Picking area football winners
Taking a look at this weekend’s area football games after a 7-0 showing upped my season record to 70-14:
Central Valley (6-3) at Ringgold (9-0)
Don’t be fooled by the first-year record of the Center- Monaca merger. The Warriors’ three losses were to No. 1 Montour (12-7), West Allegheny (30-27) and Hopewell (26-22). Montour needed a 2-yard touchdown run with 68 seconds left to avoid a 7-6 loss, West Allegheny scored its winning touchdown in the final seconds and Hopewell didn’t go ahead to stay until the final 2:06 on Rushel Shell’s 6-yard run. Central Valley’s wins were over Allderdice (35-0), New Castle (23-6), Trinity (27-7), Moon (29-20), Blackhawk (28-6) and Ambridge (42-13). Moved from tight end to the backfield, 208-pound Lukas Turley gained 225 yards on 17 carries in the final two games. The Rams’ Derrick Fiore has run for 1,098 yards and 16 touchdowns, with quarterback Quad Law adding over 600 yards and seven TDs. The Rams’ Nico McPherson, who sat out the Uniontown game with an injury, has a WPIAL-high seven interceptions. Ringgold has lost five straight playoff games since beating Greensburg Salem, 27-0, in 1999 on the Golden Lions’ field. The Rams are riding a school-record 10-game winning streak. Comcast will carry the game at 7 p.m. Saturday on the FYI Channel.
In an upset special, Central Valley by eight points.
Chartiers-Houston (7-2) at Monessen (8-1)
Last week’s wild 48-40 loss at Fort Cherry cost the Bucs second place in the Black Hills Conference and a home game in the playoffs. The Bucs’ other loss was to No. 1 Clairton (48-0). Chartiers-Houston’s victims were Union (20-14), Shenango (21-20), Serra Catholic (35-14), Bentworth (41-14), Brentwood (21-7), Carlynton (14-13) and Avella (41-6). The Bucs have a talented dual threat quarterback in junior Daniel Lis, who has run and passed for nearly 1,600 yards and had a hand in 18 touchdowns. Chartiers-Houston has one of the younger playoff teams, with only five seniors on the roster. Monessen has a balanced offense with seniors Brett Crenshaw and Trae Cook running and 1,000-yard passer Brady Kunsa throwing. The last time Monessen played Chartiers-Houston in the post-season, Chris Byrd’s 51-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Greyhounds a hard-earned 7-3 victory at Memorial Stadium in 1999.
The pick is Monessen by eight points
Indiana (7-2) at Belle Vernon Area (5-4)
It’s hard to believe the Leps haven’t won a first-round game since 2000 when they defeated Pine-Richland, 23-0, at James Weir Stadium. After going 1-8 last year, Indiana finished third to Mars and Knoch in the Greater Allegheny Conference. The Indians’ losses were to Mars (38-14) and Knoch (27-7). Indiana averaged 39 points in victories over Apollo-Ridge (40-6), Uniontown (41-21), Highlands (40-7), Valley (63-14), Hampton (27-6), Quad A Penn-Trafford (34-31) and Kittanning (27-13). The first-ever meeting between the two schools matches 1,000-yard passers in Belle Vernon Area’s Matt Naylor (1,299 and 13 TDs) and Indiana’s Kyle Edgar (1,222 and 10 TDs). Two years ago, Indiana downed Trinity, 21-6, in the first round before losing 55-49 to New Castle, 55-49, in the quarterfinals. BVA has allowed only six first half touchdowns.
Defense gives the edge to BVA by four points.
California (6-3) at Rochester (9-0)
The WPIAL football committee didn’t do the Trojans any favors by sending them to the WPIAL and PIAA’s No. 2 ranked team. The unbeaten Rams are averaging almost 40 points a game with victories over Serra Catholic (35-0), Fort Cherry (46-0), Union (42-0), Sto-Rox (35-32), Shenango (42-7), Western Beaver (34-8), Cornell (41-0), Neshannock (27-0) and South Side Beaver (49-13). The Rams have a strong running game with the trio of DeAndre Moon (830 yards and 16 TDs), Devon Glass and Nick Tapia, while quarterback Jasson Adamson is a dual threat as a passer and runner. Adamson has completed only 31 passes, but 12 have gone for touchdowns. California is riding a four-game winning streak, but the victories were over four non-playoff teams. California has one of the WPIAL’s top passing acts with T.D. Conway (1,785 yards and 24 TDs) throwing to his older brother Dakota (47 catches for 772 yards and 15 TDs). The last time California faced Rochester in the playoffs, the Trojans were a 28-0 loser in the 2005 quarterfinals. California has lost its last two first round games to Avonworth (35-8) in 2008 and to Western Beaver (43-14) in 2007.
Go with Rochester by four touchdowns.
California University (8-1, 5-1) at Edinboro (6-3, 3-3)
The Fighting Scots rebounded from successive losses to Mercyhurst (22-21), Slippery Rock (28-14) and Indiana (18-0) with victories over Clarion (31-14) and Lock Haven (30-22). Edinboro opened the season with wins over West Liberty (20-19), West Chester (16-14), Cheyney (27-21) and Gannon (13-0). Drew Herrell, Edinboro’s redshirt freshman running back, was named PSAC West Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 197 yards and a touchdown against Lock Haven. Cody Harris, the Scots’ freshman quarterback, has thrown for 1,471 yards and eight TDs. After averaging 38 points in its first seven games, California has scored only 39 points in its last two contests — a 31-21 loss at Mercyhurst and 18-15 overtime win at home against Indiana. Cal sophomore Lamont Smith is the PSAC’s second leading rusher with a 127-yard average and 1,020 yards, while senior quarterback Josh Portis has thrown for 1,902 yards and 22 TDs. Portis is second in passer rating at 155. Cal needs a win and a Mercyhurst loss at home to Clarion to host next Saturday’s PSAC championship game.
The pick is California by seven points.