Half way through the 2012 trip on the Highway to Heinz, sixteen teams remain after victories on Quarterfinals Friday. with the Friday night stage getting brighter and brighter with each passing week in the postseason, here are the players who stole the spotlight in helping leading their teams to the WPIAL's Final Four Friday.
Mack Leftwich – North Allegheny
Here's a helpful hint to all you college Division I recruiters…Mack Leftwich of North Allegheny does whatever it takes to WIN, which last time I checked is the bottom line. Leftwich hit on 11 of 19 passes for 132 yards and tossed two touchdown passes plus he scored on a one yard plunge in leading North Allegheny to another one-sided victory, 42-14 over the Bethel Park Black Hawks in a Class AAAA Quarterfinals contest.
Jordan Brown and Forrest Barnes – Seneca Valley
If Seneca Valley mates Jordan Brown and Forrest Barnes were alive back in the colonial days, their motto playing for the Patriots would have probably been 'six if by land, six if through air'. In a much anticipated Class AAAA Quarterfinals contest, Brown connected on 11 of 14 passes for 225 yards and three long touchdown tosses of 5, 44 and 84 yards while backfield teammate Forrest Barnes rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown as the Raiders cruised past the Mount Lebanon Blue Devils 32-13.
Chayse Dillon – West Allegheny
Parkway conference rivals West Allegheny and Montour were meeting for the second time in four weeks and both contests turned out to be MONUMENTAL defensive struggles. In week 8, West A won 5-3, so with any sore of points becoming a rare commodity, Chayse Dillon put the defending champs in chase mode. Dillon rished for 135 yards and scored the only two touchdowns in eight quarters of football on runs of 11 and 56 yards as the Indians prevailed 14-3 over the Spartans in a Class AAA Quarterfinals slugfest.
Joe Carroll and Jake Mascaro – Thomas Jefferson
Even though they are undefeated and the top-seed, Thomas Jefferson came into the 2005 title game rematch with Franklin Regional battered and bruised. So like any good boxer, they looked to win by delivering one big knockout punch. TJ quarterback Joe Carroll hit on 16 of his 29 pass attempts for 396 yards and three touchdowns while receiver Jake Mascaro cuaght 9 passes for 204 yards and the two connected on that KO blow in the fourth quarter on an 85-yard scoring pass as the Jaguars held on for a 24-21 Class AAA Quarterfinals victory over the Panthers.
Robert Foster – Central Valley
Last week, Robert Foster could do nothing but watch nervously as his Central Valley teammates fought for their lives and barely avoided elimination in Round One. Back in the lineup after sitting out for being tossed out a Week 9 game, Foster made sure he would make a BIG difference. Foster scored the games first touchdown on a four yard run, then he caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from John George and capped off another night at the office with a 42-yard interception return for a score as the Warriors pounded the Hopewell Vikings 49-21 in a Class AAA Quarterfinals battle of Parkway Conference rivals.
Shai McKenzie – Washington
It took the Shai-Show a little bit of time to get going, but once warmed up, the Washington stud running back ran roughshod…again. Shai McKenzie finished with 200 yards on the ground and scored on a 56-yard touchdown run as the Little Prexies, down 17-7 in the second quarter, came roaring back to beat the Seton-LaSalle Rebels 33-17 to remain undefeated and advance to the WPIAL Class AA Semifinals for the first time in a decade,
Brett Brumbaugh and Zach Challingsworth – South Fayette
One thing about this undefeated South Fayette team here in 2012, they have shown a lot of mercy. Ten wins and ten mercy rule victories. But they were finally challenged in a Class AA Quarterfinals contest against Beaver Falls. The electric SF passing attack turned out to be the difference as Brett Brumbaugh was 19 of 31 passing for 330 yards and three touchdowns while his favorite target, Zach Challingsworth caught 8 passes for 214 yards with a socring catch and a scoring run as the Lions remained perfect with a 35-21 triumph over the game Tigers.
Tyler Boyd – Clairton
memo to the WPIAL and PIAA…Clairton and Tyler Boyd are pretty good. Boyd scored on the second play from scrimmage on a 67-yard run and never looked back, as he ended up with 288 yards and five touchdowns on additional scoring runs of 48, 21 and 81 yards plus an 89 yard touchdown pass from Armani Ford as the Bears notched their 58th consecutive victory to pull within one of tying the state record with a Class A Quarterfinals 39-0 whitewash of the Brentwood Spartans.
Lenny Williams – Sto-Rox
Union coach Stacey Robinson told us on This Week in the WPIAL that it's impossible to prepare for a taltent like Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams. The junior signal caller made the opposing coach look like a prophet. Williams completed 8 passes for 85 yards, plus he rushed for 156 yards on the ground to lead the Vikings past the Scotties 33-8 in a Class A Quarterfinals contest that was a rematch between these Big 7 Conference rivals.
Ernie Burkes and Elijah Owens – Neshannock
For some teams, a trip to the district Semifinals is old hat, and almost expected on a yearly basis. For Neshannock, Cloud 9 is floating to the Final Four is VERY rare air. Running back Elijah Owens rushed for 106 yards and a 46-yard touchdown run while quarterback Ernie Burkes hit on 9 of 18 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown toss, plus the game winning 1-yard run with under a minute left as the Lancers came back for a thrilling 24-21 victory in a Class A Quarterfinals battle with the Monessen Greyounds.