5 things to watch in high school football this weekend

September 21, 2017
South Fayette coach Joe Rossi has the Lions on the verge of a 52-game regular season winning streak. - Eleanor Bailey/The Almanac

Lineup changes are the norm in high school football, whether it’s play to play, series to series or game to game. That’s why the teams that have the most depth usually end up winning more games than they lose.

Depth is always important, especially at midseason, when teams are battling for playoff berths and positioning. Depth will be a factor tonight when Week 4 of the high school football season begins. One very good team became deeper and better this week while others might have to overcome injuries at a key position.

Here are 5 things to watch this weekend:

1. The strong get stronger – Not that undefeated Washington (3-0) needed more help, but the Little Prexies received good news from the WPIAL this week when it approved the transfers of juniors Daniel Walker and DeMonya Brown, making them immediately eligible. Walker, a 6-1, 180-pounder who transferred to Washington from Snellville, Ga., is considered to be a premier skill-position player. He already has a scholarship offer from Louisville as a defensive back. Brown is a 5-10, 180-pound running back and defensive back who played last year at Canon-McMillan and also is considered an impact player. Both players sat out Wash High’s first three games. Washington plays at winless Frazier (0-4) tonight in a Class 2A Century Conference game.

2. Quarterback quandaries – West Greene lost a key part of its offense last week when quarterback Zach Pettit left the loss to Carmichaels with a concussion.

Pettit was placed in the concussion protocol and will miss tonight’s game at Jefferson-Morgan. He is expected back for the game at Fort Cherry Sept 29. Gavin Scott, who was injured in Week 2, is expected to return to run the offense.

West Greene is attempting to make the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Hempfield (0-2, 1-3) is in a must-win situation if the Spartans want to keep their playoff hopes alive in the Class 6A Southeastern Conference. Hempfield is at Peters Township (1-1, 3-1) and might have quarterback Justin Sliwoski back in the lineup. Sliwoski separated his right shoulder in a game Sept. 8 at Canon-McMillan, and Hempfield hasn’t won a game since his injury. Sliwoski passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening win against Greensburg Salem.

3. South Fayette’s streak – South Fayette has won 51 consecutive regular-season games and tries for No. 52 tonight at Knoch in a Northwest Nine Conference game. A win would tie South Fayette with Braddock (1953-60) as the second-longest streak in WPIAL history. Those Braddock teams won five WPIAL championships, defeating Carmichaels once and Waynesburg twice in the finals. South Fayette (4-0) has not lost a regular-season game since a 33-10 setback against Seton-La Salle Oct. 21, 2011.

4. Southeastern showdown – Canon-McMillan and the WPIAL football playoffs have not gone together for quite some time, but the Big Macs have an opportunity tonight to move closer to the postseason. Canon-McMillan (1-1, 2-2) plays at Norwin (1-1, 2-2), and the winner will be no worse than tied for third place in the conference. The top four teams will make the playoffs.

The Big Macs face a tough Norwin defense that is allowing only 9.3 points per game. Only undefeated Bethel Park has scored more than one touchdown against the Knights, who also held unbeaten Penn Trafford to only a field goal but lost the game, 3-0.

5. From 524 to … – Mapletown senior running back Dylan Rush set the WPIAL single-game rushing record last week with 524 yards in a seven-touchdown performance against winless Avella. This week, it’s a big step up in competition as the aptly named Rush will go against undefeated California, which has already shut out one opponent.

Sports editor Chris Dugan can be reached at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

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