Week 2 of the high school football regular season seems like a long time ago.

On Friday night No. 7 seed Westmont Hilltop will get reacquainted with No. 2 Forest Hills in a District 5-6 Class AA first-round playoff game.

Forest Hills (8-1) had little trouble against Westmont (6-3) in its Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference home opener, a 30-3 win in the second week of the season.

The Rangers defense held the Westmont rushing duo of Brad Kanuch and Nick McKolosky to less then 100 yards combined and no touchdowns.

“A lot of things have changed,” Forest Hills coach Don Bailey said. “It will probably be a different ball game this time.”

The Hilltoppers had four turnovers, leading to three Forest Hills scores. Rangers quarterback Travis Rearick scored three times on the ground. Forest Hills’ other points were on Adam Trout’s 5-yard run and a 34-yard field goal by Matt Beach.

Westmont’s lone score came on Cameron Pecoraro’s 36-yard field goal.

Hilltoppers coach Stan Skowron expects a different outcome this time.

“It was early in the season,” he said. “We had too many turnovers. We have to eliminate the turnovers. We have to be mistake-free. Forest Hills just doesn’t turn the ball over. They’re a very good football team.”

The Rangers have ripped off six straight wins since their only setback – a 28-7 home loss to Bedford – the week after beating Westmont.

For the season, the Rangers are scoring 30.9 points per contest while the defense is allowing a meager 12 points a game. But during the six-game winning streak, each side of the ball has stepped it up. Forest Hills has scored an average of 36.6 points per game while permitting just 8.3 points.

“We have better balance with the run and pass,” said Bailey, who is in his 32nd year of coaching. “We’re scoring a little bit more.”

Forest Hills’ Rearick has thrown for 1,501 yards, going 87-for-183 with four interceptions. Slotback Adam Trout leads the Rangers with 15 touchdowns – including 13 receiving – and is averaging 20 yards a catch. Senior running back Will Lazration has 607 yards rushing, and is second on the team with seven touchdowns.

Brad Waters paces the Rangers with 62 tackles and Dan Hendrickson has six sacks.

Forest Hills lost 29-22 to Bishop McCort in the first round of last year’s district playoffs.

The Hilltoppers have a streak of their own, having won three straight.

In last week’s 36-29 victory at Central, Westmont’s Kanuch went over 1,000 yards for the season. The senior running back scored on runs of 74 and 62 yards, and has 14 touchdowns this season. He now has 1,021 yards on 125 rushes this season and 2,922 yards on 383 carries in three seasons. Kanuch is also averaging about 26 yards returning kicks and nearly 12 yards per punt return.

McKolosky added a touchdown on 18 carries for 138 yards against Central. The senior back has rushed for 711 yards on 96 carries and seven scores this year.

“They have a lot of big-play capabilities,” Bailey said. “We have to stop them from scoring from anywhere on the field. We’re going to have our hands full.”

Westmont senior quarterback Paul Vrabel is 53-of-116 for 951 yards and five touchdowns this season while wideout Max Khuri leads the Hilltoppers with 22 catches for 432 yards.

Pecoraro is 4-for-4 in field goals, with his longest kick coming in the setback at Forest Hills.

Westmont’s other two losses were 21-13 to Bishop Carroll at home and 45-0 on the road against Bishop McCort.

On defense, Andrew Chessa’s 66 tackles pace the Hilltoppers. Quinten Cameron is second at 64 and Mark Rossi has 63. Rossi and Zack Trotz each have six sacks.

Westmont returns to the playoffs after posting a 4-5 record last season.

“We’re excited,” said Skowron, who is in his fourth year. “The kids are really up for this game.”

The winner will face the victor of Saturday night’s matchup of No. 5 Bishop McCort at No. 4 Bedford in the second round.



Samuel Legg can be reached at 532-5080 or slegg@tribdem.com.

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