They have been friends for a long time but never competitors against each other except on the wrestling practice mat.

The hot sweaty room of Quest Wrestling Club was where they locked horns.

Come Saturday evening, Donovan McMillan, the blossoming star safety for Peters Township, will lock eyes with Cole Spencer, the enigmatic quarterback for Pine-Richland, on the turf at North Allegheny High School.

The winner walks away with the WPIAL Class 5A football title. The loser walks away wondering “what if ...”

Kickoff is 7 p.m.

“We wrestled before but we’ve never wrestled in high school,” said McMillon. “I’ve always been a little up (in weight). He was 152 when I was 160. It’s always been real close but never the same.”

Neither McMillon nor Spencer won wrestling titles. McMillon was runnerup last season at 182, losing to Gerit Nijenhuis of Canon-McMillan in the finals.

The match marked the first time in PIAA history that two Washington County wrestlers met in the state finals.

Spencer took fourth place in the 152-pound weight class, losing to Matt Lackman of Bethlehem Catholic in the third-place bout.

There will be no weight classes Saturday, and the one-on-one battles are slightly different. Spencer can’t catch his own passes or take his own handoffs. McMillon needs others to play well to be effective, too.

But it should be a very interesting matchup.

The Indians allow only 10.9 points a game and have held five of eight opponents to a touchdown or less.

Pine-Richland averages a whopping 50.3 points per game over its eight straight victories. Only Central Valley (53.6) and Clairton (54.3) average more. Seven of Pine-Richland’s games reached the Mercy Rule, including last week’s 49-14 victory over Penn-Trafford in the semifinals.

So what will the game come down to?

“I think it’s who can take care of the football,” said Peters Township head coach TJ Plack. “If they are able to take care of the football, they have a very explosive offense. That puts them in the driver’s seat. But on the other hand, if we don’t turn the ball over, with our defense they way they play, we can keep the score close. That’s what we’re looking for. Offensively, we just need to keep the ball moving.”

Spencer is 212 passing yards away from the top 10 of the WPIAL. He is in 12th place right now. Spencer completes 74 percent of his passes and has 27 touchdowns in just eight games. Most of his time this season has been spent on the bench in the second half because of the lopsided scores.

His counterpart on Peters Township, Logan Pfeuffer, has completed 72 of 123 passes for 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns. He averages five yards every time he rushes the football (37 attempts for 185 yards). Pfeuffer runs hot and cold. He threw for three touchdowns in the second half against Gateway after being shut out 19-0 in the first half.

Running backs Nico Pate and Vinny Sirianni combined for 713 yards and a nine touchdowns for Peters Township.

Pine-Richland likes to use numerous tailbacks. Tristen Taylor (326), Caden Sweiger (321) and Jordan Burns (315) have combined for 962 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Pine-Richland head coach Eric Kasperowicz did not return phone messages for comment on the game.

Notes

The game is a PIAA quarterfinals contest. The winner advances to the semifinals next weekend against undefeated Governor Mifflin, which received a forfeit in the quarterfinals from Warwick because of COVID-19 issues. It was one of two forfeits in the quarterfinals. Erie Cathedral Prep won by forfeit over Wyoming Valley West, also because of the latter’s COVID-19 issues.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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