Most coaches will tell you the way to win in November is pound the ball on the ground and play strong defense. Well the strong defense thing is universal in football, however this is not your big brothers three yards and a cloud of rubber pellets high school football. Quarterbacks are shining bring on the Highway to Heinz, including six that helped guide their teams past the final exit and on to the North Shore as the next stop in the WPIAL football playoffs.
Mack Leftwich – North Allegheny
North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich continues to slide and dice up opposing defenses like a Mack the Knife through very soft butter. Leftwich won the QB battle with Seneca Valley signal caller Jordan Brown by hitting on 18 of 23 passes for 360 yards and FIVE touchdown tosses of 64, 9, 27, 63 and 5 yards, plus he scored on touchdown runs of 15 and 8 yards as the Tigers are headed back to Heinz Field in search of a third straight championship with a 47-17 thrashing of the Raiders in a Class AAAA Semifinals contest.
Cody McClelland – Woodland Hills
What to do, what to do when your leading rusher is hurt and unable to go in a Class AAAA Semifinals game, you adjust the game plan and rely on your offensive leader. McClelland connected on 8 of 13 passes for 156 yards and a pair of second half touchdowns after Upper St. Clair had pulled to within 21-14 as the Wolverines avenged a Week One loss with a 42-20 victory over the Panthers as Woody High heads to Heinz Field for the second time in three years.
West Allegheny DEE-FENSE!
Is there any team playing better defense heading into the WPIAL Championships than Bob Palko's West Allegheny defense? Coming into their Class AAA Semifinals showdown with top-seed Thomas Jefferson, West A had allowed only 19 points in their last six games. But how would they do against the potent TJ attack and quarterback Joe Carroll? Very nice, thanks! The Indians help the Jaguars to 13 yards rushing and 170 total yards in an impressive 24-7 victory over the Jaguars.
Derrick Fullmore – West Mifflin
Anytime you play West Mifflin, you know you have to try to contain one of the top running backs in the WPIAL, Jimmy Wheeler. Central Valley did a nice job with that, but failed badly when it came to slowing down WM quarterback Derrick Fullmore. Fullmore was only 1 of 2 passing for 5 yards, but he rushed for 156 yards and scored three touchdowns, including a 10-yard run in overtime, then after a Central Valley penalty on a made extra point, Titans coach Ray Braszo took the point off the board, went for two and watched Fullmore dive into the end zone with the winning points in a 36-35 thriller over the Warriors in a Class AAA Semifinals instant classic.
Dravon Henry – Aliquippa
You wonder how good the stats of this super junior would be if he ever got a chance to play an entire game. Most game, the plug is pulled on him and other after only two quarter because of how dominant Aliquippa is. After a scoreless first quarter in a rematch of last years championship game, the Quips scored 36 unanswered points in the second quarter alone thanks to Henry's 117 yards and 35-yard scoring run as Aliquippa sealed a fifth straight trip to the finals with a 56-0 win over the Jeannette Jayhawks in a Class AA Semifinals rout.
Shai McKenzie – Washington
You know he's going to get the ball, but in the end, there's really nothing you can do about it. In a battle of the unbeaten between Washington and South Fayette in a Class AA Semifinals showdown, Wash High stud back Shai McKenzie continued his MVP like season with 293 yards rushing with four touchdowns on runs of 8, 58, 56 and 7 yards, with the final two coming in the second half after the game was tied 14-14 as the Little Prexies are title game bound after a 26-14 triumph over the Lions.
Armani Ford – Clairton
Yes, Tyler Boyd is the best player in WPIAL Class A and possibly the best in the entire district, but he is not the only weapon on this record breaking Clairton team. Quarterback Armni Ford was on display in this Class A Semifinals matchup as he hit on 10 of 17 passes for 154 yards and four touchdown passes of 15, 26, 12 and 18 yards as the Bears coasted to a 37-7 triumph over the Neshannock Lancers that ties the longest winning streak in Pennsylvania history with 59 consecutive wins.
Lenny Williams – Sto-Rox
The start was slow for Sto-Rox in their efforts to get back to the finals for a second straight year, but the finish was strong and convincing. After a scoreless first quarter and a 7-6 lead at the half, Rox quarterback Lenny Williams exploded, hitting on 12 of his 18 passes for 184 yards with two touchdowns passes and two scoring runs as the Vikings beat the stubborn North Catholic Trojans 34-20 clinch a second straight trip up Carson Street and across the West End bridge with a Class A Semifinals victory.