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“Mr. High School Sports” – Another Rancorous Rivalry on ROOT Sports

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By Matt Popchock

(mpopchock@kdka.com)

A pair of North Hills area neighbors will battle for Quad-A supremacy on live television this approaching Friday, so perhaps it’s only fitting two bitter South Hills rivals will do the same the following Friday.

ROOT Sports’ featured WPIAL football game for Week 9, the final week of the regular season, will be Mount Lebanon’s visit to Upper St. Clair, it was announced late Wednesday afternoon.

This Great Southern Conference affair, which will likely decide the conference title, is set for a 7:30 kickoff the evening of Fri., Oct. 29, with pre-game coverage beginning at 7:00 on the network. It will re-air at midnight, and again the next day at 12:30 P.M.

Upper St. Clair (3-0, 6-1) boasts the second-best scoring offense in WPIAL Class AAAA, a unit that has averaged nearly 42 points per game entering its Week 8 contest at Bethel Park (2-1, 3-4) this Friday at 7:30. But Jim Render’s defense, which has allowed the fewest points in the classification, has been even more intimidating.

Speaking of Render, if his team takes care of business this week, he’ll have a shot at career win No. 351 that night. Jack Renzes Jr. of Dunmore, who, like Render, debuted as a PIAA varsity head coach in the 1960s, is the winningest active coach in the state (second-most wins all-time) with 354 victories entering this weekend.

The Panthers are led by versatile quarterback and Pitt recruit Dakota Conwell, the No. 46 outside linebacker in the nation according to MaxPreps. On the offensive side of the ball, Conwell has completed 53% of his passes for 679 yards and seven TD’s against just two interceptions. He has also run for 561 yards, averaging over eight yards a carry.

The Blue Devils (3-0, 5-2) are also led by one of the premier players in the WPIAL, running back Luke Hagy. The program’s all-time leading rusher broke the prestigious 4,000-career yard barrier (more on that later in this blog) in Lebo’s Week 7 win over Bethel. Hagy, the 2010-11 Post-Gazette Male Athlete of the Year, leads the district with 1,350 yards rushing. He’s looking Ivy League, but he has also visited Pitt.

Mount Lebanon needs a win over visiting Peters Township (1-2, 3-4) this Friday at 7:30 to keep its hopes of repeating as outright conference champions alive. It edged Upper St. Clair 14-10 in last year’s meeting.

ROOT Sports’ coverage of WPIAL football continues this Friday night at 7:30, as North Allegheny travels to Shaler in Class AAAA Northern Seven Conference action. It will continue after Week 9 with a live First Round playoff broadcast to be determined kicking off at 7:30 P.M. Fri., Nov. 4.

(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)