Each Wednesday, the PUP high school sports staff will preview the game of the week.
Between the hash marks
Who: Penn Hills (2-0) at Pine-Richland (1-1)
Where: Pine-Richland Stadium
When: 7 p.m. Friday
The coaches: Charles Morris (Penn Hills), Jon LeDonne (Pine-Richland)
When they last met: Pine-Richland dropped three games during its run to the PIAA Class 5A championship last season, and one of those defeats came at Penn Hills, 33-28, on Sept. 9. Running back Amir Key was the key to the Indians’ win, as he rushed for 216 yards and three touchdowns, one of those scores coming on a 71-yard dash in the final quarter.
Last week: Julian Dugger completed 10-of-14 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown to propel Penn Hills to a 27-0 win at Norwin. Pine-Richland throttled Kiski Area, 48-0, to claim its first win. Kanan Huffman twice connected with Bryce O’Brien for touchdowns, and Ethan Pillar added a pair of rushing scores.
On deck: Both teams play non-conference games next Friday. Penn Hills hosts Moon (0-2) and Pine-Richland travels to Class 6A Seneca Valley (0-2).
This and that: In what is perhaps the “Game of the Year” in Class 5A, top-ranked Penn Hills heads to “The Gib” for a Northeast Conference clash with No. 2 Pine-Richland. … One thing the two programs have in common is that LeDonne has guided both to PIAA titles. Before leading Pine-Richland to the title in his first season a year ago, LeDonne coached at Penn Hills for five seasons and helped the Indians win a state crown in 2018. … Dugger is a four-year starter at quarterback and a Pitt recruit. He threw only seven passes in last year’s matchup (he was 3 of 7 for 62 yards and a touchdown), but ran for 99 yards to help Penn Hills amass 372 rushing yards overall. … Pine-Richland has used two quarterbacks in the early going — Huffman, a senior, and highly regarded freshman Aaron “Oobi” Strader. Strader registered rushing touchdowns in each of his team’s opening two games, the first being a 35-14 loss at Pickerington North, Ohio. … Pine-Richland senior guard Ryan Cory (6 feet 4, 290 pounds) is one of the top offensive linemen in the state and a Wisconsin recruit. … Along with Dugger, Key and fellow senior Cameron Thomas are off to strong starts offensively for the Indians. Key has rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns, and Thomas has six receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Brad Everett: Penn Hills, 27-21
Steve Rotstein: Pine-Richland, 21-20
John Santa: Penn Hills, 27-17
On the radar
South Fayette at Montour, 7 p.m. Friday
This sets up to be an entertaining inter-class matchup between teams that have raced to 2-0 starts. Each has gotten strong play from their senior quarterbacks. Montour, ranked No. 5 in Class 4A, features Jake Wolfe (24 of 41, 387 yards, 5 touchdowns), while South Fayette, ranked No. 5 in Class 5A, is led by Nico Lamonde (17 of 25, 278 yards, 3 touchdowns). Wolfe has also rushed for 139 yards and two scores. Keep an eye on South Fayette defensive end Matt Boyce, who ranks among the state leaders with five sacks. This was a thriller last season, with South Fayette using a Nate Deanes touchdown in the final minute to pull out a 20-19 victory.
McKeesport at Belle Vernon, 7 p.m. Friday
Belle Vernon won WPIAL and PIAA titles last season, but one thing the Leopards did not do was beat McKeesport. The Tigers edged Belle Vernon, 14-6, in Week 2. Belle Vernon also lost the following week before winning its final 11 games. This season, Belle Vernon is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A and McKeesport is No. 3 in Class 4A. Quinton Martin was doing Quinton Martin things in Belle Vernon’s opener last week, accounting for four touchdowns (two rushing and two receiving) in a 40-0 win at Laurel Highlands. Martin and company will be tested this week against a McKeesport defensive line headlined by Courtney Dunn and Keith Spell.
Bishop Canevin at Keystone Oaks, 7 p.m. Friday
What a road trip this will be for Canevin, which must travel all the way to, well, its own home field. Both Canevin and Keystone Oaks play their home games at Dormont Stadium, although Keystone Oaks will be considered the home team here. Keystone Oaks is in Class 2A, but Class 1A No. 1 Canevin might be considered the favorite. The Crusaders won at Greensburg Central Catholic, 26-6, in its opener last week. Keystone Oaks has played two low-scoring games, beating Deer Lakes, 7-6, and losing to South Park, 15-10. This one features a pair of Power Five-bound safeties in Canevin’s Jason Cross (West Virginia) and Keystone Oaks’ Clinton Robinson (Syracuse).
PUP ‘underdog’ to watch
Cornell (plays at Union at 7 p.m. Friday)
Union is the defending WPIAL Class 1A champion and is ranked No. 2 this season following a 2-0 start, but the Scotties should not overlook a Cornell team that went just 4-5 last season. After all, the Raiders, too, are unbeaten after topping Seton LaSalle and Monessen. Quarterback C.J. Jackson threw for a pair of touchdowns in each of the wins, and the Cornell defense has been stingy, giving up only 25 points. When these teams met last season, Union pulled out a hard-fought 30-21 win. Cornell will no doubt need to try to find a way to slow down Union quarterback Braylon Thomas, who ran for two long touchdowns in last season’s meeting.