2013 WPIAL Class A Football Quaterfinals Preview

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All games at 7:30 p.m. today

1-Sto-Rox (10-0) vs. 9-Apollo-Ridge (8-2)

At Deer Lakes -- Here's a bold prediction: The Vikings are going to win. The teams share a nickname and both have quarterbacks who can hurt the opposition on the ground as well as through the air, but the similarities don't go much further. Sto-Rox is a tier above Apollo-Ridge in terms of Class A football. Sto-Rox goes as Lenny Williams goes, and the WPIAL's all-time passing leader goes pretty well.

2-North Catholic (10-0) vs. 7-Avonworth (9-1)

At Hampton -- When these teams met in early October, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic won, 21-12, on the road. It was the only loss for either team all year. Avonworth led, 12-7, in the fourth quarter before Trojans quarterback Adam Sharlow broke loose on a fourth-down run to give his team the lead. The Antelopes had a chance to win it with less than two minutes to go, but North Catholic intercepted a tipped pass and took it back to seal the win. This game should be a tight one -- take your points any way you can get them.

3-Monessen (10-1) vs. 6-Neshannock (8-2)

At Char Houston -- Don't be fooled by Neshannock's two losses. They came at Sto-Rox (34-31, stopped on the goal line with no time left) and at North Catholic (21-14). That said, Monessen's only loss came against Fort Cherry, and it toppled Clairton's win streak earlier this year. Monessen's Clintell Gillaspie is second in the WPIAL in scoring and is his team's leading rusher and receiver. Neshannock counters with the two-headed rushing attack of Eli Owens and quarterback Ernie Burkes. This could turn into one of the best games in the area tonight.

4-Clairton (9-1) vs. 12-Fort Cherry (10-1)

At Elizabeth Forward -- Clairton's winning streak is already over. Does the string of WPIAL titles end here as well? Fort Cherry seems to be a popular pick for those seeking an upset. But Clairton won the regular-season meeting, 36-28, and Fort Cherry narrowly escaped Carmichaels last week, 13-12 (don't be fooled by the seeds). Fort Cherry's Koltan Kobrys can run with the best of them, but can the Fort Cherry defense stick a thorn in the Bears' paw?

Statistically speaking: Here's a streak Clairton still has intact: 21 consecutive WPIAL playoff wins. The Bears have won the Class A title five years in a row, with its previous WPIAL playoff loss coming against Springdale on Nov. 16, 2007.

History lesson: In 2010, when current seniors were freshmen, North Catholic and Avonworth met in the quarterfinals. Avonworth, seeded third, won 17-3. Its defense came up big, intercepting three passes and scoring a touchdown. Avonworth's defense will need to be big again tonight for a shot at knocking off unbeaten North Catholic.


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