East/South Xtra: Woodland Hills, Mt. Lebanon know each other all too well

High School Football

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Despite competing in different football conferences, Mt. Lebanon and Woodland Hills have seen a lot of each of other in recent years.

The two got together for non-conference games in 2006 and 2007, have scrimmaged each other the past few preseasons, and played in one of the most entertaining games of last year's postseason.

"I'd say we know each other well," Woodland Hills coach George Novak said.

Mt. Lebanon and Woodland Hills will meet again Friday when the Blue Devils play host to the Wolverines in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.

The Blue Devils (6-3), who finished as the runner-up in the Great Southern Conference, are seeded No. 7, while the Wolverines (6-3), who placed third in the Big East Conference, are the No. 10 seed.

The game is a rematch of last season's fantastic quarterfinal contest won by Woodland Hills, 29-22, in overtime. Mt. Lebanon came into the game undefeated and as the No. 2 seed, but the No. 7-seed Wolverines got a game-tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation and then used another touchdown and a goal-line stand in overtime to send the Blue Devils home.

"We were very fortunate," Novak said. "It could have gone either way. We went to overtime and made a play."

Just as they did last season, Mt. Lebanon will give the Wolverines another huge dose of senior running back Luke Hagy, who carried the ball a career-high 44 times for 163 yards and three touchdowns in the previous meeting.

"He's a great player," Novak said. "The first thing you look at when you look at Mt.. Lebanon is that you have to contain him. We tried to contain him last year and he made some good plays."

Hagy has made a lot of good plays this season, rushing for 1,645 yards. He's averaging 7.4 yards per carry and has scored 21 touchdowns. Hagy has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game and now has more than 4,000 yards in his career.

Among Mt. Lebanon's other key players is senior lineman Arthur Goldberg, a Wisconsin recruit. Senior Pat Goff is a three-year starter at quarterback and has a few big targets in 6-foot-5 senior tight end Dylan White and emerging sophomore Troy Apke, a 6-2 wide receiver.

Woodland Hills has a big target of its own in 6-5 senior wide receiver Shakim Alonzo, who has committed to Cincinnati. Also a standout basketball player, Alonzo typically draws double coverage from opposing defenses. He will look to get the ball from senior quarterback Pat Menifee.

Senior running back Jaimire Dutrieuille leads the Wolverines in rushing and has also scored a team-high 12 touchdowns. Senior Mike Caprara is a standout linebacker and fullback.

The Wolverines average 26.4 points per game and give up 12.7, while the Blue Devils average 25 offensively and surrender 15.7.

Both teams are coming off tough endings to the regular season.

Mt. Lebanon, which had won four in a row, traveled to rival Upper St. Clair with the Great Southern Conference title on the line last Friday, but were thumped by the Panthers, 42-6. The Blue Devils managed only eight first downs -- two in the second half -- and were outgained, 426-204.

Woodland Hills, which was 6-1 at one point, dropped consecutive home games to Pine-Richland, 26-7, and Penn Hills, 14-10, to close the regular season.

The loss to Penn Hills was especially discouraging, considering a victory would have given the Wolverines a second-place finish and a home playoff game. Then again, the Wolverines surprisingly finished 2-3 at the Wolvarena, so maybe a road game will suit them best.

"We didn't play to our potential and those teams played very well," Novak said of the back-to-back losses. "We had opportunities and didn't capitalize on them."

For the Wolverines and the rest of the playoff field, however, the new season is about to begin.

"The season starts over for everybody," Novak said. "Now we face an excellent Mt. Lebanon team, and that's a big challenge."


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