Man, this season has gone by fast, hasn't it? Week 7 already? Geesh. Wish it could be Week 1 all over again; it's been fun. (I'm not so sure the Mrs. Varsity Letters would agree with that statement, but oh well.)
I guess if there's a theme to this week it's that there are a lot of playoff spots up for grabs.
Alright, I know that's lame. That's every week. But look around, and you'll see Chartiers-Houston needing to win out; Avella trying to remain in contention for the Tri-County title; Wash High trying to win the Class AA Interstate outright instead of sharing it with Mount Pleasant and Jeannette; Monessen trying not to relinquish the No. 2 spot in the Class A Black Hills; ditto for Ringgold and the No. 3 slot in the Class AAA Big Nine.
Oh, and Mapletown still has a chance; Carmichaels is looking to make a late push; and Peters Township needs to keep pace in the Class AAA Southeastern Conference.
There are a few walkover games, but those involving teams listed above should be plenty exciting. Here's a little bit more about 'em and what to keep an eye on Friday night.
Five to watch:
RB Shai McKenzie, Wash High: McKenzie has carried the ball more than 20 times only once this season, and that was two weeks ago against Jeannette. With a trip tonight to Mount Pleasant (5-1, 5-1) and the Class AA Interstate Conference title up for grabs, expect more of the same.
RB Josh Mundell, Carmichaels: There's no secret what the Mikes want to do: run Mundell. Avella, Carmichaels' opponent this week, gave up two big plays early -- the first two of the gave, actually -- to Jefferson-Morgan; doubtful coach John Menhart would mind if Mundell could hit a few home runs tonight.
WR Jordan Griffin, Mapletown: Quick, who's No. 2 in catches in the area behind South Fayette's Zach Challingsworth? This guy. Has 21 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. With QB Kevin Ridgley banged up, Griffin will need to make a few plays against West Greene.
LB Jaylin Kelly, Washington: Like the Prexies, Mount Pleasant is very run oriented. The responsibility of stopping -- or at least slowing -- Vikings RB Tyler Mellors (966 yards, 16 TDs) falls to Wash High's bruising linebacker.
RB David Kincaid, Chartiers-Houston: The Bucs' leading runner has 64 carries for 359 yards and three touchdowns. Kincaid and Jevone Hairston (39-346-4TD) provide a reliable tandem for Char-Houston, which needs a win Friday at California to remain in contention for a playoff spot.
Game to watch (other than the GOTW): Carmichaels at Avella, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Couple of bruising running backs highlight this week. Carmichaels RB Josh Mundell is a stud, with 75 carries for 771 yards and 12 touchdowns. So, too, are Avella's Nick Kusich and Jake Temple -- Kusich the speed guy, Temple the bruiser. They've combined for 110 carries, 961 yards and 15 touchdowns, with Temple -- who's the focal point of the Eagles defense at linebacker -- returning two kicks back for scores.
Team with the most to gain: Mapletown
As I wrote in this week's notebook, as playoff spot isn't out of the question, even though George Messich wasn't exactly in a hurry to talk about it. It is a tough road, however. This week's game is at West Greene, next week's home against Jefferson-Morgan. The Maples then close at Frazier. None of them are impossible, and the opportunity is there to finish at least 4-4 in the conference, 5-4 overall.
Team with the most to lose: Avella
A loss last week, OK. It's tough to go from winless to undefeated in one season. But a loss this week against visiting Carmichaels means a two-game losing streak heading into a road game in Week 8 at Beth-Center. Two losses would also throw the Eagles into the three/four range when it comes to playoff seeding -- without, obviously, tiebreakers against Frazier and Carmichaels. Need to bounce back this week.
Sleeper pick of the weekend: Waynesburg over Yough
Yough started 2-0, but those wins were over Brownsville and Charleroi -- two teams that have one win between them. The Cougars have gone 2-4 since. Waynesburg (1-4, 1-5) dropped a 10-7 decision at Charleroi last week, and I'm guessing the Raiders are a little sour over that one, fumbling in the red zone late. Bo Hampson (222 yards) and Hunter Cenname (213 yards, 3 TD). Colby Collins has completed 18 of 32 passes for 240 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Waynesburg.