Big Game Hunting – WPIAL Football Four-Pack

The District-Seven banner is in the hands of four very good football teams as we head to the PIAA quarter finals, is there a chance for the WPIAL to win all four state titles? I say yes, though it will certainly be very  tough. Pretty good shot I think, for all four teams from District – Seven to be at least playing in Hershey during the final weekend of the Pennsylvania high school football season. Let’s go PIAA Big Game Hunting!

AAAA PIAA Quarterfinals:
North Allegheny Tigers (13-0) vs State College Little Lions (8-4)
Saturday December 3rd 1:00 PM @ Mansion Park in Altoona Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and the North Allegheny Sports Network by Randy Gore and Rick Meister

These teams have certainly become very familiar with each other, in fact the folks at State College have probably seen all they care to of the North Allegheny Tigers. The District Seven Champion Tigers will face State College for the fourth time since September 2010, and State College has come out on the short-end all three times so far. North Allegheny beat the Little Lions in this same, quarter final spot last season on their way to a state championship 21-6. More recently, the two teams met in week one this season in State College with North Allegheny winning 53-21. In that game NA quarterback Mack Leftwich threw for four touchdowns and ran for another, while the North Allegheny defense shut down Little Lion running back Jack Haffner holding him to 21 yards on the game.

Haffner is a very highly touted running back, there are some who put him on a par with Rushel Shell of Hopewell. For the season he has rushed 262 times for 2050 yards and scored 29 total touchdowns for the Little Lions. And let me see here…uh…yeah that’s pretty good. Josh Weakland is the quarterback for the District–Six champions, and let’s call his numbers, workman-like for the season. Weakland has completed 97 of 190 passes for 1084 yards, nothing gaudy, but solid “ham-and-egger” type stuff. He has thrown only five touchdown passes and eight interceptions on the year.

State College’s defense is led by junior linebackers Mike Rizzuto who has 41 total tackles on the year, and Ryan Goeke who has 42. Both of these guys are tough, hard nosed solid football players but they are giving away a lot of size to the North Allegheny offensive lineman out to block them.

The Tigers appear to be very healthy and very tuned up as they wade into state quarter final water following a thrilling overtime win in the District-Seven championship game. In fact the Tigers now find themselves in the top-25 and in some cases in the top-20 in national rankings all around the United States. Junior quarterback Mack Leftwich continues to impress at the helm of Art Walker’s ship. The Tiger signal-caller has completed 113 of 199 passes on the season for 1983 yards, 18 scores and just seven interceptions.

But make no mistake the Tigers are out to pound the football down your throat with a tremendous running game. As a team North Allegheny has 3442 yards rushing and 54 rushing touchdowns. The attack is headed up by Alex Deciantas with 773 yards and 14 scores, Vinnie Congedo and Nick Passodelis along with Leftwich are all very capable runners behind one of the best offensive lines in the state, led by junior Pat Kugler.

The Tiger defense is having a fabulous season as well led by Zack Lyon and Jarred Lux. Thise guys plus the big fellas up front are a big part of the reason North Allegheny has stuffed Haffner game in and game out, if they are able to do that again the Tigers are headed back to the PIAA semi-finals next weekend.

AAA PIAA Quarterfinals:
Montour Spartans (11-2) vs Grove City Eagles (12-0)
Friday December 2nd 7:00 PM @ North Allegheny High School  Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WWIZ-FM 103.9 by Ryan Briggs and Chris Burtch

Wow ! You wanna talk about a rushing attack? Get a load of the numbers for District-10 champ Grove City on the year. The Eagles have run the football 425 times compared to 74 total passing attempts. They have amassed 3765 yards and, an astronomical 71 rushing touchdowns on the season. That means they are averaging just less than six rushing touchdowns per game.

Seven Eagles have rushed for 200 yards or more on the season including leading rusher Wesley Phipps who has 121 carries for 1269 yards and 28 touchdowns.  The rushing attack is predicated on fabulous size and talent on the offensive line for the Eagles, including all-region lineman Alex Gilmore and two-way all-region lineman Jordan Patterson. Senior Tony Turner is a fabulous and gigantic presence up front the Eagles average over 277 pounds across that front line with two players over 300 pounds.

Through the air Grove City has not had to do much with quarterback Tyler Dagres completing 34 of 70 attempts on the year for 731 yards and 5 touchdowns along with three interceptions. The leading receiver for the Eagles is Foster Reznor with 11 catches for 247 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively the Eagles rely on a pair of fantastic linebacker in senior Jake Wyllie and junior Chad Williams. The pair has combined for 146 tackles on the year including seven sacks. They also have a pair of the best ball hawks in the state in their secondary in Mason Depeal and Kyle Trinch, Depeal has six interceptions and Trinch seven on the year to lead a secondary that has totaled 24 interceptions for the season. So it would look on paper like a lot of fun to keep an eye on the match-up between the Montour passing attack and the Grove City secondary.

Montour’s passing attack is well documented by BGH, Dillon Buechel is having an amazing season, and in fact career throwing the football, thus far in 2011 he has completed 149 of 224 passes for 2313 yards, 36 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. His stable of receivers is deep and talented. The deep threats are Devin Wiolson, Sherrod Naylor, and Darren Massey, with the underneath stuff going to tight end Aaron Reed and Julian Durden out of the backfield. Wilson has 53 catches for 754 yards and 10 scores while Massey has caught 43 passes for 861 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Julian Durden is the rushing attack for the Spartans and he is a great one. The senior has carried the rock 213 time for 1876 yards and 25 touchdowns including eight in the playoffs with four in the District-Seven championship game.

Says here this will be the most competitive of the state playoff games involving WPIAL teams this weekend.

AA PIAA Quarterfinals:
Aliquippa Quips (13-0) vs Moniteau Warriors (12-0) 
Friday December 2nd 7:00 PM @ Clarion University Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WKPL-FM 92.1 by Mark Schass and Lee Mohn AND on WMBA-AM1460/WBVP-AM 1230 by Jim Frederick and Bruce Frey AND on WBUT-AM 1050 by Glenn Thompson and Natalie Butcherine

The District-Nine champion Warriors get the next crack at the Aliquippa Quips Friday night on the MSA sports Network. The Warriors, led by head coach Jeff Campbell are perfect on the season but this will be their toughest test to date.

Moniteau quarterback Kyle Armogast is one of the top dual threats in the state with combined all-purpose yards at 3730 for the season. Armogast has completed 98 of 189 passes for 2029 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has also rushed 193 times for 1266 yards and scored 20 touchdowns and 14 two-point conversions for the season.

Also in that Warrior backfield is senior running back Dustin Geagan who has really put up some great numbers of his own, Geagan has 177 carries for 1530 yards, an average of 8.64 per rush, and has scored 17 touchdowns on the season.

Ethan Pry is the leading receiver for the Warriors with 43 catches for 956 yards he is averaging over 22 yards per reception and has a team high 11 receiving touchdowns for the year.

Moniteau has a tremendous defense netting over five sacks per game with another Armogast leading the charge on that side of the football, junior linebacker Andrew Armogast has 150 total tackles including 20 sacks for the year. Senior defensive end Joey Deal has 30 sacks for the season Deal is second in the state in sacks while Armogast is third.

The competition level jumps straight up for the Warriors as they get set to face Aliquippa Friday night. The Quips are led by Mikal Hall at quarterback, the senior is a three year starter and on the season has thrown for 1448 yards including 89 in the game-winning 96 yard touchdown drive to clinch the Quips’ 14th WPIAL championship last Saturday at Heinz Field. He has completed 73 of 131 passes on the season and has 18 touchdown passes with only a single interception.

Hall’s favorite targets include Devon Walker who caught both touchdowns in the Championship win over Jeannette 14-7 last week, and Davion Hall and Kaylan Kenney.

Sophomore running back Dravon Henry is the leading rusher for the Quips and can break the long one or get tough yards running inside, keep an eye on this youngster as he seems destined for serious greatness in his career.

The best part of the Quips though might just be their defensive line, they are truly something to behold. The trio of Jaleel Fields (6’2’’ 235 pounds, sophomore) Edward Mitchell (6’1’’ 270 pounds, senior) and Khalil Seaburn (5’6’’ 252 pounds, junior) are more than formidable, they are dominant up front.

A PIAA Quarterfinals:
Clairton Bears (13-0) vs North Star Cougars (10-1)
Friday December 2nd 7:00 PM @ Yough High School Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Paul Paterra and Josh Rowntree

The Clairton Bears will put their 44 game winning streak on the line in the quarter finals as they take on District-5 champion North Star Friday night. Cairton just rolled unbeaten Sto-Rox at Heinz Field Saturday for their 4th straight WPIAL single A championship. The only question mark the Bears will have to deal with here is the health of superstar Tyler Boyd who is dealing with some nagging leg injuries suffered against the Rox on Saturday.

Capri Thompson has had a splendid year at quarterback for the Bears including not turning the ball over and throwing for 1441 yards and 11 touchdowns, but the best thing he might do on a regular basis is hand the football off to a guy that was not even supposed to be a running back this year the leading scorer in the WPIAL Tyler Boyd, Boyd has 41 touchdowns on the season. He has rushed for 1861 yards and converted 14 two-point attempts for the Bears.

Wide outs Terrish Webb and Trenton Coles are tremendous deep threats and big time playmakers when they get the football anywhere on the field.

Pretty clear that Bear offense is very good even great, but the Bears defense? It is otherworldly.
They are allowing a best in the state 3.9 points per game, and much of that has come in mop-up time. They hace recorded eight shutouts on the season. For the year they have allowed a total of 45 points. Simply phenomenal. A tall, tall task for the Cougars on Friday.

North Star like to throw and that is a bad idea against the Bears secondary. Senior quarterback Max Strasiser has completed 124 of 196 attempts for 2121 yards and 15 touchdowns, that is good news for Cougar fans the bad news is, he has shown a tendency to throw it to the other team from time to time with nine interceptions, combine that stat with the Clairton secondary and that news goes from bad to worse.

Max’s favorite target is his younger brother junior wide receiver Tony Strasiser, he has caught 54 passes for 1013 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year.

If North Star elects to run they have some nice options there as well including leading rusher sophomore Thomas Miller who has amassed 162 carries and 1143 yards including 11 touchdowns on the ground for the Cougars this season. Max Strasiser will also keep it and run it for North Star and has done so this year to the tune of 603 yards rushing and another ten scores.

Senior linebacker Neil Yoder has totaled an amazing 151 tackles on the year for a Cougar defense that has also come up with 11 interceptions and 15 sacks for the season. They will all of that to be working if they hope to hang with the Bears on Friday night.