Rivalry Renewed at Heinz Field: Central will take on Woodland Hills
Posted November 20, 2013 9:04 pm
The preps.com preseason favorites this year were the Woodland Hills Wolverines and the Central Catholic Vikings. Both teams are filled with talent throughout the squad and are no strangers to playing in big games. Central and Woodland Hills used to play in the same conference, making one of the most heated rivalries in the WPIAL. Since the new conference re-alignment that shuffled the conferences two years ago, these two teams have yet to square off. Until now, at the one place every WPIAL player dreams of playing: Heinz Field.
Neither Central nor Woodland Hills would want this heated rivalry to be renewed any other way. Both teams have respect for one another, but make no mistake about it, there is going to be hatred fueling their performance on the field come Saturday. Preps.com takes an in-depth look at what both teams will need to be able to do to hoist the WPIAL championship trophy.
For Central to win: Central will rely on what they’ve relied on all season: their defense. Head coach Terry Totten and Defensive Coordinator Dave Fleming have this defense rolling. Linebacker Niko Thorpe has campaigned all season long that he is up there with Chase Winovich when regarding top linebackers in the WPIAL, and he has all eyes on him this week to prove it.
There is no doubt Central will try to pound the rock with their elite runningback core of Luigi Lista-Brinza, Riley Redman, Grant Foster, and Ron George. They always have fresh legs in the game and this group of backs wears down a defense. There is no doubt FSU commit JJ Cosentino will put his receivers in position to make plays, but Woodland Hills has arguably the best defensive backfield in the state. Shafer Swann and Cam Sutherland are sleeper receivers in the WPIAL. They have a chance to prove to everybody watching just how athletic they are.
Bottom Line: Central will need to pound the rock and play great D to beat the Wolverines. If they get into a shootout, they will have to rely on Cam Sutherland and Shafer Swann to make plays versus the elite Woodland Hills secondary.
For Woodland Hills to win: There is no doubt who carries this offense. Harry Randall is arguably the best playmaker in the state offensively. Put him in the backfield with Art Thompinks, a junior speed back who is already receiving heavy college attention, and sophomore sensation Miles Sanders, another elite back already receiving even heavier college attention, and Woodland Hills is a threat to score at any play. Sanders just came off a high ankle sprain last week, so he might not be at 100%.
Their defense looked suspect against the run versus USC. USC shot themselves in the foot with a few turnovers that really changed the game. If Woodland Hills doesn’t force any turnovers, this D could be in for a long day.
The X-factor for the Wolverines is Georgia Tech commit Trevon Mathis. Mathis broke the game open against USC last week as torched the defense for an 80 yard TD and then went to break USC’s back by returning the opening kickoff to the second half to go up 3 scores. He is a lockdown corner on defense, where he will be playing at Georgia Tech, and has the ability to change the outcome of a game on the defensive side of the ball.
Bottom Line: Harry Randall will have to lead the charge, but he’ll need some big plays from Trevon Mathis, Miles Sanders, Chris David, or Art Thompkins.
Preps.com made the two teams “pump up” videos earlier this year. Below are the links:
*photo credit to kiskiprospects.com*