Don’t tell the participants that the football game at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 between Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair means nothing because it’s a non-conference clash.
For some, it’s a family feud because players like USC’s Brandon Shearer had fathers that excelled in sports for Lebo. Plus, the Panthers’ defensive coordinator, Tim Robbins, is married to the former Kim Seaver, a standout basketball player for the Blue Devils.
Then there is Mike Junko. He taught and coached at Lebo but was coaxed back to his alma mater and groomed as the new field general, replacing legendary Jim Render, a Hall of Famer with a WPIAL-record 406 victories. Junko also employs several assistants who once served at Lebo, which experienced a coaching change as well when Bob Palko took over the program in February.
“One of my goals as a new coach was to surround myself with good coaches who care about kids,” Junko said. “It just so happens some of them are people I have coached with and have come from other places (like Lebo). I’m blest and fortunate they have decided to make USC their coaching home.
“Putting together a staff is always difficult because of how much time goes into it and how heated the market was,” Junko added, noting there were a number of changes in the South Hills, including a new skipper in Brian DeLallo at Bethel Park. “It was a challenge but we were able to put together a top-notch staff of guys with a wealth of knowledge and experience. That’s a nice luxury to have.”
It’s especially pleasant when your team returned only three starters. But, for USC, as well as Lebo, veterans have led the way leading up to this week’s encounter in the Panthers’ lair.
USC improved to 5-1 overall after posting a non-conference win, 42-0, on Sept. 27 against Fox Chapel. The Panthers are 4-1 in the Allegheny Eight Conference with its lone loss to undefeated Peters Township.
In the win against the Foxes, David Pantelis initiated the scoring, returning the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He had five receptions for 39 yards to improve his season totals to 43 for 928 yards. The junior leads the WPIAL in receiving and has 8 TDs and a 2-point conversion to rank among the league’s leading scorers with 50 points.
First-year quarterback Ethan Dahlem tossed TD passes of 21 and 76 yards to Mateo Cepullio and a scoring strike of 45 yards to Danny Harkleroad. Dahlem completed 11 of 15 passes for 248 yards in the win.
A WPIAL passing leader, Dahlem has completed 81 of 122 attempts for 15 TDs and 1,662 yards on the season.
In the win against Fox Chapel, Keating rushed for a 10-yard score and Heath Erdos rambled for a 34-yard touchdown.
Meanwhile, Lebo improved to 4-1 in the Quad-County Conference and 4-2 overall after posting a win against Hempfield, 31-17.
First-year signal caller Joey Daniels leads the attack. Against the Spartans, the sophomore completed 14 of 26 passes for 226 yards and two scores. Daniels ranks among the top passers in the WPIAL having completed 49 of 80 aerials for 936 yards and 12 TDs.
Mason Ventrone caught a 42-yard pass for Lebo’s first score and Casey Sorsdal’s 32-yard field goal provided the Blue Devils a 10-6 halftime lead.
Visawn Pennix dominated second-half action. He rushed for two scores, measuring 91 and 4 yards. He finished with 127 yards on 10 carries.
PT preps for MoonAfter dispatching Canon-McMillan, 35-3, Peters Township (3-0, 6-0) resumes Allegheny Eight Conference action with a visit to Moon at 7 p.m. Oct. 4. The Indians believe the Big Macs as well as North Hills the week prior helped them prepare for the Tigers.
“Yes,” T.J. Black said the Big Macs as well as North Hills the week prior helped prepare the Indians for the Tigers, “because those are quality opponents.
“That’s a good team,” he added of Canon-Mac. “They played some worthy opponents. We treat each one of these weeks the same whether non-conference, conference or rival game, we are always ready to go. We enjoy the process.”
From the start, the Indians enjoyed their encounter with the Big Macs.
After Donovan McMillon forced a fumble that Ethan Spangenberg recovered, Ryan Magiske dashed 53 yards for PT’s first score. Magiske finished with 102 yards rushing.
After a 67-yard TD reception by Josh Casilli, Aidan McCall had a Pick-6, making it 21-0, with 1:25 still to play in the first quarter. McCall added an 80-yard TD reception to invoke the Mercy Rule (running clock) with 6:24 to play in the third quarter. He finished with 118 yards receiving.
“We wanted to come out and score like a good team does there,” Plack said. “Aidan bailed us out. When we are one-on-one, we like our match-ups with him because he is so darn quick. He’s such a weapon.”
Logan Pfeuffer proved another weapon as the junior signal caller connected with Lucas Culan for a 36-yard score to make it 28-0 with four minutes to play in the first half. Pfeuffer threw for 277 yards on 13 completions.
Moon (2-1, 4-1), meanwhile, is coming off an overtime loss to Bethel Park, 23-16. With the win, the Hawks improved to 3-0 in the Allegheny Eight Conference and 4-1 overall.
Sean McGowan, who rushed for 109 yards, scored on runs of 9 and 4 yards while Jack Evans had the gamewinner on a 1-yard plunge. John Gummo, who kicked the extra point, also converted a 23-yard field goal to tie the game at 16 with nine seconds remaining in regulation.
The Hawks host Chartiers Valley at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4
The Colts are coming off a tough 42-35 loss to Baldwin. With the defeat, CV slipped to 2-3 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
Andre Thomas rushed for 187 yards and two scores in the loss while Antonio Zambrano provided 77 yards on the ground and another score. Griffin Beattie ran for 58 yards and threw for 64 on 7-of-10 completions. He averaged 37 yards per punt.
Finally South Fayette will host Knoch on Oct. 4. Both teams are undefeated in in Northwest Eight Conference play. The Lions, who are 5-1 overall, are coming off a 34-14 triumph against Blackhawk
Naman Alemeda tossed four touchdown passes—three in the first half—to Luke Pschirer (10 yards), Ryan McGuire (8 yards), Javaugh Goodnight (13 yards) and Tristan Bedillion (60 yards)
Shay Aitken tacked on a 12-yard scoring run to stake the Lions, who led 27-7 at halftime.