Nearing the end of my recent week-long honeymoon, I was admittedly eager to get on the airplane to return home and back to normalcy.
It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted to leave Jamaica, but rather get back to my day-to-day life.
After last Friday night’s performances, many local football players and teams are looking to get back to regular form as tonight begins the second half of the season for many teams.
Here is what to watch when local teams kickoff tonight:
1. Quarterbacks in West Greene-Fort Cherry – After a one-week absence, West Greene quarterback Zach Pettit will be back under center for the Pioneers tonight as they play at Fort Cherry in a key Tri-County South Conference game.
West Greene, which might be undefeated if Pettit didn’t have to exit with an upper body injury in the third quarter of a game Sept. 15 against Carmichaels, kept pace in the Tri-County South Conference with a 18-0 win over Jefferson-Morgan last Friday night.
The Pioneers (3-1, 4-1) are a completely different team when Pettit is taking the snaps, as the junior not only keeps defenses honest with his arm but is also dangerous and elusive while running with the ball.
Though Pettit is the difference-maker, the person with the biggest impact in this TCS matchup might be his counterpart, Fort Cherry do-it-all quarterback Ryhan Culberson.
Stopping Culberson means stopping the Rangers’ offense. However, that is easier said than done. Culberson ran for four touchdowns, passed for one and returned a punt for a score last week in a nonconference win at Shenango.
A win over Fort Cherry (1-1, 3-1) will go a long way toward clinching West Greene’s first playoff berth since 1993.
2. Defensive showdown in 6A – Peters Township won’t clinch a playoff appearance with a win, nor be eliminated from contention with a loss.
However, with Pine-Richland and Mt. Lebanon looming next on the schedule for the Indians, tonight’s game against Norwin will go a long way in ultimately determining if PT will be in or out come playoff time.
The defenses of Peters Township and Norwin allow the fewest points in the Southeastern Conference. Defense is why the Indians and Knights are deadlocked for third place at 2-1.
3. Top-heavy Century will stay that way – Not too much deciphering needs to happen to determine which teams are good in the Century Conference.
With the top three teams – Burgettstown, Washington and Beth-Center – still undefeated and the bottom three – Brownsville, Chartiers-Houston and Frazier – having combined for one win, the contrast of the conferences haves and have-nots is stark.
Don’t expect that to change this weekend.
Beth-Center (2-0, 5-0) plays at Chartiers-Houston for a 7 p.m. kickoff tonight, while Burgettstown (3-0, 4-0) hosts Brownsville Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for homecoming. Washington (3-0, 4-0) plays a non-conference game against Sto-Rox.
Expect it to be the same old in the Century Conference with all three remaining undefeated, along with setting up a highly anticipated matchup in Fredericktown next Friday night between Beth-Center and Burgettstown.
4. Koroly near another milestone – Last Friday night was a memorable one for Trinity senior running back Joe Koroly as he broke the school’s single-game rushing record (358 yards) and touchdown record (43) in the Hillers’ thumping of Blackhawk.
Koroly can add another milestone tonight when Trinity hosts Uniontown.
He needs less than 200 yards to break the career rushing record at Trinity, which is held by Ben Jennings (3,304 yards).
Koroly couldn’t ask for a better matchup than a home game against Uniontown, which is still in search of its first win and allowing 48.6 points per game.
Koroly torched the Raiders for 242 yards and three touchdowns last season.
5. Taking to the air in the Mon Valley – There will be no shortage of points when Charleroi hosts Bentworth.
Both teams have no fear in dropping back to pass and there will be plenty of it tonight.
Charleroi quarterback Geno Pellegrini and Bentworth’s Shawn Dziak each will put up good numbers in this game.
The winner of this Century Conference game will likely avoid having to play a Class AA conference champion in the playoffs. Defending state champion Steel Valley is currently leading one of the other conferences.
That could be the difference of advancing past the first round or not.
Staff writer Luke Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.