-The WPIAL playoffs will kickoff Friday night, and three defending champions earned the top seeds in their respective classifications — North Allegheny in Class AAAA, Aliquippa in Class AA and Clairton in Class A. Thomas Jefferson is the top seed in Class AAA. All four teams are unbeaten.
-Washington’s Shai McKenzie was the WPIAL’s leading rusher heading into the final week of the regular season. On Friday night, he made sure he held on to the title. He gained 324 yards and scored six touchdowns on 11 carries, all in the first half, to lead the No. 3 Little Prexies to a 69-6 win over Waynesburg in the Class AA Interstate Conference. McKenzie, who scored on runs of 80, 5, 54, 59, 2 and 52 yards for Washington (9-0, 8-0), finished the regular season with 1,902 yards. He broke Brian Davis’ single-season school rushing record of 1,709 yards, set in 1983.
-Montour’s Devin Wilson also set WPIAL records Friday night. His 11 catches for 168 yards gave him the District 7 mark for career receptions (222) and receiving yards (3,120).
-The Pittsburgh City League champion will be decided Saturday at 1 p.m. at Cupples Stadium, and the two teams are quite familiar with one another. Perry defeated USO in the regular-season finale Oct. 19 after stopping USO three times on a goal-line stand in the final minute. USO (5-2), the defending District 8 champion, beat Brashear, 46-6, in the semifinals last week, while Perry (7-2) knocked off Allderdice, 13-7.
-Port Allegany senior Matt Bodamer became Pennsylvania’s all-time leader in passing yardage Friday after a 346-yard effort in a 55-20 win over Brockway. Now with 9,787 career passing yards, Bodamer surpassed Brockway grad Derek Buganza (9,752).
Click below for the rest of the PIAA notebook.
Bishop McDevitt wide receiver Brian Lemelle is stalking a couple state receiving records for the undefeated Crusaders. Lemelle, who has 17 FBS scholarship offers, has 220 career catches and is only 27 grabs behind Allentown Central Catholic’s Kevin Gulyas. Each of the previous two seasons Bishop McDevitt played 16-game seasons and finished as the PIAA Class AAA runner-up. Those 220 catches by Lemelle have totaled 3,790 yards. He’s still 411 yards behind Gulyas, but is the District 3-AAA favorite and figures to make a deep playoff run. Lemelle is fourth overall in touchdown catches with 34. The two players tied for second, Fred Lee and Raki Nelson, are also Bishop McDevitt products. Gulyas has what feels like an untouchable 54 career TD catches. In nine games this season, Lemelle has 50 catches for 887 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s averaging 17.7 yards per catch.
DISTRICT 1 and 12
-It took Pennridge the better part of a half to realize it was in a football game. Central Bucks East led the Rams 14-0 and 21-7 before running backs Mike Class and Kyle Bigam teamed up for five touchdowns in the Rams’ 34-24 victory. Once beaten Pennridge can sew up the third seed in the District 1-AAAA playoffs with a win over visiting Hatboro-Horsham.
-The North Penn Knights, the PIAA Class AAAA runner-up last season, are not used to playing the role of spoiler, but they were very effective in a 48-28 victory that eliminated the Bucks from postseason consideration.
-With head coach Mark Schmidt back on the sideline, the Neshaminy edged Abington 21-14. The ‘Skins still have playoff aspirations, but must clear arch rival Pennsbury.
-Pennsbury is the hottest team in Suburban One National, after besting Bensalem 35-10. A win at Neshaminy this week gives Pennsbury the conference title outright and a top eight seeding for the playoffs.
-Speaking of playoffs, members of District 12’s Philadelphia Catholic League get underway this week. St Joe’s Prep will host Archbishop Ryan. The Hawks are one of the best teams in the southeast right now. La Salle will host Roman Catholic in the other semifinal. The Explorers have struggled lately, and are without starting quarterback Chris Kane. La Salle barely beat Class AA West Catholic 28-26.
-After losing its first three games under first-year head coach Bob Zaruta, Dallas has found the winning the formula. The Mountaineers have won six straight and find themselves 40 points out of the fourth and final spot in the District 2 Class AAA playoffs. Dallas closes the regular season Saturday when it hosts Lake-Lehman in the battle for the Old Shoe. Dallas and Lake-Lehman, the two high schools located in the Back Mountain section of Luzerne County, have played for the Old Shoe since 1948. The trophy is presented by the Dallas Rotary Club to the Back Mountain champions. Originally, the trophy was presented to winner of the season series between Kingston Township, Lehman Township and Dallas Township. Following jointures, Dallas and Lake-Lehman have played every season since 1961. Dallas leads 41-10.Senior quarterback Ryan Zapoticky has been a big part of the Mountaineers’ success. He’s thrown for 1,228 yards with 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
-It’s rivalry week in the Wyoming Valley Conference. In addition to Dallas-Lake-Lehman, Hanover Area plays Nanticoke Area, GAR plays Meyers, Berwick plays Hazleton Area and Wyoming Area plays Pittston Area. The oldest rivalry in the WVC belongs to Hanover Area and Nanticoke Area. The teams first played in 1920. Nanticoke leads the series 47-35-6. The second oldest rivalry is between Wilkes-Barre city schools Meyers and GAR. They first played in 1931. They have played every year since except for 1971 when the game was cancelled because of a blizzard. Meyers leads the series 43-36-1.
-Dunmore’s Daiqwon Buckley certainly is making the most of a second chance. After suffering a knee injury before the second week of the season, the junior tailback underwent surgery fearing the worst and hoping for the best. His damage was not as bad and was only forced to miss three games. Since getting back on the field, he’s been a force running the ball and leading the Bucks to four straight wins. Last week, Buckley ran for 261 yards on 19 carries with three touchdowns. It was his fourth straight 100-yard game. In four games, he has run for 683 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is also averaging 11.6 yards per carry. His production in the second half of the season has put him on pace to reach 1,000 yards rushing for the second time in his career.
-Scranton WR Karlon Quiller, who was a guest at the Penn State-Ohio State game last week, has 1,012 yards receiving this season. He has also scored 16 receiving touchdowns on only 38 receptions. Quiller owns the school record for career receptions with 88 and career receiving yards with 2,037.
-Delaware Valley QB Bryan Schor, who has verbally committed to Miami (Ohio), has thrown for 5,827 yards passing to rank second all time in the Lackawanna Football Conference behind Lakeland’s Evan Kraky (7,447). He also has 48 touchdown passes in his career and will lead the Warriors into a Week 10 game against Wallenpaupack before they head into the District 2-11 Class AAAA subregional playoffs.
-Riverside QB Nick Dranchak has thrown for 2,218 yards this season and 28 touchdowns. He needs two touchdowns to tie the school record held by former Pennsylvania Class A Player of the Year Corey Talerico. In his career, Dranchak has thrown for 4,883 yards with 52 touchdowns. The school record for touchdowns in a career is 58, held by Harry Armstrong.
-Bishop McDevitt senior quarterback Alec Werner and Cedar Cliff junior Andrew Ford combined to throw for 691 yards last Friday in a wild 44-34 victory by McDevitt. The duo completed 65 percent of their passes and totaled seven touchdowns. Werner was 15-for-23 and Ford was 24-for-38. The two gunslingers have thrown for a combined 4,506 yards and have a staggering 46 touchdown passes.
-McCaskey senior Aaron Swinton kept up his touchdown barrage on Friday. In the Red Tornado’s 50-27 loss to Manheim Township, Swinton had a TD catch, a TD run and he returned a kickoff 85 yards for another six points, giving him three scores. He has 11 touchdowns in the last three games for McCaskey, which is 4-5 and hanging on for a District 3-AAAA playoff spot.
-Why is Garden Spot 9-0? The Spartans have a league-best 18 interceptions, have recovered 13 fumbles — second-most in the L-L League — have a league-best 31 takeaways and are a league-best plus-20 in turnover ratio. Plus, Garden Spot has allowed just 92 points — third-least in the L-L League.
-Wyomissing needed a fourth-down, 1-yard TD run by Alex Anzalone in the final seconds to beat Schuylkill Valley 37-33 last week. Wyo can become the first Berks team in 30 years to record consecutive perfect seasons if it beats unbeaten Berks Catholic Saturday. It is the first final-week matchup of unbeaten teams in Berks since 1975, when Holy Name and Central Catholic met. Those schools merged to become Berks Catholic last year.
-Governor Mifflin and Conrad Weiser, each unbeaten in Berks Football League Section 1 games, meet Friday in a season finale to decide the championship. Mifflin has won last two titles and has beaten Weiser 7-of-8 times. Weiser’s only loss came to Wyomissing.
-Wilson beat Penn Manor 14-7 to clinch at least a tie for its fifth straight Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 title, becoming first team to win five straight. Bulldogs can complete unprecedented fifth straight perfect run through the league by beating Warwick Friday. They have won 35 straight league games, also a Section 1 record.
-Wyomissing linebacker Alex Anzalone is one of 12 high school players in the nation named a Dick Butkus Award semifinalist. Anzalone was a Class AA All-State linebacker pick last season, and is committed to Notre Dame.
DISTRICT 5 and 6
-Penn Cambria still controls its own destiny and can make the District 6-AA playoffs by beating Somerset on Saturday, but the Panthers will have to do it without veteran coach Ernie Fetzer. Fetzer abruptly resigned three days before Penn Cambria defeated Westmont Hilltop last week, a victory that moved the Panthers to 5-4. Fetzer has not spoken to the media yet, but school superintendent Mary Beth Whited said that the decision was entirely Fetzer’s and that the school wanted him to remain, although he was planning to retire at the end of the season. Penn Cambria had been expected to be one of the top teams in 6-AA this season, and Whited said she thought frustration with the Panthers’ performance led to his stepping down. Fetzer has posted a career record of 182-127-3 in 30 years as a head coach and went 48-36 in eight years in Cresson.
-The biggest game in the region this week has undefeated Richland traveling to undefeated Bellwood-Antis on Friday night. The game, however, will have absolutely no impact on the playoff seedings – both the Rams and Blue Devils already have clinched the top spots in District 6 Class AA and A, respectively.
-Ryan Torrance rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns as Ligonier Valley dashed Northern Cambria’s hopes for a Heritage Conference title last week, 36-26. The result gave Penns Manor the conference title. Northern Cambria now probably needs to beat archrival Cambria Heights in the “Coal Bowl” on Friday to advance to the playoffs.
-Bishop McCort showed that it still could be a very big factor in the postseason, blitzing visiting Bishop Guilfoyle, 37-0, and ending the Marauders’ six-game winning streak. McCort clinched a District 6 Class A playoff spot with the win and improved to 6-3 this season.
-Two of District 10’s premier running backs are starting to make their marks in the history books. Mercyhurst Prep senior Cornelius Barclay is closing in on 4,000 career rushing yards and DeShawn Coleman (Hickory) is in range of 400 career points. Barclay ran for 296 yards and scored six total touchdowns in a 61-18 rout of Cambridge Springs on Saturday. He has 3,890 career rushing yards and 429 points. Barclay’s point total might be even higher, but the Lakers took him off kicking duty and inserted sophomore Eric Baer a few weeks ago. Barclay has at least two games to rush for 110 yards and become the second player in Mercyhurst Prep history to rush for 4,000 yards. Aaron Horton, a former teammate of Barclay and school-record holder, has 4,182 career yards. Barclay has a shot at catching Horton this season.
-Kennedy Catholic and Sharon are the only other schools in District 10 history to have two 4,000-yard rushers. Ross Gargano (4,464 yards) and Lee Plotts (4,448) reached the milestone for the Golden Eagles, while the Tigers have three 4,000-yard rushers in T.J. Phillips (6,241), the D-10 all-time rusher, Mike Archie (5,136) and Carmone Parchman (4,224).
-Saturday’s performance put Barclay over 400 career points. He is the Lakers’ all-time scorer after passing Horton’s total of 392. Barclay is the 10th player all-time to reach 400 points. Greenville graduate Joe Korcinsky is D-10’s all-time scorer with 546 points. Coleman has only played varsity football for two years at Hickory but he is on pace to shatter the Hornets’ career scoring record of 398. Andre Coleman (no relation) set the record in 1989. DeShawn Coleman has 378 points in two seasons with only the playoffs left to catch Andre Coleman.
-With Whitehall knocking off Easton last week, the Lehigh Valley Conference could wind up with three teams tying for the league title. Whitehall can grab at least a share of the league championship if it beats Northampton on Friday. Easton, which hosts Nazareth, and Parkland, which travels to Emmaus, also can nab at least a share of the title if they win Friday.
-Allentown Central Catholic will have a chance to win a fourth straight District 11-AAA title. The Vikings lost most of the firepower from the offense that led them to the PIAA semifinals for three straight years, but their 4-5 record has already assured them a spot in districts. They finish their regular season Friday against Bethlehem Catholic in a game that could help them secure the No. 1 seed for the district tournament.
STATE HS FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK CONTRIBUTORS
Kevin Keating, Pottsville Republican
Jeff Reinhart, PennLive.com
Tom Reisenweber, Erie Times-News
Mike Drago, Reading Eagle
Dan Morehouse, WNPV Radio
Stephen Miller, Allentown Morning Call
Joby Fawcett, Scranton Times
Phil Cmor, Altoona Mirror
Jim Reeser, Wilkes-Barre Citzens Voice
Andrew P. Shay, The Patriot-News
Chris Harlan, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review