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Knoch bidding farewell to grass field Friday night

Out with the old

JEFFERSON TWP — It was unexpected, yet welcome.

Knoch’s football team gets one last home game on its grass field Friday night when the Knights (0-4) entertain undefeated Elizabeth Forward at 7 p.m.

“That issue is way above me ... I go where they tell me to go,” first-year Knoch coach Tim Burchett said of the reason the field remains available while the facility awaits the implementation of artificial turf. “But I’m happy our kids get to play on their home field one last time.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a big crowd, have a great atmosphere as we say goodbye to the grass. This night can be a big one as we continue to build the foundation of our football program.”

The Knights and Warriors are playing each other in football for the first time. While Knoch is coming off a 33-24 loss at Southmoreland,. E-F is coming off a 42-21 victory over Shady Side Academy. The Warriors have scored 167 points this season, an average of 41.5 per game.

“They are the top program in WPIAL 3A,” Burchett said. “Teams should emulate what they do. They only run a few schemes, but they run them very well, offensively and defensively.”

E-F allowed 21 total points in its first three games before giving up 21 last week. Zach Boyd, a 6-foot-2 senior receiver, leads the team with 11 touchdowns. Running back Johnny DiNapoli has scored five touchdowns.

“He (Boyd) is a special player,” Burchett said. “They don’t throw the ball a whole lot, but he had 200 yards receiving last week to lead the WPIAL. Our freshman, Jackson Bauman, had 163 last week and was second on that list.”

Knoch quarterback Codi Mullen threw for 341 yards at Southmoreland and ran for a 19-yard score. Sam Skurka rushed for a 3-yard touchdown. The Knights failed on all four of their conversion attempts. PATs have been an ongoing problem for the team.

While Knoch continues to revamp its offense, Burchett admitted that “I don’t go much for moral victories. I love winning, but I hate losing more than I love winning.

“These kids have gone from an option, Wing-T offense that ran the ball 90 percent of the time to what, in my view, is now a balanced attack. Everybody is getting the football. We’re still in transition.”

Defensively, linebackers Bennett Shaw and linebacker-turned-safety Kaden Spencer have stood out for the Knights.

“We would use Codi Mullen more on defense, but I’m an offensive guy and he’s too valuable to us on that side of the ball to risk anything happening to him,” Burchett said.

Tight end-linebacker Jake Murphy, who aggravated an ankle injury two weeks ago, is expected to return to Knoch’s lineup Friday night.

The Knights will take advantage of their home game and hold Senior Night festivities Friday.

Seneca Valley (2-2, 0-1)

at Mt. Lebanon (2-2, 1-0)

7 p.m., Friday

The Raiders stifled Pine-Richland last week, 13-3. Mt. Lebanon upended Central Catholic, 17-16.

After allowing a combined 63 points and 709 yards in back-to-back losses to Peters Township and Canon-McMillan, SV's defense limited Pine-Richland to just a field goal and 155 yards of offense. Wayne Pirt and Luke Lawson both intercepted a pass last week to halt drives for the Rams. QB Graham Hancox passed for 198 yards in the Raiders' win, connecting with six different receivers in the process.

Mt. Lebanon is the defending WPIAL and state champion, but returned only five combined starters on offense and defense. After opening the season with losses to Gateway and Bethel Park, the Blue Devils have defeated Moon and Central Catholic the last two weeks. Mt. Lebanon trailed Central 16-0 before rallying for the conference win. Blue Devils' QB David Shields has thrown for 451 yards, five TDs and three INTs. RBs Beckham Dee and Nathan Sala have combined for 281 rushing yards on 62 carries.

Mt. Lebanon defeated SV last season, 38-7.

Moon (0-4) at Mars (3-1)

7 p.m., Friday

Moon was blanked last week by Penn Hills, 35-0. Mars dominated Indiana in a 37-0 decision.

Moon, which went 12-1 last year and sustained its lone loss in the WPIAL Class 5A title game against Penn-Trafford, is in the midst of a rebuilding season. The Tigers have scored just 11 points in four games. RB Nazir Brookins has rushed for 124 yards on 28 carries and has scored his team's only TD.

Mars junior RB Evan Wright has piled up 628 rushing yards and an 8.8 yards-per-carry average this season. QB Eric Kasperowicz has passed for 364 yards and added 105 on the ground. Mason Childress is Mars' punter and kicker and also plays in the secondary. He intercepted a pass last week.

Kiski Area (0-4, 0-1) at

North Catholic (2-2, 0-1)

J.C. Stone Field

7 p.m., Friday

Kiski was shut out by Hampton last week, 38-0. North fell at Highlands, 17-7.

The Cavaliers have been outscored this season 143-21. Kiski, a former Class 5A team, moved down to Class 4A's Greater Allegheny Conference this season. The team is coached by former Butler and Freeport coach Sam Albert.

North's offense, which was held to negative yardage in a loss to Aliquippa in Week 3, managed only 153 yards and a late TD against Highlands last week. The loss snapped the Trojans' 25-game conference win streak. North was a Class 3A team in 2021 and lost to Central Valley in the WPIAL title game.

Mount Pleasant (3-1)

at Freeport (3-1)

7 p.m., Friday

The Yellowjackets are seeking to rebound from their first loss of the season, a 49-7 defeat at the hands of Armstrong; The Vikings have strung three wins together, the most recent being a 40-13 triumph at home against Valley.

Sophomore quarterback Cole Chatfield has passed for 508 yards and five scores for Mount Pleasant. Senior tailback Robbie Labuda rumbled for 203 yards on 17 carries his last time out and has a dozen TDs on the season. He currently has the second-most rushing yards (756) and total points (91) in the WPIAL.

For Freeport, senior Ben Lane has rushed for 301 yards and six TDs. He’s hit paydirt eight times overall. He ran for 88 of his team’s 96 yards on the ground against the River Hawks.

Kane (1-3, 1-1) at

Union/A-C Valley (2-2, 1-1)

Rimersburg

7 p.m., Friday

Kane won for the first time this season with a 48-27 decision against Ridgway last week. The Falcon Knights broke a two-game slide with a 26-20 win at Brockway.

Kane is led on offense by senior RB Ricky Zampogna, who has rushed for 500 yards and nine TDs on 77 carries. Senior Addison Plants leads the defense with 44 tackles, an average of 11 per game.

Union/A-C Valley's ground game had totaled just two TDs before junior Dawson Camper crossed the goal line three times last week. He was injured earlier in the season, but gained 107 yards against Brockway. LBs Max Gallagher and Luke Wilson both tallied eight tackles in last week's win.

Summit Academy (1-3, 0-1) at Northgate (2-2, 0-1)

7 p.m., Friday

The Knights dropped a contest to Rochester, 58-20, last Saturday afternoon; The night before, the Flames lost to South Side, 49-0.

Summit Academy has given up the most points (189) in the WPIAL’s Class 1A Big 7 Conference. They’ve scored the least points (38) of any crew in that same division.

Northgate is right behind, having conceded 158 points thus far. The Flames could only muster 86 yards of total offense in last week’s loss.

Staff Writers Derek Pyda and Brendan Howe contributed to this report

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