Westmont Hilltop coach Pat Barron was a ball boy the last time the Hilltoppers football team played in a District 6 championship game 22 years ago.
“It’s been a long time. It’s great for the community, for the fans, for the families, for the kids,” said Barron, whose second-seeded Hilltoppers will play top-seeded Bald Eagle Area on Saturday night at Mansion Park. “You try to keep it business as usual. Everybody knows what’s at stake. We need to have our best game.”
Each team will bring an 8-3 record into the 7 p.m. contest to decide the title in District 6 Class AAA.
Prior to Saturday, the Hilltoppers hadn’t reached a district title game since former coach Ernie Fetzer’s team lost 42-18 to Tyrone at Mansion Park with the 1997 District 6 Class AA championship at stake.
“Against Tyrone, I just remember seeing how big those guys were and being at Mansion Park and how special it was,” Barron recalled of a 9-3 season that included playoff wins over United and Bedford. “I remember how much the guys overcame to get there. It was a special season.”
The 6-AAA Saturday contest is among the highlights during a weekend that includes seven games involving area teams.
Championships also will be decided on Friday night in District 5 Class AA and District 5-8-9 Class AAA subregional.
The weekend also will feature a few rematch games from either earlier this season or last year’s playoffs.
In the 5-AA title game, top-seeded Chestnut Ridge will meet third-seeded Berlin Brothersvalley, listed as a team to watch in the state Class AA poll. The Lions and Mountaineers will play at 7 p.m. on Friday at Windber Stadium.
The two teams have met in the 5-AA playoffs the previous three years, with Chestnut Ridge winning all three times – last year’s semifinal round (49-7); the 2017 championship game (52-17); and 2016 championship game (41-7).
Top-seeded Bedford (9-2) will face second-seeded Westinghouse (8-3) in the District 5-8-9 Class AAA subregional title game at 7 p.m. on Friday at Somerset High School. The teams met in the same round at the same site last year, with Bedford taking a 47-16 victory.
The two District 6-AA semifinal round games are rematches. Those games include four teams ranked in the state Class AA top 10, according to PennLive.com.
Fourth-seeded Penns Valley (10-1) travels to top-seeded Richland (10-0) at 7 p.m. on Friday. Penns Valley is ranked ninth and Richland is fourth in the state poll. Last year, Richland won 59-7 in the same round at Herlinger Field.
Third-seeded Bellwood-Antis (11-0) will visit second-seeded Ligonier Valley (11-0) at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Bellwood-Antis is ranked eighth in the state, and Ligonier Valley is ranked third.
Last season the Rams beat the Blue Devils 34-7 in the same round at Trojan Stadium.
This week’s games involving area teams:
District 6 Class AA
4-Penns Valley (10-1) at 1-Richland (10-0), 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Richland 59, Penns Valley 7, 6-AA semifinal round in 2018.
Last week: Penns Valley 48, Marion Center 12; Richland had a bye.
About the Penns Valley Rams: Penns Valley senior quarterback Aaron Tobias has completed 208 of 307 passes for 3,265 yards and an eye-popping 51 touchdowns with five interceptions. According to MaxPreps, Tobias has 7,765 career passing yards and 96 touchdown passes. This season he tossed eight TD passes against Midd-West, seven against Fairfield, and six apiece against Bald Eagle Area and Central. Senior Logan Snyder has 67 receptions for 1,019 yards and 11 TDs. Senior Austin Fisher has 39 catches for 745 yards and 16 TDs.
About the Richland Rams: Richland sophomore quarterback Kellan Stahl has completed 132 of 212 passes for 2,341 yards, 36 TDs and three interceptions. Senior Caleb Burke has 47 receptions for 905 yards and 18 TDs. The Rams defense has 10 interceptions, with Stahl picking off three passes. Junior Nathan Kniss has six sacks. Junior Jacob Sabol has 85 tackles and senior Lucas Sabol has 80 stops.
District 6 Class A
8-Bishop McCort Catholic (6-5) vs. 1-Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic (8-2), Mansion Park, 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic 22, Bishop McCort Catholic 7 in Week 10.
Last week: Bishop McCort Catholic 28, Glendale 0; Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic had a bye.
About the Crimson Crushers: Bishop McCort Catholic has gone 5-2 since opening the season with one win in the first four games. The Crimson Crushers have advanced to the playoffs three of the past four years, reaching the 6-AA final in 2016 and 2017. Senior quarterback Will Miller has rushed for 839 yards and 10 TDs and passed for 504 yards and four scores. Junior Brendon Bair has 501 yards and eight rushing TDs. Senior Jake Ardary has 106 tackles.
About the Marauders: Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic has won three straight games. Junior Keegan Myrick has 160 carries for 1,129 yards and 15 rushing TDs. Junior Andrew Yanoshak is a 6-foot-3, 226-pound defensive end with 92 tackles, 16 sacks for minus-127 yards and two fumble recoveries. The Marauders advanced to the 6-A semifinal round last season, falling 9-3 to eventual champion Juniata Valley.
7-Purchase Line (7-4) at 2-Portage (8-2), 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Portage 26, Purchase Line 7 in 6-A semifinal round in 2008.
Last week: Purchase Line 20, Blairsville 12; Portage had a bye.
About the Red Dragons: Purchase Line has won four of its past five games and outscored opponents 330-243 this season. Junior Josh Syster leads the Dragons with 1,370 rushing yards and 14 TDs on the ground. Senior Cullen Goncher has 702 rushing yards and 10 TDs. On defense, Goncher has 99 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Junior Clayton Patrick has 67 tackles and seven sacks.
About the Mustangs: Portage has advanced to the 6-A playoffs eight straight seasons. The Mustangs have played only one game since Week 9, when they won by forfeit over Conemaugh Valley. Portage had a bye last week after falling 58-6 to Ligonier Valley in the Appalachian Bowl in Week 10. Senior quarterback Connor Price has 546 rushing yards and seven TDs and 530 passing yards and seven touchdown passes. Senior Gabe Forst leads the Mustangs with 865 rushing yards and 13 TDs.
District 5 Class AA
3-Berlin Brothersvalley (10-1) vs. 1-Chestnut Ridge (8-2), Windber Stadium, 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Chestnut Ridge 49, Berlin Brothersvalley 7 in 5-AA semifinal round in 2018.
Last week: Berlin Brothersvalley 49, Meyersdale 7; Chestnut Ridge had a bye.
About the Mountaineers: Berlin Brothersvalley dominated in a 49-7 win at Meyersdale, avenging a Week 7 loss (28-14) to the host Red Raiders. Senior Cole Blubaugh scored five TDs in the 5-AA semifinal with 237 all-purpose yards, including 137 rushing and four TDs on the ground. Junior Will Spochart has 993 rushing yards and 11 TDs, and Blubaugh has 897 rushing yards and 13 rushing TDs. The Mountaineers reached the 10-win mark for the sixth time in eight seasons since 2012.
About the Lions: Chestnut Ridge had a much-needed bye week after the injury-riddled Lions had lost two straight games to state-ranked Richland (51-7) in Week 10 and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic (20-14) in Week 9. Junior quarterback Logan Pfister has thrown for 1,539 yards and nine TDs and rushed for 637 yards and 12 scores. Senior Trey Maxwell has 464 rushing yards and 14 TDs, and sophomore Matt Whysong has 513 receiving yards and six TDs.
District 5-8-9 Class AAA
2-Westinghouse (8-3) vs. 1-Bedford (9-2), Somerset High, 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Bedford 47, Westinghouse 16 in District 5-8-9 subregional championship in 2018.
Last week: Westinghouse 50, St. Mary’s 6; Bedford 48, Somerset 14.
About the Bulldogs: Westinghouse has won eight consecutive games since opening the season on a three-game losing streak. The Bulldogs scored 64, 58 and 50 points in three of those wins. The Pittsburgh City League champions have allowed only six touchdowns in the past eight games. Pitt recruit Dayon Hayes is a defensive end-linebacker for the Bulldogs.
About the Bisons: In last season’s game against the same team, at the same site and also with the subregional title at stake, Bedford forced seven Westinghouse turnovers and stopped the Bulldogs on downs three times. Senior Jesse Arnold has four sacks, and sophomore Mercury Swaim, junior Steven Ressler and junior Spencer Ebersole each have three interceptions.
District 6 Class AAA
Westmont Hilltop (8-3) vs. Bald Eagle Area (8-3)
Last meeting: Have not played.
Last week: Westmont Hilltop 14, Huntingdon 10; Bald Eagle Area 21, Central 19.
About the Hilltoppers: Westmont Hilltop has won five consecutive games to reach the Hilltoppers’ first title game since 1997. Westmont has rushed for 3,525 yards and 42 touchdowns. The Hilltoppers average 6.4 yards a carry and 320.5 a game. Junior Hudson Holbay (878, 13 TDs), senior Mason Muto (856, 15) and senior Zane Blackburn (843, 6) have combined for 2,577 rushing yards and 34 TDs on the ground.
About the Bald Eagles: Last week, Bald Eagle Area snapped a two-game losing streak in which Jersey Shore (42-0) and Bellefonte (38-0) outscored the Bald Eagles by a combined 80-0. Penns Valley, ranked ninth in the state in Class AA, handed the Eagles their other loss, 42-7, on Sept. 6. Senior quarterback Jaden Jones has passed for 1,182 yards, 16 touchdowns and three interceptions.
District 6 Class AA
3-Bellwood-Antis (11-0) at 2-Ligonier Valley (11-0), 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Ligonier Valley 34, Bellwood-Antis 7 in 6-AA semifinal round in 2018.
Last week: Bellwood-Antis 15, Cambria Heights 8; Ligonier Valley 49, West Shamokin 7.
About the Blue Devils: Bellwood-Antis has outscored opponents 391-102. The ground game is led by juniors Zach Mallon (1,111 yards, 14 TDs) and Nick Plank (908 yards, 13 TDs). Senior quarterback Trevor Miller has completed 70 of 131 passes for 1,179 yards and 13 TDs. Senior Troy Walker has 26 catches for 497 yards and four TDs.
About the Rams: Ligonier Valley has outscored 10 opponents on the field 526-60, averaging 52.6 points a game. The Rams won once by forfeit. Senior Sam Sheeder has completed 84 of 133 passes for 1,526 yards, 18 touchdowns and three interceptions. Senior Kyrie Miller has 1,651 rushing yards and 30 TDs on the ground. Senior John Beard has 40 receptions for 679 yards and a touchdown.