Saturday, November 21, 2009

WPIAL Championship Matchups

Tonight was a great night for football in western Pennsylvania. I went to the North Catholic-Rochester game, which according to the stats and run-up to the game, should have been a slaughter. North played their best game of the season defensively, keeping Rochester's running game in check all night. North tied the game at 7 halfway through the third quarter, but gave up a 65-yard touchdown pass on a broken play with Rochester's QB scrambling out of the pocket. This was really the only thing Rochester did in the whole second half, but it was enough. North had the ball inside Rochester's 20 twice in the fourth quarter, but couldn't find the end zone. Bethel Park and Woodland Hills had an epic overtime game that the whole area had the privilege of watching on FSN. TJ fell two games short of becoming the first team in WPIAL history to win four consecutive titles.

Gateway v. Woodland Hills
Gateway is back in the championship game, looking to finally finish the deal. Woodland Hills still hasn't lost to a WPIAL team this year. These are without a doubt the top two Quad-A schools and this promises to be a fantastic matchup.

Hopewell v. West Allegheny
Hopewell blew out Hampton, ending their surprising run through the playoffs. Hopewell has the best running back in WPIAL, Rushel Shell, who is only a sophomore, and will face a tough challenge against a well-rounded West Allegheny team that handed TJ their first loss in 49 games.

Aliquippa v. Greensburg Central Catholic
Raise your hand if you had either of these teams in the AA championship game when the playoffs started. GCC has ridden a great rushing attack all the way from the #11 seed to Heinz Field. Aliquippa is the defending champions and their young team has come from the #9 seed to beat top-seeded South Fayette and avenge an early-season loss to conference foe Beaver Falls.

Rochester v. Clairton
Technically, this is the #1 seed and #3 seed, but these are the top two teams in Single-A. Clairton's early season loss to Laurel was a fluke in a game where the Bears had an inordinate amount of penalties. Clairton avenged that loss with a 33-0 pounding of Laurel tonight. Rochester squeaked by North Catholic 14-7. Clairton hasn't given up a point yet in the playoffs, and if North Catholic's defense could shut down Rochester, don't be surprised if Clairton does the same.

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