2018 PIAA 3A championship preview – Aliquippa (13-1) vs. Middletown (13-1)

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HERSHEY – In the Eastern bracket for the third straight year was Middletown out of District 3 against District 2’s Scranton Prep. Like the past two years, Middletown defeated Scranton Prep 35-21 advancing to the 3A final in Hershey against District 7 powerhouse Aliquippa. 

In the Western bracket last weekend Aliquippa dominated Sharon in a 41-7 win. The Quips are looking to win their first state title in 15 years. The Quips have won two state titles (2003, 1991).  

A look at some key Middletown players: 

Middletown Quarterback Scott Ash completed 87 of 160 passes for 1,514 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Middletown ground game is led by running back Jose Lopez. Herushed for 2,221 yards on 263 carries and 28 touchdowns. He caught 13 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns. The other part of the dynamic duo is Richie Sykes. He rushed for 1,224 yards and 15 touchdowns. He caught 20 passes for 265 yards with four touchdowns. The lead blocker is fullback Lamar Ventura

The guys up front doing the blocking are RT Joe Gusler, RG Cole Senior, C Colin Heffner, LG Morgan Billman, LT Ethan Miller

Wide Receiver Christopher Joseph caught 13 passes for 399 yards with five touchdowns. Lamar Ventura caught 12 passes for 222 yards with one score. At tight end look for Trayvon Joseph to help with blocking duties. Watch for halfback Tim Wagner whowillget a lot of playing time. 

Middletown’s DE Adonis Taveras, DT Cole Senior, DT Joe Gusler and DE Ethan Miller lead the Blue Raiders’ defensive line and need to step up big to limit the Quips running attack.

Trayvon Joseph, Gage Radabaugh and Lamar Ventura are key at the linebacker position. 

The Blue Raiders secondary has a big challenge against the Quips bigger and faster receivers. Cole Senior and Antonio Bryant are the corners. The safeties are Richie Sykes and Odell Greene

Thoughts on the game:

The past two years Middletown has been runner up at the PIAA Class 3A State finals. They lost last year to Quaker Valley and in 2016 to Beaver Falls. 

So what was the key in their loss? The teams they played were good, but they helped by allowing turnovers. You can’t turrn the football over and beat a good football team. 

So they need to protect the ball and create turnovers on defense. 

Aliquippa on offense has size and speed everywhere. They do a good job stretching you vertically in the pass game. They have a nice run game that does the same thing. They have weapons all over the field.

It will be a challenge for Middletown’s defense to slow them down. 

On defense the Quips have nice size on the line. They active linebackers and speed in the secondary. The Blue Raiders need to find a way to get their playmakers in space. 

A look at some key Aliquippa players: 

Aliquippa Quarterback, Eli Kosanovich completed 137 of 217 passes for 2,798 and 35 touchdowns and three interceptions.  

Running Back Avante McKenzie rushed for 1,444 yards on 177 carries and 31 touchdowns.

Wide Receiver William Gipson is a big play receiver who caught 53 passes for 1,494 yards and 18 touchdowns. Deoveon Crute caught 33 passes for 453 yards and six touchdowns. M.J. Devonshire caught 19 passes for 456 yards and 20 total touchdowns. 

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.