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High School

“Mr. High School Sports” – Week 7 Preview

By Matt Popchock
Lenny Williams

Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams will try to lead the Vikings to a third consecutive WPIAL Class A Final berth in 2013. (Photo Credit: Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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McKEES ROCKS, Pa. (93-7 THE FAN) — Lenny Williams might not terrify opponents or captivate scouts with his size, but that hasn’t stopped the 5’10”, 195-pound senior from coming up big time and again for his team.

With its record-setting quarterback, Sto-Rox has supplanted four-time state champion Clairton as the new favorite in Class A. The Vikings (5-0, 6-0), averaging 49.8 points per game, are the highest-scoring team in the classification, and Williams completes that offense.

In a largely typical 56-14 trouncing of Union last Friday, Williams threw for 160 yards and three touchdowns. A short toss to Craig Johnson in the second quarter gave him 89 career touchdown passes, moving him past former South Fayette signal-caller Christian Brumbaugh for the WPIAL mark.

He needs just 97 passing yards Saturday afternoon at Big 7 Conference rival Western Beaver (3-2, 3-3) to unseat Brumbaugh as the WPIAL’s all-time leader in that category too. A big part of his success has been the presence of fellow senior Brendan Blair, who has run for 377 yards and seven touchdowns while showing up every night on defense and special teams as well.

“We’re doing a lot better with run blocking,” Williams said in anticipation of the 12:30 contest. “Once that reaches its full potential, we can do anything we want.”

Don’t get him wrong, the Vikings usually do that anyway. On Williams’ big night, Blair took the opening squib kick at his own 40-yard line and scored almost untouched. It took him just nine seconds to give Sto-Rox the lead, though it felt more like two or three.

Blair capped the scoring with a five-yard run spurned on by a spin-o-rama off several tacklers up the middle, a cut to his right, and careful sprinting along the sideline. It was the sort of extra-effort play that might make even Williams step back and marvel.

“I catch myself doing that to all of them. They all can make plays at any time, and take it to the house at any time,” Williams said of his offense. “You’ve just got to give them the ball, and watch what they do.”

Assisting in his pursuit of history has been Mallory Claybourne. The Perry transfer, once an elite City League defensive back, has seen regular time has Williams’ primary target, and he caught two of the quarterback’s three TD passes in Week 6.

Claybourne averages nearly 26 yards per catch and has scored nine times entering Friday.

For Williams, the future is anything but written. He could end up at RMU, where former Sto-Rox quarterback Paul Jones went after leaving Penn State. He could end up at one of several schools in the Mid-American Conference, which has become a pipeline for WPIAL talent. He could end up at Temple, which sent its receivers coach, former Gateway head coach Terry Smith, to court him.

As long as he goes in the books as a WPIAL champion, Williams, who has already fallen short twice against those aforementioned Bears, Williams won’t worry about tomorrow today.

“We work hard during the week, and we put a lot of work into this offseason. We all come prepared and focused. That’s what you’ve got to do if you want to click the way we do.”

Williams will join the Post-Gazette’s Mike White and Don Rebel from the MSA Sports Network Saturday on “The Fan High School Football Roundup,” which can be heard every Saturday 7:00-8:00 A.M. during high school football season on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan.

Sto-Rox ends up at No. 12 in the latest MaxPreps Southwestern Pennsylvania Top 25 rankings. Here’s what’s coming up in Week 7 for the top ten, including our Game of the Week:

GAME OF THE WEEK:

No. 1 Central Catholic (5-0, 6-0) vs. No. 17 North Allegheny (3-1, 4-2) (7:30) – The Vikings return to Highmark Stadium with a chance to effectively unseat the PIAA champion Tigers as Class AAAA Northern Eight Conference champions.

In keeping with a universal theme of the 2013 season, both teams have been bitten hard by the injury bug at tailback. Central Catholic backup Riley Redman raced for 223 yards and three scores last week in lieu of 900-yard rusher Luigi Lista-Brinza, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 5 that has kept him out indefinitely. Meanwhile, Isaac Weaver looked very sharp in a non-conference loss to Gateway in Week 6; while Josh Bergman and Sean Idowu were out, the North Hills transfer racked up 112 yards and a touchdown.

NA, during its dynastic run, has won with attrition. This year, Central has done the same, ranking second only to Upper St. Clair in Quad-A scoring defense by yielding 4.5 points per game.

So this one might come down to which quarterback stays more comfortable. Jeff Clemens, nearing the 1,000-yard plateau, has meshed well with Pitt commit Elijah Zeise, who has 350 yards receiving and four TD’s.

Florida State commit J.J. Cosentino, MaxPreps’ Preseason Mr. Football for Pennsylvania, has shown signs of life recently, tossing five touchdowns in his last two games. With 221 yards on seven catches, Shafer Swann, son of Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Lynn Swann, is his deep threat.

Click here to listen live to our featured game.

THE REST:

No. 2 Upper St. Clair (5-0, 6-0) vs. No. 11 Bethel Park (5-1, 5-1) (7:30) – Will the top-ranked scoring defense in Quad-A, led by Pitt defensive end commit Rori Blair, even allow the Southeastern Conference rival Black Hawks a point? Look for Levi Metheny to throw to top rusher Alexander Minton, while, for USC, versatile tailback Mac Pope has provided similar help while sharing backfield responsibilities with Trevor Morrow.

No. 3 West Allegheny (5-0, 6-0) at No. 24 New Castle (4-1, 5-1) (7:30) – We already have a lot of respect for Ohio State commit Malik Hooker in the gym, and hopefully, on the gridiron, the senior athlete, who leads the Red Hurricane with nine TD’s, can help them continue their bounce-back campaign. It’s impossible not to respect the wildcat offense of the Indians, led by Tory Delmonico and his 580 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns.

No. 4 Central Valley (5-1, 5-1) vs. Hopewell (0-6, 0-6) (7:00) - Mark Lyons is back on the sideline for the Warriors, who are just about ready to punch another postseason ticket out of the always-brutal Class AAA Parkway Conference. The Vikings haven’t had a lot of answers for said conference’s best players, so look for Jordan Whitehead and JaQuan “Milky” Pennington to have big nights on the ground.

No. 5 Aliquippa (4-0, 6-0) vs. Ellwood City (2-3, 3-3) (7:00) – Last year the Wolverines became the first team to score against the Quips’ first-string defense. That isn’t the case this year, but any goal loftier than that doesn’t seem realistic against the WPIAL champs, who lead Class AA with seven points allowed per game. Running back/defensive back Dravon Henry will look to continue his phenomenal senior season, having already run for 562 yards and scored 13 times.

No. 6 South Fayette (6-0, 6-0) at Riverside (0-5, 0-6) (7:00) – One day, Brett Brumbaugh might join Lenny Williams to become the only two WPIAL quarterbacks ever to throw 100 career touchdown passes. In the meantime, Brumbaugh has thrown for 15 this year, he ranks fourth in the WPIAL with 1,251 yards, and he should be able to pad those stats out of conference against the Panthers.

No. 7 McKeesport (5-0, 6-0) at Connellsville (1-4, 1-5) (7:00) – The Tigers look to keep pace with Gateway for the Class AAAA Foothills Conference lead, and the Falcons should only present a speed bump on the road to that big Week 9 contest. Mikell Moore has carried for 528 yards and a team-best nine touchdowns out of George Smith’s flex-bone offense.

No. 8 Woodland Hills (4-1, 4-2) at Canon-McMillan (1-4, 1-5) (7:30) – Another reputedly slow start has not halted the long-term aspirations of the Wolverines, who have been flexing their muscles on both sides of the ball. Woody High is allowing just over ten points per game in its last three outings, and sophomore Miles Sanders, who leads his team with 11 touchdowns, ranks third in Quad-A rushing with 863 yards.

No. 9 Beaver Falls (5-0, 6-0) at Freedom (0-5, 0-6) (7:00) – The window of opportunity has closed for the Bulldogs, but it’s just opening for the Tigers, who will use this game as a tune-up for their forthcoming MAC title game against arch-rival Aliquippa. BF has one of the most balanced attacks in the classification, led by quarterback Dan Stratton (740 pass yards, 7 TD) and tailback Damian Rawl (698 yards, 9 TD).

No. 10 Seneca Valley (4-1, 5-1) vs. North Hills (3-1, 4-2) (7:30) - An important battle for Northern Eight playoff positioning takes places at NexTier Stadium, where the host Raiders have been dangerous. Dual-threat quarterback T.J. Holl has really come into his own with over 1,300 all-purpose yards and 14 total scores, and the Indians must answer with team defense and team rushing, led by Montae Frank (204 yards, 5 TD), to keep the ball out of his hands.

(Contact me at mpopchock@kdka.com and/or follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)

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