Mt. Lebanon’s Seth Morgan named Trib HSSN Football Player of the Week
Some teams would have cracked, Mt. Lebanon did not because of Seth Morgan.
Following an emotional win over Central Catholic in Week 9 that secured third place in WPIAL Class 6A and a home playoff game, the Blue Devils found themselves trailing Canon-McMillan by seven at halftime.
Then Mt. Lebanon took control by outscoring the Big Macs 21-0 in the third quarter in what would be a 38-31 quarterfinals triumph.
“Seth had an excellent game on Friday,” said Mt. Lebanon coach Mike Melnyk. “He kept his poise and was a real leader for our team when we got behind in the first half.”
Morgan, who threw for more than 300 yards in a Week 1 victory over Canon-McMillan, connected on 16 of his 24 passes Friday for 259 yards with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Lucas Decaro and a 7-yard scoring run.
“He has really improved as the year has gone on and is making excellent decisions and taking care of the football,” Melnyk said of his senior quarterback. “Seth is letting the game come to him and leading, both on and off the field.”
After taking a 3-0 lead, the Blue Devils fell behind when the Big Macs scored 17 unanswered points. Canon-McMillan, in the postseason for the first time in nine years, took a 24-17 lead into the locker room.
Melnyk said Morgan’s leadership helped lead to the big third quarter for his team.
“I think that our players were confident at halftime and came out playing with great emotion and determination.
“Things didn’t break right for us in the first half, but our offense moved the ball with great efficiency and our defense got some stops in the third quarter.”
The win moves Mt. Lebanon in the semifinals Friday, when they visit Pine-Richland for the second time this season. The defending champion Rams won a Week 7 shootout, 42-24.
So what is the strategy for Morgan and his team this Friday with a trip to Heinz Field and the 6A title game up for grabs?
“We will ask Seth to continue to play the way he has the past three games and play aggressively, but smart,” Melynk admitted. “We will have to score some points against Pine-Richland on Friday, but only one more point than they score.”
WPIAL Week 10 honorable mentions
Adam Rudzinski and Mike Evans -- Franklin Regional
Franklin Regional limped into the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs having lost three of their final four games. But that flat finish to the regular season was a distant memory thanks to the combination of Rudzinski to Evans lighting up the South Hills sky. Rudzinski hit on 10 of 17 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns to go with a pair of scoring runs. Evans had seven receptions for 237 yards and three long touchdowns as the Panthers crushed host Bethel Park, 56-28 in the quarterfinals.
Dan Deabner -- Thomas Jefferson
In a rematch of the 2016 WPIAL Class A 4A finals, Thomas Jefferson washed, rinsed and repeated with great success on the ground and in the air en route to a 49-16 rout of New Castle. It seemed like every time Deabner touched the ball for the Jaguars, six points were added to the scoreboard. Deabner had six catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns, plus he returned a punt 73-yard for another score as the Jaguars cruised past the Red Hurricane.
Geno Pellegrini -- Charleroi
It had been a long time coming. The last time Charleroi won a WPIAL football playoff game, their starting quarterback wasn’t even born. But a star has been born this year as Pellegrini added to his sensational senior season by hitting on 14 of 23 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns along with a scoring scamper as the host Cougars shook off a 14-0 deficit to beat the Riverside Panthers, 35-21, in a Class 2A first round playoff game for the programs first postseason victory since 1998.
Noah Whiteleather -- Rochester
Whiteleather had a huge game Friday for Rochester, but he was hardly alone. In a dominating ground game performance, Rochester had three players with more than 100 yards as Darius Goosby rushed for 152 yards and Rashawn Reed added 134. Whiteleather gained a district-high 254 yards and scored twice as the Rams ran to a 52-14 triumph over West Greene in a Class A quarterfinal.
Tyler Bradley -- Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
In his two previous years as starting quarterback for OLSH, Tyler Bradley led his team to the playoffs for the first two times in program history. However those postseason trips ended with losses to Imani Christian in 2016 and last season. The Chargers and Saints were paired again in the Class A quarterfinals, and Bradley made sure the outcome was different. The senior hit on 16 of 25 passes for 227 yards and six touchdowns as OLSH crushed Imani Christian, 60-6 for the Chargers first trip to the district semifinals.
Bonus Mention - playoff drought killers
Penn-Trafford -- beat North Hills for first time in playoff in six meetings
Peters Township -- first playoff win in 15 years
Blackhawk -- first playoff win in 10 years
Charleroi -- first playoff win in 20 years
Mohawk -- first playoff win in 13 years