It's the midway mark of the regular season for most WPIAL football teams and there's still a lot to be decided in the Parkway Conference.
With three of the Post-Gazette's top-ranked teams in Class AAA battling within the same conference, many will likely keep an eye on this week's big matchup in Beaver County when No. 5 West Allegheny travels northwest to play No. 2 Central Valley at 7 p.m. Friday at Sarge Alberts Stadium in Center Township.
Considering Central Valley suffered a 28-27 loss to top-ranked Montour during the second week of the season, a win for West Allegheny (4-0, 4-0) could give the Indians a shot at challenging Montour for the conference crown.
"We've been getting better every week," West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said. "It's hard to put a finger on exactly what we've done right. We've just tried to eliminate our mistakes and lower our turnover ratio.
"We're still trying to figure out what we do well. It's the trial and tribulations of a season; it's a growing process. We have to keep improving, develop depth and try to stay injury free."
A win this week for Central Valley (3-1, 3-1), however, could still keep the Warriors in contention for a Parkway crown ... or at least a share of one.
"We're progressing, and that's all I can ask for," Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. "We've taken the necessary steps to find depth and are trying to accomplish that. We're pleased with the early goings, and as long as we keep going and do the right things by the end, we should still be up in the standings."
West Allegheny enters the game outscoring opponents by an average of 26-14.5. The Indians used a 16-point third quarter last week to help post a 28-10 victory against Hopewell.
"The kids were tested by a good football team," Palko said. "We're fortunate to come out and execute and not turn the ball over, so it was a good win for us."
Sophomore running back Armonde Dellovade paced West Allegheny's offense last week with 107 yards rushing and one touchdown on just six carries. Junior quarterback Tory Delmonico also rushed for a pair of touchdowns, scoring on runs of 27 and 1 yards.
"The one thing everyone needs to know about West Allegheny is that nothing ever changes there," Lyons said. "They are very, very solid in all three areas of the game. They don't make mistakes, either.
"If you want to beat West Allegheny, you have to beat them because they won't beat themselves."
Central Valley is coming off a 42-14 win against Blackhawk and has outscored opponents by an average of 37.3-14.
"Any win on the road when you're playing in the Parkway is a good win," Lyons said. "I was pleased with the way we played. We took care of the ball and left the game without any unnecessary turnovers and left without any major injuries, so there are a lot of positives to take from the game."
Sophomore running back Jordan Whitehead and senior wide receiver Robert Foster paved the way in the Warriors' win over Blackhawk. Whitehead scored three touchdowns, rushing for a pair of scores on runs of 32 and 49 yards, and opened the game's scoring with a 52-yard punt return. Foster had two touchdown receptions from junior quarterback Nate Climo on passes of 57 and 34 yards.
"We're going to see a lot of Robert Foster and Jordan Whitehead getting the ball," Palko said. "They are playmakers and special players. They have other kids, too.
"It's going to be pretty tough to stop both Foster and Whitehead let alone just one of them, so we're going to have our work cut out for us."
Central Valley topped West Allegheny during the second week of the season last year, 13-9.
"We're going to have to control the tempo of the game," Lyons said. "We'll have to do what's needed on offense to move the chains. We know we can't give them a chance to move the ball down field."
Palko shared a similar game plan and acknowledged how important defense will be in this ballgame.
"We're going to have to try to slow them down, offensively," Palko said. "Hopefully, we can do that. At the same time, we can't turn the ball over.
"Most importantly, we'll have to slow their playmakers down. That's about our only chance. If we let them go wild, it's going to be a long night."
• Game: West Allegheny (4-0, 4-0) at Central Valley (3-1, 3-1).
• When: 7 p.m. Friday.
• Where: Sarge Alberts Stadium, Center Township.
• Skinny: West Allegheny puts its undefeated record on the line at Central Valley.