NOTES: The game is tonight at Central Cambria High School at 7 p.m.
Aliquippa’s road to the semi-finals: In WPIAL, beat Laurel Highlands, 36-0; McKeesport, 27-21, in double overtime and Belle Vernon, 28-13
Aliquippa PPG-41.4, PPA-10.0
Alquippa Notes: The Quips are the most decorated program in WPIAL history and won their 18th District Championship record last week against Belle Vernon. Aliquippa played a record 14 consecutive WPIAL finals, a streak that nearly ended in the semifinals two weeks ago before recovering from a 14-point deficit and defeating McKeesport. Aliquippa won the 2018 Class AAA State Championship and lost to Thomas Jefferson in overtime in last year’s WPIAL Final. Aliquippa is enrolled in Class A, but was playing voluntarily at the Class AAA level before the PIAA passing formula required her to move up to the AAAA level. If the Quips win the state title this season, they would be forced to upgrade to 5A and have said they will consider leaving WPIAL if that happens. Aliquippa has won 10 straight games since losing to defending AAA State Champion Central Valley, 21-12, in Week 2. The defense has ended one of the state’s main offenses he a week ago, giving up just 202 yards, including 40 in the first half. Aliquippa is the greatest team the Jersey Shore has faced this season the inside line of Jason McBride (6ft, 3in, 300lb), Neco Eberhardt (6-2, 280) and Omar Banks (6-2, 270) were particularly strong against Belle Vernon. The Quips took a 21-0 third quarter lead against Belle Vernon a week after forcing overtime against McKeesport with a late touchdown. First-year running back Tiqwai Hayes was outstanding in McKeesport’s victory, totaling 229 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. Hayes ran for 1,509 yards and 18 touchdowns while sophomore Jon Tracy added 574 yards and 13 scores. Aliquippa is balanced and sophomore quarterback Quinten Goode completed 57.8% of his passes for 1,596 yards and 16 touchdowns. Three receivers have caught at least six touchdowns and Cyair Clark has a team record of 27 catches for 527 yards and eight touchdowns. Tajier Thornton had 23 catches and Donovan Walker made the most of his 13 catches, recording seven touchdowns.
Aliquippa player to watch – Tyrese Jones and Naquan Crowder: OK, I cheated and put two players here. Jones and Crowder help advance Aliquippa’s offense and the huge offensive linemen shone against Belle Vernon as the Quips controlled the clock. Jones is 6-6, 365 pounds and Crowder 6-3, 345. These two anchor a strong unit that has helped the Quips score at least 27 points in each of their 10 straight wins.
Jersey Shore road to the semi-finals: in District 4, beat Lewisburg, 48-7, and Selinsgrove, 41-0; in the States, defeated Allentown Central Catholic, 20-7, and Meadville, 30-6
Jersey Shore PPG-39.1, PPA-7.7; YPG-391.9, YPA-146.2
Jersey Shore Notes: Jersey Shore is making its third consecutive appearance in the Final Four and seeking its second straight place for the State Finals. The Bulldogs compete in the Western Region after winning the Eastern Region Championship last year. Jersey Shore is 24-1 in the past two seasons and 31-2 in its last 33 games dating back to Week 8 of 2019. The Bulldogs have won four back-to-back District and HAC-I championships, remaining undefeated in the league for the past three years. . Jersey Shore made up for a four-point halftime deficit at Allentown Central Catholic and shut it out in the final three quarters. Jersey Shore opened a close game against Meadville with a 24-point second quarter and once again did not give up a point in the second half. The Jersey Shore defense leads the District 4 in points and yards allowed and has allowed just two touchdowns since Week 8. Linebackers Haydn Packer and Karter Peacock have each made at least 15 tackles in each tournament game. ‘State. They have over 100 tackles this season, as does remarkable defensive end Connor Davis who had 12 tackles against Meadville. The Bulldogs ended Meadville’s explosive running game, allowing just 150 yards against a team that entered the game with over 4,500 yards. Kooper Peacock forced a fumble that Tate Sechrist returned for 75 yards for the opening touchdown and Cayden Hess’ interception late in the second quarter gave Breck Miller a scoring in the last second. The Jersey Shore defense has scored more touchdowns (3) than it allowed (2) in four playoff games. Sechrist, Luke Springman and Dierk Stetts all had at least 7 1/2 sacks and Stetts recovered a fumble against Meadville. Quarterback Brady Jordan threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the State’s quarterfinal victory, finding Peacock and Hess for long touchdowns. Jordan totaled over 3,000 yards and Packer had 1,183 yards and 20 touchdowns. A strong offensive line paved the way for three players who have rushed over 700 yards, including first student Elijah Jordan. Hess, Peacock and Connor Griffin all caught at least 22 passes and four touchdowns. Griffin’s brilliant 27-yard catch set up Packer’s decisive touchdown against Meadville.
Jersey Shore player to watch – Zach Rooney: The two-way starting lineman had a big impact on both sides of the ball. A reliable tackle on the offensive line, Rooney helped the Bulldogs pitch a 1,000-yard passer and two rushers for the second time in three seasons. Also a quality nose tackle, the junior had 4 1/2 sacks, had 12 tackles to lose and added an interception in the district final.
Winner Plays: District 3 Champion Bishop McDevitt or District 1 Champion Bishop Shanahan
Outlook: All of Jersey Shore’s work since January is for a game like this evening. Like Aliquippa, Jersey Shore has built a great tradition and these are two powerful programs that collide after producing a solid performance a week ago. This concerns everything that happens upstream. The Bulldogs must find a way to neutralize Aliquippa’s size on both sides of the ball. Jersey Shore is probably labeled as the underdog going into this game and that’s how he likes it. The Bulldogs have proven skeptics wrong all year round and will try to do so tonight against their toughest opponent yet.
–By CHRIS MASSE