Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ringgold at West Mifflin headlines Week 3

Trinity quarterback Forrest Cullings

Wash High’s 28-20 win over Waynesburg was the highlight of Week 3 with senior quarterback Jonathan Spina’s breakout performance and a late defensive stand that clinched the win for the Prexies.

One game that was overlooked was Ringgold’s win over Knoch, which is a big non-conference victory. Over the past five years, the Rams have not had many games that were a close, physical battle, but they passed the test.

Avella won its second straight game, McGuffey running back James Duchi had six touchdowns and Mapletown continues to assert itself as one of the top teams in the Tri-County South Conference.

This week does not have the flashy rivalry games, but there is plenty to get excited about

Ringgold at West Mifflin

This is the game of the week. There’s no question that the winner of this game will finish in second place behind Thomas Jefferson in the Big Nine Conference. The Jaguars are the second-best team in Class AAA right now behind West Allegheny, but the Rams and Titans are battling for the number two spot.

Ringgold has bounced back nicely since its opening night loss to TJ. They beat a Uniontown team that almost upset West Mifflin in Week 1 and took down Knoch last week. The Rams are finding balance on offense with senior quarterback Nico Law and junior running back Chacar Berry. The offensive line has improved since being overpowered in against TJ, but the biggest test will come on defense.

If Ringgold is going to win, it will have to stop the West Mifflin senior running back DiAngelo Mitchell, who has 513 yards on 60 carries with 10 touchdowns – good for third in the WPIAL in scoring. The Titans aren’t pretty. Under head coach Ray Braszo, the offense looks the same now as it did 17 years ago, but that doesn’t mean teams can stop it.

West Mifflin is averaging 35 points per game in wins over Uniontown, Gateway and Albert Gallatin. Not much can be taken from the win over the Gators, who are in a transition year under Tom Nola, but only beating Uniontown by five points is a concern.

Mitchell has had trouble being too flashy of a running back, which is not the answer against Ringgold. Jaguars running back Austin Kemp had success running straight ahead and trusting his linemen. The Titans do not have the linemen that Thomas Jefferson does, but they are big and inexperienced.

On another note, West Mifflin’s defense has six interceptions in three games and has allowed just 17 points per game. In the two teams’ last two meetings, the Titans have averaged 45 points per game in two wins.

Trinity at Albert Gallatin

The Hillers cannot play worse defensively, right? That was my thought process when picking them to beat AG this week. Trinity has allowed 44 points per game in its three losses, while the Colonials have been equally as bad during their 0-3 start.

So what does this game come down to? Limiting mistakes and quarterback play. The Hillers have played their worst football through the first three weeks. That’s a bit harsh, but it’s the reality when 
you have an inexperienced line and skill players struggling with consistency.

Senior quarterback Forrest Cullings can take over a football game and I believe he’s going to do that Friday night.

Mt. Pleasant at Waynesburg

The toughest game to pick this week. The two teams run a very similar, wing-t offense that relies heavily on running the football. The Vikings have a stable of backs, while the Raiders have found success handing the football off to seniors Hunter Cenname and John-Glen Davis.

Waynesburg is a scrappy football team. The Raiders may not be as big as Mt. Pleasant, but height and weight listed on a roster does not dictate wins and losses. Wash High almost found that out the hard way last Friday.

Colby Collins is a much better passer than I anticipated and Dom Sarra is a nice receiver for him to rely on, but Waynesburg will win this game if Cenname and Davis are at their best. Stopping the Vikings is also paramount.

No one has been able to do that so far as MP is averaging over 40 points per game. The Vikings don’t do anything fancy. It’s read option, jet sweep and counters, so being disciplined on defense is the key.

McGuffey at Southmoreland

The Highlanders are averaging 45 points per game behind Duchi and senior quarterback Nathan Whipkey. McGuffey (1-1, 2-1) has outscored its last two opponents 101-6 and Southmoreland struggled against Charleroi in its season opener.

Week 1 games should be taken with a grain of salt, but not that one. It doesn’t bode well for the Scotties and the Highlanders are a tough, physical football team.

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