Friday, November 26, 2010

WPIAL Championship Preview

One day. Four games. All on FSN. If you like High School Football, tomorrow is one of the best days of the year. Here's a rundown on the games on tap at Heinz Field tomorrow.

Class A Championship

1. Clairton (12-0) vs 2. Rochester (12-0)

In a rematch of last year's championship game, the top two teams in Class A face off for the title. Clairton boasts the top offense (49.8 points per game) and the top defense (2.2 points against per game) not only in Class A but in the entire WPIAL. Before last week's 26-7 defeat of Springdale, the Bears hadn't been held under 42 points all season. The defense still hasn't given up more than 7 points in any game and has pitched shutouts in 8 of their 12 games. The Rochester Rams are no slouches themselves, boasting the 2nd ranked offense (37.3 points per game) and 2nd ranked defense (7.0 points against per game with 6 shutouts) in Class A. These two opponents are familiar with each other: this is the 4th time in the last 7 years they have met for the Class A title. Watch out for Clairton WR Trenton Coles, who won the AA WPIAL title in 3 different distances last year in track. If there's any team out there that can slow Clairton's offense down, it's Rochester. Last year, the Rams lost the title when they chose to go for 2 rather than attempting the game-tying extra point with a minute to play. Chances are, this game will be low-scoring, but you have to like the Bears.

Prediction: Clairton

Class AA Championship

1. Aliquippa (12-0) vs 3. South Fayette (12-0)
Air time: 10:00pm on FSN

This game will be tape-delayed on FSN because of the Pens game at 1:00. These two teams met in the second round last year when Aliquippa stormed back from 12 points down in the 4th quarter to upset the top-seeded South Fayette Lions. This year, the Lions bring in the top scoring offense in AA (41.8 points per game) and possibly the best quarterback in all of WPIAL in Christian Brumbaugh. Brumbaugh has thrown for over 2,000 yards and 37 touchdowns this season. On the other side, Aliquippa is the perennial powerhouse in AA football. The Quips had a young team last year but still made a run to the AA title game. At the beginning of the year, I picked Aliquippa to win the AA title, but to do so they're going to have to get pressure on Brumbaugh. If Aliquippa can run the ball and control the clock, keeping Brumbaugh off the field, they might have a chance. If Brumbaugh has all day to throw, this thing will be over quickly. 

Prediction: South Fayette

Class AAA Championship

1. Montour (12-0) vs 14. Central Valley (9-3)

Two new additions to Class AAA have found their way into the championship game. Montour was a mediocre 5-5 team last year that lost in the first round of the playoffs. Then, RB Julian Durden decided to transfer from North Catholic to Montour. The switch from being a Trojan to being a Spartan has paid huge dividends. Durden put up 1,870 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground this year. On the other side, Central Valley, the result of the merger of Center and Monaca School Districts, is the newest addition to Class AAA. No one knew what to expect from Central Valley this season, and they have shocked most "experts", beating undefeated Ringgold in the first round of the playoffs, 1-loss Knoch in the second, then AAA powerhouse Thomas Jefferson in the semi-finals. The Parkway Conference was clearly the best conference in AAA this year, and Montour ran through the conference en route to their undefeated season. However, their closest call of the year came at Central Valley, when they escaped 12-7. If there's any team in AAA that can beat the Spartans, it's Central Valley.

Prediction: Montour

Class AAAA Championship

5. North Allegheny (11-1) vs 7. Woodland Hills (9-3)


North Allegheny is coming off a stunning upset of top-seeded Central Catholic in the semi-finals. This game features two of the best running backs in all of WPIAL in NA's Alex Papson and Woody High's Lafayette Pitts. Papson put up 190 yards on Central Catholic in the semi-finals, leading the Tigers to a 17-7 victory. Pitts did one better in his semi-final against the North Hills defense, one of the best in Quad-A. And by one better, I mean almost 100 yards better, ringing up 267 against the Indians. With the rain we got this weekend, the Pitt-WVU game (if you can call that shitshow a "game"), and 3 championship games before this one, expect the Heinz Field sod to be stripped down to the bare dirt by the time these two teams take the field. That could be good or bad news for these two running backs. Either way, this should be a heck of a game with two good running backs facing off against two good defenses. Most "experts" are picking the Tigers, but I'm sticking with my preseason pick: the Woodland Hills Wolverines.

Prediction: Woodland Hills

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