The three phases of the game that every football coach talks about are offense, defense and special teams.
Area high school football coaches might need to re-emphasize the final of those three this week as several games were changed when neither offense nor defense were on the field.
From blocked punts to missed kicks to multiple returns for touchdowns, special teams played a huge factor in Week 5.
Here is what else we learned this week:
1.Traffic jam: The Interstate Conference looked somewhat clear cut after Week 4.
But that didn’t last more than a week, when Beth-Center threw a wrench into any plans of the McGuffey and Charleroi game later in the season determining an outright conference champion.
There should be no mistaking what the Bulldogs did to Charleroi. The one-point game – a 28-27 Beth-Center victory that required a defensive stop at the end – was dominated by B-C.
Bailey Lincoski and Dominic Fundy pounded the ball at the Cougars, picking up solid yardage on most of their carries.
“(Beth-Center) came out and outcoached us and outplayed us,” said Charleroi coach Lance Getsy. “Their guys did a great job of coming off of the ball and getting movement on us. They were able to get four or five yards a pop.”
The conference standings: McGuffey is in first place at 4-0 in the conference and 6-0 overall. Beth-Center, Charleroi and Washington each have one conference loss, but the Bulldogs are in second because they have won the most Interstate games. Charleroi is third. Washington is fourth.
The four essentially are locks for the WPIAL playoffs, but which team finishes where is not even close to being determined.
2. Lions feast: I couldn’t have had more confidence picking South Fayette to defeat Blackhawk last Friday.
And it was exactly what the Lions did, downing previously undefeated Blackhawk, 21-0, to gain full control of the Northwest Eight Conference.
It was an easy pick, and here’s why:
In three recent games South Fayette lost – the last two in the WPIAL playoffs and in 2015 to Aliquippa in the Class AA Championship at Heinz Field – the only thing that disrupted the Lions was a balanced offense. Each of those three games, the opponent’s quarterback threw for 100-plus yards, while a running back at least hit the century mark, also.
And Blackhawk wasn’t changing overnight.
The Cougars entered Friday night 5-0 because of two things. One, they can run the football, and two, they really hadn’t played anybody of substance. Blackhawk had three players over 50 carries and were running the ball 44 times per game.
So what do you get when a team is one dimensional and South Fayette coach Joe Rossi is standing on the other sidelines?
Well, exactly what happened Friday night.
3. Defense powering Blue Devils: There is only one team in the WPIAL leading its conference with an undefeated record and no other teams in the conference with fewer than two losses.
And you don’t have to look further than Washington County.
Leading the Three Rivers Conference with an unblemished record, Burgettstown continues to dominate on defense. The Blue Devils have shut out three of their five opponents, held another to six points and are only surrendering 5.4 points per game.
All other teams in Burgettstown’s conference have at least two losses. Second-place South Allegheny has won all its Three Rivers’ games but lost a pair of non-conference contests.
If the Blue Devils don’t have a letdown against Carlynton Friday, they will put their undefeated record against Mohawk (5-1) in a non-conference game in their annual Saturday afternoon homecoming game.
4. One more Pioneers’ win: West Greene is heading towards back-to-back years in the postseason after going 24 years without qualifying for the playoffs.
With a dominating performance over Avella, the Pioneers are one win away from clinching a playoff berth. If they are victorious over California this Friday, the Pioneers would be conference champions.
Ben Jackson had a Ben Jackson-like performance in the win over the Eagles, and he continues to run all over teams behind an experience offensive line at West Greene. He has 22 touchdowns for the season and could eclipse 2,000 yards at this pace.
5. Players of the Week:
- Jake Lounder – The Burgettstown quarterback was able to sling it around for the first time this season, completing 9 of 14 passes for 161 yards in a dominating win over Serra Catholic. Lounder also carried the ball 27 times for 85 yards. He had three total touchdowns.
- Tyler Blumen – The junior wide receiver for Chartiers-Houston hauled in touchdown catches of 25 and 40 yards from Bucs’ quarterback Seth Dunn. Blumen also returned a punt for a score as C-H rolled over Mapletown.
- Mason Pascoe – Scoring four touchdowns, the Belle Vernon junior running back continued to be the key component in the Leopards’ offense. Pascoe gained 256 yards on 19 carries in a win over Greensburg Salem.