Preview: Class 5A Football Quarterfinals
No. 1 Penn-Trafford (9-1) vs. No. 8 Fox Chapel (6-4) At 7:30 p.m.
The top seed Warriors come into the playoffs fresh off their only loss of the season, a 27-24 defeat to the hands of McKeesport. Meanwhile, the Foxes are entering tonight’s quarterfinal game on a five game win streak after starting the season 1-4. Fox Chapel will have its hands full as Penn-Trafford showed they are one of the best overall team in Class 5A this season. The Warriors have scored 35 points per game and only allowed 9.3 points per game in the regular season. Fox Chapel has averaged 28.8 points per game but struggled on defense, allowing 22.7 points per game. Penn-Trafford senior quarterback Cam Laffoon is one of eight signal callers in Class 5A to throw for more than 1,000 yards. Lafoon has thrown for 1,147 yards and 12 touchdowns.The Foxes have relied more on their run game with two 1,000 yard rushers on the season. Senior Micah Morris finished second in Class 5A 1,246 yards and senior quarterback Nick Gizzo was third with 1,239 yards and 17 touchdowns. Morris scored 13 touchdowns. Both teams missed the playoffs last year.
No. 2 Gateway (9-1) vs. No. 7 Woodland Hills (6-4) At 7:30 p.m.
The Gators opened up the season with a 35-23 win at the Wolverines, and will be looking for a similar result tonight in their quarterfinal rematch. Gateway clinched a share of the section title on the final week of the regular season, and enter the game on a four game win streak. Woodland Hills have won five of their last six games after starting the season 1-3. The Gators have the top-ranked offense in Class 5A with 38.3 points per game, thanks to senior quarterback Brady Walker and junior Courtney Jackson. Walker was the top passer in the whole WPIAL, throwing for 2,701 yards and 33 touchdowns. Jackson is second in the WPIAL with 1,193 yards and first in Class 5A with 18 touchdowns. Gateway is looking for their second straight trip to the semifinals. Woodland Hills is looking for its third straight trip to the semifinals.
No. 3 West Allegheny (7-2) vs. No. 6 McKeesport (7-2) At 7:30 p.m.
The Indians and Tigers battling in the quarterfinals assures that the 2017 WPIAL championship will not be a rematch of the 2016 classic that saw West Allegheny come away with a 38-37 win in overtime. The defending champion Indians split the last four games of the regular season after starting out the season 5-0 as the No. 1 ranked team. McKeesport is a dangerous six seed, winning seven of their last eight games after starting the season 0-1. Their latest win was against top-seed Penn-Trafford. The Tigers slightly outscored the Indians in points per game, 35.4 to 29. They have also allowed less points per game with 12.6 to the Indians’ 17.4. Junior tight end Mateo Vandamia is the top target for the Indians, hauling in 27 catches for 384 yards, which is fifth in Class 5A. McKeesport has relied on its senior running back, Layton Jordan. Jordan is fourth in Class 5A with 1,177 yards and 14 touchdowns. John Harper is also tied for the team lead with 14 touchdowns.
No. 4 Upper St. Clair (7-3) vs. No. 5 Franklin Regional (6-3) At 7:30 p.m.
In the battle of the Panthers, Upper St. Clair enters its home game tonight losing two of their last three games after a six game win streak highlighted by an overtime win against West Allegheny. Franklin Regional split its last four regular season games after starting the season 4-1. Upper St. Clair, who won the Allegheny Nine regular season title, did so scoring 26 points per game, but allowed 19.4 points per game. Franklin Regional roughly has allowed the same number of points per game with a 18.1 average. Its offense has struggled more than any other in the Class 5A bracket with 19.1 points per game. Senior quarterback Jack Hansberry has led Upper St. Clair through the air with 1,376 passing yards and nine touchdowns on the season. Classmate Dom Cepullio was on the receiving end of 26 of those passes for 425 yards. Junior Colin McLinden leads Upper St. Clair with 12 touchdowns. For Franklin Regional, junior Adam Rudzinski is 26 yards shy of 1,000 passing yards on the season. He has thrown 10 touchdowns. Both Panther squads lost in the quarterfinal round last year.
For a complete look at the bracket, click on the link below.