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Week 12 Preview
By Don Rebel




#1 WOODLAND HILLS vs #2 MOUNT LEBANON: This game takes place Saturday night at 7pm at Three Rivers Stadium and can be heard on NSN. The Quad East champion Wolverines carry a perfect 11-0 record into this matchup. After beating up on Connellsville in the first round, Woodland Hills was in a battle last week against Bethel Park. After three quarters the score was tied at 14-14, but 21 fourth quarter points propelled the Wolverines to a 35-14 victory over the Black Hawks. Maurice Walker scored on runs of 15 and 29 yards and Rafael Smith returned a punt 85 yards for a score in Woody High's big fourth quarter. Curtis Hall and Jason Russell also scored first half touchdowns for Woodland Hills which has now reached the semifinals in three of the last four years. The Quad West champion Blue Devils are 10-1 after back to back 21 point victories in the playoffs. In the first round, Mt.Lebanon turned back Seneca Valley 35-14. Last week, the Blue Devils shutout Gateway 21-0. Mt.Lebanon scored late in the second quarter to break a scoreless tie when quarterback Kevin Weidl hit James Harvey on a 38-yard touchdown pass. The Blue Devils iced the game in the fourth quarter when Sam Mathews scored on a 68-yard run, and then Chris Fiumara scored on a 73-yard run. This is the third playoff meeting between these two schools. In 1987, Mt.Lebanon beat Woodland Hills 27-20 in a semifinal game. The Blue Devils went on to lose to North Hills 21-0 in the championship game. Then in 1988, Mt.Lebanon crushed the Wolverines 41-0 in a quarterfinal battle. Lebo was shutout the following week in the semifinals by eventual champion Upper St.Clair 14-0.

#3 McKEESPORT vs #4 NORWIN: This game takes place Saturday afternoon at 4pm at Three Rivers Stadium and can be heard on NSN. These two teams have been the surprises of the Quad 'A' tournament. After upsetting North Hills in the first round, the Tigers won in a shoot-out last week over Penn-Trafford 40-24. McKeesport trailed by one at the half, but outscored the Warriors 20-0 in the second half to pull out the 40-24 win. Quarterback Cecil Howard had a huge game as he rushed for 301 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 56, 37, 7 and once again from 56-yards to seal the victory for McKeesport. Howard also threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jason Williams as the Tigers upped their record to 7-4 after finishing in fourth place in the Quad East. The Knights, the third place finishers in the Quad South, continued their Cinderella season with a win over the favored Ringgold Rams. Coming off their shocking win over highly touted Penn Hills a week earlier, the Knights struck first against Ringgold when Mike Croyle scored on a two yard run for a 7-0 halftime lead. The teams exchanged touchdowns in the fourth quarter with quarterback Jim Cooper scoring for Norwin as they held on for a 14-7 victory to improve their record to 8-3. These two old Quad east foes have only met once in a Quad 'A' playoff game, back in 1993 when McKeesport blanked Norwin 22-0 in a quarterfinal game. The Tigers then went on to lose in the semifinals to Upper St.Clair 30-7. A year later, McKeesport won both the WPIAL and the PIAA championships. Until two weeks ago, Norwin had never won a WPIAL playoff game.

#1 WEST ALLEGHENY vs #3 THOMAS JEFFERSON: This game takes place Saturday afternoon at 1pm at Three Rivers Stadium and can be heard on NSN. The heavily favorite Indians got a scare last week when they barely beat stubborn West Mifflin 10-7. After a scoreless three quarters, West Allegheny finally dented the scoreboard when Tyler Palko hit Mike Bracken on a 14-yard touchdown pass. Then after the Titans scored to tie the game, the Indians drove down and scored the winning points when Derek Javarone kicked a 23 yard field goal with only 19 second remaining. The win improved the Parkway Conference champions record to a perfect 10-0 after they received a first round bye. After an impressive 34-0 shutout of Hopewell in the first round of the playoffs, the Jaguars struggled early last week at Burrell, but pulled away in the second half to beat the Bucs 33-7. Quarterback Steve Scott was 9 of 15 for 126 yards and he threw touchdown passes to Matt Perkins and Mike Virgin. Tom Blaze scored a on a pair of touchdown runs as TJ used a 20 point third quarter to break a tight game wide open. Thomas Jefferson, which finished in second place in the Keystone Conference is now 8-3. The Jaguars are looking to take that final step to a championship game. They have been to the semifinals three times in the last seven years. They lost to Blackhawk in 1992 34-29, they fell to Belle Vernon in 1996 26-14, and they lost last year to Blackhawk 28-7. Two years ago, West Allegheny won it all when they beat Brownsville in the finals 51-24 for the WPIAL title.

#2 BELLE VERNON vs #4 ELIZABETH FORWARD: This game takes place Saturday morning at 10am at Three Rivers Stadium and can be heard on NSN. The Leopards were impressive last week in bombing upstart Pine-Richland 55-12. Nick Kalcevic ran wild for Belle Vernon. He rushed for 304 yards and scored five touchdowns on runs of 65, 44, 15 and 73-yards, and he scored on a two yard touchdown pass from Josh Cramer as the Leopards built up a 41-12 lead by halftime. Cramer was 5 of 9 passing for 100 yards and two touchdown passes. The Keystone Conference champions are now a perfect 10-0 after receiving a first round bye. The Warriors are being fitted for the glass slipper after their second straight upset win. Two weeks ago, they won at Valley 14-10. Then last week they went to Moon and upset the defending champion Tigers 6-0. Pat Risha scored on a one yard run early in the fourth quarter for the only points of the game. Risha ended up rushing for 115 yards for the game, however EF's star running back has been bedridden with mononucleosis, and will likely miss Saturday's game. The win puts Elizabeth Forward in the semifinals for the first time since 1990, when they lost to eventual champion Seton LaSalle 40-20. Belle Vernon is making it's fourth trip to the semifinals in the last six years. In 1994, they lost to eventual champion McGuffey 20-13. In 1995, they beat Derry 28-21 en route to beating Franklin Regional and winning the WPIAL championship. Then in 1996, they beat Thomas Jefferson in the semi's 26-14 before losing in the finals to Blackhawk 24-6.

#1 ALIQUIPPA vs #3 WASHINGTON: This game takes place Friday night at 7:30 at Mount Lebanon High School and can be heard on NSN. The Fighting Quips are a perfect 11-0 after disposing of Freeport 47-0 two weeks ago, then knocking out Jeannette last week 27-9. Usually the Midwestern Conference champs rely heavily on quarterback Josh Lay for the big play, but against Jeannette, it was Vashawn Patrick getting it done offensively, and Monroe Weekley defensively. Patrick rushed for 218 yards and scored twice on short runs, one in the second quarter that put Aliquippa in front for good, then another in the third quarter that put the game away. Aliquippa's other two touchdowns came courtesy of Weekley, who first returned an interception 16 yards for the games first score, then returned a fumble 31 yards for a touchdown for the final score of the game. The Little Prexies road to the semi's includes a 34-21 first round win over defending Double 'A' champion Shady Side Academy, and a 55-0 whitewashing in last weeks quarterfinals of Quaker Valley. Washington, the runners-up in the Three Rivers Conference, scored early in often in building up a 41-0 lead by halftime. Quarterback Brent Marstellar was stellar as he was 6 of 11 passing for 224 yards and four touchdown passes, including three to DeAngelo Velez. The Prexies were led on the ground by Vontey Johnson, who rushed for 101 yards and scored on runs of 20 and 74 yards. These two teams have had great success in the 90's, and this marks the fourth meeting between the two in the last nine years, three of which have come in the semifinals. In 1990, Washington beat Aliquippa 18-12 in the semi's before losing to Canevin 21-20 in the championship. In 1995, Washington knocked off the Quips in the quarterfinals by a score of 27-14. The Prexies then went on to the finals, before losing in overtime to Burrell 14-13. Then in last years semifinals, Wash High again beat Aliquippa, 30-8 before losing in the finals to Shady Side Academy 30-12.

#2 WAYNESBURG vs #4 BROWNSVILLE: This game takes place Friday night at Ringgold High School at 7:30 and can be heard here on NSN. The Raiders super season is now at a perfect 11-0. They first won the Three Rivers Conference title with a week nine win at Washington. Then they crushed South Park two weeks ago 49-20. But last week they were in a dogfight, a battle they pulled out over Center 14-10. Quarterback Lee Fritz scored first on a 14 yard run to put the Raiders up 7-0 in the first quarter. Center however took a 10-7 lead into the fourth quarter following a second quarter touchdown and a third quarter field goal. But Bryce Cree's 33 yard run with just under eleven minutes remaining proved to be the difference for Waynesburg. Cree ended up rushing for 108 yards. The Falcons finished in third place in the Century Conference, but have picked it up in the playoffs to improve their record to 8-2. In the first round, they beat Mars 16-6, then last week they knocked off the favored Steel Valley Ironmen 35-13. Justin Spence was back in the lineup and back doing damage on the opposition. Spence rushed for 103 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Falcons avenged a Week Three 16-10 loss to Steel Valley. Quarterback Craig Rechichar was only 3 of 6 passing, but his three completion's went for 106 yards, including a 71 yard scoring strike in the third quarter to Tom Kwasny that put Brownsville up 28-7. This is the second straight year these two teams are clashing in the playoffs. Last year in the quarterfinals, Brownsville handed Waynesburg their only loss of the year, a 26-0 shutout. The Falcons then lost to Shady Side Academy in the semifinals 39-0.

#1 SOUTH SIDE BEAVER vs #2 FORT CHERRY: This game takes place Friday night at 7:30 at Hampton High School and is the feature game on NSN. The Big Nine Conference champion Rams have had little trouble getting to the Single 'A' Final Four. After crushing California in the first round 53-0, they beat up on Riverview last week 43-6. Cory Boyd led the way on the ground for the Rams as he carried the ball 15 times for 144 yards and he scored on touchdown runs of 1, 2, 9 and 74-yards. Quarterback Sean McCune ran for a touchdown from 39 yards out to start the scoring for South Side Beaver, and then hit Dave Brandon on a 37-yard touchdown pass to complete the Rams scoring. The victory was sweet revenge for South Side Beaver, which had been eliminated from the playoffs the last two seasons by Riverview, losing in the '97 semifinals 14-6, and then last year in the quarterfinals 28-13. The Rangers were Tri-Champs in the Ohio Valley Conference in the regular season. Now they are one win away from playing for the WPIAL championship. After crushing Frazier two weeks ago, the Rangers beat up on Farrell last week 34-16. The WPIAL's leading rusher, Mike Vernillo led the way with 238 yards on 33 carries. He scored on touchdown runs of 6, 7, and 68 yards. The Rangers other two scores came courtesy of Vernillo's running mate Brandon Chiera, who scored on a five yard run in the first quarter to put Fort Cherry up for good, then he scored on a one yard run in the third quarter to extend the Rangers lead to 34-8. Fort Cherry outgained Farrell on the ground 334-53 yards. This is Fort Cherry's third trip to the semifinals this decade. In 1994, the Rangers lost to eventual champion Western Beaver 14-12. In 1997, Fort Cherry beat Farrell 25-24, but then lost to Riverview in the title game 19-14.

#3 MONACA vs #4 SOUTH FAYETTE: This game takes place Friday night at 7:30 at West Mifflin High School and can be heard on NSN. The Indians were the number one ranked team in Single 'A' prior to the season, but a opening week loss to South Side Beaver, and a week 9 loss to rival Rochester left Monaca in third place in the Big Nine Conference. However, the Indians have turned it up a notch in the postseason. They crushed Duquesne two weeks ago 50-6, then they knocked out previously undefeated Monessen last week 29-6. Monaca rolled up a total of 305 yards on the ground against a Monessen defense which had only allowed five touchdowns and 35 points over their first ten games. Matt Phillips and Todd DiBacco each rushed for over one hundred yards as Phillips gained 132 yards and scored three touchdowns, while DiBacco rushed for 123 yards . Phillips first score put Monaca in the lead for good at 7-6 in the first quarter. The Indians upped their lead to eight by halftime when Noah McKay hit Michael Rossi on a 25 yard scoring pass. Phillips then scored twice in the third quarter, once on a 26 yard pass from McKay, and then on a one yard run to put the game away for the Indians. The Lions tied Fort Cherry and Brentwood for the Ohio Valley Conference championship with a 7-2 record. Two weeks ago, they beat Greensburg Central Catholic 21-6, then last week in the quarterfinals, they bombed Brentwood 42-0. It was over after two quarters as the Lions built a 28-0 lead by the half. Quarterback Niel Loebig led the way through the air as he was 8 of 15 passing for 143 yards and three touchdown passes, one of 14-yards to Dave DiDonato, one of 34-yards to Javon Hines and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Joe Farkas. The South Fayette ground game was led by Mike Shuck who rushed for 154 yards and scored on a one yard run. Brian Smocynski also scored twice, first on a three yard run, then on a 14-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Last season was the first playoff appearance for both teams in the 90's. They met in the first round with Monaca pounding South Fayette 49-18. The Indians went on to beat Clairton in the quarterfinals, and Riverview in the semi's before losing in overtime to Rochester in the championship game 24-18.

PIAA STATE PLAYOFFS: (west region)

SCHENLEY vs ERIE CATHEDRAL PREP: This game takes place Saturday night at 7pm at Erie Veterans Stadium. Both teams come into this contest with perfect records. The Spartans won the Pittsburgh City League championship for the first time since 1950 last Saturday with a 41-27 win over Oliver. The Ramblers are favored not only to win this game, but to win the West bracket. They won the District Ten title last week with a 54-14 spanking of Erie McDowell.

STATE COLLEGE vs HOLLIDAYSBURG: This game takes place Saturday afternoon at 3:30 at Mansion Park in Altoona. State College advanced to the state playoffs with a 49-21 win last week over DuBois to improve their record to 9-2. Hollidaysburg last week won a shoot-out with rival Altoona 35-28, moving their record to 10-1.

PERRY vs GREENVILLE: This game takes place Saturday afternoon at 1pm at South Stadium on the South Side of Pittsburgh. The Commodores will be trying to bounce back from the City League semifinal loss two weeks ago to Oliver 20-14. The winning points came when the Bears Vido Nall's returned an interception 79-yards as time expired knocking out the 7-3 defending City League champs. Greenville won the District Ten championship last week when they beat General McLane 42-6 to move their record to 11-0.

BELLEFONTE vs CLEARFIELD: This game will take place Saturday morning at 11am at Mansion Park in Altoona. Bellefonte last week won the District 5 & 6 championship when they beat Central Cambria 34-12 improving their record to 7-4. Clearfield is now 9-2 after winning the District Nine title last week with a 23-19 win over Allegheny-Clarion Valley.

FOREST HILLS vs TYRONE: This game takes place Friday night at 7pm at Mansion Park in Altoona. Both teams come out of District 5 & 6. Last week Forest Hills shutout Bedford 35-0 to improve to 9-2. Meanwhile, Tyrone remained undefeated at 11-0 with a 42-6 trouncing last week of Penns Valley.

KARNS CITY vs SHARON: This game takes place Saturday afternoon at 1pm at Erie Veterans Stadium. Karns City won the District Nine title last week with a 14-7 win over Brookville to move their record to 8-3. Sharon surprised favorite Wilmington last week 13-6 in the District Ten championship. The win moves Sharon to 9-2 for the season.

SHARPSVILLE vs CAMERON COUNTY: This game takes place Friday night at DuBois High School at 7pm. Sharpsville bombed Linesville last week in the District Ten championship game 61-12 to move their record to 10-1. Cameron County is a perfect 11-0 after they edged Clarion 13-7 in last weeks District Nine championship game.

BELLWOOD-ANTIS vs BISHOP CARROLL: This game takes place Saturday night at 8pm at Mansion Park in Altoona. Bellwood-Antis beat previously unbeaten Windber last week 36-20 to advance to the state playoffs where they will open up against undefeated Bishop Carroll, which knocked off Bishop McCourt last week 21-14.