Staff Writer

Luke Campbell has been handling a multitude of tasks since joining the Observer-Reporter in 2015, following his graduation from Waynesburg University. He graduated from Waynesburg with a bachelor’s degree in sports broadcasting and information.

burgettstownfootball

After qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, Burgettstown and head coach Mark Druga are nearing a conference championship.

Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

Only two weeks remain in the regular season and seven area teams have qualified for the WPIAL football playoffs.

More spots can be clinched this week, and several teams can earn a share of or an outright conference championship.

Here is what to watch in Week 8 of the high school football season:

1. Game of the Week – Bethel Park at Peters Township. A three-way tie in the Allegheny Eight Conference will be broken this week. Upper St. Clair, Peters Township and Bethel Park are tied at 4-1 in the conference. First-place West Allegheny holds a half-game lead over the trio.

The passing game for Peters Township (6-2 overall) has continued to click under sophomore quarterback Logan Pfeuffer. In the last three games, he has completed 50 of 70 passes for 830 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Bethel Park (4-1, 5-2) hasn’t played in a close game that it has won. Each of the Black Hawks’ victories have came by at least 21 points. Their two losses – to West Allegheny and Pittsburgh Central Catholic – were both by one point.

Bethel Park has won the last seven meetings against Peters Township, including 28-7 victories each of the last two seasons.

2. Party like it’s 1977 – It has been 41 years since Burgettstown last won a conference championship in football.

The undefeated Blue Devils have the opportunity to do that tonight when they travel to Brentwood for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

What you have to like about Burgettstown (5-0, 7-0) is the Blue Devils knows what they are and won’t change. Burgettstown is a team that likes to run the football – the Blue Devils’ leading receiver only has six catches – and play unrelenting defense. They give up and average of only 5.3 points per game.

Brentwood (3-3, 4-4) has won two of its last three games. It’s the final conference game for the fifth-place Spartans and a must-win if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

3. Clinching conferences – Burgettstown isn’t the only local team that can clinch a conference championship.

South Fayette, Charleroi and West Greene can clinch at least a share of their respective conferences with victories.

Each has a very winnable game.

Charleroi plays winless Brownsville, South Fayette travels to one-win Ambridge and West Greene faces Jefferson-Morgan, which only has a pair of victories.

4. Jackson’s status – If West Greene is upset by Jefferson-Morgan, then the Pioneers’ conference title hopes will be in jeopardy.

That makes it even more important for West Greene to have junior running back Ben Jackson, who exited last week’s non-conference game against Clairton with an apparent injury, available for this game.

The Tri-County South Conference will have three teams – West Greene, Monessen and California – qualify for the playoffs if they each win out. Jackson, who is the wheels on the Pioneers’ wagon, has rushed for 1,454 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. No other player for West Greene has more than four touchdowns.

5. Passing the test – Another week and another big test for McGuffey.

The final three games of the regular season for McGuffey (5-1, 7-1) are against teams that have or will likely enter with one loss. Charleroi was the first of the one-loss teams and last week the Cougars defeated the unbeaten McGuffey 46-33.

It doesn’t get any easier this week.

Avonworth, like Charleroi, has one of the best passing attacks in the WPIAL. Quarterback Derek Johncour has thrown for 2,043 yards and 22 touchdowns, completing more than 65 percent of his passes.

Johncour’s favorite targets are Turner Grau (50 receptions, 754 yards), Drew Harper (30 receptions, 437 yards) and Ethan Syam (27 receptions, 423 yards).

A key for the Highlanders will be to force Avonworth (4-1, 7-1) into long drives rather than the Antelopes scoring on chunk plays.

In McGuffey’s four losses last year, it surrendered 12 touchdowns of 30 or more yards. It has been much better on defense this season.

Staff writer Luke Campbell can be reached at lcampbell@observer-reporter.com.

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