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Westmoreland County’s don’t-miss matchups for Week 1

September 23, 2018
Hempfield's Randy Nelson runs the ball during WPIAL football at Greensburg Salem's Offutt Field on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018.

Class 5A Big East

Penn-Trafford (0-1, 0-0) at 1-5A Gateway (1-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Pete Antimarino Stadium, Monroeville

Radio/Internet: TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Norwin 44, Penn-Trafford 36; Gateway 31, Mt. Lebanon 8

Coaches: John Ruane, Penn-Trafford; Don Holl, Gateway

Top players: Gabe Dunlap, Penn-Trafford (Jr., 6-0, 175, QB); Derrick Davis, Gateway (So., 6-0, 175, RB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Brendan Majocha, Gateway (Sr., 5-10, 175, QB/DB)

Momentum: Gateway. With an impressive win over Mt. Lebanon, the Gators appear primed to start conference play. They are ranked No. 3 in the PIAA.

Four downs: 1. This is a rematch of last year’s WPIAL championship won by Gateway, 21-16. 2. Davis is one of the on-the-rise college prospects in the 2021 class. He has offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State, Duke and Baylor. 3. Majocha had the precarious duty of replacing standout Brady Walker at quarterback but had a solid debut, completing 12 of 17 attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns. 4. Dunlap also made his debut for the Warriors in Week Zero at rival Norwin, sharing time with sophomore Ethan Carr. Dunlap threw for 156 yards and three scores, and rushed for 112 yards.

Extra point: Ruane is a teacher at Gateway so he encounters opposing football players on a daily basis during the school year.

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.

Extra point: Plum was one of 16 Class 5A teams to claim victory out of 21 total Week Zero games. Franklin Regional was one of three 5A teams (Bethel Park, West Allegheny) to opt for a second scrimmage.

Class 4A Big 8

Trinity (0-0, 0-0) at Greensburg Salem (0-1, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Offutt Field, Greensburg

Radio/Internet: 910 AM, 98.7 FM, 95.3 FM, TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Trinity was idle. Last year, the Hillers finished 6-4 and 5-3 in the Big 9 (4A); Hempfield 27, Greensburg Salem 24.

Coaches: Jon Miller, Trinity; Dave Keefer, Greensburg Salem

Top players: Cameron Moran, Trinity (Sr., 5-10, 170, WR/S); Kenny Shea, Greensburg Salem (Sr., 5-8, 190, FB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Bill McChesney, Greensburg Salem (Fr., 6-1, 250, OL/DL)

Momentum: Greensburg Salem. The Golden Lions need a solid effort after playing rival Hempfield tough. They must eliminate the mistakes that cost them in the scrimmage against Latrobe and versus Hempfield.

Four downs: 1. Trinity is rebuilding following the graduation of RB Joey Koroly and QB Dylan Kern; 2. Greensburg Salem last qualified for the WPIAL playoffs in 2011; 3. Trinity is going with sophomore Kaden Kolsen at quarterback; 4. Greensburg Salem hopes to keep junior Trent Patrick off the defense where he was an all-conference player last season.

Extra point: Trinity opted to scrimmage during Week Zero, while Greensburg Salem went with a game against the neighboring rival.

Class 3A Big East

Yough (0-1, 0-0) at Uniontown (0-1, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Bill Power Stadium, Uniontown

Radio/Internet: 590 AM; 101.1 FM, TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Serra Catholic 44, Yough 25; Connellsville 64, Uniontown 19

Coaches: Scott Wood, Yough; Cedric Lloyd, Uniontown

Top players: Dustin Shoaf, Yough (Sr., 6-1, 215, RB/DB); Ky’ron Craggette, Uniontown (So., 5-9, 215, RB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Jake Shiley, Uniontown (Jr., 6-0, 190, QB)

Momentum: Yough. While the teams gave up a combined 108 points in Week Zero, the Cougars offense churned out 25 points and showed some balance.

Four downs: 1. Yough was taken aback some by an athletic Serra team and quarterback Patrick Brennan, who threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns. 2. Yough tailback Dustin Shoaf went over 100 yards, and quarterback Jake Saver passed for 200 in the loss. 3. Uniontown allowed Connellsville to return the opening kickoff for a score in the annual Coal Bucket Trophy game. 4. Craggette ran for a game-high 134 yards on 24 carries in the opening-week loss.

Extra point: Uniontown has lost 13 straight games dating to 2016.

Class 2A Interstate

Southmoreland (1-0, 0-0) at Frazier (0-1, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Commodore Field, Perryopolis

Last week: Southmoreland 18, Mt. Pleasant 14; South Allegheny 41, Frazier 14

Coaches: Dave Keefer, Southmoreland; Mike Steeber, Frazier

Top players: Zach Cernuto, Southmoreland (So., 5-10, 175, QB); Collin Schragl, Frazier (Sr., 5-9, 160, RB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Riley Comforti, Southmoreland (Jr., 6-2, 182, WR/S)

Momentum: Southmoreland. The Scotties surprised everyone, except themselves, by defeating Mt. Pleasant to snap a 13-game losing skid. Now, they make their first trip to Perryopolis to open conference play.

Four downs: 1. Southmoreland RB Ron Robinson rushed for 138 yards against Mt. Pleasant; 2. Frazier started a freshman, Brian Boggs, a quarterback in Week Zero; 3. Cernuto completed 16 of 26 passes for 228 yards in the opener; 4. Schragl scored twice for Frazier, which is missing senior RB George Smalich to an injury.

Extra point: Keefer begins his first season as coach of Southmoreland; Steeber, a Belle Vernon grad, is in his 10th season at Frazier.

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: 107.1 FM, TribHSSN.TribLive.com

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.

Extra point: Jeannette’s win in Week Zero was its WPIAL-record 737th.

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 last season; 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.

Extra point: Todd Massack makes his coaching return to the Riverview sideline Friday. He previously served as coach of the Raiders from 2007-13.

Class A Tri-County South

Monessen (0-0, 0-0) at 5-A California (0-1, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at California High School

Last week: Beth-Center 50, California 28; Monessen’s game was canceled because of a pregame threat made against Charleroi students, but the Greyhounds are coming off a playoff season despite going 3-8.

Coaches: Mike Blainefield, Monessen; Darrin Dillow, California

Top players: Dwayne Howe, Monessen (Jr., 6-2, 170, QB/DB); Jelani Stafford, California (Sr., 6-2, 265, RB/LB)

Keep an eye on: Vaughan Taylor, Monessen (Sr., 5-11, 190, RB/LB)

Momentum: California. The Trojans have game action and reps which should help them against a Monessen team reeling after last week’s cancellation.

Four downs: 1. California, a 12-1 team a year ago, scored on two kick returns and a punt return but had some defensive breakdowns against Beth-Center, which scored 28 unanswered points. 2. The Trojans run a tricky, triple-option offense, which could cause some concerns for Monessen. 3. Stafford can be a load for defenses to handle, but the bruising back was limited to 63 yards on seven carries and a touchdown in Week Zero. 4. Taylor returns after suffering a season-ending injury last year in Week 3.

Extra point: Blainefield, a Monessen alum, played defensive back at Georgetown.

Nonconference

Ambridge (0-1, 0-0) at 2-4A Belle Vernon (0-0, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at James Weir Stadium, Rostraver

Last week: McGuffey 28, Ambridge 0; Belle Vernon was idle. The Leopards were 10-1 overall and 8-0 in the Big 9 (4A) in 2017.

Coaches: Terry George, Ambridge; Matt Humbert, Belle Vernon

Top players: Christian Kamzelski, Ambridge (Jr., 6-1, 225, OL/DL); Jared Hartman, Belle Vernon (Jr., 6-1, 210, QB)

Keep an eye on: Mason Pascoe, Belle Vernon (Sr., 5-7, 170, RB/DB)

Momentum: Belle Vernon. The Leopards have won two of the past three Big 9 Conference titles, but have yet to reach the WPIAL finals. They hope that changes in 2018.

Four downs: 1. Ambridge has made 12 WPIAL playoff appearances, the last in 2015; 2. Hartman completed 61 of 123 passes for 928 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2017; 3. Ambridge has more than 65 players signed up for football, which is more than the combined rosters (61) of the previous two squads; 4. Pascoe rushed for a team-high 788 yards and scored six touchdowns in 2017.

Extra point: George begins his third season as coach at Ambridge, while Humbert starts his fifth year at Belle Vernon.

Nonconference

Hopewell (0-1, 0-0) at Mt. Pleasant (0-1, 0-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Vikings Stadium, Mt. Pleasant

Last week: Freedom 39, Hopewell 6; Southmoreland 18, Mt. Pleasant 14

Coaches: Mark Washington, Hopewell; Jason Fazekas, Mt. Pleasant

Top players: Garrett Nicol, Hopewell (Sr., 5-11, 240, RB/LB); Jake Johnson, Mt. Pleasant (Jr., 603, 180, WR/DB)

Keep an eye on: Connor Forrest, Hopewell (Sr., 6-3, 245, OL/DE)

Momentum: Mt. Pleasant. The Vikings are looking to clean up their mistakes and rebound with a victory against Hopewell, which was dominated by Freedom.

Four downs: 1. Hopewell is looking for a big season from senior running back DeShaun Sanders; 2. Mt. Pleasant missed the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2008 last season; 3. Hopewell has a good freshman group, but Washington is letting his seniors play; 4. Mt. Pleasant senior kicker Brad Tait connect on 4 of 5 field goals and 28 of 31 extra points in 2017.

Extra point: Washington begins his fourth season as coach at Hopewell, while Fazekas starts his second year at the helm of his alma mater.

Nonconference

Latrobe (0-1) at 2-5A Penn Hills (1-0)

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

Radio/Internet: 1480 AM, TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Derry 45, Latrobe 15; Penn Hills 21, Steubenville, Ohio 14

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, 180, QB)

Keep an eye on: Daequan Hardy, Penn Hills (Sr., 5-10, 165, WR/DB)

Momentum: Penn Hills. The Indians’ high-flying passing game was on full display in Ohio as the Indians wracked up 286 yards through the air. They are ranked No. 5 in the state.

Four downs: 1. Mathis-to-Hardy is a big-play combo for the Indians. They hooked up for touchdowns of 27 and 61 yards last week. 2. Hardy, who led the Indians in receptions (37) and interceptions (8) last season, has offers from Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State. 3. Holler, a disruptive force on both sides of the ball, has offers from Pitt, West Virginia, East Carolina and others. 4. Derry ran the ball effectively against Latrobe in the opener, piling up 209 yards on the ground. Derry attempted just five passes.

Extra point: Penn Hills dropped in class to 5A this year after competing in 6A. The Indians competed in the largest class since 1938.

District 6 Heritage

Penns Manor (1-0, 1-0) at Ligonier Valley (1-0, 1-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Weller Field, Ligonier

Radio/Internet: 92.5 FM, TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Penns Manor 52, Blairsville 14; Ligonier Valley 56, Homer-Center 0

Coaches: Billy Packer, Penns Manor; Roger Beitel, Ligonier Valley

Top players: Matt Somogyi, Penns Manor (Sr., 5-10, 170, RB/DB); Christian Jablonski, Ligonier Valley (Jr., 6-5, 240, OL/DE)

Keep an eye on: Kyrie Miller, Ligonier Valley (Jr., 5-8, 180, RB/LB)

Momentum: Ligonier Valley. The Rams scored on eight of nine possessions, including their first six against the Wildcats. QB John Caldwell completed 12 of 13 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns.

Four downs: 1. Penns Manor sophomore Dimitri Lieb had quite an opener, rushing for three touchdowns and intercepting three passes; 2. Ligonier Valley’s defense didn’t allow a completion in Week Zero; 3. Somogyi had three interceptions last season; 4. Ligonier Valley was the only team to shut out Penns Manor, 42-0, last season.

Extra point: Packer begins his 14th season as coach at Penns Manor, while Beitel, a Penns Manor grad, starts his 15th year at Ligonier Valley.

Class 6A Conference

Hempfield (1-0) at 1-6A Pine-Richland (0-1)

1 p.m. Saturday at Pine-Richland Stadium, Gibsonia

Radio/Internet: TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Last week: Hempfield 27, Greensburg Salem 24; IMG Academy 42, Pine-Richland 0

Coaches: Rich Bowen, Hempfield; Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland

Top players: Blake Remaley, Hempfield (Jr., 6-2, 215, QB); Andrew Kristofic, Pine-Richland (Sr., 6-6, 270, OL/DL)

Keep an eye on: Michael Katic, Pine-Richland (Sr., 6-3, 280, OL/DL)

Momentum: Hempfield. With a win over rival Greensburg Salem, the Spartans broke a nine-game losing streak. But the Rams are the No. 3-ranked team in the state.

Four downs: 1. Pine-Richland, untouched last season at 16-0, was shut out in its opener by IMG Academy, the top-ranked prep team in the country. 2. The Rams had not been shut out since 2013 when they fell 7-0 to North Hills. 3. Bowen thinks his line is developing nicely, but it will be tested heavily by the Rams, who feature Kristofic, a Notre Dame recruit, and Katic, who is headed to Indiana. 4. Nathan Roby picked off two passes last week for Hempfield, including one for a pick-6.

Extra point: The game reportedly was moved to Saturday because of a shortage of security personnel at Pine-Richland.

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