West Xtra: Pointing toward success

Craig Meyer's High School Football Notebook

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For the past year, much of the discussion in football has centered around the pronounced increase in scoring brought about by spread offenses that operate at an exceptionally fast rate. It's been a topic discussed ad naseum in the NFL and also in the college game, with teams such as Oregon and Baylor serving as poster children for the change.

Has that trend now extended into high school football, and more specifically, in the WPIAL? Two games into the 2013 season, at least statistically, that appears to be the case.

So far, 13 teams from the West Xtra coverage area -- Central Valley, Moon, West Allegheny, Chartiers Valley, Quaker Valley, South Fayette, Beaver Falls, New Brighton, Ellwood City, Beaver, Aliquippa, Neshannock and Sto-Rox -- are averaging at least 28 points per game. Ten of those 13 schools are averaging more than 35 points per game.

Part of this offensive outburst have included games with cartoonish final scores. South Fayette defeated Keystone Oaks, 59-0, last Friday. Sto Rox has scored 97 points in its first two games. New Brighton and Beaver combined to score 113 points in a game in which the former defeated the latter, 64-49.

Some of the area's top teams regularly put up eye-popping numbers on clearly overwhelmed opponents, and that's at least part of the equation through these first two weeks. But by the end of last season, only nine teams in the West Xtra coverage area ended up averaging more than 28 points per game, compared to the 13 teams that have achieved that mark thus far.

Obviously, a majority of the schedule remains to be played and by the end of the season, this discussion could be a statistical aberration. Things, as they so often do, may have a way of evening out.

Still, through the first two weeks of the season, it's hard to look past the surprisingly high number of points scored by an unusually high number of teams.

Whitehead still likes Panthers

Pitt's Sept. 2 game against Florida State was, symbolically, an important moment for the program as it played its first game as a member of the ACC. But it was also a critical night for the future of the program, as it had several high-profile local recruits on the sideline and in the stands, including standout Central Valley running back/defensive back Jordan Whitehead.

Whitehead, a junior, has already scored four touchdowns and rushed for 160 yards for the Warriors this season. Overall, he said his experience at the Pitt game was a pleasant one.

"It was fun," Whitehead said. "It feels good to see a lot of WPIAL guys like Tyler Boyd do good in the game. It excites me."

Although the Panthers were routed by the Seminoles, 41-13, Whitehead said that result does not have a bearing on how he views the program.

"They're still good to me," he said.

Beaver Falls stout on 'D'

Much was made of Beaver Falls' offense entering the season -- a unit led by (now injured) wide receiver Elijah Cottrill, quarterback Dan Stratton and running back Damian Rawl -- and for good reason. But it has been the Tigers' defense that has stood out the most in their 2-0 start to the season. In those two games, they have given up just a single field goal, meaning they have allowed only 1.5 points per game.

It's still early in the season and those performances came against some underwhelming opposition, Riverside and Mohawk, but that's an impressive mark nonetheless.

Game of interest

Moon Area at West Allegheny, 7 p.m., Friday -- A game that did not garner much attention entering the season has quickly become one worth noting. The Indians, the defending Class AAA champions, have looked the part so far this season, winning their first two games by a combined score of 82-20. But what's been somewhat surprising has been the play of the Tigers, who are off to their first 2-0 start since 2006.

Beaver Falls at Ellwood City, 7 p.m., Friday -- The Tigers are the favorites heading into this matchup, but the Wolverines could at least make things interesting with an offense that has averaged 28 points per game this season. Ellwood City has beaten Beaver Falls just once in the past decade.

hsfootball

Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG


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