Westmoreland County high school football don’t-miss matchups for opening round of playoffs

November 23, 2018

Class 5A

First round

No. 9 Franklin Regional (6-3) vs. No. 8 Bethel Park (6-3)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Bethel Park Stadium

On the air: 1320 AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Penn-Trafford 30, Franklin Regional 14; Bethel Park 20, Upper St. Clair 14

Winner plays: Winner of No. 1 Gateway (10-0)/No. 16 Kiski Area (3-7)

Coaches: Greg Botta, Franklin Regional; Jeff Metheny, Bethel Park

Top players: Adam Rudzinski, Franklin Regional (Sr., 6-1, 190, QB); Luke Surunis, Bethel Park (Sr., 6-0, 190, RB)

Keep an eye on: Sean McGowan, Bethel Park (Jr., 5-10, 170, SB)

Momentum: Bethel Park. A wild, 36-35 loss to No. 5 seeded West Allegheny in Week 2 cost the Black Hawks a potential share of the Allegheny Eight title.

Four downs: 1. Bethel Park relies on a balanced rushing attack. Surunis, McGowan and Jehvonn Lewis each have more than 500 yards on the ground. 2. McGowan ran for 230 yards and a touchdown last week in a win against Upper St. Clair that secured the Black Hawks a home game in the first round. 3. Franklin Regional has made the WPIAL playoffs 15 consecutive times and has 19 appearances overall. The Panthers lost a tough opening-round contest last season to Upper St. Clair, 6-3. Franklin Regional made the Class AAA semifinals in 2015. 4. Franklin Regional has been balanced offensively, rushing for 1,362 yards and passing for 1,307.

Extra point: Metheny and Botta are veteran coaches who have combined for 373 wins. Matheny has 205.

No. 15 Latrobe (4-6) vs. No. 2 Penn Hills (10-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Yuhas-McGinley Stadium, Penn Hills

On the air: 1480 AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Latrobe 39, Highlands 13; Penn Hills 38, North Hills 0

Winner plays: Winner of No. 7 McKeesport (8-2)/No. 10 Upper St. Clair (8-2)

Coaches: Jason Marucco, Latrobe; Jon LeDonne, Penn Hills

Top players: Trent Holler, Latrobe (Sr., 6-3, 290, C/DE); Hollis Mathis, Penn Hills (Sr., 6-1, 170, QB)

Keep an eye on: Daequan Hardy, Penn Hills (Sr., 5-10, 175, WR)

Momentum: Penn Hills. The high-powered Indians, who finished the regular season unbeaten for the first time since 1995, barely were tested all season. Their closest game was a Week Zero win over Steubenville, Ohio, 21-14.

Four downs: 1. Penn Hills likes to air it out with Mathis, who has completed 122 of 181 pass attempts for 2,097 yards and 28 touchdowns. 2. Hardy has 27 catches and averages 22.6 yards per grab, but also is one of the top cornerbacks in the WPIAL. He has a number of Division I offers, including Michigan. 3. An East Carolina recruit, Holler has been a disruptive run-stopper for Latrobe, which has not been in the playoffs since 2009. 4. Hollis and Terry “Tank” Smith are Howard recruits. Smith has rushed for over 1,000 yards.

Extra point: Latrobe has not won a playoff game since its 1968 WPIAL championship game victory over Kiski Area, 19-7, at Forbes Field. Penn Hills defeated Latrobe in Week 1, 50-13.

Class 4A


No. 7 Greensburg Salem (4-6) at No. 2 South Fayette (9-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday, South Fayette Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Greensburg Salem 17, Indiana 0; South Fayette 31, Montour 0

Winner gets: Winner of No. 3 Belle Vernon (8-1)/No. 6 Beaver (7-3)

Coaches: Dave Keefer, Greensburg Salem; Joe Rossi, South Fayette

Top players: Dajauhn Hertzog, Greensburg Salem (Sr., 5-8, 160, WR/DB); Jamie Diven, South Fayette (Sr., 6-1, 195, QB)

Keep an eye on: Trent Patrick, Greensburg Salem (Jr., 5-10, 220, QB)

Momentum: South Fayette. The Lions have won nine consecutive games after opening the season with a 34-33 loss at Upper St. Clair.

Four downs: 1. Greensburg Salem scored the second most points South Fayette allowed in a game this season, losing 51-28, earlier this season. 2. Diven is having a fantastic season, completing 126 of 203 passes for 2,373 yards and 35 touchdowns. 3. Greensburg Salem recorded shutouts in two of its final three games: blanking Ringgold, 35-0, and Indiana, 17-0. 4. South Fayette receiver Mike Trimbur had 41 catches for 809 and 13 touchdowns.

Extra point: South Fayette received the No. 2 seed behind returning champion Thomas Jefferson.

No. 6 Beaver (7-3) vs. No. 3 Belle Vernon (8-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday, James Weir Stadium, Belle Vernon

On the air: 92.1 FM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Blackhawk 14, Beaver 13; Belle Vernon 55, Ringgold 0

Winner plays: Winner of No. 2 South Fayette (9-1)/No. 7 Greensburg Salem (4-6)

Coaches: Jeff Beltz, Beaver; Matt Humbert, Belle Vernon

Top players: Brodie List, Beaver (Sr., 6-2, 200, QB); Mason Pascoe, Belle Vernon (Sr., 5-7, 170, RB)

Keep an eye on: Andrew Pacak, Belle Vernon (Jr., 6-1, 210, QB/LB)

Momentum: Belle Vernon. Since a 36-14 loss to Thomas Jefferson in Week 2, the Leopards have won seven straight by an average score of 47.3 to 6.7.

Four downs: 1. Belle Vernon can get to the semifinals for the second straight time with a win. This is the team’s fourth straight quarterfinal appearance. 2. Beaver nearly upset No. 4 seed Blackhawk in Week 9, falling 14-13. The Bobcats are new to Class 4A this season after moving up from 3A. 3. Pascoe has been one of the most productive, and fastest, rushers in 4A. He has 1,315 yards, eighth-most in the WPIAL. 4. List is a dual-threat quarterback for the Bobcats but has been effective running the ball, with 482 yards.

Extra point: Belle Vernon has the second-most shutouts in 4A with four. South Fayette leads with five.

Class 3A


No. 7 Central Valley (5-5) at No. 2 Derry (9-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Trojan Stadium

On the air: 98.7 FM, 910 AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Central Valley 14, Aliquippa 8; Derry 35, Burrell 14

Winner plays: Winner of No. 3 North Catholic (9-1)/No. 6 Quaker Valley (5-4)

Coaches: Mark Lyons, Central Valley; Tim Sweeney, Derry

Top players: Ameer Dudley, Central Valley (So., 6-0, 166, QB); Justin Flack, Derry (Sr., 5-8, 160, RB)

Keep an eye on: Dom DeLuca, Derry (Sr., 6-5, 225, RB/LB)

Momentum: Central Valley. Any team that is coming off an upset of No. 1 Aliquippa deserves respect. Central Valley should have all the momentum coming of that game.

Four downs: 1. Dudley is dangerous with his arm and feet. He’s completed 56 of 126 passes for 851 yards and five touchdowns, and rushed for 354 yards and six scores. 2. Flack has rushed for 888 yards and scored 29 touchdowns. Central Valley receiver Anthony Mendicino has 31 catches for 491 yards and six touchdowns. 4. Derry loves to run the ball. While Flack gets a lot of attention, the Trojans have five running backs who have rushed for more than 227 yards this season.

Extra point: Derry surprised many when it shocked Central Valley, 33-20, in the 2016 quarterfinals at home. Lyons credits Sweeney for turning around the program.

Class A


No. 8 Monessen (7-2) vs. No. 1 Jeannette (10-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Hempfield

On the air: 107.1 FM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Jeannette 21, Clairton 6; Monessen 30, Avella 0

Winner plays: Winner of No. 4 West Greene (7-3)/No. 5 Rochester (9-1)

Coaches: Mike Blainefield, Monessen; Roy Hall, Jeannette

Top players: Vaughn Taylor, Monessen (Sr., 5-10, 190, RB/LB); Seth Howard, Jeannette (Sr., 6-1, 170, QB)

Keep an eye on: Marcus Barnes, Jeannette (Sr., 6-4, 190, WR/DB)

Momentum: Jeannette. With 16 consecutive wins, the Jayhawks have plenty of momentum, especially after defeating rival Clairton in the regular-season finale.

Four downs: 1. The game was moved to Hempfield because of unplayable field conditions at McKee Stadium. Two fast-paced teams will test the turf at Hempfield. 2. This is a rematch of last year’s first round when Jeannette won, 49-0. The WPIAL took 16 teams to the Class A playoffs last season. Monessen has not beaten Jeannette since 1934. 3. Howard is one of the most underrated dual-threat quarterbacks in the WPIAL. He has shown his ability to throw as the season has gone on, with the sure-handed Barnes being one of his top targets. 4. A coin-flip tiebreaker settled playoff positioning from Monessen’s Tri-County South Conference. Had the Greyhounds won the flip, they could have played at home.

Extra point: Jeannette has only lost its playoff opener once under Hall, a 30-22 setback against Freeport in 2010.

District 6

First round

No. 7 Marion Center (5-5) at No. 2 Ligonier Valley (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Offutt Field, Greensburg

On the air: 106.3 FM; TribHSSN.triblive.com

Last week: Marion Center 44, Conemaugh Valley 16; Ligonier Valley 45, Shade 8

Winner plays: No. 3 Bellwood-Antis (9-1) and No. 6 West Shamokin (6-4)

Coaches: Adam Rising. Marion Center; Roger Beitel, Ligonier Valley

Top players: Gaven Palko, Marion Center (So. 5-11, 170), QB); Kyrie Miller, Ligonier Valley (Jr., 5-8, 180, RB)

Keep an eye on: Mike Petrof, Ligonier Valley (Jr., 6-2, 275, OL/DL)

Momentum: Ligonier Valley. The Rams won their third consecutive Appalachian Bowl title behind a school-record 251 yards rushing from Kyrie Miller.

Four downs: 1. Ligonier Valley easily defeated Marion Center, 49-27, on Oct. 5. 2. Marion Center wide receiver Zach Hicks has 50 catches for 593 yards and four touchdowns. 3. Ligonier Valley wide receiver Aaron Tutino has 49 catches for 1,062 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is the state’s career leader in touchdown receptions with 57. He needs 77 yards to reach 4,000 receiving yards in his career and 11 catches to reach 200. 4. Marion Center junior running back Garet Wells has rushed for 1,185 yards and nine touchdowns.

Extra point: The Rams are chasing their third consecutive District 6 title.

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