finished fifth, a game out of the postseason.

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

About the Spartans: Hempfield Area had no answer for Tasso Whipple, who rushed for 300 yards and scored four touchdowns to propel host Penn-Trafford to a 41-18 win against the Spartans in Class 5A Big East Conference play last week. In the defeat, the Spartans received a 39-yard interception return from Mitchell Bitar late in the first half, and pulled within three points early in the fourth on a 33-yard connection from Keiran Lippmann to Nicholas Marquis. Lippmann hit on 5-of-10 passes for 88 yards, while Lucas Moore paced the rushing attack with 59 yards. On the season, Lippmann has connected on 49-of-84 passes for 510 yards, with three TDs and three picks, and he leads the Hempfield defense with 28 tackles. Rogan Katchur has 45 carries for 240 yards, while Lucas Moore has 43 attempts for 232 yards. The Spartans, who have lost four straight, have been outscored 135-94 on the campaign.

About the Gators: Gateway smacked host Plum 49-14 last week, winning its second straight conference game after an 0-3 start in the nonconference. Brad Birch had a prolific performance, as he completed 17-of-24 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Kenny Lewis caught eight of those passes for 139 yards and two scores, while Steven Jenkins added five catches for 140 yards. Jaquon Reynolds anchored the ground game, posting 15 carries for 73 yards and three TDs. Despite missing two games, Birch has thrown for 764 yards and five TDs. Meanwhile, Reynolds has 70 carries for 332 yards and a team-best four touchdowns. Gateway has played without Division I prospect Remy Bose for the entire season. After scoring just 15 points through three contests, the Gators have exploded for 93 in the past two tilts. Don Holl continues to patrol the sidelines for Gateway.

About the Matchup: Gateway is the lone team at 2-0 in the Class 5A Big East Conference. Last year, Gateway blasted previously-unblemished Hempfield Area 60-7.

Trinity (3-2, 1-1) at Greater Latrobe (3-2, 1-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Hillers: Trinity dropped a 35-7 decision at home against McKeesport Area a week ago. In the defeat, Jonah Williamson went 14-of-23 passing for 132 yards and an interception, and he rushed 21 times for 57 yards, accounting for the lone TD for the Hillers. Luke Lacock caught six passes for 51 yards, while Donte DeRubbo hauled in three passes for 60 yards. For the season, Williamson has completed 40-of-63 passes for 846 yards, with nine TDs and four interceptions, and he also leads the team with 36 carries for 289 yards and five scores. DeRubbo ranks first with 15 catches, while Lacock’s 322 receiving yards leads the Hillers. In their two losses, the Hillers have scored seven points each time. Dan Knause is in his second season as the head coach of Trinity.

About the Wildcats: Quarterback John Wetzel had a breakthrough performance in guiding Greater Latrobe to a 37-0 road victory against Laurel Highlands last week in Class 4A Big Seven Conference action. Wetzel, the Wildcats junior QB, completed 13-of-17 passes for 189 yards, including a pair of touchdowns, and he added 81 yards on the ground and two rushing scores. Ja’Tawn Williams caught six passes for 113 yards and a TD, while Ben Stratton added another receiving score. On the season, Wetzel has hit on 40-of-61 throws for 631 yards, with seven TDs and just one interception, and he’s amassed 310 yards and four touchdowns as a runner. Additionally, Williams leads the Wildcats with 16 catches for 363 yards. Bradan Bronson leads the GL defense with 44 tackles, while Alex Tatsch has 38 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions. The Wildcats have outscored their adversaries by a margin of 155-90.

About the Matchup: Both teams are tied with Connellsville Area in third in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference. In 2022, the Wildcats prevailed 31-6.

Kiski Area (1-4, 0-2) at Indiana Area (2-3, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Cavaliers: Kiski Area fell at home to North Catholic 28-7 in Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference play last week. Landon Kucic accounted for the lone TD for the Cavs on an 8-yard run, while Carson Heinle passed for 169 yards and Andrew Finney hauled in six passes for 89 yards. For the season, Kiski Area has compiled 79 points, by far the lowest in the conference.

About the Little Indians: Indiana Area was edged by homestanding Highlands 28-21 last week. Trevor Smith threw for a pair of touchdowns for the Little Indians, connecting on 17-of-25 passes for 167 yards, while Levi Porter caught a 24-yard TD and added a 5-yard touchdown run. On the year, Indiana has been outscored 135-116. Brad Wright is the head coach for the Little Indians.

About the Matchup: At 0-2 apiece, the teams are tied at the bottom of the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference. Last year, Indiana prevailed 47-28.

Mount Pleasant (4-1, 0-0) at Greensburg Salem (1-4, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Vikings: Mount Pleasant Area scored 35 unanswered points spanning the third and fourth quarters a week ago, rallying for a 45-23 win at home against Freeport Area in a Class 3A nonconference clash. Jackson Hutter and Brody Hutter combined for four of those touchdowns during the surge, as Jackson compiled 100 yards rushing on seven carries, while Brody had four rushes for 64 yards. Additionally, Cole Chatfield went 5-of-9 passing for 107 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown to Luke Nicotera in the first half. For the season, Chatfield has completed 30-of-56 attempts for 629 yards, with seven TDs and two interceptions. Jackson Hutter has registered 330 yards rushing, narrowly behind Garrett Eicher’s 343 for the team high. Eicher and Hutter are also tied for the team lead with five touchdowns each. Winners of four straight games, the Vikes have outscored their foes 147-100 on the season.

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem was blanked by East Allegheny, as the Wildcats cruised to a 42-0 win in a nonconference contest last week. Brody Chismar went 9-of-15 for 98 yards and an interception for GS. Dom Rosensteel paced the Golden Lions with five receptions for 60 yards, while Keegan Young had three grabs for 56 yards. For the season, Brady Smith leads the rushing attack, as he’s accumulated 48 carries for 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Kai Brunot has posted 237 yards on the ground and three scores. Adam Dipasquale, Peyton Chismar, and Brody Chismar have all taken snaps at QB, with Dipasquale throwing for a team-best 339 yards and three touchdowns. The Golden Lions average 15 points per contest, the lowest mark in the conference.

About the Matchup: This contest serves as the Class 3A Interstate Conference opener for both squads. Last year, the Vikings won 45-28.

Belle Vernon (3-1, 0-0) at South Allegheny (1-4, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead, as a late touchdown pass gave Thomas Jefferson a 24-19 victory in a highly-anticipated nonconference clash a week ago. Cole Doppleheuer posted a 93-yard touchdown run for the host Leopards, while Anthony Crews and Quinton Martin each hauled in TD passes from Braden Laux. Doppleheuer rushed for 102 yards, while Laux passed for 101 yards for BVA. The loss snapped a 14-game winning streak for the Leps, which was the longest among WPIAL teams. Through four contests, Martin has notched 34 carries for 260 yards, 14 receptions for 135 yards, and six total scores. Crews ranks second on BVA with four touchdowns. On average, Belle Vernon Area has outscored its opponents by a margin of 25.3-9.5.

About the Gladiators: South Allegheny dropped its fourth game in a row last Saturday, a 57-14 shellacking at Shady Side Academy. Cameron Epps was a bright spot for the Gladiators, as he rushed 20 times for 135 yards, including a 75-yard TD run. On the campaign, Epps has toted the ball 85 times for 582 yards, caught six passes for 129 yards, and has amassed a team-leading eight TDs. Ryan Cortes has earned the lion’s share of snaps at quarterback, completing 16-of-37 attempts for 237 yards, with two touchdowns and three picks. During their skid, SA has permitted 41 or more points in each game. Brian Hanson, who previously guided West Greene, is the first-year head coach for South Allegheny.

About the Matchup: This tilt serves as the lid-lifter for both teams in Class 3A Interstate Conference play. A year ago, the Leopards finished atop the conference, while South Allegheny finished last. BVA claimed a 50-0 win in 2022.

Southmoreland (3-2, 0-0) at Elizabeth Forward (5-0, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland struck first, but Deer Lakes scored 24 unanswered points, including 17 in the second half, to claim a 24-7 win last week at Southmoreland in a 3A nonconference tilt. Da’sjon Craggette found paydirt on a 4-yard run on the initial drive of the game for the Scotties. Southmoreland’s defense also forced three turnovers, including interceptions by Wyatt Richter and Ty Keffer. During their two-game skid, the Scotties have scored just seven total points. On the season, Craggette has rushed 78 times for 587 yards, scoring eight times. Keffer, meanwhile, has caught 28 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Southmoreland has outpaced its opponents 113-86.

About the Warriors: Elizabeth Forward remained perfect courtesy of a 22-0 blanking of Knoch last week. Isaiah Turner was an offensive catalyst, as he caught eight passes for 140 yards and two scores. Moreover, QB Ryan Messina went 15-of-21 for 210 yards through the air, including those two TDs. For the season, Jace Brown has rushed 81 times for 410 yards and scored six touchdowns, while Charlie Nigut has 52 carries for 327 yards, 11 receptions for 162 yards, and a team-best eight scores. Boosted by a pair of shutouts, EF has allowed just 7.2 points per game, the best mark in the conference, while the Warriors have also scored an average of 34.0 points per contest. John DeMarco is in his first year guiding Elizabeth Forward.

About the Matchup: This contest marks the opener in Class 3A Interstate Conference action for the Scotties and Warriors. DeMarco was an assistant at Southmoreland previously. In 2022, EF rolled to a 42-6 win.

East Allegheny (3-2, 0-0) at Valley (2-3, 0-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: East Allegheny cruised to a 42-0 victory against Greensburg Salem in a nonconference matchup one week ago. EA quarterback Michael Cahill threw four touchdowns, including a pair each to Brennan Rutledge and Stevie Yusko. The Wildcats have outscored their opponents 147-117 on the season. Longtime coach Dom Pecora guides East Allegheny.

About the Vikings: Darnell Coaston notched a pair of touchdowns and the Valley defense also produced two scores in leading the Vikings to a 38-6 win at home against Uniontown Area last week. Coaston scored on runs of 55 and 2 yards, while Demetrius Ballard and Conner Sakala each had fumble recovery touchdowns. On the season, Dorian Briggs paces Valley with three touchdowns.

Yough (1-4, 0-2) at Ligonier Valley (2-3, 1-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Cougars: Despite touchdowns from Mike Nogy and Shane Swope, Yough suffered a 28-12 loss to Burrell last week in Class 2A Allegheny Conference play. Nogy scored on a 5-yard run, while Swope’s TD run spanned 13 yards. QB Raidon Kuroda was 6-of-17 passing for 68 yards and two interceptions, and he added eight carries for 68 yards. Through five games, Kuroda has amassed 471 yards passing, but just one touchdown to eight interceptions. As a rusher, he’s posted a team-high 364 yards and six touchdowns, while Swope and Julian Varrenti are each over 200 yards on the ground. The Cougars have not permitted more than 28 points in a game this season, but they have also not topped 21 points scored in a contest.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley had no answer for Donald Barksdale, as he carried Steel Valley to a 35-0 whitewash of the Rams in Class 2A Allegheny Conference play last week. Barksdale produced 221 yards rushing and five scores for the homestanding Ironmen. In the defeat, John Jablunovsky rushed 17 times for 63 yards for the Rams. On the campaign, Jablunovsky has 74 carries for 436 yards, six receptions for 86 yards, and seven total touchdowns. QB Bowie Schreyer has connected on just 9-of-17 passes for 103 yards, with one TD and one interception. Scoring 15.2 points per game on average, the Rams rank last in the conference.

About the Matchup: Yough is one of two teams that are 0-2 in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while the Rams sit alone in fourth place at 1-1. Last season, LV rolled to a 48-14 win.

Imani Christian Academy (2-2, 0-1) at Burrell (3-2, 2-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Saints: Imani Christian’s game against Serra Catholic last week was postponed after the passing of a Serra Catholic student. Two weeks ago, the Saints suffered a 17-6 setback at home against Steel Valley. On the season, quarterback Steve Vandiver has connected on 62-of-129 passes for 775 yards, while also rushing 35 times for 222 yards. Dayshaun Burnett, a major Division I prospect, has rushed nine times for 139 yards, with a team-best four TDs. Chevon Allen paces Saints receivers with 21 catches for 274 yards. In their two victories, the Saints produced a total of 93 points. Coach LaRoi Johnson oversees the Imani Christian program.

About the Buccaneers: A pair of defensive touchdowns catapulted Burrell a 28-12 road win at Yough in Class 2A Allegheny Conference action last week. Devin Beattie anchored the Bucs’ offense, as he rushed 20 times for 151 yards and a touchdown, while Cooper Hornack added 10 carries for 67 yards and a score. Through five weeks, Beattie has registered 126 carries for 587 yards and two scores. Quarterback Stephen Hasson has completed just 3-of-11 passes for 38 yards, with no TDs and one interception. The Buccaneers, winners of three straight, have narrowly outscored their foes on the season, 79-76.

About the Matchup: Burrell is tied with Steel Valley and Derry Area atop the standings in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. Last season, the Bucs prevailed 41-30.

Monessen (1-4, 0-2) at West Greene (4-1, 2-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Greyhounds: Monessen dropped a 51-20 outcome against California Area last week in Class 1A Tri-County South Conference play. Daevon Burke notched an 85-yard kickoff return for the Greyhounds, while TyVaughn Kershaw threw for 113 yards and rushed for 61 yards. Burke and Kershaw are deadlocked for the team lead with four touchdowns each. On the season, Monessen has been outscored 167-94.

About the Pioneers: West Greene rolled to a 39-6 win on the road against Bentworth last week in conference play. Billy Whitlach had a mastodonic effort, as he compiled 25 carries for 234 yards and three TDs. QB Lane Allison completed 4-of-8 passes for 89 yards and three TDs, including a pair to Johnny Lampe. Although he missed last week with injury, Colin Brady leads West Greene with 75 carries for 760 yards and nine TDs, and he’s just shy of 5,000 yards rushing in his career. Beau Jackson is in his first season guiding the Pioneers.