Friday, November 11, 2011

WPIAL Quarterfinals Preview

The first week of the WPIAL playoffs saw a lot of blowouts and only a few upsets. The quarterfinals should be a bit more exciting with numerous re-matches and matchups of balanced teams. If you're interested in following the action tonight, check out the #WPIAL hashtag on Twitter where people will be posting score updates. The MSA Sports Network will have radio broadcasts for all the games. Here is the list so you can tune in on your computer.

Also, today I discovered the PA Helmet Project which has compiled images of current and past helmets from all the Pennsylvania high school football teams they could find. It's quite the task. Here's the list of WPIAL conferences. Click through the conferences to find your high school's current and past's pretty sweet.


 1. North Allegheny (10-0) vs 9. Seneca Valley (8-2) at North Hills
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 It's a week for re-matches in Class AAAA. Back on September 30 the Tigers traveled north and defeated Seneca Valley 49-28. Now, two of the top 10 quarterbacks in WPIAL face off for the right to go to the semi-finals. Seneca Valley's Jordan Brown, whose brother CJ is the starting QB at Maryland, leads the WPIAL in passing with 2100 yards. Led by QB Mack Leftwich (1740 yards, 7th in WPIAL), NA has been slaughtering people this year, putting up 34+ points in 8 of their 10 games. The 28 points Seneca Valley scored on the Tigers was the most given up by NA all season. Prediction: North Allegheny 

4. Penn-Trafford (10-0) vs 5. Gateway (8-2) at Hempfield
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 Back in Week 4, Penn-Trafford defeated conference foe Gateway on a last-second field goal to give the Warriors the inside track to the conference title. Now, the Gators get a shot at redemption on a neutral field. Penn-Trafford is built on a strong offensive line and rushing attack while Gateway has play-makers all over the field. This one should be close again. Prediction: Gateway

 2. Central Catholic (10-0) vs 7. Mt. Lebanon (7-3) at North Allegheny
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Mt. Lebanon has had an up-and-down season while Central, who many (including myself) believe to be the best AAAA team in the state, features 5 Division 1 recruits. This game matches up two of the top running backs in AAAA with Central's Damion Jones-Moore (who Craig Wolfley once called "slippier than snot on a doorknob") and Lebo's workhorse Luke Hagy (who has 1790 yards this year, 2nd best in WPIAL). Prediction: Central Catholic

 3. Upper St Clair (9-1) vs 6. Erie McDowell (8-2) at Seneca Valley
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 There are a few things that are simply givens when we get into November in Western Pennsylvania. One of those things is Jim Render winning football games. The Upper St. Clair coach has led the Panthers to 5 WPIAL titles and is relying on QB Dakota Cronwell (948 passing yards, 928 rushing yards) to carry the Panthers past McDowell's triple-option attack. Both of these teams were in the top 10 in points scored this season, so this game could turn into a shootout. Prediction: Upper St Clair 


 1. Central Valley (10-0) vs 9. Ringgold (8-2) at West Allegheny

 The defending AAA champions rolled through the difficult Parkway Conference and should take a step closer to Heinz Field this week. Coming into the playoffs, Keystone Conference teams were 1-43 in the first round since 2000, but Ringgold's QB Quad Law ran and threw for touchdowns, carrying the Rams past Highlands. Nevertheless, Central Valley is much, much better. Prediction: Central Valley

 4. West Mifflin (9-1) vs 5. Montour (8-2) at Baldwin

 Montour was a trendy preseason pick to win the AAA crown, and they certainly have the talent to do so with 1400-yard rusher Julian Durden and 1800-yard passer Dylan Buechel. West Mifflin beat TJ to win the Big Eight conference crown and has a 1300-yard rusher of their own in Shamar Greene. West Mifflin is good enough on defense to keep this game close. Prediction: Montour

 2. Franklin Regional (10-0) vs 10. Hopewell (7-3) at Fox Chapel
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Two of the top three running backs in WPIAL face off with Hopewell's Rushel Shell and Franklin Regional's Dane Brown. Shell has 2020 yards this year and is already the WPIAL career rushing leader with 8,787 career yards. He is also 241 yards shy of the state record. Shell can also set the national record for most consecutive 100-yard games. He is currently tied with Billy Sims (who won a Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma in the 70s) with 38. On the other side, Junior RB Dane Brown put up 1774 so far this season and over 3,000 for his career. Prediction: Hopewell 

3. Knoch (10-0) vs 6. Thomas Jefferson (7-3) at Plum
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 The Knights won an emotional game after a Knoch student died in a car crash last week. Now, they get to face perennial powerhouse Thomas Jefferson. TJ has been to the Semi-Finals every year since 1997. Knoch has dominated their games with a strong rushing attack this season. Knoch's leading rusher Andrew Rumburg-Goodlin put up nearly 1200 yards and 18 touchdowns. QB Ky Kenyon has also contributed with 741 yards rushing and 892 yards passing. On the other side, the Jaguars have a balanced attack behind 1300-yard rusher Ryan Ruffing and 1300-yard passer Dom Presto. Prediction: Thomas Jefferson


 1. Aliquippa (10-0) vs 8. Washington (8-2) at Chartiers Valley

 The Quips have been dominant all over the field this year with an 1100-yard rusher (Dravon Henry), an 1100-yard passer (Mikal Hall), the top scoring offense in AA (40 points per game), and the #3 scoring defense in AA (9.0 points against per game). On the other side, the Little Prexies have been carried by one of the top 10 offenses in AA, but their defense has given up over 30 points 3 times. Prediction: Aliquippa

 5. Greensburg Central Catholic (9-1) vs 13. Ellwood City (7-3) at Valley
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 GCC's dominant season has only been blemished by their 3-point loss to Jeanette. GCC has a top 5 offense and a top 5 defense in AA and should be able to lean on 1100-yard rusher Jordan McCrae to carry them over Ellwood City. Ellwood City came from 15 points down to beat Freeport last week, thanks to 22 fourth-quarter points. Prediction: GCC

 2. Jeanette (10-0) vs 7. Shady Side Academy (8-2) at Norwin
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Jeanette overcame a closely-played first half to blow out Burrell in the second half. Led by all-around threat QB Demetrius Cox, the Jayhawks now get another team from the Allegheny Conference. Shady Side Academy ran out to an early lead against Beaver last week. SSA's game is built on controlling the clock with a strong rushing game (they had 3 backs with more than 500 yards this season). Prediction: Jeanette

 3. Seton-La Salle (10-0) vs 11. South Fayette (7-3) at Peters Township
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 RB Kevin Hart has been outstanding for the Rebels this year, putting up 1458 yards while rarely playing in the second half of games. This game could be a battle of brothers as South Fayette may continue to play freshman QB Brett Brumbaugh, who has carried them to two victories after starter John Lerda was injured. For Seton-La Salle, QB Luke Brumbaugh has put up close to 200 yards through the air. Both are the younger brothers of last year's WPIAL passing king, Christian Brumbaugh. Considering Luke is only a junior and Brett is a freshman, you'll be hearing the Brumbaugh name for a long time to come. Prediction: Seton-LaSalle


1. Clairton (10-0) vs 9. Springdale (8-2) at Yough
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You would be hard-pressed to find a team that has been more dominant in any classification of WPIAL in any season than Clairton has been this year. Not only do they have the highest scoring offense in all of WPIAL (47.7 points per game) and the least points against (1.8 points per game), they have also pitched 8 shutouts in 10 games and won every game by at least 29. Springdale is no slouch either, boasting one of the best rushing attacks in Class A. They put up almost 500 rushing yards last week against Monessen. Prediction: Clairton

 4. Rochester (9-1) vs 5. Avonworth (9-1) at Ambridge

Two teams from the banks of the Ohio River meet for the second consecutive season in the playoffs. Last year, the Rams won their semi-final matchup 20-7. Both teams boast good rushing attacks and stout defenses, so this should be a good one. The Rams might just have too much firepower for the Antelopes with 1400-yard rusher DeAndre Moon. Prediction: Rochester

 2. Sto-Rox (10-0) vs 7. Brentwood (9-1) at Keystone Oaks

It is rare for a Class A school to have 3 Division 1 recruits on the roster, but Sto-Rox is just that stacked this year. The Vikings have blown out everyone but Rochester, who they still beat by 21. On the other side, Brentwood's only loss is to Clairton but they simply don't have the athletes to stay with Sto-Rox. Prediction: Sto-Rox

 3. Bishop Canevin (10-0) vs 11. Fort Cherry (7-3) at Chartiers-Houston

Canevin survived a first-round scare against Chartiers-Houston. Now they have to travel to Char-Houston to take on a Fort Cherry team that dismantled Tri-County South Conference Champion Beth-Center last week. Behind 2000-yard passer Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry is peaking at the right time. Two of their losses are to Rochester and Clairton while the other was a 20-19 loss to Brentwood. Bishop Canevin has been solid all season but have had to play through a bunch of injuries, which may finally be catching up with them. This one should be exciting and go right down to the end. Prediction: Bishop Canevin

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