Week 1 of Beaver County High School Football on Pittsburgh Sports Now is made possible by Vocelli’s Pizza, Moon Golf Club and Martin Lawn Services. Without their support, we would never have been able to expand our coverage. The entire team at PSN thanks them and hopes that you’ll support them with your business.
The 2017 WPIAL high school football season officially gets underway this coming Friday. Our two feature games here on Pittsburgh Sports Now will be Freedom at Hopewell and Ambridge traveling to Moon.
The rest of the Beaver County schedule looks like New Castle at Aliquippa, Beaver at New Brighton, South Fayette at Central Valley, South Side at OLSH, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic at Quaker Valley, Ellwood City at Rochester, Avella at Western Beaver. The rest of the Beaver County teams will be taking part in scrimmages.
As we get ready for another season, let’s take a look at some of the top storylines for 2017.
KWANTEL RAINES WATCH:
Once again Beaver County will have its share of quality players and it’ll be home to one of the top players in the entire state of Pennsylvania. Aliquippa 4-star safety Kwantel Raines is the unquestioned top 2017 recruit in Beaver County. Raines has his pick of schools and will make his college decision sometime in September or October. Raines continues the run of big national recruits like Beaver Falls Donovan Jeter, Central Valley’s Jordan Whitehead and Aliquippa’s Dravon Henry.
CAN QUIPS MAKE IT TEN IN A ROW?
Despite losing talent on a yearly basis, the Aliquippa football program never slips. In Aliquippa, the slogan goes we don’t rebuild we just reload. A perfect example of that is the current streak the Quips football program is trying to extend. Did you know that Aliquippa has played in the championship game at Heinz Field for nine consecutive seasons? That’s amazing. Will they be able to make that ten? I wouldn’t bet against them.
CAN BEAVER FALLS RECOVER?
The Beaver Falls Tigers are coming off of a 13-1 season that ended with a WPIAL Championship but enter 2017 with a ton of question marks and holes. The Tigers will have a new head coach as Ryan Matsook resigned after the season and is replaced by his longtime assistant Nick Nardone. On the field, they’ll be looking to replace 9 of 11 starters on offense and 10 of 11 on defense. The biggest holes in their lineup come from the graduation of Donovan Jeter and the transfer of Malik Sheppard (to Aliquippa).
CAN GEORGE REBUILD THE BRIDGERS?
New Ambridge head coach Terry George enters a very, very tough situation. In his second stint as head coach, George takes over a team that went winless last year (0-9). To say 2017 is a rebuilding year would be an understatement so it’ll be interesting to see what progress George can make this season and more importantly see if he can build some stability within the program.
CAN HOPEWELL FINISH THIS YEAR?
Mark Washington enters his third season as head coach for the Hopewell Vikings. Last season, they started out impressively winning their first five games of the season before dropping their final five to finish the season with a .500 record. Hopewell could find themselves in the same scenario this season due to the challenging conference they’re part of. Question is, will 2017 be any different than 2016?
CAN FREEDOM BUILD OFF OF 2016?
The 2017 Freedom team is looking to build off of last years end of season success. The Bulldogs are still considered a young team as most of their key players like Zach Rosa, Cody Ross, Jake Pail, Tanner Boyer and Noah Yeck are only going to be juniors. However, they’ll be relying on the experience of players like Danny White, Seth Weismantle and Kyle Borgmann to provide the senior leadership needed to take the next step. The biggest thing to watch is how quickly the young Freedom skill players can develop.
WHO’S AFTER RAINES?
Kwantel Raines will grab all the headlines (and deservedly so) this year but he isn’t the only talented player in Beaver County. Other players to watch are: Aliquippa DB Marlin Devonshire (junior), Beaver’s Bryce Ramer (committed to Virginia), Riverside’s Austin Dambach (committed to Lehigh), Moon’s Nick Kotok (committed to Army), Central Valley’s Jelani Solomon, Quaker Valley’s Isaiah McNair and Freedom’s Cody Ross (junior).