Each Wednesday, the PUP high school sports staff will preview the game of the week.

Between the hash marks

Who: Deer Lakes (4-1) at Knoch (4-1)

Where: Knoch Stadium, Saxonburg

When: 7 p.m. Friday

The coaches: Tim Burk (Deer Lakes), Tim Burchett (Knoch)

When they last met: Derek Burk accounted for three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing) and Zier Williams rushed for two scores to help Deer Lakes claim a 37-36 home win against Knoch on Sept. 30 of last season. 

Last week: Williams ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns to propel Deer Lakes to its fourth win in a row, 24-7 at Southmoreland. Knoch was limited to two first downs in suffering its first loss, 22-0 at Elizabeth Forward.

On deck: Deer Lakes hosts Valley (2-3) next Friday, while Knoch travels to Shady Side Academy (3-2).

This and that: It’s Deer Lakes vs. Knoch in a big conference showdown … just as we all expected, right? These two surprise teams meet in what should be an entertaining Class 3A Allegheny 6 Conference opener. History certainly didn’t suggest we would see this. Knoch went 3-24 the past three seasons, while Deer Lakes has qualified for the playoffs only three times in school history. … Deer Lakes, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A by the PUP, has won four games in a row since opening the season with a one-point loss against Keystone Oaks. The Lancers have the No. 4 scoring defense in the class (9.8 ppg). … Knoch has scored 130 points in five games after scoring 165 all of last season (10 games). … Derek Burk (son of the coach) and Williams have been the big playmakers for a Deer Lakes offense that has been balanced. Burk has completed 69% of his passes for 790 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has also rushed for four touchdowns. Williams has rushed for 581 yards and six touchdowns. He’s averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Wayne Love (14 catches, 331 yards, 4 touchdowns) has been the top receiver. … Knoch was averaging 32.5 points a game before being shut down by Elizabeth Forward a week ago, a game in which the Knights managed to muster only 9 total yards. Dual-threat quarterback Codi Mullen leads Knoch in passing and rushing. He has thrown for 855 yards and eight touchdowns while also rushing for 261 yards and three touchdowns. His top receivers have been Jackson Bauman (20 catches, 251 yards) and Kaden Spencer (19 catches, 418 yards). Spencer and running back Tony Nicolazzo lead the team with six touchdowns apiece.

Expert picks

Brad Everett: Deer Lakes, 21-17

Steve Rotstein: Knoch, 21-20

John Santa: Knoch, 28-14

On the radar

Canon-McMillan at Central Catholic, 7 p.m. Friday

Will Central Catholic (5-0) put up a “50 burger” on the Big Macs just like it did to North Allegheny last week? Central Catholic’s lethal offense has been one of the biggest stories of the season so far, but the Vikings could be tested by Canon-McMillan (4-1), which surrendered a total of only 15 points in wins against Penn-Trafford, Seneca Valley, Bethel Park and South Fayette.

Pine-Richland at North Allegheny, 7 p.m. Friday

In a nonconference showdown of defending WPIAL champions, Class 6A No. 2 North Allegheny (4-1) hopes to get back into the win column following last week’s 50-22 loss to Central Catholic. Pine-Richland (3-2), ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, has won two in a row following a loss to Penn Hills. Pine-Richland defeated North Allegheny, 28-17, last season.

Fort Cherry at Bishop Canevin, 7 p.m. Saturday

If you’re in need of a high school football fix Saturday, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to head down Banksville Road and up to Dormont Stadium for this No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Class 1A. Canevin is 4-0 and Fort Cherry is 5-0. A Canevin defense that has given up only 13 points will have its hands full trying to slow down Fort Cherry quarterback Matt Sieg.

PUP ‘underdog’ to watch

West Mifflin (plays at Avonworth at 7 p.m. Friday)

The West Mifflin Titans will try to pull a titanic upset for the second game in a row. Last week the opponent was Beaver, which West Mifflin topped, 28-16, handing the Bobcats their first loss of the season. The challenge becomes even bigger this week as Class 3A No. 2 Avonworth comes in 5-0 and is playing on its home field. The Antelopes have been exceptional, but if West Mifflin (2-3) keeps up its strong play (the Titans played Thomas Jefferson tough a few weeks ago), this could be a game deep into the second half.

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.