A funny thing happened to Mr. High School Sports on the way to Week 6 of the 2010 WPIAL football season: he came down sick. Not to throw a pity party, but needless to say, he’s very disappointed he’ll have to follow Friday night’s action from the sideline, a.k.a. his couch. But he’ll still be listening to his favorite radio station (wink-wink, nudge-nudge), and he thinks you should too, because we’ll be featuring one of the best games in the area this week, a Double-A showdown that could have a big impact on the rest of the season.
And that isn’t the only battle of top teams happening this week either. Games in Single-A and Triple-A that kick off in mere hours could very well decide what the playoff picture looks like in three-plus weeks, as the number of undefeateds shall dwindle after Friday. Meanwhile, there are a couple of potential statement games in Quad-A, and even in the City League. Here’s what to look for in Week 6, starting with a special report on the aforementioned 93.7 The Fan Game of the Week:
93.7 THE FAN GAME OF THE WEEK:
KEYSTONE OAKS GOLDEN EAGLES (3-0, 5-0)
@ SOUTH FAYETTE LIONS (3-0, 5-0)
(CLASS AA, CENTURY CONFERENCE)
Kickoff @ 7:30; Paul Paterra with play-by-play, Dan Zangrilli with color commentary
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN EAGLES:
Here’s what one anonymous coach had to say about Keystone Oaks:
“You’ve got to commend their coaching staff. It’s not just about getting [Jordan Maddox and Matt McCann] the ball. They’re finding ways to use all their talent best.”
SCOUTING THE LIONS:
Here’s what one anonymous coach had to say about South Fayette:
“[Quarterback Christian] Brumbaugh is a special kid, and he actually makes their running game better with the way the passing game spreads the field. Defensively they put hats on hats and usually have four or five guys around the ball.”
KEYSTONE OAKS’ KEYS TO VICTORY:
1. The “wild” card. The bold experiment by head coach Nick Kamberis to let Matt McCann take some snaps has been a successful one thus far. If KO can continue moving the ball out of the wildcat formation, it would open things up more for McCann and Maddox.
2. Score early, score often. Even in defeat, a great player like Delrece Williams of Steel Valley still made big plays against that defense, which has shown vulnerability. If the Eagles can get up on the Lions quickly, it may be difficult for South Fayette, even with their weapons, to play catch-up football.
3. Contain Davis. Jeff Davis is the x-factor for the South Fayette offense; if he runs the ball effectively, it makes Christian Brumbaugh’s job that much easier. But if the Eagles’ stout defensive line takes away the run, even a QB with Brumbaugh’s talent might not be able to win by himself.
SOUTH FAYETTE’S KEYS TO VICTORY:
1. Go to “the gap.” This might be the toughest group of linemen South Fayette has faced. It is very important for the Lions up front to put hats on hats and open up holes for Jeff Davis, and on the other side of the ball, to close those holes when McCann or Maddox carry the rock.
2. Gang tackling. Not only are KO’s tailbacks tough to bring down, but they’re also tough to follow, given the way that offense is run. South Fayette’s linebackers need to get to the ball quickly and get physical with McCann and Maddox to wear them down.
3. Execute in the air. As Christian Brumbaugh goes, so go the Lions. If Brumbaugh can make the kind of big plays he’s been making all year, that puts the kind pressure on the Keystone Oaks offense that it hasn’t faced yet.
OTHER CLASS AA GAMES TO WATCH:
Ellwood City @ Aliquippa – In order to keep alive their hopes of repeating as Midwestern Conference champions, the Quips (5-0, 5-0) need to handle their business at home, while the Wolverines (3-1, 4-1) try to prove their solid start was no accident and remain in contention as well. Ellwood City is going to try and play power football behind tailback Kyle Crawford, who has scored eight all-purpose touchdowns and averages over nine yards per carry, but Aliquippa’s defense is usually up to the challenge, and so is Mikal Hall, who threw for 128 yards and two scores last week.
South Allegheny @ Seton-LaSalle – There’s another important contest in the Century Conference that shouldn’t be overlooked, as the Gladiators (2-1, 2-3) look to quietly cling to the final playoff spot, but they’re going to have to slay a two-headed monster. Kevin Hart has scored 15 touchdowns for the Rebels (3-0, 5-0), and David O’Brien has passed for eight more while amassing 649 yards and completing 57 percent of his attempts, so South Allegheny will rely heavily on the playmaking abilities of Nick Camponizzi, who rushed for 111 yards and a long TD last week against Quaker Valley.
Mohawk @ Beaver – This Midwestern Conference affair is the kind of game where the Bobcats (4-0, 5-0) need to keep their wits about them, because a team like the Warriors (2-3, 2-3) that is tenuously clinging to playoff hopes will play desperation football on the road. Mohawk quarterback Johnny Beatty has hurled six TD passes and totaled 571 yards through five games, but he needs to do a better job protecting the football against a Beaver defense that ranks fourth in the WPIAL with just 3.6 points allowed per game, and Sam O’Neill (7 total TD this season), who is a threat on both sides of the ball.
CLASS AAAA GAMES TO WATCH:
Peters Township @ Upper St. Clair – I’m not sure how much longer the Indians (1-0, 4-1) can play the “no respect” card after earning a lot of it with a Week 5 triumph over Bethel Park, but Nick Milchovich’s team has another huge opportunity in front of it when they take on the Panthers (1-0, 4-1). Austin Hancock, who threw for 116 yards and ran for the winning score last Friday, will have to match wits with another signal-caller whose stock is quickly rising, USC’s Dakota Conwell, who has made things happen on his feet by scrambling for over 400 yards and threw for 95 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win.
Shaler @ Erie McDowell – Perhaps the best word I could use to describe this important Northern Seven Conference matchup is “unconventional,” as the Trojans’ (2-1, 4-1) triple-option offense tries to outclass the Titans’ (1-1, 3-2) offense, led by an unusually large player at his position. Big, hulking J.P. Holtz rumbled for 113 yards and two more TD’s, giving him nine on the year, in Week 5 to give Shaler and easy win over Butler, and the Titans hope he’ll be a healthy answer for Greg Garmon, who caught a TD pass, ran for two scores, and ended with 182 rush yards in McDowell’s dramatic Week 5 victory over Pine-Richland.
Penn-Trafford @ McKeesport – Last week the Tigers (2-0, 4-1) had trouble with Latrobe, so my upset radar will be on defcon-four or -five when the Warriors (2-1, 3-2) travel to Weigle-Schaffer Memorial Stadium for this Foothills Conference contest. Under a new coaching staff P-T has lingered in the playoff hunt thanks in large part to Manny Simpson, one of the top five rushers in Quad-A and one of the top ten in the district with 822 yards and nine TD’s, so here’s hoping for McKeesport’s sake that Sam Gooden, who averages about eight yards per carry and has scored seven touchdowns, has more in his pocket than the one he scored in Week 5.
Woodland Hills @ Fox Chapel – Although the Foxes (1-1, 1-4) haven’t jelled as a team, they still boast some of the more exceptional offensive players in Quad-A, and their skills will be put to quite a test when they host the Wolverines (2-1, 2-3) in Big East Conference play. Montay Green (6 total TD in 2010) is one of the top rushers in the classification and Tony Pompeo has thrown for 622 yards this season, but Woody High has a defense with Division I talent all over, and it has a healthy No. 1 tailback in Lafayette Pitts, who ran for 117 yards and two scores last week.
CLASS AAA GAMES TO WATCH:
Montour @ Central Valley – Much has been made of this rising first-year program and its strong defensive play, but can the Warriors (2-1, 4-1) endure the ultimate challenge when they host the top-ranked Spartans (3-0, 5-0) and their lethal offense? Dillon Buechel is always a threat to make plays in the air for Montour, and Curtis Lewis burst out of the pocket for 186 rush yards and two scores last week, so this game boils down to how well Central Valley contains Julian Durden, the No. 2 rusher in Triple-A, who is coming off a 245-yard night against New Castle.
Thomas Jefferson @ Chartiers Valley – Much of the preseason hype surrounding this Big Eight Conference meeting has understandably fizzled with the absence of Wayne Capers, so the Colts (2-1, 2-3) will try to catch the Jaguars (3-0, 4-1) taking a cat-nap. Sean Lapcevic has accumulated 384 all-purpose yards since taking over for Capers, and speaking of quarterbacks, new trigger man Dom Presto, who totaled 172 passing yards and four total TD’s (2 rush, 2 pass), looked sharp for TJ, which is 13-0 against Char Valley under Bill Cherpak and has shut out the Colts since ’06.
West Allegheny @ Moon – This Parkway Conference game is also not as star-studded as originally anticipated, now that Moon tailback Mark Piccolo has joined Mike Caputo on the shelf, and that poses a problem for the Tigers (1-2, 3-2) who need to come up with a big effort against the Indians (3-0, 4-1) to avoid falling out of the playoff picture. Dylan Bongiorni has thrown for 645 yards and four scores for West A, and he and Aaron McKinney have done a great job mixing it up without Caputo, so Moon will look for Caleb Jakiel, who has thrown for three TD’s and almost 400 yards, to step up.
New Castle @ Hopewell – It’s now or never time for the 2009 Class AAA runners-up; the Vikings (0-3, 1-4) need Rushel Shell’s supporting cast to ramp it up against the high-flying Red Hurricane (1-2, 3-2), or it may be curtains for them in the crowded Parkway Conference. New Castle’s Justin Fleo and Jalen Holmes have combined for 547 yards out of the backfield, and they’ll need to do whatever it takes to offset the damage done by Shell, who enters Week 6 with 5,269 career rushing yards and could conceivably move into the WPIAL’s top five all-time by the end of the night.
CLASS A GAMES TO WATCH:
Beth-Center @ Monessen – The top spot in the Tri-County South Conference is at stake Friday evening when the Bulldogs (5-0, 5-0) travel to the Mon Valley to take on the Greyhounds (4-0, 4-1). Beth-Center is a team that can hurt you a lot of ways, as evidenced by Deshan Brown’s three interceptions, Sal Faieta’s mixed bag (1 rush TD, 1 def. TD, one 2-pt. pass), and Jake Soffron’s two scores in a Week 5 romp over California, while Monessen pins its hopes on Brett Crenshaw, who has run for three scores and almost 300 yards, and Trae Cook, who was held off the scoreboard last week.
North Catholic @ Avonworth – Make no mistake about it, the ‘Lopes (4-1, 4-1) are still very much a factor in the very crowded Eastern Conference title chase, but their defense will have to play at another level against the Trojans (3-1, 4-1) in order to stay in front. North Catholic’s Martin Long is one of the top passers in Class A (789 yds, 8 TD), though his counterpart, Brian Vales, hasn’t done bad either (494 yds, 4 TD), so Avonworth hopes its running game, led by Ricky Lawniczak’s 473 yards and ten TD’s, can give it the edge.
Sto-Rox @ South Side Beaver – A number of Sto-Rox players appear to have gotten a reprieve, at least for Saturday, from a controversial new academic policy, so let’s see how well Ron Butschle coaches his team amidst that distraction when his Vikings (2-1, 4-1) visit the Rams (0-3, 0-5) in a Big 7 Conference test. Receiver Justin Gentle, who averages 17 yards per catch, is one to keep an eye on, but South Side needs more than just him to get by Sto-Rox, which boasts a number of offensive threats, including tailback Josh Beverly, who racked up 116 yards and two TD’s versus Union in Week 5.
Brentwood @ Chartiers-Houston – The Buccaneers (2-1, 4-1) are hoping their earlier drubbing against defending conference and WPIAL champ Clairton was an aberration and not a trend as they get set to host the Spartans (3-0, 5-0), the other Black Hills front-runner, in a battle for playoff positioning. This one looks like a question of which quarterback can outshine the other; will it be Danny Lis of Chartiers-Houston, who has gained almost 600 all-purpose yards through five games, or Cory Bauer of Brentwood, who has gained 580 in the air through five games to go with seven TD’s?
CITY LEAGUE GAME TO WATCH:
Allderdice @ Perry – When the Dragons (4-0, 4-1) and the Commodores (4-0, 4-1) meet under the lights at Cupples Stadium to decide sole possession of first place, it will mark the meeting of perhaps the two best passing games in the League. Greg McGhee, the top QB in the City League with 952 yards and ten touchdowns, leads Perry against Allderdice and its quarterback, Mike Pfleger, who enters with 491 yards and five TD’s.
(Special thanks to the Tribune-Review for their contributions to the Game of the Week capsule.)
For more of the latest news and views on and off the gridiron, be sure to check out The Post-Gazette High School Football Show Presented by First Commonwealth Bank with the Post-Gazette’s Mike White and MSA’s Don Rebel, Saturday mornings 8:00-10:00 on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan and 937thefan.com!