It’s been a long wait but the week many have been waiting for has finally arrived.
Four teams that sit atop their respective conferences play one another and there are other unique encounters that will make Week 6 that much better.
Here is what to look tonight.
1. Ready for revenge: The bus ride to New Castle might feel like the longest trip of the season for the South Fayette football team.
The Lions have been waiting for this Northwest Nine game for some time.
The Lions were stunned in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs by New Castle last year, 51-43.
South Fayette (4-0, 6-0) might try to downplay this game, but when the two teams meet for the 7 p.m. kickoff, it will mean much more than just the next game on the schedule.
The Lions defense, which has only given up 33 points total and no more than 14 in a single game, will look to continue that trend against New Castle (4-1, 4-2), which has won four consecutive games.
2. Balance key to Trinity: There is no secret what Trinity wants to do, and there is no hiding what Belle Vernon needs to stop the Hillers when the two meet in a Big Nine Conference battle tonight at 7 p.m.
The Hillers are looking for a fourth straight week where senior running back Joey Koroly breaks loose and leads them to another conference win.
To do that, Trinity (2-2, 3-2) will have to successfully be able to throw the football to back up the Leopards defense, which figures to stack the box to stop Koroly.
Hillers’ senior quarterback Dylan Kern will have a big say in determining if Trinity wins their fourth consecutive game.
Belle Vernon (5-0, 5-0) and Thomas Jefferson are tied for the conference lead. But the Leopards haven’t played a playoff team or one with a winning record all season.
3. The third phase: A difference maker that resonated when talking to Burgettstown head coach Mark Druga and Beth-Center’s Joe Kuhns was a part of the game that people sometimes forget about: special teams.
Working in multiple younger players to give a break to the two-way starters might mean making a big play or plays that could determine who remains undefeated in the Century Conference. Even if it doesn’t result in a special-teams score, giving either of these potent offenses a short field would be a critical aspect to this game.
4. Big test for PT: I’ve raved about the Peters Township defense and how the group that few were talking about before the season has raised the Indians to the top of the Southeastern Conference.
Peters Township (3-1, 5-1) has only allowed 13.2 points per game, giving up fewer than 10 points in three games this season. The Indians have allowed only one opponent to score more than 20 points.
The challenge PT faces when it travels to Pine Richland (3-0, 6-0) will be the biggest of the year. The Rams have scored nearly 47 points per game, the only team in Class 6A to average more than 35.
Unlike last season, when the Indians avoided Notre Dame quarterback recruit Phil Jurkovec and defeated Pine Richland, the Rams are rolling, hammering Central Catholic, 47-17, last week. In that game, senior running back Jordan Crawford scored seven touchdowns.
Jurkovec has completed nearly 75 percent of his passes (100 of 135) for 1,631 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s run for 12 touchdowns.
5. Jockeying for position in the TCS: There are two big games in the Tri-County South Conference this week, at least in terms of the standings.
When Carmichaels heads to California for a 7 p.m. kickoff tonight, the Mikes will have to do something no team has accomplished this season: slow down California’s ground attack.
California (4-0, 6-0) has not only scored an eye-popping 359 points but averages 395 yards rushing per game. The Trojans are nearly averaging nine touchdowns a game.
Carmichaels (4-0, 4-1) has been susceptible to surrendering yards on the ground, giving up 234 to West Greene and 180 to Our Lady of Sacred Heart in the Mikes only loss of the season Sept. 8.
The other key game is Mapletown at Jefferson-Morgan (7 p.m. start).
Jefferson-Morgan (1-2, 2-4) has control of the final playoff spot within the conference. A win by Mapletown (1-3, 2-4) would not only move the Maples ahead of the Rockets but would give it the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Staff writer Luke Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.