Game of the Week
Seneca Valley (3-0, 4-0) at Central Catholic (3-0, 4-0)
Game at Highmark Stadium
After graduating most of their team that went to the semi-finals last season, people were not expecting much from Seneca Valley this season. However, after an upset of reigning Quad-A Champion North Allegheny, the Raiders are on everyone's radar. Dual-threat QB TJ Holl leads the team in both passing (634 yards) and rushing (235 yards). Central Catholic has a D1 recruit at quarterback in JJ Cosentino (Florida State) but has gotten such good play from RB Luigi Lista-Brinza (741 yards and 9 TDs) that they haven't had to rely on Cosentino to carry the team. Seneca Valley has faced tougher competition to date, but Central Catholic has more D1 recruits. The winner will have the clear inside track to the Northern Eight Conference title, though a win by Central could set up a 3-way tie scenario should North Allegheny top the Vikings in two weeks.
Honorable Mention: Hempfield (3-1, 3-1) at Gateway (4-0, 4-0)
- Gateway clinches a playoff berth with a win over Hempfield and a Norwin loss
Northern Eight Conference
- Central Catholic clinches a playoff berth with a win over Seneca Valley and a Butler loss
Game of the Week
Central Valley (4-0, 4-0) at West Allegheny (4-0, 4-0)
The top two teams in the Parkway Conference square off in a game that should decide the Conference Champion. Central Valley was the only team to defeat the Indians last year, who went on to win the WPIAL title. The biggest story of this game is Central Valley's head coach, who is suspended this week and next week by the school district for possibly recruiting a player to transfer. Both teams feature a multi-faceted running game. The Warriors have two players (Jordan Whitehead and JaQuan Pennington) with over 300 yards rushing while Chayse Dillon has paced West Allegheny with over 500 yards. Both teams have been stingy on defense and this game promises to be the best on the Parkway Conference slate this year.
Honorable Mention: Ringgold (3-1. 3-1) at West Mifflin (4-0, 4-0)
Big Nine Conference
- West Mifflin clinches a playoff berth with a win over Ringgold and a loss by either Trinity or Albert Gallatin
- Central Valley clinches a playoff berth with a win over West Allegheny and a Chartiers Valley loss
Game of the Week
Seton-La Salle (4-0, 4-0) at South Fayette (4-0, 4-0)
Thursday Night's game on ROOT Sports between Washington and Jeanette also got consideration, but in sticking with tradition this post is focused on the Friday Night slate. This game promises to be an aerial showcase with two of the top passing attacks in the WPIAL going head to head. Seton-La Salle is led by Tyler Perone (839 pass yards, 9 TDs) while South Fayette features Brett Brumbaugh (681 yards, 9 TDs). Both teams have been mercy-ruling their opponents and this might be the first time all season their starters play the whole game. Both defenses have averaged just 7 points per game against them while the offenses are averaging over 38 points per game. This will be a test of strength on strength and an important conference game with both teams still having to play undefeated Quaker Valley on the road.
Honorable Mentions: Quaker Valley (4-0, 4-0) at Steel Valley (2-2, 2-2), Mt Pleasant (4-0, 4-0) at Yough (2-2, 2-2)
Games of the Week
For the first time this year there will be co-Games of the Week because I really want to talk about both of these matchups
Clairton (3-1, 3-1) at Fort Cherry (4-0, 4-0)
Does it seem strange seeing a 1 in the loss column next to Clairton's name? Yeah, I think so too. Nevertheless, after turning the ball over a handful of times against Monessen, the Bears have a loss on their resume for the first time since 2009. Things don't get any easier this week for the young Bears team. They showed a lot of grit in battling from behing against Monessen but ultimately could not get a stop on defense and turned the ball over too many times on offense. This week, Clairton faces Fort Cherry who have been dominant on offense this season. The Rangers are led by QB Matt Heflin (613 yards, 15 TDs) and RB Koltan Kobrys (769 yards, 8 TDs). This will match up some of the best skill players in Single-A and will determine the sorting order at the top of the Black Hills Conference. Fort Cherry already has a win over Monessen under their belts and could take commanding control of the conference with a win over Clairton. If Clairton loses, they could be looking at a 3rd place finish which would put them on the bottom half of the Single-A bracket in the playoffs.
North Catholic (4-0, 4-0) at West Shamokin (3-1, 3-1)
Almost as strange as seeing a 1 in Clairton's loss column is seeing a 3 in West Shamokin's win column. The Wolves burst onto the scene in the Eastern Conference and could be in position to secure their first playoff berth in school history. After a 3-0 start to the season that included a win over traditional Eastern Conference powerhouse Springdale, the Wolves were mercy ruled by Avonworth. This is a measuring stick game for North Catholic, who has handled the loss of star RB PJ Fulmore. The Trojans are much more balanced than last season when they relied on Fulmore for their entire offense. This year, QB Adam Sharlow has thrown for 390 yards and 4 TDs and added 341 yards and 2 TDs rushing. Fulmore's replacement, fellow junior Jerome Turner, has rushed for 466 yards and 9 TDs. This is one of two heavyweight bouts atop the Eastern Conference this week with Avonworth taking on Apollo-Ridge. If the Trojans and Lopes both win this week, circle next Friday's showdown at Avonworth on your calendar as the game that will decide the Eastern Conference Champion.
Honorable Mention: Apollo-Ridge (2-1, 3-1) at Avonworth (3-0, 4-0)