Westmoreland County High School Football Week Six Preview

Penn-Trafford clashes with Gateway; FR meets Norwin; Mt. Pleasant welcomes Elizabeth Forward

Fri Oct 06, 2023 - 1:06PM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers
Norwin's Jackson Pons makes a leaping touchdown grab against Penn-Trafford last week. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)Norwin's Jackson Pons makes a leaping touchdown grab against Penn-Trafford last week. (Photo by www.westernpasports.com)

Last Updated: Fri Oct 06, 2023 - 3:16PM

As the calendar has switched to October, high school football games continue to increase in importance. Playoff implications will be prevalent this week across Westmoreland County, as all but one team will be in conference play, including a couple of matchups between teams unbeaten in conference. Here’s a detailed examination of all of the games across the county in Week Six.

Gateway (3-3, 3-0) at Penn-Trafford (3-3, 2-0) – 7:30 p.m.

Pregame at 7 p.m. on WSN Video - WATCH LIVE

WSN Broadcasters: Sean Meyers and Roger Downs

About the Gators: Gateway prevailed 63-21 at home against Hempfield Area last week in 5A Big East Conference action. Gators quarterback Brad Birch threw for 247 yards and five TDs, and he rushed for 121 yards and another score in the lopsided win. Despite missing two contests, Birch has hit on 44-of-108 passes for 1,011 yards, with 10 TDs and two interceptions, while he’s added 190 yards and three scores on the ground. Jaquon Reynolds leads the Gateway rushing attack, with 87 carries for 435 and a team-best eight scores, while Kenny Lewis, Derek Selby, Reynolds, Steven Jenkins, and Dyson Harper have all snagged 10 or more receptions. After scoring just 15 total points through three games, all losses, the Gators have scored 44 or more points in three consecutive tilts, all victories. Coach Don Holl is at the helm of Gateway.

About the Warriors: Penn-Trafford’s Ben Grabowski and Tasso Whipple combined for nearly 400 yards rushing and six touchdowns, leading the Warriors to a 56-28 win at Norwin in a Class 5A Big East Conference clash one week ago. Grabowksi had 16 carries for 205 yards and four TDs, while Whipple toted the ball 20 times for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns. PT scored on four consecutive drives in each the first and second halves, as QB Jonny Lovre hit on 9-of-14 passes for 147 yard and two scores, as well. Carmen Metcalfe caught six passes for 90 yards and a score. On the season, Whipple has accumulated 103 carries for 803 yards and a team-high nine TDs, and he’s added a dozen catches for 153 yards, while Grabowski has rushed for 478 yards and six scores. Metcalfe has 27 catches for 353 yards, scoring twice. The Warriors have scored just seven total points in three setbacks, but have produced 125 points in three wins. Allowing 20.7 points per contest, PT boasts the best scoring defense in the conference.

About the Matchup: The Gators and Warriors are the only undefeated teams left in the Class 5A Big East Conference. Last year, Gateway won 21-10. PT coach John Ruane is a graduate of Gateway.

Norwin (2-4, 1-1) at Franklin Regional (4-2, 1-1) – 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcaster: Jonathan Whaley

About the Knights: Norwin could not slow down the Penn-Trafford rushing attack, as the Knights allowed more than 400 yards on the ground in a 56-28 loss at home in Class 5A Big East Conference play last week. In the defeat, Norwin signalcaller Tristyn Tavares completed 23-of-35 passes for 296 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jake Knight and Jackson Pons registered 91 and 76 receiving yards, respectively. On the season, Tavares has hit on 88-of-169 passes for 1,446 yards, with 13 touchdowns. Luke Denny leads Norwin with 422 yards receiving and four touchdowns, Knight paces the squad with 26 catches, and Pons has 22 grabs for 320 yards. The Knights have been outscored 178-135 on the season, but they’ve scored at least 23 points in four straight games.

About the Panthers: A second-half rally propelled Franklin Regional to a 45-26 win at Plum in Class 5A Big East Conference play a week ago. Running back Kyle Dupill was the catalyst, as he rushed for 240 yards and five touchdowns. Ayden Hudock also produced a 65-yard TD run on a lateral for the Panthers. On the year, Dupill has amassed 718 yards rushing and a dozen touchdowns, ranking in the top 10 in the entire WPIAL in the latter. Hudock, meanwhile, has 21 receptions for 415 yards, while QB Chase Lemke has registered 630 yards through the air and 145 yards on the ground. Averaging better than 32 points per game, the Panthers have the top scoring offense in the conference.

About the Matchup: The Knights and Panthers are currently tied for third place, with only two playoff spots guaranteed from the Big East Conference. A year ago, Franklin Regional claimed a decisive 35-0 victory.

Elizabeth Forward (6-0, 1-0) at Mount Pleasant Area (5-1, 1-0) - 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: Dave Franczak and John Bainbridge

About the Warriors: Elizabeth Forward rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit, as the Warriors claimed a 31-24 win at home against Southmoreland in Class 3A Interstate Conference play last week. Charlie Nigut scored all four TDs for the Warriors, including a 90-yard kickoff return, and he registered 101 yards receiving and 50 yards rushing. On the campaign, Nigut has produced a dozen touchdowns. Isaiah Turner leads EF with 21 catches for 374 yards, while Jace Brown is the top rusher, amassing 86 carries for 409 yards and six TDs. Quarterback Ryan Messina has thrown for 910 yards and seven scores. EF has been stifling defensively, permitting just 60 points through six contests, while the Warriors lead the conference offensively with a scoring average of 33.5 points per game. John DeMarco, a former Southmoreland assistant, is the first-year head coach for Elizabeth Forward.

About the Vikings: Dante Giallonardo rushed for 153 yards and scored three total touchdowns in leading Mount Pleasant Area to a convincing 38-7 win on the road against Greensburg Salem in a Class 3A Interstate Conference affair last week. Vikings QB Cole Chatfield rushed for a TD, and he added another via the air to Giallonardo. On the campaign, the Vikings have six players who have surpassed 150 yards rushing, with Garrett Eicher leading the way with 366 yards on the ground and a team-best seven scores. Chatfield has thrown for 686 yards and eight TDs, and has compiled 183 yards rushing. His favorite passing target has been Lucas Nicotera, who has 17 receptions for 314 yards. Winners of five straight games, the Vikings have scored 24 or more points in every contest this season.

About the Matchup: The Warriors and Vikings, as well as the Belle Vernon Area Leopards, all won a week ago in their initial Class 3A Interstate Conference contests. In 2022, EF prevailed 42-14.

Derry Area (3-3, 2-1) at Steel Valley (4-1, 3-0) - 7 p.m.

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

WSN Broadcasters: John Flickinger and Bob Lasinski

About the Trojans: Ahmad Ward had another monster performance for host Derry Area last week, but it wasn’t enough in a 27-12 loss to Serra Catholic in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. Ward rushed for 149 yards and accounted for both TDs for the Trojans. For the season, Ward has 145 carries for 743 yards and 13 touchdowns. Demauri Robinson, who has 196 yards receiving and 183 yards rushing, is the only other player for DA who has scored more than once, as he has notched four TDs. Derry Area has been outpaced 170-130 on the season.

About the Ironmen: Steel Valley cruised to a 49-17 win at Apollo-Ridge last week in Class 2A Allegheny Conference action. Donald Barksdale had a prolific showing, as he rushed 23 times for 202 yards and five touchdowns. Del Shields added six carries for 103 yards and two scores for Steel Valley. In five contests, Barksdale has rushed 103 times for 684 yards and has scored 12 touchdowns, while Da’Ron Barksdale has produced 190 yards rushing and three scores. QB Jaden Cabbagestalk has thrown for just 194 yards on 13-of-19 passing. The Ironmen have posted a pair of shutouts and have outscored adversaries 156-46 on the season. Veteran coach Ray Braszo guides Steel Valley, which is the defending WPIAL Class 2A champion.

About the Matchup: Steel Valley leads the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while Derry Area is tied with Burrell for second place. Last season, the Ironmen left no doubt, winning 49-0.

Greater Latrobe (4-2, 2-1) at Ringgold (0-6, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Wildcats: Greater Latrobe’s defense accounted for a pair of scores, as the Wildcats held serve at home with a 25-7 win against Trinity. Ja’Tawn Williams and Alex Tatsch each posted interception returns for touchdowns, with Williams spanning 55 yards on his pick six. Williams also added a TD reception from John Wetzel. For the year, Wetzel has thrown for 724 yards and eight scores, while rushing 68 times for 342 yards and five scores. Williams paces the Wildcats with seven TDs, while Tatsch, who continues to add Division I offers, has scored six times. The GL defense has held opponents to seven or fewer points three times this season, including a shutout.

About the Rams: Ringgold remained winless with a 48-0 loss at McKeesport Area last week. The Rams have permitted 47 or more points in five games in a row, while scoring eight or fewer points in four contests on the campaign. In total, Ringgold has been outscored 276-48. Ringgold coach Marcus McCullough, in his second season, is still in pursuit of his first win with the Rams.

About the Matchup: The Wildcats currently reside in third in the Class 4A Big Seven Conference, while the Rams are one of two teams yet to gain a conference win. Last season, Greater Latrobe cruised to a 42-0 victory.

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

About the Fightin’ Planets: Mars Area prevailed 48-15 at home against Highlands one week ago. Gabe Hein was nearly unstoppable, as he caught four passes for 113 yards and two scores, and he also returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown. Evan Wright paced the rushing attack with 21 carries for 108 yards and a pair of TDs. On the year, Wright has scored 16 TDs, rushing 132 times for 800 yards, while Hein has 38 catches for 710 yards and eight scores. The Fightin’ Planets lead the conference in both scoring offense and scoring defense, outpacing foes 232-97. Coach Eric Kasperowicz, who had immense success at Pine-Richland, is on the sidelines for Mars.

About the Cavaliers: Landon Kucic scored a hat trick of touchdowns on the ground last week, leading Kiski Area to a 28-7 road win against Indiana Area in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference. Kucic amassed 113 yards rushing for the Cavaliers, while QB Carson Heinle registered 194 yards passing and a score for KA. For the year, Heinle has produced 842 yards passing and eight scores, while his favorite option through the air has been Andrew Finney, who has 21 receptions for 312 yards. The Cavs have scored 28 points in each of their two wins.

About the Matchup: Mars Area is tied with Hampton atop the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference. Last year, the Fightin’ Planets notched a 47-28 victory.

Greensburg Salem (1-5, 0-1) at Belle Vernon Area (4-1, 1-0) – 7 p.m.

About the Golden Lions: Greensburg Salem was bested at home by Mount Pleasant Area last week, as the Vikings claimed a 38-7 win in a Class 3A Interstate Conference showdown. Brady Smith secured the lone TD for GS, while QB Brody Chismar threw for 203 yards. The Golden Lions have had a revolving door at QB this season, as Adam Dispasquale has attempted 57 passes, Brody Chismar has thrown 50 passes, and Peyton Chismar has 42 attempts through the air. Smith paces the rushing attack with 64 carries for 332 yards, and he and Kai Brunot are deadlocked for the team lead with three TDs apiece. GS has been outscored 206-82 in 2023.

About the Leopards: Belle Vernon Area exploded for 50 points in the first half, dominating South Allegheny 57-6 in the Class 3A Interstate Conference opener last week. Quinton Martin produced three rushing scores and a receiving touchdown, while Braden Laux notched three passing TDs. On eight carries, Martin compiled 74 yards, while Laux passed for 159 yards. Kole Doppleheuer, Colton Lee, Zach Zelenski, and Curtis Wade also found paydirt for BVA. In five contests, Martin has rushed for 334 yards, registered 170 yards receiving, and scored 10 times. Anthony Crews ranks second behind Martin with 11 receptions, 141 yards, and four TDs. In the absence of Jake Gedekoh, Kole Doppleheuer ranks second on BVA with 205 yards rushing on the campaign. BVA, boosted by a pair of shutouts, is permitting just 8.8 points per contest.

About the Matchup: A year ago, the Leopards steamrolled the Golden Lions 51-7.

South Allegheny (1-5, 0-1) at Southmoreland (3-3, 0-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Gladiators: South Allegheny was overmatched in a 57-6 loss at home against Belle Vernon Area last week in the Class 3A Interstate Conference lid-lifter. Malakai Myers accounted for the lone score, a 4-yard TD run. Cameron Epps, meanwhile, rushed 18 times for 101 yards. For the campaign, Epps leads SA with 103 carries for 683 yards and eight TDs, while nobody has scored more than once for the Gladiators. South Allegheny has yielded 257 points, the worst mark in the conference. Brian Hanson is in his first season guiding the program.

About the Scotties: Southmoreland was unable to make a fourth-quarter lead stand, as the Scotties dropped a 31-24 outcome on the road against Elizabeth Forward in Class 3A Interstate Conference play last week. Kadin Keefer accounted for a TD run and connected with Ty Keffer and Da’sjon Craggette on long scores. Keffer hauled in a 67-yard scoring play, while Craggette snagged a 77-yard reception. Keefer finished with 262 yards through the air, and Craggette mustered 108 yards rushing. Through six contests, Craggette has compiled 695 yards on the ground and a team-high nine TDs. Keffer, meanwhile, has 33 grabs for 449 yards.

About the Matchup: While the Scotties are on a three-game skid, the Gladiators have lost five in a row. Last year, Southmoreland won comfortably, 36-6.

Valley (2-4, 0-1) at Deer Lakes (4-2, 0-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Vikings: Valley could not contain the East Allegheny attack one week ago, as the Wildcats secured a 42-12 triumph on the road in the Class 3A Allegheny Six Conference. Darnell Coaston and Trevor Corbert posted TD runs for the Vikings. For the season, QB Mason Simmons has completed 42-of-100 passes for 449 yards, with four TDs and five interceptions. Valley has been outscored 159-98.

About the Lancers: Deer Lakes tasted a 41-21 defeat at Knoch last week. Signalcaller Derek Burk went 17-of-29 for 234 yards, with a pair of TDs and one interception, and he added eight carries for 88 yards. On the season, he’s amassed 1,024 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air, while Zier Williams has anchored the rushing attack with 82 carries for 656 yards and a team-best six scores. DL has more than doubled up its opponents this season, holding a 181-90 scoring margin. Tim Burk is at the helm of the Lancers.

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

About the Buccaneers: Burrell was unable to capitalize on its red zone chances in the first half, as the host Buccaneers fell 35-8 against Imani Christian Academy in Class 2A Allegheny Conference play last week. Devin Beattie’s fourth-quarter TD accounted for the only score for the Buccaneers, as he posted 15 carries for 88 yards. On the year, Beattie has been the offensive catalyst, registering 145 carries for 679 yards and five TDs. QB Stephen Hasson has completed just eight passes for 80 yards. In their three defeats, the Bucs have combined for just 21 points.

About the Rams: Ligonier Valley was suffocated by the Yough defense last week, as the Cougars won 21-0 in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference matchup. John Jablunovsky had 17 carries for 63 yards, while nobody else surpassed 17 yards on the ground. On the season, John Jablunovsky has registered 74 carries for 436 yards and has scored seven times, all team-high marks. QB Bowie Schreyer has connected on just 9-of-17 passes for 103 yards. LV has scored 14 points total in four setbacks.

About the Matchup: Burrell is tied with Derry Area for second place in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, while LV is deadlocked with Yough in sixth. Last year, the Rams prevailed 29-15.

Serra Catholic (1-4, 1-1) at Yough (2-4, 1-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Eagles: Serra Catholic bested Derry Area 27-12 last week in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference. The Eagles were led by QB Quadir Stribling, who passed for 192 yards and scored a touchdown each through the air and on the ground. The win snapped a four-game skid this year for Serra. Stribling has hit on 83-of-134 passes for 994 yards and 10 TDs. Five players have snagged 12 or more receptions, including Jesere Young and De’reon Washington, who paces Serra Catholic with seven touchdowns. The Eagles have been outscored 150-112. Jose Regus is at the helm of Serra Catholic.

About the Cougars: Keyed by a pair of 100-yard rushers and a stifling defense, Yough ousted Ligonier Valley 21-0 in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference a week ago. Yough QB Raidon Kuroda rushed for 138 yards, and Shane Swope compiled 130 yards on the ground, each finding the end zone. Antonio Marra added another TD run for the Cougars. Kuroda leads the team in passing yards (471), rushing yards (364), and touchdowns (six). His favorite target has been Ryan Sarver, who has 15 receptions for 166 yards, while Marra has a dozen catches for 169 yards. Yough has scored between 12 and 21 points in every game this season.

About the Matchup: While Serra Catholic is tied with Imani Christian Academy in fourth place in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, the Cougars are deadlocked with Ligonier Valley in sixth. Serra Catholic doubled up Yough last year, 28-14.

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

About the Commodores: Frazier was outclassed last week in a 59-8 loss against Leechburg. Chase Fulmer leads the Commodores with three TDs on the season, while Derek Diamond is the top rusher. Frazier has mustered just 57 points through six games, including three shutouts. Head coach Mike Shannon oversees the program.

About the Centurions: A furious fourth-quarter comeback bid came up short for Greensburg Central Catholic, as Clairton claimed a 40-28 victory at home in the Class 1A Eastern Conference last week. Tyree Turner hit on 14-of-26 passes for 208 yards and two TD, and he added a score on the ground for GCC. Turner’s touchdown passes went to Peter Mazowiecki and Landon Honick. On the year, Turner has completed 42-of-67 passes for 715 yards and eight TDs, while also rushing 50 times for 326 yards and scoring a team-best nine touchdowns. Samir Crosby leads GCC with 21 receptions for 408 yards, and he’s found paydirt six times. In their three wins, the Centurions scored 37 or more points each time.

About the Matchup: While Greensburg Central Catholic is in the middle of the Class 1A Eastern Conference, Frazier resides at the bottom. The Centurions dominated last year, winning 47-0.

Jeannette (5-1, 2-0) at Leechburg (4-2, 2-1) – 7 p.m.

About the Jayhawks: Jeannette took a 35-0 lead en route to a 42-22 win at home against Riverview in Class 1A Eastern Conference play one week ago. The Jayhawks, who scored two touchdowns in the first two offensive plays from scrimmage, received another big effort from QB Payton Molter and receiver Kymon’e Brown, who hooked up for three TDs. Molter went 8-of-12 for 158 yards, and Brown caught three passes for 88 yards. Noah Sanders, who scored on each of those first two plays, finished with six carries for 151 yards. For the year, Sanders has 662 yards rushing and nine TDs, while Brown has amassed 229 yards receiving and eight total scores. Jeannette, which suffered its only loss in overtime, has scored 30 or more points in five straight contests.

About the Blue Devils: Leechburg pounded Frazier 59-8 one week ago. Quarterback Jayden Floyd was instrumental in the offensive outburst, as he threw for 127 yards and a score, and added 107 yards rushing and another TD on the ground. Jake Cummings and Tim Andrasy each scored twice, too. For the year, Floyd has been a true dual-threat QB, throwing for 724 yards and five scores, while rushing for 733 yards and 11 TDs. The Blue Devils have scored 224 points, the most in the conference. Randy Walters continues to serve as the head coach for Leechburg.

About the Matchup: While Jeannette is in second place in the Class 1A Eastern Conference, Leechburg is in the third spot. Last year, the Blue Devils prevailed in a high-scoring affair, 58-21.

Hempfield Area (1-5, 0-2) at Seneca Valley (1-5, 0-2) – 7 p.m.

About the Spartans: Although Dom Detruf had a strong performance behind center for Hempfield Area, the Spartans had no answer for Gateway’s offense, as the Gators prevailed 63-21 in 5A Big East Conference action last week. Detruf compiled 246 yards and two scores through the air, and he notched a rushing TD, as well. For the season, the duo of Rogan Katchur and Lucas Moore have split carries, with Katchur producing 50 carries for 238 yards, while Moore has registered 48 carries for 235 yards. Losers of five straight, the Spartans have been outscored 198-115 on the year.

About the Raiders: Seneca Valley won its first game of the season last week, smashing Butler Area 55-0. QB Sean O’Shea threw for 187 yards and two scores, and he rushed for two more TDs. The Raiders have been outpaced 171-109 this year. Head coach Ron Butschle continues to oversee Seneca Valley.

About the Matchup: This contest is a nonconference clash, as the Spartans compete in the Class 5A Big East, while the Raiders are in the 6A Tri-County Conference. Seneca Valley won convincingly a year ago, 42-12.

Carmichaels (2-4, 1-2) at Monessen (1-5, 0-3) – 7 p.m.

About the Mighty Mikes: Carmichaels fell to Beth-Center 34-20 last week. Quarterback A.J. Donaldson had a pair of TD runs in the setback. For the year, he’s thrown for 344 yards and rushed for another 292 yards. William Murray paces the rushing attack with 418 yards. The Mighty Mikes have been outscored 186-101. Ryan Krull serves as the head coach for Carmichaels.

About the Greyhounds: Despite two touchdowns from Tim Kershaw, Monessen fell 41-32 at West Greene in Class 1A Tri-County South action a week ago. Lorenzo Gardner, Rodney Johnson, and Damajae Martin also scored for Monessen. The Greyhounds have permitted 208 points, the most in the conference.