Friday, September 12, 2014

WPIAL Week 3 Games of the Week

As we enter the third week of the season, only 39 teams remain undefeated. Of those, only 3 (Central Catholic, Clairton, Norwin) have yet to allow a point to an opposing team. Clairton has not missed a beat under new head coach Wayne Wade, but former coach Tom Nola might be pining for his old job back after an 0-2 start at Gateway. The biggest result from Week 2 might have been Beth-Center's win over Greensburg Central Catholic. The Tri-County South Conference has been the red-headed stepchild of Class A for the last few years, but they have not helped themselves from a scheduling standpoint by having their non-conference games against formerly unaffiliated Vincentian. This year, their non-conference games are against the Eastern Conference and Beth-Center scored the first victory for the TCS in non-conference play, proving that maybe the conference should garner a little more respect from the WPIAL playoff committee.

If you're going to be at home tonight, keep an eye on the following hashtags on Twitter to follow along as people post score updates from games: #WPIAL #MSAscores #Skylights

Also, if you're not already, follow the @MSAsports twitter account which will post score updates and bookmark the MSA Scoreboard for quick reference at the end of the night. They get the final scores up faster than anyone. Also, MSA Sports broadcasts most games over the internet, here is their list of the games they will be broadcasting tonight.

I'll update my WPIAL Standings Page at the end of the night. It's the only one available that includes all playoff tiebreakers (Gardner Points, WPIAL Points Tiebreaker and Head-to-Head wins).

Week 3 has a very solid slate of games and I had a hard time deciding between which games to highlight.

AAAA Game of the Week
Penn-Trafford (2-0, 2-0) at McKeesport (2-0, 2-0)

It's only Week 3, but the Foothills Conference Title is essentially on the line. With all due respect to Norwin and their 2-0 start, Penn-Trafford and McKeesport are the best two teams in this conference and the winner of this game should take the conference crown. Penn-Trafford is stacked with offensive talent in QB Brett Laffoon who has thrown for 304 yards and 4 TDs on the season, primarily to Tim Vecchio who already has 132 receiving yards. Devin Austin and Jonah Lisbon have provided a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield for the Warriors. The Tigers defense will certainly have their hands full. On the other side of the ball, McKeesport features the WPIAL's leading rusher in Khaleke Hudson (572 yards), who is the focal point of their triple-option attack. Hudson has found the end zone 9 times already this season. Through two games, McKeesport has only attempted 5 passes, so keeping the score close (or holding a lead) will be key for the Tigers so that they do not have to try to force the ball through the air and can stay in their triple-option offense.

Honorable Mentions: North Allegheny at Central Catholic, Upper St Clair at Bethel Park

AAA Game of the Week
Franklin Regional (1-1, 1-1) at Mars (1-1, 1-1)

This game lost some luster after Mars RB Josh Schultheis was lost for the season with a broken leg in the season opener. These two teams were both pegged to compete for the conference title, but their quests were set back with Week 1 losses to Knoch and Indiana. Both bounced back in Week 2 as Franklin Regional smoked Hollidaysburg 33-7 and Mars dominated Yough 54-0. Senior Ori Rinaman has stepped in for the Fighting Planets, filling the void left by Schultheis and has run for 201 yards and 5 TDs through 2 games and senior QB Jake Rosswog has thrown for nearly 200 yards and 2 TDs. Through two weeks, the Greater Allegheny Conference has seemed content to beat each other and Knoch is the only team 2-0 in conference play (Hampton is 1-0). Knoch plays a non-conference game against an explosive Ringgold team, but will stay atop the conference for another week which means that Franklin Regional (who already has a head-to-head loss to the Knights) can't afford to fall two games behind Knoch in the standings. The Panthers are lead by dual-threat QB Santino Birty who has 172 yards passing and 137 on the ground. Leading rusher Brett Zanotto has 176 yards and has found the end zone four times. Both teams feature run-heavy offenses and the team that can control the line of scrimmage will keep their nose in the conference title race.

Honorable Mentions: Knoch at Ringgold, Penn Hills at Central Valley

AA Game of the Week
Waynesburg (2-0, 2-0) at Washington (2-0, 2-0)

I went back and forth between the Waynesburg-Washington game and the Kittanning-Apollo Ridge game as my AA Game of the Week. While the Allegheny Conference was maligned after an 0-4 showing in the playoffs last year, that game features two D1 prospects in Kittanning WR/TE Nick Bowers and Apollo-Ridge WR Tre Tipton. However, I opted to choose the revival of an old I-79 rivalry as my Game of the Week. After a run of dominance in the late 90s/early 2000s that included a WPIAL championship, Waynesburg has fallen on hard times and not made the playoffs since 2003. Washington has had the best of the rivalry in recent years, but Waynesburg's trio of seniors looks poised to challenge the Little Prexies run of dominance.The Red Raiders have been a run-heavy team through two weeks, led by Hunter Cenname's 295 yards and 5 TDs and John-Glen Davis'284 yards and 4 TDs. Washington's offense features a more balanced approach with QB Jonathan Spina throwing for 269 yards and 4 TDs while leading rusher Malik Wells has posted 250 yards and 5 TDs on the ground. Both teams have beat up on Interstate Conference bottom-feeders through the first two weeks and one will stake their claim towards challenging Mt Pleasant for the Conference title with a win this week.

Honorable Mentions: Kittanning at Apollo-Ridge, Beaver at Beaver Falls, South Fayette at South Park

A Game of the Week
Brentwood (1-0, 2-0) at Avonworth (2-0, 2-0)

What a week in Class A. After last week where I struggled to find a game to highlight as the Game of the Week, there are 4 worthy candidates this week. The Clairton-GCC game might get the most headlines because of GCC's stingy defense and Clairton's explosive offense, but GCC's loss to Beth-Center last week takes some of the luster off that game. In the Big Seven Conference, the only two remaining undefeated teams square off in what could be a battle for the conference title. However, this week's Class A gem features two of the WPIAL's leading passers. Avonworth's Zach Chandler is the second-leading passer in the WPIAL with 483 yards and 3 TDs while Brentwood's Connor McWilliams has 419 yards and 5 TDs. The Lopes primary weapon is 6'2" junior Jamal Hughley who has 205 receiving yards, 60 rushing yards and 5 total TDs. On the other side, Brentwood's leading receiver Tayron Kyser has also found the end zone 5 times. Both of these teams have explosive offenses and this one has all the makings of a shootout between Chandler and McWilliams.

Honorable Mentions: Neshannock at Riverside, Clairton at GCC

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