North Xtra: Seneca Valley preparing for fireworks
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It's a renewal of the former Quad North Conference Friday night when Seneca Valley takes on Mt. Lebanon in a Class AAAA quarterfinal matchup.
Kickoff at North Allegheny is 7:30 p.m.
Seneca Valley (9-1), the Post-Gazette's No. 4-ranked team in Class AAAA, and Mt. Lebanon (8-2), ranked No. 5, used to compete in the Quad North Conference until Mt. Lebanon left the conference after the 2005 season. The two teams have not played each other since that season, when the Blue Devils beat Seneca Valley for the third year in a row.
The present-day Raiders are quite different from that 2005 squad and have one of the most potent offenses in Class AAAA.
Seneca Valley has scored 403 points this season, second most in Class AAAA, an average of 40.3 points per game, and has a powerful one-two punch in running back Forrest Barnes and quarterback Jordan Brown.
In a 50-20 first-round victory against Hempfield last week, the Raiders, seeded fourth in the playoffs, jumped out to a 50-0 lead. Barnes had scoring runs of 1 and 2 runs and caught scoring passes of 45 and 35 yards from Brown.
For the season, Barnes has rushed for 1,500 yards on 191 attempts, while Brown has completed 99 of 170 passes for 1,492 yards, pushing his career passing yardage to 5,009 yards.
Mt. Lebanon, however, has a prolific passer of its own.
Senior Tyler Roth leads the WPIAL with 2,373 passing yards on 144 of 263 attempts, a school record for yardage, and has produced 27 touchdowns. His main target has been junior Troy Apke, who has caught 50 passes for a Mt. Lebanon-record 1,015 yards, an average of 20.3 yards per catch.
Defensively, the two teams have put up nearly identical numbers; Seneca Valley has allowed 176 points this season, Mt. Lebanon 178.
The Blue Devils finished as co-champions in the Southeastern Conference with Upper St. Clair, but fell to the Panthers in the regular-season finale by two points, 21-19, to earn the second spot out of the conference.
The two teams shared a common opponent this season and both posted easy victories. Seneca Valley downed rival Butler Area, 24-9, in the season opener, while Mt. Lebanon beat the Golden Tornado, 31-7, last week in the first round of the playoffs.
The winner of the Seneca Valley-Mt. Lebanon game gets a semifinal matchup with the North Allegheny-Bethel Park winner. North Allegheny is the top-ranked team in the state.
If last week's games were any indication, those heading to Fox Chapel to see the Class AAA quarterfinal matchup between Mars Area and West Mifflin better get there on time. The two teams combined -- combined -- for a total of 4 passing yards in their opening-round victories.
Mars (9-1), the Post-Gazette's fourth-ranked team in Class AAA and seeded second in the playoffs, ran over Blackhawk in the first round, 45-21, while West Mifflin (8-2), seeded No. 7, rallied past Knoch, 28-14.
Mars, which had no passing yards against Blackhawk, rode the legs of sophomore running back Josh Schultheis. Schultheis rushed for 251 yards on 26 carries and scored on runs of 7, 25, 43 and 2 yards, bringing his season totals to 1,646 yards on 208 carries.
West Mifflin countered with running back Jimmy Wheeler in its victory against Knoch.
Wheeler, a junior, rushed for 189 yards on 27 attempts and scored on runs of 68, 16 and 55 yards. For the season, he has 1,856 yards rushing on 213 carries. Quarterback Derrick Fulmore also is a threat to run, gaining 145 yards against Knoch for a total of 676 rushing yards this season.
West Mifflin beat Mars in the first round of the playoffs last season, 21-8.
• Sean Dugan closed out an outstanding career at Springdale when the Dynamos fell to Brentwood last week, 34-6. Dugan rushed for 101 yards on 27 attempts, bringing his school-record single-season total to 1,738 yards on 227 attempts. He finished his career with 4,256 yards, also a Dynamos record and the first from his school to surpass 4,000 yards rushing.
• Quarterback Brendan Lynch did his best to get Freeport into the next round but the Yellowjackets fell to Beaver Falls, 28-14. Lynch, a senior, rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns in the loss, bringing his final-season rushing totals to 1,187 yards on 141 carries.