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

Between the hash marks

Who: Southmoreland (6-4) at Deer Lakes (7-3)

Where: Lancers Stadium, West Deer

When: 7 p.m. Friday

The coaches: Tim Bukowski (Southmoreland), Tim Burk (Deer Lakes)

When they last met: In a game that was tied, 7-7, at the half, visiting Deer Lakes used a big second half to defeat Southmoreland, 24-7, in a nonconference game on Sept. 22. Zier Williams ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries for Deer Lakes, which held a 413-140 advantage in total yards. The teams also met last season, with Deer Lakes pulling out a 9-0 win.

Last week: Both teams flexed their defensive muscles to close out the regular season with victories. Southmoreland won at Mount Pleasant, 40-3, and Deer Lakes beat Freeport, 35-0.

On deck: The winner will travel to take on Belle Vernon (8-1) in next Friday’s quarterfinals. Belle Vernon is the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion.

This and that: History will be made Friday when No. 8 Deer Lakes hosts No. 9 Southmoreland in a WPIAL Class 3A first-round playoff game. The winner will notch a postseason win for the first time in school history. … Southmoreland running back Da’sjon Craggette leads Class 3A with 1,329 yards rushing and has scored 18 touchdowns. Craggette ran for a school-record 335 yards last week. Deer Lakes limited Craggette to 32 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in the first meeting. … The Kadin Keefer to Ty Keffer pass-catch combo has been a highly productive one for Southmoreland. Keffer leads Class 3A with 46 catches and 796 yards. The pair have hooked up for nine touchdowns. … Southmoreland kicker Jake Kaylor is tied for the WPIAL lead with six field goals. … Deer Lakes gives up just 14.8 points per game, which ranks fourth in the classification. Zach Grant has four of the team’s 13 interceptions. … Deer Lakes quarterback Derek Burk leads Class 3A in passing with 1,793 yards and 23 touchdowns. Burk, a senior and son of Deer Lakes coach Tim Burk, threw for a career-high five touchdowns in a win against Greenesburg Salem. Burk has passed for 4,424 yards in his career. Burk’s favorite receiver has been Wayne Love (33 catches, 649 yards, 9 touchdowns). … Williams leads Deer Lakes in rushing with 1,066 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Expert picks

Brad Everett: Deer Lakes, 24-21

Steve Rotstein: Deer Lakes, 31-24

John Santa: Southmoreland, 35-14

On the radar

Moon (5-5) at Gateway (5-5), 7 p.m. Friday

Earning one of Class 5A’s eight playoff bids wasn’t an easy thing to do. Considering Moon and Gateway did it despite 0-3 starts makes the feat all the more impressive. On top of that, this is a Moon team that went 1-9 last season. Each team closed the regular season by winning five of their final seven games. Big East Conference champ Gateway is led by quarterback Brad Birch (1,960 yards, 19 touchdowns), while Moon leans on a ground game paced by Josh Bladel (817 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Nazir Brookins (735 yards, 7 touchdowns).

Beaver Falls (5-5) vs. Keystone Oaks (6-4) at Dormont Stadium, 7 p.m. Friday

Beaver Falls is the No. 10 seed in Class 2A, but considering recent history, it probably shouldn’t be a total surprise if the Tigers advance all the way to the final. Beaver Falls reached the championship game the past three seasons and four of the past seven. The Tigers captured the 2020 title before settling for runner-up finishes the past two seasons. Keystone Oaks comes in red-hot. The seventh-seeded Golden Eagles have won five of six, including a triumph against a Washington team that was ranked No. 1 at the time. 

Western Beaver (6-4) vs. Serra Catholic (4-5) at Norwin, 7 p.m. Friday

The team that passes this Class 2A first-round test will likely do it because of the passing skills of their quarterback. What makes this 8-9 game so intriguing is that it features two of the WPIAL’s top five passers. Western Beaver freshman Jaivin Peel ranks third with 2,433 yards and 27 touchdowns and Serra junior Quadir Stribling is fifth with 2,221 yards and 25 touchdowns. Peel’s top two targets won a PIAA title earlier this year, only in another sport. Mikey Crawford and Dorian McGhee play on Lincoln Park’s PIAA champion basketball team.

PUP ‘underdog’ to watch

Trinity (plays North Catholic at South Fayette at 7 p.m. Friday)

The last time Trinity won a playoff game, Ed Dalton (now at McGuffey) was the coach and many of its current players weren’t even born yet. But this year’s version of the Hillers could bring the program its first postseason win since 2007. The Hillers have a really strong win on their resume (a 23-6 win against Thomas Jefferson on Oct. 6), are strong on the lines, and feature a dynamic quarterback in sophomore Jonah Williamson (1,650 yards passing, 820 yards rushing). Getting past North Catholic will be a tall task, though. Running back Jack Fennell has rushed for 1,275 yards and 23 touchdowns, and leading receiver Brady O’Hara is a Penn State recruit.

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.