Week 1′s don’t-miss matchups in the A-K Valley

September 23, 2018
Fans cheer as Plum takes the field prior to a game against Highlands on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, at Plum.

Class 5A Big East

Plum (1-0, 0-0) at Franklin Regional (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Franklin Regional HS Stadium, Murrysville

Last week: Plum 32, Highlands 14; Franklin Regional makes its season debut.

Coaches: Matt Morgan, Plum; Greg Botta, Franklin Regional

Top players: Cooper Aubele, Plum (Sr., 6-3, 265, OL/DL); Adam Rudzinski, FR (Sr., 6-2, 193, QB/OLB)

Keep an eye on: Michael Evans, Franklin Regional (Sr., 6-1, 177, WR/CB)

Momentum: Plum opened its campaign last week with an impressive 32-14 nonconference triumph over Class 4A Highlands.

Four downs: 1. Plum is 1-0 for the first time since 2015 when in beat Hempfield en route to a 6-4 record and a trip to the WPIAL Quad-A playoffs; 2. Rudzinski, who threw for 1,090 yards and 10 touchdowns last year for the Panthers, will call signals behind an offensive line of a senior and four juniors; 3. The Mustangs passing game was humming in Week Zero, as senior Hunter Linhart threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns, and sophomore wideout Max Matolcsy caught seven passes for 197 yards and two scores; 4. Plum won last year’s contest 33-7. It was the first meeting of the neighborhood rivals since 2011.

Class 5A Northern

Shaler (1-0, 0-0) at Kiski Area (1-0, 1-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Richard J. Dilts Stadium, Vandergrift

Radio/Internet: TribLive HSSN

Last week: Shaler 34, New Castle 21; Kiski Area 24, Allderdice 9

Coaches: Jim Ryan, Shaler; Sam Albert, Kiski Area

Top players: Joey Kremer, Shaler (Sr., 5-9, 205, RB/LB); Drew Dinunzio-Biss, Kiski Area (Sr., 6-0, 225, RB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Tracey Morris, Kiski Area (Sr., 6-0, 190, KR/WR/CB)

Momentum: Kiski Area and Shaler open conference play with momentum after each scored Week Zero victories.

Four downs: 1. Shaler’s win against New Castle snapped a 24-game losing streak overall. The Titans now will look to halt a 14-game losing skid to conference opponents; 2. Kiski senior running back Drew Dinunzio-Biss collected 85 yards rushing against Allderdice and scored the first touchdown in the history of Richard J. Dilts Stadium, a 1-yard plunge in the first quarter; 3. Shaler and Kiski Area meet for the first time since 2001; 4. The Cavaliers’ win last week matched its win total from all of last year (1-9).

Class 4A Northwest 8

Knoch (0-1, 0-0) at Blackhawk (1-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Northwestern Stadium, Darlington

Last week: Hampton 28, Knoch 8; Blackhawk 21, Central Valley 7

Coaches: Frank Whalen, Knoch; Zack Hayward, Blackhawk

Top players: Matt Goodlin, Knoch (Jr., 5-9, 180, RB/LB); Kenny Gawley, Blackhawk (Sr., 5-11, 180, RB)

Keep an eye on: Chris DeLuca, Blackhawk (Sr., 6-2, 243, OL/DT)

Momentum: Blackhawk’s defense held Central Valley to only 65 total yards and four first downs in the Week Zero victory.

Four downs: 1. Blackhawk last started 2-0 in 2011 when it won five of its first six games; 2. Chase Mullen scored Knoch’s lone touchdown last week, and Goodlin rushed for 104 yards; 3. Blackhawk lineman Chris DeLuca is a four-year starter; 4. Knoch won last year’s meeting 39-13.

Class 3A Big East

Deer Lakes (0-0, 0-0) at Elizabeth Forward (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Warrior Stadium, Elizabeth

Last year: Deer Lakes finished 2-7, 1-6 in the Allegheny (3A); Elizabeth Forward was 7-3, 6-1 in the Interstate (3A).

Coaches: Tim Burk, Deer Lakes; Mike Collodi, Elizabeth Forward

Top players: Colin Kadlick, Deer Lakes (Sr., 6-3, 230, TE/DE); Zach Benedek, EF (Sr., 6-1, 190, QB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Jared Colton, Deer Lakes (Sr., 6-2, 175, WR/CB)

Four downs: 1. Last year, Elizabeth Forward won a share of its conference title and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1985; 2. Deer Lakes junior quarterback Aris Hasley threw for 872 yards and six touchdowns in 2017; 3. Benedek threw for nearly 1,400 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior; 4. The Lancers are hoping to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

Class 3A Big East

2-3A North Catholic (1-0, 0-0) at Burrell (0-1, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Buccaneer Stadium, Lower Burrell

Last week: North Catholic 49, Albert Gallatin 12; Valley 26, Burrell 21

Coaches: Pat O’Shea, North Catholic; Shawn Liotta, Burrell

Top players: Zac Rocco, North Catholic (Jr., 6-3, 215, QB/SS); Luke Kastelic, Burrell (Sr., 5-10, 180, RB/LB)

Richard J. Dilts Stadium Nikhai Hill-Green, NC (Jr.,6-2, 190, RB/LB)

Momentum: The No. 2-ranked Trojans hope to keep rolling after blitzing Class 5A Albert Gallatin by 37 last week.

Four downs: 1. North Catholic, which made the move up to 3A, is young with only seven seniors on the roster; 2. Kastelic scored all three touchdowns for Burrell last week with TD runs of 4, 7 and 46 yards; 3. Hill-Green is the third-ranked recruit in Pennsylvania for the 2020 class by Rivals.com; 4. Junior quarterback Logan Phillips, a former wide receiver, powers the Bucs up-tempo offense.

Class 2A Allegheny

Avonworth (1-0, 0-0) at Valley (1-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Valley’s Memorial Stadium, New Kensington

Last week: Avonworth 49, Neshannock 21; Valley 26, Burrell 21

Coaches: Duke Johncour, Avonworth; Muzzy Colosimo, Valley

Top players: Derek Johncour, Avonworth (Sr., 6-2, 180, QB); Deonte Ross, Valley (Sr., 6-0, 225, RB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Turner Grau, Avonworth (Sr., 6-3, 185, WR/CB)

Momentum: Both teams hope to feed off of victories in Week Zero and pick up an all-important first conference win.

Four downs: 1. Johncour was on point for Avonworth in Week Zero with 348 yards and four touchdowns in a victory over Neshannock; 2. Valley is looking to start 2-0 for the first time since 2013; 3. Grau hauled in nine of Johncour’s completions for 210 yards and three scores; 4. Noah Hutcherson led a Valley defensive effort against Burrell with five sacks. He also recovered a blocked punt that set up a touchdown.

Class A Eastern

1-A Jeannette (1-0, 0-0) at Leechburg (1-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Field, Leechburg

Radio/Internet: TribLive HSSN

Last week: Jeannette 32, East Allegheny 12; Leechburg 28, Apollo-Ridge 13

Coaches: Roy Hall, Jeannette; Mark George, Leechburg

Top players: Marcus Barnes, Jeannette (Sr., 6-4, 185, WR/DB); Jake Blumer, Leechburg (Jr., 6-1, 190, RB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Seth Howard, Jeannette (Sr. 6-1, 170, QB/DB).

Momentum: Jeannette is No. 1 in the WPIAL Class A rankings and rolled in Week Zero, but Leechburg is flying high after toppling rival Apollo-Ridge.

Four downs: 1. Leechburg’s win last Friday was its first against Apollo-Ridge since 2003, and it snapped an 11-game losing skid; 2. Jeannette scored 26 unanswered points in the second half to pull away from East Allegheny; 3. Blumer had 72 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, added a couple of sacks and returned a fumble 50 yards for a score against the Vikings; 4. Jeannette junior running back Imani Sanders tallied 102 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries last Friday.

Class A Eastern

Riverview (0-0, 0-0) at Greensburg Central Catholic (1-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Centurion Stadium, Greensburg

Last week: GCC 41, Tuscarawas C.C. (Ohio) 7; Riverview is making its season debut.

Coaches: Todd Massack, Riverview; Aaron Smetanka, GCC

Top players: Devon Binz, Riverview (Sr., 5-10, 180, RB/LB); Max Pisula, GCC (Sr., 6-2, 212, QB, LB)

Keep an eye on: J.D. Sykes, Riverview (Sr., 5-8, 170, RB/LB)

Momentum: GCC gained a measure of momentum with a season-opening rout. The team used a 28-point second quarter to take control.

Four downs: 1. GCC is led in the running game by Tom Voelker, who tallied 724 rushing yards and a pair of scores in 2017; 2. Riverview will attempt to win its third season-opener in a row after losing four straight; 3. The Centurions played last year with only four seniors, and 17 starters returned -- eight on offense and nine on defense; 4. GCC won last year’s meeting 21-0.


Highlands (0-1) at Keystone Oaks (1-0)

Friday at 7 p.m. at Dormont Stadium, Dormont

Last week: Plum 32, Highlands 14; Keystone Oaks 56, Seton LaSalle 19.

Coaches: Dom Girardi, Highlands; Greg Perry, Keystone Oaks

Top players: Cam Taylor, Highlands (Sr., 5-10, 232, RB/LB); Logan Shrubb, KO (So., 6-0, 175, QB)

Keep an eye on: Michael Daure, Keystone Oaks (Sr., 5-11, 185, RB/SS/LB).

Momentum: Keystone Oaks hopes to ride the good feeling of last week’s rout of its neighboring rival.

Four downs: Daure was on point for the Eagles in Week Zero with touchdown runs of 24, 3, 63, 61, 44 and 43 yards; 2. Highlands senior Gabe Booker rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries against Plum; 3. Shrubb, who passed for a touchdown and ran for another last week, threw for 1,280 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman in 2017; 4. Golden Rams quarterback Seth Cohen hopes to bounce back after completing just 8 of 23 passes for 99 yards last week. He was intercepted twice.

Class 2A Allegheny

Apollo-Ridge (0-1, 0-0) at Summit Academy (0-1, 0-0)

12:30 p.m. Saturday at Summit Academy, Herman

Last week: Leechburg 28, Apollo-Ridge 13; Western Beaver 30, Summit Academy 0

Coaches: John Skiba, Apollo-Ridge; Stephen Scherer, Summit Academy

Top players: Klay Fitroy, Apollo-Ridge (So., 6-3, 185, WR/DB); Tyler Adshire, SA (Sr., 6-3, 250, OG/DT)

Keep an eye on: Keighton Reese, Apollo-Ridge (So., 5-11, 180, WR/SS)

Four downs: 1. Vikings quarterback Jake Fello threw for 187 yards against Leechburg and tossed two touchdowns, both to Fitzroy; 2. Summit Academy managed just 72 total yards in last week’s setback. Quarterback Jelani Steward will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg suffered against Western Bever; 3. Apollo-Ridge won the last meeting between the teams in 2015 when both were members of the Class AA Allegheny Conference; 4. Summit made the WPIAL playoffs last year for only the second time in the school’s 20-year football history.

Class A Eastern

Springdale (0-0, 0-0) at 2-A Imani Christian (1-0, 0-0)

1:30 p.m. Saturday at Graham Field, Wilkinsburg

Last week: Springdale makes its season debut; Imani Christian 80, Richard Wright Charter (D.C.) 6.

Coaches: Seth Napierkowski, Springdale; Ronnell Heard, Imani Christian

Top players: Josh Jones, Springdale (Sr., 6-0, 180, QB/DB); RJ Hart Jr., Imani Christian (SR., 6-3, 210, WR/DB)

Keep an eye one: Isreal Reed, Imani Christian (Sr., 6-2, 205, QB/LB)

Momentum: Imani Christian scored 44 first-quarter points and overwhelmed Richard Wright Charter in Week Zero.

Four downs: Hart, a Ball State recruit, finished with 286 yards receiving and six touchdowns last Saturday; 2. Jones returns after throwing for 654 yards and eight touchdowns last year; 3. While Imani is No. 2 in the Class A rankings, Eastern Conference rival Jeannette is No. 1. The teams meet next week in a rematch of last year’s WPIAL Class A final; 4. Imani won last year’s meeting at Springdale, 66-16.

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