Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WPIAL Week 9 Games of the Week and Playoff Scenarios

For the second year in a row, there are no true casket matches in the final week of the WPIAL season. However, there are a number of good games on the slate with four games that will decide conference titles and a number of teams still vying for playoff spots. Of the 64 playoff spots, 53 teams have already punched their ticket. There is only 1 spot left in Quad-A, which will go to either Connellsville, Baldwin or Butler as the "Wild Card" team. There are 5 spots to be won in AAA - 1 in the Big Nine Conference, 3 in the crazy Greater Allegheny Conference and 1 Wild Card team that will either come from the Big Nine or Greater Allegheny Conference. Only two spots remain in the AA playoff field - 1 in the Century Conference and 1 in the Interstate Conference - but there are two games on the AA slate that will decide Conference Champions. In Class A, there are 3 spots that can still be won, the fourth place spots in the Big Seven Conference, Black Hills Conference and Tri-County South Conference. The last spot in the Big Seven Conference may not be decided until Saturday afternoon when Western Beaver plays South Side Beaver. The WPIAL Playoff Brackets will be officially announced on Monday night at 7pm.

I got together with @AJWPIAL this week to talk about the big matchups in last week in the WPIAL season and some seeding possibilities for the upcoming playoffs. Check out his blog WPIAL Football Zone. (I also got a nosebleed during the broadcast, so that was fun.)


If you're going to be at home tonight, keep an eye on the following hashtags on Twitter to follow along as people post score updates from games: #WPIAL #MSAscores #Skylights

Also, if you're not already, follow the @MSAsports @PGVarsityXtra and @TribHSInsider twitter accounts which will post score updates and bookmark the MSA Scoreboard for quick reference at the end of the night. They get the final scores up faster than anyone. Also, MSA Sports broadcasts most games over the internet, here is their list of the games they will be broadcasting tonight.

I'll update my WPIAL Standings Page at the end of the night. It's the only one available that includes all playoff tiebreakers (Gardner Points, WPIAL Points Tiebreaker and Head-to-Head wins).

AAAA

AAAA Game of the Week
Penn Hills (5-1, 6-2) at Woodland Hills (6-0, 7-1)

The Southeastern Conference title is on the line as these rivals meet at the best venue in Western Pennsylvania - the Wolvarena. Both teams have been offensive powerhouses, averaging over 38 points per game. Woodland Hills needed a late comeback to beat Bethel Park who also sprung an upset on Penn Hills. Both of these teams dropped non-conference games to AAA teams (arguably, the best two AAA teams in Central Valley and West Allegheny) that has tarnished their image heading into the season finale. The Wolverines have one of the top juniors in the state in Penn St recruit Miles Sanders who has 878 rushing yards and 120 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns. Fellow junior RB Jo-El Shaw has added 522 yards and 9 TDs while dual-threat QB Jeremiah Jones (a WVU recruit) has thrown for 755 yards (primarily to Art Thompkins and Jaymond Dunn) and 7 TDs and rushed for 278 yards and 4 TDs. Woody High is loaded all over the field and has the best defense Penn Hills has seen since Central Valley. On the other side, the Penn Hills attack primarily comes from their read-option running game where QB Billy Kisner leads the way with 863 rushing yards and 12 TDs with counterpart Te'Shan Campbell providing an equivalent threat and adding 830 yards and 14 TDs. Penn Hills has been so dominant on the ground this season, Kisner has rarely been forced to throw, and is only averaging 5.2 pass attempts per game. Penn Hills will need to keep the game close so that their running game can stay a factor if they want to pull out a win at The Wolvarena.

AAAA Playoff Scenarios
Foothills

Important Games: Connellsville at Altoona, Norwin at Penn-Trafford
  • Penn-Trafford has clinched the Conference title.
  • McKeesport has clinched second place and a home playoff game.
  • Altoona, Plum and Norwin have clinched playoff spots.
  • Altoona has clinched 3rd place.
  • Connellsville has clinched 6th place.

Northern Eight

Important Games: Central Catholic at Butler, North Hills at North Allegheny, Shaler at Seneca Valley
  • Pine-Richland has clinched the Conference tittle.
  • Central Catholic has clinched second place and a home playoff game.
  • North Allegheny, North Hills and Fox Chapel have clinched playoff spots.
  • The winner of North Allegheny-North Hills will finish in third place
  • Seneca Valley will finish 6th with a win over Shaler
  • Butler will finish 6th with a win over Central Catholic and a Seneca Valley loss to Shaler

Southeastern

Important Games: Penn Hills at Woodland Hills, Upper St Clair at Mt Lebanon, Bethel Park at Baldwin
  • The winner of Woodland Hills-Penn Hills will win the Conference Title
  • Woodland Hills and Penn Hills have clinched home playoff games.
  • Mt Lebanon, Bethel Park and Upper St Clair have clinched playoff spots.
  • Baldwin has clinched 6th place.
  • If Penn Hills beats Woodland Hills
    • Woodland Hills will finish second
    • Mt Lebanon finishes 3rd if they beat Upper St Clair
    • Bethel Park finishes 3rd if Upper St Clair beats Mt Lebanon
  • If Woodland Hills beats Penn Hills
    • If Mt Lebanon wins: Penn Hills 2nd, Mt Lebanon 3rd, Bethel Park 4th, USC 5th
    • If Mt Lebanon loses and Bethel Park wins: Bethel Park 2nd, Penn Hills 3rd, USC 4th, Mt Lebanon 5th
    • If Mt Lebanon and Bethel Park lose: Penn Hills 2nd, Bethel Park 3rd, USC 4th, Mt Lebanon 5th
Home Games

Since there are only 3 conferences in Quad-A, the top two teams from each conference are guaranteed home games. 2 of the 3 third place teams will get home playoff games based on the WPIAL Wild Card system. In Quad-A, the "Wild Card" record is determined by all 8 conference games for the Foothills Conference. For the Northern Eight and Southeastern Conference, the Wild Card Record is based on their 7 conference games plus 1 game played against a team from the other conference. Gardner Points and WPIAL Tiebreaker Points are also calculated based on these 8 games.

AAAA Possible 3rd Place Teams
TeamWild Card
Record
TiebreakersOverall
Record
PFPAWild Card Wins
GardnerWPIAL
(SE) Penn Hills6-1110576-2330191
(N8) North Allegheny5-2110366-2232115
(F) Altoona5-2110226-2197153
(N8) North Hills5-2100216-2195109
(SE) Mt Lebanon4-37085-3255160
(SE) Bethel Park4-3100105-3249173
  • The winner of North Allegheny-North Hills will finish 3rd in the Northern Eight and get a home playoff game.
    • North Hills beat Mt Lebanon head-to-head so the Indians would win any tie with the Blue Devils.
  • The final home playoff game will go to either Altoona or the 3rd place team from the Southeastern Conference based on Tiebreakers.
16th Seed

Much like with the Home Games, the top 5 teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. 1 of the 3 sixth place teams will earn the 16th spot in the playoffs as a "Wild Card" team. The same rules for records apply. It is important to note that Conference Standings are decided first and then the Wild Card Standings. This comes into play in the Northern Eight Conference where Seneca Valley (1-5 Conference record, 1-6 Wild Card record) has a head-to-head win over Butler (1-5 Conference record, 2-5 Wild Card record). Since Seneca Valley has a head-to-head win, they currently sit in 6th in the Northern Eight Conference Standings which could keep Butler from consideration in the Wild Card tiebreaker.
  • Connellsville has clinched 6th place in the Foothills
  • Baldwin has clinched 6th place in the Southeastern
  • Seneca Valley or Butler will finish in 6th place in the Northern Eight
AAAA 16th Seed
TeamWild Card
Record
TiebreakersOverall
Record
PFPAWild Card Wins
GardnerWPIAL
(F) Connellsville3-430-123-5132239
(SE) Baldwin2-510-363-5148255
(N8) Seneca Valley1-620-441-7126271
(N8) Butler2-520-272-6122210
  • Connellsville will make the playoffs with a win over Altoona or if Butler and Baldwin lose
  • If Connellsville loses
    • Butler will make the playoffs if they beat Central Catholic and Seneca Valley loses to Shaler
    • Baldwin will make the playoffs if they beat Bethel Park and Butler loses
  • Seneca Valley can not make the playoffs but they can finish 6th in the Northern Eight Conference with a win over Shaler.

AAA

AAA Game of the Week
West Allegheny (7-0, 8-0) at Central Valley (7-0, 8-0)

This is the game we've been waiting for since the AAA Championship Game ended at Heinz Field last year. West Allegheny is now the two-time defending AAA Champions and is going for their third straight Parkway Conference title. These two teams might be the best teams in all of the WPIAL and both scored big victories over two of the top Quad-A teams as Central Valley beat Penn Hills and West Allegheny beat Woodland Hills last week in one of the best high school games you'll ever see. West Allegheny has a WPIAL-leading 29-game winning streak against WPIAL opponents. The last team to beat them? Central Valley in a regular season game in 2012. Interestingly enough, the home team has won every meeting between these two schools. Since 2011, their games have been defensive struggles despite both teams boasting high-powered offenses. These are the best two teams in AAA and this game will be must-see TV on Root Sports this week. No one (Penn Hills included) has gotten closer than 20 points to Central Valley this year, who is led by Pitt recruit Jordan Whitehead, an all-around offensive threat who has 815 rushing yards, 97 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns. Junior Chris Callaghan has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in AAA this season, throwing for 1109 yards and 11 TDs. On the other side, only Woodland Hills and Montour have gotten within 40 points of West Allegheny. The Indians are a senior-led team that has the experience of winning multiple championships. QB Andrew Koester (974 yards, 13 TDs) has been one of the best QBs in AAA this year and their triple threat in the backfield of Terence Stephens (464 yards, 11 TDs), Chayse Dillon (457 yards, 11 TDs) and Whitney White (442 yards, 8 TDs) has been unstoppable. This could be a preview of the AAA championship game and is the game we've been waiting all year to see.

AAA Playoff Scenarios

Big Nine

Important Games: Elizabeth Forward at Belle Vernon, Laurel Highlands at Albert Gallatin, Trinity at Ringgold
  • Thomas Jefferson has clinched the Conference title
  • Ringgold has clinched second place and a home playoff game
  • West Mifflin and Belle Vernon have clinched playoff spots. 
  • West Mifflin has clinched 3rd place.
  • Laurel Highlands clinches a playoff spot with a win over Albert Gallatin.
    • Laurel Highlands can also make the playoffs if the lose to Albert Gallatin if Elizabeth Forward and Trinity also lose.
  • Elizabeth Forward clinches a playoff spot with a win over Belle Vernon and a Laurel Highlands loss.
  • Trinity clinches a playoff spot with a win over Ringgold and losses by Elizabeth Forward and Laurel Highlands.
6th Place
  • Laurel Highlands will finish 6th if they lose to Albert Gallatin AND Belle Vernon and Trinity win, OR Elizabeth Forward and Ringgold win.
  • Elizabeth Forward will finish 6th if they lose to Belle Vernon and Ringgold wins OR if they beat Belle Vernon and Laurel Highlands wins.
  • Trinity will finish 6th if they beat Ringgold and Belle Vernon and Laurel Highlands win OR if Elizabeth Forward and Albert Gallatin win.
Greater Allegheny Conference

Important Games: Gateway at Franklin Regional, Indiana at Hollidaysburg, Mars at Hampton, Yough at Knoch
  • Hampton has clinched the Conference title
  • Franklin Regional has clinched a playoff spot
  • Gateway clinches a playoff spot with a win over Franklin Regional. Gateway can still make the playoffs if they lose to Franklin Regional if Indiana or Knoch loses.
  • The winner of Indiana-Hollidaysburg will make the playoffs.
    • Hollidaysburg can not make the playoffs if they lose to Indiana.
    • The only way Indiana makes the playoffs if they lose to Hollidaysburg is if Gateway, Hampton and Knoch all win.
  • Mars clinches a playoff spot with a win over Hampton. Mars can still make the playoffs if they lose to Hampton if Gateway or Knoch loses.
  • Knoch can only make the playoffs if they win and Gateway and Hollidaysburg lose.
Here's a look at how the standings will fall given the 16 possible outcomes of the GAC games. Like with Quad-A, the top 5 make the playoffs and the 6th place team is eligible for the Wild Card spot:


Parkway

Important Games: West Allegheny at Central Valley, Moon at Montour
  • The winner of Central Valley-West Allegheny will win the Conference Title.
  • The loser of Central Valley-West Allegheny will finish second and have a home playoff game. 
  • Montour, Moon and New Castle have clinched playoff berths.
  • The winner of Montour-Moon will finish 3rd.
  • The winner of Ambridge-Chartiers Valley will finish 6th but can not make the playoffs as the Wild Card based on Gardner Points.
Home Games

Like with Quad-A, 2 of the 3 third place teams will get home playoff games. Since all 3 AAA conferences have 9 teams, "Wild Card" record only takes into account conference games. Head-to-head would only come into play to break a tie between West Mifflin and Gateway where West Mifflin won head-to-head.
  • West Mifflin has clinched 3rd place in the Big Nine Conference.
  • The winner of Montour-Moon will finish in 3rd place in the Parkway Conference.
  • Either Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana or Mars will finish in 3rd place in the Greater Allegheny Conference.

AAA Possible 3rd Place Teams
TeamWild Card
Record
TiebreakersOverall
Record
PFPAWild Card Wins
GardnerWPIAL
(GA) Franklin Regional5-2130265-3218118
(B9) West Mifflin5-2110196-2220183
(P) Montour5-290336-2249131
(GA) Gateway4-3100-64-4156175
(GA) Indiana4-39055-3231180
(GA) Mars4-390245-324783
(P) Moon4-360144-4165231


16th Seed

The 16th seed will either go to the 6th place team in the Big Nine Conference or Greater Allegheny Conference. The 6th place team in the Parkway will not have enough Gardner Points for consideration.
  • Laurel Highlands, Elizabeth Forward or Trinity could finish in 6th in the Big Nine.
  • Gateway, Indiana, Mars, Hollidaysburg or Knoch could finish in 6th in the Greater Allegheny Conference.
AAA 16th Seed
TeamWild Card
Record
TiebreakersOverall
Record
PFPAWild Card Wins
GardnerWPIAL
(GA) Gateway4-3100-64-4156175
(GA) Indiana4-39055-3231180
(GA) Mars4-390245-324783
(GA) Hollidaysburg3-450-114-4119135
(GA) Knoch3-411043-5112124
(B9) Laurel Highlands3-470-193-5194331
(B9) Elizabeth Forward3-440-33-5139203
(B9) Trinity3-460-84-4259244

One important note is that the Big Nine and Greater Allegheny Conference played each other head-to-head this year, so a head-to-head result could impact the 16th seed. Results to remember:
  • Indiana beat Elizabeth Forward
  • Mars beat Laurel Highlands
  • Trinity beat Yough, but this won't impact the Wild Card spot.
AA

AA Games of the Week
Beaver Falls (6-1, 7-1) at Aliquippa (7-0, 8-0)

Once again, like clockwork, Beaver Falls and Aliquippa meet with the conference title on the line. Beaver Falls was a questionable call away from knocking off Aliquippa last year but will have to get their revenge at The Pit this year, one of the toughest places to play in all of Pennsylvania. Aliquippa has not lost a home game since September 11, 2008 when they lost 27-12 to Beaver Falls. The Quips are absolutely loaded again this year with talented players all over the field. They haven't missed a beat after Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson graduated as DiMante Bronaugh (917 yards, 20 TDs) and Kaezon Pugh (710 yards, 12 TDs) have stepped in and excelled. Darrien Fields is a capable quarterback, throwing for 1049 yards on just 47 completions, an average of 22.3 yards per completion. Patrick Anderson has led the way on the outside with 3-8 recieving yards and 6 TDs. Beaver Falls has their own pair of capable backs that have led the way in Cordell Cummings (931 yards, 12 TDs) and Derrell Carter (521 yards, 8 TDs) with WR Javon Turner putting up 449 yards and 6 TDs. The biggest difference is that Beaver Falls have not gotten much out of the quarterback position after sophomore Dalton Cleckley stepped in for Kiernan Brown in Week 4. 

Washington (7-0, 8-0) at McGuffey (6-1, 7-1)

The Interstate Conference title is on the line as Washington and McGuffey square off. Washington has dominated the competition this year, pulling out late victories against Waynesburg and Mt Pleasant and cruising through the rest of their schedule - including a non-conference win over New Brighton. The Prexies are led by RB Malik Wells (974 yards, 14 TDs) and dual-threat QB Jonathan Spina who has thrown for 932 yards and 15 TDs and added 6 more on the ground. WR DeQuay Isbell is a big-play threat, averaging 32 yards a reception and has found the end zone 14 times. On the other side, McGuffey has been a bit difficult to figure out. They started the season slow against Mt Pleasant and were on the verge of being mercy ruled before storming back in the 4th quarter and only losing the game by 6. They have not lost since then, and put together impressive wins against Southmoreland and Waynesburg. The Highlanders have scored at least 34 points in every game and have not allowed more than 14 since the Mt Pleasant game in the opener. Washington will be their best opponent since Mt Pleasant. McGuffey is led by dual-threat QB Nate Whipkey (1041 passing yards, 9 TDs; 489 rushing yards, 10 TDs) and RB James Duchi (1170 yards, 22 TDs). There is the potential for this game to be a shootout as these are the 3rd and 4th highest scoring offenses in AA. The winner of this game will win the conference title, though a McGuffey win could force a 3-way tie with Mt Pleasant (details on tiebreakers below).

Honorable Mention
Ford City (3-5, 3-5) at Kittanning (5-3, 5-3)

Ford City and Kittanning will be merging into Armstrong Jr/Sr High School next year, so this will be the last time that the rivals ever meet. Kittanning has clinched a playoff spot and will get one more game while this will be the last game Ford City ever plays. Unfortunately, this game lost some of its luster last week when Ford City lost to West Shamokin. If Ford City had won, this would have been a casket match for the playoffs where the winner would have moved on and the loser would never play football again. Sadly, we will not get that storyline. Ford City had a run of success in the mid-2000s where they made the quarterfinals 3 times and the semi-finals 3 times in a 7-year span. Their last playoff appearance in school history will be the 2011 season when they lost 24-3 to Greensburg Central Catholic in the first round. Kittanning will be in the playoffs this year and will have one final chance to advance past the first round, something they have not done since before 1980 (which is as far back as my playoff data spreadsheet goes).

Allegheny Conference

Important Games: none
  • Highlands has clinched the conference title.
  • Apollo-Ridge has clinched second place and a home playoff game.
  • Shady Side Academy and Kittanning have clinched playoff spots.
Century Conference

Important Games: Quaker Valley at South Fayette, Steel Valley at South Allegheny
  • South Fayette has clinched the conference title.
  • Seton-La Salle has clinched second place and a home playoff game.
  • South Park has clinched a playoff spot.
  • Steel Valley clinches a playoff spot with a win over South Allegheny or a Quaker Valley loss to South Fayette.
  • Quaker Valley clinches a playoff spot with a win over South Fayette and a Steel Valley loss.
Interstate Conference

Important Games: Washington at McGuffey, Southmoreland at Mt Pleasant, Derry at Waynesburg
  • Washington, Mt Pleasant and McGuffey have clinched playoff spots.
    • If Mt Pleasant loses to Southmoreland, the winner of Washington-McGuffey will win the conference title.
    • If Mt Pleasant beats Southmoreland and Washington beats McGuffey, Washington will win the conference title. Mt Pleasant will be 2nd and McGuffey 3rd.
    • If Mt Pleasant beats Southmoreland and McGuffey beats Washington, there will be a 3-way tie for the Conference Title. Gardner Points will be equal. Mt Pleasant can not catch Washington or McGuffey in Tiebreaker Points in this scenario. (Currently: Washington +68, McGuffey +54)
      • If McGuffey beats Washington by more than 6, McGuffey will win the Conference title (Washington 2nd, Mt Pleasant 3rd).
      • If McGuffey beats Washington by less than 7, Washington will win the Conference title (Mt Pleasant 2nd, McGuffey 3rd).
  • Waynesburg clinches a playoff spot with a win over Derry or a Southmoreland loss
  • Southmoreland clinches a playoff spot with a win over Mt Pleasant and a Waynesburg loss
Midwestern Conference

Important Games: Beaver Falls at Aliquippa, Beaver at Ellwood City, Mohawk at New Brighton
  • Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, New Brighton and Beaver have clinched playoff spots.
  • The winner of Aliquippa-Beaver Falls will win the conference title.
    • If Beaver Falls beats Aliquippa, the Quips will finish 2nd and have a home playoff game.
    • If Aliquippa beats Beaver Falls and...
      • New Brighton and Beaver both win: there will be a 3-way tie for 2nd. Gardner Points will be equal so the tie will be broken based on Tiebreaker Points (Currently: Beaver Falls +50, Beaver +30, New Brighton +27)
      • New Brighton wins and Beaver loses: Beaver Falls will be 2nd, New Brighton 3rd, Beaver 4th.
      • Beaver wins and New Brighton loses: Beaver will be 2nd, Beaver Falls 3rd, New Brighton 4th.
      • Beaver and New Brighton both lose: Beaver Falls will be 2nd, New Brighton 3rd, Beaver 4th.

A

A Game of the Week
Fort Cherry (2-4, 3-5) at Chartiers-Houston (3-3, 4-4)


This isn't a true casket match because Fort Cherry lost to Northgate last week which kept Northgate's playoff hopes alive, but it's as close to one as we will get this week. Unfortunately, the number of casket matches seems to have declined each year which limits my ability to make Undertaker references. Fort Cherry has been plagued by inconsistency all season, which has led to a number of close games. Their two conference wins (OLSH and Bishop Canevin) have been by a combined total of 5 points while they lost games to Brentwood and Northgate by a combined 5 points. On the other side, Chartiers-Houston has given up almost 100 more points than they have scored, mainly because they have won all of their close games and been blown out in their losses. Their 3 conference wins have been over Northgate by 6, Canevin by 12 and OLSH by 8 while they have only lost one game by less than 20. By all accounts, this one has the makings of being another low-scoring close game between offenses that have been inconsistent for most of the season. That said, it has all the makings of being an incredibly exciting game with a playoff spot on the line.

Big Seven Conference

Important Games: Vincentian at Riverside, South Side Beaver at Western Beaver (Saturday)
  • Neshannock has clinched the conference title.
  • Shenango has clinched 2nd place and a home playoff game.
  • South Side Beaver has clinched a playoff spot.
  • Riverside clinches a playoff spot with a win over Vincentian.
  • Vincentian clinches a playoff spot with a win over Riverside and a Western Beaver loss.
  • Western Beaver clinches a playoff spot with a win over South Side Beaver and a Vincentian win over Riverside.
Black Hills Conference

Important Games: Fort Cherry at Chartiers-Houston, Northgate at Avonworth
  • Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic has clinched the conference title.
  • Avonworth has clinched 2nd place and a home playoff game.
  • Brentwood has clinched a playoff spot.
  • Chartiers-Houston clinches a playoff spot with a win over Fort Cherry
  • Fort Cherry clinches a playoff spot with a win over Chartiers-Houston and a Northgate loss
  • Northgate clinches a playoff spot with a win over Avonworth and a Fort Cherry win over Chartiers-Houston.
Eastern Conference

Important Games: GCC at Jeannette, Springdale at Riverview (Saturday)
  • Clairton has clinched the conference title
  • Jeannette, GCC and Springdale have clinched playoff spots.
  • The winner of Jeannette-GCC will finish 2nd and have a home playoff game.
  • If GCC beats Jeannette: GCC will be 2nd, Jeannette 3rd, Springdale 4th.
  • If Jeannette beats GCC and Springdale beats Riverview: Jeannette 2nd, Springdale 3rd, GCC 4th
  • If Jeannette beats GCC and Springdale loses: Jeannette 2nd, GCC 3rd, Springdale 4th.
Tri-County South

Important Games: Beth-Center at Bentworth, Jefferson-Morgan at Carmichaels, West Greene at Avella
  • Beth-Center has clinched the conference title
  • Frazier has clinched 2nd place and a home playoff game.
  • Mapletown has clinched a playoff spot and will finish 3rd.
  • Avella clinches a playoff spot with a win over West Greene and a Bentworth loss
  • If Avella loses, the winner of Jefferson Morgan-Carmichaels will get the last playoff spot.
  • Bentworth clinches a playoff spot with a win over Beth-Center and an Avella win based on winning the 3-way tiebreaker on Gardner Points.