Not only must Seneca Valley show mettle against one of the toughest teams in Class AAAA Thursday night, it must also show resiliency. The last time it had a chance to greatly improve its stead in the Northern Eight Conference, things went less than swimmingly.
The Raiders (2-1, 3-1) were on the wrong end of an unexpectedly lopsided win by two-time WPIAL champion North Allegheny two weeks ago, but they’ll have a chance to get back into the section title race when they resume conference play against Pittsburgh Central Catholic (3-0, 4-0) at NexTier Stadium.
Whether we see Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde on defense will determine whether the home team gets run out of the building like it did in Wexford. Seneca opened with a textbook 24-9 win over Butler, but then allowed a combined 71 points the next two games before putting forth a more complete effort in a 64-14 non-conference victory versus Connellsville.
In that North Allegheny game, the Raiders were overwhelmed by a team that was very stubborn up front, and could pound the ball down their collective throat. Central Catholic could present a similar matchup problem.
Junior running back Luigi Lista-Brinza leads the Vikings with 283 yards on the ground, and senior Todd Coles has registered five rushing touchdowns. Leo Loughrey and Riley Redman have also contributed to that attack. Furthermore, Central has played with a bend-but-don’t-break spirit on defense, having allowed only a field goal through four games.
Seneca must clear a path for senior running back Forrest Barnes, who leads Quad-A with 578 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. The Raiders must also protect senior quarterback Jordan Brown, which proved difficult against N.A. Brown has thrown for 500 yards and five TD’s against just one pick, and he can give that offense the same balance Central is trying to find with new QB J.J. Consentino, formerly of Kiski Area.
But if you’re looking for a really big number, it’s 15.5. That’s the number of points Seneca Valley is averaging per first quarter, and it has been more than twice as productive in that period than any other quarter. So if you believe in trends, the Raiders absolutely must get on the board early in order to stay in this thing.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. on ROOT Sports, and the game will re-air Friday at 3:30 P.M.
Speaking of North Allegheny, brother website MaxPreps released its new Freeman (computer-based) Regional Football Rankings on Tuesday, and Art Walker’s Tigers are one of a few PIAA squads to make the Midwest regional top ten:
1. St. Ignatius (Cleveland), 5-0
2. Colerain (Cincinnati), 5-0
3. Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati), 4-1
4. St. Xavier (Cincinnati), 3-2
5. St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia), 3-0
6. Ben Davis (Indianapolis), 6-0
7. North Allegheny, 4-0
8. Austintown-Fitch (Youngstown, Ohio), 5-0
9. Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.), 4-0
10. Lawrence Central (Indianapolis), 6-0
N.A. is ranked second in the entire state, regardless of classification, by MaxPreps, and it’s up to 39th nationally. The Tigers host Butler (2-2, 2-2) at Newman Stadium Friday.
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)