The Road to Heinz has officially ended with four teams now on the Road to Hershey for state glory. We preview the remaining four WPIAL teams’ match-ups this weekend in PIAA Quarterfinal action.
Clairton Bears (13-0) vs. Berlin Brothersvalley Mountaineers (12-0)
The Match-Up: Both teams come into their PIAA Class A match-up with unblemished records. Berlin Brothersvalley has allowed more than eight points in a single game once this season, in the opening game of the season. Clairton comes into the game averaging 57.5 points per game.
How they got here: Berlin Brothersvalley defeated Meyersdale 49-7 in the first round of District 5 playoff action before defeating Northern Bedford 45-7 to advance to its quarterfinal match-up against Clairton. The offense of the Mountaineers is averaging 48 points per game while only giving up an average of 5.5 points per game. After defeating Carmichaels 70-6 in the opening round of WPIAL Playoffs, Clairton advanced to defeat Frazier 56-15 before capturing the WPIAL Class A Championship with a 40-0 victory over Jeannette. While the Bears offense has been unstoppable, their defense is only allowing 12 points per game in the playoffs.
Who to Watch: The Mountaineers employ a run-heavy offense that features senior running back Braden Fochtman who has 1,829 yards on the ground this year. Also leading the Berlin Brothersvalley offense is senior quarterback Brentson Harding, who has thrown for 1,316 yards on the season. Harrison Dreher has been an impact player in all three facets of the game for the Bears as he went 98 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff while also hauling in a touchdown reception in last week’s win over Jeannette. Lamont Wade led Clairton with 1,043 yards on the ground in the regular season.
Prugar’s Prediction: Clairton
Aliquippa Quips (13-0) vs. Karns City Gremlins (12-0)
The Match-Up: Aliquippa snapped South Fayettes 44-game win streak to advance to the PIAA Class AA Quarterfinals to face Karns City. The Gremlins advanced by way of a 21-17 victory over Bedford in the District 9 playoffs last weekend.
How they got here: Karns City puts an undefeated season on the line in hopes of advancing to Hershey. The Gremlins defeated Moniteau 43-6 before defeating Bedford 21-17 in District 9 playoffs to advance to the quarterfinals. Aliquippa defeated Seton-LaSalle 46-6 in the opening round of WPIAL playoffs before upending Freeport 36-14 en-route to their upset of South Fayette 44-38 in their class for the WPIAL title last Saturday.
Who to Watch: The Gremlins have utilized a run-heavy offense to get them to this point this season. Seniors Colin Dunmyre and Maverick Kelsea pace the Karns City rushing attack combining for 26 touchdowns. Kaezon Pugh rushed for 179 yards in Aliquippa’s Class AA title game and scored two touchdowns. Sheldon Jeter, the quarterback has thrown for more than 1,300 yards for the Quips as well as intercepting six passes, on the defensive side of the ball.
Prugar’s Prediction: Aliquippa
Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (11-2) vs. Cathedral Prep Ramblers (13-1)
The Match-Up: Thomas Jefferson defeated Central Valley 20-7 in the WPIAL Class AAA Championship to advance to the PIAA Class AAA Quarterfinals. Cathedral Prep advanced by way of a victory over Conneaut Area 42-21 to advance to the quarterfinals.
How they got here: Cathedral Prep has not lost a game since a Week 1 loss at the hands of Wakulla out of Crawfordsville, Fla. Since then, the Ramblers have outscored opponents 591-168. Cathedral Prep defeated Meadville 62-8 in the opening round of District 10 playoffs before beating Oil City 49-14 and advancing to defeat Conneaut Area 42-21 in the District 10 Championship. Thomas Jefferson opened up the WPIAL Playoffs by defeating Armstrong 42-7, before moving on to beat West Allegheny 14-0, and eventually beating Central Valley 20-7 to win the WPIAL Class AAA Championships.
Who to Watch: Thomas Jefferson rode a strong defense in their WPIAL championship game as it allowed 126 total yards of offense. Leading the way was Zane Zandier with seven tackles. Quinton Hill has led the way on the offensive side of the ball rushing for 141 yards against Central Valley. Cathedral Prep employs a run-heavy offense with four players getting over 50 carries. Sullivan Johnson leads all Rambler rushers with 716 yards and six touchdowns while Ta’Nauz Gregory has eight rushing touchdowns to go with his 678 yards on the ground.
Prugar’s Prediction: Cathedral Prep
Central Catholic Vikings (12-1) vs. State College Little Lions (9-3)
The Match-Up: Central Catholic ruined Penn-Trafford’s undefeated season with a 24-14 victory in the WPIAL Class AAAA Championship game. State College moved past Erie McDowell 48-40 last week in PIAA Class AAAA opening round action.
How they got here: To get to its victory over Penn-Trafford, Central Catholic defeated Upper St. Clair 49-0 in the opening round before defeating North Allegheny 31-17 and advancing to dismantle Woodland Hills 24-6 to get to the WPIAL Class AAAA Championship. State College advanced to the quarterfinals by way of defeating DuBois in District 6 play 41-7 before moving on to beat McDowell 48-40.
Who to Watch: Ronnie Jones helped catapult a Vikings rushing attack that went for 262 yards last week by rushing for 146 yards of his own. Rashad Wheeler was a key cog on the Central Catholic defense with an interception returned for a touchdown as well as five tackles. Jordan Misher helps lead the way for the offense of the Little Lions, rushing for 1,375 yards and 21 touchdowns. The State College offense is under the control of junior Tyler Snyder who has thrown for 1,061 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Prugar’s Prediction: Central Catholic
Photo credit: Matt Freed/Post-Gazette