“Mr. High School Sports” – Week 2 WPIAL Football Preview
North Hills (0-0, 1-0) at Pgh. Central Catholic (1-0, 1-0) – Northern Eight Conference
(Coverage begins at 7:00 P.M., with kickoff at 7:30, on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA; Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis have the call, and you can check out our live blog at 937thefan.com.)
The Vikings are still deep and talented on offense, but North Hills is notorious for stealing games with team defense, so expect Jack McCurry’s Indians to give Central a game in this pivotal contest at Carnegie Mellon that could help them solidify playoff positioning down the road. Terry Totten loves to run, and he’ll be eager to put the ball in the hands of Luigi Lista-Brinza, who began his junior season with 136 yards on 23 carries in a win over conference rival Shaler last week. North Hills will probably plan a similar grass-roots attack led by another junior, Jordan Blackmon, who ran for 115 yards on just ten attempts and scored twice in a non-conference win over Penn-Trafford.
Mount Lebanon (0-0, 0-1) at Bethel Park (1-0, 1-0) – 7:30 – Southeastern Conference
This familiar rivalry presents an opportunity for the Blue Devils to bounce back from being humbled by an N.A. squad that should contend for another Quad-A title, and it presents an opportunity for the Black Hawks to learn more about who they really are in 2012. Mount Lebanon has opened up its playbook, as new senior quarterback Tyler Roth threw for 162 yards and a score in Week 1, and junior receiver Troy Apke, one to watch for BP’s defense, accounted for over 100 of those yards. The Hawks will try to overwhelm Lebo with a committee of running backs including junior Chiante Pryor and senior Zach Schmidt, who combined for 129 yards and two TD’s on just nine carries in a decisive win over Plum.
West Mifflin (1-0, 1-0) at Belle Vernon (1-0, 1-0) – 7:30 – Big Nine Conference
Those who patronize this battle between two likely playoff chasers will come to see Belle Vernon offensive lineman Dorian Johnson, who decommitted from Penn State, and is weighing Pitt among a few other major Division I options. It should be a hard-hitting affair, with the winner probably being whichever team bests controls the ground. The Titans proved they can still pick apart opposing defenses when junior Jim Wheeler amassed 125 yards on 12 carries, adding two touchdowns, against Laurel Highlands. Anthony Levis continues to show promise for the Leopards, coming off a 120-yard effort at Uniontown, and fellow sophomore Travis Snyder, who threw for two TD’s and 151 yards, could be an x-factor if he maintains his accuracy.
Moon (1-0, 1-0) at Blackhawk (0-1, 0-1) – 7:30 – Parkway Conference
We don’t expect the same incredible Parkway finish captured by ROOT Sports Thursday night, but we do expect to see the Cougars play with a purpose after a tough last-minute loss at West Allegheny in Week 1. Junior quarterback Chandler Kincade has already demonstrated his dangerousness by racking up 273 yards and four touchdowns in the air against the Indians, while Moon will try to overpower Blackhawk’s defense, which is typically a key to victory, with a sustained ground attack. Sophomore Tony Colaianni shared the Class AAA lead with 177 rushing yards last week, scoring twice against Chartiers Valley, but if he is contained this time, the Tigers need Caleb Jakiel to make splash plays with his arm.
South Fayette (1-0, 1-0) at Keystone Oaks (0-1, 0-1) – 7:00 – Century Conference
Last week we saw the younger of the Brumbaugh brothers, to say nothing of the older sibling, rise to the challenge on opening night, and we also saw a decent-looking Golden Eagles team fall in somewhat head-scratching fashion to Steel Valley, though take nothing away from the Ironmen after that effort. Anyway, sophomore Brett Brumbaugh looks like he was born to lead the Lions after connecting on ten of 13 passes for 242 yards and three TD’s versus McGuffey, while KO looks for more from its balanced running game after senior Dale Klobichur was limited to 50 yards on 11 carries in Week 1. If the Eagles can shut down senior Pitt recruit Zach Challingsworth, it might throw a monkey wrench into South Fayette’s game plan.
Mount Pleasant (1-0, 1-0) at Greensburg C.C. (0-1, 0-1) – 7:00 – Interstate Conference
The Centurions didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts under their interim co-coaches, and they need to earn respect at home in Week 2 in an already crowded conference as they provide the Vikings with their first real test. A chief reason behind GCC’s Week 1 struggles was the fact senior running back Zach Guiser never got his motor going, managing just seven net yards on eight carries, but look for him to break out this week. Mount Pleasant will also try to out-muscle the opposition behind its bell cow, as junior Tyler Mellors destroyed Waynesburg for 228 yards on just 16 tries, along with three scores, but this time he’s facing one of the tougher defensive fronts in Class AA.
North Catholic (1-0, 1-0) at Springdale (1-0, 1-0) – 7:30 – Eastern Conference
The dawn of a new era began with Dave Leasure celebrating his first win as Springdale’s new coach, but for Leasure the honeymoon may end abruptly if the Dynamos don’t come out with the same intensity they showed in Week 1. The Trojans showcased a very potent running game last Friday against Apollo-Ridge headed by sophomore P.J. Fulmore, who led all WPIAL rushers last week with 265 yards on 32 pops to go with his four touchdowns. North Catholic did a lot of damage in the first half of that game, so Springdale needs to make some early stops and out-grind the visitors. Offensively the Dynamos need to make way for seniors Kyle Rogers and Sean Dugan, who have already combined for six TD’s.
Clairton (1-0, 1-0) at Carlynton (0-1, 0-1) – 7:30 – Black Hills Conference
The nation’s longest active winning streak stands at 48, leaving the Bears 12 shy of a new state record, but eligibility issues and a valiant effort by host Chartiers-Houston in Week 1 nearly short-circuited the Clairton buzz saw. The Bears, despite having to work with different personnel up front and using three different quarterbacks, should match up favorably with the Cougars, who are still in rebuilding mode and became one of Clairton’s nine shutout victims last season. Look for D-1 prospect Tyler Boyd, the leading scorer in the WPIAL a year ago with 48 TD’s, to try to break this game open, while fellow senior receiver Marc Keating led Carlynton with two TD’s in last week’s defeat by conference rival Fort Cherry.
“Mr. High School Sports” picks: Clairton, Springdale, Greensburg C.C., South Fayette, Blackhawk, Belle Vernon, Mt. Lebanon, Central Catholic.
For more WPIAL football content, check out the “Mr. High School Sports” blog, and visit brother website KDKA.com after tonight’s games to see how your team fared.
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)