WPIAL football don’t-miss matchups for Week 9
Here’s a look at some don’t-miss matchups in each classification for Week 9:
No. 5 Mt. Lebanon (4-5, 4-3) at No. 3 Central Catholic (7-2, 5-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Highmark Stadium
On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com
Last week: Mt. Lebanon 34, Norwin 28; Central Catholic 35, Canon-McMillan 7
Coaches: Mike Melnyk, Mt. Lebanon; Terry Totten, Central Catholic
Players to watch: Seth Morgan, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-3, 170, QB); Gavin Thomson, Central Catholic (Sr., 6-0, 180, WR/S)
Keep an eye on: Eddy Tillman, Central Catholic (So., 5-7, 155, RB/DB)
Momentum: Central Catholic. The Vikings have won three straight games and are looking to lock up the No. 3 seed for the playoffs.
Four downs: 1. Mt. Lebanon’s Morgan is the top passer in Class 6A this season. He has completed 115 of 247 passes for 1,661 yards and 11 touchdowns. 2. Tillman leads the Central Catholic running game, accumulating 735 yards and nine touchdowns. 3. Thomson has been the top target in the passing game, with 31 catches for 482 yards and five scores. 4. Mt. Lebanon’s Casey Sorsdal kicked a pair of field goals against Norwin last week and has seven this season.
Extra point: If Mt. Lebanon wins and Seneca Valley beats Norwin, the Blue Devils, Raiders and Vikings will all be tied for third place and even in Gardner points. WPIAL tiebreaker points would decide the seeding. Heading into Week 9, they are Central Catholic +26, Seneca Valley +13, Mt. Lebanon +13.
Allegheny Eight Conference
No. 5 Upper St. Clair (8-1, 5-1) at Bethel Park (5-3, 4-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Bethel Park Stadium
On the air: PCN-TV; TribHSSN.triblive.com
Last week: Upper St. Clair 38, Chartiers Valley 31; Peters Township 35, Bethel Park 0
Coaches: Jim Render, Upper St. Clair; Jeff Metheny, Bethel Park
Players to watch: Jason Sweeney, Upper St. Clair (Sr., 6-1, 180, QB/DB); Luke Surunis, Bethel Park (Sr., 6-0, 175, RB/LB)
Keep an eye on: Antonio Orsini, Upper St. Clair (Sr., 5-11, 190, RB/LB)
Momentum: Upper St. Clair. The Panthers have won four straight games since a 29-12 loss to West Allegheny in Week 4.
Four downs: 1. Sweeney and Orsini have led the USC offensive attack. Sweeney has thrown for 1,312 yards and 13 TDs, and Orsini has rushed for 927 yards and eight scores. 2. Bethel Park’s running game has been bolstered by Surunis and Jehvonn Lewis. They have combined for 1,212 yards and 20 touchdowns. 3. Bethel Park had won three straight games over Moon, Chartiers Valley and Baldwin before last week’s loss at Peters Township. The Black Hawks also dropped one-point decisions to West Allegheny and Central Catholic. 4. David Pantelis came up big last week for USC, scoring on 31- and 30-yard receptions and a 55-yard punt return.
Extra point: If West Allegheny, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair win on Friday, they will be tri-champions and need tiebreaker points to determine first. Going into Week 9, Peters Township is +48, Upper St. Clair is +16 and West Allegheny is +15. Peters Township can’t be caught and they would be first, West Allegheny second, Upper St. Clair third and Bethel Park fourth.
Northwest Eight Conference
No. 5 Beaver (7-2, 4-2) at No. 4 Blackhawk (8-1, 5-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Blackhawk Stadium
On the air: 1230 AM; TribHSSN.triblive.com
Last week: Beaver 33, Montour 20; Blackhawk 35, Beaver Falls 15
Coaches: Jeff Beltz, Beaver; Zack Haward, Blackhawk
Players to watch: Brodie List, Beaver (Sr., 6-3, 205, QB/LB); Marques Watson-Trent, Blackhawk (Jr., 6-0, 190, RB/S)
Keep an eye on: Gino Mavero, Beaver (Sr., 5-6, 160, RB/S)
Momentum: Blackhawk. After a two-win season in 2017, the Cougars won their first five games and have won three straight after losing to South Fayette in Week 5.
Four downs: 1. Beaver has won four straight games and outscored opponents 180-41 in that stretch. The Bobcats rely on a steady rushing attack, led by List, Mavero and Noah Yates. The group has combined for 1,668 yards and 21 touchdowns. 3. Watson-Trent leads the Cougars running game with 649 yards and 13 touchdowns. 4. Blackhawk is headed to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Extra point: The winner will finish second in the Northwest Eight Conference and be awarded a home playoff game in the first round.
Tri-County West Conference
No. 1 Aliquippa (9-0, 6-0) at Central Valley (4-5, 4-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Sarge Alberts Stadium
On the air: 1460 AM, 92.1 FM; TribHSSN.triblive.com
Last week: Aliquippa 59, Keystone Oaks 0; Central Valley 31, South Park 7
Coaches: Mike Warfield, Aliquippa; Mark Lyons, Central Valley
Players to watch: Eli Kosanovich, Aliquippa (Sr., 6-2, 195, QB); Ameer Dudley, Central Valley (So., 6-0, 165, QB/DB)
Keep an eye on: William Gipson, Aliquippa (Sr., 6-3, 175, WR)
Momentum: Aliquippa. The Quips have dominated all competition this season, outscoring opponents 496-33. They are allowing 3.7 points per game.
Four downs: 1. The Aliquippa offense has piled up stats this season. Kosanovich has thrown for 2,014 yards and 29 touchdowns. Gipson has caught 34 passes for 1,109 yards and 14 scores, and Avante McKenzie has rushed for 1,112 yards and 21 TDs. 2. Dudley has been a key offensive threat for the Warriors, throwing for 851 yards and rushing for a team-high 354. 3. The Quips have posted six shutouts this season. They allowed 20 points to Yough in a Week 6 game, but have held all other opponents to one score or less. 4. Central Valley started 0-4 but has won four of its past five games. The lone loss in that stretch was a 45-6 setback to Class 4A No. 1 Thomas Jefferson.
Extra point: Aliquippa has clinched the top seed in the Tri-County West. Central Valley is in the playoffs but can finish in third place with a victory and a Quaker Valley loss to South Park.
No. 1 Shady Side Academy (8-0, 5-0) at Avonworth (7-2, 4-1)
7 p.m. Friday, Lenzner Field
On the air: TribHSSN.triblive.com
Last week: Shady Side Academy 56, East Allegheny 21; McGuffey 57, Avonworth 42
Coaches: Chuck DiNardo, Shady Side Academy; Duke Johncour, Avonworth
Players to watch: Skyy Moore, Shady Side Academy (Sr., 5-11, 180, QB/DB); Jax Miller, Avonworth (Jr., 6-0, 180, RB/S)
Keep an eye on: Dino Tomlin, Shady Side Academy (Sr., 6-0, 175, WR/DB)
Momentum: Shady Side Academy. The undefeated Indians are outscoring teams by an average of 53.1-14.8.
Four downs: 1. Moore continues to put up video game-like statistics for the Indians. He has thrown for 1,275 yards and 16 touchdowns and also run for 1,049 yards and 15 scores. 2. Tomlin also has had success in the passing attack, catching 18 passes for 644 yards and 16 scores. 3. Avonworth is coming off a shootout loss to McGuffey in which Miller ran for 149 yards and scored six touchdowns. 4. Avonworth’s Derek Johncour is one of the WPIAL’s top passers with 2,331 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Extra point: If Shady Side Academy beats Avonworth, Shady Side Academy is first, Steel Valley second, Avonworth third in the conference standings. If Avonworth wins, there will be tri-champions. Tiebreaker points would determine first, then head to head between the remaining two will determine second. Tiebreaker points heading into Week 9 are Shady Side Academy +50, Steel Valley +37 and Avonworth +33.
Tri-County South Conference
Monessen (6-2, 5-1) at Avella (2-7, 1-5)
7 p.m. Friday, Avella Stadium
Last week: Rochester 22, Monessen 14; Avella 47, Mapletown 14
Coaches: Mike Blainefield, Monessen; Ryan Cecchini, Avella
Top players: Vaughn Taylor, Monessen (Sr., 6-0, 190, RB/LB); Owen English, Avella (Sr., 5-10, 6-5, RB, SS)
Keep an eye on: Devin Whitlock, Monessen (Fr., 5-8, 143, RB/DB)
Momentum: Monessen. The Greyhounds clinch a playoff berth with a win and can also share the TCS title with California and West Greene. Tiebreaker points would determine first place, then head-to-head would determine second and third. A coin flip could also be necessary to determine the places if Monessen and California each win by 10 or more points.
Four downs: 1. English ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns last week against Mapletown and also returned a punt 60 yards for a score. 2. Whitlock rushed for 120 yards and a score, and Taylor added 67 yards and a touchdown for Monessen in last week’s nonconference loss. 3. Monessen has put together a pair of three-game winning streaks, including a 3-0 start to the season before a 24-6 loss to West Greene. 4. Avella has two wins over Mapletown this season after the two conference rivals decided to also play a Week Zero game.
Extra point: Monessen is the second-highest score team in the Tri-County South at 34.6 points per game (California, 37.0).