16 • SUNDAY, AUGUST 22, 2021 • VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
1. Central Valley (12-0)
The Warriors will be looking for their
third consecutive WPIAL title and
fifth in school history. Senior running
back Landon Alexander will be asked
to carry the load.
2. Avonworth (4-3)
3. North Catholic (8-1)
4. Elizabeth Forward (8-1)
5. Freeport (3-3)
* RECORDS FROM 2020
Central Valley, sr., RB
The Warriors lost a lot of offensive
weapons from the 2020 state championship
team. Alexander gets overlooked
even though he was among
the team’s most dangerous players.
He’ll be Central Valley’s main focus
Avonworth, sr., T
The Antelopes return numerous
starters, and Felter, a senior
two-time all-conference tackle,
leads the way. The 6-foot-3,
295-pounder is starting to draw
interest from college coaches.
Central Valley, sr., DE
The Pitt recruit will be counted on to
head the Warriors defense. He has
great size and quickness.
Freeport, jr., RB/DB
Talk about Mr. Everything. Lane
did it all for the Yellowjackets
offense. He completed 46 of 81
passes for 769 yards and seven
touchdowns. He rushed for
a team-high 348 yards and six
touchdowns. He caught five passes
for 99 yards and a score. He also
North Catholic, sr., QB/S
Prentice will be in his third season
as starting quarterback for the
Trojans. He threw for 1,208 yards
and 16 touchdowns in 2020. He
also is a standout safety on defense.
He’ll be counted on to lead
10.1 Keystone Oaks at Avonworth
These teams likely will be battling
for second place in the Northwestern
Six. A year ago, Keystone Oaks’
20-13 victory kept Avonworth from
making the WPIAL playoffs. You can
bet Avonworth has this game circled
on the calendar.
10.8 Elizabeth Forward at
A slow start in 2020 cost the Gladiators
a shot at the WPIAL playoffs.
Even though they graduated running
back Antonio Epps, the Gladiators
return 17 starters and hope to dethrone
Elizabeth Forward as Interstate
10.22 North Catholic at Freeport
The Allegheny Seven should be on
the line when these rivals meet late
in the season. Both return veteran
quarterbacks and a good nucleus
around them. This should be a fun,
Central Valley lineman Sean Fitzsimmons and his Warriors teammates went 12-0 last season.
CENTRAL VALLEY THE
HEAVY FAVORITE AGAIN
return plenty, though
many ready to challenge
Last season, Central Valley
outclassed everyone in Class 3A.
The Warriors breezed through
the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs
and capped it off by winning the
school’s first state title.
Central Valley averaged
50.1 points and allowed 9.8. While
those numbers might be hard to
duplicate, the Warriors remain
the team to beat.
They are led by Pitt recruit
Sean Fitzsimmons, who plays
defensive end. Linebacker Matt
Merritt returns with an added
“I think we have the best defense
in the state,” Merritt said.
“The offense is young, but we
still have enough to be state
Also back is running back
Landon Alexander, who rushed
for 1,443 yards and scored
There are a bunch of teams
that are eager to dethrone the
Elizabeth Forward, which lost
to Central Valley in the WPIAL
final, returns a strong nucleus
and is favored in the Interstate
Conference. Returning are lineman
Nick Murphy and running
South Park and South Allegheny
return numerous starters and
look to challenge the Warriors
for the conference crown.
Avonworth, which was left out
of the WPIAL playoffs in 2020, returns
with a chip on its shoulder.
The Antelopes return a veteran
line led by Kevin Felter.
Keystone Oaks was hit hard
by graduation and must replace
quarterback Logan Shrubb, who
scored 12 touchdowns, rushed for
869 yards and threw for 941 yards
and three touchdowns.
North Catholic is favored to
win the Allegheny Seven Conference
and will rely on veteran
quarterback Joey Prentice,
who passed for 1,208 yards and
16 touchdowns. He also rushed
for 568 yards and 12 scores.
The Trojans defense should
be helped by Chase Arrington, a
talented junior cornerback who
transferred from Gateway.
Ben Lane, a do-everything
player for Freeport, is expected
to help the Yellowjackets challenge
for the conference title.
He will play running back and
defensive back for Freeport.
by PAUL SCHOFIELD