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“Mr. High School Sports” – Week 8 Preview

BEAVER FALLS, Pa. (93-7 THE FAN) — The Beaver Falls Tigers (6-0, 7-0) are one of 16 unbeaten teams in the WPIAL entering Week Eight of the regular season.

They won’t command the same respect unless they knock WPIAL Class AA champion Aliquippa (5-0, 7-0) from the ranks of the unbeaten and steal the Midwestern Conference crown at Geneva College’s Reeves Field at 7:00.

Beaver Falls is allowing just 12.3 points per game in sectional play, but the Quips will have their way with BF like last year’s chapter of this big rivalry unless the Tigers contain maybe the best running game in the district.

Senior Dravon Henry, the top athlete in the state according to 247Sports, is being courted by Pitt, West Virginia, and Alabama as a defensive back, as well as Ohio State and Louisville. Offensively, though, his leadership has been invaluable–even with two other tailbacks getting more carries.

Henry leads Aliquippa with 16 total touchdowns and has gained 737 yards rushing on just 33 attempts. Terry Swanson, a second fiddle who would undoubtedly get more college attention outside Henry’s shadow, has racked up 717 yards and 11 TD’s for the highest-scoring team in the classification (48.9 points per game).

Both teams, as you might imagine, rank very highly in Class AA scoring defense, but this game will come down to how effectively Beaver Falls fights fire with fire, and the Tigers have some nice balance on offense.

Senior Damian Rawl finds himself among the top ten running backs in Class AA with 829 yards entering Week 8, along with a team-best ten touchdowns, averaging double digits per carry like Henry and Swanson.

Quarterback Dan Stratton has grown into his role nicely; he’s taking more chances this season, but he’s still taking good care of the ball. Stratton has completed 68% of his passes for 806 yards and eight scores against just two picks.

If he can play keep-away with Aliquippa, which features one of the most talented secondaries in the WPIAL, the Tigers have a sporting chance.

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Here’s what’s happening with the rest of the MaxPreps Southwestern Pennsylvania Top Ten in Week Eight:

No. 1 Pittsburgh Central Catholic at Altoona (7:00) – Riley Redman and Devin Falloon have brilliantly picked up the slack in the running game left by injured Vikings tailback Luigi Lista-Brinza. They combined for 15 touchdowns and almost 900 yards.

No. 2 Upper St. Clair at Plum (7:00) – The Panthers don’t have their impressive shutout streak anymore, but they do still have the most feared defense in Quad-A, and a tailback in Trevor Morrow (609 yards, 9 TD) who seems to be hitting his stride.

No. 3 West Allegheny vs. Montour (7:00) – If the Spartans can spring a trap on the Indians and win this battle of unconventional offenses, it would affect not only the Parkway Conference title picture, but playoff seeding, too. Andrew Koester has thrown for 767 yards and nine TD’s for West A, while dual threat Ty Greer leads Montour with nearly 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 16 scores.

No. 4 Central Valley at Ambridge (7:30) – Elsewhere in the Parkway Conference, the Warriors will try to keep their conference title hopes on life support while hoping for help from Montour. Top prospect Jordan Whitehead has run for 12 TD’s and leads the No. 1 scoring defense in Class AAA.

No. 6 McKeesport vs. Kiski Area (7:00) – The Cavaliers need to slow down George Smith’s flex-bone offense on the road in order to improve their Foothills Conference playoff stead. Mikell Moore has been a consistent force on that offense with 621 yards rushing and ten touchdowns.

No. 7 South Fayette vs. South Park (7:00) – The Eagles are flying high after officially ending a long playoff drought in Week 7, but look for them to be grounded unless the Lions are caught napping in their own den. Junior Brett Brumbaugh ranks third in the WPIAL with 1,530 yards passing and has 19 TD’s against four INT’s.

No. 8 Woodland Hills vs. Peters Township (7:30) – With young tailback Miles Sanders running into more bad luck health-wise, expect the Wolverines to turn to quarterback Harry Randall, who has 660 all-purpose yards and seven TD’s, in this battle for playoff positioning.

No. 9 Seneca Valley at No. 10 Bethel Park (7:30) – There’s still much that can change, but consider this non-conference contest a possible Quad-A playoff preview nevertheless. Fleet-footed T.J. Holl leads the Raiders with 1,616 total yards and 18 TD’s, while another head coach’s son, Levi Metheny, has managed the Hawks’ offense with a team-best ten touchdowns.

Tune into “The Fan High School Football Roundup” Saturday 7:00-8:00 A.M. on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan, hosted by the Post-Gazette’s Mike White and MSA Sports’ Don Rebel, for the latest.

(Contact me at mpopchock@kdka.com and/or follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)

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