Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Games of the Week, Week 5

The Varsity Letters can't shake off the excitement. When's the last time this many quality games were packed into one Friday night? Two years? Three years?

Even with five games left, this weekend could ultimately decided two conference championships and two other second-place finishes. It's an incredibly important weekend for many local teams.

Let's get started with the top games.

1. Monessen at Beth-Center (5 stars)
In the Observer-Reporter's preseason football publication, I predicted Monessen to win the Tri-County South (I know, that's never a stretch) and Beth-Center to finish second. After the first four weeks, these teams not only look like the top two in the TCS, the Greyhounds and Bulldogs look pretty even.

In Sheldon Miller and Terrance Stepoli, Monessen boasts superior athleticism. Beth-Center, as always, wants to rough up opponents. Don't mistake that for a lack of talent. B-C has a large handful of strong skill position players and I've been hearing wonderful things about Jeff Tarley.

Against strong competition (Rochester and Clairton), Monessen failed to score a point. Beth-Center, the second-highest scoring team in Class A, is strong competition.

2. Fort Cherry at Clairton (4.5 stars)
Fort Cherry made believers out of many with its 17-point victory over Serra Catholic last week. Now, the state-ranked Rangers, face a Clairton team many believe is the best Class A team in the western half of Pennsylvania.

Containing Clairton's big plays, which begins with junior receiver Kevin Weatherspoon, could be key. Fort Cherry must also sustain a few more drives than it did against Serra. That means the big guys up front must block for Nate Crossey, Derric Stankus and David Phillips.

3. Chartiers Valley at Trinity (4 stars)
Last year, the Class AAA Big Seven contest, was supposed to be close. CV won handily.

In order to prevent a repeat of last year, Trinity must avoid turnovers. The Colts feasted on Trinity's pass game last year, returning an interception for a touchdown just before halftime that put the game away.

Critics were skeptical following Trinity's loss to Thomas Jefferson, but the Hillers rebounded nicely at Elizabeth Forward to hand the Warriors their first loss. Time to give Trinity some credit. Every time it loses a game, the Hillers come back focused and determined.

4. Upper St. Clair at Canon-McMillan (3.5 stars)
As far as conference openers go, this Great Southern matchup couldn't be any better.

Upper St. Clair lost in the final seconds last week to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, a team which Canon-McMillan lost to in Week 2.

Several key Big Macs are less than 100 percent but C-M always gives USC a supreme effort. Expect the same Friday night.

5. Elizabeth Forward at Ringgold (3 stars)
According to conference coaches, this Big Seven contest wasn't supposed too mean anything. Yet, both are 3-1.

This game is more important for the Rams, who are 0-1 in conference play after losing to Thomas Jefferson last week. According to some, the game was much closer than the final score. Ringgold certainly gave the Jaguars a tough opening 24 minutes.

6. Chartiers-Houston at Frazier (3 stars)
So far, the Bucs are doing what they are supposed to do - convincing beat teams they are superior to. Now, the schedule gets a little tougher.

At 3-1, Frazier is a solid team. At 4-0, Chartiers-Houston may be on the verge of a special season.

How special? Depends on Friday's result.


J.D. Billy said...

I think if Fort Cherry beats Clairton friday night we could see a rematch from 2001 with Fort Cherry playing Rochester at Heinz Field. What do you guys think?

Jmat said...

i agree

VCTMbrian said...

I don't know if Fort Cherry can hang with Clairton. I think they have too many athletes. That team sure puts up some points. Sure anything can happen and FC is talented enough to beat Clairton if they are having an off night, but I'll take the Bears in this one.

mike_kovak said...

If Fort Cherry beats Clairton, it makes the Rangers the team to beat in Class A.

I've talked to a few people who have seen Clairton and Rochester this year. The consensus is Clairton is the best team in Class A.

Locally, Class A football looks strong this year. Fort Cherry, Chartiers-Houston, Beth-Center and Monessen all look like teams that could advance to the semifinals.

J.D. Billy said...

I realize it will be tough for Fort Cherry to beat Clairton, but I think if Fort Cherry can play mistake free and cause some turnovers they may be celebrating another win. We will have to wait til friday and see. I think I'm just pulling for them though because I would like to see two hard nosed teams (Fort Cherry/Rochester) go at it again at Heinz like they did in '01.

Anonymous said...

i know if canon mac wants to beat st. clair their O and D line need to step up to give hull and hagan some running room. if those 2 explosive backs can find some holes, i like canon mac

Anonymous said...

Don't be surprised if the CH/Frazier game is close. Burgettstown held in with a much superior CH team until the end, when the experience of CH finally got the better of Burgettstown's youth. Make no mistake, if Burgettstown swats down an easy pass and makes 2 routine tackles, CH would be 3-1...that's how close that game was.

mike_kovak said...

I really wrestled with my prediction for the C-H/Frazier game. I went with the Bucs because I feel they can wear down the Commodores.

Frazier is better than people realize.

Anonymous said...

I dont mean to burst anyones bubble in McDonald or anywhere else around Washington County, but outside of Rochester there isnt another team in Class A that can hang stride for stride with Clairton. They have speed, they have size (surprisingly), they have playmakers, they have a defense that has given up 6 points all season...they are the real deal. The ONLY thing that Fort Cherry has on their side in this game is potentially the weather. If it rains, you may be able to slow down the Bears offense a little, but even that isnt going to make much of a difference. I like and appreciate the optimism here, but you really have to look no further than the Ft. Cherry/Bentworth game to see what is going to happen here. Ft. Cherry won that game 20-7. Clairton was up 45-0 on Bentworth at the half. The final of that game was 51-0 (Clairton pulled their starters at the half and had a late touchdown called back). Bentworth had under 100 yds of offense for that game. Class A, the WPIAL and the PIAA are going to find out just how good Clairton is this week. Again, i hate to rain on everyones parade but this game will have a running clock in the second half...Clairton by 40. Write it down, you heard it here.

mike_kovak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mike_kovak said...

Bold prediction anon.

No one here has said Fort Cherry is better than Clairton. Doubt anyone thinks it. But most of us have played sports and crazy things (rain storms, turnovers, personal foul penalties) can happen.

Covered two straight Clairton playoff games two years ago. In the first, a Class A quarterfinal against California, the Bears had a personal foul taunting penalty before the opening kickoff, then got another on their first offensive play when a kid signaled first down after he caught an eight-year pass on first-and-10. Very nice!

Clairton had at least two more personal foul penalties in the game and 12 penalties total.

The score was 20-12. Clairton won. Talent wise, the Bears were 25 points better than California.

Anonymous said...

mike, ill be the first one to admit that Clairton definitely has had some "discipline" issues in the past. In the game in question, the California game, what you may or may not know is there was a history between that California QB and the Clairton team. That doesnt excuse the lack of discipline in that game, but that was the story behind that performance.

Unfortunately, Clairton also has issues in the post season with getting away from what brought them to the playoffs..."not dancing with the date they brought" so to speak. Looking at last years' run to the postseason, they were predominantly a run offense...then come the post season after the North Catholic blowout (rochester a 1 pt victory, springdale a 1 pt loss) they got away from that and tried to become a passing team. This year, A LOT has changed.

Im not sure how many of your readers have actually seen Clairton in action but believe me when i tell you they are a much different team. They have a fantastic QB in Andrew Currington, weapons in Kevin Weatherspoon, Troy Webb and Deontae Howard. You dont realize how good this team is until you see them on the field. From what I have seen this year in Class A, you have Clairton, Rochester and everyone else. Im not putting anyone down, im just being honest...that is the way it is right now. Also...i watched Monessen play Rochester and then watched Clairton play Monessen...there is NO QUESTION that Clairton is the #1 team in Class A...Clairton just needs to stay focused through the season and post season and they are going to prove that.

You are right that ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING can happen, but if both teams play to their ability, Clairton will handle this test handily.

I hope you get a chance to check out the Bears tomorrow night...enjoy the show.

mike_kovak said...

Great post anon.

As I said previously, every one I have talked to tells me Clairton is hands down the best in Class A.

And I have heard nothing but wonderful things of Mr. Weatherspoon from several different sources.

Won't get to see them this week. I'm headed to Monessen at Beth-Center.

Maybe Week 6. If C-H beats Frazier, the game is another matchup of undefeated teams.

Anonymous said...

Clairton - 55
Fort Cherry - 7

Yeah, Clairton is that good.

I was a little off on my was 48 instead of 40. I know the rankings dont mean anything...but Clairton is the #1 team in the WPIAL Class A, hands down.

Great game bears. Deontae Howard - 200+ yds rushing with 4 td's.

Fort Cherry, nice effort...sincerely.

Next week Mike I hope you'll cover the CH/Clairton game and discover for yourself just how good this team is...

Until then...

mike_kovak said...

I will be there.