This time last year, football seasons across the United States were in full swing. Most had already played at least one or two games, it was business as usual. In southwestern Pennsylvania, Week 0 games would’ve been played last week, and this week would be Week 1.
Fast forward to this week, in 2020, and not just football, but life itself is different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spring sports were either postponed or were cancelled across all levels. After a wild turn of events, things are set to become semi-normal again with fresh cut grass ready for high school football this Friday.
Here’s a look at this week’s Greene County football slate.
Beth-Center at Waynesburg Central (2A Century Conference)
Beth-Center – Last year, Beth-Center went through a season plagued with injury, but it also showed a battle through adversity. This season the Bulldogs return multiple players on offense.
Most importantly, junior Colby Kuhns returns after playing in just two games last year due to an ACL tear in Week 2. The biggest thing for the Bulldogs is bringing back a majority of the offensive and defensive lines, headlined by 6’6,” 280-pound junior Nathan Zelnis.
Waynesburg – The 2A Century Conference welcomes a familiar foe back into the conference as Waynesburg moves down into the classification from 3A for the first time since 2016.
Waynesburg coach Chad Coss enters his third year with the Raiders after taking over for the legendary Russ Moore in 2017.
The Raiders bring back a very talented, dual-threat quarterback in Darnell Johnson. Johnson rushed for 664 yards in 2019.
Along with Johnson, senior running back Nate Stephenson will look to lead the way once again on the ground after rushing for 1,206 yards on the ground, and adding 9 scores. Lastly, Waynesburg will also be returning two linemen upfront, Luke Maley and Kyle Cox. Both are four-year starters.
- Waynesburg rushing attack against Beth-Center’s defense
- The return of Beth-Center junior quarterback Kolby Kuhns
Jefferson-Morgan at Carmichaels (1A Tri-County South Conference)
Jefferson-Morgan – It’s been seven years since the Jefferson-Morgan Rockets have made the playoffs. The Rockets will look to change that with the return of their workhorse senior running back Johnathan Wolfe.
Wolfe ran for 1,012 yards in 2019, scoring 11 touchdowns. The Rockets also return starting quarterback Cole Jones. Jones threw for 729 yards and 6 touchdown passes. With these two key pieces, Jefferson-Morgan also returns a group of three-year starters on the offensive and defensive lines.
The lines will be anchored by Andrew Vessels. A key part for Jefferson-Morgan’s success this year is their depth. The Rockets have 35 players on the roster, something they’re used to for years now.
Carmichaels – The previous two years, Carmichaels was forced to play in Class 2A due to the number of boys enrolled at the high school. The Mikes were placed in the Century Conference along with teams such as Washington and McGuffey. In those two seasons, the Mikes posted a 6-12 record.
Carmichaels returns to the Class 1A Tri-County South Conference, and they do so with a new head coach in Ron Gallager following the departure of Ryan Krull. Gallager, the former defensive coordinator under Krull will bring back multiple starters on both offense and defense.
On offense, the Mikes bring back senior running back Bailey Jones. Jones ran for 866 yards and added 17 scores.
Defensively, they brought back senior middle linebacker Hunter Voithofer who had over 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons. Junior Trenton Carter steps in at quarterback after replacing dual-threat quarterback Kevin Kelly.
With Carmichaels returning to Class 1A, one of Pennsylvania’s oldest rivalries, the Battle for the Black and Blue Trophy is renewed.
- Battle of the Backs, Johnathan Wolfe v. Bailey Jones
- Carmichaels Defense needs to prove itself
Yellow Jacket Newspaper Game of the Week
Mapletown at West Greene (1A Tri-County South Conference)
Mapletown – Over the last few years, there’s been a movement of youth at Mapletown. Is this the year that this youth blossoms?
Last year, the Maples started several underclassmen on both sides of the ball. This year, Mapletown coach George Messich and company return a few key pieces who are poised to make a big jump.
Sophomore running back Landan Stevenson, who was a breakout player in 2019, tallying 1,357 yards and 18 touchdowns will return. Also back is junior quarterback Max Vanata and sophomore fullback Cohen Stout.
The Maples do have a relatively young offensive line, with only one senior. The line will be as follows: senior Blake Holbert, juniors guards Gaige Shaw, James Thompson, junior center Riley Franks and sophomore guard Levi Howard.
“This is a big game for us,” said Mapletown head coach George Messich. “I feel like the winner of this game will be decided by a turnover, we can’t have any turnovers to win this game.”
West Greene – After the graduation of one of the most accomplished running backs in W.P.I.A.L. history, West Greene looks to the fill the void of Ben Jackson.
Corey Wise, will be the one up for the task. The 6’0, 200-pound running back steps into the starting role. Last season, Wise gained a total of 194 yards on only 14 carries, averaging 13.7 yards per carry.
For the Pioneers to succeed, their path of success will come via Wise. West Greene returns multiple starters on both sides of the ball, specifically quarterback Wesley Whipkey.
- Mapletown’s infusion of youth will need to come through big on night one
- Corey Wise must control the game on both offense and defense