Each week, PaPreps will highlight some of the more intriguing match-ups of the weekend, from interesting locations to milestone moments to premium contenders going at it, we'll try and grab the best potential games of the weekend.
Later Friday night and again on Saturday, we'll post scores from around the state as they come across the Associated Press wire.
Week 11 Games of the Week
Garnet Valley at Spring-Ford
Buzz: As the District 1 playoffs get underway, a couple overall themes have people curious. With no North Penn to dominate the field, the district is as wide open as it has been in years. Sure, Downingtown East and Ridley are favorites, but no league has been dominant this year. Which makes games like this one between Garnet Valley and Spring-Ford even more interesting. Even though Spring-Ford is hosting, Garnet Valley would typically be considered the favorite because they come from the stronger Central League. PAC-10 teams like Spring-Ford traditionally don't do well in the playoffs. But these two teams are similar. They have prolific offenses and average defenses. They just attack differently. Garnet Valley will keep it on the ground, running behind Jake Irving and Ryan Corkery. Spring-Ford airs it out with Hank Coyne. We'll see which methods prevails and whether league strength plays a factor.
Manheim Central at Garden Spot
Buzz: Since a state final appearance in 2009, Manheim Central hasn't been a strong contender for a PIAA title in Class AAA. They've had three straight 8-win seasons, including an 8-2 record so far in 2012. But the buzz has been around the Barons much of the year, even through two losses. The reason? A handful of juniors, including dual-threat QB Colin Fry and WR Taylor Geib. Their first hurdle in confirming that buzz? 10-0 Garden Spot. Bishop McDevitt is the heavy favorite in District 3, but the winner of this first round playoff game might stake a little bit of claim as a solid challenger.
Upper St. Clair vs. Pittsburgh Central Catholic
Buzz: As the WPIAL tries to position itself to challenge North Allegheny, this game will eliminate one challenger from the picture. Gateway is the other top challenger to North Allegheny's crown, but the Gators already have one setback to NA this year. So does Central Catholic. Have the Vikings learned enough from that loss to take down the other top challenger? Or will Upper St. Clair shake off a somewhat surprising loss to Bethel Park a couple weeks ago and move on to the semifinal.
West Allegheny vs. Montour
Buzz: Hopefully this time these two can at least come up with a touchdown or two. West Allegheny won a defensive battle earlier in the season by the almost unbelievable score of 5-3. Thanks to a stingy defense, a timely safety, and a late push in the running game, West Allegheny pulled off what was then seen as an upset. Now it just looks like an even game. West A provides no secrets to their success. They're going to run and run often out of the Wildcat, and they're going to stop the run. Montour will throw and try to shut down the pass. They did have a running game behind Cole Macek last week, which they didn't have against West A the last time. West A used that to harass Montour's QBs, and they'll try to use that again this time.
Parkland at Easton
Buzz: The last time these two met, Easton squeezed out a 35-28 win. But that was back in the second week of the season, and these two teams might be considered completely different. Why is that? Well, Parkland has had eight more weeks to install its new offense. Easton has developed a few hiccups. It shows. Easton fell to Whitehall two weeks ago, while Parkland has rolled to eight straight wins since starting 0-2. So which will be a better indicator of success? A hot streak, even with the game at Easton? Or a previous win back in September? We'll know Saturday night.
St. Joseph's Prep vs. La Salle
Buzz: The highly anticipated rematch comes almost exactly a month after the regular season battle featured a high number of turnovers by both teams. St. Joseph's Prep won that game 24-16, but La Salle is still viewed as the defending champion. After all, the Explorers have been the PCL champion for the last handful of years and haven't lost when it matters. SJP is higher ranked and undefeated, but it's still up to them to claim the crown. Certainly ball security will play a major role, but two other issues could crop up: How healthy is La Salle QB Chris Kane and will his injury force La Salle to run the ball more with Jimmy Herron? And how productive can SJP be on offense? Prep's had a few big plays but struggled to sustain a consistent offense in the last few weeks.
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