WPIAL 3A Semifinal Preview: Belle Vernon vs. Freeport

The Leopards and Yellowjackets clash at Gateway on Friday

Fri Nov 18, 2022 - 7:44AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Fri Nov 18, 2022 - 1:08AM

#1 Belle Vernon (8-2) vs. #4 Freeport (10-1) – 7 p.m. at Gateway H.S.

WPIAL Class 3A semifinals

About the Yellowjackets: Freeport Area cruised to a 42-6 win at home last week against No. 5 West Mifflin Area in the quarterfinals last week. After trailing 6-0 after the first quarter, the Yellowjackets scored 14 points in each of the final three frames. Ben Lane accounted for four touchdowns, as he rushed 14 times for 169 yards, while Zack Clark added seven carries for 71 yards and a pair of scores. Quarterback Gavin Croney was 6-of-9 passing for 95 yards, while Parker Lucas and Brady Stivenson each amassed 36 yards receiving. In the defensive effort, Lucas and Brady Paga recovered fumbles, while Jake Bollinger snagged an interception. For the season, Lane has paced Freeport with 102 carries for 1,075 yards, has caught 21 passes for 168 yards, and has scored 23 total touchdowns. Meanwhile, Clark has amassed 489 yards on the ground and has posted nine scores. Croney has hit 73-of-140 passes for 1,001 yards, with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, while adding 350 yards and seven scores on the ground. The top receiver is Stivenson, who has hauled in 21 receptions for 422 yards. Kicker Isaac Wetzel has made a pair of field goals and converted 47 extra points. The Yellowjackets, on a seven-game winning streak, have allowed 19 or fewer points in each victory this campaign. They have outpaced their foes by a margin of 392-140. This marks the first semifinals appearance for Freeport since 2015. Coach John Gaillot is at the helm of Freeport Area.

About the Leopards: Last week, Belle Vernon Area scored eight unanswered touchdowns en route to a 55-7 victory at home against No. 9 East Allegheny in the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals. Quinton Martin was prolific, amassing 18 carries for 208 yards and four scores, all in the first half. Jake Gedekoh added 70 yards on 10 attempts, including a touchdown run, while Steve Macheska, Tanner Steeber, and Cole Doppleheuer also scored for BVA. In addition to his TD on a recovery after a blocked punt, Macheska led the defensive charge for the Leopards, as he registered a sack and recovered a fumble. Earlier this week, he was named a finalist for the Bill Fralic Memorial Award, which recognizes the top senior interior lineman in the WPIAL. For the campaign, Martin has compiled 96 carries for 994 yards, has caught 18 passes for 273 yards, and has scored 24 touchdowns. Additionally, Gedekoh has registered 57 carries for 495 yards and 14 total scores. Signalcaller Braden Laux has completed 50-of-89 passes for 762 yards, with eight TDs and four interceptions. Chase Ruokonen has contributed 16 receptions for a team-high 295 yards. The Leopards, who boast a seven-game winning streak, have scored 48 or more points in six contests in a row. BVA has outscored its adversaries 388-90.

About the Matchup: The winner moves on to the WPIAL Class 3A championship game at Acrisure Stadium on Nov. 25, and will play either second-seeded Avonworth or No. 6 Shady Side Academy. The Leopards were the champions of the Interstate Conference, while the Yellowjackets reigned supreme in the Allegheny Six Conference. The teams have not met since prior to 2003.