MSA Sports Big Game Hunting – Week Eight

We go eclectic here in the penultimate week of the 2013 WPIAL regular season. A pair of teams battling it out for one of the quickly dwindling spots in AAAA, a pair of teams trying to stave off elimination in AAA, a huge rivalry with a division championship on the line in AA, and a non-conference tilt with heavy, high-seeding implications on the line in A. Something for everyone depending on your pleasure. It is a veritable smorgasbord of high school football. Hey that could be the new slogan for the MSA Sports network! “MSA is a veritable smorgasbord of high school sports”. Get me Don Rebel on the phone, stat!

AAAA Southeastern Conference:
Penn Hills Indians (5-2)(4-2) at Mount Lebanon Blue Devils (2-5)(2-4) Friday October 18th at 7:30 PM @ Blue Devil Stadium on the campus of Mount Lebanon high school. Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Josh Rowntree and Mike Azadian.

Just three spots remain in AAAA for the post-season tournament. Penn Hills can secure one with a road win against a struggling Lebo team that has lost three of four including a heartbreaker to Peters last Friday 38-35. Mt. Lebanon meanwhile would see their hopes all but vanish if they lose at home in this game.

Lebo has struggled with rushing defense all year long including against Peters allowing Corey Owen 176 yards and four touchdowns and Marcus Ubringer 194 yards and a score. That does not bode well with Penn Hills having a fierce rushing attack led by quarterback Billy Kisner.

Kisner has rushed for more than 200 yards in a game three times this year including last week’s win over Plum. In addition to Kisner, Isaiah Jones is averaging around ten yards per carry, and Te’ Shan Campbell almost seven. For the season Kisner has rushed for 1014 yards, and Jones has 658 yards rushing.

The Indians have also started to develop a nice little passing attack with 6’4’’ senior Michael Anthony creating match-up problems with his size and speed. Anthony has started to draw extra defenders and that is creating some space for Shawn Featherstone who is also a big time player.

Mount Lebanon seesm to have found some answers offensively scoring 84 points in their last two games. Eddie Jenkins is 22 of 31 passing for 392 yards and four touchdowns. Troy Apke has 30 catches for 519 yards and five touchdowns.

The Blue Devils rushing attack is led by Jake Rolfsen with 108 carries, 687 yards and six touchdowns on the year.

It is the Blue Devil defense allowing over 26 points per game that has Lebo with their back against the wall heading into week eight.

AAA Greater Allegheny Conference:
Knoch Knights (3-4)(2-4) at Indiana Little Indians (2-5)(2-4) Friday October 18th at 7:00 PM @ Andy Kusneski Field on the campus of Indiana Area Senior high school. Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WISR-AM 680 by Scott Briggs and Dave Bacon, also Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WDAD-1450 AM by Jack Benedict and Bill Otto

Five teams battling for two, maybe three spots depending on the wildcard; but in any case, Hampton, Hollidaysburg, Knoch, Indiana and, Greensburg-Salem all want one of those spots. It will be a Battle Royale here in the last two weeks of the regular season.

The numbers are pretty similar for these two teams in terms of points scored and points allowed, both are hovering in that 20 points for, 20 points against neighborhood, not always a great neighborhood if you want to play in the post season.

The similarities don’t stop there, both teams were handled by Franklin-Regional, Mars and Greensburg-Salem.

Knoch is led offensively by junior quarterback Danny Farinelli who has completed 58 of 104 passes for 829 yards and six touchdowns on the year. He has had difficulty with ball-control though, tossing seven interceptions on the year. Jim Larrimer ande Sean Daugherty each have reched double digits in catches for the season and their combined yardage is nearly 600.

On the ground the Knights rely heavily on Cody Milsom with 147 carries and 657 yards to go along with seven touchdowns.

Indiana’s Sean Thompson and Jacob Zilinskas have combined to complete 60 of the 127 passes they have thrown this season for 893 yards and six touchdowns.

Darrious Carter and Riley Stapleton have both caught 23 passes, Carter for 377 yards and two touchdown. Stapleton for 374 yards and three touchdowns. Eerily similar numbers. Both are tall, Carter 6’5’’ and Stapleton 6’4’’. Both wear single digits Carter is number three Stapleton is number four. Just struck me, and I like to share, tough for the play-by-play guys.

The Little Indians leading rusher is DeQuan West a 6’1’’ senior with 357 yards on 69 attempts who has scored four touchdowns on the ground this year.

In a year where in my estimation the best teams are playing the best defense that is what this game will come down to and, frankly what I think the final playoff spots in AAA will come down to; who plays the better defense?

AA Midwestern Conference:
Aliquippa Quips (7-0)(5-0) at Beaver Falls Fighting Tigers ((7-0)(6-0) Friday October 18th at 7:30 PM @ Reeves Field in Beaver Falls Pa. Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network and WBVP-AM 1230 and WMBA-AM 1460 by Bob Barrickman and Tom Hays

No questions about anyone making the playoffs in this game. Both teams are in and both teams are expected to be among the few teams to beat in the AA bracket. Winner will get the Midwestern Conference crown and the very high seed that comes with it.

The Quips have responded well to the pressure of being labeled as the team to beat in AA this year. They have outscored their opponents by a 300 point margin through the first seven games. That works out to an average margin of victory of nearly 43 points per game. Yes I would say they have responded well.

Everyone knew that Aliquippa would have two stud running backs in Terry Swanson and Dravon Henry but now you can throw Kazeon Pugh into that mix as well. Henry has rushed for 741 yards and ten touchdowns, Swanson has 717 yards and ten scores and Pugh has 323 yards and seven touchdowns.

Darrien Fields has stepped in very nicely in his first year as the starting quarterback completing 31 of 42 passes for 484 yards and seven touchdowns without throwing an interception. Jyier Turner leads the Quips with nine catches for 206 yards.

The Tigers will counter with a solid dual threat at quarterback. Senior Dan Stratton has hooked up on 41 of 64 passes for 806 yards and eight scoring strikes, while only tossing a pair of interceptions. His favorite targets are Sage Curry (GREAT NAME) and Javon Turner the duo has combined to catch 25 passes for six scores and 605 yards on the year.

When it comes to the ground game the Tigers are solid there as well, Damian Rawl leads them with 820 yards and 11 touchdowns but there seven other Beaver Falls runners with more than a hundred yards on the season.

These teams will both be facing by far their toughest test of the season. Aliquippa was so highly touted going in to this 2013 campaign I think it is possible that Beaver Falls is still under the radar for a lot of folks, that could all change if the Tigers can find a way to knock off the team that has spent the entire year at the top of the WPIAL and state rankings.

Yes a monster game but these two teams are very much used to this, it is their biggest game of the year, every year, this Friday will be no exception.

A Non-Conference:
Neshannock Lancers (6-1)(6-1) Big Seven Conference at Cardinal Weurl North Catholic Trojans (7-0)(7-0) Eastern Conference Friday October 18th at 7:00 PM @ J.C. Stone Field in North Park. Broadcast on the MSA Sports Network by Sam Hall and Steve Nagler

I see the eyebrows raised and I hear the whispers, yes I get feedback all the time about which games get chosen for this article. I know a week eight non-conference game is off the beaten path but, this game has such huge playoff implications with regard to seeding I just think it is the big game in single A this week, and I get to choose. So take a breath, send the email to and we can get back to our discussion.

I think most folks have the Sto-Rox Vikings as a pretty clear cut number one in single A. North is unbeaten and so is Beth-Center albeit in a pretty soft TCS (see email address above). You also have to put Clairton, Monessen, and Ft Cherry in the mix somewhere. Keep in mind your “pretty clear cut number one” had to come up with a dramatic goal line stand to knock off Neshannock 34-31 in week three. Also keep in mind Neshannock and Sto-Rox are in the same conference and, Clairton, Monessen and Ft.Cherry all come out of the Black Hills together. I guess what I am saying is, wow I am glad I am not on the committee that has to seed this classification. If I were, you can bet my email address would not appear anywhere in this article. Regardless of the outcome of this game there are going to be some amazing first round games in single a come November first.

North has been very good this year and this past week they got even better when P.J.Fulmore returned from an ankle injury that had hampered him the first part of the year. Fulmore returned in a big way with 106 yards and three touchdowns in a win against Wilkinsburg. In his absence North was enjoying tremendous performances from Jerome Turner and, Adam Sharlow.

Turner has rushed for 568 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sharlow has completed 44 of 84 passes for 737 yards and five touchdowns without throwing an interception. He has also rushed for 556 yards and five touchdowns. Ryan Kirby is the Trojans leading receiver with 16 catches for 240 yards and a pair of scores

The Lancers of Neshannock have a fantastic dual threat at quarterback of their own in Ernie Burkes.Burkes a 5’10’’ senior has thrown 106 passes and completed 68 of them for 793 yards and nine touchdowns, all the while being the second leading rusher for the Lancers with 688 yards and nine touchdowns on 74 carries.

The leading rusher for Neshannock is Eli Owens who has 927 yards on 88 carries including scoring right touchdowns.

This will be a fantastic game, if it is not well, you know how to reach me to complain.