PIAA Class AA Football State Semifinal
No. 9 West Catholic (12-2) vs. Lancaster Catholic (13-1), 1 p.m., tomorrow at Coatesville
Coaches. For West, Brian Fluck is 96-46 in 11 seasons. In eight seasons at Lancaster Catholic, of District 3, Bruce Harbach is 76-23.
Last year. In the state semis last year, the Burrs, racking up 394 rushing yards, ousted the Crusaders, 37-14. QB Curtis Drake, now at Penn State, carried 10 times for 187 yards in the romp.
Stellar QB. Kyle Smith, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior, has made good on 155 of 247 passes (62.8 percent) for 2,557 yards and 49 touchdowns, with six interceptions. He is the state's all-time leader in passing yardage (8,345) and TDs (117).
Potent attack. The Crusaders' multiple/spread offense averages 41 points per game. Smith isn't the only threat. Jordan Stewart, a 6-1, 195-pound halfback, has rushed 211 times for 1,460 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and 19 scores.
Front seven. The key for West Catholic is to chase Smith out of the pocket and force him to make plays on the run. The Burrs' defensive line is headed by end Jim Lynch and tackles Jake Zuzek and John Ruppert. Dante Dickens leads the linebacking corps.
Defense. Lancaster Catholic's 3-5 defense is spearheaded by tackle/end Ross Hall (6-4, 270), end Jamie Pashuk (6-4, 235), middle linebacker Hans Kessler, free safety Tyler Purvis and cornerback Rhys McCall.
Speedsters. West Catholic junior halfbacks Brandon Hollomon and Joshua Mathis have combined for more than 2,200 yards rushing.
Annoyed. Because last year's semifinal was played at Northeast, Harbach had expected the rematch to be held somewhere in District 3, possibly at HersheyPark Stadium, Albright or Millersville.
Analysis. Last season, the Crusaders were killed by West Catholic's speed. Turnovers also played a part in the rout. Smith, held to 177 passing yards and one TD last season, should fare much better this time.
Pick: Lancaster Catholic, 28-23.
- Rick O'Brien