Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Best conference matchups of Week 3

South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh

Week 3 is finally upon us and the start of summer camps seems like months ago. Through two weeks, contenders are separating themselves from pack and a few local teams are looking as strong as ever.

A few teams are living up to expectations, while others are decimated by injuries. Week 2 was filled with big offensive performances with Beth-Center junior running back Anthony Welsh’s standing out. He led the Bulldogs to victory over Greensburg Central Catholic. Wash High looks like a real contender in Class AA and Ringgold bounced back from a Week 1 loss to Thomas Jefferson.

The best nonconference game this week is Knoch at Ringgold, but I have to give the Rams the advantage in that game.

Here’s a look at a few good conference matchups to look at in Week 3. A few teams have nonconference tests, but we’ll focus on the ones that count.

Class AAA
Big Nine Conference
Elizabeth Forward at Trinity – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Hillers (0-2, 0-2) showed some offensive prowess in Week Two in a loss to Laurel Highlands, but Trinity has allowed 49.5 points per game so far this season. That does not bode well and it seems like the Hillers’ lack of experience and tenacity up front is hurting their chances. They allowed almost 200 rushing yards to the Mustangs in a 55-42 loss.

The picture isn't so bleak. Senior quarterback Forrest Cullings had a bounce back game by completing 8 of 10 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns, while receiver Zach Cain caught three passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Trinity simply needs to get better on special teams and needs production from its running game to take the pressure of Cullings.

Elizabeth Forward (1-1, 1-1) lost to Laurel Highlands in Week One and defeated Albert Gallatin, 39-
20, in Week Two. Warriors senior running back Jake Meyers is going to give Trinity trouble. He has 61 carries for 489 yards and five touchdowns through two games. This is a must-win for the Hillers and it does help that they are at home, but the defense must create turnovers to give Cullings a chance to win games.

Class AA
Century Conference
South Fayette at South Park – Friday at 7:30 p.m.
South Park (1-1, 1-1) is one of the most improved programs in WPIAL Class AA over the last five years. The Eagles limited Seton-La Salle to just 19 points in a Week One loss and defeated a Quaker Valley team in Week Two that is missing starting quarterback Dane Jackson.

I’m not going to read into the QV win too much. Jackson’s absence can’t be understated and South Fayette (2-0, 2-0) poses a different challenge than South Park’s two previous opponents. The Lions are big up front, have several playmakers on the outside and the best quarterback in the WPIAL.

This is SF’s first true test and I’m interested to see how they look against the Eagles. I’m not expecting an upset, but it’s the first measuring stick for the Lions, who have outscored their first two opponents 100-13.

Interstate Conference
Waynesburg at Wash High – Friday at 7 p.m.
 I’ve been looking forward to this match up for the past month and it shouldn’t disappoint. Waynesburg (2-0, 2-0) thinks it can knock off Wash High (2-0, 2-0), while the Prexies have looked every bit as dominant as they were when Shai McKenzie was wearing blue and black.
The Raiders have scored 75 points through two games against Burgettstown and Brownsville, but those two opponents aren’t much to write home about. Wash High destroyed the Blue Devils last week and faced a new Derry team in Week One.

The thing about this Wash High team is they aren’t one-dimensional. It looks like the Prexies can turn to four different running backs, DeQuay Isbell has been exceptional in all three phases and the offensive line looks as dominant as expected.

Waynesburg will turn to Hunter Cenname and John-Glen Davis at running back. The hope will be to successfully run the football, create turnovers and win the battle up front. I doubt they can accomplish that. That’s not an insult to them, but this Wash High team is incredibly strong and I don’t think any Class AA team can match its speed.

Class A
Tri-County South
Jefferson-Morgan at Avella – 7 p.m.
This is not the best week for conference games. I was going to feature Canon-McMillan vs. Peters Township, but I don’t think the Big Macs can hang with the Indians and quarterback Cory Owen.

On the other hand, I’m interested to see how the Eagles (1-1, 1-1) match up against the Rockets (1-1, 1-1). Both teams lost to Frazier with wins over lesser opponents, but I’m giving the advantage in this one to Avella.

I’m very impressed with Eagles senior quarterback Santino Paris and his ability to read defenses. He can pick apart schemes and had a huge bounce back game against California Saturday night. In this conference, having good quarterback play is a rarity. That gives Avella the advantage, but I want to see where these two teams stand.

Right now, I see Beth-Center, Frazier and Mapletown as obviously playoff teams in the Tri-County South with the fourth spot up for grabs. These two are the biggest candidates to grab that spot and I think Avella positions itself nicely with a win Friday night.

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