La Salle is back for a second helping.

The Explorers, looking to repeat as PIAA Class AAAA state football champions, take on District 7's North Allegheny in a Saturday final set for 5 o'clock at HersheyPark Stadium.

North Allegheny, located in Wexford, about 15 miles north of Pittsburgh, is trying for its first state crown since it beat Ridley, 21-14, in 1990.

Here is a closer look at the game:

Coaches. North Allegheny's Art Walker has a record of 115-40 (.742 winning percentage) in 12 years. He coached at Pittsburgh Central Catholic from 1998 to 2004. For La Salle, Drew Gordon is 51-15 (.773) in five seasons.

TV. The game will be televised live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Quick facts. The Tigers' lone loss came in Week 9 against North Hills. La Salle has not committed a turnover in the last 31/4 games (157 minutes).

Sidelined. North Allegheny's Alex Papson, a senior halfback and third-year starter, suffered a season-ending dislocated collarbone in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League final against Woodland Hills.

This season, Papson, who is hearing from the Division I-AA likes of New Hampshire and Richmond, carried 303 times for 2,482 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Filling the void. Papson has been replaced by three rotating halfbacks: Matt Steinbeck (41 carries for 385 yards), Vinnie Congedo (64 for 359), and Alex DiCiantis.

On a roll. Since a Week 2 loss to Bergen Catholic (N.J.), La Salle has won 12 straight games by a combined score of 423-110.

Passers. North Allegheny senior quarterback Mike Buchert has hit on 60 of 126 throws for 1,097 yards and 11 TDs. La Salle's Matt Magarity, a junior who missed three games with a concussion, is 80 for 145 for 1,149 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Scheme. The Tigers run the ball 70 percent of the time, mostly from the I-formation. They will try to catch La Salle off guard with bootleg and play-action passes.

Stout bunch. North Allegheny's senior-dominated offensive line is anchored by left tackle Justin Haser (6-5, 245), right guard Vince Czerniewski (6-1, 280), and tight end Rob Kugler (6-4, 245).

Division I recruits. Haser and Kugler, both of whom double as defensive ends, are headed to Ohio and Purdue, respectively.

Defense. The Tigers' 4-4 defense, yielding 8.4 points a game, is headed by Kugler; Haser; inside linebackers Seth Marx and Kevin Cope; outside linebacker Lucas Hook; and Steinbeck, a free safety.

Analysis. North Allegheny, with its overall size, poses more of a threat than State College, last year's final opponent. But look for La Salle's overall quickness and run-stuffing defense, led by tackle Ryan Geiger and end Joe Naji, to pave the road to repeat gold.

Pick: La Salle, 27-14.

Projected Starters for La Salle and North Allegheny

North Allegheny (14-1)

OFFENSE

No.   Player   Pos.   Ht.   Wt.   Yr.   

2   James Kleinhampl   WR   6-1   170   Jr.

53   Justin Haser   LT   6-5   245   Sr.

65   Zach Harvey   LG   6-2   220   Jr.

58   Peter Thistle   C   6-1   220   Jr.

59   Vince Czerniewski   RG   6-1   280   Sr.

57   Patrick Kugler   RT   6-4   270   So.

84   Rob Kugler    TE   6-4   245   Sr.

13   Dan Slivka   WR   6-3   190   Sr.

10   Michael Buchert   QB   5-10   160   Sr.

25   Nick Passodelis   FB   5-11   200   Jr.

39   Matt Steinbeck   HB   6-1   195   Sr.

DEFENSE

84   Rob Kugler   DE   6-4   245   Sr.

58   Peter Thistle   DT   6-1   220   Jr.

59   Vince Czerniewski   DT   6-1   280   Sr.

53   Justin Haser   DE   6-5   245   Sr.

80   Lucas Hook   OLB   6-2   175   Sr.

38   Seth Marx   ILB   6-0   200   Sr.

47   Kevin Cope   ILB   5-10   200   Sr.

12   Kevin Clemens   OLB   5-11   190   Jr.

13   Dan Slivka   CB   6-3   190   Sr.

11   Steve Ferringer   CB   6-2   175   Sr.

39   Matt Steinbeck   FS   6-1   195   Sr.

La Salle (13-1)

OFFENSE

No.   Player   Pos.   Ht.   Wt.   Yr.

9   Kevin Forster   WR   6-2   180   Sr.

70   Dan Ezzo   LT   6-5   235   Sr.

61   Cameron Cappo   LG   6-2   215   Sr.

67   Ryan Geiger   C   6-1   260   Sr.

77   Matt Maginnis   RG   6-3   220   Jr.

55   Joe Naji   RT   6-2   225   Sr.

6   Colin Buckley   TE   6-3   180   Jr.

7   Sean Coleman   WR   5-9   160   So.

17   Matt Magarity   QB   6-0   180   Jr.

33   Tim Wade   FB   5-9   185   Jr.

22   Jamal Abdur-Rahman   HB   5-10   180   Sr.

DEFENSE

55   Joe Naji   DE   6-2   225   Sr.

67   Ryan Geiger   DT   6-1   260   Sr.

68   Kieran Trainer   DT   6-2   230   Sr.

61   Cameron Cappo   DE   6-2   215   Sr.

44   Sean Burke   LB   5-11   205   Jr.

31   Connor Daly   LB   6-0   195   Sr.

34   Mark DiFrangia   LB   5-10   190   Sr.

22   Jamal Abdur-Rahman   CB   5-10   180   Sr.

7   Sean Coleman   CB   5-9   160   So.

28   Conor Murphy   SS   5-10   160   Sr.

9   Kevin Forster   FS   6-2   180   Sr.

- Rick O'Brien

EndText

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019

or robrien@phillynews.com.