TIGERS WELCOME TOP-RANKED PINE-RICHLAND TONIGHT
In one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the season, the North Allegheny Tigers (7-2) host the top-ranked Pine-Richland Rams (9-0) tonight at Newman Stadium. With a win, the Rams can clinch an outright Northern Seven Conference title. A North Allegheny victory would earn the black and gold a share of the conference crown.
North Allegheny enters tonight’s contest riding a six-game winning streak. The Tigers most recent victory was a mercy-rule win over Hempfield in non-conference play, 63-28. Pine-Richland has run roughshod over every opponent this season and are coming off back-to-back shutouts of Shaler and Butler. The Rams most narrow margin of victory was 24 points during 53-29 victory over Mt. Lebanon in a week one game that really wasn’t all that close.
Pine-Richland is led by much-ballyhooed senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec. The Notre Dame commit is an uber-athletic signal caller with a strong arm and great speed. Jurkovec has passed for 2,2254 yards this season with 21 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He’s rushed for another 396 yards and 12 scores. An astonishing career total, Jurkovec has passed for 6,487 yards and 53 touchdowns, while rushing for another 2,127 yards and 31 touchdowns.
There is a terrific supporting cast surrounding Jurkovec, including senior tailback Jordan Crawford who has toted the football for 669 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Receiver Raymond Falcone is another standout on offense with 36 receptions, 745 yards and nine touchdowns. The Pine-Richland offense averages 50 points per game.
The Rams defense permits only 10 points per game, tops in Class 6A. Junior linebacker Tyler King is the team’s leading tackler with 71 stops. Senior defensive end Tommy Camino has a team-best seven sacks and free safety Luke Meckler has reeled in a team-high three interceptions. Other notables include defensive back Thomas Burns, the speedy younger brother of Steelers DB Artie Burns. Senior Kenny White, a transfer from West Allegheny, is another shutdown defensive back.
Playing on their own home turf, North Allegheny is looking to pull off the upset against the high-powered Rams. The Tigers would prefer to control the football with an offense that averages 37 points per game. Senior quarterback Luke Trueman leads NA in rushing with 788 yards, followed by senior tailback Turner White who was rushed for 758 yards and a team-best 11 touchdowns. A good change of pace option, junior Ben Maenza has toted the ball for 439 yards and seven scores. Through the air, Trueman has 1,055 yards passing and 12 touchdowns to six interceptions. Senior wideout John Vardzell has hauled in 18 passes for 381 yards and six touchdowns.
On defense, North Allegheny permits 16 points per game which is third best in Class 6A. Junior linebacker Dante Caputo is tops in tackles with 51 stops and 13.5 tackles for a loss. Alex Hays, Ethan Augustine and Brennan McCauley are the team leaders in sacks with three apiece. Junior ballhawk Joey Porter Jr. has five interceptions to pace the Tigers.
The last meeting between North Allegheny and Pine-Richland was a 47-10 road victory for the Tigers in the 2016 regular season finale. Jurkovec didn’t play in the game due to injury. NA’s Ethan Maenza accounted for 300 yards of total offense and six touchdowns to spearhead the victory for the Tigers.
Tonight’s game is set for a 7:06 p.m. kickoff at Newman Stadium. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network, with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.