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Friday December 9 2022
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U.S. Steel Game of the Week: Thomas Jefferson at West Mifflin

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In a winner-take-all scenario for the WPIAL Big Nine conference’s title, the West Mifflin Titans host the Thomas Jefferson Jaguars as each team brings an undefeated record to the table Friday night.

 The matchup alsofeatures two of the state’s best teams, with the Jaguars ranked No. 46 in Pennsylvania and West Mifflin ranked No. 70 via MaxPreps.

The matchup has been looked at from afar on each side, as Thomas Jefferson head coach Bill Cherpak admitted following the Jaguars’ 49-6 victory over Uniontown last week.

“Finally, we’ve been talking about it for awhile,” Cherpak said.

The game will decide who wins the conference, and pits a pair of teams with perfect records against each other on the gridiron in the final week of the season prior to the start of WPIAL playoff action.

“As usual, it’s for the conference,” Cherpak said. “Both teams are undefeated, a lot of implications for seedings in the playoffs. It’s going to be an exciting week for the kids.”

West Mifflin (8-0, 7-0 Big Nine) brings a run-heavy attack to the table against Thomas Jefferson (8-0, 7-0), and the Titans are led by tailback Jimmy Wheeler. In 2013, Wheeler has carried 218 times for 2,008 yards and 27 touchdowns.

The 5-7, 163-pound back has garnered interest from such Division I programs as Cincinnati, Missouri and Penn State.

Quarterback Karlyn Garner flanks Wheeler in the Titan’s backfield. Garner has completed over 67 percent of his passes this season at 33-of-49 attempts for 734 yards and seven touchdowns.

Linebacker/tailback Chase Winovich leads the Jaguars into action, and the three-star recruit has already committed to play collegiate football at Michigan. Winovich is ranked as the nation’s No. 32 linebacker, and is the No. 15-ranked prospect out of Pennsylvania in the Class of 2014.

This season, Winovich has done a little bit of everything for the Jaguars. Aside from anchoring Thomas Jefferson’s defense, Winovich has contributed on offense from both the quarterback and tailback positions.

Winovich has completed 11-of-26 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns, next to rushing 24 times for 335 yards and seven scores.

In the passing game, receiver Dalton Dietrich is the main threat against the Titans. Of the Jaguars’ 42 completions this season, Dietrich has received 33 passes for 674 yards and seven touchdowns.

Each team brings a high-scoring offense to the table, with the Jaguars scoring 44.1 points per game and the Titans averaging 42.1 points per game. Defensively, Thomas Jefferson enters with an advantage as it allows just seven points to its opposition per USSgame while West Mifflin’s opponents score 13 points against the Titans on average.

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