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P.I.A.A. State Semifinal Preview
By Don Rebel

QUAD 'A' SEMIFINALS:

WOODLAND HILLS vs ERIE CATHEDRAL PREP:
This game takes place Friday night at Hempfield High School and can be heard on NSN and WPIT-AM730 at 7pm. The Wolverines last week won the WPIAL championship with a 21-7 victory over McKeesport. Quarterback Shawntae Spencer ran for one score from 3-yards out and connected with Raphael Smith on a 48-yard touchdown pass for another score as Woodland Hills built up a 14-0 halftime lead. Maurice Walker capped Woody High's scoring with a 5-yard run with less than two minutes remaining in the game clinching the 13-0 Wolverines second WPIAL championship. The District 10 champion Ramblers of Erie Prep have yet to yield a point in two state playoff games. In round one two weeks ago, Erie Prep destroyed City League champion Schenley 70-0. Then last week, the Ramblers blanked Holidaysburg 27-0. Both teams are trying for their second trip to the state championship game. Woodland Hills lost to Downingtown in the 1996 state finals 49-14. Erie Cathedral Prep, which lost to New Castle in the state semifinals last year, fell to Central Bucks West 26-14 in the state finals in 1991.

BETHLEHEM CATHOLIC vs CENTRAL BUCKS WEST:
This game takes place Saturday afternoon at Lehigh University at 1pm. The Golden Hawks won the District 11 championship, and are now 11-2 after a pair of state playoff victories. Beth-Catholic edged Easton two weeks ago 21-20, then they knocked off Wilson in the quarterfinals last week 42-7 led by Dave Wilson, who rushed for 213 yards on 21 carries. The two time defending state champion Bucks of Central Bucks West ran their winning streak to 43 games last week with a 35-7 win over Abington Heights. The streak is the third longest in state history. Dustin Picciotti rushed for 189 yards in the win over the previously unbeaten Comets. Central Bucks knocked off North Penn in the first round of the state playoffs 21-0. Both teams have state gold. Bethlehem Catholic won the 1988 Class Double 'A' title with a 26-11 win over Wilmington. Then in 1990, they moved up in class and won the Triple 'A' championship over Seton LaSalle 43-7. Central Bucks West has three titles. In 1992 they beat Upper St.Clair 28-14, two years ago they beat USC again 44-20, and then last year, they routed New Castle 56-7.

TRIPLE 'A' SEMIFINALS:
WEST ALLEGHENY vs PERRY:
This game takes place Saturday afternoon at South Stadium and can be heard on NSN at 1pm. The Indians won their second WPIAL championship in the last three years with a convincing 37-12 win over Belle Vernon last week. West Allegheny scored early and often in building up a 24-6 halftime lead. Kellen Campbell scored twice in the first half, and ended up rushing for 96 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns. Quarterback Tyler Palko was 7 of 9 passing for 183 yards and two touchdowns. The Commodores have bounced back from a City League semifinal loss with two impressive wins in the state playoffs. Two weeks ago, they handed Greenville their first loss of the season with a 27-17 win. Then last week, Perry crushed Bellefonte 42-7. This is a rematch of a 1997 state semifinal game won by Perry. The Commodores are 1-1 in state championship games. In 1989, they upset Berwick 20-8, then in 1997, they lost to Berwick 17-14.

STRATH HAVEN vs MANHEIM CENTRAL:
This game takes place Friday night from West Chester University at 7pm. The District 1 champion Panthers are a perfect 13-0. Two weeks ago, they crushed North Schuylkill 56-14. Last week they beat Dallas 27-3 thanks to Mark Jones who rushed for 137 yards on only 11 carries. The District 3 champion Barons are now 12-1 after a pair of state playoff victories. Two weeks ago they knocked off West Perry 28-21, then last week they steamrolled past Blue Mountain 42-28. In a class that has been dominated by Berwick, both teams are shooting for their first trip to the state finals, this despite the fact Manheim Central is now in their sixth state semifinal game.

DOUBLE 'A' SEMIFINALS:
WAYNESBURG vs TYRONE:
This game will be Friday night at West Mifflin High School and can be heard on NSN and WANB-FM 103.9 at 7pm. The Raiders won their first ever WPIAL crown last week with a 30-3 win over Washington. The Raiders trailed 3-0 early, but a Lanfer Simpson 6-yard run and 32-yard field goal put Waynesburg up 10-3 at the half. The Raiders dominated the second half, scoring on a pair of touchdown runs by Simpson, plus a 30-yard run by quarterback Lee Fritz. The Raider defense sacked Washington quarterbacks seven times and forced four second half turnovers. The District 5/6 champion Golden Eagles, like Waynesburg are 13-0. Two weeks ago, Tyrone beat Forest Hills 22-8. Then last week, Jesse Jones rushed for 200 yards as the Golden Eagles cruised past Sharon 33-9. This will be Waynesburg's first ever PIAA state playoff game. Tyrone made it to the finals in 1996, only to lose to Mount Carmel 25-6.

NORTHERN LEHIGH vs MOUNT CARMEL:
This game will take place Friday night at Northwestern Lehigh at 7pm. The District 11 champion Bulldogs are 11-2 following a 25-14 win over Catasauqua two weeks ago, and a 14-0 shutout last week of Delone Catholic in the state quarterfinals. The District 4 champion Tornadoes have had the most success in the Class Double 'A' ranks in state playoff history. They are back in the semifinals after beating Wyalusing 13-8 two weeks ago, then shutting out Dunmore last week 22-0. Mount Carmel is looking to repeat, and in the process, garner their fourth state championship. In 1994, the Tornadoes won the only state championship game to go into overtime, as they beat Forest Hills in double overtime. In 1996, they knocked off Tyrone 25-6, and last year, they bombed Shady Side Academy 44-7.

SINGLE 'A' SEMIFINALS:
SOUTH SIDE BEAVER vs BISHOP CARROLL:
This game takes place Friday night at Mansion Park in Altoona and can be heard on NSN and on WWCS-AM540 at 7pm. The Rams won their second ever WPIAL championship, and first since 1970 when they beat Monaca last week 21-14. Following a scoreless quarter and a half, South Side's special teams put the first score on the board when Dave Brandon broke through and blocked a Monaca punt, picking the ball up at the Indians 21 yard line and running into the end zone to put the Rams up 6-0. After Monaca went three and out on their next possession, the Rams scored again on a five play 43-yard drive capped off by Cory Boyd's seven yard touchdown run. A fake extra point turned into a two point conversion that put SSB up 14-0 at the half. To begin the third quarter, Monaca went on a 16 play drive that ate up 8 minutes on the clock, but it stalled at the SSB 5 yard line. Five plays later, Dan Nale raced 71-yards for a score that put the Rams up for 21-0. Like South Side, the Huskies enter the game with a perfect 13-0 record. The District 5/6 champs have been in a pair of battle's to reach this semifinal game. Two weeks ago, Bishop Carroll edged Bellwood-Antis 30-20. Then last week, it took double overtime before they eliminated Cameron County 35-34.

TRI-VALLEY vs SOUTHERN COLUMBIA:
This game takes place Friday night at North Schuykill High School at 7pm. The District 11 champion Bulldogs come into this battle with an 11-2 record. Two weeks ago in the first round of the state playoffs, Tri-Valley cruised past Pius X 28-8. Then last week in the quarterfinals, they eliminated Lackawanna Trail 42-14. The District 4 champion Tigers are 10-3. They knocked off Montgomery 34-6 in the first round, then beat Steelton-Highspire in the quarterfinals last week 32-25 in a shootout. While Tri-Valley has never been to a state championship game, Southern Columbia is no stranger to success in the state playoffs. The Tigers are making their sixth consecutive trip to the state semifinals, and are 4-1 in the last five years. However, for all their success in the semifinals, it has not translated to state gold in the finals. After beating Western Beaver 49-6 back in 1994, the Tigers have been on the losing side of the state championship game in three of the last four years. They lost to Farrell in 1995 and 1996 by scores of 6-0 and 14-12. They then lost last year to Rochester 18-0.

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