Each Wednesday, the PUP high school sports staff will preview the game of the week.
Between the hash marks
Who: South Park (3-0) at Beaver (3-0)
Where: Pat Tarquinio Field at Gypsy Glen Stadium
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
The coaches: Brian Abbey (South Park), Cort Rowse (Beaver)
When they last met: Isaac Pupi passed for 127 yards and two touchdowns to lead Beaver to a 25-7 win at South Park on Sept. 16 of last year. After South Park took a 7-6 first-quarter lead on Eric Doerue’s touchdown run, Beaver scored the final 19 points of the game.
Last week: Doerue ran for 253 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries to push South Park to a 38-0 nonconference win at Brentwood. Beaver also rolled to a lopsided nonconference triumph, as the Bobcats got a pair of touchdowns from Amari Jackson (one on a kickoff return and the other on an interception return) to blank Freedom, 42-0.
On deck: South Park hosts No. 2-ranked Avonworth, while Beaver plays at West Mifflin.
This and that: It’s a strong matchup between undefeated teams from a Class 3A Western Hills Conference that appears to be very strong. Both South Park (ranked No. 5) and Beaver, along with Avonworth, are 3-0, while Seton LaSalle is 2-1 after knocking off then-Class 2A No. 1 Steel Valley in two overtimes last week. … Doerue is one of the most productive running backs in the WPIAL. A 6-foot, 205-pound junior, Doerue ranks among the WPIAL rushing leaders with 522 yards and four touchdowns on 57 attempts. He’s averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Doerue ran for 1,168 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. In last year’s meeting with Beaver, he ran for 84 yards on 23 carries. … Beaver, which reached the WPIAL quarterfinals a season ago, has a two-headed monster at running back with Qualan Cain and Drey Hall. Cain has rushed for six touchdowns, including four in a season-opening win against Western Beaver. Wide receiver Brady Mayo has scored two touchdowns. Mayo is also a standout basketball player who was named all-section last season. … South Park boasts one of the stingiest defenses in Class 2A. The Eagles have surrendered only 26 points, have forced six turnovers, and given up only 158.6 yards per game. Kenyan Brown has three interceptions, while twins Troy and Parker Cunningham combined for six sacks. … Beaver kicker Evan Baker booted six field goals a season ago and has two this season. … Abbey is South Park’s first-year coach. He was formerly the team’s offensive coordinator.
Brad Everett: South Park, 20-13
Steve Rotstein: South Park, 28-24
John Santa: South Park, 28-21
On the radar
Central Catholic at Mt. Lebanon, 7 p.m. Friday
Mt. Lebanon (3-0) is the latest team tasked with the challenge of trying to slow down Central Catholic (3-0), which has racked up 152 points and leads the WPIAL with 50.6 points per game. Ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, the Vikings have gotten outstanding play from senior quarterback Payton Wehner, who has completed 78% of his passes for 824 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jacob Sassic, Vernon Settles and Pete Gonzalez have been his favorite receivers. No. 3-ranked Mt. Lebanon won its past two games by three points each, which included a 19-16 overtime win at Bethel Park. Michael Malone has thrown for four touchdowns.
Peters Township at South Fayette, 7 p.m. Friday
This should be a fun Allegheny Six Conference fray, one that includes lots of offensive fireworks. Peters Township has the No. 1 scoring offense in Class 5A (39 ppg) and South Fayette ranks third (36 ppg). Peters Township defeated South Fayette, 42-28, in last year’s matchup. While No. 2-ranked Peters Township is 3-0, South Fayette is 2-1 after a wild 42-35 loss to Montour a week ago. Both teams have gotten strong play from their quarterbacks. Nolan DiLucia ran for a pair of touchdowns last week in Peters Township’s win against Trinity, while South Fayette’s Nico Lamonde accounted for four scores (two passing, two rushing) in the loss to Montour.
Southmoreland at Knoch, 7 p.m. Friday
These teams are both 3-0. Can’t say we expected that, especially when you consider the two combined for just five wins last season. Knoch went 1-9. A year later, this is a nonconference showdown between teams with perfect records. Knoch has been winning by the skin of its teeth, its victories coming by 7, 6 and 4 points. Codi Mullen has thrown for 759 yards and seven touchdowns. Top receiver Kaden Spencer has 19 catches and five touchdowns. Southmoreland, which has never won a WPIAL playoff game, has been fueled by the running of Da’sjon Craggette (574 yards, seven touchdowns). Southmoreland won last year’s meeting, 33-24.
PUP ‘underdog’ to watch
North Catholic (plays Highlands at 7 p.m. Friday)
At 3-0, Highlands is one of four remaining unbeaten teams in Class 4A, but don’t sleep on North Catholic in what should be an excellent Greater Allegheny Conference opener. Sure, North Catholic is just 1-2, but one of those losses was in overtime at Shady Side Academy and the other was at top-ranked Aliquippa. Jack Fennell leads North Catholic in rushing (317 yards, five touchdowns) and the Trojans also have one of the WPIAL’s top juniors in tight end-defensive end Brady O’Hara (seven catches, 149 yards). But can the Trojans slow down Highlands’ one-two rushing punch of quarterback Aaron Randolph (481 yards, five touchdowns) and running back Luke Bombalski (378 yards, four touchdowns)? A season ago, Highlands defeated North Catholic, 17-7, to end the Trojans’ 25-game conference win streak.